This is the day.
Beginning at 3pm Pacific, we’ll commence the three-day annual cycle where 30 MLB teams refresh their talent pools and plot their futures. Today, teams will announce their first picks from the first two rounds of the draft, and tomorrow, rounds 3 through 10.
We’ve updated the Big Board to reflect the consensus average of 13 of the freshest talent rankings and mock drafts, incorporating the latest revisions from this morning’s postings and updates. Keoni Cavaco and Matthew Allan continue to be the names most frequently mentioned with the Angels, though much will be determined by who remains on the board when the Angels are called to the podium.
In the final rankings, there’s been some shifting in the middle, but the zones of interest for the Angels still remain roughly the same, including many of the names we explored in this weekend’s post. From 14-19, there are three pitchers (Allan, Priester and polished collegiate Kirby) and a trio of hitters with an advanced sense of the strike zone (Baty, Jung and outfielder Corbin Carroll). From there, pay attention to the zone in the mid-20s: 23-27 features three more prepsters in the first tier of pitching (Malone, Espino and Goss), along with two 3B candidates with significant power projection (high-schooler Cavaco and college masher Hoese). There’s a high likelihood that the Angels’ first round selection will come from one of these zones, unless something very unanticipated falls from above.
The Angels have three picks among the top 100 – it’s a middling position, but the Angels have been in this situation quite a bit in recent years, given a team floating around .500, or just out of the tier of contention. There’s still talent to be found in the top 100 in particular, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Angels draft room assembles it. We have a good sense of the player profile Eppler prefers – a multipurpose athlete that his development staff can rebuild and contour to organizational needs over a longer time window. That has tended to dictate how his drafting team has navigated the early rounds.
That said, I see a few draft approaches that are worth contemplating, if only for the fun of “what would I do?” fantasy exercises. Here are a few:
The Upside Draft
This is where you take some players with a couple standout tools, but some developmental risk, or a longer developmental curve, in hopes of maximizing the impact of those tools. In this draft we’d use our first pick to grab one of the high-velocity pitchers (Espino or Allan) or one of the third basemen with significant power projection (Baty or Hoese). There’s a non-trivial possibility of flameout with each. With Espino or Allan, it’s injury risk. With Baty, the age is an issue. With Hoese, there are questions on defense, and on lack of track record. But the hope is to trade off risk for the possibility of an eventual All Star impact.
In the second round, you would repeat this exercise by choosing hitters or pitchers respectively that would complement the first. You might take a big power bat with a questionable hit tool like Drew Mendoza or Rece Hinds, or a two-way player with some swing-and-miss like Matt Wallner. Or you could go for prep pitchers like Andrew Dalquist, Bryce Osmond or Matthew Thompson. Each has potential signability concerns, and issues with delivery, consistency or mechanics that suggest a longer road to the Majors, but impact starter upside if it happens.
In round three, you might look at a Spencer Jones, a two-way player (LHP/1B) with some injury history, but a lot of ceiling if he can be lured away from Vanderbilt. Or you might hope someone like Ryne Nelson falls here – a guy who has struggled as a starter, but still has a wicked fastball (though with inconsistent radar reports) that has been clocked in the 98-100 range in the recent past. Lots of reliever and burnout risk, but unquestionable ceiling, if it could all come together.
The Athletic Draft
This is the Eppler-brand draft – the one where you buy bodies, and Westworld-like, assemble them and assign them to roles as the needs evolve. Here you take physical players with four or five potential tools, biasing toward youth, and with a measured risk of failure. Names in the first round here are Keoni Cavaco, Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carroll. Each has plus defensive potential at multiple positions (and Carroll could likely be a 2b conversion target, if needed). Each could come into power as they develop. Whether they hit ceilings against advanced pitching is the big question, but they might get to AA quickly, like Marsh and Jones have.
In the second round, there are a lot of these types: Brady McConnell, Kyren Paris, Trejyn Fletcher. The most typical Halos selection here would be Jerion Ealy, a multisport football recruit who has athleticism for days, but would need a lot of refinement and focus to become a baseball player with an average-plus hit tool. I would say a poor-man’s Jordyn Adams, but he likely won’t come cheap. There are athletic pitchers here too, like Isaiah Campbell, who the Angels chose in the 24th round last year, and who may be ready to take a second look.
In the third round, the team might be able to pick up someone like Glenallen Hill Jr. – an undersized righty with some explosive speed and surprising pop – or raw and toolsy outfielders Dasan Brown and Chris Newell, both expected to be tough signs, commited to Texas A&M and Virginia, respectively.
