Over the next week and a half we'll explore several bats and arms in detail, but today we begin with an attempt at a generalized ranking of the top 42 draft-eligible prospects in the 2015 cycle, based on the many, many mock drafts that are floating around online this month. Why 42? That accounts for the first round and two supplemental rounds prior to the second round of picks. This includes the first compensation round, for teams who have lost an elite player to free agency in the previous season, and the Competitive Balance round (A), where small market teams are given additional selections the order of which is determined by lottery.
Among these 42, only one will be drafted in June as an Angel.
By most accounts, this is a somewhat weaker draft class than usual, and rankings have been volatile, but that hasn't stopped prospect hounds, farm analysts, and data cranks from throwing names at their boards and giving it a go. I've seen over forty mock drafts from various sources at this point, and through a little spreadsheet wonkery, I've pulled the most recent sweet sixteen (basically those that seemed reasonably credible and published in the past two weeks) into my grid and produces a simplish weighted average that tweaks a little for recency and frequency of occurrence.
One thing this should not be interpreted as is a mock draft. While it's a truism that every organization takes the BPL ("best player available") at any given moment, that player is ranked on their own boards according to specific drafting philosophies, five-year plans, and organizational need in a comprehensive sense. The change in the Angels' drafting tendencies AEB ("After Eddie Bane," bless the turf he walketh upon) should be sufficient to demonstrate that one man's BPL is not another's. The notion, for instance, that the St. Louis Cardinals are likely to claim a recovery project with question-marked medicals like Brady Aiken over a polished college arm or bat is unlikely.
The table below simply reflects the draft position of each team with the "best player available" slotted there based on a survey of sixteen prognosticators, including notables like Jim Callis, Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo, the boys at Baseball America, and many others. Any given name must appear on at least five mock drafts to be included here, and in most cases, it will have appeared on the majority of them. The contents of this table will inevitably change over the next two weeks as certain players gain last-minute helium or scuttlebutt emerges about this or that team's late-hour plans. I'll republish the weekend before the draft, so that the kids can follow along as the countdown begins.
Here's the first take:
|Slot||Team||Player||Level & Position||Raw Rank|
|1||Arizona Diamondbacks||Dansby Swanson||College SS||2.13|
|2||Houston Astros||Brendan Rodgers||HS SS||2.63|
|3||Colorado Rockies||Dillon Tate||College RHP||2.94|
|4||Texas Rangers||Alex Bregman||College SS||6.31|
|5||Houston Astros||Daz Cameron||HS OF||6.38|
|6||Minnesota Twins||Carson Fulmer||College RHP||6.56|
|7||Boston Red Sox||Kyle Tucker||HS OF||8.81|
|8||Chicago White Sox||Tyler Jay||College LHP||9.19|
|9||Chicago Cubs||Walker Buehler||College RHP||10.93|
|10||Philadelphia Phillies||Jon Harris||HS RHP||11.54|
|11||Cincinnati Reds||Tyler Stephenson||HS C||12.27|
|12||Miami Marlins||Trenton Clark||HS OF||12.44|
|13||Tampa Bay Rays||Kyle Funkhouser||College RHP||12.44|
|14||Atlanta Braves||Mike Nikorak||HS RHP||14.53|
|15||Milwaukee Brewers||Garrett Whitley||HS OF||15.64|
|16||New York Yankees||Ian Happ||College OF/2B||15.64|
|17||Cleveland Indians||Kolby Allard||HS LHP||18.21|
|18||San Francisco Giants||Andrew Benintendi||College OF||18.83|
|19||Pittsburgh Pirates||James Kaprielian||College RHP||20.43|
|20||Oakland Athletics||Nick Plummer||HS OF||20.85|
|21||Kansas City Royals||Phil Bickford||JC RHP||21.21|
|22||Detroit Tigers||Kevin Newman||College SS||21.46|
|23||St Louis Cardinals||Brady Aiken||HS LHP||21.86|
|24||Los Angeles Dodgers||Donny Everett||HS RHP||22.90|
|25||Baltimore Orioles||Chris Betts||HS C/1B||23.31|
|26||Los Angeles Angels||Cornelius Randolph||HS SS/3B||23.53|
|27||Colorado Rockies||Nathan Kirby||College RHP||24.08|
|28||Atlanta Braves||Ashe Russell||HS RHP||24.83|
|29||Toronto Blue Jays||Michael Matuella||College RHP||25.00|
|30||New York Yankees||Donnie Dewees||College OF||25.57|
|31||San Francisco Giants||D.J. Stewart||College OF||25.70|
|32||Pittsburgh Pirates||Cody Ponce||College RHP||29.30|
|33||Kansas City Royals||Ke'Bryan Hayes||HS 3B||29.40|
|34||Detroit Tigers||Justin Hooper||HS LHP||30.00|
|35||Los Angeles Dodgers||Beau Burrows||HS RHP||31.00|
|36||Baltimore Orioles||Richie Martin||College SS||32.29|
|37||Houston Astros||Dakota Chalmers||HS RHP||33.43|
|38||Colorado Rockies||Scott Kingery||College 2B||33.67|
|39||St Louis Cardinals||Alex Young||College LHP||35.00|
|40||Milwaukee Brewers||Riley Ferrell||College RHRP||36.67|
|41||Atlanta Braves||Austin Smith||HS RHP||36.67|
|42||Cleveland Indians||Drew Finley||HS RHP||38.00|
The top eight are pretty stable across many mock drafts. While there is no consensus first pick, Swanson, Rodgers and Tate are consistently no lower than sixth in any mock. Most of the names through the mid-teens, in fact, have low variance in ranking position and occupy the top twenty within almost every simulation. It's the second half of the first round where the guessing game gets really dodgy.
To put that in perspective, of the sixteen predictions for the Angels' #26 slot that went into this ranking, twelve different players have been proposed. Based on that lack of consensus, the Angels' scouting department is not broadly showing their hand. Here are the 12 players suggested for the Angels in the past two weeks: Andrew Benintendi, Chris Betts, Phil Bickford, Justin Hooper, Scott Kingery, Kevin Newman, Cody Ponce, Nick Plummer, Cornelius Randolph, DJ Stewart, Blake Trahan, Garrett Whitley.
Among those players, I certainly have my favorites. But let's leave that for the next article to come, where we'll focus on the hitters that might be available when the Angels come to the podium on June 8th.