Mega-prospect rookies dominate updated non-mock draft

We’ve had exciting drafts in the past, but it’s hard to identify one where there is as much first-year talent available as the draft we’ll enjoy in 2016. Since our midseason analysis, even more young stars have come on the scene. Our updated projections below, based on season-ending stats, anticipate that the first nine players taken in the draft will all be rookies. Most of those names were also in our midseason non-mock draft, but later in the round, there’s also been a big shakeup, with previously unranked players filling seven of the last eight slots.

A fun debate looms for the first overall pick too. Shortstops Carlos Correa (Houston) and Francisco Lindor (Cleveland) are the probable 1-2 choices, but in what order? Both are 21, with similar at-bat totals. Correa represents the rare chance to land a power-hitting shortstop; Lindor hits for average from both sides of the plate and is rated as the better fielder.

And that presumes the top two teams decide to pass on the likely NL Rookie of the Year in Kris Bryant, the best available starting pitcher who happens to be a rookie in Noah Syndergaard, and a five-tool outfielder who’s been rated the No. 1 prospect in baseball by many rating services for the last two years in Byron Buxton.

For comparison to previous years, there are 16 rookies available who had an OPS of .800 or more in 2015. That compares to five in 2014, eight in 2013, eight in 2012 and five in 2011.

It’s a deep draft for shortstops and third basemen; a shallow one for second basemen, catchers and starting pitchers. But every team should come away happy with their first-round pick. Will some team do a major talent dump to accumulate as many high draft picks as possible, and start building a dynasty?

1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston, 21, bats R: Correa finished the season as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup for a team that made the playoffs, with a stunning 22 homers in 387 ABs. He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 draft. His scouting grades (scale of 20 to 80) shake out impressively as Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 50 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 70. Previous ranking: 1.

2. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland, 21, bats S: Ended up hitting a lot better than expected, including .370 in August and .362 in September to finish at .313 with an .835 OPS. Chosen eighth overall in the 2011 draft.  Hit: 60 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 70 | Overall: 65. PR: 5

3. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs, 23, bats R: Slugged 26 homers, got on base to the tune of .369, and slugged .857. Was the overall No. 2 pick of the 2013 MLB Draft. Hit: 55 | Power: 75 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 70. PR: 2

4. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, N.Y. Mets, 23:  Best available starting pitcher happens to be this flame-throwing rookie. Hurled 150 innings, posted a 1.05 WHIP and .225 batting average-against. He’s a first-round (supplemental) pick from 2010. Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 65. PR: 4

5. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota, 21, bats R:  Remember when Mike Trout was picked fifth in our draft the first year he was eligible? The four who went ahead of him are nowhere near the class of Correa/Lindor/Bryant/Syndergaard, but Buxton has been regarded by many as baseball’s best prospect since being taken No. 2 overall in 2012, and in a few years may be regarded as the steal of the 2016 draft. He just didn’t get off to the same sizzling rookie start as the first four guys.  Hit: 70 | Power: 60 | Run: 80 | Arm: 70 | Field: 75 | Overall: 75. PR: 3

6. Miguel Sano, DH, Minnesota, 22, bats R: This guy is a major beast. He may not be playable in the field, which hurts his value somewhat, but his offensive numbers in 279 AB were eye-popping: .385 OBP, .915 OPS. Hit: 55 | Power: 75 | Run: 40 | Arm: 70 | Field: 40 | Overall: 65. PR: 8

7. Addison Russell, 2B-SS, Chicago Cubs, 21, bats R: Just a tick below the Correa/Lindor category, hit just .242 with a .696 OPS, much of that vs. RHPs. Whiffed 149 times in 475 ABs. Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 65. PR: 6

8. Corey Seager, IF, L.A. Dodgers, 21, bats L. New to the list after debuting late in the season, but quickly took on a key role for the playoff-bound Dodgers, hitting .337 in 98 ABs with a .986 OPS. First-round pick (18th overall) by L.A. in 2012. Better hitter than brother Kyle; not in the fielding class of Correa/Lindor/Russell.   Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 65  PR: Not ranked.

9. Lance McCullers, SP, Houston, 22, throws right. Pitched 125 innings with a 1.19 WHIP and .226 BAA. Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55  PR: NR.