The High Probability Draft
AKA the “high floor” or “safe” draft, wherein we optimize for selections most likely to produce MLB regulars who may not be stars, but are nonetheless likely to move through a system quickly and contribute to the club on a nearer time horizon.
In the first round, these guys are a little more obvious. On the pitching side, you’d probably look to George Kirby or Zach Thompson, if he fell to #15. Both have mid-rotation upside, and are likely to arrive in a couple years, barring injury or unforeseen struggle. On the position player side, this would be where you’d take Josh Jung or Logan Davidson. Both may not hit for above-average power, but they’re likely to contribute to a Major League infield sooner rather than later. If Bryson Stott or Shea Langeliers were to fall (or heaven forbid, Hunter Bishop), these are as high-probability as you can get in a draft, and certainly would have value in trade, if unlikely to become elite players in time.
In the second and third rounds, there’s likely to be several college pitchers that are worth considering here: Ryan Garcia, Matt Canterino, Tommy Henry, Hunter Brown, Ben Brecht. Any might make for backend starters, with some potential for more. In terms of bats, you could look for a high-OBP performer like Logan Wyatt, or a reliable hitter with a solid defensive profile like Davis Wendzel, a man who looks like he could slip right into the cast of Duck Dynasty, but may be a sneaky substitute for Josh Jung if he reaches his potential.
The most fun of the high-floor selections, and one I can fully get behind given the shadow MVP of the Angels 2019 season, is Dominic Fletcher. Fletch is – you got that right, Fletch 2: David Fletcher’s brother. Another undersized, all-effort, underrated grinder. Orange County raised, he’s a contact hitter who just hits and hits and hits, even as scouts question his lack of pop and traditional baseball frame.
Imagine David and Dominic on the same baseball field – that’s worth a pick just to dream on.
And speaking of dreaming, there’s always Turk’s Draft, where the scruffy amateur data analyst with an obsessive streak imagines he is the Master of Whisperers, and nudges both Fate and king’s guards in all his preferred directions.
I’m a guy who likes a blended portfolio. I optimize for outcomes, and am not categorical when it comes to strategies. My own financial mix tends to include a one third tax-free bonds and domestic funds, one third sophisticated hedged vehicles overweight in tech and international, and finally some very speculative and volatile equity positions with potential for explosive growth (or collapse). Similarly, here, I’m likely to sample from each of the above strategies, depending on draft round.
In the first, my ideal scenario has a power arm like Jackson Rutledge falling to the Angels, offering both big tools and youth, as a JuCo player. That’s unlikely to happen, but in absence of that, I’d probably go with George Kirby (or Thompson, if he slides), for probability, or one of the two prep 3b guys with power projection, Baty or Cavaco. If all four of those guys are already off the board, I’d select Allan or Monroe, as high ceiling prep arms with a little less risk that Espino.
(I’m going to resist Corbin Carroll here, but if the Angels had selected Brady Singer in the 2018 draft instead of Adams, I’d be all over Carroll at #15. I really like his profile.)
In the second round, if I selected a bat in the first, I’m looking for the most likely mid-rotation pitcher profile I can find – perhaps Ryan Garcia if he’s on the board, or Isaiah Campbell, or Hunter Brown. If I secured a strong pitcher in round one, then I’m hunting for power upside with the bat in round two, and may look to Matt Waller, Rece Hinds, or Michael Toglia, if available.
By the third round, I’m fully opportunistic, looking for signable pitching or infield talent where it remains. I’m hoping to get 3-4 pitchers in the first six rounds, so I’ll hunt all over the board for advanced arms, but if I haven’t chosen a hitter yet at this point, I might take a flyer on Fletch 2.0, or a lefty like Chris Newell or Spencer Jones.
