2015 MLB draft: Mock 1.0
It’s officially draft season. With the 2014 MLB regular season in the books, the 2015 MLB draft order has been set — not including the eventual forfeited first-round draft picks for free-agent signings, that is. While it is hilariously early to try and even guess which team is going to select which player, think of this as more of a big board for now — although I did take into account some team’s recent trends and philosophies when thinking about their selections. With more than eight months to go, here is my first mock draft for 2015:
*Houston Astros receive the second-overall pick for failing to sign Brady Aiken.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks — Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke
On paper, Matuella has everything you want in an ace. At 6’-6” and 230 pounds, he has the size. With a fastball that sits 93-97, he has the power arm. He adds two potential plus secondary pitches in a 79-82 mph, 12-6 curveball with great depth and an 83-86 mph slider with tight spin. His change-up sits 87-89 and is a decent offering already. He has great command of his pitches and finished his sophomore season with a 2.78 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 69 K/15 BB over 58.1 innings. Opponents hit just .190 against him, he allowed just one home run and only hit two batters. Two areas of concern are his recent arm soreness and the fact that he doesn’t have the track record of other pitchers on this list. Still, the D-backs love their pitching and Matuella has the goods.
2. Houston Astros* — Daz Cameron, OF, Eagle’s Landing HS (GA)
Daz did a great job of silencing his critics, for the moment, with his play as a member of 18U Team USA Baseball. He showed why he is going to be a star at the next level as he is an electric player with every tool in the shed. Over 12 games, he hit .405/.519/.667 with three home runs, 19 RBI, seven stolen bases and 10 walks to six strikeouts. Defensively, he is a stud and will remain in center field with his strong arm, 6.61/60 speed and instincts. Offensively, he has an advanced approach and can stroke it to all fields. He showed improved power over the summer, and you can tell he was brought up around the game as his baseball IQ is off the charts. As a junior, the 6’-1”, 185 pound right-hander hit .390/.523/.695 over 28 games with seven doubles, six home runs, 11 stolen bases and 18 walks to just 12 strikeouts. Committed to Florida State.
3. Colorado Rockies — Brady Aiken, LHP, Yavapai CC (JUCO)
Barring an injury or a drop in the velocity that he gained over the past year, I can’t see Aiken going much lower than here. He was widely considered the best available arm in the 2014 MLB draft and was getting the Clayton Kershaw comp by some. His fastball was touching 96 mph last year and he adds two potential plus secondary offerings. He has great command of his stuff and an advanced feel for pitching. He finished his senior season with 97 K/13 BB over 53.2 innings, allowing just 23 hits.
4. Texas Rangers — Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL)
Rodgers impressed scouts all summer with his bat, as well as his defense at a premium position. He showed excellent bat speed, raw power and he has all of the actions and abilities to stick at shortstop. At the Perfect Game National Showcase, he threw 93 mph across the infield and was clocked at 6.7 in the 60. He may not steal many bases at the next level, but he is a terrific athlete who does everything well on the field. As a junior, he hit .397/.488/.823 over 22 games with five doubles, eight home runs and 10 walks to 10 strikeouts. Committed to Florida State.
5. Houston Astros — Phil Bickford, RHP, Southern Nevada CC (JUCO)
One of my favorites from the 2013 draft class after striking out 146 batters to just 11 walks over 84.2 innings, Bickford opted to attend Cal State Fullerton after being selected 10th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays. After one season with the Titans, in which he had a 2.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 74 K/13 BB over 76 innings, the 6’-4” right-hander has now decided to play JUCO ball and will be one of the top arms available in the 2015 MLB draft. He was a stud at the Cape Cod League this summer, striking out 33 to just five walks over 20 innings and was sitting 93-96 mph with late life on his fastball. He showed his usual great command, and his secondary stuff looked much improved, including a 79-81 mph curveball that flashes plus.
