The Un-Mock Draft for 2015

Don’t call it a mock draft. We said we weren’t doing mock drafts anymore.

It can’t be a mock draft if we don’t have a draft order. We don’t know who is picking where at this point. (Well, we do know 10-15. But we don’t know the order of the top 9.) Therefore we feel safe in identifying 15 top players who could go in the first round without giving away any secrets.

Honestly this may be one of the least exciting — and most unpredictable — drafts we’ve had in awhile. We have less confidence in this non-mock draft than we’ve ever had: There aren’t a lot of good players who can contribute, there aren’t a lot of top prospects available, and most of the prospects who are available will have crappy cards.

There have been a lot of changes since our last not-a-mock-draft. Top prospect Oscar Taveras died tragically in a car accident after the season. Many other players in the second tier of the July list just flamed out. In fact, every player ranked 8-15 previously has fallen off the list this time around, and 9 players appear this time who were not on the July list.

Color us, meh.

1. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox (27) — This is the lock of the century. Abreu is not a prospect in the true sense of the word, but he had a phenomenal first year since coming over from Cuba, hitting .317 with 36 homers and a .964 OPS.  He’ll have one of the best cards in the set, not just among free agents. Previous: 1.

2. Jake Arrieta, SP, Chicago Cubs (28) — Arrieta finally fulfilled the promise he never realized as a highly-touted prospect with the Orioles. At 156 2/3 innings, he may only be good for 24 starts or so, but that .203 BAA, that 0.99 WHIP and that nicely balanced card will be hard to overlook. Previous: 5.

3. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, N.Y. Yankees (26) — Here’s a guy who started the year 11-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 113 Ks in 99 2/3 innings. Then he had elbow soreness, rested, and finished with a still-good 1.06 WHIP. His problem: Lots of gopher balls in 136 1/3 innings, and no one knows when his elbow is going to give out and he’ll need a year off for Tommy John surgery. For that reason he could tumble in this draft, but he also could be a stud pitcher for the next five or six years for someone willing to take a slight gamble. Previous: 2.

4. Collin McHugh, SP, Houston (27) — You can flip a coin between McHugh and Carlos Carrasco. Both are 27, both will have great cards, neither was a high draft choice or ranked highly as a prospect. But McHugh has 154 2/3 innings of 1.02 WHIP and .208 BAA. Was 7-0 in August and September, for those who subscribe to the Sonny Gray/Michael Wacha school of thought. Previous: Not ranked.

5. Carlos Carrasco, SP, Cleveland (27 ) — Similar to McHugh except more of a reverse righty. Owns a 0.99 WHIP and .209 BAA. Key difference is 20 less innings (134). Previous: Not ranked, not even on radar, made only four starts pre-All-Star Game.

6. J.D. Martinez, OF, Detroit (27) — Had a great season for the Tigers, batting .315, slugging .553 and clubbing 23 homers in 441 ABs while providing protection for Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But he was a surprise after being released by Houston, which gave up waiting for his talent to emerge. So he comes with a risk of being a one-year wonder. But he does have a job. Previous: 7.

7. Gregory Polanco, RF, Pittsburgh (23) — Finally! Somebody under the age of 26! Polanco has legitimate ‘prospect’ stuff but he didn’t show it for the Pirates, hitting just .235 and hitting just 7 homers in 277 ABs. One of the few lefty swingers worthy of consideration in the first round, Polanco was beyond awful against LHPs though. A good choice for someone not looking for 2015 help. Previous: 4.

8. Dellin Betances, RP, N.Y. Yankees (26) — Offers a whopping 90 innings of lights-out relief work following a year in which he struck out 135. Opponents hit just .149 off him; his WHIP was 0.79, he was strong against both lefties and righties. Could close for the Yankees in 2015 if they don’t re-sign David Robertson. Only fear: Might lug a plus-9 hold factor (allowed 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts). Previous: 6.

9. Josh Harrison, 3B, Pittsburgh (27) — Hit .315 as a nearly full-time player (522 ABs). Not a lot of homers (13), but a lot of doubles (38). Balanced RH hitter who can play 2B, SS and corner outfield. Previous: Not ranked.

10. Wade Davis, RP, Kansas City (29) — A poor man’s Dellin Betances, Davis may have had a career year that he’s unlikely to repeat, but he did get some save opportunities in a hefty 72 innings, so he could be a wise choice for a pennant contender. Fanned a remarkable 109, but is somewhat human vs. LHBs, while unhittable for RHBs (.112 BAA, .170 OBP). Previous: Not ranked.

11. Jacob deGrom, SP, N.Y. Mets (26) — The NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom is nonetheless less heralded than other Mets starting pitchers, but with a 1.14 WHIP and a .228 BAA, he’ll be both serviceable (140 1/3 innings) and promising for a 2015 team. Gave up just 34 XBHs, roughly one every four innings. Previous: Not ranked.

12. Javier Baez, 2B-SS, Chicago Cubs (22) — A top slugging prospect, Baez whiffed 95 times in 213 ABs and hit just .169, although popping 9 HRs. Would have to go to someone who could afford to stash him on their minor league roster all year. Previous: Not ranked.

13. Jon Singleton, 1B, Houston (23) — Hit just .168 but somehow earned 310 at-bats. Known for having a good eye, and did post an on-base number 120 points over his batting average, so if he can just get his average up… Further diminishing his value is that he’s a lefty who hits lefties. Previous: Not ranked.

14. Steve Pearce, 1B-OF, Baltimore (31) — It has come to this: 31-year-old first basemen with just 338 ABs going in the first round. But if you need a first baseman who can help now, Pearce has the best numbers. Pearce seized an opportunity when Chris Davis was hurt for the Orioles and reached base at a .373 clip and slugged at a .556 rate with 21 homers. A lot of that damage came against lefties though. Previous: Not ranked.

15. Danny Santana, SS-CF, Minnesota (24) — Why Danny Santana to close out the first round? 1) He’s the rare combination of a shortstop and centerfielder. 2) He’s a switch-hitter. 3) He gets on-base at a .353 clip. 4) He hit . 319 in 405 ABs. 5) He stole 20 bases in 24 attempts. 6) He’s a balanced hitter. Gee, maybe we should have ranked him higher, like 14th. Previous: Not ranked.

Next five: George Springer, Andrew Miller, Jorge Soler, Justin Turner, Melky Cabrera.

Fell out of rankings: (3) Oscar Taveras, (8) Scott Kazmir, (9) Lonnie Chisenhall, (10) Brock Holt, (11) Seth Smith, (12) Charlie Morton, (13) George Springer, (14) Kevin Kiermaier, (15) Josh Beckett.

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