As everyone is aware, or should be aware, no one knows how the 2015 MLB draft will play out and guessing is completely pointless. However, looking at where talent lines up and discussing how teams think is not pointless at all. That is why I'm doing a mock draft.
I'm playing it pretty straight here but with a few twists just for you to think about how teams can manipulate the system. This draft is as wide open as any draft in a long time. You will read around the internet that this is a weak draft. Jim Callis even said on twitter that Aaron Nola would go 1-1 in this draft if he were available. I don't disagree with the statement but I disagree with the idea.
The draft this year is not short on talent. It is short on low risk talent. I will continue my rant at the bottom of this post but for now, here is my mock.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
Dillon Tate, RHP, UC-Santa Barbara
The Diamondbacks seem to be focusing on arms, so passing on the consensus top player could happen. They could also take someone like Swanson, who they have been linked to as well. They have also been mentioned along with a couple prep players who may cut a deal so they can spread out their bonus money some.
2. Houston Astros
Brendan Rodgers, SS, FL HS
The Astros are in an interesting spot with two picks in the top five but I would think they would take the best player available no matter what and that player is Brendan Rodgers.
3. Colorado Rockies
Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
Swanson could be a great fit in Colorado. With Tulo hurt frequently and Swanson's line to line approach and good defense could be a force at Coors in a couple years.
4. Texas Rangers
Jonathan Harris, RHP, Missouri State
Harris may be a reach here but college pitchers that show the stuff he has in a draft that is light on ready talent pushes him up. While the Rangers like toolsy talent, there will be toolsy talent to gamble on at 45.
5. Houston Astros
Daz Cameron, OF, GA HS
With the second pick in the top five, it could work out a lot of ways. The Astros typically go college heavy but they could save some money with this pick and still get a polished safe prep pick in Daz Cameron.
6. Minnesota Twins
Alex Bregman, SS, Louisiana State
Bregman is one of the top five prospects in this draft and at 6, I couldn't see the Twins passing on him. Most of their best prospects are OF, so this makes sense as well.
7. Boston Red Sox
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
Fulmer was picked by the Red Sox in the 15th round out of high school, so they have always liked him. I'm sure they would be happy to get him at 7. They have to wait until pick 81 for their next pick, so they will have to take someone they really believe in to make the top of this draft count.
Carson Fulmer, photo by Steven Branscombe, USA Today
8. Chicago White Sox
Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
If a lefty that most think is a reliever, who should be tried as a starter doesn't go to the White Sox, well, I just wouldn't know what to say. Maybe they can get another Chris Sale, maybe he's just a pen arm but either way, he should make a difference at the big league level. This pick needs to count since they won't be picking again until pick 112.
9. Chicago Cubs
Mike Nikorak, RHP, PA HS
The Cubs lack big arms and Nikorak will likely be the highest prep arm taken. While the Cubs have typically taken bats high in the draft, leaning college, there will be good bats available at their next pick at 47, so no need to reach.
10. Philadelphia Phillies
Trenton Clark, OF, TX HS
The Phillies tend to take toolsy prep players and Clark is just that. I'm not completely sold on the bat to ball ability but his athleticism will allow him to impact both sides of the ball.
11. Cincinnati Reds
Ian Happ, OF, Cincinnati
The Reds and their fans would likely be happy keeping local product Happ close to his college roots. I could very well see them taking Kyle Tucker here though as well.
12. Miami Marlins
Kyle Tucker, OF, FL HS
A long, lean, atheltic lefty swinging outfielder fits the Marlins past patterns. It's possible he goes off the board before this but I don't see him getting past the Marlins.
13. Tampa Bays Rays
Garrett Whitley, OF, NY HS
Whitley has flown up draft boards based on the fact he has the ability to stick in CF and the bat could be special. He has plus power potential and bat speed. If his hit tool plays, he a star.
14. Atlanta Braves
Tyler Stephenson, C, GA HS
Stephenson may be gone by this point but if he slides to the Braves, I would think they would take the local product and keep him from going to Georgia Tech.
15. Milwaukee Brewers
Kolby Allard, LHP, CA HS
Impact. The Brewers have been all about impact with their draft and J2 signings in 2014. Allard has impact potential with 97 from the left side and a nasty breaking ball.
16. New York Yankees
Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
I could see Buehler going much earlier than this but in this iteration, this is where he ends up and I think the Yankees would be pleased with landing the Vandy arm.
17. Cleveland Indians
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
The Indians have proven they like rosy-cheeked hard throwing college arms when they acquired Trevor Bauer, so Funkhouser seems like a good fit.
