2015 MLB Draft Results: Biggest Winners and Losers of Day 1
The first day of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft came and went Monday night. As per usual, we'll know who had a good day and who had a bad day in a few years.
But since we can't afford to wait that long, we're going to jump the gun and break down the big winners and losers right now.
We'll keep this simple. If we're talking about a day that went better than expected, that's a winner. If we're talking about a day that (to our eyes) went worse than expected, that's a loser.
There are many of both worth discussing, but we're going to narrow our focus to the four biggest winners and the four biggest losers. Step into the box whenever you're ready.
We knew going in that the 2015 MLB draft class was loaded with shortstops. What we didn't know is how many of them were going to hear their names called on Day 1.
As it turned out, quite a lot.
Starting with No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson and continuing with Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies chose three shortstops right out of the gate. In so doing, Spencer Fordin of MLB.com noted, they made a bit of history, as never before had a non-pitcher position monopolized the first three picks of the draft.
But the run on shortstops didn't end there. Cornelius Randolph to the Philadelphia Phillies at No. 10 made it four out of the first 10 picks for the shortstop position. And in the end, shortstops would account for eight of the first 36 picks and 10 of the first 75 picks overall.
That's a lot of shortstops. And given how much shortstop play has dropped off, it was a welcome sight.
Loser: Daz Cameron
Every year, there's always that one guy who is projected to go as high as high can go, and then drops like an anchor to the scuzzier depths of the first day's picks.
This year, that guy was Daz Cameron, son of longtime major league outfielder Mike Cameron.
Cameron was projected to go as high as the top five but instead fell to the Houston Astros at No. 37. Per Baseball America, that's a drop from a multimillion-dollar slot value to just a $1,668,600 slot value.
Now, this doesn't necessarily mean Cameron and the Astros can't make music. Jim Callis of MLB.com noted before the draft that Cameron's price tag was in the neighborhood of $5 million. That would be an over-slot deal, but Houston has over $17 million in bonus money to work with.
However, the Astros will be spending a lot of their bonus money on Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker, the No. 2 and No. 5 picks. If they don't have enough to sign Cameron for $5 million, his choice will be to either accept a smaller bonus or try again in a few years after honing his skills at Florida State.
Cameron's not in a bad position, to be sure. He's just not in as good a position as he probably hoped.
Winner: Houston Astros
The 2014 draft didn't go so well for the Astros, as they ended up failing to sign both No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and fifth-rounder Jacob Nix.
Well, they more than made up for that with their haul on the first day of the 2015 draft.
There's no question the Astros made good use of their No. 2 pick when they selected star LSU shortstop Alex Bregman, as he was generally regarded as a top-five talent. But in taking Kyle Tucker at No. 5 and Daz Cameron at No. 37, ESPN.com's Keith Law would argue they landed three top-12 talents.
Obviously, the big question now is whether the Astros can sign all three. As we noted earlier, that's a particularly big if where Cameron is concerned, as the Astros will probably need to convince him to sign for less than the $5 million he had in mind.
But as Mike Elias, Houston's director of amateur scouting, told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, the club is confident it will be able to sign Cameron. If that does indeed happen, then what's arguably the best trio of prospects from Day 1 of the draft will be secure.
Loser: Chris Betts
Apart from Daz Cameron falling to No. 37, the other big sinker that stood out on Monday was Chris Betts.
A prep catcher out of Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, Betts entered the draft ranked as a top-25 talent, according to MLB.com. He looked like a good bet for the first round, or to at least be the second catcher off the board after fellow prep star Tyler Stephenson.
Neither happened. Betts was the third catcher off the board, and he didn't get picked until the second round at No. 52 to the Tampa Bay Rays.
According to Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs, Betts slid due to his demand for a $2.5 million signing bonus. To get that, he'll need the Rays to agree to an over-slot deal, which would mean sacrificing a big chunk of their $6,591,300 bonus pool.
That's possible, but it's also possible Betts will have to choose between a lesser number or trying again after a few seasons at Tennessee. Like with Cameron, he's just not in the position he was hoping to be in.
Winner: Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies already have it pretty good down on the farm. According to Baseball America, they entered the year with the No. 8 farm system in MLB.
Now it's significantly better.
With the No. 3 pick, the Rockies landed prep shortstop Brendan Rodgers. In so doing, they landed a prospect that Baseball America, MLB.com and many others had pegged as the No. 1 talent in this year's draft class. To boot, he's not complaining.
"I had a pretty good feeling about going third," Rodgers said, via Thomas Harding of MLB.com. "It's a hitter's park [Coors Field] and it was where I wanted to be. I luckily ended up there."
After landing Rodgers at No. 3, the Rockies then grabbed prep right-hander Mike Nikorak at No. 27. He was generally regarded as a top-20 talent, if not a top-15 talent. Then at No. 38, the Rockies got a guy with some pretty good major league bloodlines in Tyler Nevin, son of Phil.
All told, that's a pretty good day at the off...er, in the war room.
Loser: Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels entered Monday with only two picks for the day: No. 26 and No. 70. And right now, it looks like they may have wasted both of them.
With the No. 26 pick, the Angels chose Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward. ESPN.com's Keith Law and Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball.com saw that as a reach, and they weren't alone. It was debatable whether Ward was a top-100 talent, never mind a top-30 one.
Then with the No. 70 pick, the Angels went for prep outfielder Jahmai Jones. That wasn't as much of a reach, but he could be a tougher sign than Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times thinks he'll be.
The Angels have a bonus pool of barely more than $5 million to work with, and Jones could pursue a much larger bonus a couple of years down the line by following through on his commitment to North Carolina.
What it comes down to is that the Angels took a couple of risks Monday night. Given that they began the night with one of baseball's worst farm systems, they might have been better off playing it safe.
Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a payroll worth darn near $300 million and a farm system that already ranks as one of the best in the game. They're the last team that needs draft steals.
But on Day 1 of the draft, steals are what they got.
The Dodgers nabbed Vanderbilt right-hander Walker Buehler at No. 24 and Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser at No. 35. In so doing, they picked up MLB.com's No. 11 and No. 13 talents way below where they were projected to go.
But the Dodgers weren't done. At No. 67 in the second round, they picked up prep outfielder Mitch Hansen. He entered the draft as MLB.com's No. 38 talent, giving the Dodgers yet another steal.
Of course, signing these three will be the real trick. But at $7,781,700, the Dodgers actually have one of the draft's biggest bonus pools. To boot, they can lure their draftees with further riches to come unlike any other team.
So, here's thinking they get it done, thus sealing the deal on a terrific first-day haul.
Loser: Brady Aiken
Probably the only way Brady Aiken wasn't going to go into the books as a loser after the first day of the draft was if somebody reached and drafted him in the top 10.
That never was likely to happen. Aiken is an excellent pitching prospect when he's healthy, but that's something he's decidedly not after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. Like that, he went from being in the mix for the No. 1 pick (again) to being a total wild card.
The Cleveland Indians decided to play that wild card when they drafted Aiken at No. 17. But while you can't fault them for wanting to make an upside play on Aiken, the man himself isn't in the best position.
As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted, the No. 17 pick comes with a slot value of $2,393,600. That's less than half of the $5 million bonus he chose not to take from the Astros last year. And while he could pressure the Indians for an over-slot bonus, they only have a $7,234,200 bonus pool to work with.
So if Aiken signs, he'll be taking much less than what he could have gotten last year. If he doesn't sign, he'll be banking on his elbow recovering well enough to push his draft stock back to where it once was.
Either way, Aiken has yet another tough call to make.