This is the first version of my MLB Draft Big Board for the Dodgers. I’m planning to do four of these leading up to the draft (every Monday).
If you know anything about my preferences, I tend to lean toward prep players during the draft in general, but especially in the early rounds. With the bonus pool restrictions, it’s difficult to go all high school because the player always has the leverage to say, “I’m going to college.” Also, I try to be realistic when it comes to this, so you won’t see guys like Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay or Kyle Wright on this list. Those guys are bonafide Top-5 selections. Of course, Delvin Perez was that guy last year before he slipped due to a positive PED test just a week before the draft, but that was an extenuating circumstance.
Before we get to the list, let’s look back, briefly, at Billy Gasparino‘s first four drafts — two with the Padres, two with the Dodgers.
Gasparino has been a scouting director for now five years, beginning with the Padres in 2013. Here are his first-round picks as a director with both SD and LA.
- 2013: Hunter Renfroe
- 2014: Trea Turner
- 2015: Walker Buehler, Kyle Funkhouser
- 2016: Gavin Lux, Will Smith, Jordan Sheffield
Funkhouser (didn’t sign), Smith and Sheffield were all supplemental 1st-round picks.
Renfroe was a drafted out of Mississippi State and was expected to go a little higher than he did. Some of the higher-upside players whom Gasparino passed on include Tim Anderson, J.P. Crawford, Hunter Harvey, Reese McGuire and Braden Shipley. The next year, Turner (North Carolina State) experienced one of the bigger slides of any prospect in the draft. He was a consensus Top-5 pick before the 2014 college season, but he fell due to lack of production. Still, he was a steal at the No. 13 pick. Some players chosen shortly after him include Tyler Beede, Grant Holmes, Sean Newcomb, and Touki Toussaint.
In 2015, both Buehler and Funkhouser fell due to performance issues. Injury concern was the biggest reason for Buehler, while Funkhouser just under-performed. Gasparino passed on high school arms such as Mike Nikorak, Mike Soroka and Nolan Watson, while he passed on another high schooler in Ke’Bryan Hayes before the Funkhouser pick. After the 35th pick, he passed on notable prep players such as Daz Cameron (who fell because of signability issues), Triston McKenzie and Austin Riley. Buehler is, pretty clearly, the best of anyone in this grouping, but that wasn’t totally expected. Still, it was a good job by the scouting department to identify the upside in him.
Last year, Gasparino popped Lux with the 20th pick, but he passed on Perez, who was the riskier prospect, but also the better prospect. They were planning to take Blake Rutherford, who was a consensus Top-10 pick before he began to fall. Unfortunately, the Yankees popped him at 18 — two picks ahead of the Dodgers. They were willing to take a risk on a talent like that, but it wouldn’t be have been as risky as taking Perez.
So, they followed up the Lux pick by taking an extremely safe prospect in Smith (who was a late-riser and is pretty good) and a risky prospect in Sheffield. They passed on other riskier guys like Taylor Trammell and Joey Wentz (signability guy), but that’s fine because we knew that despite the extra money from the extra draft picks, the Dodgers chose not to go after a signability player. Still, the first round of the ’16 draft was actually a bit riskier than the ’15 draft.
I’m not saying high school players are always a better option than college guys, but often times it seems there’s more boom potential.
Something Gasparino hasn’t done in the first round of his first four drafts is draft a high school pitcher. That’s something his predecessor Logan White did eight times in 20 1st-round picks. So, you’ll notice in this list that there are very few high school pitchers included, even though I tend to favor high school pitchers in the first round.
That isn’t to say Gasparino totally against taking and paying prep arms — the Dodgers gave Dustin May $1 million as a 3rd-round pick, A.J. Alexy $600,000 as an 11th-rounder last year and Imani Abdullah got $647,500 as an 11th-rounder in 2015 — just don’t expect the Dodgers to pop a prep arm in the first round.
Without further ado, here is the first version of my MLB Draft Big Board.
My Big Board, v 1.0
1. OF Heliot Ramos, Alfonso Casta Martinez HS (P.R.)
2. 1B/OF Evan White, Kentucky
3. RHP Griffin Canning, UCLA
4. OF Bubba Thompson, McGill-Toolen HS (Ala.)
5. LHP David Peterson, Oregon
6. RHP Tanner Houck, Missouri
7. 3B/SS Mark Vientos, American Heritage HS (Fla.)
8. RHP Tristan Beck, Stanford
9. 3B/1B Jake Burger, Missouri State
10. LHP Brendon Little, State JC of Florida-Manatee
11. RHP Hans Crouse, Dana Hills HS (Calif.)
12. RHP Alex Lange, LSU
13. SS Logan Warmoth, North Carolina
14. RHP Corbin Martin, Texas A&M
15. 3B Ryan Vilade, Stillwater HS (Okla.)
I wrote up Ramos and White already. Both are polar opposites as prospects, aside from being athletic. Ramos is a power-speed guy, while White is a high-contact, athletic first baseman.
Canning is a solid pitching prospect from UCLA. His fastball sits in the low-90s and he has a classic starter’s repertoire — curveball, slider and changeup — with the changeup being his best offspeed pitch.
Thompson isn’t dissimilar to Ramos in terms of athletic ability, but he’s closer to White in terms of offensive profile. One thing’s for sure: He’s a better outfield prospect than either of them, with White’s defense at first grading out higher, but not necessarily being more valuable than Thompson’s in center field.
Peterson is a big left-handed pitcher who is more polished than anyone on this list. His stuff isn’t premium, which is why he might be available when the Dodgers pick at No. 23.
Houck has a great frame for a starting pitcher and has a plus-fastball. His offspeed stuff needs work, but he seems like the kind of guy Gasparino could be interested in with his first pick.
Vientos is a big, powerful third baseman/shortstop who doesn’t run particularly well and will probably have to move to third base, which is OK as long as he hits enough.
Beck is the rare projectable college starter who thrives on using his advanced fastball command and changeup. His breaking pitch needs to be more consistent, but he’s the kind of guy the Dodgers could draft and develop the way they see fit.
Speaking of powerful third baseman, Burger is one of the more advanced college bats available early on in the draft. He projects to his for above-average power.
The Dodgers do like their junior college draftees, and Little is one of the best available. He has a plus-fastball and solid slider. His changeup needs a bit of work.
Hey, a prep pitcher! Crouse is a local kid who has a plus-fastball and an average curveball. He’ll need to tighten it up in the pros. His changeup will determine his long-term future in the majors.
Lange seemed like the prototypical Dodger draftee when I first started looking into potential picks. He has a good fastball and curveball, but his changeup is fringy and he might end up as a reliever. But there’s enough upside that he’d be worth a flyer at 23.
Warmoth is one of the better shortstop prospects available, and he’s more advanced the the high school draftees. He doesn’t have a lot of power, but he’s a good bet to remain at shortstop and could move quickly through a farm system.
Martin is an intriguing college arm who is athletic and has premium stuff. His biggest con is his command/control, which is lacking at present. He’d be a bit of a project, but one who could pay of big time.
Vilade is a power-hitting third baseman with a strong arm at the hot corner. He could be a nice developmental prospect.
I’ll release three more of these every Monday leading up to the draft. I’ll also try to do individual draft profiles on as many of these guys as I can before June 12.