There are only three days to go before the 2015 MLB draft, and the pressure is really ratcheting up. Just take a look at the NCAA super-regionals for proof. Missouri State RHP Jon Harris picked a terrible time to have the worst start of his college career, while Arkansas OF Andrew Benintendi and Miami LHP Andrew Suarez have boosted their draft stock a little higher with impressive performances.
This will be our second-to-last mock draft before the big day, so let’s get started.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt (#2 on Top 100)
Swanson seemingly has it all: great approach at the plate, solid defensive skills, and a great attitude. He even has the rugged All-American looks that scream “make me the face of a franchise!” He’ll likely get that chance in Arizona, where the Diamondbacks have finally found a solution to their decade long search for a franchise shortstop.
2015 stats: .348/.443/.656, 71 R, 22 2B, 6 3B, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 42 BB, 43 K, 15-for-17 SB (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Alex Bregman, SS, Louisiana State (#4)
Convention seems to say that the Astros are going to try to draft a lesser-known prospect with this pick, so they can save a little money, but with more than $17 million to spend on their first 12 selections, it might make more sense to go hard after two of the best talents in this draft, starting with Bregman. His bat is the most seasoned of anyone in this class, and his versatility (he’s caught and played multiple infield positions) should allow the Astros to plug him in wherever they need him.
2015 stats: .318/.414/.548, 55 R, 22 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 36 BB, 20 K, 35-for-45 SB (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL) (#1)
The Rockies are reportedly also hot on the trail of Illinois reliever Tyler Jay, and while he is a fine prospect, how can they pass up a player like Rodgers? Of the shortstops drafted in the first round over the past five years, the only ones we’d take over Rodgers would be Manny Machado, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa. On a side note, how lucky have the Rockies been in recent years? Getting Jon Gray two years ago, and David Dahl in 2012.
2015 stats: .360/.457/.786, 19 R, 8 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 13 BB, 12 K, 3-for-3 SB (season over)
Tyler Jay, LHP, University of Illinois (#7)
The Rangers appear to have eyes for all three shortstop prospects, but seeing as how this is the “year of the shortstop,” the top three prizes might be off the board by the time they pick at #4. This scenario would give Texas their pick of the pitching litter, and they’ll be hard-pressed to pass on Jay, who has been lights-out all season long.
2015 stats: 5-1, 0.60 ERA, 14 SV, 29 GP, 1 GS, 60.1 IP, 30 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 70 K (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Dazmon Cameron, OF, Eagle’s Landing HS (GA) (#16)
We’ve had Houston and Cameron linked since our second mock draft back in January, and all these months later it seems as though they’re still sniffing around the Georgia prep outfielder. Cameron is seen as somewhat of a safe pick among high-schoolers, with a frequent comparison to last year’s #5 pick, Nick Gordon.
2015 stats: .455/.569/.922, 38 R, 10 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 21 BB, 11 K, 17-for-17 SB (season over)
Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant HS (FL) (#8)
The Twins have become insistent on taking high-schoolers in the first round, selecting from that rank in each of the past three years. The agenda has worked, though, with Byron Buxton emerging as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and Nick Gordon and Kohl Stewart ranking as the top hitting (after Buxton and Miguel Sano) and pitching prospects in the system, respectively. Adding Tucker, the 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year for Florida and brother of Astros outfielder Preston, would give even more fuel to one of the most top-heavy farm systems in baseball.
2015 stats: .484/.581/.962, 29 R, 7 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 25 BB, 10-for-10 SB (season over)
Boston Red Sox
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt University (#12)
Everyone has had Boston and Bregman linked for months, but with five teams picking before them the chances are slim that he’ll still be around when they pick. Fulmer is a good back-up, offering the chance to be an elite relief pitcher, assuming starting doesn’t work out.
2015 stats: 12-2, 1.92 ERA, 16 GP, 16 GS, 107.2 IP, 71 H, 23 ER, 41 BB, 147 K (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Chicago White Sox
Dillon Tate, RHP, University of California, Santa Barbara (#6)
Tate isn’t as hot a commodity as he was a month of two ago. Some of that is just normal prospect fatigue, but there have been concerns about how the right-hander appeared to tire as the college season drew to a close. His fastball didn’t have the same zip, and he worked in his breaking ball more and more with each start. All of it has combined to drop him about three or four draft slots, and has revived conversation about whether or not he’ll be able to hack it as a starter in pro ball. The White Sox have had incredible luck with college pitching the past few years, so expect them to pounce on Tate if he’s still available.
