Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL)
Injuries to Brady Aiken and Michael Matuella, and the concerns about Nathan Kirby and Dillon Tate, should make Rodgers a shoe-in selection here. There’s still some time to go before the draft, but if it were held today, Rodgers would be the first player selected.
Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente HS (CA)
The Astros will have a wealth of opportunities, picking both second and fifth, and as such they can afford to go for a pricey guy like Allard with one of the selections. He’ll be hard to sway from a commitment to UCLA, but his ceiling is arguably as high as any pitcher in this class.
Greg Pickett, OF, Legend HS (CO)
Pickett has as much raw power as anyone in this draft class, and a sub-par start to his senior season shouldn’t damper that. Power isn’t his only tool though, as he also possesses above-average speed, arm strength and defense. He’d be a perfect fit for Colorado, not to mention a hometown kid.
Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA)
Hooper has yet to hit his stride this season, but his upside is huge. It’s rare to find a 6-7 lefty that can dial it up into the high-90s, so expect Hooper to come off the board pretty early. The Rangers need to rebuild their entire pitching staff in the worst way and Hooper has the ability to one-day anchor a rotation.
Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
Tate has been flying up draft boards of late, thanks to his mid-to-high 90s fastball and plus breaking ball. There are concerns about his delivery and mechanics, but he’s without a doubt one of the most exciting prospects in the draft. With two of the top five picks in the draft, the Astros can afford to take a chance on a guy who may require a major overhaul of his throwing mechanics.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
Swanson is almost a carbon-copy of Rodgers, down to both prospect’s playing weight (6-1,190). Fortunate for whichever team drafts him, Swanson will require less seasoning. In Minnesota, Swanson would not only lock down a position that has been a veritable revolving door, but he would likely become the face of the Twins future.
Boston Red Sox
Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy
The Red Sox rarely pick in the top-ten, and as such, it’s rare they end up having the chance to draft a player with the upside of Aiken. Despite his season-ending injury that will likely sideline him until the end of 2016, Aiken will still likely find a home somewhere in the top-ten. He’s that talented.
Chicago White Sox
Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati
Make no mistake, Happ is a legitimate batting title threat that should offer 10-15 homers per year at the big-league level. Still, he may find himself dropping into the 15-20 range. If the White Sox are smart, they’d take Happ and give him a long-term job by the end of 2015. He’ll be an All-Star within two or three years.
Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia
The Cubs stadium situation is a mess, and while the outlook for the team should be much brighter, this team is still a year away from competing for a division title. The kids (Bryant, Alfaro, Baez, etc.) will have their growing pains this year and by 2016 they should be competitive. Kirby shouldn’t need much seasoning and could join the rotation by the start of next year.
Phil Bickford, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
The Phillies are a sinking ship and they aren’t shedding veterans quick enough. Once they trade Cole Hamels, their rotation will be one of the worst in baseball. They made a smart move last year, adding Aaron Nola, but it’s going to take more than him to get the Phils back on the right track. Adding a former LSU commit in Bickford would help speed the process, and give the franchise a much brighter future.
Dazmon Cameron, OF, Eagle’s Landing HS (GA)
Cameron doesn’t have many holes in his game, and while he’s definitely more talented than his father was coming into pro-ball, he still has an uphill climb. The Reds love toolsy outfielders, and Cameron would be an excellent addition to a young squad that features speedster Billy Hamilton and slugger Jay Bruce.
Austin Smith, RHP, Park Vista HS (FL)
The Marlins struck paydirt with the last South Florida pitcher they tabbed in the first round. Smith’s upside isn’t as high as Jose Fernandez, but he’s plenty talented in his own right. His fastball has been clocked in the mid-90s and both his curve and changeup have flashed above-average. Furthermore, his mechanics are incredibly smooth for a high-schooler.
Tampa Bay Rays
Richie Martin, SS, Florida
The Rays, despite having a wealth of talented infield prospects, have struggled to find consistency at shortstop, and since Asdrubal Cabrera appears to be a shell of himself, they need a long-term solution at the position. Martin is arguably the best defender in this draft class, and his bat has shown great promise.
Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
Buehler has slowly worked his way back into shape and by the end of the college season he should be back to his rightful place as the Commodores ace. The Braves tend to draft from the college ranks more than any other franchise.
Alex Bregman, 2B/SS, Louisiana State
Bregman’s bat may be even better than Happ’s, and there’s no questioning his athleticism or versatility. Like Happ, he should challenge for batting titles one day, and he’s a safe bet to hit 10-15 homers annually.
New York Yankees
Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral HS (IN)
Russell has three outstanding offerings, and he’s arguably the top right-hander from the high-school ranks. His ceiling is somewhere in the 10-15 range, making him a solid pick-up here for the Yankees.
Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke
Matuella recently announced he will miss the remainder of the college season to undergo Tommy John surgery. With the success rate of the procedure increasing rapidly, there’s no reason to think Matuella won’t be back on the mound by 2017. The real question is whether teams will be scared away by all of his other injury concerns.
