|Lincoln's Draft Board|
|1||Bryce Harper||C||Proving patient and powerful vs advanced wood-bat competition, contanct slight concern||CSN||1 ↔|
|2||Jameson Taillon||RHP||Giant human, fastball touches 97-98, outstanding breaking stuff, motion similar to Bob Feller||HS||2 ↔|
|3||Kevin Gausman||RHP||Smooth athlete with great mechanics and big time stuff, fastball 93-94 w/ life, tons of upside||HS||3 ↔|
|4||Nick Castallanos||3B||Best pure hitter in draft, plus power potential, solid defender with strong arm||HS||4 ↔|
|5||Manny Machado||SS||Scouts growing conviced he'll stay at SS, 70 arm, solid hitter with good power potential||HS||NR ↑|
|6||Karstin Whitson||RHP||Smooth mechanics, plus fastball and advanced command, good projection and upside||HS||9 ↑|
|7||Drew Pomeranz||LHP||Fastball 89-92 on downhill plain, 60-65 curveball, good mechanics, not huge upside, high floor||MISS||5 ↓|
|8||Deck McGuire||RHP||Potential workhorse with three above-average pitches, good bet to be at least a No. 3 starter||GT||6 ↓|
|9||Jesse Hahn||RHP||FB touched 99 in Cape, sits 91-94 w/ life, great feel for curveball, good upside, 64/14 K/BB||VT||NR ↑|
|10||Bryce Brentz||OF||Strong all-around hitter with good approach, likely right fielder, plus arm, extremely tough||MTSU||8 ↓|
|11||Christian Colon||SS||Tremendous defender despite average athleticism, line-drive hitter, .333/.436/.640, 21/10 BB/K||CSF||11 ↔|
|12||A.J. Cole||RHP||Lanky kid with a live arm, fastball sits 91-93 w/ sink, solid command, still good upside||HS||13 ↑|
|13||Austin Wilson||OF||Strong and smart with big power potential, likely a corner outfielder, Jermaine Dye starter kit||HS||NR ↑|
|14||Dylan Covey||RHP||May have best curveball in HS class, above-average fastball, relatively safe bet for HS pitcher||HS||NR ↑|
|15||Anthony Ranaudo||RHP||Tall with long arms, low 90's fastball, plus curveball, slight elbow problem appears behind him||LSU||10 ↓|
|16||Yasmani Grandal||C||Switch-hitter, very good from left side, good hitter, plus power, strong arm, above-average D||UM||NR ↑|
|17||Josh Sale||OF||Outstanding athlete, very strong, big-time power threat with professional approach||HS||15 ↓|
|18||James Paxton||LHP||Former Kentucky star will play Indy ball, fastball 92-94 w/ life, slider is potential plus pitch||GP||12 ↓|
|19||Alex Wimmers||RHP||Polished starter with advanced control, average fastball, good off-speed stuff, high floor||OSU||NR ↑|
|20||Matt Harvey||RHP||Long-time prospect, showed well this spring, fastball up to 93-95, elite groundball rates||UNC||NR ↑|
|21||Brandon Workman||RHP||Seems to change everytime I see him, 91-93 fastball, plus curve, inconsistant mechanics||UT||7 ↓|
|22||Kris Bryant||3B||Good defensive actions, strong arm, huge power, iffy contact, similar to a young Troy Glaus||HS||NR ↑|
|23||Tyler Thornburg||RHP||Small school stud, plus fastball and curve combo, Lincecum style mechanics, sleeper||CSU||NR ↑|
|24||Kolbrin Vitek||IF||Enough speed for 2B and the arm for 3B, good tools and production, .392/.476/.703, 12-15 SB||BSU||14 ↓|
|25||Todd Cunningham||CF||Plus runner, fringy arm, extremely well balanced hitter with decent power potential||JSU||NR ↑|
|Honorable Mentions: Chris Sale, LHP (FCU), Sam Dyson, RHP (USC), Chevez Clark, CF (HS), Kaleb Cowart, SS/RHP (HS)|
The first four spots on my big board remain unchanged. Before delving into the new faces and ranking changes I’d like to take a minute to rant.
As you surely know by now, Bryce Harper is the bell cow of the 2010 MLB draft. Long lauded for his prodigious power and jaw-dropping physical tools, Harper has been built up into a cross between Johnny Bench and Chuck Norris. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are now those who want to tear down the person on top.
The latest buzz on Harper has been about poor makeup – and I don’t mean that he uses way to much eye black. Kevin Goldstein recently quoted an unnamed front-office exec as saying, “He’s just a bad, bad guy.” Referring to his “arrogance”, “sense of entitlement” and “on-field…taunting”. Every elite athlete I’ve ever spent any time with could be classified as borderline ‘arrogant’. Show me a teenager who can maintain a steady and healthy ego when Sports Illustrated calls you the next LeBron before you can see a rated-R movie and it would be a first.
I’ve never met Bryce Harper in person. I don’t know what kind of person he is. But there are some important things I do know. Bryce Harper wants to play baseball. He skipped out on his senior year of high school, so he could begin playing professionally sooner. He skipped his senior year by putting in extra work to take his GED. This is a kid who, I’d wager, has never really encountered failure on the diamond, yet has already altered his swing. The changes Harper has made in his swing, reducing his leg kick and achieving a more balanced weight shift are significant. It shows that he can take criticism and coaching. It shows he is willing to make adjustments, even before the need to catches up with him.