18. San Francisco Giants
Brady Aiken, LHP
The Giants tend to slant toward college talent but with Aiken, they could get a top of the rotation talent at 18th overall. The status of his elbow is unclear but the potential is worthy of this pick.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates
Phil Bickford, RHP, Southern Nevada
Bickford has an electric arm. Bickford still pops the 97 like he did in HS but only when he throws out of the pen. The slider is plus and he may be a reliever but the Pirates seem to get more out of arms than what they are supposed to. When people say this draft isn't a good one, remember that it includes a former first overall pick and 10th overall pick that will likely go in the bottom half of the first round.
20. Oakland Athletics
Nick Plummer, OF, MI HS
Nick Plummer can hit. He doesn't have a position that he profiles well at, but he can hit and the A's don't mind taking guys who can hit and finding a position second.
21. Kansas City Royals
Chris Betts, C, CA HS
The Royals pick low enough in this draft, they can't do anything too fancy, like they have in the past. I expect them to take the best player available, and that could be Chris Betts, the power hitting catcher.
22. Detroit Tigers
Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly Pomona
Ponce is hard to peg. He hasn't been dominant this spring but he has shown the stuff to be an impact arm and the Tigers lean toward college arms.
23. St. Louis Cardinals
Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia
The Cardinals have always got the most out of their players and I think there is more in Kirby than what we've seeen and that is still enough to be a solid mid-first round choice.
Nathan Kirby, photo by Steven Branscombe, USA Today
24. Los Angeles Dodgers
Ashe Russell, RHP, IN HS
Russell is an atheltic righty who could go as early as the low teens, so this seems like a logical fit for the Dodgers.
25. Baltimore Orioles
Beau Burrows, RHP, TX HS
Burrows could be the best prep arm in the draft. He has an unusual delivery but has shown impressive stuff and the Orioles have a good track record with high end arms.
26. Los Angeles Angels
Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
Newman is all over the board and I don't know who is high on him and who isn't but he should go in the first round and no one else jumps out here. The fact that they always seem to have fringy middle infield prospects adds to this decision.
Compensation Round A
27. Colorado Rockies
Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke
The Rockies lean college arms early in the draft and I would think that if Matuella falls to here, they would be extremely excited. Losing Cuddyer and getting a potential 1-1 talent as a replacement would be ideal.
28. Atlanta Braves
Cornelius Randolph, CB, GA HS
Randolph could be gone by this point as well and could go as high as the early teens, so this is an easy pick for the local talent.
29. Toronto Blue Jays
Justin Hooper, LHP, CA HS
The Blue Jays have shown in the past that they like big LHP's and Hooper is the best of that group this year. He was a top 10 pick potentially last summer but he didn't impress as much this spring.
30. New York Yankees
James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA
Focusing on college arms, the Yankees could add Kaprielian to Buehler to solidify this draft.
31. San Francisco Giants
D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State
D.J. Stewart is a Kung Fu Panda knockoff as a LF. It only makes sense that he is the pick for the comp pick for Panda. I love his bat and I truly think this would be a steal for the Giants.
32. Pittsburgh Pirates
Tristan Beck, RHP, CA HS
Beck is a very high upside talent. The Pirates have done well with prep arms and Beck is an impressive chunk of clay for the Pirates developmental team to mold.
33. Kansas City Royals
Dakota Chalmers, RHP, GA HS
Chalmers is in the argument for second best prep RHP in this draft and getting him this late is a good replacement for James Shields.
34. Detroit Tigers
Riley Ferrell, RHP, TCU
It wouldn't be a Tigers draft if they wouldn't use a high pick on a hard throwing, likely reliever. Ferrell might be the best of that species this year and could probably be in the Tigers pen the day after he signs and get MLB hitters out.
35. Los Angeles Dodgers
Donny Everett, RHP, TN HS
Even with Russell as their first pick, taking another high end arm in Everett makes sense. With Grant Holmes last year, and these two this year, that could be the future core of a pitching staff.
36. Baltimore Orioles
Juan Hillman, LHP, FL HS
Following in the same idea as Burrows, Hillman is a high end arm, with less velo than Burrows but more polish.
Competitive Balance Round A
37. Houston Astros
Joe McCarthy, OF, Virginia
Jumping back into form, the Astros take one of the better atheltes and hitters available in the college class. Even thogh he is currently light on power, it is in there and could come around, similar to guys they have in Colin Moran and Derek Fisher.