10. Kendrys Morales, DH, Kansas City, 32, bats S. Yeah, he’s mostly a DH, but who wouldn’t want a full-time switch-hitter in the middle of your lineup who ripped 41 doubles and 22 homers? .290 average, .362 OBP and .847 OPS, with favorable splits against righties, are very appealing. Unfortunately you can’t count on this production every year from Morales. PR: NR.

11. Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis, 29, throws left.  If you can get over the fact that he throws left-handed, and is already 29, you’re looking at no worse than the second-best starting pitching card available. Garcia chucked 129 innings with a 1.05 WHIP and 2.43 ERA, and will have one of those lefty-who-is-better-against-righties cards (.557 OPS vs. RHBs compared to . 630 OPS vs. LHBs). Second-straight year with a 1.05 WHIP; 2014 stats came in just 43.2 innings, however.  PR: NR.

12. Curtis Granderson, OF, N.Y. Mets, 34, bats L. At age 34 the Mets made Granderson their right fielder and he responded with a terrific comeback year in all aspects of his game. Never a high-average hitter, Granderson hit .259, just two points over his career average, but took well to his leadoff role, with a .388 OBP vs. righties, while also slugging .504 vs. righties for an .892 OPS. He also threw out nine runners from right field, drew 91 walks, stole 11 bases and earned unlimited status at 580 ABs. PR: NR.

13. Mark Teixeira, 1B, N.Y. Yankees, 35, bats S. While A-Rod faded and fell out of our top 15, Yankee teammate Teixeira continued to sizzle, at least until he got injured, but he still slugged 31 homers in just 392 ABs, and will make a nice DH/1B against righties, against whom he slugged .609 for a .958 OPS. PR: 10

14. Roberto Osuna, RP, Toronto, 20, throws right. Arguably there will be better relief cards out there (Carson Smith, Will Harris, Carter Capps), but this guy is pretty darn good and is just 20 years old. He’s the only player in baseball who was born in 1995. The I-75 Strat League was in its 16th year then! Osuna had 20 saves in 69.2 innings, striking out 75, posting a 0.92 WHIP and a .191 BAA. Think how good he’ll be with a little experience! Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55 PR: NR.

15. Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis, 24, bats R. The L.A. Angels drafted Grichuk ahead of Mike Trout in the 2012 draft, with the 24th overall pick. Health issues have stalled his development in the minors, but he filled in admirably in the Cardinals outfield when they were wracked with injuries. Grichuk hit .276 in 323 ABs with an .877 OPS, including .907 vs. RHPs.  Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50 PR: NR.

Dropped out: Yasmany Thomas (7), Alex Rodriguez (9), Mike Moustakas (11), Kyle Schwarber (12), Archie Bradley (13), Matt Duffy (14), Carlos Rodon (15).

The next 15:

16. Nathan Karns, SP, Tampa Bay. 17. Matt Duffy, 3B, San Francisco. 18. Carson Smith, RP, Seattle. 19. Andre Ethier, 1B/OF, L.A. Dodgers. 20. Chris Colabello, 1B/OF, Toronto.

21. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City. 22. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs. 23. Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona. 24. Yasmany Tomas, OF, Arizona. 25. Jung Ho Kang, IF, Pittsburgh.

26. Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto. 27. Michael Conforto, OF, N.Y. Mets. 28. Stephen Piscotty, 1B/OF, St. Louis. 29. Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox. 30. Blake Swihart, C, Boston.



5 Responses

  1. […] year’s mock draft was filled with just-on-the-scene phenoms, top-10 prodigies who were no-brainers for the first […]

  2. […] The draft was conducted live via TeamViewer, enabling managers to watch the draw and comment. The draft promises to unleash the biggest bounty of talent the league has ever seen become available all at one time (see most recent non-Mock Draft). […]

  3. […] There’s one free-agent Silver Slugger available to be drafted: Switch-hitting DH Kendrys Morales, jettisoned by the Applegate Paperclips after the 2014 season, now projected to be re-drafted as high as No. 10 overall in our most recent non-mock draft. […]

  4. I have Moreland as a possible third-round draftee, but do not have the others in the first three rounds.

  5. Very interesting, Gary. I am optimistic my #10 pick will net me a good player. What are your thoughts on Cincy’s Raisel Iglesias, Texas’ Mitch Moreland, Tampa Bay’s Erasmo Ramirez and Milwaukee’s Taylor Jungmann?

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