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2016 MLB Draft: Consensus Rankings 2.0

We're one week out from MLB Draft weekend. Time to refresh and expand the prospect big board, and see who has helium, and who is falling down the ladder.

One never knows what the MLB draft will produce...
One never knows what the MLB draft will produce...
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When we talk about the merits of taking the "best player available" in the draft, what could we possibly mean? It's a truism that folks repeat regularly with confidence, but is it any more sensible than speaking about finding a "soul mate" or the tastiest cherry in a bushel?

If all teams knew who the "BPA" on the universal big board was, the draft would be perfectly efficient, discounting for injury or tragedy. But take a look at the last few decades, even within the first couple rounds, and the draft is anything but. There are busts everywhere, and apples and oranges dance, clash and co-mingle.

It’s not just that each team has relative needs, and market inefficiencies change each year, but it’s also virtually impossible to justly compare the "best" players across position, age, experience, etc. Raw prepsters with "high ceilings" vs "safe" collegiate polish and "high floors." Recent injury histories vs forecasts of greater or lesser 'durability'. Description is always easier than prediction, and even our best descriptive performance metrics (like WAR) don’t themselves reliably assess players across position and context without substantial error bars.

In truth, I think we can speak to relative tiers of players, but zeroing in one "BPA" involves a significant fallacy of precision. The best we can do is take a wisdom-of-crowds approach, survey all the experts, and try to learn from the averages. Just as in polling, there's a tendency to "herd" at the end (ie, crib from your neighbor's test), but one can expect that front offices do a bit of the same, and when all is said and done, the early picks conform more to expectation than surprise on balance.

So this is what the "consensus big board" attempts to do – not predict outcomes based on team drafting philosophy and need – but rather create a directional stack-rank based on the composite of expert rankings and predictions. Today's update expands the board through the first two rounds, inclusive of compensation and competitive balance picks, and integrates the latest draft mock updates from, Keith Law, John Manuel and others (15 boards in all). Take a look:

Slot Player Team Level & Position Raw Rank
1 A.J. Puk Philadelphia Phillies College LHP 2.07
2 Kyle Lewis Cincinnati Reds College OF 4.00
3 Jason Groome Atlanta Braves HS LHP 4.60
4 Corey Ray Colorado Rockies College OF 5.20
5 Nick Senzel Milwaukee Brewers College 3B 5.33
6 Mickey Moniak Oakland Athletics HS OF 5.47
7 Riley Pint Miami Marlins HS RHP 5.80
8 Delvin Perez San Diego Padres HS SS 6.73
9 Blake Rutherford Detroit Tigers HS OF 9.13
10 Braxton Garrett Chicago White Sox HS LHP 11.60
11 Zack Collins Seattle Mariners College C 12.67
12 Dakota Hudson Boston Red Sox College RHP 13.20
13 Matt Manning Tampa Bay Rays HS RHP 13.53
14 Ian Anderson Cleveland Indians HS RHP 14.27
15 Alex Kirilloff Minnesota Twins HS 1B/OF 16.87
16 Justin Dunn Los Angeles Angels College RHP 18.79
17 Forrest Whitley Houston Astros HS RHP 19.67
18 Joey Wentz New York Yankees HS LHP 20.33
19 Jordan Sheffield New York Mets College RHP 21.20
20 Nolan Jones Los Angeles Dodgers HS 3B 21.36
21 T.J. Zeuch Toronto Blue Jays College RHP 22.80
22 Josh Lowe Pittsburgh Pirates HS 3B 23.73
23 Cal Quantrill St. Louis Cardinals College RHP 24.07
24 Bryan Reynolds San Diego Padres College OF 25.45
25 Connor Jones San Diego Padres College RHP 26.30
26 Will Craig Chicago White Sox College 1B/3B 26.33
27 Zack Burdi Baltimore Orioles College RHRP 26.46
28 Taylor Trammell Washington Nationals HS OF 26.73
29 Matt Thaiss Washington Nationals College C/1B 27.13
30 Cody Sedlock Texas Rangers College RHP 27.67
31 Eric Lauer New York Mets College LHP 30.54
32 Robert Tyler Los Angeles Dodgers College RHP 30.57
33 Kevin Gowdy St. Louis Cardinals HS RHP 32.10
34 Gavin Lux St. Louis Cardinals HS SS 32.42
35 William Benson Cincinnati Reds HS 1B/OF 32.50
36 Buddy Reed Los Angeles Dodgers College OF 33.20
37 Kyle Muller Oakland Athletics HS LHP 35.00
38 Drew Mendoza Colorado Rockies HS 3B 35.00
39 Jared Horn Arizona Diamondbacks HS RHP 35.80
40 Carter Kieboom Atlanta Braves HS 3B 38.71
41 Logan Shore Pittsburgh Pirates College RHP 40.50
42 Alex Speas Philadelphia Phillies HS RHP 40.83
43 Anthony Kay Cincinnati Reds College LHP 41.00
44 Alec Hansen Atlanta Braves College RHP 41.00
45 Corbin Burnes Colorado Rockies College RHP 41.43
46 Anfernee Grier Milwaukee Brewers College OF 42.29
47 Chris Okey Oakland Athletics College C 42.44
48 Joe Rizzo San Diego Padres HS 3B 45.71
49 Jon Duplantier Chicago White Sox College RHP 47.71
50 Ryan Boldt Seattle Mariners College OF 48.86
51 Jesus Luzardo Boston Red Sox HS LHP 50.33
52 Dane Dunning Arizona Diamondbacks College RHP 51.50
53 Brandon Marsh Tampa Bay Rays HS OF 53.86
54 Cole Ragans Baltimore Orioles HS LHP 54.00
55 Daulton Jefferies Cleveland Indians College RHP 55.00
56 Sean Murphy Minnesota Twins College C 55.14
57 Heath Quinn Toronto Blue Jays College OF 56.71
58 Lucas Erceg Washington Nationals College 3B 57.40
59 Bo Bichette San Francisco Giants HS 2B/3B 60.80
60 Jake Fraley Los Angeles Angels College OF 61.00
61 Hunter Bishop Houston Astros HS OF 63.75
62 Cooper Johnson New York Yankees HS C 64.00
63 Thomas Jones Texas Rangers HS OF 64.20
64 Bryson Brigman New York Mets College SS 64.33
65 Ben Rortvedt Los Angeles Dodgers HS C 65.60
66 Jeff Belge Toronto Blue Jays HS LHP 66.00
67 Reggie Lawson Kansas City Royals HS RHP 67.50
68 Zach Jackson Pittsburgh Pirates College RHP 67.75
69 A.J. Puckett Baltimore Orioles College RHP 68.25
70 Akil Baddoo St. Louis Cardinals HS OF 69.50
71 Jameson Fisher San Diego Padres College OF 69.50
72 Ben Bowden Cleveland Indians College LHP 71.00
73 Kyle Funkhouser Minnesota Twins College RHP 71.50
74 Braeden Ogle Minnesota Twins HS LHP 75.25
75 Cole Stobbe Milwaukee Brewers HS 3B 75.33
76 Ryan Rolison Atlanta Braves HS LHP 76.25
77 Sheldon Neuse Tampa Bay Rays College 3B/RHP 78.80

