It’s been almost two weeks since the 2016 MLB Draft, so we figured it was high time we got off our ass and offered up a recap of the first round and what some of the Fantasy prospects are of the players taken among those first 23 picks.
Without further ado, let’s discuss some names many dynasty league owners already know and many single-year format players will know soon enough.
1. Philadelphia Phillies — Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (CA): The last time the Phillies picked first overall was in 1998, and they hit a home run with Pat Burrell, so another success story here would really help expedite what’s already been a fairly quick rebuilding process for this organization. Moniak, the first of five outfielders to go in the first half of the first round, is blessed with serious tools and could develop much more power down the road. Take a look at his sweet line-drive stroke in the video below.
2. Cincinnati Reds — Nick Senzel, 3B, University of Tennessee: Senzel was one of the top players in college ball despite the fact that the Vols never did much during his time there. The second team All-American was tremendously productive this year, becoming the first player from the school to go in the top 10 of the draft since Luke Hochevar went first overall in 2006. Cincy used its first three picks to try to address the disparity in its system of tons of pitching and not enough hitting. Senzel’s development will be the yardstick for how well the Reds closed the gap in this regard during this draft.
3. Atlanta Braves — Ian Anderson, P, Shenendehowa High School (NY): Apparently, the Braves have already agreed to a $4 million deal with Anderson, but he has no plans to sign until he graduates from high school. The first pitcher in this draft has been clocked at 97 mph, but more comfortably will pitch in the low-to-mid-90s. This is a team friendly deal for Atlanta, and you have to wonder if the pick is a bit of a reach because of the signability of this just-turned 18-year-old.
4. Colorado Rockies — Riley Pint, P, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (KS): Colorado’s organization trend towards hard-throwing pitchers continued with this pick — the second straight high school arm to go off the board. Pint has headed to the Grand Junction Rockies of the Pioneer League, but the team plans to work him in slowly, so don’t expect to see him pitch in a game for about a month or so. Armed with a 100 mph fastball, he was expected to go as high as No. 2, so the Rox may have gotten a bit of a steal here.
5. Milwaukee Brewers — Corey Ray, OF, University of Louisville: Chicago native Ray hit .319 with 15 jacks and 44 steals this season while no other Division I player had more than 10 homers with more than 30 steals. Currently, he’s the only one of the Brewers top 11 picks yet to sign and it’ll be interesting to see if his contract continues the trend in which half of the top four picks signed for under slot money. One of three Cardinals named to the ABCA All-America team, Ray drove in nearly a run per game this season.
6. Oakland Athletics — A.J. Puk, P, University of Florida: The first college pitcher off the board, Puk was projected by some to go No. 1 overall, so the A’s had to be thrilled he slipped to this slot. This southpaw has fanned 101 in 73 2/3 IP this year while recording a sweet ERA of 3.05 and continues to compete in the CWS as a redshirt junior. Puk can bring the heat and could become Oakland’s ace in time.
7. Miami Marlins — Braxton Garrett, P, Florence High School (AL): The third high school arm among the top seven picks, Garrett is still trying to come to terms with the Fish. The lefty is a Vanderbilt commit and is represented by Scott Boras, so don’t assume a deal will get done here. Garrett is among the safer picks in this draft — from a performance perspective, if not a signability one. Miami went pitching heavy early on, using three of its first five picks on hurlers. He made the All-USA First Team by going 6-2 with a 0.54 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 65 1/3 IP this season.
8. San Diego Padres — Cal Quantrill, P, Stanford: Quantrill is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, having not thrown for around 18 months, yet the Padres gave him an over slot signing bonus. Under normal circumstances, he likely would have gone in the two top picks, but this was a deep draft year at the upper tiers. The son of long-time major league pitcher Paul is one of 25 Canadians taken in the draft.
9. Detroit Tigers — Matt Manning, P, Sheldon High School (CA): This athletic hurler was the fourth high school pitcher taken, and while he’s yet to sign, the righty is currently negotiating with Detroit. The sticking point may be the $5 million signing bonus he’s rumoured to be demanding, which is well above the recommended $3.5 million for that slot. The Tigers better get Manning signed considering he was their only pick in the top three rounds of the draft. He’s 6’6″, 185 and has professional sports bloodlines (dad Rich played in the NBA).
10. Chicago White Sox — Zack Collins, C, University of Miami: Collins comes from a winning program — one that was still playing in the CWS as of earlier this week — and hopefully by the time he gets to the bigs, the ChiSox have remembered how to win, too. He’s got power and has shown he can draw a ton of walks. Like most catchers, speed is not Collins’ thang, although he did swipe seven bags in 2015.
11. Seattle Mariners — Kyle Lewis, OF, Merce University: This power hitter emerged as one of the best collegiate bats in this draft class. Lewis was ranked as high as No. 3, so the fact he slipped all the way to 11 was quite a surprise, but perpetually offensively-challenged Seattle was only too happy to land him. In fact, many were certain Atlanta would grab this Georgia product with its pick, but the Braves opted for pitching help instead. Lewis has played a huge role in guiding Arizona to the CWS; now let’s see if he can help turn the Mariners around.
