I made no efforts to disguise my appreciation for the talents of first rounder Stryker Trahan, pushing him into the upper half of my Pre-Draft Top 35 rankings. Trahan has power potential and the athleticism to stick behind the plate but his defense needs work. If the Diamondbacks are willing to put in the work necessary for him to stick as a backstop, he could be a star caliber player.
The club went with another interesting catcher in fifth rounder Ronnie Freeman out of Kennesaw State. Though he has his own defensive issues, Freeman’s bat has plenty of potential and could be enough for a team to tolerate his fringy defense. Freeman has hitting ability and power in his bat, along with the makeup and approach to move quickly.
Surprising many, Arizona was aggressive with third baseman Joe Munoz, pushing him into the second round on their draft board. He signed quickly for a below-slot bonus and I’ve been told he showed well for the D’Backs pre-draft. There’s a lot of projection with Munoz and he certainly merits attention going forward.
Ben Eckels intrigues me in the 11th round as an undersized right-hander that signed for just over the post-tenth round soft limit of $100,000. At his best Eckels can flash two above-average pitches right now and the potential for a third if his change-up comes along. He will always have to overcome the stigma attached to short right-handers, but he has the raw stuff to pull it off.
Aside from making a case for the All-Name Team, 17th round pick Yogey Perez-Ramos has a very interesting back story. A veteran of Serie Nacional in Cuba, Perez-Ramos is already 25-years old and could be a quick mover through the Arizona system. His approach at the plate is very good – as you would expect for such an experienced player – and he has some natural hitting ability and speed. There’s nothing flashy here and his ceiling is on the low side, but he could be a nice fourth option with a strong storyline.
Another potential quick mover is right-hander Blake Forslund from Liberty. While at Virginia earlier in his career, Forslund showed the ability to pump his fastball up to 97 mph. This spring he consistently sat 91-93 mph with some ability to spin his curveball. Control will be the key for Forslund as he tries to reach his ceiling of a seventh or eighth inning arm.
The Rockies managed to snag some excellent value in this draft. Much like Stryker Trahan, I’m a big fan of outfielder David Dahl, the club’s top pick. I think the questions over his speed and power are overblown and I think the hitting ability and style of play can carry him to big things.
Backing that pick up with Radford right-hander Eddie Butler in the supplemental round is a good grab. Butler has shown a fastball as high as 96-97 mph at times and while he was really inconsistent this spring, when he was good, he was damn good. If the Rockies developmental staff can coax some consistency out of him, he has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter or dynamic late inning reliever.
The second and third rounds could be a boon for the Rockies. Third rounder Tom Murphy was much higher on my personal draft board and I think he could end up being one of the top catchers in this draft class. Outfielder Max White and right-hander Ryan Warner are classic projectable high school kids that if signed will provide some nice upside to the lower levels of the system.
Right-handed reliever Seth Willoughby and right-handed starter TJ Oakes don’t offer a ton of upside, but both could move quickly and provide big league value. Willoughby has some setup potential with a fastball that peaks at 95 and a filthy cutter. Oakes is an adept pitcher with the ability to manipulate the baseball and adjust speeds on his three-pitch mix. His bump in velocity into the low-90s helps him project at the back of a rotation.
Eighth rounder Derek Jones has an interesting bat that some teams liked more than others. He shows some feel for hitting and enough power to project for 15-20 home runs annually. As a left-handed hitter with little defensive value, Jones best profiles as a bench bat.
Two more high school pitchers could give plenty of raw upside to this draft class. Ninth rounder Zach Jemiola and 20th rounder Anthony Seise are both projectable young arms that could evolve into very interesting prospects. Jemiola has flashed mid-90s heat at times but dipped always the way down to the upper-80s earlier this spring. Seise has shown a variety of positive traits, including flashes of three pitches and a long, lean body with plenty of projection.
Los Angeles Dodgers
At the risk of committing a cardinal sin of draft analysis, my gut reaction is that I find this draft class difficult to like.
Signing top pick Corey Seager would go a long way to helping me like this draft, particularly if they needed to save money on some later picks to ensure he signs in the first round. Seager is a potential difference maker at the hot corner, with tons of offensive potential and good bloodlines.
Supplemental first rounder Jesmuel Valentin has a great chance at a big league career, but I don’t see the impressive tools to project much beyond a fringy everyday second baseman or a very nice utility player. He is a very instinctual player whose tools play up, but that’s not what I want in a high school player in the supplemental round.
