Staff writers Jason Gold, Rhys White, and myself have put together a hypothetical re-drafting of the 2016 draft knowing what we know today, including the incorporation of major injuries (sorry, Braxton Garrett).
Now, before I get into the staff’s communal list, I would like to preface by saying that this list is solely for fun. We understand that there is a lot more that goes into the MLB draft than simply taking the best player available all the time. Teams like Philadelphia (Mickey Moniak) and Atlanta (Ian Anderson) chose to go under slot early in the first round in 2016, and depending on how you feel about those two players, it seems like a smart strategy if done well. So, if you would like to read this list as “The Top Prospects From The 2016 Draft”, be my guest. We just thought it would be more fun this way.
Re-Drafting the 2016 MLB Draft
- Philadelphia Phillies: Nick Senzel, 3B, CIN
The “safe” pick from the 2016 draft has done everything to justify that label, doing a little bit of everything in 2017 between High-A and Double-A. Senzel has a .320/.383/.514 line on the year with 13 HR, 40 doubles, and 12 SB.
- Cincinnati Reds: Bo Bichette, SS, TOR
The biggest riser from the 2016 draft, Bichette has silenced all concerns about his ‘noisy’ swing with plus-plus bat speed and a very mature approach at the plate. Bichette’s .372/.433/.570 line with 54 XBH and 20 SB would put him in a great position to win Minor League Player of the Year if it weren’t for that damn Acuna kid in Atlanta
- Atlanta Braves: Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU
Whitley has begun pitching solely from the stretch in his last dozen starts or so in order to simplify his delivery, and the results have been glowing. Whitley has 128 strikeouts over 83.2 IP this season and recently joined Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grienke, Dylan Bundy, and Chad Billingsley as the only first round prep pitchers in the last 20 years to reach AA in their first full season. That’s… pretty good company.
- Colorado Rockies: Cal Quantrill, RHP, SD
After missing most of his sophomore year and all of his junior year at Stanford recovering from Tommy John surgery, Quantrill’s draft stock took a bit of a hit. But he looks as healthy and impactful as ever in 2017, holding his fastball velocity well into his starts. Reports on Quantrill have been much better than his 3.71 ERA this season suggest.
- Milwaukee Brewers: A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK
Draft day concerns about Puk’s delivery and/or control issues have yet to be alleviated, but his raw stuff is maybe the best from the 2016 class, keeping his extremely high ceiling apparent. Despite a 4.40 ERA, Puk has struck out 159 hitters in 106.1 IP.
- Oakland Athletics: Jay Groome, LHP, BOS
It’s been somewhat of an up and down year for Groome, whose fastball velocity has been a tad lower this season that it was coming out of the draft. But Groome still comes equipped with a 70 grade curveball, big projectable frame, and a high ceiling.
- Miami Marlins: Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL
The Braves took Anderson $2.5M under slot value at the #4 pick, and at this point, it looks like one of the best deals of the draft. Anderson has pitched admirably in his first full season with a 3.14 ERA and 101 K in 83 IP.
- San Diego Padres: Riley Pint, RHP, COL
Control has been a big issue for Pint in 2017 (as expected) and his strikeout numbers have been underwhelming as well. Pint’s upside is higher than many previously listed, but he has yet to show much ability to put the pieces together over a prolonged stretch of starts
- Detroit Tigers: Kyle Lewis, OF, SEA
We still like Kyle Lewis at SMR, despite injuries limiting him to just 33 games this season; even in those 33 games, evaluators claim he hasn’t looked all the way recovered from knee surgery. He was arguably the best college bat from the 2016 class and can contribute in all facets on the game… when healthy. Lewis’ injuries will be a very important thing to monitor in 2018.
- Chicago White Sox: Alec Hansen, RHP, CHW
Coming out of the draft, many questioned Hansen’s ability to harness his extremely good raw stuff enough to remain a starter; he was relegated to some bullpen work in his junior year at Oklahoma for his control issues. Hansen has been throwing many more strikes this season and his changeup has taken a noticeable step forward, increasing Hansen’s chances to find his way into a starting rotation in the future.
- Seattle Mariners: Mickey Moniak, OF, PHI
The reports on Moniak have matched his ugly 2017 stat line (which features a .157 BA in his last 30 games), but Moniak is still very young, only having only turned 19 in mid-May. There’s clearly a pretty good player in Moniak somewhere, but he’s going to a long term project.