12. Boston Red Sox — Jason Groome, P, Barnegat High School (NJ): Some considered this southpaw the best high school pitcher in the draft, and while Boston is bullish on signing him, a deal is not expected for some time. Why did he slide to 12? Signability and makeup issues. After Groome fanned 81 batters this year, Boston simply could not allow this talented hurler to fall any more.
13. Tampa Bay Rays — Josh Lowe, 3B, Pope High School (GA): The budget-conscious Rays managed to ink Lowe to a $2.6 million bonus (the recommended bonus for this pick is $3,098,090, so as usual they got a bargain). Later on, they also plucked Lowe’s older brother Nathaniel. Josh, a two-way star in high school, is wanted for his bat and will start his career in the GCL. Is he the long-term replacement for Evan Longoria? Not necessary. Lowe may ultimately wind up in the outfield.
14. Cleveland Indians — Will Benson, OF, The Westminster Schools (GA): Another Georgia-bred bat, Benson can also play first base. He’s just 18, but already 6’6″ and 220 pounds, and the Indians wasted no time signing this man-child to a $2.5 million deal. Benson will report to the AFL after leading Westminster to its first Georgia state title in decades by hitting .455 with eight jacks.
15. Minnesota Twins — Alex Kirilloff, OF, Plum High School (PA): And now the run on high school outfielders is on. Kirilloff was also a two-way star in high school and he has serious power (winning the home run derby at the Perfect Game All-American Classic last year). Minny, picking outside the top 10 for the first time in a while, inked him for $2.8171 million, and that could be money well spent as this kid has one of the best bats in the entire draft.
16. Los Angeles Angels — Matt Thaiss, C, University of Virginia: You don’t often see a catcher with a hit tool that projects as high as Thaiss’ does. He signed with the Halos last week after a standout career at UVA that included him earning a second-team All-American nod in the Atlantic Region. The Angels were expected to grab a high school hitter here, but went the collegiate route instead, getting someone that will push his way through the system much faster. Thaiss begins his career in the Pioneer League, primarily playing first base.
17. Houston Astros — Forrest Whitley, P, Alamo Heights High School (TX): The Astros plucked someone from their own state in Whitley, a huge righty (6’7″, 250). This All-American has yet to sign, but Houston has reported that the sides are making progress. The team is okay waiting as given all the innings Whitley threw, he will likely need a break, so there won’t be a big rush to get him on the mound.
18. New York Yankees — Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep (CA): This All-American teamed with No. 1 pick Moniak to give Southern California a tremendous one-two outfield punch, so you can imagine how many scouts were descending on the area. In fact, for a good chunk of the season, many believed Rutherford was the best high school hitter in this class before Moniak and others passed him. It will likely take Rutherford about five years to work his way to the bigs, but if he maintains or can further develop that speed-power combo, it will be worth the wait.
19. New York Mets — Justin Dunn, P, Boston College: This righty is a New York state native and gives the team yet another great young arm in a system filled with them. Sure, Dunn got rocked by powerful Miami in the NCAA Super Regionals, but the first of four BC players taken before the 20th round will provide excellent value to the Mets at this slot.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers — Gavin Lux, SS, Indian Trail Academy (WI): Lux has now signed, making his professional debut on Monday in the AZL, going 0-for-2 with a walk, two runs and a ribbie. The D1 Player of the Year in Wisconsin, he was the first player from this state to go in the first round in 37 years (when Kevin Brandt was taken by the Twins; who? Exactly). In his final high school campaign, all Lux did was hit .524 while leading his team to the Southeast Conference title. Small wonder the Dodgers went a bit over slot money to pen him to a deal.
21. Toronto Blue Jays — T.J. Zeuch, P, University of Pittsburgh (PA): Zeuch signed with the Jays on Friday for slightly less than slot money ($2.175 million vs. $2.185 million). The 20-year-old is a former Ohio high school star and a pretty damn tall kid (6’7″). Zeuch will need to develop better secondary pitches to reach his potential, so depending on how that goes, his future may be in the bullpen.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates — Will Craig, 3B, Wake Forest University: Craig has begun his pro career in the NYPL and is off to a sluggish start (1-for-10). But he was an RBI machine in college so despite the fact the Pirates were expected to take a high school bat, they are not likely to be disappointing with this pick. In his first series as a pro, Craig got plunked three times. Welcome to professional baseball, kid! The All-American hit .379 with 16 homers, 16 doubles and 66 RBI for Wake Forest this season.
23. St. Louis Cardinals — Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico): The kid some call the next Carlos Correa is off to a rough start in his professional career, receiving slot money despite testing positive for PEDs. Baseball’s effort to beef up the game in Puerto Rico is not going swimmingly at this point. At any rate, Perez will start out at the GCL, but the “ignorant mistake” he made cost him quite a bit of money as he was originally tabbed to be a top five pick.
Now it’s your turn. Which first round picks surprised you the most and which ones are you targeting in your keeper leagues?
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