This is our second edition of “Chatter”. We continue to seek out draft-related chats and scrub them for only the pertinent info regarding prospects who are USA Baseball alumni. Look for future “volumes” as we get closer to the draft…
COMPLETE CHAT LINKS:
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Is Courtney Hawkins worthy of a top 15 pick, and can he stick at 3B or is he destined for a corner OF spot?
Nathan Rode: Hawkins is an outfielder all the way. Not sure where you got 3B from, but that was never an option. Since I’ve seen him, going back two years, he’s been an OF. On that note, I think he can stick in CF. He’s a plus runner and has a plus arm. If he has to move to a corner, I think he profiles fine in right. I could see him going anywhere from 15-30, though Top 15 wouldn’t shock me. He’s a good athlete with awesome strength.
junior (san diego): would you rather have Gavin Cecchini or Deven Marrero?
Nathan Rode: Not sure where others in the office stand on this, but I’d take Gavin Cecchini. I bet they wouldn’t be shocked by that. I think he has a good chance to stay at SS and is a better bet to hit than Marrero. Marrero might be a better bet to stick there defensively, but looking at the overall package, I’d take Cecchini. I’m a huge fan of that kid.
Pablo (Bronx, NY): Any leads yet on amateurs the Mets might be favoring with their first pick at #12? If Albert Almora, Trahan or Max Fried are available at that spot who would you take?
Nathan Rode: Still early to peg players to teams. That’s a tough choice between those three. I think I would take Fried, but ask me tomorrow and I might take Trahan. Almora on Friday. There’s a ton to like about all three obviously.
Brett (Lexington NC): What your thoughts on Dukes Marcus Stroman draft stock and is he a starter in pro ball?
Nathan Rode: I love watching Stroman, especially since his home starts are 10 minutes from my house. His stock is up from the preseason. I’ve seen him hold his velocity deep into games and he has the makings of at least two plus pitches so I do think he can start in pro ball. I bet he’s given the chance to, but even if he’s a reliever, it’s a very good one with at least a plus fastball and slider. The changeup is pretty awesome too. If he does move to the pen, he’ll move quickly.
Glen (San Jose): Could Addison Russell be a top 15 pick? What kind of upside do you see from him, what’s his risk level, and can he stick at SS in pro ball?
Nathan Rode: I think Top 15 is too high, but I could see him going anywhere from 15-30. Last year it seemed inevitable that he moved to third, but he’s transformed his body to a leaner frame that has helped his quickness. It sounds like scouts still think he moves to third base, but there’s a better chance to stick at SS than if you asked that question 8 months ago. He’s a very good athlete even though it doesn’t always look pretty. He has good power and a good arm so he would fit fine at third. He’s no more or less risky than your typical high school infielder for me.
Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): Zach Eflin or Walker Weickel who gets Drafted higher? Both 1st round?
Nathan Rode: I’m a Weickel apologist, but it sounds like he’s dipped this spring and Eflin is probably the guy that would go first right now. I like to think Weickel is still a first rounder, but I haven’t had detailed conversations in that regard recently. John might have a better sense since he’s doing the Southeast for our Draft Preview.
Pablo (Bronx, NY): Where do you see Addison Russell being picked in the draft? And do you think he can stick at SS? His throwing motion looks really awkward. And thats putting it nicely.
John Manuel: Not sure what video you watched but if you didn’t see him from this spring, you saw a different dude. Russell has dropped between 20-25 pounds this spring. I haven’t had complaints about his arm strength or stroke; one scout called it average, another called it a tick above-average, just glancing through my notes. Everyone believes he can stay on the left side of the infield. Scouts are definitely mixed on whether he’s a SS or 3B, and even mixed on whether he’s a glove-first guy or a bat-first guy. He’s not getting out of the supplemental round, and I’d be surprised if he got out of the first.
John (Richmond, VA): Thanks for the chat. If Nolan Fontana is there at #80, would he be a good pick for the Nats? It seems like a middle infielder with top of the order potential would have great value for them.
John Manuel: I doubt he gets to 80 but yes, he’s good value there. He’s steady, unspectacular, no real plus tool but a good baseball player. I got a Mike Fontenot comp on him the other day that was more of a career comparison than a tools comparison. Fontana will get to the big leagues quicker than Fontenot, this college coach told me, but he thought his LH-hitting profile and middle-infield ability would keep him in the majors a long time like Fontenot.
Brian (Lacey, WA): Looking beyond the 2012 MLB Draft, who are your Top 5 college sophomores for the 2013 Draft and Top 5 college freshmen for the 2014 Draft?
