There is just over a month to go until the 2015 MLB draft, to be held on June 8-10. We are starting to get a feel for who teams are targeting and where players are slotted to go. Of course, this is all speculation and a ton will change in the next month. As of now, this is how I could see the first round of the 2015 MLB draft going today:
1. Arizona Diamondbacks — Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barabara
Jim Callis over at MLB Pipeline eluded to the fact the Diamondbacks weren’t looking at Brendan Rodgers with the first-overall pick. That makes it pretty obvious that Tate would be their man. Tate has been rising all spring after wowing scouts with his mid-90s fastball and plus slider with the Collegiate National Team over the summer. The 6’-2”, 190 pound right-hander has some deception to his delivery along with easy mechanics. In his last start against Hawaii on April 24, he tossed seven no-hit innings, striking out six to two walks. He now has a 1.57 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 77 K/20 BB over 74.2 innings, allowing just 42 hits.
2. Houston Astros* — Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL)
- Officially licensed by the MLB
- Officially licensed by the MLB
This would be quite the consolation prize. Rodgers has some serious upside as a shortstop with 30-homer potential. He had a good spring, continuing to show off his easy power and ability to remain at a premium position. The 6’-1”, 190 pound right-hander has excellent bat speed and generates a ton of power from a short, compact stroke. At the Perfect Game National Showcase, he threw 93 mph across the infield and was clocked at 6.7 in the 60. Through 25 games this spring, he hit .360/.457/.786 with eight doubles and eight home runs. Committed to Florida State.
3. Colorado Rockies — Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs hinted that one of the guys the Rockies are in on is Funkhouser, and they seem like a perfect match. The 6’-3”, 225 pound right-hander keeps the ball down and has yet to allow a home run this season — even more impressive considering the way the ball is flying out with the new lower-seamed balls. He has improved his command and his BB/9 is more than a walk better than last year. He has been touching 97 mph late in games and has one of the best sliders in the 2015 MLB draft. He has a 2.24 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 75 K/31 BB over 76.1 innings.
4. Texas Rangers — Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
I imagine the Rangers would be thrilled to land Swanson here as he is a true shortstop and has been showing some serious offensive potential this spring. Swanson has plus speed, a mature approach at the plate and has shown 20-homer potential this season. Through 45 games, the 6’-1” right-hander is hitting .348/.444/.607 with 15 doubles, five triples, seven home runs and is 12-for-14 in stolen bases. The track record is there, too, as he hit .333/.410/.475 over 72 games as a sophomore with 27 doubles, three home runs, 22 stolen bases and 37 walks to 49 strikeouts.
5. Houston Astros — Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
Callis says the Astros are likely in on Daz Cameron here but I think Bregman is too good to pass on, and they can draft all the shortstops and have Carlos Correa, Rodgers and Bregman decide who stays at short by home run derby — Bregman can mash, by the way. Or they can just move them around the infield and enjoy some silly offense for the next decade. Bregman has been my favorite player in this class since he chose to attend LSU. The 6’-1”, right-hander is a great hitter with a very advanced approach at the plate and, even though he has average to above-average speed, his instincts on the base paths allow him to rack up the stolen bases. The power is there and the IQ is off the charts, as well as the leadership skills. Through 45 games, he is hitting .331/.415/.590 with 16 doubles, eight home runs, 26 stolen bases and 24 walks to just 12 strikeouts.
6. Minnesota Twins — Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant HS (FL)
Tucker has been soaring lately and his raw power is some of the best in the 2015 MLB draft. The 6’-4”, 190 pound left-hander has an easy power stroke and rarely misses a pitch. Over his last two seasons, he has 17 home runs and 43 walks to just 11 strikeouts over 52 games. His brother, Preston Tucker, is a top prospect for the Astros. He is only going to get stronger as he matures and, while his bat is his calling card, he is a good enough athlete with a strong arm to hold down a corner outfield spot. Even is he ends up at first base, the bat is special. Committed to Florida.
7. Boston Red Sox — Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
Buehler has a live arm and can touch 96 mph with his fastball while sitting 92-94. He adds a plus, 11-5 curve that sits 78-81 and his change-up is an above-average offering. At 6’-1″ and 170 pounds, the right-hander will draw concerns about his size but has shown every ability to remain a frontline starter at the next level. His delivery is smooth and he has great mound presence to go along with great command of his stuff. Through nine starts, he has a 2.66 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 56 K/14 BB over 50.2 innings.
8. Chicago White Sox — Daz Cameron, OF, Eagle’s Landing HS (GA)
Daz was slipping down draft boards over the past year, but I feel he will end up in the top-10 when all is said and done. The knock on him is his upside isn’t as high as it used to be and that he may have leveled off compared to his peers. He did a heck of a job displaying his tools and potential as a member of U18 Team USA, however, hitting .405/.519/.667 over 12 games 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 also showed off the power that everyone knows is in there and wanted to see him display. He’s an electric player with all the tools even if he doesn‘t have a stand out one aside from his speed. Over his last 12 games, he is hitting .471/.625/1.088 with seven doubles, four home runs, 10 stolen bases and has drawn 13 walks to four strikeouts. Committed to Florida State.
