It's Draft Day! As we eagerly wait for the draft to begin in a few hours, Jim, IHSB, and I have conspired together to come up with a Top Ten Board for the incoming class of 2011. The short blurbs come nowhere close to the outstanding work IHSB put together earlier detailing potential Diamondbacks draft picks, but I thought it'd be interesting to see what a semi-consolidated Snakepit ranking of draft prospects would look like.
And without further ado...
MLB Draft Top Ten Board
1. Anthony Rendon: JM (1), bb (1), IHSB (1)
Anthony Rendon was the consensus top pick preseason, the consensus top pick of your Snakepit draft *cough* gurus, and is still the best draft prospect available this year to an overwhelming number of people. Yes there are concerns that injury has sapped his power and defense. But the floor is still amazing because the guy has a truly "once in a generation" eye for hitting, which leads to incredible contact rates and marvelous plate discipline. And if the injuries don't end up being a concern and the power and defense remain top-notch.....well then Evan Longoria type numbers are definitely within reasonable expectation.
2. Danny Hultzen: JM (3), bb (3), IHSB (2)
The uber-polished lefty with underrated stuff. I've always been a firm believer in taking the pitcher with better command over the pitcher with better stuff (with a diminishing marginal returns caveat). And Hultzen reportedly has amazing command. And the numbers back that up, with an absurd 8.73 K/BB ratio pitching in one of the three best college baseball conferences, if not the best. Kinda reminds me of another Danny that used to pitch in Sedona Red.....
3. Gerrit Cole: JM (2), bb (5), IHSB (3)
There's no doubt stuff-wise that Gerrit Cole sits atop the college arms pedestal. Seriously, early in the year, scouts pegged Cole as having three plus to plus-plus pitches in his arsenal. The fastball that sits 94-97 mph. The wipeout power slider. And the changeup at 85-87 mph that sinks and tails and made batters flail helplessly away. But concerns over command, and his inability to translate that stuff into results this past year have had front offices wondering if Cole may not be the next coming of Stephen Strasburg like we all thought preseason after all.
4. Dylan Bundy: JM (4), bb (4), IHSB (4)
The reason I had to add "college" to the first-line description of Gerrit Cole is because of this kid here. It's really a toss-up between who has the better stuff between Cole and Bundy. Scouts don't believe Bundy has much physical projection left in him, but does it really matter? The kid throws three pitches that register as plus at the major league level. MAJOR LEAGUE. His only "weakness" (I use this term loosely) is a changeup that "only" registers as average for a major-league pitcher (*gasp*). And he's still got a chance to improve that pitch, since it doesn't require any physical projection. Barring injury, and there will always be health concerns for a pitcher as short as Bundy is, he's going to be a special talent in the majors for quite a while.
4a. Trevor Bauer: JM (5), bb (2), IHSB (5)
I have to admit that Trevor Bauer has become a personal favorite of mine in this draft, after having read so much about him at Baseball America and through various other interviews. His collegiate numbers are other-worldly. And guys with his strikeout totals tend to have a lot of success in the majors. I'm talking David Price, Tim Lincecum, Jered Weaver. Of course there's always a flip side, and Bauer has come under a lot of scrutiny lately for his makeup and, in particular, his injury concerns. On that list of strikeout kings, are the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Mark Prior, and Kris Benson. They all had plenty of success when healthy. They also couldn't stay healthy. So is Bauer the next coming of Timmeh? Or is he Prior 2.0?
6. Francisco Lindor: JM (7), bb (6), IHSB (7)
If you believe the power will develop, then he's a perennial All-Star with 15-20 homers per year and stellar defense at a premium position. If you believe the power won't develop (and I tend to shade on this side) then he's probably not going to be as valuable as Stephen Drew. But I mean, there's nothing wrong with that, since Drew is a beast. And at the end of the day, the whole of the minor leagues is barren of legitimate SS talent. The Dbacks could do a lot worse than snag a premium defender with a high floor in Lindor. Especially considering the amount of offensive firepower currently within our system.
7. Bubba Starling: JM (6), bb (10), IHSB (6)
Alright. First things first. I'm significantly lower on Bubba than a lot of other people, and it definitely skewed his ranking somewhat. I'll be the first to admit that I have a bias against prospects like Bubba. It's true his hit tool and patience tool are better than what Donovan Tate showed when he was drafted 3rd overall by (you guessed it) the Padres in 2009. However, Bubba's hit tool and patience tool are a far cry from the polish Justin Upton and Jason Heyward showed as five-tool talents in their respective draft years. Does he have the potential to end up being the best player in all of the 2011 draft? Sure. But he also has quite a bit of potential of never making it out of AA......
8. Archie Bradley: JM (8), bb (8), IHSB (8)
The preseason top prep arm as ranked by Baseball America went through a stellar year and somehow still ended up losing his top dog rank, thanks to Dylan Bundy. That's no knock on Archie Bradley though, because he's tremendously gifted and is a legitimate target for the Dbacks at #7. The signability is somewhat of a concern. But every indication has been that he's willing to be bought out from his Oklahoma commit. With a fastball that can run up to 101 mph, and projection to dream on, I don't think anybody can really say they would be disappointed if the Dbacks were forced to "settle" on Archie Bradley with the #7 pick.
9. Sonny Gray: JM (10), bb (7), IHSB (13)
Seriously. How can you not love his name? It wasn't so long ago that Sonny Gray was a consensus top five pick in this year's draft. In fact, plenty of scouts said that he had the second best stuff among right-handers behind Cole. He currently "only" has two plus pitches (I know...so disappointing) though the curveball was ranked by Baseball America as one of the best secondary offerings among college starters this year. The problem though, is his frame. Questions abound over whether he can hold up to a starter's workload. Still, with the floor of being a dominating closer, the Dbacks could do a lot worse than Sonny Gray at #7.
10. Matt Barnes: JM (9), bb (14), IHSB (10)
Barnes would definitely be somewhat of a project, relative to the other college hurlers above him on this board. His fastball is very nice, but the offspeed offerings and command still need work. Scouts actually think he's got projection left in his frame though, so it's not as if he's reached his upside yet. I'm not a huge fan of college pitchers who aren't capable of striking out a batter per inning, but the fact that Barnes is tenth on this board is a testimony to how deep the draft is.
Draft Day certainly feels like Christmas in June, especially when you've got two picks in the top ten. As the newest Diamondbacks get their names called out, hopefully this will be an added primer (to what other 'Pitters have already posted) for understanding how the dominoes fall at the top of this year's draft. For perhaps the most comprehensive and respected draft ranking out there, Baseball America has issued its Top 200 Draft Board.
Happy Drafting 'Pitters!