With the MLB first year player draft taking place in less than two weeks, it's time to take a look at who each MLB team might take in the first round. There are two teams without picks: the Atlanta Braves (due to the Tom Glavine signing) and the Los Angeles Angels (due to the Torii Hunter signing).
1. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are the first team to pick #1 back-to-back. They're loaded in the farm system. They have a bunch of top pitching prospects. The only spot their farm system may not produce a player (Jaso hasn't done well thus far this season) is catcher, although not everyone is sold on SS Reid Brignac. That's why Buster Posey, the catcher from FSU makes so much sense. He went into this weekend leading the NCAA in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. And he plays catcher. his stock rose hugely during this season.
Pick: Buster Posey, Catcher, Junior, Florida State
Stats: .471 (1st)/.571 (1st)/.858 (1st) 1.429 OPS, 75 runs (5th), 20 doubles (50th), 4 triples, 17 hr (26th), 128th toughest to strike out
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are supposedly thinking about picking Pedro Alvarez, to prove that they are willing to spend cash on a player. Alvarez is a great prospect, but broke a bone his hamate bone before the season started and hasn't been himself this season. I think this injury, plus the fact that Alvarez will eventually be a 1st baseman (in my opinion due to his below average speed and average arm). I think there's enough risk here that the Pirates will back off.
So, enough about who they won't take. I expect they'll go for one of three players (along w/ Alvarez being an outside possibility): Posey (if he's available), Tim Beckham, a high school SS, or Brian Matusz, a lefty out of Univ of San Diego. The Pirates are the worst in the majors in pitching.
Pick: Brian Matusz, LHP, Junior, San Diego
Stats: 2.05 ERA (16th), 10 wins (7th), 12.48 k/9 (5th), 7.67 H/9 (75th), 1.58 BB/9 (113th)
3. Kansas City Royals
Last season, the Royals picked Mike Moustakas, a Scott Boras client. There are questions whether he can stick at short, but for now they seem to be keeping him there. With Alex Gordon at 3rd, I believe the Royals will do their best to keep them there. As I mentioned above, though, Pedro Alvarez is unlikely to stick at 3rd. He's the best hitter available, and the Royals really could use him. Oh, and btw, Alvarez has only a 89.7% fielding percentage this season. Ryan Braun, anyone? That said, is anyone going to complain about having to put Braun's bat--or Alvarez's--in the lineup?
Pick: Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Junior, Vanderbilt
Stats: .322/.431/.596, but his career stats (48 hr) are far more impressive.
4. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles ripped the Mariners (who were supposedly in "win now" mode) off in the Bedard trade, so the farm system and the major league club are both in better shape. They still have plenty of needs, though. If Alvarez is still around, they'll take him. Matusz would also be tempting, as a replacement for Bedard. With the way this particular draft is shaping up, though, the pick will be Tim Beckham. He's more projection than reality right now, but the tools are all there. He should stick at short and will flash plus power due to his great bat speed.
Pick: Tim Beckham, SS, HS
5. San Fransisco Giants
So, what do you give the team that needs everything? Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration as the team has some decent ML pitching, and a very nice future first baseman in Angel Villalona (a stud in Low A despite being only 17). Given this, I expect them to take Gordon Beckham, a shortstop from the University of Georgia. There's some risk he won't stick at short, but even if he's not at short, he'll be somewhere the Giants need him.
Pick: Gordon Beckham, SS, Junior, University of Georgia
Stats: .401 (53rd)/.511 (21st)/.811 (6th), 76 runs (4th) 23 hr (2nd), 57 rbi (93rd), 16 sb (174th)
6. Florida Marlins
We all know the Marlins aren't going to be breaking the bank, so you can forget about anyone with big demands (Justin Smoak, Eric Hosmer, that means you). I believe there will be two potential players at this spot: prep catcher Kyle Skipworth or pitcher Aaron Crow.
Pick: Aaron Crow, RHP, Junior, University of Missouri
Stats: 2.66 (41st), 12 wins (1st), 10.94 k/9 (17th), 7.49 h/9 (61st), 3.25 bb/9 (418th)
7. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have no need for 1st baseman or outfielders, at least right now so Smoak, Hosmer, and Alonzo are out. With Crow and Matusz gone, Shooter Hunt's the next best pitcher, but I don't think he'll go here. Kyle Skipworth, catcher, would be a good fit.
Pick: Kyle Skipworth, Catcher, HS
8. Chicago White Sox
I think the White Sox will be pleased to see Justin Smoak drop to them, and take him quickly. Regardless, the farm system is barren. They could use just about anyone.
Pick: Justin Smoak, 1b, Junior, Vanderbilt
Stats: .389 (89)/.509 (26) /.758 (17th) 20 hr (9th), 61 rbi (55)
9. Washington Nationals
The Nationals have seemingly picked a bat each year and promoted the player to the ML squad, at least for an audition, each September. But their pitching is a mess, and they really could use some help in that area.
Pick: Shooter Hunt, RHP, Junior, Tulane
Stats: 2.1 ERA (19th), 9 wins (15), 11.55 k/9 (11), 4.52 h/9 (3rd)
10. Houston Astros
I believe the Astros will go for pitching, and with Tanner Scheppers having a stress fracture in his shoulder (danger, danger), they'll pass him by at this point. The best remaining pitcher is lefty Christian Friedrich. I'm not entirely sold on him--his fastball doesn't move enough and he has slightly below average command. That said, he's a lefty who throws up to 93 mph and has a nice curve.