John Manuel: Our Top 50 by Class from January are part of our Early Draft Preview: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/draft/early-draft-preview/ That said, among sophomores, Karsten Whitson has been injured much of this spring for Florida; I talked to Kevin O’Sullivan this a.m., and he said Whitson is scheduled to start this weekend. He probably is still No. 1 on that list. Colin Moran remains the top sophomore hitter for me, but San Diego’s Kris Bryant is right on his heels if he’s not ahead of him. Stanford’s Austin Wilson is really coming on strong of late and has 8 HRs to lead the Cardinal. Among freshmen, to me NC State LHP Carlos Rodon is the best pitcher in the country period, not just the best freshman. Hard to see there’s a better pitcher out there than a 6-3, 235-pound lefty who hits 96 in the first and the seventh, has a devastating slider like him and feel to pitch. He’s a beast. Nathan might have beaten me to the bandwagon but I’m driving that deal now. The rest of our top freshman list holds up well; Vandy’s Tyler Beede has come on in the second half, and you could add in NC State’s other fine freshman, speedy 3B Trae Turner. He’s at least a 70 runner if not an 80 guy and it plays.
Joel (KCK): It’s starting to look more and more like Kevin Gausman will be the first college pitcher taken this year. Do you think he ends up going 1.1 to the Astros if they decide against Buxton?
John Manuel: If I were drafting — and Astros fans should be glad I’m not — and I wanted a college RHP this year, I’d go for Gausman. Nothing against Appel or Zimmer or Wacha, but I think Gausman has the best combination of size, stuff, projection … the breaking ball has been there in the past, it should be at least an average pitch, and his fastball and change could both be plus down the line. I do believe, though, that the gap between Buxton and the rest of the class is significant enough that the Astros are going to wind up going Buxton unless one of those college RHPs separates himself from the pack in the next month.
Joel (KCK): The Royals pretty much have to take a college pitcher, right? If you play out the picks in your head, who falls to them?
John Manuel: Sounds like they wanted to last year but Starling fell in their lap. It’s a strong possibility this year, with the usual suspects (Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, Zimmer, Michael Wacha, Marcus Stroman) all possibilities.
Mick (Chicago): I know it’s the usual dearth of true shortstops for this years draft, but could you give us a couple sleeper prospects?
John Manuel: It’s actually not. Some scouts think Carlos Correa can stay there, or Corey Seager, or Addison Russell. Gavin Cecchini can stay there. Deven Marrero can stay there (in fact has to if he’s a prospect); and Rahier has a chance to stay there. That’s a decent amount. There are no college SS guys to speak of really aside from Marrero and I suppose Nolan Fontana, though I think of Fontana more as a 2B or utility guy at the major league level. For other shortstops, Georgia prep SS Dansby Swanson is a second-to-fourth round talent, depending on who you talk to. He can play short, there are some questions on the bat in terms of just how much upside is there, and he’s a Vanderbilt signee, which makes signability a big question. He’d be in the next tier of prospects. If you like college SSs, Darnell Sweeney has his backers in a single-digit range, if you believe he can hit.
Any chance Joey Gallo gets drafted as a pitcher?
pebert: There’s a chance Gallo gets drafted as a pitcher, but I think that’s pretty slim, as he’ll get his chance as a positional player first. His raw power is unbelievable, and when you watch him take BP you’ll see the ball rocket off of his bat to all parts of the park (and outside of the outfield wall). Should he struggle as a hitter a team always has the chance to put him on the mound, similar to a prospect such as Sergio Santos. Plus, most 2-way players want to be on the field every day, which is why the Red Sox agreed to let Casey Kelly begin his pro career as an infielder before sending him to the mound the following season.
Where is Walker Weickel‘s draft stock hovering right now? Do you feel he will still go top 20?
David Rawnsley: Craig, I don’t think it was ever a cinch that Weickel was a top 20 pick, as teams tend to shy away from HS pitchers in the weeks leading up to the draft. But he hasn’t thrown as well this spring as he did last summer or fall. I would say he is firmly in the 25-35 pick area, though. His physical package and present pitchability is just too good for him to slide any further.
Who would you rank the top 5 prospects on just hit tool for this year’s draft?
David Rawnsley: Just the hit tool, not power. Big difference. Albert Almora, Piscotty,Tyler Naquin, Zunino, Correa.
Alot of good Alabama Signees for 2012. Expect Mikey White to go in the top 3 rounds but where do you see Kyle Overstreet, Ray Castillo, Mitch Grier, Colton Freeman and Jackson Stephens flushing out in the Draft.
David Rawnsley: Mikey White certainly has a chance to go in the top 3 rounds, although that isn’t a lock. I see the rest of those guys as playing for the Crimson Tide. Overstreet is a heck of a good player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t develop into an All-SEC type of player.
Do you agree with this summation? “Richie Shaffer is always going to have some swing and miss to his game. But his ability to be a power-hitting run producer will make many teams interested in living with the strikeouts.”
David Rawnsley: Eric, I would completely agree with that, with some caveats. First, Shaffer walks an absurd amount, in fact more than he strikes out (45 BB/36 K). At worst he might fit in that Jim Thome/Adam Dunn type of offensive profile. Second, strikeouts are at an all-time high in MLB despite offense being at a low level for this generation. Big league hitters strike out now and no one worries about it. There is nothing to indicate that Shaffer will be extreme in this area.
How close are the four FL RHPs in Lance McCullers, Eflin, Walker Weickel, and Nick Travieso? Are they all legit first round talents?