2015 stats: 8-5, 2.26 ERA, 14 GP, 14 GS, 103.1 IP, 66 H, 26 ER, 28 BB, 111 K (season over)
Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State University (#9)
Despite a terrible performance in the super-regional opener against Arkansas, Harris still remains one of the top college arms in this class. He is also one of the only pitchers from the college ranks that hasn’t had to endure any talk of a move to the bullpen after he’s drafted. This bodes well, and a team like Chicago recognizes that while they have an impressive stock-pile of hitting talent, they’re a little thin on the pitching. Adding Harris would be a good start.
2015 stats: 8-2, 2.45 ERA, 15 GP, 15 GS, 103.0 IP, 75 H, 28 ER, 36 BB, 116 K (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Andrew Benintendi, OF, University of Arkansas (#37)
The Phillies are in the midst of a rebuilding process, and while they would likely be best served going after a higher-ceiling high-schooler, the chances are high that they’ll go the college route. Since last year’s selection of LSU pitcher Aaron Nola seems to be such a hit, expect them to dip back into the SEC, where Benintendi is waiting to be scooped up by a team that believes his off-the-charts production is for real.
2015 stats: .391/.496/.735, 60 R, 13 2B, 2 3B, 19 HR, 55 RBI, 45 BB, 30 K, 23-for-27 SB (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Trenton Clark, OF, Richland HS (TX) (#13)
There isn’t much consensus about anything in this draft class, but you can be sure of one thing. After Tucker and Cameron, Trenton Clark is the next best outfielder, which means he’ll likely be off the board in the first 15 picks. Cincinnati has their eyes on an outfielder, and they’d have to be incredibly pleased to get a prospect with Clark’s potential.
2015 stats: .518/.697/.767, 25 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 30 BB, 3 K, 9-for-9 SB (season over)
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, University of Louisville (#20)
There’s always one player in each draft class that is an over-reach. Last year it was Michael Conforto going to the Mets, the year before it was Jonathan Crawford going to the Tigers. We’re expecting this year’s over-reach to be Funkhouser, who burst out of the gate for the Cardinals, but slowed drastically towards the end of the season. His last handful of starts showed him to be incredibly inconsistent, with less than stellar command of his arsenal.
2015 stats: 8-5, 3.25 ERA, 16 GP, 16 GS, 105.1 IP, 92 H, 38 ER, 43 BB, 99 K (season over)
Tampa Bay Rays
Tyler Stephenson, C/OF, Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA) (#19)
The most frequent comparison Stephenson has received is to former Ray and 2013 American League Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers. It’s only fitting, then, that the Rays would snatch him up, one pick before the Braves, who have been drooling over the local product for months.
2015 stats: N/A
Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt University (#11)
The Braves want a player that can help immediately, and if he’s still available, it could very easily be Buehler. He’s had a limited work-load this season due to some elbow soreness early on, but he’s come on late, showing impressive grit and determination as the Commodores try to hold on to their CWS crown.
2015 stats: 4-2, 2.97 ERA, 14 GP, 14 GS, 78.2 IP, 78 H, 26 ER, 25 BB, 81 K (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Cody Ponce, RHP, California Polytechnic University, Pomona (#40)
Before the Broncos run ended in the national semi-finals, Ponce was scintillating to watch in the Division II tournament, and despite a mediocre win-loss record, he was as dominating as any college pitcher this season. He also peaked at just the right time.
2015 stats: 5-3, 1.44 ERA, 1 SV, 13 GP, 12 GS, 62.1 IP, 54 H, 10 ER, 14 BB, 67 K (season over)
New York Yankees
James Kaprielian, RHP, University of California, Los Angeles (#17)
Kaprielian has always had the stuff to warrant a top-15 selection, but he’s not as flashy as some of the other top arms in this class, leading many to discount him. He showed plenty of flash in his last start of the regular season, tossing nine no-hit innings en route to clinching the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament for the Bruins. His season came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Maryland Terrapins, but don’t think for a second that anyone has forgotten about Kaprielian.
2015 stats: 10-4, 2.03 ERA, 17 GP, 16 GS, 106.2 IP, 86 H, 24 ER, 33 BB, 114 K (season over)
Donny Everett, RHP, Clarksville HS (TN) (#5)
Everett has emerged from the pack as the top high school pitcher on our board, and in spite of reports of him hitting the 100-mph mark during a few of his starts, it’s actually his consistency that has impressed us the most. It might cost the Indians nearly a third of their $7 million bonus pool to convince Everett to forgo his commitment to Vanderbilt, but it will be worth it in the long run.
