In terms of instant gratification, the MLB draft is guaranteed to be a disappointment. However, there's no question a handful of future stars are sitting in the 2016 class.
Even the most promising prospects need at least a year of seasoning before they are full-time major leaguers. The Washington Nationals selected Bryce Harper first overall in 2010 but didn't call him up to the bigs until 2012, and Harper is the exception rather than the rule.
For this year's incoming crop of prospects, the majors won't come until 2018 at the earliest, if they even come at all.
Here's a mock for the first round of the 2016 draft on Thursday night—including compensation picks—followed by analysis for four of the best players available. None of the quartet is likely to make an immediate impact on his major league team, but the four prospects should grow into everyday MLB regulars in a few seasons.
MLB Mock Draft
|2016 MLB Mock Draft—First Round|
|1||Philadelphia Phillies||A.J. Puk, LHP||Florida|
|2||Cincinnati Reds||Kyle Lewis, OF||Mercer|
|3||Atlanta Braves||Nick Senzel, 3B||Tennessee|
|4||Colorado Rockies||Jason Groome, LHP||Barnegat (N.J.) High School|
|5||Milwaukee Brewers||Delvin Perez, SS||International Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico)|
|6||Oakland Athletics||Riley Pint, RHP||St. Thomas Aquinas High (Kan.)|
|7||Miami Marlins||Braxton Garrett, LHP||Florence (Ala.) High School|
|8||San Diego Padres||Mickey Moniak, OF||La Costa Canyon High School (Calif.)|
|9||Detroit Tigers||Dakota Hudson, RHP||Mississippi State|
|10||Chicago White Sox||Blake Rutherford, OF||Chaminade College Prep (Calif.)|
|11||Seattle Mariners||Corey Ray, OF||Louisville|
|12||Boston Red Sox||Zack Collins, C||Miami|
|13||Tampa Bay Rays||Justin Dunn, RHP||Boston College|
|14||Cleveland Indians||Josh Lowe, 3B||Pope (Ga.) High School|
|15||Minnesota Twins||Cody Sedlock, RHP||Illinois|
|16||Los Angeles Angels||Buddy Reed, OF||Florida|
|17||Houston Astros||Eric Lauer, LHP||Kent State|
|18||New York Yankees||Matt Manning, RHP||Sheldon High School (Calif.)|
|19||New York Mets||Will Craig, 3B||Wake Forest|
|20||Los Angeles Dodgers||Joey Wentz, LHP||Shawnee Mission East High School (Kan.)|
|21||Toronto Blue Jays||Alex Kirilloff, OF||Plum High School (Pa.)|
|22||Pittsburgh Pirates||Jordan Sheffield, RHP||Vanderbilt|
|23||St. Louis Cardinals||Ian Anderson, RHP||Shenendehowa High School (N.Y.)|
|24||San Diego Padres (compensation for Justin Upton)||Cal Quantrill, RHP||Stanford|
|25||San Diego Padres (compensation for Ian Kennedy)||Zack Burdi, RHP||Louisville|
|26||Chicago White Sox (compensation for Jeff Samardzija)||Nolan Jones, 3B||Holy Ghost Prep (Pa.)|
|27||Baltimore Orioles (compensation for Wei-Yin Chen)||Anthony Kay, LHP||Connecticut|
|28||Washington Nationals (compensation for Jordan Zimmermann)||Forrest Whitley, RHP||Alamo Heights High School (Texas)|
|29||Washington Nationals (compensation for Ian Desmond)||Alec Hansen, RHP||Oklahoma|
|30||Texas Rangers (compensation for Yovani Gallardo)||Jared Horn, RHP||Vintage High School (Calif.)|
|31||New York Mets (compensation for Daniel Murphy)||Chris Okey, C||Clemson|
|32||Los Angeles Dodgers (compensation for Zack Greinke)||Kevin Gowdy, RHP||Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School|
|33||St. Louis Cardinals (compensation for John Lackey)||Logan Shore, RHP||Florida|
|34||St. Louis Cardinals (compensation for Jason Heyward)||Will Benson, OF||The Westminster Schools (Ga.)|
|Draft order via MLB.com|
Top Prospects Available
Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat (N.J.) High School
Drafting a prep pitcher is always a gamble. For every Clayton Kershaw, there are many more Jarrod Parkers. The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Parker ninth overall in 2007, and he was solid for the Oakland Athletics before multiple Tommy John surgeries halted his MLB career.