9. Chicago Cubs — Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Jay is a kid I have been developing a draft crush on all spring. People point to his size (6’-1”, 185) as a bit of a red flag but the stuff is silly and he commands it very well. He can touch 97 mph with his fastball and adds a plus curveball and a change-up that flashes plus. He has started one game and worked six innings of relief in a recent game, allowing one run over 11 innings during those two outing with 13 strikeouts to one walk. The Cubs are in “win now” mode now that they are starting to bring up all of their stud prospects. Jay is a kid who could help them sooner than later as a dominant arm out of the pen, or they could stretch him out and develop him as a starter with a three-pitch mix as good as anybody’s in this draft. Jay has 53 K/4 BB over 46 innings, allowing just 25 hits. I could also easily see the Cubs taking either of the next two picks if they were available here.
10. Philadelphia Phillies — Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg HS (PA)
Nikorak’s stock continues to soar and he could easily go top-10. The 6’-5” right-hander can touch 97 mph and his slider shows plus potential. He also adds a solid change-up and curveball and he commands all four well. I got to see him at the Under Armour All American Game at Wrigley Field over the summer and he has a loose, easy delivery and could gain even more velocity as he matures. A great athlete, he also played quarterback and has been clocked at 6.83 in the 60. There is some serious upside here. Committed to Alabama.
11. Cincinnati Reds — Ian Happ, OF/2B, Cincinnati
The Reds can just look in their own backyard and take a kid who most believe is the best pure hitter in the 2015 MLB draft. Happ is a switch-hitter who can rake from both sides, shows a mature approach and has been showing more power this spring. Through 43 games, he is hitting .374/.503/.680 with 12 doubles, 11 home runs and has drawn 40 walks to 40 strikeouts. He has a great track record of hitting and, while he has been playing right field this spring, most believe second base is his future.
12. Miami Marlins — Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente HS (CA)
Allard has sat out most of the season with a back injury but word is it isn’t that serious and he is just playing it safe. The 5′-11” southpaw has some of the best stuff in his class headlined by a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball. He has an easy delivery and commands his stuff well. His change-up is solid and reports are he will be working out for teams before the draft. That kind of stuff from the left side is lethal and he has touched 97 mph. Committed to UCLA.
13. Tampa Bay Rays — Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
Fulmer has been extremely dominant this spring, posting a 1.52 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 101 K/28 BB over 71 innings. He is holding opponents to a .180 BAA and his 12.8 K/9 is among the best in the country. His arm is electric and his heater touches 98 mph with some silly arm side run. He adds a plus slider and a change-up that could turn into another above-average pitch. He has toned down his delivery since being a max effort guy out of the bullpen but he is always going to raise concerns due to his size. The track record for starters 5’-11” and shorter is not good but Fulmer has shown the stamina thus far.
14. Atlanta Braves — Cornelius Randolph, 3B, Griffin HS (GA)
The Braves like to pluck from their own backyard, and Randolph is a kid who has all kinds of potential as a middle-of-the-lineup power bat and a chance to stick at the hot corner. The 6’-2”, 200 pound left-handed hitter is a good athlete with a strong arm (92 mph across the infield) and decent speed (6.9/60). He has been abusing the baseball this spring, hitting .615/.718/1.000 over his last 17 games, with six doubles, four home runs, 19 stolen bases and 17 walks to just six strikeouts. Very good bat speed and a whole lot of power for the Clemson commit.
15. Milwaukee Brewers — Garrett Whitley, OF, Niskayuna HS (NY)
Whitley is another prep bat who has seen his stock soar of late. A lot of that has to do with the weather on the East Coast allowing for baseball to start later than most, but most scouts knew all about him already as he was an absolute stud on the summer circuit. The 6’-2”, 200 pound right-hander is very athletic and has some of the best power/speed potential in the 2015 MLB draft. He has great instincts for the game and a mature approach at the plate. Through 11 games this spring, he has three home runs and eight stolen bases. Committed to Wake Forest.
16. New York Yankees — Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State
Harris has been rocketing up draft boards all spring thanks to a four-pitch mix headlined by a change-up that flashes plus and a 90-94 mph fastball with good command. Both his slider and curveball are solid offerings, and the 6’-4”, 190 pound right-hander has a great pitcher’s body. He keeps the ball down, and like Funkhouser, has yet to give up a home run this spring. Through 10 starts, he has a 2.43 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 78 K/28 BB over 66.2 innings.
17. Cleveland Indians — Phil Bickford, RHP, Southern Nevada JC
Scouts remain all over the place on Bickford, but from what I hear, he is trending upward, especially with all of the injuries to arms this spring. The 6’-3” right-hander shows a plus slider and his fastball — once touching 97 mph in high school — is now sitting 90-94 but is still an above-average offering. He has good command of his stuff, as well as good size and a relatively clean delivery. He has proven no match for his peers at the Juco level as he continues to dominate hitters. Through 13 starts, he has a 1.48 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and an eye-popping 126 K/17 BB over 67 innings for a silly 16.9 K/9 ratio.