38. Colorado Rockies
Jared Foster, OF, Louisiana State
With Matuella having more leverage than the typical #27 pick, the Rockies could be bold here and take senior Jared Foster, who is one of the best atheltes in the draft. They could pay him a small amount and save slot money. He hasn't played much baseball, since he was LSU's QB for a time, but he can hit. He will need reps, slow down his game and just trust his athletecism, but he is a senior sign that could be an all-star if it all clicks.
Jared Foster, photo by John David Mercer, USA Today
39. St. Louis Cardinals
Christin Stewart, OF, Tennessee
Stewart is one of the better college bats this year but he is not an asset in the field. I think the Cardinals could get the most out of his tools.
40. Milwaukee Brewers
Austin Smith, RHP, FL HS
Another big impact arm for the Brewers. Smith is a big, durable looking righty who could end up being the best arm in this class.
41. Atlanta Braves
Alonzo Jones, CB, GA HS
This is just falling together for the Braves here. If the best athlete in Georgia slides to the Braves here, I can't see them passing on him.
42. Cleveland Indians
Drew Finley, RHP, CA HS
The Indians lean college hitters here and typically don't take prep arms but Finley could have the best breaking ball in the prep class, at least one of the best.
43. Arizona Diamondbacks
Eric Jenkins, OF, NC HS
After taking Tate to start the draft, going after an up the middle prep bat could be a good fit.
44. Colorado Rockies
Kyle Cody, RHP, Kentucky
While Cody has not done well this spring, he was in the conversation for 1-1 last summer with a dominating performance on the Cape. If they can save a little on Foster and split the savings on Matuella and Cody, they could have a hell of a draft.
45. Texas Rangers
Mitchell Hansen, OF, TX HS
Hansen is a very toolsy OF'er that is commited to Stanford so signing could be difficult. The fact he's still slotted over 7 figures should be enough to get him signed.
46. Houston Astros
Triston McKenzie, RHP, FL HS
McKenzie is one of the most projectable arms in this draft. There is top of the rotation potential if he fills out and keeps improving.
47. Chicago Cubs
Kep Brown, OF, SC HS
As I said above, there would be a good bat available here and Brown may have the best power in this prep class. Just what the Cubs need is more power.
48. Philadelphia Phillies
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
Benintendi has put up numbers that are unmatched in college ball this year. He hasn't been as good as A.J. Reed was last year but the power should translate enough to make him a threat and he plays solid CF.
49. Cincinnati Reds
Josh Staumont, RHP, Azusa Pacific
Staumont has some of the best stuff in the draft when he's on. It's possible he could go 20 picks earlier than this.
50. Miami Marlins
Alex Young, LHP, Texas Christian
Young is a solid college lefty with a hammer curveball and the Marlins often go college arm here.
51. San Diego Padres
Richie Martin, SS, Florida
Martin could go as early as the 20's but due to his inconsistent bat and erratic defense, I could see him slipping to a point where he can't be passed up.
52. Tampa Bays Rays
Demi Orimoloye, OF, ON HS
Orimoloye is a high upside guy who has made huge strides over the last two years. I would bet he is one of the most divisive players in the draft. The fact that the tools are raw and he has an unusual swing will cause many different evaluations.
53. New York Mets
Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, TX HS
With the first pick in the draft all they way down at 53, I'm not sure where the Mets will go but they have taken guys who look like they can hit and Hayes is one of those guys.
54. Atlanta Braves
Chandler Day, RHP, OH HS
The Braves have shown they are interested in impact arms and youth in their transactinos since Jon Hart took over. Day fits that mold.
55. Milwaukee Brewers
Nick Shumpert, SS, CO HS
More impact potential, more risk for the Brew Crew. Shumpert can hit the hell out of the ball but he swings and misses a lot. Not much different than Jake Gatewood or Monte Harrison last year.
56. Toronto Blue Jays
Jacob Nix, RHP, UCLA
Nix was caught in the fallout of last year's Brady Aiken deal but has looked good this spring at IMG academy.
57. New York Yankees
Ryan Burr, RHP, Arizona State
Burr is a wild card. He throws hard but walks more than he should. He has impact potential and could be in a big league pen as soon as he throws strikes consistently.
58. Washington Nationals
Mitchell Traver, RHP, Texas Christian
Traver has had an injury checkered past but he has the stuff, size and confidence of a top of the rotation arm.
59. Cleveland Indians
Peter Lambert, RHP, CA HS
Doubling down on prep arms in this range is a good bet as one of them should pay off and considering the 42 pick is a competitive balance pick, it makes sense to diversify the risk in prep arms.
