We’re rounding into the home stretch of the draft season, and as the college campaign winds down, it’s clear that some prospects that were once-upon-a-time considered the cream of the crop (Alec Hansen, Nick Banks), are nothing more than passing fancies. On the other hand, some prospects, such as Kent State’s Eric Lauer and Mercer’s Kyle Lewis, have boosted their stock higher than anyone ever thought. Over on the high-school side of things, the pecking order has clearly been established: Jason Groome, then Riley Pint…and then everyone else.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at our most recent projections for the first round.
Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS (NJ)
The Phillies’ plan to scout Groome for the remainder of his starts took a blow when he was suspended for nearly a month for violating a state-to-state transfer rule. Don’t expect that to hurt his stock though. He’s about as much of a lock as any player since Bryce Harper in 2010.
Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS)
The Reds could go so many ways here, but their best bet would be to go after our #1 overall prospect, Riley Pint. Pint also had a sensational debut, hitting 99 mph on the radar gun. He struck out 21 batters over 11 innings in his first two starts of the year, and then tossed a shutout in his third.
Corey Ray, OF, University of Louisville
Easily one of the most exciting prospects in this year’s class, Ray has plus speed, which he has used to tear up the basepaths this year (35 SB in 44 G), and he’s always been able to hit for average (career .329), but this year he’s continued to show power can be a major part of his game. Over the past two seasons, he’s averaged a homer every 19 at-bats.
A.J. Puk, LHP, University of Florida
If Puk can keep his life together off the field, and straighten out his delivery, he could be the ace the team has been looking for since expansion. His results in 2016 have been inconsistent (less than 5 IP per start), but he has posted a 12.4 K/9 rate, showing his capable of dominance.
Nick Senzel, 3B, University of Tennessee
Senzel has arguably the top pure bat in the 2016 draft class, and his defense has looked much, much better this year. As of righting, Senzel was hitting .339 with seven homers and 50 RBI in 45 games.
Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS (CA)
Manning is a two-sport athlete with incredible athleticism and a very high ceiling. Already 6’6” and 185 pounds, the lanky right-hander is going to be a beast once he fills out. His fastball already sits in the mid-90s and he complements it with an ever-improving breaking ball.
Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep (CA)
Rutherford is arguably the highest-ceiling player in this draft class, a legitimate five-tool talent with the ability to stick in centerfield. Speed is his greatest present tool, but anyone who’s watched him take BP knows there’s a truck-load of power in his bat.
San Diego Padres
Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (CA)
The Padres have drafted poorly in the first round the past decade and a half, and they’ve traded away the only prospects worth a damn, so nabbing a player of Moniak’s caliber could be a massive step in the right direction.
Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt University
The Tigers generally prefer power arms, and they also tend to draft from the college ranks. Vanderbilt right-hander Jordan Sheffield is the perfect combination of both. Sheffield bounced back quite nicely from a recent nine-run outing against LSU, striking out a career-high 14 batters in a 3-0 shutout against Kentucky. In the start, he showed an impressive low-to-mid-90s fastball.
Chicago White Sox
Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State University
Hoping to continue their recent string of good luck with first-rounders (Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer), it makes sense for them to dip back into the SEC for another Friday night ace. Hudson, a physical right-hander, has been on cruise control through 11 starts, allowing just 24 earned runs while striking out 74 batters in 72 innings.
Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer University
A proven hitter with enough defensive versatility that he could handle centerfield in a pinch, Lewis is going to be one of the most highly sought after bats available in this class. Check out the damage he’s inflicted on pitchers this year in just 45 games: .428/.558/.783, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 50 BB, 35 K. The only question mark surrounding Lewis, is whether or not his performance is a product of facing inferior competition.
Boston Red Sox
Forrest Whitley, RHP, Alamo Heights HS (TX)
Right-hander Forrest Whitley might take more time than some of the college arms, but his ceiling is arguably as high as any pitcher in this draft class. A prototypical Texas flamethrower, Whitley has a mid-90s fastball.
Tampa Bay Rays
Chris Okey, C, Clemson University
There isn’t really a standout catcher in this class, but Okey is far and above the biggest prize, and his bat (.344, 8 HR, 45 RBI) and his defense (23.1% CS) are as big-league ready as any catcher available. It’s not hard to envision Okey starting at Tropicana by the end of 2017.
Josh Lowe, 3B, Pope HS (GA)
The top prospect from an always-loaded state of Georgia, Lowe is this year’s top two-way player and as good as he is on the mound (95 mph), his potential at the plate is All-Star caliber. Factor in a plus-plus arm in the field, and Lowe should come off the board in the first 20 picks.
Connor Jones, RHP, University of Virginia
Jones has built on his strong sophomore campaign and has emerged as the ace of a Cavaliers’ squad looking to repeat. In 11 starts, he’s 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA with two complete-games in his last four outings. He doesn’t rack up strikeouts (7.5 K/9) like the other top college arms, but that lack of punchouts allows him to goes deep into games (7.1 IP per start).
Los Angeles Angels
Daulton Jefferies, RHP, University of California
Jefferies hasn’t pitched since late-March, due to an injury to his throwing arm. The good news is that he should return to the mound in the next week or so. The even better news is that when he was pitching this season, he was electric, posting a 10.1 K/9 mark while picking up the victory in each of his six starts. A mid-90s fastball and above-average slider make him an appealing target in the first round.
Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn University
If you asked anyone in January who the first outfielder drafted from the SEC would be, the consensus answer would have been Buddy Reed. No longer, as Grier’s junior campaign has been hard to top. His average just fell below .400 for the first time all year, and he’s shown good pop (nine HR) and impressive speed (16 SB).