6. Minnesota Twins — Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
Bregman is a ballplayer. Aside from all of his intangibles and instincts for the game, he is also one of the better hitters in the 2015 MLB draft. After a sensational freshman year in which he hit .369/.417/.546 over 67 games with 16 stolen bases, he put together another impressive season as a sophomore. Over 63 games, he hit .316/.397/.455 with 16 doubles, six home runs and 12 stolen bases. He has drawn 51 walks to just 46 strikeouts over 130 career games, showing an advanced approach at the plate. He has been a member of Team USA baseball since his high school days, and you won’t find a better leader. Some are split on whether he can remain at shortstop, but even if he moves over to second, the bat would play up.
7. Boston Red Sox — Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA)
The hardest throwing prep arm in the 2015 MLB draft is a southpaw. That’s rare and says more about Hooper’s arm than his peers as there are some hard throwers in this class. The 6’-7”, 240 pound left-hander touched 97 mph at the Perfect Game AA Classic and was impressive all summer. His change-up is an above-average pitch, his curveball solid and he throws with some deception in his delivery — making it completely unfair to left-handed hitters. He isn’t as polished as others prep arms on this list, but the upside is as good as anyone’s. Committed to UCLA.
8. Chicago White Sox — Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia
Kirby was brilliant for the Cavaliers all year but struggled a bit down the stretch. He logged a lot of innings over the year and was facing some quality bats in the College World Series. On April 8, he tossed what most consider the best game of the season, striking out 18 to one walk in a no-hitter against Pittsburgh. Over 18 starts, he had a 2.06 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 112 K/33 BB over 113.1 innings, holding opponents to a .175 BAA. The 6’-3”, 190 pound southpaw has a plus curveball, a fastball that sits in the low/mid 90s with late life and movement, as well as a change-up that is rapidly getting better. He has great command of his stuff and has some of the best swing-and-miss stuff in the 2015 MLB draft.
9. Chicago Cubs — Trenton Clark, OF, Richland HS (TX)
My voice may be a bit high-pitched right now from the helium, but Clark put together one of the most impressive performances in the history of Team USA Baseball. Over 12 games with the 18U team, he showed off all five tools, hitting .538/.655/.923 with four doubles, three home runs, 24 RBI and was a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen bases. He played stellar defense in center field and drew 13 walks to just three strikeouts, showing an advanced feel for the strike zone and a patient approach. The 6’-0”, 200 pound left-hander has plus speed, a strong arm, great instincts in the field and should remain in center. At the plate, he uses a short, compact swing to drive the ball to all fields and he seemed to have found his power stroke over the summer. He is a highly intelligent player with all the tools. Committee to Texas Tech.
10. Philadelphia Phillies — Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente HS (CA)
One of the fastest rising prep arms in the 2015 MLB draft, Allard is a 6’-1”, 175 pound left-hander who touched 95 mph at the Perfect Game AA Classic and struck out the side on 12 pitches. He was dominant for 18U Team USA, striking out 14 to three walks over eight innings. He has a smooth delivery, features a plus curveball and is one of the youngest players in his class. You don’t see many prep southpaws able to touch the mid-90s and Allard still has a lot of upside. As a junior, he had 98 K/17 BB over 63.2 innings. Committed to UCLA.
11. Cincinnati Reds — Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
After a brilliant sophomore season for Vanderbilt, posting a 2.64 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 111 K/31 BB over 102.1 innings, Buehler was arguably the most impressive pitcher at the Cape. He was sitting 92-95 mph with his fastball and showed an above-average change-up with good fade and a curveball that flashed plus at times. He adds a slider but needs to refine it. At 6’-1” and 165 pounds, the right-hander will draw concerns about his size. He did maintain velocity despite a heavy workload, however, and his delivery is smooth and easy.