Bryce Harper has shown baseball character. Even if you’re 100% convinced that he’s Barry Bonds off the field…wouldn’t you still want a 17-year-old Barry Bonds on the field? For someone to condemn a kid, and Harper is still 17 years-old, because he doesn’t say “aw-shucks” enough is ludicrous.
It is still relatively early in the draft process, which makes these rankings still pretty fluid.
Manny Machado a shortstop from Brito High School in Florida makes his first appearance on the board, debuting at No. 5. I held off ranking Machado in the first iteration of my draft board since there were some rumblings about Machado not being a shortstop long-term. Those fears seem to have abated as Machado has dazzled scouts defensively all spring. Some felt he might be a third baseman since his speed is only a tick above average and his lower half is a little thicker than the average 6-foot-2, 180 pound prep shortstop. But Machado has shown soft hands and terrific instincts to go along with a throwing arm that’s as good as any position players in this draft. Offensively, Machado should hit very well for a shortstop, as he shows decent hitting ability and above-average power potential. Machado has as much helium as anyone in the draft process right now and could be the second position player off the board.
The college player making the strongest debut is Virginia Tech right hander Jesse Hahn. Hahn created a lot of buzz after blowing up radar guns in the Cape Cod League, reportedly hitting 99 MPH. This spring, Hahn’s fastball has sat 91-94 MPH with big-time sink and arm-side run. Hahn has shown the ability to add and subtract from his curveball, at times throwing two completely different breakers. When his curveball comes in at 78-80 MPH it has terrific late break and is a true swing-and-miss offering. Hahn will also throw a slow curve, especially early in the count for strikes, which is just average. While his changeup doesn’t get used very often, Hahn maintains his arm speed well and the pitch shows solid upside.
The only problem I had with Hahn coming into the year was the thought some had that he was just a reliever. But after watching a good deal of video, I don’t see any mechanical red flags that would keep him from starting. Hahn has struck out 27.7% of batters he’s faced while showing improved command by walking just 6.1%.
Several astute members of our forums questioned my leaving Dylan Covey off my first board. They were right. I overlooked Covey. The Marantha High School (CA) righthander has a well-above-average fastball with plus potential, running into the mid-90s in short stints with good movement. Covey throws a power curveball in the low-80s that may be the best in the entire draft. He is exceptionally smooth mechanically and looks the part of a future workhorse. Covey may be a slightly better version of Matt Hobgood, who went fifth overall to the Orioles last year, and could certainly figure in the top 10 this June.
Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal has vaulted himself into the top 20. Grandal has been extremely productive, hitting .432/.548/.764 while walking in 19.1% of his trips to the plate and striking out just 12.8% of the time. Those numbers stack up with anyone in the country, especially when they come from a switch-hitting catcher with good defensive tools. Grandal’s arm strength is solidly above-average and there are little, if any, doubts about his ability to be at least average defensively behind the plate. A rumor has floated around that Grandal could be headed to Kansas City with the fourth pick in the draft. Grandal is certainly a better prospect than Tony Sanchez, last year’s top college catcher who went to the Pirates in a pre-draft deal.
Ohio State’s Alex Wimmers has solidified himself as a potential first round pick with a dazzling spring, striking out 29.4% of batters and walking 7.5%. He also has yet to surrender a home run in 265 batters faced. Wimmers has drawn a few Mike Leake comparisons as an undersized righty without plus velocity but good control. Wimmers isn’t as good as Leake, but is still a good prospect. His fastball works 89-91 MPH with solid sink and excellent command and his curveball has shown plus potential with big break coming from his over-the-top arm slot. Also featuring an above-average changeup, Wimmers has a quality three pitch mix. While his upside may not be more than a good No. 3 starter, he’s pretty likely to reach it.
Matt Harvey has been known to draftniks for a long time. Heralded as neck-and-neck with Rick Porcello out of high school by some, Harvey has been up-and-down during his time at the University of North Carolina. Fortunately for Harvey, this spring has mostly been up. Control has been a problem at times during his collegiate career but this spring he’s walked 9.8% of the batters, a number that will need to come down as a professional but it’s not a terrible figure. Harvey’s mediocre control is offset by a lot of strikeouts, 28.3% of batters this spring including 15 in his last outing versus a very good Clemson squad.
Harvey’s fastball has shown impressive velocity, touching 96-97 MPH late in starts and excellent sink, 69% of his batted ball outs have come on the ground. In high school, Harvey’s main breaking ball was a plus curveball; in college he’s spent more time toying with a slider that flashes plus but is still inconsistent. While he may not go as high as some though he deserved out of high school, Harvey still looks like a solid first round pick.
While Charleston Southern University isn’t a historic hotbed of scouting, that has changed thanks to righthanded pitcher Tyler Thornburg. A two-way star for the Buccaneers – who leads the team in home runs – Thornburg can run his fastball up to 95 MPH and compliments his good heater with a changeup and curveball, each of which rate as above-average offerings. Thornburg is able to generate big-league stuff from his 5-foot-11, 190 pound frame thanks to Lincecum style mechanics, generating good leg drive and coming from a high, over-the-top arm angle. Thornburg is still a bit of sleeper and not seen as a first round pick by most, but wherever he does get selected in June he could yield first-round value.
Some question the quality of competition he faces at Jacksonville State, but Todd Cunningham showed he can hang with the big boys when he lead the Cape Cod League in hitting by 36 points. Cunningham is a good athlete with plus speed and shows solid range for center field. He should be an average defender despite his lack of ideal arm strength. Cunningham has everything it takes to be a solid big league regular, including a good approach at the plate – he’s walked 15.1% of the time and struck out in 11.3% of his trips to the plate.