18. San Francisco Giants — Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academies
I have no idea where to slot Aiken, but assuming recent reports about his health aren’t as bad as believed, this seems like a good spot, although he could easily go a lot higher. The Giants have a compensation pick at 31, and they are pretty good at developing pitchers. When healthy, Aiken has the best stuff in this class — in most classes. The 6’-4” southpaw features a plus fastball that can touch the mid-90s and he adds two plus offspeed pitches. He has great command of his stuff and looks like a savvy veteran on the mound. He finished his senior season with 97 K/13 BB over 53.2 innings, allowing just 23 hits.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates — Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice HS (MI)
Plummer is one of the better pure hitters in his class and has excellent bat speed and raw power from the left side. At 5’-11” and 200 pounds, most believe the left-hander is maxed out physically, but that’s okay because he is pretty special already. He played great at every summer event/tournament he played in and put his name into first round talks with his play. A great athlete who is committed to Kentucky.
20. Oakland Athletics — Trent Clark, OF, Richard HS (TX)
Another one of my favorites, Clark is a great hitter with above-average speed and a strong enough arm for a corner outfield spot. He was brilliant for U18 Team USA, hitting .538/.655/.923 with four doubles, three home runs, 24 RBI and was a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen bases over 12 games, showing every tool in the shed. The 6’-0”, 200 pound left-handed hitter uses a short, compact stroke to drive the ball to all fields and showed off the raw power. A highly intelligent player committed to Texas Tech.
21. Kansas City Royals — Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia
Kirby has been slipping this spring, mostly because of his command and drop in velocity. The 6’-3” southpaw has shown three above-average offerings in the past including a plus change-up and slider that flashes plus but he hasn’t been the same pitcher as he was at the start of the season. He also recently suffered a lat strain that will cause him to miss the rest of the season and he likely will not be able to throw before the draft. The good news is the track record is great and he could turn out to be a steal if he falls this low.
22. Detroit Tigers — Chris Betts, C, Woodrow Wilson HS (CA)
The slimmed down Betts has a plus arm and scouts believe he has a great shot to stick behind the plate. I got to see the easy power from the left side at Wrigley, and the kid was hitting them out of the park with ease. He lined a laser to center field during the game and showed off his excellent bat speed. Through 25 games, he is hitting .475/.640/.898 with six home runs and has drawn 25 walks to just six strikeouts. Committed to Tennessee.
23. St. Louis Cardinals — Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
Newman is rising as fast as any college bat in this draft. He has a real shot to stick at a shortstop and play solid defense, and he should be a top-of-the-order type hitter with good speed. Through 42 games, he is hitting .379/.432/.489 with 14 doubles, a home run and 16 walks to just 10 strikeouts, showing an aggressive approach yet not missing many pitches. He has added 17 stolen bases. He may not hit for a lot of power at the next level but he has a high floor at a premium position.
24. Los Angeles Dodgers — Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly Pomona
Ponce, a 6’-6”, 240 pound right-hander, wowed scouts at the Cape Cod League by sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball while showing off three other promising offerings. Lately, he has been sitting 92-94 mph with the heater and has been flashing a plus curveball and cutter. His change-up is still developing and he has shown excellent command this season. Through eight starts, he has a 1.78 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 40 K/5 BB over 35.1 innings. The knocks on him are his stamina and his shoulder issues. Still, with his size and stuff, his upside is high.
25. Baltimore Orioles — Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke
Another wild card in this draft is Matuella, a 6’-6”, 230 pound right-hander who was sitting 93-97 mph with a curveball and slider that both flashed plus at times prior to his injury. He had Tommy John surgery this year and was also bothered by back pain but neither seem to be a huge red flag. He doesn’t really have a track record, however, as he has never topped 60 innings in a season. High risk, high reward.
26. Los Angeles Angels — D. J. Stewart, OF, Florida State
You could argue that Stewart is the best college bat in the 2015 MLB draft and wouldn’t get much push back from me. The 6’-0”, 240 pound left-handed hitter leads the nation in walks and is among the leaders in home runs. Through 45 games, he is hitting .324/.517/.588 with seven doubles, 10 home runs and a whopping 51 walks to 35 strikeouts. He is a good athlete for his size and should be able to hold down left field at the next level where the bat would play well. He has tremendous power and a very mature approach at the plate. He has a low, almost crouched stance but it works for him as he came into this season with a career .358/.479/.559 slash line over 113 games.
27. Colorado Rockies — Kyler Murray, SS, Allen HS (TX)
28. Atlanta Braves — James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA
29. Toronto Blue Jays — Dakota Chalmers, North Forsyth HS (GA)
30. New York Yankees — Richie Martin, SS, Florida
31. San Francisco Giants — Juan Hillman, RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
32. Pittsburgh Pirates — Luken Baker, RHP/1B, Oak Ridge HS (TX)
33. Kansas City Royals — Justin Hooper, LHP, De LaSalle HS (CA)
34. Detroit Tigers — Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral HS (IN)
35. Los Angeles Dodgers — Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
36. Baltimore Orioles — Alex Young, LHP, TCU
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2015 MLB draft updates, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.