A friend of mine has this morbid fascination with the demise of Major League Baseball through TV ratings, and what’s most bizarre about his complex is the fact that he happens to work for a big league org. Every so often I’ll get a gchat from him that goes like, “dude, male viewership between ages 31 and 33 has dropped a quarter point off last year’s pace. Terrible news for baseball.” Such messages usually go ignored, but a couple weeks ago one of these IM’s caught me off guard: “You realize the WNBA draft drew a better rating than the MLB Draft last year?” I didn’t bother fact-checking this one, so perhaps my friend got his numbers mixed up, but in any case, if this news is even close to being accurate, I find it deeply disturbing. The MLB first-year player draft begins tomorrow at 6pm central time on MLB Network, and if you care enough about baseball to be reading a blog post about fantasy prospects, then you should probably tune in. Offering further intrigue, I’ve identified some early-impact draft prospects below. We’re sticking to college products for this exercise, as they carry a quicker path to the bigs and far less risk than their prep counterparts.
Arms to Know
- Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State: A front-end southpaw with elite pure stuff. He needs to grow in the command department, but upside doesn’t get much higher than Rodon’s.
- Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU: Nola doesn’t bring the frame of a future ace, but with a polished repertoire and a bat-missing changeup, he could be the quickest to the bigs in this class.
- Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina: With great size and stuff, Hoffman was one of the most intriguing arms in the class, but TJ surgery last month spoiled some of the hype. Athletes of this caliber tend to bounce back nicely after surgery, and Hoffman could be a steal if he slips out of the top 10.
- Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford: Newcomb is a 6-foot-5 lefty with a deep and refined power arsenal. That skill set makes him an extremely safe first round investment, and likely a top 10 pick.
- Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt: Another prospect with an innings-eating frame and huge stuff, but lacking severely in terms of control/command. Beede’s stock has suffered due to inability to spot his pitches, but the upside is too good to slip out of the first round.
Bats to Know
- Kyle Schwarber, 1B, Indiana: There doesn’t appear to be a Kris Bryant in this year’s class, but Schwarber is probably as close as we can get. Elite raw power and an above average hit tool should allow for some exciting fantasy production.
- Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State: His regular season line speaks loudly as to his ability at the plate: .364/.518/.578. College hitters tend to be a bit more risky than college pitchers, but Conforto’s hit tool is legit, and he could be raking in the bigs by 2016.
- Max Pentacost, C, Kennesaw State: Pentacost was MVP of the Cape Cod league last summer, showcasing his ability to swing with wood. Development behind the dish might slow his path to the bigs, but he’s going to hit once he arrives.