In this version of the board, we see a number of college pitchers ascending, particularly Justin Dunn, T.J. Zeuch and Jordan Sheffield – each of whom look like probable mid-first-round selections at this point. Meanwhile, some names expected to go in the early part of the first round, like Buddy Reed and Connor Jones, are sliding down the boards due to lackluster performances in conference or tournament play.

The two names most recently associated with the Angels, Alex Kirilloff and Dakota Hudson, are beginning to appear in the 10-15 range a fair amount, paired with some teams that pick just before the Angels, so they are no obvious locks to be available when the Angels choose at #16. Those two, along with Zack Collins, might be the types of top-15 talents the Angels hope fall to them, much as Newcomb did in 2014. I haven't heard the Angels namechecked with Collins, and he's likely to go by the time the Red Sox select, but he offers the sort of power-patience profile the club needs to consider as Pujols fades in the second half of his contract.

Looking at the range of talent available in the first two rounds of this draft makes me wish Anaheim had another sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. Of course, that's not an impossibility, as competitive balance picks are tradeable, and Atlanta has availed itself of this opportunity twice since the past draft, securing #40 and #76 in exchanges with the Marlins and Orioles respectively. If I'm Billy Eppler, inheritor of the worst farm system in the MLB, and struggling with an expensive sub-.500 team, I'm calling up Arizona GM Dave Stewart every day and seeing if he wouldn't be interested in one the Angels upper minor league arms – a Nate Smith, Victor Alcantara or Kyle McGowin – in hopes of securing that lottery round A pick of theirs. Three picks in the top 60 would allow the team to have a balanced selection of a couple prep and college bats, with a solid polished college arm thrown into the mix.

All that said, If the draft were to magically pan out as the consensus board is laid out above, it wouldn't be a poor result for the Angels. Justin Dunn is a fine right-handed starter with a four pitch mix, a mid-90s FB, and an excellent junior season behind him. Recent scuttlebutt has Dipoto's Mariners scouting him heavily for consideration at the 11th pick. Jake Fraley, meanwhile, is a speed-and-glove lefty leadoff type, who has the ceiling of a strong top-of-the-order threat, and the floor of a reserve OF. He has no power to speak of, but he's done nothing but produce for LSU, with 135 runs and 57 stolen bags in fewer than 600 ABs.

I'll follow up in the coming week with some picks of my own in advance of next weekend's draft, but Dunn-Fraley would be the sort of return one might expect in this draft if the Angels went the BPA route, and opted for high-floor college polish in 2016.