Jason Groome is the best high school arm available in 2016. He missed a chunk of his senior season after the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association ruled him ineligible following his transfer from IMG Academy.
His stats remain impressive, though, per Matt Manley of Shore Sports Network:
Groome boasts a strong fastball, but his curveball might grow to be his most devastating pitch. Even as a junior, his curve had impressive movement, which FanGraphs captured in the video below:
Groome won't help an MLB team for at least a few years, so he'd be a nice fit for any one of the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies, all of whom are in long-term rebuilds.
According to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, though, Groome's projection may not be so cut and dry. Mayo reported Groome is considering rescinding his commitment to Vanderbilt in order to enroll at Chipola College. By doing so, the 17-year-old could potentially enter the 2017 draft.
Knowing that contract negotiations are likely to be difficult and may not have a positive resolution, teams may decide drafting Groome won't be worth the headache.
A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
A.J. Puk may only sport a 2-3 record on the mound, but he has been very good for the Florida Gators in 2016. In 70 innings, the left-hander struck out 95 batters while allowing 31 walks and a .195 batting average against.
Puk is armed with an overpowering fastball—in the 96-99 mph range, per MLB.com—and a slider that will keep opposing hitters on their toes. If he can improve his control, he'll be a productive MLB starter for a long time.
'"Growing up everyone wants to be first pick," Puk said, per the Orlando Sentinel's Edgar Thompson. "It's always been a dream to be the first pick. You're considered the best at what you do. That would be exciting."
This year's draft doesn't have that one pitcher who is universally regarded as a future ace, nor is there a five-tool position player who's a surefire All-Star. Drafting Puk would strengthen the Philadelphia Phillies' starting rotation for the long term and give them a potential No. 2 starter.
In this year's draft class, that's not a bad haul with the No. 1 pick.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
Not only is Nick Senzel leading Tennessee with a .352 batting average, but he's also tied for first in home runs (eight) and stands all alone in RBI (59) and slugging percentage (.595). Baseball America's John Manuel discussed how Senzel possesses a high floor for an incoming prospect, per the Knoxville News Sentinel's Dustin Dopirak:
If he's not the best pure hitter in the draft, he's in the top three. I think he's perceived as one of the safest picks in the draft. ... There's really high confidence in the scouting community that he will be at least an average big league hitter if not an above average big league hitter, and there are not too many guys who inspire that kind of confidence.
Barring an unforeseen power surge, Senzel is unlikely to be a 30-40 homer hitter in MLB. But if he can slug around 15-20 home runs while batting .280 or above, he'll be a solid producer at the plate.
The Volunteers star can defend the hot corner as well, and he has the arm to make almost any throw across to first.
Selecting Senzel isn't the sexiest pick, but there's a lot of value to picking a player who should at the least be a reliable MLB infielder, especially when general managers are evaluated in part on their records in the first round of the draft.
Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
Until he is tested regularly against pitching higher up in the minor league pyramid, some will always question whether Kyle Lewis is more of a flat-track bully who excels when facing lesser competition.
The athletic outfielder batted .395 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI for the Mercer Bears in 2016. Lewis looked good in the Cape Cod League last year, finishing with a .300 batting average and a .200 isolated power, per Pointstreak.com.
Mercer head coach Craig Gibson doesn't have any doubts about Lewis' abilities at the plate.
"When you look at him, the bat speed is phenomenal," Gibson said, per Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "You could put him in any organization, and that bat speed plays immediately. It's just different."
Baseball Prospectus, Christopher Crawford, however, argued Lewis could run into trouble once he faces professional pitching:
At the plate, Lewis shows huge bat speed, and that, along with the leverage he generates, gives him easy plus power to all parts of the field. If there's a concern here, it's that his swing has considerable length, and because his hands load late, that could give him significant contact issues as he faces harder throwers and better secondary stuff. He also has a pretty substantial leg kick, and it wouldn't shock me if the team that drafts him asks Lewis to kick that to the curb. His walk totals are a bit misleading because no one in the Sun Belt wants to throw him a strike, but it does show that he's willing to work counts into his favor, and that’s never a bad thing.
Gambling on Lewis early in the first round is well worth the potential rewards. He's a good enough defender so as not to be a liability in the outfield, and he has some of the best raw power in the draft.