The 2015 MLB Draft begins tomorrow night, June 8th, and goes through June 10. The first night will be televised on the MLB Network. As a way to discuss any late speculation of the players various teams are interested in, RSM will present a mock draft of the first round. The actual first round, not counting compensation picks for losing free agents, will consist of 26 picks, with five teams forfeiting their selection due the signing of a free agent. Houston will pick twice in the first round with the extra pick being at #2, for not signing Brady Aiken at number one last year.
The Red Sox select seventh, and in our mock draft we will discuss how the first six picks could influence the Sox selection.
We will mention as we did in our previous draft related post: there is no claim to be a scout or to have any first hand reports on any of these players or any inside information. Everything presented here is from gathering information published from a number of outlets and RSM is presenting our best prediction.
1. Arizona- There are three basic theories on which way the D'backs will go at the top. First, and the overwhelming opinion is they will take Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson is considered the best college bat available and even though there are as many as four or five college shortstops that will likely go in the first round, Swanson is considered the most likely to stick as a shortstop in the pros.
The other rumor for Arizona that will not die is that they will take a player rated down the board and sign them to a cut rate deal to save money for later in the draft. HS catcher Tyler Stephenson from Georgia, who is ranked from 10 to 15 on most boards is the most heard name.
Lastly there is a school of thought, the new Arizona Tony La Russa led front office may take a college pitcher likely Tyler Jay, a lefty from Univ. of Illinois. This seems the least likely.
I cannot shake the feeling the new D'back regime will try to show the world how smart they are and grab Stephenson, but in the end there is just too many arrows pointing to:
Pick: Dansby Swanson, SS Vanderbilt
2. Houston- The Astros pick at two and five and there is a mountain of speculation that the Astros want two hitters, ideally one from college and one from high school. Florida High School shortstop Brendan Rodgers is considered the best overall talent in the draft by most observers. But for whatever reasons, Arizona does not seem interested at one and reportedly Houston is only slightly more than luke warm on him. The two other HS bats Houston are interested in will likely be there at five (at least one of them), so the thinking is Houston goes college bat at two. The guy they want the most seems to be Swanson, who in our mock is gone. That is why the very first pick could directly affect the Red Sox . Because if Swanson is gone, Houston likely grabs the guy the Red Sox want the most, according to reports. That is LSU SS Alex Bregman.
On a recent podcast, Kiley McDaniel, one of the draft gurus at Fangraphs, said he thought there is only a 5% chance Bregman gets to Boston. Even though every team with picks two to six are all rumored to be considering Bregman, if Arizona passes on Swanson I think the chances of Bregman to Boston go up a lot. If Swanson is there at two, there is no way Houston passes. And then at five, Houston would be much less likely to grab Bregman, who would be so similar to Swanson, although that combo at two-five would not be impossible. But I think Houston goes HS bat at five if they have Swanson in the fold at two. Houston is going to come away with one of three shortstops at number two Swanson, Rodgers, or:
Pick: Alex Bregman, SS LSU
3. Colorado- The Rockies will also consider any one of the three shortstops as a possible successor to Troy Tulowitzki. In our mock, the only choice left would be Brendan Rodgers. But besides the shortstops, Colorado is always looking for home grown pitching. And the name most connected to the Rockies is Tyler Jay. Despite pitching nearly exclusively from the Illni bullpen this year, Jay has risen to be considered the best college arm in this draft. Even if Bregman and Rodgers both slide here (which will happen if Arizona goes with Stephenson), the Rockies will select:
Pick: Tyler Jay, LHP Illinois
4. Texas- If Brendan Rodgers slides to four ( which he has here), there is little doubt Texas will take him. But Texas is a team most of the experts admit to have little feel for which way their pick will go. If they pass on Rodgers, college arms ( like UCSB Dillon Tate, who a few weeks ago was considered a likely number one overall pick) or HS bats (like outfielders Daz Cameron or Kyle Tucker) have all been tied to Texas. But it would be hard for a fourth team to pass on a high school kid who may be the best player in this draft:
Pick: Brendan Rodgers, SS Lake Mary High School ( Florida)
5, Houston- The Astros come around for their second pick in the top five. If they have a college bat in tow ( as they do with Alex Bregman in this mock) a HS bat is nearly a definite with Daz Cameron, the Georgia HS OF ( son of Mike Cameron) a possibility but much more likely is another MLB relative, Kyle Tucker, the brother of current Astro rookie, Preston Tucker. The tall lefty batter has prodigious power. The only other rumor for this pick is Houston trying for a under slot deal to save cash for later picks, and maybe taking Arkansas OF, Andrew Benintendi, who has shot from nowhere this season to a likely top 12 pick. The most likely match for Houston is:
Pick: Kyle Tucker, OF Plant High School (Tampa, Florida)
6. Minnesota- The Twins are another bit of a wild card with various names floated at six. There is even a shot that if Alex Bregman maneuvers through the Houston-Colorado-Texas minefield ( from a Sox perspective) that the Twins would grab him at six, still foiling Boston. The name most heard here is a HS pitcher from San Clemente, CA, Kolby Allard. Allard suffered a stress reaction in his back earlier this spring or he would be a definite top ten pick. The Twins seem to be the only team still on Allard this high in the draft. Tucker and Cameron are both mentioned here. The money either may ask for could dissuade the Twins (and apparently Cameron's advisor has told Minnesota point blank they cannot afford him). But despite all of the very possible scenarios the Twins could not have realized even a couple of weeks ago that UCSB pitcher Dillon Tate would ever drop to them. And the Twins, who despite their surprisingly strong 2015 to date, still badly need starting pitching. I do not think the Twins would pass on:
Pick: Dillon Tate, RHP UCSB
7. Boston- The names associated with Boston have not really changed any over the last few weeks.
Here is the list in order of reported interest:
Alex Bregman, SS LSU
Andrew Benintendi, OF Arkansas
Carson Fulmer, RHP Vanderbilt
Daz Cameron, OF Atlanta, GA HS
Only one other name has surfaced with Boston, but it would be a shocker if he is the pick at seven. Josh Naylor is a power hitting first baseman from Canada. He jumped on to the scene with a performance at an international tournament. He had been considered a second or third round pick at best, but several teams in the late first are at least thinking about him. But Boston's next pick after seven is 81, they can hope he gets there ( the third round), but it would be a massive gamble to take Naylor at seven.
In our mock the only name on the supposed Sox wish list that is gone is Bregman (and we have discussed a path where he gets to seven as well). That is not to say everyone but Bregman will be at seven with certainty. Each of Benintendi ( Houston at 5) Fulmer (at 3, 4, or 6) and Cameron( at 4, 5, or 6) have all been rumored in the first six. There is only one very unlikely scenario in which all four of these names are gone. Something like:
1. AZ Swanson
2. HOU Bregman
3. COL Rodgers
4. TEX Cameron
5. HOU Benintendi
6. MN Fulmer
But this lineup leaves Kyle Tucker, Tyler Jay, and Dillon Tate available. So either two or three of Boston's wish list is going to be there at seven OR two or three guys expected to be gone before seven are still there.