Or, COUGH, the. best. player. available. Which is what the following Consensus Rankings attempt to show us:
Halos Heaven Consensus Big Board
|Slot||Team||Player||Position||Level / School||Raw Rank|
|Slot||Team||Player||Position||Level / School||Raw Rank|
|1||Baltimore Orioles||Adley Rutschman||C||Oregon State||1.00|
|2||Kansas City Royals||Bobby Witt Jr.||SS||Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS||2.08|
|3||Chicago White Sox||Andrew Vaughn||1B||California||3.46|
|4||Miami Marlins||CJ Abrams||SS||Blessed Trinity (Roswell, GA) HS||4.38|
|5||Detroit Tigers||JJ Bleday||OF||Vanderbilt||4.77|
|6||San Diego Padres||Riley Greene||OF||Hagerty (Oviedo, FL) HS||5.54|
|7||Cincinnati Reds||Nick Lodolo||LHP||Texas Christian||7.54|
|8||Texas Rangers||Hunter Bishop||OF||Arizona State||9.08|
|9||Atlanta Braves||Alek Manoah||RHP||West Virginia||10.23|
|10||San Francisco Giants||Jackson Rutledge||RHP||San Jacinto (Texas) JC||11.62|
|11||Toronto Blue Jays||Bryson Stott||SS||Nevada-Las Vegas||12.00|
|12||New York Mets||Zack Thompson||LHP||Kentucky||13.38|
|13||Minnesota Twins||Shea Langeliers||C||Baylor||13.77|
|14||Philadelphia Phillies||Josh Jung||3B||Texas Tech||14.77|
|15||Los Angeles Angels||Corbin Carroll||OF||Lakeside HS, Seattle||15.23|
|16||Arizona Diamondbacks||Brett Baty||3B||Lake Travis HS, Austin||15.92|
|17||Washington Nationals||Matthew Allan||RHP||Seminole HS, Sanford, FL||16.77|
|18||Pittsburgh Pirates||George Kirby||RHP||Elon||18.38|
|19||St. Louis Cardinals||Quinn Priester||RHP||Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill.||18.54|
|20||Seattle Mariners||Will Wilson||SS||North Carolina State||22.50|
|21||Atlanta Braves||Michael Busch||OF/1B||North Carolina||22.83|
|22||Tampa Bay Rays||Logan Davidson||SS||Clemson||23.92|
|23||Colorado Rockies||Brennan Malone||RHP||IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.||24.08|
|24||Cleveland Indians||Keoni Cavaco||3B||Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, CA||24.27|
|25||Los Angeles Dodgers||Kody Hoese||3B||Tulane||25.31|
|26||Arizona Diamondbacks||Daniel Espino||RHP||Georgia Premier Academy, Statesboro, GA||27.09|
|27||Chicago Cubs||JJ Goss||RHP||Cypress Ranch HS, Houston||27.27|
|28||Milwaukee Brewers||Gunnar Henderson||SS||Morgan Academy, Selma, Ala.||27.31|
|29||Oakland Athletics||Kameron Misner||OF||Missouri||27.46|
|30||New York Yankees||Jack Leiter||RHP||Delbarton HS, Morristown, N.J.||29.83|
|31||Los Angeles Dodgers||Braden Shewmake||SS||Texas A&M||31.71|
|32||Houston Astros||Maurice Hampton||OF||Memphis University HS||32.63|
|33||Arizona Diamondbacks||Seth Johnson||RHP||Campbell||34.10|
|34||Arizona Diamondbacks||Tyler Callihan||3B||Providence HS, Jacksonville||34.33|
|35||Miami Marlins||Hunter Barco||LHP||Bolles HS, Jacksonville||35.43|
|36||Tampa Bay Rays||Greg Jones||SS||UNC-Wilmington||35.70|
|37||Pittsburgh Pirates||Brooks Lee||SS||San Luis Obispo (CA) HS||36.83|
|38||New York Yankees||Nasim Nunez||SS||Collins Hill HS, Suwanee, Ga.||38.00|
|39||Minnesota Twins||Blake Walston||LHP||New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C.||40.17|
|40||Tampa Bay Rays||Matthew Lugo||SS||Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, P.R.||40.57|
|41||Texas Rangers||Anthony Volpe||SS||Delbarton HS, Morristown, N.J.||40.88|
|42||Baltimore Orioles||Sammy Siani||OF||Penn Charter HS, Philadelphia||42.00|
|43||Boston Red Sox||Josh Wolf||RHP||St. Thomas HS, Houston||45.40|
|44||Kansas City Royals||Drey Jameson||RHP||Ball State||45.50|
|45||Chicago White Sox||Logan Wyatt||1B||Louisville||45.67|
|46||Miami Marlins||Kyren Paris||SS||Freedom HS, Oakley, CA||46.80|
|47||Detroit Tigers||Michael Toglia||1B/OF||UCLA||47.67|
