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May 19, 2016

Some Projection Left

Top 50 Draft Prospects

by Christopher Crawford

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Can you folks believe we’re only two weeks away from the draft? I can’t, because we’re actually three weeks away. We like to have fun here at Baseball Prospectus.

As I mentioned in my tiered-ranking piece, this draft class is frustrating, and nothing is going to change that opinion this late in the process. That being said, keep in mind that to be frustrated by something it has to show flashes of being worth being frustrated about, and this class has done that.

A friendly reminder that this is not a mock draft, just a ranking of the best players in the class.

Without further adieu, here’s the top 50 players in the 2016 MLB Draft Class.

1. Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS (NJ) — He’s still the best. Around. Nothing’s ever gonna bring him down. I bet you can’t guess which movie I watched before writing these.

2. Corey Ray, OF, Louisville — Even if he’s not going to stay in center, Ray has four plus tools, and that makes him pretty darn valuable at any position.

3. Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy (P.R.) — Scouts are somewhat torn on the power tool, but I think when he fills out his frame and with his plus bat speed, he’s going to hit dingers.

4. Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep (CA) — Call him a poor man’s Corey Ray, as every tool but the arm is above-average.

5. Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS (AL) — When the season started, Garrett was considered a late day one talent. Oh how things have changed.

Garrett’s always had a good fastball, but it’s his ability to command it that has really improved, as he places his 90-93 mph fastball on both sides of the plate. The curveball is a plus pitch with big depth, and he can either bury the pitch in the dirt when ahead, or locate it for strike one. He’ll need to use the change more often, but when it is on display, it flashes above-average. The delivery is clean, and while the control is ahead of the command, there’s no reason to think he’s not going to hit enough spots to be a starter in a big league rotation.

There are pitchers with more upside than Garrett, but his combination of a high-ceiling and high-floor make him one of the best prep pitchers in the class.

6. Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer — You could argue he has the highest ceiling of any collegiate bat, but the contact issues put him significantly behind Ray.

7. Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (CA) — He’s the most likely of these outfielders to stay in center field, and Moniak has shown there’s more pop in his left-handed bat than anticipated.

8. Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee — Senzel might be the most “big-league ready” hitting prospect (yes, even over Ray), but the lack of above-average power could see his stock slide.

9. AJ Puk, LHP, Florida — He might be the first pick of this year’s draft, which is ridiculous, but if you see him on his best day, there’s a 70 fastball and a 60 slider.

10. Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS) — In terms of pure stuff, he’s as good as any prep pitcher in this class. In terms of command and clean delivery, he...isn’t.

11. Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendehowa HS (NY) — Anderson is that ever-so-fun combination of projection and advanced stuff, but the lack of looks (the New York season starts ridiculously late) will be a problem for some clubs.

12. Nolan Jones, SS/3B, Holy Ghost Prep (PA) — If someone believes Jones can stay at shortstop, he’s going to go very high, as there’s an above-average hit tool and solid-average pop in his left-handed bat.

13. Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS (CA) — If there’s one thing scouts like more than projection, it’s athletic lineage. Manning has both.

The son of former NBA center Rich, Manning has tons of athleticism, and it shows on the mound. He gets downhill with a fastball that can touch 97 mph and will sit 93-95 with some life to the offering as well. Neither of the secondary pitches have a ton of consistency, but there are two things to keep in mind: both the curveball and change have flashed above-average, and he’s a two-sport athlete, so he hasn’t had as much time to develop those pitches as well. The delivery is smooth and efficient, and he should be a strike-thrower as he develops more feel for pitching.

There’s a lot to like here, and a team that believes the off-speed stuff will show more consistency will swoop Manning up in the first 20 picks, maybe even the top 10.

14. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Alamo Heights HS (TX) — Because it wouldn’t be a draft class without a tall (6-foot-7) hard-throwing right-hander from Texas, would it?

15. Kevin Gowdy, RHP, Santa Barbara HS (CA) — There are three above-average pitches at Gowdy’s disposal, and his frame screams projection. Loudly.

16. Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State — I had one scout call Hudson the “right-handed Tyler Jay,” and it makes sense; as Hudson has two pitches that flash double-plus and two other competent pitches.

17. Joey Wentz, LHP, Shawnee Mission East HS (KS) — I’m late to the party on Wentz; a southpaw who touches the mid 90s with his stuff and also shows an above-average change and curveball.

18. Josh Lowe, 3B/RHP, Pope HS (GA) — It’s looking less and less likely that Pope ends up on the mound, partially because he hasn’t looked great there and partially because he’s been impressive with the bat.

19. Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt — He gets the “gamer” tag, but Reynolds isn’t just grit and hustle; he can go get it in the outfield and he should be able to get on base enough to justify playing everyday.

20. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Plum HS (GA) — He’s assuredly going to play the corner outfield, and with a plus arm and above-average power from the left side, that won’t be an issue.

21. Matt Thaiss, C, Virginia — It is a very weak crop of college catchers, and Thaiss is the best of a bad situation with a potentially plus hit tool and just enough behind the plate.

22. Zack Collins, C, Miami — Everything I wrote about Thaiss is true about Collins, only add more power and a much larger chance of him ending up at first base than behind the plate.

23. Justin Dunn, RHP, Boston College — Dunn has been one of the real pleasant surprised of the 2016 class as a right-hander with excellent athleticism and who shows four quality pitches.

24. Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford — This is a big risk, as Quantrill is still recovering from Tommy John Surgery and he won’t pitch at all in 2016. If you saw him pitch in 2015, however, you’ll understand why it’s hard to give up on his talent.

25. Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn — In a year where so many college bats just didn’t show up, Grier went the other way, and the draft needed it.

It was never a question of athletic ability with Grier, as he’s always shown plus speed and 60-grade defense in center field. What has changed is that Grier now has some offensive tools to let those other tools play. There’s above-average bat speed, and the bat stays in the zone long enough to make hard contact to all parts of the field. He also has shown some power from the right side, with just enough loft to project average pop when everything is said and done. He does struggle against soft stuff, but some mechanical adjustments (like shortening the swing) should help with that.

In a better draft class this isn’t a top-25 talent, but Grier has put up big numbers against a very good conference, and he’ll be among the first first collegiate bats taken on day one.

The other 25

26. Will Benson, OF, The Westminster Schools (GA)

27. Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia

28. Cody Sedlock, RHP, Illinois

29. Jared Horn, RHP, Vintage HS (CA)

30. Corbin Burnes, RHP St. Mary’s

31. Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt

32. Hunter Bishop, OF, J Serra HS (CA)

33. Kyle Muller, LHP, Jesuit College Prep (TX)

34. Carter Kieboom, 3B, Walton HS (GA)

35. Will Craig, 3B, Wake Forest

36. Robert Tyler, RHP, Georgia

37. Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State

38. Alex Speas, RHP, McEachern HS (GA)

39. Joe Rizzo, 3B, Oakton HS (VA)

40. Lucas Erceg, 3B, Menlos College

41. Taylor Trammell, OF, Mount Paran Christian HS (GA)

42. Anthony Kay, LHP, Connecticut

43. Ben Rortvedt, C, Verona hS (WI)

44. Drew Mendoza, 3B, Lake Minneola HS (FL)

45. Zack Burdi, RHP, Louisville

46. Cooper Johnson, C, Carmel Athletic HS (IL)

47. Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma

48. Jeff Belge, LHP, Hanniger HS (NY)

49. Ryan Boldt, OF, Nebraska

50. Buddy Reed, OF, Florida

Honorable Mention:

Logan Shore, RHP, Florida

T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Pittsburgh

Gavin Lux, SS, Indian Trail Academy (WI)

Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Douglas HS (FL)

Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP, Seamen HS (KS)

Brandon Marsh, OF, Buford HS (GA)

A.J. Puckett, RHP, Pepperdine

Christopher Crawford is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christopher's other articles. You can contact Christopher by clicking here

Related Content:  Draft Top 50

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