A true draft analysis cannot take place until at least a few years after the draft has taken place. It also goes further than the top 5 rounds. This list is neither; instead, I’ve written this up as a snapshot of my post-draft reactions to the Nationals’ rivals in the NL East and where I believe they’ll end up. The top 5 rounds is an arbitrary selection (5 rounds sounds better than 6, I didn’t have the time to do 10 rounds, etc.) so here goes!
The Braves did very well with their top 2 picks, good enough to give them the top billing in the division.
1st round GA HS RHP Lucas Sims has always been underrated to me; his fastball has solid velocity (generally 92-93, touches 96), he changes speeds well and he has 2 solid breaking pitches. Inconsistency plagues him at times like with all other high school pitchers, but his ability to repeat his mechanics makes him a better chance to improve upon it than most. He’s not going to be an ace, but looks to be a solid low end #2/good #3 guy in Atlanta.
2nd round UGA LHP Alex Wood is one of my favorite picks in the draft. His quirky pitching style will likely make pitching coaches quiver, but until it stops working, why mess with it? He can hit the mid-to-high 90’s with the fastball, throws a very good changeup and is working on a slider. It’s one thing to have a guy who gets good results (81 K/19 BB in 82 IP) with a quirky delivery and poor stuff, but Wood has pretty good stuff, and I think he’ll keep building on his previously good results.
The Braves nabbed some lower upside high schoolers in rounds 3 and 4, with defensive specialist C Bryan de la Rosa and speedy OF Justin Black. De la Rosa’s defensive skills remind me of Mets’ pick Kevin Plawecki’s, and the Braves did well to get those skills 80 picks later in the draft. He’ll be able to hit a little as well, but he won’t be Brian McCann. I don’t really get the Black pick, as he is completely lost against decent competition at the plate and has a below average arm that kills his plus outfield range’s value.
Missouri OF Blake Brown was a good risk to take in the 5th round in my opinion. He’s the college version of a toolsy outfielder (good power, speed, arm and defense, but questionable contact skills). He still strikes out way too much, but even if he’s a .250/.310/.450 guy in his peak that plays good CF defense, it’s a great find in the 5th round.
GRADE: B+. The Braves balanced upside with risk very well in the top 5 rounds, grabbing 2 intriguing pitchers, a future backup C and a risk/reward CF.
New York Mets
My opinion of the Mets draft varies from many others. I like their 2-5th rounders but not their 1st/supplemental guys. They chose some college players that still have room to grow in Reynolds and Koch, but high schoolers with questionable ceilings in Cecchini and Kaupe.
I’ve seen a lot of praise regarding 12th overall pick SS Gavin Cecchini and honestly, I’m not really sure why. He’s got a good glove and good range at SS, but he relies on accuracy instead of power with his arm and intelligence rather than pure speed on the basepaths (and while playing smart is obviously a good idea, it doesn’t speak much to his upside with either tool). Cecchini can make contact as a hitter, but I don’t ever see him hitting for any sort of power, whether it be line-drive, gap or home run. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t see why you take a guy like Cecchini, who will probably turn into a Brendan Ryan type of player, 12th overall.
Supplemental 1st round C Kevin Plawecki was overdrafted at 35 and only signed for $67,400 under slot; the Mets could have done better. His quick release will no longer be able to shelter his meh throwing arm at higher levels, but his overall defense is solid. Plawecki makes good contact, but lacks power potential. Plawecki’s ceiling is an average across the board catcher, which is pretty low for the 35th overall pick.
I like 2nd round pick Matt Reynolds (71st overall) if he can play 2B or SS at higher levels. He doesn’t have the power to be a starter at 3B for a big league team, but his bat could easily be above-average at 2B or SS. I think his range could fit as at least average for a middle infielder, and paired with a good line drive swing could turn into a nice find at this point in the draft.
I’m a decent fan of 2nd rounder RHP Teddy Stankiewicz (75th overall, Texas HS). He’s got the body to add some more velocity (and already tops out at 94), but I don’t like the inconsistency of his secondary stuff. His command and mound presence are more polished than most HS pitchers, though, so if he can get a hold of one of his breaking pitches as well as his changeup, he can turn into a nice middle of the rotation starter. 3rd round (107th overall) Louisville RHP Matt Koch is a similar pitcher, with even better stuff but also inconsistent results. I like Koch as a future starter if they can stretch him out, but he can also end up as a very good bullpen guy. JuCo RHP Brandon Welch could be a steal in the 5th round, with a great grasp on the strike zone (79 K/13 BB in 76 innings) despite only being a full-time pitcher for 2 years now. He’s got a vibrant fastball that pairs well with a good slider that profile well in the back of a bullpen.
The word “quick” describes 4th round Hawaii HS SS Branden Kaupe best, as he has very good speed, solid range and fast hands that make him a good contact hitter. At 5’6”, he is unlikely to develop any power, but he could turn into an Eckstein type of player who slaps the ball around and pesters opponents.
GRADE: B. The Mets didn’t do enough with their top 2 guys, but grabbed a combination of intriguing, high upside guys in rounds 2-5 that salvaged their draft.