San Francisco Giants
Kyle Molnar, RHP, Aliso Niguel HS (CA)
Molnar has a big-league body (6-3, 205) to go along with a low-90s fastball and two above-average offerings in a curveball and changeup. His delivery and mechanics are clean. He has a ceiling as a #2 starter at the big-league level.
Chris Betts, C, Wilson HS (CA)
Since 2000, the Pirates have used 64% of their first-round picks on high-schoolers, and with the meager depth in the college crop, expect them to go that route again in 2015. Betts is the top catcher in this class, offering both solid defense and an impressive skill-set at the plate.
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
Funkhouser looked like he was destined for a top-ten selection a few months ago, but his spotty fastball command has been revealed and now he seems likely to slip out of the top-20, and possibly out of the first-round altogether. When he’s commanding his pitches, though, he’s nearly un-hittable, meaning some team will take a gamble on him.
Kansas City Royals
Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Only three teams draft more left-handed pitchers in the first-round than Kansas City, and with a lefty like Jay on the board it should be a pretty easy choice. He’s done nothing but close the past two seasons, but Jay has the stuff to start at the pro level.
Alex Young, LHP, Texas Christian
The Tigers also draft pretty exclusively from the high-school ranks in the first round, but with a pitcher of Young’s caliber left on the board, they’ll have to pounce. The left-hander has looked sensational this year, and his stuff has looked light-years ahead of where it was this time last year.
St. Louis Cardinals
Cornelius Randolph, 3B, Griffin HS (GA)
The Cardinals are also incredibly loyal to the college ranks, and that strategy has paid off over the past decade, but another trend to keep an eye on is their insistence on spending first-round selections on corner infielders, something they’ve done 15 times since 2000. Randolph is the most complete player left on the board, and his ceiling is as a Evan Longoria-type player.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice HS (MI)
Plummer seems destined to be a first-rounder, and with his tool-set, he probably should be. A team like the Dodgers seems a perfect fit for the sparkplug outfielder who should hit for average and offer above-average defensive skills.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant HS (FL)
It’s been a while since the O’s have picked this late in the first-round, but the last time they picked in the 20s, they ended up with Hunter Harvey, who is already one of baseball’s top 100 prospects. They’ll likely go with another high-risk, high-reward guy like Tucker, who oozes talent, but is still incredibly raw.
Los Angeles Angels
Trenton Clark, OF, Richland HS (TX)
Clark has a similar skill-set to Pickett, although his focus is more on speed and less on power. He could hit at the top of a lineup, or in the middle. He’s that versatile.
Luken Baker, RHP, Oak Ridge HS (TX)
In many ways, Baker resembles former first-round pick Jonathan Gray, who Colorado selected in the first-round a few years back. He obviously lacks the polish, but he’s got premium velocity and a solid breaking ball. He’s also impressive at the plate, and worthy of a first-round selection there as well.
Jahmai Jones, Wesleyan HS (GA)
This pick is almost a freebie for the Braves, who were given the rights after Ervin Santana, who was recently suspended for 80 games, signed with the Twins. The Braves tend to be pretty loyal to local products, and Jones is arguably a first-round talent.
Toronto Blue Jays
Luke Lowery, 1B/OF, East Carolina
The Blue Jays don’t have a selection until the compensation round, so the pressure will be on for the front-office to make a splash here. Getting Lowery, whose bat has been off-the-charts this year would do.
New York Yankees
Taylor Ward, C, Fresno State
Ward is the top college catcher on the board, and likely the second-best option after Betts. He’s been strong behind the plate this year, and his bat has really come alive.
San Francisco Giants
David Thompson, 3B, Miami
You heard it here first. Thompson will go a lot higher on draft day than most think. Defensively, he has all the tools to stick at the hot corner, and his bat is explosive. He’ll be one of the first hitters from the 2015 class to reach the Majors.
Mac Marshall, LHP, Chipola College
Marshall was a 21st-rounder last year, but he chose to head to college rather than sign a below-slot offer. He then transferred from LSU to Chipola College in the fall so he would be eligible for this year’s draft. He’s been dominant for Chipola, and he should hear his name called much earlier in 2015.
Kansas City Royals
Alonzo Jones, 2B/OF, Columbus HS (GA)
Jones is one of the top defensive prospects in this draft class, so of course he’ll end up with Kansas City, right? He is, without a doubt, the fastest runner from the high-school crop, and while his bat has lagged behind in development, there’s enough talent there to warrant an early-round selection.
Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
If you don’t know the name, get used to hearing it. Another potential future batting-champion, Newman is a wizard at the plate. He rarely strikes out, has a great batting eye, and makes contact like no one else in this class. In the field, he’s solid enough to be a slightly-above-average defender at short.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Devin Davis, 1B, Valencia HS (CA)
Davis is arguably the most complete player at his position from either the college or high-school ranks. His ceiling as a high-average, 20-30 HR hitter should be very appealing.
Garrett Wolforth, C, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)
Matt Wieters is a free-agent in 2015, and the catchers currently in the O’s farm system do little to inspire. Like Wieters, Wolforth is a switch-hitter who excels on defense.