|48||San Diego Padres||Ethan Small||LHP||Mississippi State||49.00|
|49||Cincinnati Reds||Chase Strumpf||2B||UCLA||49.40|
|50||Texas Rangers||Jimmy Lewis||RHP||Lake Travis HS, Austin||50.40|
|51||San Francisco Giants||Matt Wallner||OF/RHP||Southern Mississippi||55.60|
|52||Toronto Blue Jays||Matt Canterino||RHP||Rice||56.25|
|53||New York Mets||Rece Hinds||3B||IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL||56.60|
|54||Minnesota Twins||Kendall Williams||RHP||IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL||57.40|
|55||Los Angeles Angels||Drew Mendoza||3B||Florida State||58.25|
|56||Arizona Diamondbacks||Brady McConnell||SS||Florida||58.40|
|57||Pittsburgh Pirates||Bryce Osmond||RHP||Jenks (Okla.) HS||58.60|
|58||St. Louis Cardinals||John Doxakis||LHP||Texas A&M||59.20|
|59||Seattle Mariners||Josh Smith||SS||Louisiana State||60.00|
|60||Atlanta Braves||Tommy Henry||RHP||Michigan||61.00|
|61||Tampa Bay Rays||Ethan Hearn||C||Mobile (Ala.) Christian HS||61.75|
|62||Colorado Rockies||Noah Song||RHP||Navy||63.33|
|63||Cleveland Indians||Isaiah Campbell||RHP||Arkansas||63.40|
|64||Chicago Cubs||TJ Sikkema||LHP||Missouri||65.40|
|65||Milwaukee Brewers||Jerrion Ealy||OF||Jackson (Miss.) Prep HS||65.67|
|66||Oakland Athletics||Spencer Jones||LHP||La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, CA||65.75|
|67||New York Yankees||Kyle Stowers||OF||Stanford||66.25|
|68||Houston Astros||Ryan Pepiot||RHP||Butler||66.60|
|69||Boston Red Sox||Andrew Dalquist||RHP||Redondo Union HS, Redondo Beach, CA||67.25|
|70||Kansas City Royals||Yordys Valdes||SS||McArthur HS, Hollywood, Fla.||68.80|
|71||Baltimore Orioles||Evan Fitterer||RHP||Aliso Niguel HS, Aliso Viejo, CA||69.00|
|72||Pittsburgh Pirates||Ryan Jensen||RHP||Fresno State||69.60|
|73||San Diego Padres||Cameron Cannon||3B/2B||Arizona||70.00|
|74||Arizona Diamondbacks||Ryne Nelson||RHP||Oregon||71.60|
|75||Arizona Diamondbacks||Nick Quintana||3B||Arizona||72.40|
|76||Seattle Mariners||Matthew Thompson||RHP||Cypress Ranch HS, Houston||73.25|
|77||Colorado Rockies||Davis Wendzel||3B||Baylor||73.40|
|78||Los Angeles Dodgers||Matt Cronin||LHP||Arkansas||73.40|
|79||Baltimore Orioles||Graeme Stinson||LHP||Duke||73.50|
|80||Kansas City Royals||Riley Cornelio||RHP||Pine Creek HS, Colorado Springs||75.00|
|81||Chicago White Sox||Aaron Schunk||3B||Georgia||75.40|
|82||Miami Marlins||Dominic Fletcher||OF||Arkansas||75.40|
|83||Detroit Tigers||Will Holland||SS||Auburn||77.00|
|84||San Diego Padres||Jack Kochanowicz||RHP||Harriton HS, Rosemont, PA||78.00|
|85||Cincinnati Reds||Christian Cairo||SS||Calvary Christian HS, Clearwater, FL||79.67|
|86||Texas Rangers||Erik Miller||LHP||Stanford||81.25|
|87||San Francisco Giants||Brandon Williamson||LHP||Texas Christian||82.00|
|88||Toronto Blue Jays||Trejyn Fletcher||OF||Deering HS, Portland, Maine||84.00|
|89||New York Mets||Will Robertson||OF||Creighton||85.25|
|90||Minnesota Twins||Tyler Baum||RHP||North Carolina||89.75|
|91||Philadelphia Phillies||Ryan Zeferjahn||RHP||Kansas||90.00|
|92||Los Angeles Angels||Hunter Brown||RHP||Wayne State (Mich)||91.00|
|93||Arizona Diamondbacks||Kyle McCann||C||Georgia Tech||92.60|
|94||Washington Nationals||Brett Thomas||RHP||Riverwood HS, Atlanta||92.67|
|95||Pittsburgh Pirates||Joshua Mears||OF||Federal Way (Wash.) HS||93.00|
|96||St. Louis Cardinals||Dasan Brown||OF||Abbey Park HS, Oakville, Ont.||93.20|
|97||Seattle Mariners||Alec Marsh||RHP||Arizona State||94.00|
|98||Atlanta Braves||Chris Newell||OF||Malvern (PA) Prep HS||95.00|
|99||Tampa Bay Rays||Brennan Milone||3B||Woodstock (GA) HS||97.67|
|100||Colorado Rockies||Ryan Garcia||RHP||UCLA||98.25|
See you at 4pm, for the first selection!