Left-hander Onelkis Garcia is another Cuban defector that was made draft eligible by Major League Baseball, but unlike Perez-Ramos, Garcia offers some very promising raw stuff. If he ends up getting over-slot money, that could explain some of the Dodgers other selections in the upper rounds. Garcia has mid-rotation potential if he can throw enough strikes and he could move quickly to the upper levels of the system.
Fourth and sixth round picks Justin Chigbogu and Joey Curletta have massive raw power but enormous questions surrounding the rest of their game. Seventh round pick Theo Alexander is a promising athlete that flashes some tools, but there are big questions about his hitting ability and ultimate projection.
Left-handers Paco Rodriguez and Ross Stripling both provide surety in this class, but their disturbing lack of upside continues to leave me wanting. It appears the Dodgers are counting heavily on the power potential of Seager, Chigbogu and Curletta, and possibly the left arm of Garcia to carry this draft class. While I always like power potential and am intrigued by what that crew could offer, this draft strategy is one I can’t say I fully understand.
San Diego Padres
If you move forward with the assumption that the Padres are going to sign the vast majority of their top ten picks, it is hard not to like what they’ve attempted to do here. With Max Fried, Zach Eflin and Walker Weickel, they have added three pitchers that were talked about as first round picks throughout the spring.
Adding Travis Jankowski and his impressive athleticism and top of the order potential to those three pitchers makes for an outstanding haul coming from the first and supplemental first rounds. Jankowski is putting his skills on display in the College World Series and by this time next month, people could be asking why he was still on the board with the 44th pick in the draft.
In what is perceived as an attempt to save money for their first four picks, the Padres were aggressive with St. John’s outfielder Jeremy Baltz. He has an intriguing bat but profiles as a left fielder or first baseman only and will have to mash to have a true profile.
I like the play on third rounder Fernando Perez. A smooth hitter with a natural swing and enough power projection to see 15-20 home runs in his future, Perez could be a solid fifth hitter in a big league lineup. His defense at third base needs work but he has the raw tools to play the position, including very good hands and a strong arm.
Central Florida’s talented team could play a role in the ultimate success of this draft class with reliever Roman Madrid and outfielder Ronnie Richardson coming off the board in the seventh and 16th rounds, respectively. Madrid has shown a fastball up to 94 mph and an aggressive mentality. Richardson is really small but also very exciting. He’s a toolsy athlete that can do everything but hit for power, and even in that area, he has improved and can now get the ball into the gaps occasionally.
Outfielder Brian Adams was an under-slot pick in the eighth round and he may be one of the more impressive athletes in the entire draft. Adams focused on football for much of his college career and only decided this spring that he wanted to pursue baseball full time. According to multiple scouts in attendance at his pro day workout, he certainly “looks the part” and can do some “impressive things.” That said, scouts also finished by asking, “What is he though?”
As an extreme example of teams saving money in rounds five through ten, the Padres have already signed tenth round pick Stephen Carmon for a well under slot $5,000. Carmon is an org player at best and had no business going in the top ten rounds, but his signing in that range will allow the Padres to be aggressive with Fried, Eflin and Weickel at the top.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants did something that makes an extreme amount of sense given their developmental capabilities. With a track record for developing pitching, the Giants jumped all over college arms in the first ten rounds, popping seven hurlers with their first eight picks.
First rounder Chris Stratton and second rounder Martin Agosta both had some helium this spring with strong performances and equally strong stuff. Stratton lacks big time upside but he has a really good chance to be a solid number three or four starter. Agosta may have a tough more upside but his control and command issues lead to more risk.
Left-hander Steven Okert is a high-powered lefty with incredible upside but needs a lot of work in the nuances of pitching. Right-hander Stephen Johnson out of St. Edward’s is actually quite similar to Okert. He flashes big time stuff with some regularity but has to learn how to harness his stuff to be an effective professional.
Right-hander EJ Encinosa could be the next in a line of home-grown relievers in the mold of Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo and Heath Bell. Working as Miami’s closer, Encinosa has shown a fastball in the 92-94 mph range with heavy sink. Much like Okert and Johnson, Encinosa must learn to control his stuff but he certainly has the raw stuff for the late innings.
Thirteenth rounder Ryan Jones continued a college-heavy draft class. What he lacks in pure ceiling he makes up for in his all-around ability. Jones stands out most for his contact ability and his projection to hit for average. He does enough on defense and can put enough of a charge in the ball to profile as a potential bench player.
One of only a handful of high school player taken by the Giants this year, ninth round pick Shilo McCall signed quickly, forgoing his commitment to Arkansas. He is an intriguing player with a good body and some tools to go with it. There are scouts that think he could end up a bit of a tweener, but there’s enough intrigue to make him worth following in the lower minors.