The 2011 MLB draft is today, and the Dodgers hold the 16th overall pick this year. Due to the supplemental/sandwich round in between the 1st and 2nd rounds the Dodgers next pick is #73, and their 3rd round pick will be #103 overall. Then from rounds 4 - 50 the Dodgers have the 13th pick each round.
Today, we are going to focus on the Dodgers 1st round pick and look at the potential players the team might target at #16. The #16 pick is the earliest that the Dodgers get to select since 2008, when they took Ethan Martin at #15 overall. Past history tells us that the Dodgers will take a high school player with their first selection, which is what the team has done in 8 of the past 10 years (with 7 of those 8 high school players being pitchers; Loney being the lone exception). However due to the ownership controversy things are a little more cloudy this year, especially because high school pitchers are generally more expensive to sign than college players because they have more leverage. That being said, baseball's current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of this season, and one of the topics of discussion is implementing a hard slotting system into the draft. Therefore, many experts believe that players will be more willing to sign this year than usual because a discounted deal in 2011 will probably still be higher than a potential slotted bonus in the future.
So, who are some candidates for the Dodgers 1st round pick? I'll look at quite a few possibilities, sorted by position and level.
High School Pitchers: As mentioned high school pitchers is where the Dodgers usually go with their 1st round pick, but this year could be different. There seem to be a few players who are clearly out of reach, but anything is possible so I'm including those guys as well.
Archie Bradley - RHP - The 6'4" Bradley would normally be a classic Dodger 1st round pick, but he has recently floated bonus demands of around $20M. While he won't get that much, he appears to have out-priced the Dodgers who are going to pretty much have to stick to slot according to various sources. Bradley has had some late helium, hitting 101 mph on the radar gun during a playoff game and showing plus secondary stuff, so he'll probably get selected prior to #16 anyways. He also has a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Oklahoma which complicates matters even more. He's a pitcher I would love to have in the system, but it's almost guaranteed that it won't happen.
- Taylor Guerrieri - RHP - Guerrieri is another high school right hander who may or may not be available at pick #16. Entering his senior year his fastball was in the low 90's but he was clocked at 98 mph this past season and is rising up the draft charts. He's 6'3", 180 lbs, and is supposed to be the 3rd best high school pitcher in the draft in terms of pure stuff. Even if he gets to the Dodgers at #16 he still might be too expensive.
- Robert Stephenson - RHP - Stephenson is from Alhambra high school, but it's not the Alhambra most of us think of near LA but is instead in Northern California. Like other pitchers already mentioned Robert throws in the low to mid 90's (hitting as high as 97 mph), and has developing secondary stuff; with a curveball that has the chance to become plus at the next level. He's thought of more as a late 1st round pick, which might make him more attractive to the Dodgers as he could be willing to sign for less than some of the upper tier talent. His name has been linked to the Dodgers quite a bit recently and is my guess for who the Dodgers take at #16.
- Daniel Norris - LHP - As late as November Norris was rated by Baseball America as the 2nd best high school player in this draft, but his stock has dipped slightly since then and it looks like he'll be available at #16. He throws in the low 90's and can hit 96 mph, and is a lefty that stands at 6'3". He's committed to Clemson and recently has thrown around bonus demands of $4M, so while he is solid arm he might not be a great fit for LA.
Henry Owens - LHP - Owens is a local high school kid from Huntington Beach who stands at 6'7". He's been mentioned as a potential 2011 1st round pick since his junior season, although recent mock drafts have him going toward the end of the 1st round. He can hit 94 but sits mostly in the low 90's, and he has a lot of secondary pitches although none appear to be plus pitches at this point.
Jose Fernandez - RHP - Fernandez made it to the US from Cuba as a teenager, and there is some concern that he is older than his listed age of 18. That being said he has an 98 mph fastball and a hard curveball, and also has a lot of confidence in his pitches. He's predicted to go in the bottom of the 1st round and shouldn't be too expensive, so it's possible the Dodgers will try to get him for straight slot money at #16. A few recent mock drafts have the Dodgers taking Fernandez, and he actually makes a lot of sense all things considered.