12. Miami Marlins — Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati
A switch-hitter with excellent bat speed and raw power, some of Happ’s value will depend on whether teams think he can stick at second base. He does has the arm, speed and bat to hold down a corner outfield spot and is a first-round pick wherever he ends up in the field. Over 56 games as a freshman, he hit .322/.451/.483 with six home runs, 25 stolen bases and a whopping 47 walks to 32 strikeouts. He put up nearly identical numbers as a sophomore, hitting .322/.443/.497 over 51 games with 13 doubles, five home runs and 19 stolen bases. He drew 32 walks to 35 strikeouts, showing a solid approach at the plate. He impressed scouts once again at the Cape this summer, hitting .329 over 43 games with 12 doubles, four home runs and eight stolen bases.
13. San Diego Padres — D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State
Stewart is one of the best bats in the 2015 MLB draft, and there has been a premium put on college bats lately, as evidenced by the Chicago Cubs taking Kyle Schwarber with the fourth-overall pick last year. Stewart, a 6’-0”, 240 pound left-handed hitter, is very similar to Schwarber offensively. He has an advanced approach at the plate, great power from the left side and should hit for a high average at the next level. Also like Schwarber, he is a very good athlete for his size with a strong enough arm and speed for left field. As a freshman, he hit .364/.469/.560 over 60 games with 25 doubles and five home runs. Over 53 games as a sophomore, he hit .351/.472/.557 with 19 doubles, seven home runs and 40 walks to 30 strikeouts.
14. Tampa Bay Rays — Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
Swanson will finally get a chance to play his natural position this year and should be one of the better defensive shortstops in the 2015 MLB draft. While the 6’-0”, 180 pound right-hander doesn’t possess great power, he does have an advanced approach at the plate and can spray the ball to all fields. He also has plus speed and should rack up high stolen base totals. He battled some injuries early in his career at Vanderbilt but didn’t miss a game his sophomore season, hitting .333/.410/.475 over 72 games with 27 doubles, three home runs, 22 stolen bases and 37 walks to 49 strikeouts.
15. New York Mets — Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
At 6’-2” and 220 pounds, Funkhouser is a big, durable right-hander whose fastball sits 92-94 mph and touches 97 mph. His slider flashes plus and he adds a solid, 11-5 curveball. His change-up is still developing and his command can get the best of him at times. He was a monster for Louisville as a sophomore, going 13-3 over 18 starts with a 1.94 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 122 K/65 BB over 120.1 innings, holding opponents to a .198 BAA. His control was much improved with Collegiate National Team over the summer, striking out 36 to just eight walks over 28.1 innings. His ranking this high has a lot to do with that success and he’ll need to continue to show that kind of command to be considered a top-20 pick.
16. Atlanta Braves — Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral HS (IN)
Russell is another kid who saw his stock soar over the summer, thanks in part to a fastball that touches 95 mph. he has a lightning quick arm and gets a lot of movement on his pitches, including an 80-82 mph breaking ball that flashes plus. At day one of Area Code Games, he retired all 12 batters he faced, seven via strikeout, and is one of those players you don’t want to miss if you get a chance to see him. There is some effort to his delivery, but with his stuff and size, there is a lot of upside.
17. Milwaukee Brewers — Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg HS (PA)
When Nikorak hit 97 mph at the Perfect Game National Showcase, it was a game changer. The 6’-5”, 205 pound right-hander is a great athlete who also played quarterback and has been clocked at 6.83 in the 60. He has a loose, easy delivery and could gain more velocity as he matures. He also showed off a 77-79 mph slider that shows plus potential. The change-up is still developing, but with his size, arm strength and athleticism, the upside is silly. Committed to Alabama.
18. Toronto Blue Jays — Carson Fulmer, RHP Vanderbilt
After being the closer for the first year and a half of his career at Vanderbilt, Fulmer made a smooth transition into the starting rotation as a sophomore. Over 10 starts, he posted a 2.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP with 57 K/28 BB over 63 innings, holding opponents to a .192 BAA. He can dial up his fastball to 98 mph, and he adds a power slider that shows plus. His change-up is still developing and he has good command of his stuff despite the high walk totals as he is still getting used to the starter role. Like Brandon Finnegan last year, Fulmer will raise questions about his size (5’-11”, 195 pounds) next year, and many will question his ability to remain a starter. He has effort to his delivery but tones it down a bit when starting.
