As the season wears on more and more fans begin to look towards the MLB draft as a beacon of hope for the future of their favorite ball clubs. While it is still too early to know for sure where these players will land and who the teams will select, here’s how I feel the first three picks will go when the draft begins June 9th. Check in later for more draft predictions going further along in the first round.
The first pick in the June draft is held by the Philadelphia Phillies, a team with obvious needs throughout the organization but, as a surprise to many, a competent team so far this season.
Many believe the Phillies will select arguably the top talent, high school left hander Jason Groome, with the first pick, however that may not actually be the case. High school players are hardly ever selected with the number one pick unless they are seen as a “can’t miss” prospect with superstar potential. Those players include the likes of Ken Griffey Jr, Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, and Justin Upton.
Selecting a high school arm at 1-1 is even more unlikely for the Phillies, as there have only been two selected first overall since 1990, and one of them (Brady Aiken, 2014) did not even sign with the team that drafted him.
Teams tend draft safer players when they have the first overall pick, so that is why I expect the Phillies to select Florida left hander AJ Puk. Puk will likely be the safest pick at 1-1 because he possesses the best combination of a high floor and the upside needed to be the first overall pick of any player in the draft, basically saying teams feel like they know what they are going to get from Puk, and that is a solid big league starter with the potential for more.
The team that played their way to the honor of the second overall pick of the MLB Draft is the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are not in the same place as the Phillies, as they do not have a top farm system and they don’t appear to have the big league talent necessary to swap for promising young players.
The Reds should look to go with the player they feel is the best available here. The player who could potentially take more time than the Phillies’ AJ Puk to reach the majors, and thus will inherently have more risk attatched.
I would expect the Reds to select either Kyle Lewis or Riley Pint here. Both players offer tremendous upside but have equally concerning risk. Pint is a high school right hander who has touched 100 miles per hour and has been described as having the best arm in the draft. Lewis on the other hand is a college outfielder from Mercer that is crushing opposition pitching, batting .367 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs so far this season.
I’ll predict for now that the Reds end up going with Riley Pint as his enticing arsenal of top of the line stuff will be too much for an organization desperate for elite talent to pass up.
The 2015 Atlanta Braves finished with just 67 wins, earning them the third pick in the MLB Draft.
Often highly touted here on the site, the Braves have one of the best and deepest farm systems in all of baseball. The only issue with the system is the lack of high upside bats, more specifically the lack of high upside bats closer to the major leagues.
This lack of bats has caused the Braves general manager John Coppolella to speak publicly about the organization’s desire to add a college bat in the upcoming draft, but Coppolella also stated that the team would take the best player available at 1-3.
So who is it for the Braves? Do they take the high upside college bat in Kyle Lewis? Would they rather take the best player available in Jason Groome? Or will they pick the safest player here in Louisville’s Corey Ray?
Lewis, as stated above, is crushing pitching but comes with a lot of risk due to some scouts’ concerns about his swing mechanics, lack of experience, and how he is striking out too much for the level of competition he is currently facing. He also plays centerfield and is viewed as a player who will stick there throughout his professional career.
Groome is considered the top talent in the 2016 draft class. A left handed started out of New Jersey who has already thrown a no hitter this year, across which he racked up 19(!!) strikeouts. He has the upside of a frontline starter at the big league level, but as high school pitchers go, he also presents a big risk. Also, with the Braves bevy of high risk/reward pitchers in the minors, the front office may want to go in a different direction.
Corey Ray leads off and plays centerfield for one of the best college teams in the nation in Louisville. He bats from the left side and provides an intriguing skill set of power and speed. The concerns with Ray stem from teams not feeling he has nearly as much upside as a Lewis and they also feel he will be forced to move over to a corner spot when he reaches the majors.
With the Braves’ history of selecting players in-state and the new front office not being afraid to go after high risk/reward players, I would expect them to select Mercer’s Kyle Lewis. Lewis may be risky, but his upside and athletic profile should be enough to convince the Atlanta brass to select him at third overall.
More MLB draft predictions are set to come your way in the following weeks so stay tuned, and as always, thanks for reading.