Dillon Howard - RHP - Howard is the top high school player in Arkansas, but he isn't necessarily a guaranteed 1st round pick. Still his name has been associated with the Dodgers maybe because like Stephenson he'll sign cheaper that other top high school pitchers. His fastball gets up to 94 mph and has good sink, and his secondary stuff is good yet inconsistent.
College Pitchers: College pitchers are generally cheaper than their prep counterparts, which lead a lot of people to believe that it makes sense for the Dodgers to take a college arm from this year's deep pool.
Matt Barnes - RHP - Should the Dodgers go with a college arm, there's a good chance they'll take Barnes if he's still available at #16. Barnes is 6'4" and had a 1.12 ERA at Connecticut during the regular season (112.1 innings). He throws in the mid 90's and has a solid pitcher's frame, but given his outstanding season there is little reason to believe he'll be on the board when the Dodgers pick.
- Tyler Anderson - LHP - Anderson is a 6'4" lefty out of Oregon who should be around when the Dodgers pick. He's had a great junior season, but would likely sign for a decent price so he could be a good fit. He also has a great pitcher's frame and throws in the low 90's with above average movement. He also has a solid slider and an above-average changeup.
- Jed Bradley - LHP - I've seen Bradley go anywhere from #5 to #25 in recent mock drafts, so it will be interesting to see if he's still available at #16 for the Dodgers. He's another tall college lefty who can touch 95 mph and has a great pitching frame. He has two good secondary pitches in a slider and changeup.
- Anthony Meo - RHP - The Dodgers were linked to Meo in a few early mock drafts, but recently his stock has dropped and he is no longer seen as a true 1st round talent. He has an upper 90's fastball and a strong slider, but some think he is destined to be a reliever. He still could be a potential pick at #16 since he'd probably sign for slot money.
- Matt Purke - LHP - Before his injury Purke was considered one of the top 3 talents in the draft, but now he might not even get picked in the 1st round. Since there is now a good chance he'll still be available at #16, could the Dodgers take a chance on him and try and use his injury to get him to sign for slot money? It's highly unlikely, especially since he is just a sophomore, but you never know.
High School Position Players: There aren't a whole lot of options here that the Dodgers would actually consider because most high school hitters with 1st round talent are firmly committed to college or are asking for a big bonus.
Francisco Lindor - SS - Lindor is considered the best shortstop in the draft, so there is a good chance he'll be a top 10 pick. Should he somehow fall to the Dodgers at #16, the Dodgers would probably scoop him up since you can never have too many good shortstop prospects in your system. He's a great defender and a good hitter, but his power is a question mark. Despite his accolades I don't think he'd require a crazy bonus, but again I don't expect him to be available when we pick anyways.
Javier Baez - SS/3B - A couple of recent mock drafts have the Dodgers picking Baez at #16, but that's assuming that he'll still be available. Baez has better offensive tools than Lindor, including plus raw power, but he might outgrow the shortstop position. He would be a great player for our system and while I'm sure he's asking for an over-slot bonus I'm guessing he'd probably sign at the deadline for slot money.
College Position Players: The Dodgers haven't spent a 1st round pick on a college position player since they selected Bubby Crosby out of Rice in 1998. I don't see them going that route this year either, but you never know.
- C.J. Cron - 1B/C - This is probably a stretch as the Dodgers most likely take a pitcher, but if they do go for a position player who will sign for a decent price they might go with Cron. The power hitter from Utah had 15 homers and a .434 average during the 2011 college season and would give the Dodgers the power hitting 1st baseman their minor league system lacks. He also has baseball bloodlines, and his raw power is ranked by some scouts as an 80 on the 20-80 scale.
- Kolten Wong - 2B - I wouldn't really be excited about a pick like this because I like players with more upside, but Wong is a talented player who reminds me a bit of Shane Victorino. He he is a spray hitter with moderate power and has a great approach at the plate. The Dodgers also don't really have a 2B prospect in their system besides Ivan De Jesus, so I guess this could make sense.
- Levi Michael - SS - Michael is like a souped up version of Jake Lemmerman, and even comes from the same conference as the played his college ball at North Carolina. There is no guarantee that he'll stay at shortstop, and while he doesn't really have any plus plus tools, he does have solid tools across the board.
So two questions to consider. First, who do you want the Dodgers to take with their 1st round pick? Second, what is your guess for who the Dodgers will actually take at #16?