MLB Mock Draft 2015: B/R's Official Early Predictions for Next Year's Top 10
Even though we are still sifting through all the names taken in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft over the weekend, it's never too early to start looking ahead to next year's class.
Of course, without trying to be too on the nose, these lists are very fluid and will change countless times in the next 12 months. Think of this as a group of names to watch closely more than anything else.
It will be listed in the form of a mock draft with teams listed based on their records through June 8 (by winning percentage). The summer showcase circuit for the top prep players and Cape Cod League for college players will drastically alter everything we think, so please take this as a snapshot of the talent as it is now.
This list also doesn't factor in any players who were eligible for the 2014 draft who may not sign with their teams and may be available for next year.
Since I'm sure there will be questions and comments about him, Florida State's Jameis Winston isn't a first-round talent for me. His best MLB role would be as a relief pitcher with an above-average fastball and below-average command. There's also little chance he actually plays baseball professionally considering how high his stock will be for the NFL.
With the caveats and explanations out of the way, let's dive into where the 2015 draft stands on June 9, 2014.
1. Tampa Bay Rays Select Ga. HS OF Dazmon Cameron
Nick Gordon was the son of a former MLB player who captivated scouts with his tools in the 2014 draft. Next year it will be Dazmon Cameron, son of Mike Cameron, who will wear that crown.
The Eagles Landing High School star stands out for his natural all-around ability on the field. He's well-built already at 6'1" and 186 pounds with room to fill out and shows a very nice right-handed swing with more contact ability than his father and similar power.
His approach can get a little loose with a wide-open stance that causes him to fall off balance against breaking balls on the outer half of the plate, but it's not a major concern right now. His plate coverage is very good, and he shows a willingness to hit the ball to right field with the wrist strength to drive pitches when he does.
Cameron is a plus-plus runner from the right-hand batter's box and should have no problems covering ground in center field. He will also be a top-notch base stealer in the future once he's comfortable reading pitchers.
2. Philadelphia Phillies Select Duke RHP Michael Matuella
Duke right-hander Michael Matuella looks like a safe bet to land in the top three next year. He's a 6'6", 225-pound flamethrower with a low-to-mid-90s fastball that touches 97 and has some sink, a 12-to-6 hammer curveball and a solid-average slider.
Matuella also features a changeup but doesn't throw it often because the two other off-speed pitches are good enough to get college hitters out. His fastball command is solid right now and could end up plus down the line, showing the ability to spot it inside and outside.
Making his power stuff even better is a very loose, easy delivery and long limbs that the hurler uses to really drive the ball down in the zone. His presence on the mound is tremendous, and the extension in front of his body is such that the ball explodes out of his hand.
It shouldn't take Matuella much time to develop in the minors if he stays on this current track, putting him on pace to arrive with the Philadelphia Phillies' next stable of young arms (Jesse Biddle, Aaron Nola).
3. Arizona Diamondbacks Select LSU SS Alex Bregman
LSU's Alex Bregman is the version of Trea Turner, a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, I always wanted to see. The Tigers shortstop has a slight build at 6'0" and 180 pounds but generates good pop.
Bregman's strength comes from the wrists because there's very little load to his swing. He takes a short stride toward the mound, but his back elbow is set up high, and his hands are in position to move forward as soon as he decides to pull the trigger. There's plenty of bat speed to help him turn around good fastballs in pro ball.
He's not likely to have more than average home run power because of his frame. It's doubtful that Bregman stays at shortstop because of limited range and instincts, but there's too much potential with the bat to worry that a move to second base will hurt his prospect stock.
4. Chicago Cubs Select Fla. HS SS Brendan Rodgers
If there's one player who can challenge Dazmon Cameron for the top spot on the high school position-player board next year, it's Brendan Rodgers. He's not the same kind of athlete but has the benefit of projecting as a shortstop in pro ball.
Rodgers isn't dazzling with the glove; he just makes all the plays you need from a shortstop. He's got average arm strength that plays up because of his ability to release the ball quickly and accurately thanks to excellent footwork.
Offensively, the Florida State commit has an exciting skill set. There is a lot of load to his swing, shifting his weight back and moving his hands back and out before driving through the ball with good balance and hip rotation. The bat speed is such that some length isn't going to prevent Rodgers from squaring up velocity, and plus raw power from a shortstop is hard to find.