If as in our mock, Bregman is gone, the choice comes don to Benintendi (compared by some to Fred Lynn- graceful, speedy center fielder with left handed power) and Fulmer, whom the Sox drafted out of high school three years ago. The wide majority of speculation is that the Sox prefer a college player and likely a college bat. Fulmer is widely thought to be able to pitch in the big leagues this year, but if it is true (and do not be shocked if the Sox pull a Trey Ball like surprise) that the Sox want a college bat the easy selection is:
Pick: Andrew Benintendi, OF Arkansas
8. Chicago White Sox- Everyone feels the Chisox want a college arm here. The name mentioned most often because it is assumed Tyler Jay and Dillon Tate are gone (and the Sox would grab either if available) is:
Pick: Carson Fulmer, RHP Vanderbilt
9. Chicago Cubs- Two things have been said about Theo's team: they are seemingly on every player the Red Sox are and secondly the Cubs have been mentioned with about a dozen or more names. The Cubs for several drafts now have needed pitching but have selected a bat. And they have plenty of cash to sign any possible " hard to sign" demands:
Pick: Daz Cameron, OF Eagles Landing Christian Academy (Georgia)
10. Philadelphia- The player they have been most attached to is HS catcher Tyler Stephenson, who if he is not taken at the top by Arizona likely would be there. But the Phillies need pitching and they need help quickly. Last year they took a college arm, Aaron Nola of LSU. I think they will go down the same path:
Pick: Walker Buehler, RHP Vanderbilt
11. Cincinnati- They would love Benintendi who played high school ball in Cincy. But he is unlikely to get to 11(with the Cubs lined up for him if Boston passes), so they will take another player with local flavor and another college bat:
Pick: Ian Happ, 2B-OF Univ. of Cincinnati
12. Miami- The Marlins will go for a high ceiling HS bat (and this could be a name to watch for Boston if they take a name down most boards from seven):
Pick: Trenton Clark, OF Richmond HS (Texas)
13. Tampa Bay- Lots of talk about taking a college arm, the top one left in our mock draft likely is UCLA right James Kaprielian. But I think the Rays will grab a guy from a New York State HS, spoiling the Yankees pick at 16 (and this is another guy the Red Sox could surprise with):
Pick: Garrett Whitley, OF Niskayuna HS (New York)
14. Atlanta- As so often before the Braves grab a Georgia guy and the name that is rumored all the way at the top:
Pick: Tyler Stephenson, C Kennesaw Mountain HS (Georgia)
15. Milwaukee- Brewers grab a college arm who was ranked in the Top Five before a mediocre college campaign with a great name:
Pick- Kyle Funkhouser, RHP Louisville
16. New York Yankees- Lots of names here all over the board from high school bats to college arms to maybe grabbing the first injured pitcher ( Aiken, Matuella, Allard, etc.). This name was mentioned in connection with the Yankees weeks ago, and is often mocked higher than 16, so in our draft the pick is:
Pick: James Kaprielian, RHP UCLA
Here are the last ten picks in our mock draft:
17. Cleveland- Kolby Allard, LHP San Clemente HS (CA)
18. San Francisco- Mike Nikorak, RHP Stroudsburg HS ( PA)
19. Pittsburgh- Brady Aiken, LHP IMG Academy (FLA)
Any chance of the Red Sox taking Brady Aiken seem remote at this point, but not completely out of the question. The fact the Sox do not pick again to 81 greatly lessens their ability to gamble on Aiken. The Pirates pick again at 32 (for the Russell Martin signing with Toronto) and have their second round pick as well. If the Pirates pass on Aiken the Dodgers could well scoop him up at 24.
20. Oakland- Kevin Newman, SS Arizona
The third college SS in the first round ( with one more to come). Interesting tidbit comes from Peter Gammons regarding Newman. Newman's mother is from Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
21. Kansas City- Cornelius Randolph, SS Griffin HS (GA)
This is another guy linked to the Braves and Yankees.
22. Detroit- Phil Bickford, RHP College of Southern Nevada ( former Jays 1st rounder)
23. St. Louis- Nate Kirby, LHP Virginia ( another injured pitcher who dropped)
24. LA Dodgers- Mike Matuella, RHP Duke ( 6'7' righty: chance at #1 before TJ surgery)
25. Baltimore- Richie Martin, SS Florida
26. LA Angels- Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3b Concordia Lutheran HS (Texas) son of MLBer Charlie Hayes
In summary for the Red Sox, the names linked to them have not changed. But remember all of this information and any thing you read is based on sources, rumors, and speculation. It is possible the Sox or any of the teams ahead of them could pull a rabbit out of their hats. But with Boston picking at seven you can book they will pick one of the 26 names mocked here. Unless it is Josh Naylor and then get ready for a sh#tstorm. If any last day reports surface we will update this post. Enjoy draft day.