This is the first of at least three Big Boards I will do leading up to the MLB Draft. This year’s draft isn’t nearly as deep as it has been in recent years. There are some elite(ish)-level guys who are dealing with injuries, which could cause them to fall down the board.
The depth is also lacking a bit, which will test Billy Gasparino, Gabe Kapler and the like as they run their first Dodger draft.
Without further ado, here’s the first version of the board.
My Big Board, v 1.0
1. LHP Kolby Allard, San Clemente HS (Calif.)
2. C Chris Betts, Wilson HS (Calif.)
3. LHP Brady Aiken, IMG Post-Grad (Fla.)
4. RHP James Kaprielian, UCLA
5. RHP Michael Matuella, Duke
6. OF/2B Ian Happ, Cincinnati
7. RHP Ashe Russell, Cathedral HS (Ind.)
8. RHP Dakota Chalmers, North Forsyth HS (Ga.)
9. RHP Drew Finley, Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
10. SS/3B Cornelius Randolph, Griffin HS (Ga.)
11. RHP Austin Smith, Park Vista HS (Fla.)
12. 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes, Concordia Lutheran HS (Texas)
13. LHP Juan Hillman, Olympia HS (Fla.)
14. OF Bryce Denton, Ravenwood HS (Tenn.)
15. LHP Justin Hooper, De La Salle HS (Calif.)
A word about a few guys not listed here: I really like outfielder Kyle Tucker. If the Dodgers could trade up to get him, I’d be advocating it. Unfortunately, he looks like a lock as a Top 12-15 pick, and with the Dodgers picking at No. 24, they aren’t getting him. Another chap is catcher Tyler Stephenson. You remember him, right? I’m convinced he isn’t getting out of the Top 10. Finally, Garrett Whitley is probably the best prep outfielder in the draft and should stick in center field. There’s even talk of him going 1-1 to the Diamondbacks in a bonus money-saving pick for Arizona. While draft rankings (especially this year) could be wildly different from publication to publication, these guys are bonafide Top 10-15 picks.
Allard had a stress reaction in his back and missed a good portion of the spring. Before the injury, he was a Top-10 prospect. He has been mocked to the Dodgers by Baseball America and would be great value with the Dodgers’ first pick.
Betts is a big dude and might have to move off catcher, but he has enough bat to play at first base if that happens. He isn’t as big as Stephenson, but his bat could be comparable.
Aiken was the No. 1 overall pick last year and was slated to go in the Top 5 this year before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is expected to fall a bit and still get paid. Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com mocked him to the Dodgers.
Kaprielan is an interesting fellow. He hadn’t been known as overpowering with his stuff, but it has ticked up this spring. Andrew Friedman and Josh Byrnes saw him recently.
Matuella is the (real) college version of Aiken: Was a projected Top 5-7 pick before TJ. He was even in contention for 1-1 for awhile. Would be a risky, high-value pick at 24.
Happ is a polished college hitter — probably the best in the draft — who profiles as a corner outfielder. He has played some second base in his college career.
Russell is similar to Chalmers, but his stuff is more advanced. He was mocked to the Dodgers by Minor League Ball.
I wrote about Chalmers in my first draft profile.
Finley is the son of Dodger scout Dave Finley and has some projectability in his frame. Also has one of the class’ best curveballs.
Randolph won’t stick at shortstop, but he has enough bat — one of the best in the prep ranks — to handle third base.
Smith is filled out and has a big fastball — one of the best among high schoolers. Secondary stuff needs work.
Hayes is the son of Charlie Hayes and a really good feel for hitting. Could be a similar player to his father.
Reports on Hillman are mixed, but he throws in the low-90s from the left side, which is always appealing.
Denton was a third baseman, is now in the outfield and has a slight chance to be in center field.
Hooper has one of the biggest fastballs in the entire draft, but concerns about secondary and tertiary stuff might cause him to be a reliever.
Any of these guys could go at pick No. 24 or 35. Obviously the guys ranked lower would be better-suited for 35, but with the uncertainty and nowhere near uniformity in the rankings, a case could be made for any of these guys (and some not listed) to be popped at 24. One thing’s for sure: There won’t be a Chris Reed-like overdraft this year, no matter how much the rankings differ.
I’ll try to do a Big Board every week leading up to the draft. If I do so, that means I’ll put out four before June 8. Things will change a little, but probably not too dramatically. Despite an already murky draft, things will become a little clearer as we get closer to the day.
Having said that, it’s anyone’s guess who the Dodgers will draft. Gasparino drafted two college position players (Hunter Renfroe, Trea Turner) with his first pick in the two drafts he ran for the Padres, but that’s hardly enough of a sample size to make a definitive statement. We’ll see what happens this year.