5. Houston Astros Select Virginia LHP Nathan Kirby
This is an instance where you want to bet on the upside left in a college starter. Nathan Kirby is the Friday starter (No. 1) for a loaded Virginia team and dominated to the tune of 102 strikeouts, 58 hits allowed and a 1.36 ERA in 99.1 innings this year.
What makes Kirby all the more intriguing for the 2015 draft is that he's a 6'2", 185-pound left-hander with a fastball that plays better than its average velocity thanks to arm-side run due to a three-quarters arm angle. He also flashes an above-average curveball and solid changeup.
The control is solid-average, though Kirby does have a big arm swing before coming to the plate that causes his release point to vary and limits the command. He's a good athlete with simple mechanics that it shouldn't be hard to correct. He's also got some room left to fill out his frame and add a little more heat to the fastball.
6. Boston Red Sox Select Cincinnati 2B Ian Happ
Cincinnati isn't exactly a baseball hot bed, having never produced a first-round draft pick. That will change in 2015 thanks to stellar second baseman Ian Happ.
The Bearcats star has done nothing but hit in his two years with the program. He put up a .322/.443/.497 line this season and was dazzling during a stint in the Cape Cod League as a freshman two years ago with five homers against pitchers two and three years older.
Happ is a tremendous athlete with excellent strength despite his 5'10", 175-pound frame. He's played second base in college but has the speed to handle center field at the next level. His eye at the plate is outstanding, and everything that comes off the bat is loud.
7. New York Mets Select Ga. HS SS/OF Jahmai Jones
Georgia prep star Jahmai Jones is committed to the University of North Carolina, but it would be a massive upset if he didn't end up in pro ball next summer.
Jones has dabbled at shortstop and center field, though the latter is his best position at the next level. His arm strength doesn't play on the left side of the infield, but the speed and range will play just fine in the outfield.
Offensively, Jones has a lot of wiggle in his swing. He's got a high leg kick and shifts his weight from the front to the back before committing. It's going to cause some problems against velocity, but the bat speed is tremendous, the wrist strength is very good and the raw power is above-average. If he can quiet down some of the loudness in that swing, the bat's potential is huge.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates Select Calif. HS OF Kyle Dean
One thing that gets talked about often in the draft is how little power there really is anymore. Teams are constantly searching to find players who project for 25-plus home runs in the big leagues, but that's a rare breed in this era.
San Diego high schooler Kyle Dean is one of the exceptions to the rule. He's already a physical specimen at 6'2" and 205 pounds with more room to fill out. The swing is so easy and simple with very little stride and hand movement that it's surprising how much pop he generates.
Dean's hip rotation is outstanding and is supported by big bat speed to put a charge into the ball. It's plus-plus raw power if the hit tool even plays at an average level. His plate coverage and pitch recognition are still things to be worked on, so there's a long way to go, but the pop is so enticing.
The San Diego commit is a natural right fielder with plus arm strength and good range at the position. His bat profiles perfectly for a corner outfield spot.
9. Minnesota Twins Select Pa. HS SS/3B John Aiello
It's rare to see a high school player listed at 6'2" and 200 pounds already stick at shortstop, but Pennsylvania native John Aiello doesn't play by your normal standards. He's an instinctual player in the field with very clean actions to both sides and plus arm strength.
If Aiello does eventually have to move off shortstop and go over to third base, his bat is good enough to carry at the position. He's a switch-hitter who looks good from both sides of the plate with more power from the left side due to loft in his finish.
His swing is solid with excellent balance and quick hands through the zone to barrel balls. There's more power coming thanks to his strength and plus bat speed. This is one of the most exciting tools packages in the prep class.
10. Colorado Rockies Select Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer
There's a stigma against right-handed pitchers who are under 6'2", so Vanderbilt's Carson Fulmer has his work cut out for him to prove scouts wrong at 5'11". The good news is he's got the weapons in his arm to quiet any doubts.
Fulmer has a plus fastball that sits in the low 90s with late, explosive life. He complements it nicely with a big, powerful 12-to-6 curveball that is going to make a number of professional hitters flinch because it's got such tight snap.
Even though he's primarily pitched out of the bullpen at Vandy, Fulmer has the arsenal to pitch in a starting rotation. There's some effort in his mechanics as he tends to short arm the ball, which also hurts the command, but he's athletic and repeats everything so well that it just takes a quick fix to take stress off the shoulder.
Next year will be huge for Fulmer, who has to improve on the 31 walks in 69.2 innings that he had this season. Pitching for one of the best baseball programs in the country will draw a lot of eyeballs, so the right-hander will have plenty of chances to impress.
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