- Boston Red Sox: Corbin Burnes, RHP, MIL
Burnes came out of St. Mary’s and immediately began mowing down High-A hitters. After 10 starts, he was promoted to Double-A and did more of the same. Burnes’ has a 1.67 ERA and 128 K in 129.1 IP between two levels this season, which was enough to shove his way into Keith Law’s updated top 50 prospects.
- Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Hays, OF, BAL
Hays has been dropping jaws since being drafted out of Jacksonville, and he may have mashed his way comfortably into some top 100 lists next season. Hays sports a .331/.365/.607 line with 29 HR this season between High-A and Double-A. Hays is an aggressive hitter, so it will be interesting to see if he can adapt to better pitching, but so far, there’s no reason to think he can’t.
- Cleveland Indians: Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN
There were hit tool concerns with Trammell going into the draft, as there frequently are with two-sport HS athletes, but he has more than held his own at A ball, with a .283 average and reasonable 21.2% strikeout rate. Tack on Trammell’s 21 doubles, 9 triples, 11 HR, and 33 SB, and we could be looking at a blossoming star.
- Minnesota Twins: Joey Wentz, LHP, ATL
Remember how I said the Braves got Ian Anderson for $2.5M under slot value? This is the guy they went(z) (sorry) and got with all that saved cash, making Anderson’s deal look that much smarter. Wentz won’t light up the gun, but his 6’5” frame and very high arm slot give his fastball extreme plane. Pair that with a potentially plus curve and decent changeup, and you’ve got yourself a damn good pitching prospect.
- Los Angeles Angels: Corey Ray, OF, MIL
Reports of Ray’s struggles at the plate have been all but flattering, and include things such as vulnerability to plus velocity and no acknowledgment of needing to adjust. Still, Ray’s pedigree, decent raw power, and speed/range in center field give him a decent floor. But adjustments need to be made if Ray is going to be impactful with his bat as well.
- Houston Astros: Mitchell White, RHP, LAD
Love me some Mitchell White. His fastball sits 94-97 with some life and he has two, distinct breaking balls that both have the potential to be swing-and-miss pitches. He sports a 2.74 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 65.2 IP across 3 levels this year. The guys at Baseball America recently said that they had one scout put a #2 ceiling on White.
- New York Yankees: Jon Duplantier, RHP, ARI
After dealing with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss all of 2015 at Rice, there were sizable durability concerns with Duplantier come draft day. And even though he only pitched 1 inning post-draft (elbow injury), Duplantier looks healthy and strong in 2017, up to 97 with his fastball at times. The lack of a true out-pitch may limit his ceiling, but with decent stuff and good command, Duplantier looks like a safe bet to be a #4 starter down the road.
- New York Mets: Matt Manning, RHP, DET
Another two sport athlete, Manning has had a good, not great year. The stat line looks good, but as someone who saw Manning pitch in short season ball, he was far too good for short season hitters. Reports have had Manning’s velocity drop as he works past the first few innings as well. Manning was always going to be a long-term project, so patience will need to be exercised as Manning develops
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK
Another Tommy John Surgery victim in March 2016, Luzardo came back in mid-July and threw a 98 mph fastball with his first pitch. Luzardo also features a potentially plus changeup and two different breaking balls which both show promise as out pitches. The lefty could be in for a big year in 2018.
- Toronto Blue Jays: Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS
A hamstring injury robbed Kieboom of what could have been one hell of a year, as he was hitting .306 with 6 HR and 10 doubles in just 122 AB before missing a good chunk of the season. Now rehabbing in short season, I got a chance to see Kieboom recently; he has a beautiful swing despite a small bat wrap, and he looked very fluid at shortstop in my (very short) look.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Blake Rutherford, OF, CHW
Rutherford is another guy from this class who has looked uncharacteristically subpar at the plate this season, as he sports a .703 OPS between his time with the Yankees and White Sox Low-A teams. Rutherford has average tools across the board, which may be enough to be a Major Leaguer in the future, but he needs to hit.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Bryse Wilson, RHP, ATL
Oh look, another good Braves pitching prospect. The Braves paid Wilson $1.2M to buy him out of his college commitment, and since then, they’ve made delivery adjustments and Wilson has responded with a much improved slider that now flashes plus. With a 2.44 ERA and 120 K over 118 IP, Wilson has pitched his way to top 100 consideration.
Compensation Round: Braxton Garrett, Alex Kirilloff, Eric Lauer, Dakota Hudson, Dane Dunning, Lucas Erceg, Kyle Funkhouser, Will Benson, Delvin Perez, Garrett Hampson, Nolan Jones