19. New York Yankees — Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly Pomona
Last year, Max Pentecost used the Cape as his coming out party and ended up being a first-round pick. Ponce, a 6’-6”, 240 pound right-hander, wowed scouts with a mid-90s fastball and three other offerings. His recently added 85-89 mph cutter shows promise, as well as his curveball and developing, mid-80s change-up. As a freshman, he had 43 K/8 BB over 48.1 innings. As a sophomore, he had 52 K/29 BB over 75 innings and struggled down the stretch. There isn’t a great track record to work with, but the size and stuff will have scouts flocking all year.
20. Cleveland Indians — Chris Betts, C, Long Beach Wilson HS (CA)
Betts showed off his big power potential at Wrigley Field in the Under Armour AA Game, belting out home runs with ease in the derby while also ripping a laser double to dead center in the game. The left-handed hitting catcher has excellent bat speed and shows an advanced feel at the plate. His offense is ahead of his defense right now, but he does have a plus arm and has the athleticism to stay behind the plate. His showed all summer that he is one of the better bats in the 2015 MLB draft and he is a first round talent on his offensive potential alone. Committed to Tennessee.
21. Seattle Mariners — Luken Baker, 1B/RHP, Oak Ridge HS (TX)
A two-way talent with some serious upside both on the mound, as well as the power department, I would draft him as a hitter after witnessing him ding balls off the Toyota sign in left-center field with ease at Wrigley Field. At 6’-4” and 240 pounds, he is a physical specimen and his plus/plus power is a sight to behold, as well. On the mound, he can run his fastball up to 95 mph and he adds a solid breaking ball with good command. The talent is unfair but the premium put on power hitters should land him in the first round on his offensive potential alone. Over 11 games for Team USA, he hit .500/.565/.842 with four doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI and five walks to just three strikeouts. Aside from the power, he also impressed with his approach and ability to hit to all fields and take what was being given to him. Committed to TCU.
22. San Francisco Giants — James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA
Kaprielian was a stud for Collegiate National Team this summer, posting a 1.07 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 29 K/7 BB over 25 innings. The 6’-4”, 200 pound right-hander features a classic three-pitch mix headlined by a 91-94 mph fastball and a slider that sits 81-84 mph with sharp bite. His change-up is coming on fast and he has very good command of all three. As a freshman, he posted a 1.55 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and allowed just 19 hits over 40.2 innings with 53 K/24 BB. Over 15 starts as a sophomore, he had a 2.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 108 K/35 BB over 106 innings, holding opponents to a .201 BAA. With three solid pitches, a great pitcher’s body and great command, there isn’t much to dislike about him.
23. Pittsburgh Pirates — Beau Burrows, RHP, Weatherford HS (TX)
While he doesn’t have the prototypical Texan, power arm build, the 6’-1”, 190 pound right-hander can still dial it up to 96 mph, which he did at the Perfect Game AA Classic. He also showed off a an 81-85 mph change-up that flashes plus potential and an upper-70s, 12-6 curveball. His fastball had a spin rate of 2600 RPM, which is elite at any level. He is still learning how to pitch instead of just blowing hitters away, but power arms are always a hot commodity. Committed to Texas A&M.
24. Oakland Athletics — Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant HS (FL)
A 6’-4” left-handed hitter who doesn’t miss the baseball often and has as much raw power as anyone in the 2015 MLB draft, Tucker is the younger brother of Astros’ prospect Preston Tucker. Over 51 career games, he has hit 18 home runs and has struck out just seven times. His bat is his calling card, but he is a good athlete with a strong enough arm to hold down a corner outfield spot. Committed to Florida.
