I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the 2015 MLB draft was a damn good one. In just 14 months this class has already produced three everyday MLB players. It’s pretty much unheard of for THAT many players to move THAT quickly through the minors, and it’s not like any of the three look particularly lost. The real beauty lies here, the draft wasn’t particularly top heavy, we’ve had plenty of very interesting players already emerge from outside the first round; Willie Calhoun, Harrison Bader, Thomas Szapucki, and Cody Ponce to name a few. On the heels of this dynasty windfall, the question on everyone’s mind is; who are the studs and gems from this draft? Over the next few posts (today and Sunday) we’ll take a long look, maybe an awkwardly long look, at the first round and the gems of the later rounds. Did I say that already? I feel like I did….I try to sound like a sports reporter, but I kill too many brain cells to pull off the act. Meh, whatevs let’s talk about Nick Senzel!
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Mickey Moniak, GCL (Phillies) OF: The top pick in draft has hit the ground running slashing .295/.356/.418 in his first taste of pro-ball. He’s also showed his balanced skill set, swiping 8 bases, while scoring 21 runs and driving in 27. The power is still coming around, but he’s barely 18, and looks like a future top of the order type player.
Nick Senzel, Dayton (Reds) 3B: At the moment Senzel is the consensus top pick in first year player drafts for dynasty. Since joining the Reds lo-A ball affiliate Dayton on July 1st, Senzel has been en fuego, slashing .315/.410/.554 with 7 homers, 14 steals, and 30 RBIs in 200 plate appearances. The peripheral stats are phenomenal as well, to tune of a 13.5% Bb rate, an 18% K rate, and a .238 Isolated power. He’s my top pick and a player I’m actively pursuing in the offseason.
Ian Anderson, Danville (Braves) RHP: The number 3 overall pick was solid in his GCL debut throwing 18 scoreless innings in 5 appearances, but has struggled upon promotion to Danville of the Appalachian League. Still big upside with this player.
Riley Pint, Grand Junction (Rockies): The righty with the big fastball was stricken with the curse of being drafted by the Rockies, and so far the hex is in full effect. Through 8 appearances and 24 innings Pint has struggled to the tune of a 5.18 ERA. It’s not like he’s unlucky either, his FIP is 5.79! The walks have been a major issue, allowing free passes at a rate of 5.55 per 9. Seems like the type of player you might be able to get a discount on at the draft table following his early struggles. Not a bad risk to take if the price is right, Pint still possesses massive upside.
A.J. Puk, Vermont (Athletics) LHP: So far so good for the man many thought would be the top pick in the draft, as he’s plowed his way through 25 strong innings in the short season New York-Penn League. The lefties swing and miss stuff has been on full display striking out opposing batters at a clip of 11.52 per 9. The most surprising thing about Puk has been his good control so far, only allowing 6 walks to 32 strikeouts. I’m starting to buy in.
Cal Quantrill, Tri-City (Padres) RHP: After an unlucky beginning to his pro career in the Rookie level Arizona League (46.7% LOB, .324 BABIP, 2.49 FIP to a 5.27 ERA), Quantrill has been excellent in lo-A Tri-City, dropping a 14.11 K/9 to a 1.23 Bb/9. The crazy thing is he’s still not getting lucky, despite his 1.84 ERA he’s been even better when you factor in the 60% strand rate and high BABIP of .343. I’m not going to lie I’m very tempted by Quantrill; looks like another player who’s draft stock was deflated by an injury at the wrong time.
Matt Manning, GCL (Tigers) RHP: Talk about bad luck, the 6’6 righty has had awful luck despite pitching very well, so ignore the 4.44 ERA, and take a gander at the 14.01 K/9, 2.39 Bb/9, and insanely inflated BABIP of .383. Pretty impressive stuff from a prep arm. Manning is right there at the top with Groome, Pint, Garrett, and Anderson in a strong class for Prep pitchers. Every time I type prep pitchers I imagine them in Vineyard Vines and blue sport coats with gold buttons, and khakis. Damn I hate Vineyard Vines….stupid pink pants.
Zack Collins, Winston-Salem (White Sox) C: After all the talk entering the draft was about Collins moving off catching duties, all he’s done is catch. The slashline of .247/.364/.430 has been disappointing, but he’s shown power and the ability to walk. Which is encouraging particularly when you consider the aggressive assignment.
Jason Groome, GCL (Red Sox) LHP: I’m a Red Sox fan, so I’m not going to say this is the greatest 12th overall pick in sports history, but it probably is. Boston we piss excellence….or maybe that’s Sam Summer. Probably Sam Summer. Made his pro debut on Monday and struck out 3 and allowed a hit in two innings of glorious work. Watch the Throne Kershaw.
Josh Lowe, Princeton (Rays) 3B: Tomorrow on the Prospect Podcast Michael Halpern and I will rank our top corner infield prospects. Lowe’s not in my top 10, but he’s someone I might classify as a sleeper. Though he was a first rounder you do see him receiving the type of buzz your typically see when a 18 year old kid slashing a respectable .268/.372/.423 with 5 homers across two levels of Rookie ball. He’s got a nice easy swing you can check it out here.
Will Benson, AZL (Indians) OF: The raw Benson, flashes sexy fantasy tools. Wow that reads, all types of wrong. So far he’s shown the ability to hit for power (5 homers .223 ISO), and steal bases (9 for 11 on stolen base attempts), but has struggled with strikeouts (30.2% K rate), and making consistent contact (.216 AVG). As a prep player, he’s still young enough to figure all that stuff out, and his imposing size (6-5 215), gives his raw power some projectability.
Alex Kirilloff, Elizabethton (Twins) OF: Through 206 professional plate appearances the lefthanded hitting Kirilloff looks like a star. Assigned to advanced Rookie level Elizabethton of the “Appy League” he’s slashed .332/.359/.472 with 6 homers and 28 RBIs.
Matt Thaiss, Burlington (Angels) 1B: I’ve raved about what I’ve seen from Thaiss so far, you can check that here. If my first year player draft were today, I’d have a hard time passing on Thaiss at two (assuming pick one was Senzel….it will be Senzel trust me). He’s been quite possibly the most impressive player outside Senzel, slashing .308/.385/.489 with 5 homers and 36 RBIs between lo-A and Rookie ball. He’s been moved off catcher and moved to first, at the moment the minors are sorely lacking true impact bats at the corners. This is one to watch.