We’re not even a full month removed from the 2015 draft, and the ink is not yet dry on hundreds of contracts, but why not take a look at how the 2016 first round is shaking out, and which players seem destined to go pretty high.
That would be fun, yes?
1) Philadelphia Phillies (26-48): Austin Bergner, RHP, Windermere Prep HS (FL)
It’s been 18 years since the Phillies last picked #1 overall. They used that pick on an infielder from Miami (Pat Burrell) and the wealth of talent from the “Sunshine State” could lead them back to Florida in 2016. Bergner has it all. Great size, elite velocity, and two above-average offerings in a curveball and changeup. The odds are stacked against him, however, as no right-handed pitcher from the high school ranks has ever been selected first overall.
2) Milwaukee Brewers (27-47): Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Maryland
For most of the past decade, the Brewers have been just mediocre enough to miss out on picking inside the top-ten. That should change in 2016, as they’re likely headed for their first top-five pick since 2005, when they found a future Hall-of-Famer in Ryan Braun. The strength of this class is pitching, and as such, the Brewers should have a choice of some of the top arms. Shawaryn isn’t a sexy pick, but he has a very high floor as a #2 starter.
3) Miami Marlins (30-43): Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS)
This was supposed to be the year that the Marlins turned the corner. And while there’s still a ton of games left, it seems as though they’re headed for a top-ten pick for the fourth time in nine years. They haven’t gotten any return on any of those picks, and three of the four are no longer with the organization. The only one to hold out hope for is last year’s #2 pick, Tyler Kolek, a fire-balling right-hander from Texas. The 2016 version of the Texas fire-baller is Riley Pint, who actually hails from Kansas. His fastball has touched 98-mph and his knuckle-curve might be the better breaking ball in the 2016 class.
4) Boston Red Sox (32-42): Alex Speas, RHP, McEachern HS (GA)
The Red Sox held the seventh pick in the 2015 draft, despite being one year removed from a World Series title. If they keep up their current level of play, they’ll be picking inside the top-ten for the second consecutive year, something Boston hasn’t done since 1966-67. Alex Speas isn’t a household name, but expect to hear it a lot over the next 12 months. He has, without a doubt, the strongest arm in the 2016 high school crop. He’s been clocked as high as 97-mph, and while he’s still figuring out his breaking ball, he’s as sure a bet as any high-schooler to be drafted inside the top five picks.
5) Colorado Rockies (32-40): Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep (CA)
In two of the past three years, the Rockies have picked third overall and have managed to nab the consensus #1 player in the draft class. If the season ended today, they’d be picking fifth, but they’d have that same chance with the top position player still on the board. Rutherford has been showcasing his skills for years, but he’s still a joy to watch, featuring plus-plus speed, plus arm strength and the chance to hit for average and power.
6) Chicago White Sox (32-40): A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
The White Sox have drafted three premium arms from the college ranks (Chris Sale, Carlos Rodon, Carson Fulmer) over the past six years, and with the strength of the 2016 class in college pitching, it makes sense for them to take another dip into that pool. Puk offers arguably the best velocity in this class, and from the left-side no less. His breaking ball is less refined, and there will be inevitable questions about his maturity, but if he pitches like he did down the stretch in 2015, he won’t last past pick #5.
7) Seattle Mariners (33-40): Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M
After picking inside the top-12 for the past four years, the Mariners didn’t have a first-round pick in 2015. They should more than make up for that in 2016, by picking inside the top ten once again. They’ve gone position player with their last three first-round picks, and with Banks on the board it’s a pretty easy choice. He has above-average tools across the board and has a chance to be a very special hitter.
8) Oakland Athletics (34-41): Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS (AL)
It’s been 16 years since the A’s picked inside the top-ten, but they’re currently on track to pick eighth-overall. This would give them a choice of a solid crop of pitchers. Garrett doesn’t have the best velocity of the bunch, but his breaking ball is top-notch and his command is light-years ahead of other high-school arms. He compares favorably with one of this year’s first-round picks, Kolby Allard.
9) Cleveland Indians (33-38): Jason Groome, LHP, IMG Academy (FL)
Groome is another prospect that could find his way into the top-three before long. Blessed with incredible size (6-6/180) and a fastball that has already reached 96-mph, he will have scouts flocking to Florida to watch each one of his starts for IMG, and teams lining up with bags of cash to dissuade him from honoring his commitment to Vanderbilt. His low-energy delivery has scouts believing he could eventually ratchet his fastball up to 98-99. The Indians selected 2015 first-rounder Brady Aiken out of IMG as well.