25. Kansas City Royals — Demi Orimoloye, OF, St. Matthew HS (ON)
A great athlete with plus speed (6.5/60) and all kinds of raw tools, Orimoloye put on a show all summer, displaying tremendous power potential and excellent bat speed. The 6’-4”, 225 pound right-hander was a late addition to the Under Armour Game at Wrigley and he stood out immediately with his build. He’ll be talked about a lot in the next eight months and could go much higher.
26. Detroit Tigers — Kyle Cody, RHP, Kentucky
If you just look at numbers, Cody doesn’t appear to be a first-round pick. With 67 K/33 BB over 95.2 career innings, the counting stats don’t jump out at you. He battled injuries during his sophomore season, but the 6’-7”, 240 pound right-hander showed his potential at the Cape, sitting 93-96 mph with his fastball and throwing it with great command to both sides of the plate. He finished with 33 K/11 BB over 35 innings. He adds a 78-82 mph slider and shows a good feel for a change-up, but his secondary stuff still needs some refining. His raw stuff, live arm and size make for some serious upside. If he puts it all together next year, he could soar.
27. St. Louis Cardinals — Greg Pickett, OF, Legend HS (CO)
Like Kyle Tucker, Pickett is a 6’-4”, left-handed hitter with tremendous power and an advanced feel for the strike zone. He uses his excellent bat speed to destroy baseballs, like he did at the Perfect Game World Series in July, hitting a ball an estimated 450 feet with an exit speed of 107 mph. he is a good athlete for his size and has a strong enough arm to hold down a corner outfield spot where the bat would more than play well. Committed to Mississippi State.
28. Los Angeles Dodgers — Ryan Johnson, OF, College Station HS (TX)
Blessed with huge power and a canon arm (94 mph on the mound), Johnson is still raw in some areas but has serious upside. At 6’-3” and 200 pounds, the left-handed hitter drives the ball to all fields and has excellent bat speed. He drew rave reviews for his physical conditioning over the summer and was clocked at 6.85 in the 60. Over 30 games as a junior, he hit .494/.580/.865 with five doubles, five triples, six home runs and drew 12 walks to 13 strikeouts, showing good pitch recognition. Committed to TCU
29. Baltimore Orioles — Riley Ferrell, RHP, TCU
Most believe Ferrell will remain a closer as a junior and as a pro. He has worked out of the pen his first two seasons and has been dominant. Over 31 appearances as a sophomore, he had a 0.79 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 70 K/14 BB over 45.1 innings. He held opponents to a silly .132 BAA and had a 13.9 K/9 ratio as his upper-90s fastball has great life, and he has very good command of the pitch. He also features a plus slider but the lack of a third pitch is why he will most likely remain a closer, albeit an extremely good one.
30. Washington Nationals — Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Hagerty HS (FL)
I’m probably a lot higher on Mountcastle than others, but after seeing him at Wrigley Field, I’m a huge fan. His bat speed and raw power stood out and the ball explodes off his bat. He impressed all summer with his ability to put bat on ball and has an advanced approach at the plate. At 6’-3” and 185 pounds, the right-hander should develop even more power as he matures. Defensively, he has enough arm and actions to stick at the hot corner and the bat would play well. Committed to UCF.
31. Los Angeles Angels — Jake Lemoine, RHP, Houston
At 6’-5” and 220 pounds, the right-hander has great size and a power arm, sitting 91-93 mph with his fastball and can touch 96. He needs to refine his change-up but his slider has plus potential, sitting 82-86 mph with great depth and bite. Over 17 starts as a sophomore, he had a 2.87 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 87 K/29 BB over 106.2 innings, showing improvement in his command. His command wasn’t as sharp, however, with the Collegiate National Team as he had 15 K/9 BB over 18.1 innings.
Next 10: Jahmai Jones, Alonzo Jones, Nick Plummer, Skye Bolt, Kyler Murray, Juan Hillman, Joe DeMers, Nick Shumpert, Mac Marshall, Austin Smith
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2015 MLB draft updates, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.