Pick: Christian Friedrich, LHP, Junior, Eastern Kentucky
Stats: 1.43 ERA (2nd), 11.9 K/9 (9th), 4.41 H/9 (2nd)
11. Texas Rangers
At this point, there aren't any pitchers worth taking, but there are a couple of bats that are just too good to pass up. Yonder Alonso and Eric Hosmer are the most likely choices. Alonso's more signable, but the Rangers hadn't shied away from Boras clients. It's a tough call.
Pick: Eric Hosmer, 1b, HS
12. Oakland Athletics
It'll be a college player. He won't have an exhorbitant price. He'll have a good batting eye and hit for power. If there's one guy in the draft with a better eye than Buster Posey that's proven, it's Yonder Alonso.
Pick: Yonder Alonso, 1b, Junior, University of Miami
Stats: .393 (79)/.556 (2)/.816 (5)
13. St Louis Cardinals
Based on the players gone at this point, there isn't a great fit for St Louis. They could go w/ Aaron Hicks, a player who reminds me a bit of Rick Ankiel (although a righty, and a switch hitter). The college crop of pitchers isn't great at this point, and the best college hitter left , 1st baseman Brett Wallace (who might have a small chance of sticking at 3rd) doesn't fit them given that they have Pujols. I think they'll go for the top prep pitcher in Tim Melville.
Pick: Tim Melville, RHP, HS
14. Minnesota Twins
They'll definitely be scared away by any big demands at this point. I think they'll go for a relatively safe target. Wallace is a nice pick at this point.
Pick: Brett Wallace, 1b/3b, Arizona State
Stats: .409 (31)/.525 (11)/.764 (14), 19 hr (13), 77 rbi (5), 14 sb (280)
15. Los Angeles Dodgers
Here's the team that I think will take the chance on Aaron Hicks.
Pick: Aaron Hicks, OF/RHP, HS
16. Milwaukee Brewers
I think the Brewers will look pitching here, but the best starters are gone. They'll go w/ the best bullpen arm, and he'll move fast.
Pick: Josh Fields, RHP, University of Georgia
Stats: 16 saves (1st)
17. Toronto Blue Jays
The last first round catcher should be Juan Castro. I think this will be between a few players, but Ike Davis (1b at Arizona state), 3b Conor Gillaspie, or Castro will be the pick. I think they'll go for the more sure thing with the bat.
Pick: Ike Davis, 1b, Arizona State
18. New York Mets
They don't need a 3b or ss, but can use most anything else.
Pick: Jason Castro, C, Stanford
19. Chicago Cubs
At this point, athletic hs outfielder, Zach Collier, is too good to pass up.
Pick: Zach Collier, OF, HS
20. Seattle Mariners
Casey Kelly projects as either a SS or a pitcher, both are places the mariners could use him.
Pick: Casey Kelly, SS/P, HS
21. Detroit Tigers
Renteria's only 32, but he hasn't done well so far this year, and I think Detroit may start looking for his replacement. Havens is perhaps a bit of a stretch here though.
Pick: Reese Havens, SS, Univ. South Carolina
22. New York Mets
The Mets need almost everything. They aren't expected to break slot though. Starting pitching is their biggest need, most likely. Unless their unconcerned with Scheppers' injury, they'll go for a high school pitcher. I'm not sure if they'd like Martin better as a pitcher or a 3rd baseman (he's a top prospect as both), but if they like him as a pitcher, they'll take him. If not, they might move him to right field.
Pick: Ethan Martin, RHP/3b, HS
23. San Diego Padres
I think at this point the Padres will want an outfielder. The best college outfielder left on the board at this point is Dennis Raben out of the university of Miami.
Pick: Dennis Raben, OF, Miami
24. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies cannot pass up Gillaspie if he's still here. With the Tigers, Padres, and Mets being set at 3rd, there's a decent chance he falls this far.
Pick: Conor Gillaspie, 3b, Wichita State
25. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies may go with a reliever, and there are several good options on the board. The best of which appears to be Andrew Cashner.
Pick: Andrew Cashner, RHP, TCU
26. Arizona Diamondbacks
Gerrit Cole may have too much potential to pass up, despite the Boras price tag.
Pick: Gerrit Cole, RHP, HS
27. Minnesota Twins
Jemile Weeks is the best 2nd baseman in the draft, and may be tempting for the Twins.
Pick: Jemile Weeks, 2b, Miami
28. New York Yankees
The Yankees haven't been shying away from top talent that's hurt. Tanner Scheppers was a top 10 pick before the shoulder issue. He's not a lefty, which the Yankees have been looking at, but none of the lefties left are worthy of this pick.
Pick: Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Fresno State
29. Cleveland Indians
The Indians may be prepping for losing Sabathia. While Jake Odorozzi won't be ready for a while, he'll improve the strength of their farm system's pitching.
Pick: Jake Odorozzi, RHP, HS
30. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox will take whoever they think is the top player left in the draft, regardless of position.
Pick: David Cooper, 1b, California