10) Cincinnati Reds (33-37): Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
If their 2015 campaigns were any indication, Nick Banks and Corey Ray will battle it out again in 2016 to determine who the first college outfielder drafted will be. Banks has the slight edge in terms of hitting ability, but there’s no denying Ray is the more exciting player. His speed grades out as borderline plus-plus (34 SB in 2015) and he has the skills to stick in centerfield long-term.
11) San Diego Padres (35-39): Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia
The Padres also didn’t have a first-round selection in 2015. If they stay out of the free-agent game this off-season they could be looking at a top-ten pick in one of the deepest drafts in years. Like Shawaryn, Jones isn’t a flashy pick, but he gets the job done. His changeup is arguably the best in this draft class, while his fastball sits 90-95 mph. He pitched well deep into the College World Series this year, and he’ll be the anchor of the Cavaliers squad in 2016.
12) Atlanta Braves (35-38): Seth Beer, OF, Lambert HS (GA)
Beer is arguably the top prospect from Georgia, in what should be another banner year for the Peach State. He’s shown prodigious power from the left side and complements his all-around package at the plate by putting together patient at-bats. He’s pitched a little, hitting 90-mph on the mound, so he should be an asset in a corner-outfield spot.
13) Arizona Diamondbacks (35-37): Zack Collins, C, Miami-Florida
A catcher has been selected inside the top 15 picks every year since 2012, and with Chris Okey, Brad Debo and Thomas Dillard a part of the 2016 class, it stands to reason it will probably happen for the fifth year in a row. The best bat of the bunch, however, belongs to Collins, who drove in 70 runs last season for the Hurricanes. At 6-3 and 220 pounds, he isn’t fleet of foot so he might not stick behind the plate as a pro, but there’s no denying he’s a first-round talent thanks to his bat alone.
14) New York Mets (37-37): Jeff Belge, LHP, Henninger HS (NY)
Belge is a bit of a miracle. Blinded in one eye by a freak childhood accident, the left-hander now needs prescription lenses on the mound, but you’d hardly be able to tell he wasn’t functioning at 100%. His fastball has earned him national attention, but he also spins an impressive curveball. He shows good feel for a changeup and impressive command considering the circumstances.
15) Los Angeles Angels (37-36): Garrett Hampson, SS, Long Beach State
Hampson is the 2016 version of Kevin Newman, an average fielder with little-to-no power, but with an incredible knack for making contact and racking up base hits. And while he would likely slot in somewhere behind Newman and 2015 first-rounder Richie Martin, he’s arguably the top middle-infielder in next year’s class. He has yet to hit above .308 in college, but he’s a patient hitter with a great approach that should have little problem translating his hit tool to the pro level.
16) Detroit Tigers (37-36): Logan Shore, RHP, Florida
In 2015, Shore was the ace of a Florida pitching staff that had three potential first round selections. He doesn’t have the best velocity, but the command of his repertoire, which includes a low-90s fastball and an above-average changeup, is unrivaled in this class. He’s incredibly seasoned too, making 33 starts over the course of two seasons in Gainesville.
17) Texas Rangers (37-36): Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma
Make no mistake, Hansen’s best tool is his mid-to-high-90s fastball that many scouts believe has the chance to hit triple digits. At 6-7 and 235 pounds, there’s plenty more about the right-hander to like, including his slider that has flashed above-average. Consistency is going to be the key with Hansen, and so far, he hasn’t shown much of it, pitching to an ERA over 4.00 in two years for the Sooners.
18) Toronto Blue Jays (39-35): Ryan Boldt, OF, Nebraska
Boldt was one of the most exciting prospects in the 2013 draft class, but concerns about his signability were confirmed when he slipped all the way to the 22nd round. He’s shown great plate discipline in two seasons in Lincoln, but has yet to truly utilize his borderline-plus speed, stealing only 16 bases. He’s an elite defender as well.
19) Baltimore Orioles (38-34): Buddy Reed, OF, Florida
The barrage of Florida Gators continues. After playing sparingly during his freshman season, Reed burst onto the scene as a junior, splitting time between the #5 and #6 spot in the lineup. After a slow start to the season, his bat took off after he made the switch from contacts to prescription lenses. He didn’t show much power, but did everything else, leading the team with five triples, driving in 47 runs and stealing 18 bases. Reed, who hails from a Baltimore suburb, is also an above-average defender in the outfield and spent most of 2015 manning centerfield for the Gators.