David Rawnsley: I would put them in slightly different groupings. Group 1: McCullers. Group 2: Weickel/Eflin. Group 3: Travieso. I think some teams would make that 2 groups with McCullers in the Weickel/Eflin group. And Eflin’s current tendonitis is a major concern that could impact his status. The first 3 are legit first round talents, I think Travieso falls just a bit short of that, although not by much. I could be wrong there, though.
With one month to go….give us the top 5 picks in order.
David Rawnsley: Kevin Gausman, Correa, Zunino, Buxton, Mark Appel.
What do you think about Nick Travieso?
pebert: Big guy with a power arm. David just wrote up Travieso yesterday: http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=6952 He’s been up to 98/99 this spring and will sit 93-95. There’s some mechanical issues for him to iron out, but that’s not uncommon for a young arm.
Who are some of the top college LHP’S that are draft eligible this year? Any sleepers out there?
Kendall Rogers: Some of the top few left-handed college pitchers include: Stanford’s Brett Mooneyham, Oklahoma State’s Andrew Heaney, Florida’s Brian Johnson and Georgia’s Alex Wood …. in terms of sleepers, keep an eye on Northwestern State LHP Mason Melotakis. He’s not a household name because of where he plays, but he has big-time stuff. Ranks No. 40 on our list of top college prospects.
hey guys, just wondering if any NY high school players going high in the draft. What’s the status with guys like Fernelys Sanchez, Nelson Rodriguez and Andrew Velazquez. I hear Velazquez is having a fantastic spring. Thanks
David Rawnsley: Actually, LHP Alex Robinson might have the best chance to be a strong draft from the NY high school ranks, he has a very strong arm and plus FB potential for the team that sees his delivery as deceptive instead of….difficult. Sanchez has been out all spring with a broken leg, while Rodriguez’ body has been slowing down. Velazquez is an outstanding player with tons of skills and I see him being a very good college player at Virginia Tech.
In your opinion, who are the 5 best players out of this draft that you believe will go to school? Hs prep talent obviously.
Kendall Rogers: Jeremy, I’ll let all of our guys weigh in …. this is just a hunch based on different situations:
P Hunter Virant (UCLA)
P Carson Fulmer (Vanderbilt)
SS/C Avery Romero (Florida)
Of David Dahl (Auburn)
…. My surprise? P Lance McCullers (Florida)
Be aware that is my opinion …… David/Patrick may differ. Just have heard a few things that should give Florida fans at least some hope McCullers shows up on campus. But you never know.
Early top 10 for 2013 draft?
pebert: We don’t have the draft prospects stacked up 1-10 right now, but on the HS side you have guys like RHP Clinton Hollon, OF Austin Meadows, SS Oscar Mercado and 3B/OF Justin Williams. Williams and Meadows can rake, as can a trio of prep catchers, Zach Collins, Reese McGuire and Jeremy Martinez.
On the college side, the SEC is loaded with sophomore arms (including Gausman and Sanburn), Karsten Whitson, Ryan Eades and Bobby Wahl. USD teammates Dylan Covey and Kris Bryant will be in the mix for the early picks, and Stanford’s Austin Wilson is a physical specimen with very good tools.
What’s the chances Joey Gallo, Alex Bregman and Chris Chinea make it to LSU?
TGold: At this point my gut feel is that Gallo will sign as a 1st rounder and Bregman will go to school. I could see Chinea going either way.
Any idea on players from Texas a&m going? I know Tyler Naquin will go, but anyone else to watch?
Kendall Rogers: TAMU — Michael Wacha will likely be a top 10 pick in the first round, while Naquin will be a late first-round pick. I’d also keep an eye on Ross Stripling. He should be a 5-8 round type of guy like last season.
In your opinion, who are the pitchers that you believe have the ceiling of frontline starter? Developed or not at this point, I’d love to hear who you believe has that kind of upside if they figure it out.
pebert: It all starts with at least 2 legit strikeout pitches, a big fastball and a nasty breaking ball. The guys with that on their resume, regardless of how consistent they are with both of them, are Kyle Zimmer, Mark Appel, Lucas Giolito, Kevin Gausman, Lance McCullers and Marcus Stroman. The prep side usually offers more projection, as it wouldn’t take much argument to include Lucas Sims, Ty Hensley, Zach Eflin, Ty Buttrey and Nick Travieso into the conversation. Matthew Smoral is another, although he gets somewhat forgotten given his foot injury.
Filed under: CHATTER
Tagged with: 2012 MLB Draft, 2013 MLB Draft, Addison Russell, Albert Almora, Alex Bregman, Austin Meadows, Brett Mooneyham, Brian Johnson, Carson Fulmer, Chris Chinea, Corey Seager, Courtney Hawkins, David Dahl, Deven Marrero, Gavin Cecchini, Hunter Virant, Jeremy Martinez, Joey Gallo, Karsten Whitson, Kevin Gausman, Lance McCullers, Lucas Sims, Marcus Stroman, Mark Appel, Michael Wacha, Mikey White, Nelson Rodriguez, Nick Travieso, Nolan Fontana, Richie Shaffer, Tyler Naquin, Walker Weickel, Zach Collins