2015 stats: 9-1, 0.94 ERA, 2 SV, 12 GP, 10 GS, 67.0 IP, 32 H, 9 ER, 8 BB, 125 K (season over)
San Francisco Giants
Phil Bickford, RHP, Community College of Southern Nevada (#3)
We keep mocking Bickford to the Giants and for so many reasons it still makes sense. For starters, Bickford is a local Californian who played high school ball just a few hours down the road from San Francisco. The Giants have also proven to be quite adept at finding value late in the first round, and considering he’s the #3 prospect on our draft board, this would be possibly the greatest value to be had in this draft.
2015 stats: 9-1, 1.45 ERA, 16 GP, 16 GS, 86.2 IP, 45 H, 14 ER, 21 BB, 166 K (season over)
Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral HS (IN) (#31)
The Pirates have been monitoring Russell all spring, and he hasn’t disappointed, showing the same heavy fastball that made him a first-round candidate in the first place. His breaking ball has flashed plus, despite the fact that he’s barely had to use it this year. His fastball has been that good.
2015 stats: N/A
Ian Happ, OF/2B, University of Cincinnati (#10)
The A’s prefer drafting from the college ranks, unless there’s a high-schooler with elite talent that has managed to fall to them. Seeing as how the top prep prospects left on the board have some sort of question mark, Happ makes the most sense. He gets on base like a fiend and can do some real damage once he’s there. After Bregman and Swanson, he should be the fastest to reach the big-leagues, making him even more appealing.
2015 stats: .369/.492/.672, 47 R, 18 2B, 0 3B, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 49 BB, 49 K, 12-for-20 SB (season over)
Kansas City Royals
Cornelius Randolph, SS/3B, Griffin HS (GA) (#21)
Randolph is another prospect who probably belongs in the 10-15 range, but who will likely fall to the 20-25 range. The Royals have been linked to him for months, and with other desired targets, such as Russell and Bickford off the board, Randolph is the best value.
2015 stats: .528/.643/.924, 27 R, 9 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 14 BB, 9 K, 18-for-18 SB (season over)
Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg HS (PA) (#14)
Nikorak’s name has seemingly lost some luster after some early performances earned him some attention as a possible top-ten selection. It’s still likely that he’ll hear his name called somewhere in the first round, but it’s increasingly likely that it will be in one of the final picks. The Tigers are going to need to restock their pitching cupboard if they’re going to have any chance at competing in the A.L. Central after the inevitable departure of David Price.
2015 stats: N/A
St. Louis Cardinals
D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State University (#27)
Stewart continues to rake (and draw walks) at an ungodly rate for the Seminoles, seemingly increasing his draft stock with each game he plays. He offers very little in the way of defense, and might be a better fit for an American League squad, but the Cardinals have always been excellent about overlooking flaws and emphasizing plus tools.
2015 stats: .321/.505/.589, 60 R, 10 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 69 BB, 46 K, 11-for-14 SB (still playing in NCAA tournament)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy (#18)
We’re with the majority of draft experts here. Aiken to L.A. seems to make the most sense, even if it’s going to take a large chunk of their $7 million bonus pool to get a deal done.
2015 stats: N/A
Kevin Newman, SS, University of Arizona (#28)
It’s hard to believe that Newman, a player with literally no power and fringe defensive talent, might warrant a first-round selection. Such is the state of the 2015 draft class. The Orioles need some big-league ready talent, and there’s no denying that Newman’s bat is just that. He doesn’t strike out too much, and he also has decent speed. He could be the long-term heir to J.J. Hardy, or even the short-term one if Hardy’s recent back injury proves serious.
2015 stats: .370/.426/.489, 53 R, 19 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 20 BB, 15 K, 22-for-25 SB (season over)
Los Angeles Angels
Donnie Dewees, OF, University of North Florida (#46)
Because his season was ended prematurely, Dewees has been out of sight and out of mind for most teams. The Angels, with the last pick of the first round, will happily snatch up a player with five impressive tools and one that won’t cost too much money.
2015 stats: .422/.483/.749, 88 R, 12 2B, 8 3B, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 30 BB, 16 K, 23-for-26 SB (season over)