60. Seattle Mariners
Gio Brusa, OF, Pacific
Considering the Mariners first pick is at 60, it is completely up in the air where they will go. Brusa has big time power and the Mariners can always use more power.
61. San Francisco Giants
David Thompson, OF, Miami
Thompson has had an up and down career in Miami but he has hit well and has the potential to have above average power and be a big league regular in a corner OF spot.
62. Pittsburgh Pirates
Luken Baker, RHP, TX HS
Baker reminds me of a better version of Stetson Allie so it makes sense to send him to Pittsburgh to see if they can succeed the second go round.
63. Oakland Athletics
Thomas Eshelman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Eshelman may be the biggest question mark in this draft. His command is near 80. He doesn't walk anyone and can pinpoint any pitch. His stuff is fringy but he has scraped 94 this spring and if he can work 89-91 with pinpoint command and hit 94 when he needs it, he could be really good.
64. Kansas City Royals
Blake Hickman, RHP, Iowa
Hickman, who just converted to pitching last season, has really improved in his time on the mound. He has a good pitchers frame and has shown potential with three pitches. The fact he's from the midwest is also a plus for the Royals.
65. Detroit Tigers
Alex Robinson, LHP, Maryland
Robinson could be the left handed version of the impact bullpen arm for the Tigers. While his command is poor, his fastball/slider combo could get big league hitters out as soon as he figures out where it's going.
66. St. Louis Cardinals
Bryce Denton, 3B, TN HS
Denton may go later than this but he seems to be a Cardinals type player in that he has the tools to succeed but the player will be better than the tools.
67. Los Angeles Dodgers
Kolton Kendrick, 1B, LA HS
One of the biggest pop-up players of the year is the massive 1B. His power is huge and his primary tool. He has been mentioned in the same breath as Joey Gallo, so scouts think the power is real. I've only seen a YouTube video but the power is impressive.
68. Baltimore Orioles
Taylor Ward, C, Fresno State
The lack of depth in college catchers is glaring this year. Ward may be the best of them and taking him this late is a good get.
69. Washington Nationals
Justin Garza, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Since the Nats don't have a mid-1st round pick to take a TJ guy with, I'll give them Garza here, who just went down with a torn UCL.
70. Los Angeles Angels
Cole McKay, RHP, TX HS
McKay is a polished prep arm and the Angels like prep arms in this area. He seems like a good fit for their depleted farm system.
Competitive Balance Round B
71. Cincinnati Reds
Chris Shaw, 1B, Boston College
The best prep bats are off the board here and with the best power bat in the college class still on the board seems like a good bet.
72. Seattle Mariners
Jason Heinrich, OF, FL HS
I'm the high man on Heinrich, I think. His power potential is overlooked and the Mariners like prep bats in the second round, so this could be a fit.
73. Minnesota Twins
Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida
Dewees doesn't have impact potential but seems like a guy who could carve out a long big league career playing all three OF positions and hitting consistently.
74. Los Angeles Dodgers
Blake Trahan, SS, Louisiana-Lafayette
Trahan could go in the first round, so the fact he has slid this far makes him hard to pass up and become the Dodgers first positional player taken.
75. Atlanta Braves
Luke Shilling, RHP, MI HS
Shilling has been a fast riser and with a fastball that can sit in the 93-94 range and with a durable build, he looks like a solid pick for the rebuilding Braves.
If you are still reading, I'm impressed. Now here is the rest of my rant from above.
The draft this year is not short on talent. It is short on low risk talent.
Talent that has proven itself at a high level consistently. That is non-existent this year outside of Brendan Rogers and he hasn't even solidified himself as though I would have hoped, getting knocked out of the Florida state tournament early. This draft has as much talent as many drafts. Aiken was 1-1 last year and he's in this draft. He is hurt. No one knows for sure if he will regain his stuff but he was still a 1-1 talent. Matuella was discussed as a 1-1 talent. He has slipped due to injury as well, but he's still in this draft and may make a complete recovery. Phil Bickford has went 10th overall in the past with nearly identical stuff to what he has now. There is a lot of talent here. I've had sources from multiple teams tell me I'm wrong but that is because their job is on the line. They want safe talent and they are equating high risk to talent to lack of talent. I disagree with that.
There is talent that will get drafted late and develop into 1st round talent in three years. Maybe it's Matt McGarry, Daniel Reyes, Jake Lochner or Bryan Hoeing. I don't know and neither do scouts. I'm going to sit down when I do my draft board to try to find those guys but it's not easy. That's the problem. They want security and safety but it lacks that. It is high on risk, not low on talent. To me, there is a big difference.
Now I'll get off my soap box.