Winners and Losers of the 2015 MLB Draft

Winners

Colorado Rockies

Within the span of 27 picks, the Rockies scored both the consensus top overall prospect (Brandon Rodgers) and arguably the top high-school pitcher in this draft class (Mike Nikorak). They didn’t stop there though. With their next three picks, they nabbed three high-ceiling high-schoolers: 3B Tyler Nevin, RHP Peter Lambert and RHP Javier Medina. Nevin has a powerful bat and great bloodlines; his dad was the first-overall pick in the 1992 draft. Lambert and Medina both have low-to-mid-90s heaters and breaking balls that grade out as above-average. With commitments to UCLA, and Arizona, respectively, they’re going to be hard to sign, but taking them earlier rather than later increases their signability. In the later rounds, the Rockies stocked up on college players with high-ceilings, including LHP Jack Wynkoop and RHP Trey Killian.

John Savage

You’re forgiven if you don’t recognize the name. Savage wasn’t one of the 1,215 players drafted. Rather, he’s the head coach of the UCLA baseball squad, which scored some major upsets during the 2015 MLB draft. They will end up losing some of their more heralded recruits, like Kolby Allard, Peter Lambert, Lucas Herbert and Tyler Nevin, each of whom was drafted in the first 54 picks. Savage will, however, be able to retain some recruits with incredible upside, such as LHP Justin Hooper and RHP Kyle Molnar. Hooper is a mammoth southpaw who has immense potential, but he was drafted in the 25th-round, making any kind of deal very unlikely. Molnar is in the same situation after being selected ten picks after Hooper, by the Cardinals. Joining Hooper and Molnar on campus will be Michael Benson, a 34th-rounder who should forgo any kind of deal with Colorado. Benson was the backup plan at catcher in case Herbert ended up going pro, so the Bruins should be in good shape in 2016.

RLD_1719Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy

Yankees’ outfielder Carlos Beltran is one of the good guys in baseball, so it surprised no one when he opened a private baseball academy in his hometown of Manati, Puerto Rico in 2013. In addition to paving the way for high-schoolers to gain an education, it also opened up an easier route for Puerto Ricans to showcase their talent for big-league scouts and front-office executives. In it’s first year, the Beltran Baseball Academy produced two players that were selected in the MLB draft, including shortstop Jan Hernandez, the 96th overall pick. In 2014, the number of players picked rose to four, and last week five players were selected, two a piece by the Astros and Twins, the former being one of six teams Beltran has played for in his 18-year career.

Houston Astros

As if it’s not enough that the Astros are in the midst of their best year in at least a decade, Houston went ahead and scored killer marks in the draft. It still remains to be seen how many players from this class they’ll sign to contracts, but it seems as though they’ll have the funds to ink deals with their first three picks: Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Dazmon Cameron. Signing just those three players to contracts would make for an A grade, but then they went out and made some incredibly savvy picks. Second-rounder RHP Thomas Eshelman is a control-specialist who should move incredibly quickly through the minor leagues and could find a home at the back of the big-league rotation as early as next spring. He also shouldn’t cost too much. With their third-round pick, they got RHP Riley Ferrell, who had a tremendous season pitching out of TCU’s bullpen. He allowed just ten hits all season, and if not for a rough stretch in the NCAA tournament, he would have finished his second consecutive year with a sub-1.00 ERA. Like Eshelman, he shouldn’t need much seasoning in the minors before arriving in Houston. They acquired some solid depth at the catcher position with college vets Anthony Hermelyn (fourth) and Garrett Stubbs (eighth) and picked up a really interesting pitcher in UNC RHP Trent Thornton. It’s tough to predict whether anyone drafted after the 10th-round will sign, but the Astros did go after a good number of projectable high-schoolers including LHP Patrick Sandoval, RHP Cole Sands and RHP/1B Luken Baker, who told teams the week of the draft that he had no intention of turning pro. Even if Houston sign’s none of those last three, they’ll be in great shape.

Vanderbilt

The Commodores had three players selected in the first 24 picks (Dansby Swanson, Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler), two more selected by pick #103 (Phil Pfeifer and Rhett Wiseman) and nine players overall. While all of the players may not sign professional contracts, make no mistake that it will certainly help with the coaching staff’s recruiting pitch. After all, only one other school (Stanford) has produced multiple #1 picks.

Losers

Brady Aiken

Last year, Aiken was selected with the first overall pick, which came with a slotted bonus of just under $8 million. The story has been well-told, but after examining the left-hander’s medical records, the Astros rescinded their original offer and negotiations fell through, resulting in Aiken dropping back into the draft pool. He enrolled at the prestigious IMG Academy, and was well on his way to becoming a top-five pick for the second consecutive year when news broke that he had underwent Tommy John surgery. Speculation was rampant about how far the injury would cause Aiken to drop, but the Indians pulled the trigger with their first round selection That’s the good news. The bad news? Aiken’s alloted bonus for being the 17th pick is just under $2.4 million.

1011_oag_dan-duquette-624x415Baltimore Orioles

With four of the first 102 selections, and the ninth-largest bonus pool, the Orioles had a tremendous chance to restock a farm system that was in dire need of some elite talent. And despite what the front-office has said regarding those first four picks being their primary targets, it’s hard to believe that D.J. Stewart, Ryan Mountcastle, Jonathan Hughes and Garrett Cleavinger could be anybody’s primary targets. Okay, that’s harsh. Stewart we can buy. After all, he has some of the best on-base skills in the 2015 draft class. And Mountcastle is a promising prospect, but probably a better fit in the fourth or fifth round. Hughes is where they really lost us. And Cleavinger? He’s nothing more than a lefty specialist at the pro level. They did make some bold choices in the later rounds, but if they aren’t able to sign RHP Gray Fenter, SS Branden Becker or 1B Seamus Curran, then there’s no way the grade out above a C in our book.

Donny Everett

Everett’s draft stock was soaring in the weeks leading up to the draft. Rumors of him hitting triple-digits during his senior season at Clarksville High started to spread, and his name was on everyone’s tongue as the draft kicked off on Monday night. He seemed a lock to be a top-15 pick, and to command a signing bonus north of $3 million. Twenty-eight rounds came and went before Everett heard his name called, as the 871st overall pick, and the 29th selection of the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee’s chances of signing Everett are just barely north of zero, and as such, it seems our #5 overall prospect is headed to college, where he’ll succeed Carson Fulmer as the head of the rotation.

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