The Nats’ draft all depends on whether or not they can sign Lucas Giolito. If they can, they have by far the best prospect in the draft in the NL East and can compete for the top spot oerall. If not, they’re by far the worst draft in the division. 2nd and 3rd rounders 2B Tony Renda and LHP Brett Mooneyham have the potential to become solid ML contributors, but 4th and 5th rounders C/OF Brandon Miller and Spencer Kieboom were drafted high due to their signability, not their true talents. Renda profiles as a utility guy but could turn out to be a solid starter if everything breaks perfectly. Inconsistent command plagues Mooneyham, but a good pitching coach could turn him into a #3 starter. Miller has 2 great tools in his arm and his power and little elsewhere; if he can stick it out behind the plate, he could be an ML contributor. Kieboom has a solid glove, but an average arm and a poor batting approach and will likely become an organizational guy. The Nats took a leap of faith by putting all of their eggs into the Giolito basket, but I expect them to sign him.
GRADE: B+ (if they sign Giolito), D (if they don’t), C+ (sorta halfway grade until we know if Gioloto signs). The Nats did manage to get at least a few interesting guys after taking Giolito first, but if they can’t sign him, this draft is a disaster.
The Marlins grabbed a medium upside/low risk guy in round 1 in LHP Andrew Heaney. He’s not a very exciting choice, but is a good bet of being an ML contributor fairly soon. They took him a little high at 9 (I thought he would fall to/past the Nats at 16), so it’s not a fantastic choice, but by no means a bad one, either. He’s not a soft-tosser as one might think, though; Heaney can get up to 95 and was amongst the NCAA leaders in strikeouts (although his ability to strike guys out will diminish as he hits higher levels).
Florida HS IF Avery Romero dropped further than many expected when the Marlins got him 104th overall. I see him as a bit of a tweener, who doesn’t have the power to be that great at 3B or the defense to stick to the middle infield. Even if his power doesn’t fully develop, he could still turn into a guy who hits 40+ doubles with above average defense at 3B. Nice little pick here by Florida.
Supplemental 3rd round OF Kolby Copeland has quick hands and a nice swing, but is another guy that currently lacks the power to be a solid corner OF or the speed/range to play center. He has a lot of physical projectability left, so half of the pick is hoping that the power and range develop as he grows, which I could possibly see.
4th round HS IF Austin Dean is likely a waste of slot money, as he is very committed to Texas. He’s a nice player, though, and would be a decent pick if the Marlins can sign him. I hate his swing, but it is working for him right now. He will probably end up at 1B or LF as a pro, but has an outside shot at sticking around as a Dan Uggla-type 2B who hits well for power but is a meh fielder.
5th round LSU SS Austin Nola will sign quickly and cheaply as a college senior, but just isn’t very good in my opinion. He doesn’t have a good bat or speed. At best we’re looking at a utility guy who can play 2B a little above average, but more than likely he’s an organizational guy in a year or two.
GRADE: C+. They took the safe route in round 1 but spent a top 10 pick on a guy with #3 starter potential, grabbed 2 risk/reward guys in the 3rd/3rd supplemental and wasted their 4th and 5th picks on a guy who probably won’t sign and one that’s probably not worth signing.
In my opinion, the Phillies made a few good picks and a few bad ones in the top 5 rounds. Taking high school players with all 5 of their top 3 round picks and 6 of their 7 top 5 round picks is risky (but a common strategy for the Phils, likely contributing to their poor overall farm system), but the Phils grabbed a bunch of upside. One other common theme in the Phillies draft was taking guys who dominated poor competition, with 2 guys from Washington, 1 from Iowa, 1 from Illinois and 1 from Sacramento, CA. Drafting high-upside players isn’t a bad strategy in general, but outside of Watson, I don’t think the Phillies got anyone that special.
Supplemental first rounder RHP Shane Watson was a steal at 40th overall; the HS righty already has four good pitches and while his fastball only tops out at 92 right now, he has room to bulk up his frame (6’4” 190 lbs) and add a few ticks. I’m also a fan of 54th overall pick Washington HS RHP Mitchell Gueller in general, and think he can turn into a power reliever at worst and a #3 starter at best. 95th overall prep RHP Alec Rash, like Gueller, comes from a non-traditional location (Iowa) where the quality of competition was poor; he’s got good stuff, but poor command, so he looks like a long-term reliever to me as well. 4th round college 1B Chris Serritella has nice power and while he has holes in his swing, is a more polished hitter than Cozens or Green.
2nd round Arizona high schooler (77th overall) Dylan Cozens was a terrible pick in my opinion; he’s got a solid bit of power, but an ugly swing and an expensive commitment to buy out (both baseball and football at Arizona). He wasn’t listed at all in Baseball America’s top 500 and I don’t think he’ll be able to make enough contact to make the big leagues. 3rd round California high school 3B Zach Green is similar, as he has issues hitting mediocre pitching; when he makes contact, it goes far though. 5th round Washington HS OF Andrew Pullin projects as a 4th OF at best. He’s too small to have enough power to be a starter in a corner and doesn’t have a good enough arm or range to play CF.
GRADE: C. The Phillies got good value their first pick in the draft, but then overdrafted a bunch of high risk/medium reward guys later on.