20) San Francisco Giants (39-34): Joey Polak, 3B, Quincy Notre Dame HS (IL)
At 6-5 and 210 pounds, it’s no wonder Polak doesn’t generate much attention for his footspeed. Luckily, the rest of his game is top-notch. His bat speed is incredibly quick, his raw power awe-inspiring, and his arm strength is such that he could be an asset behind the plate if he weren’t so large. He consistently logged pop-times in the 1.90-1.95 range.
21) Minnesota Twins (39-33): Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Arizona
Dalbec burst onto the scene in 2015, slugging 15 homers and emerging as one of the top power bats in the 2016 draft class. The raw power is there, it’s just a matter of maintaining a more consistent approach at the plate. We’d expect to see far fewer strikeouts than the 60 he racked up in 2015. Finding him a home defensively is another matter. He would be a slightly below-average defender at third base, so a move to first base or right-field might be in order.
22) New York Yankees (39-33): Thomas Dillard, C, Oxford HS (MS)
Dillard owns some of the best raw power in the 2016 draft class, and even more impressive, he shows it from both sides. This switch-hitter has looked great against elite competition, and while he might not have the chops to stick behind the plate, he’ll likely get every chance.
23) Washington Nationals (40-33): Carlos Cortes, 2B, Oviedo HS (FL)
Cortes played less than 30 minutes away from this year’s third-overall selection Brendan Rodgers, and despite a noticeable size difference, he has a lot of the same tools. He doesn’t have the footwork or quickness to stick at shortstop, but his bat will be his carrying tool. Cortes will also draw plenty of attention in 2016 for his ability to throw with both his left and right hand.
24) Chicago Cubs (39-32): Robert Tyler, RHP, Georgia
Tyler is going to be one of the most interesting prospects to watch heading into the fall. He has all the tools to be a #1 starter and the #1 pick in the 2016 draft, including a mid-90s fastball, a hammer curve and great size. Unfortunately, he’s also had to deal with some nagging injuries and he’ll head into his junior campaign surrounded by many of the same questions that hovered around Michael Matuella. Our guess is he has a so-so-season, but shows enough velocity to warrant a first round pick.
25) Los Angeles Dodgers (41-33): Spencer Steer, 3B, Millikan HS (CA)
Expect to hear Steer’s name a lot between now and the 2016 draft. His bat is one of the best among the high-school crop, and he owns a cannon of an arm that will profile well at third base. Teams might give him the chance to stick at shortstop, assuming they can sway him from his commitment to Oregon.
26) Tampa Bay Rays (41-33): Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford
It wasn’t that long ago that Quantrill was garnering early attention as a possible #1 pick in 2015. Then he underwent Tommy John surgery, and dropped off the face of the earth. He returned for three starts at the end of last season, and looked brilliant, striking out 20 batters in 18.2 innings. He’ll return to anchor the Stanford rotation in 2016, and a strong season could vault him back into first-round consideration.
27) Pittsburgh Pirates (40-31): Peter Alonso, 1B, Florida
And one final Gator. Alonso has received limited playing time during his two seasons at UF, but with several members of their loaded roster departing as members of the 2015 draft class, expect him to feature prominently in their plans in 2016. His raw power is unreal, but it’s his batting eye that should draw plenty of attention, and allow him to hit for a high average at the pro level.
28) Houston Astros (42-32): Matt Krook, LHP, Oregon
Krook was well on his way to earning a spot on numerous All-American teams in 2014, before he was felled by an injury that required Tommy John surgery. He missed the second half of the 2014 campaign and sat out all of last year. He should be on a less restricted inning/pitch count than fellow Duck and 2015 32nd-roudner Cole Irvin was this past season, allowing him a better chance to showcase his low-to-mid-90s fastball and above-average curveball.
29) Kansas City Royals (41-28): Ben DeLuzio, OF, Florida State
FSU has had a player selected in the first round in four of the past five years, and DeLuzio could make it five of the past six if he can finally put it all together. He’s shown the speed and defensive ability that made him a coveted recruit, but his bat has yet to make the leap, and his average slipped to .241 last year. If he can show a better approach at the plate, his complete package will make him incredibly appealing.
30) St. Louis Cardinals (47-24): Chris Okey, C, Clemson
Okey spurned a 2013 offer from the Padres to honor his commitment to Clemson, where he has evolved into a power-hitter with solid defensive skills. He’d rate ahead of any of the college catchers from the 2015 class, despite the fact that he only threw out 20% of basestealers last season.