New York Yankees
Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendohowa HS (NY)
Anderson will be one of the toughest signs of any first-round talent, but if the hometown Yankees come calling, it will be hard to turn down what should be a $2.44 million slot bonus. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but it’s his curveball and smooth mechanics that really has scouts excited.
New York Mets
Austin Bergner, RHP, Windermere HS (FL)
Bergner’s delivery will scare away a lot of teams, but the Mets won’t be one of them. A mid-90s fastball and one of the best breaking balls in the high-school crop will be enough to overcome those concerns about his mechanics and cement his place in the first round.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy (PR)
Perez has drawn comparisons to several well-known big-leaguers, including 2012 #1 pick Carlos Correa. He’s the top shortstop prospect in this class, despite concerns he might be forced to move off the position. His bat, assuming it develops as expected, should have no problem playing at third base.
Toronto Blue Jays
Will Benson, OF, The Westminster Schools (GA)
The Blue Jays have never been shy about going after raw, toolsy talents. Benson, checking in at 6’6” and 220 pounds, fits that bill. His raw power is off the charts, and he has rare athleticism for a high-schooler. He’s committed to Duke, so you know he’s no dummy either.
Robert Tyler, RHP, University of Georgia
Tyler has alternated between brilliant and bad this year, but for the most part his junior campaign has been a success. His .187 average against is one of the top numbers in the SEC, and 11.5 K/9 is one of the top marks in the nation among starters. More important, he’s stayed healthy, making a team-high 11 starts.
St. Louis Cardinals
Mike Shawaryn, RHP, University of Maryland
Shawaryn hasn’t pitched up to his standards this season, but that does nothing to change the fact that he’s the most decorated pitcher in Maryland history. He has four better-than-average offerings, and when he’s throwing strikes he’s as tough as they come. With three of the first 34 picks, the Cards are in a good position to save some money and go after a high-priced high-school arm. Shawaryn would fit the bill as a money-pick.
San Diego Padres
Buddy Reed, OF, University of Florida
The Padres are even better off than St. Louis, with three of the first 25 picks. Taking Moniak eighth overall will likely cost them more than slot, so they’re going to need a college pick to save some money and Reed is a solid compromise. He hasn’t lived up to his potential this season, but he’s still scored a team-leading 40 runs and swiped 21 bases at a 91% clip.
San Diego Padres
Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt University
Reynolds came into the season as a projected top-ten pick, and while nothing he’s done this year should call that into question, our guess is he still drops towards the end of the first round on day one of the draft. He doesn’t have one standout tool, but he’s a solid all-around outfielder with a quick bat and decent speed.
Chicago White Sox
Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS (AL)
An extremely athletic lefty, Garrett should be the second southpaw drafted from the high-school ranks after Groome. His ceiling is definitely as a top-ten pick, but he’ll more than likely slip a little further. He has three solid offerings, including a low-90s fastball and an above-average curveball that may be one of the best in the draft.
Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State University
The O’s have been dreadful at developing pitchers taken over the past decade, and as a result it’s still a major weakness at the big-league level. Lauer is about as pro-ready as they come and his results this season have been outstanding: 8-2, 0.97 ERA, 10.9 K/9. Lauer throws four pitches, including a low-90s fastball.
Nolan Jones, SS/3B, Holy Ghost Prep (PA)
Jones comes from an incredibly athletic family, and that athleticism is visible on the field, where he shows good movements at shortstop. He might eventually have to slide over to third base, but if his bat develops as expected he should have no problem becoming an impact bat.
Logan Shore, RHP, University of Florida
Shore doesn’t get the attention that fellow rotation-mate A.J. Puk does, but he quietly hums along, winning games and pitching deep into them. A year after going 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA, he’s 8-0 with a team-leading 2.39 mark through 11 starts. Shore doesn’t wow anyone with velocity, but his changeup is arguably the best in this draft.
Alex Speas, RHP, McEachern HS (GA)
Speas drew plenty of attention last summer, hitting the high-90s with his fastball. He hasn’t gotten much attention as of late, but he’s still a highly sought-after arm. He seems determined to turn pro, so if he slips this far, he’ll be one of the steals of the draft.
New York Mets
Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M University
Banks hasn’t had the banner year that everyone expected after a phenomenal sophomore campaign that had him ticketed for a top-ten selection this June. Still, he has enough talent to achieve greater heights in pro ball than he ever did in college. He’ll likely slide over to a corner outfield spot, but if his bat develops he should be a great fit there.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Sedlock, RHP, University of Illinois
Illinois is a shell of the team they were last year, but don’t blame that on Sedlock. His 90 strikeouts are double the amount of the next closest pitcher on the squad and his record would be much more impressive than 4-2 if he didn’t have to deal with such poor run support. In conference, Sedlock has been lights-out, posting a 49-to-11 K-to-BB mark in 37.1 innings.
St. Louis Cardinals
Reggie Lawson, RHP, Victor Valley HS (CA)
Lawson should prove to be one of the toughest picks to sign if he gets popped in the first round. A team like St. Louis or San Diego would have the best chance to sign him, especially if they are able to cut underslot deals with their other first-rounders. Lawson has a lot of helium as of late thanks to an improving breaking ball to complement his low-90s fastball.
St. Louis Cardinals
Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford University
Quantrill has yet to return to the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, but he should be ready to pitch at some point in 2016. Pre-surgery, Quantrill showed a low-90s fastball, two breaking balls and one of the better changeups in the 2016 class. If he can regain the command he showed before, he’ll be a coup for whoever drafts him.