We are less than a month away from the 2015 MLB Amatuer Draft and the mocks have been flowing for a week now. While I won't be giving you my own mock, I do have a something bigger in the works that I'm excited to release soon. Until then, let's address some draft themes as they relate to the Dodgers and this class as a whole.
The Flaw in the Brady Aiken/Injured Pitcher Logic
Just about every mock draft that's been released has the Dodgers selecting an injured pitcher with pick twenty-four, using the argument that the player holds a lot of risk and high signing number and the Dodgers have the ability to handle both issues. While I touched on the signability risk in the Justin Hooper report, I'm a little more skeptical when it comes to the injured arms.
Brady Aiken to the Dodgers makes little sense to me for a number of reasons (none having to do with his talent, he was my top guy in 2014 as well). For one, if the Dodgers ok his medicals, there's a high likelihood that several other teams have approved them as well. Two, if other teams have given his medicals the green light, he's going to likely be the best name on their board, and that makes twenty-one (ignoring Houston's two) selections that teams must take a pass on Aiken for him to reach Los Angeles. Three, if the medical is ugly, the risk shoots through the roof for the price tag and you're no longer taking a player based on the previous scouting report.
Now, there are still positives to take from Aiken. The Astros were reportedly still interested in doing a deal with Aiken, with rumors between three and five million dollars on a bonus, so he may not have been AS toxic as rumored. Additionally, he's an immense talent when healthy, so if the Dodgers selected him, I'll treat him as such until we learn otherwise. I just don't believe the Dodgers are the only team in the first 24 picks that would green light his medical, unless they were the only team to receive it.
As for the other player that has been linked to the Dodgers as an injured prospect, Kolby Allard is a comparable talent to Aiken, and if he shows he's healthy before the draft, he will go high again. His ceiling is that of a left handed Greinke, so I don't see a reason for him to slide to 24. Teams are popping injured arms earlier and earlier each year, and Aiken and Allard are Lucas Giolito/Jeff Hoffman good.
Kyle Holder vs. Kevin Newman
This is the "Draft of Shortstops" and after the top guys go early, a few names still may warrant first round selection. In watching the next group of shortstops, I've grown increasingly more intrigued by the potential of San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder. Holder is gets plaudits as possibly the best defensive player in this draft, and if you watch the clip, you can get a glimpse of what I would call 80 hands. Holder glides smoothly at the position and does everything so naturally that it's easy to envision him holding down the position defensively for a long time. He's a terrific overall athlete who had an interest in playing basketball collegiately and has only converted to baseball full time a few years ago.
Holder is not graded with the elite guys because his offensive profile is a little less dynamic. His hit tool and speed come across as good but not elite, but there are signs he could develop a plus hit tool. He makes easy contact and has improved his college production each year. I believe Holder is one of the safer college bats after the elite guys for his ability to stay at the position, and should his worst case be Zack Cosart or Brendan Ryan that's still a 1.5-2.5 win player in his prime.
Kevin Newman receives praise for having one of the best hit tools in this draft. The Arizona shortstop has won two Cape Cod League batting titles and has been around the top of the batting average leaderboard in the Pac-12 this year. His swing is smooth, the barrel stays in the zone a long time, and he has a tremendous feel for contact.
Failing that, Kevin Newman should have a huge buyer beware sticker on his label. Newman might not have another plus tool, and scouting reports from Cape Cod and Arizona have suggested he might not have the tools to stick at shortstop. He's a high aptitude player and will get the chance to stick, but you don't get the same comfortable feel about his defense like you do with Holder.
Additionally, Newman has no pop and his swing isn't geared for power either. I get concerned about the utility of the hit tool when teams don't fear even gap power, and Newman doesn't have the benefit of being a 70 or 80 runner to get by when balls don't just fall in.
In every draft, guys with first and second round talent fall to the late rounds or go undrafted due to the price tag to buy these guys out of their college commitments, and this year should be no different. If the Dodgers elect to not take the falling signability type in round one and instead opt to save money on the first pick, there are a number of intriguing talents to spend money on in the next few rounds that may otherwise end up on campus.
My favorite player with a rumored signability question mark is Chandler Day. Day is a long and slender athlete that has three pitches that flash at least average potential but the chance for better in his fastball and change-up. He has a smooth and easy delivery that's repeatable and should be conducive to solid command. He's highly projectable and may need time to physically mature before moving quickly through the system, which is why teams may just let him attend Vanderbilt.
I haven't been able to find much video on Jacob Woodford, but I am impressed with what I have been able to see. Woodford has the prototype 6'4 220 lbs. build with smooth athleticism and like Day, has a repeatable delivery. His stuff might be better presently than Day and should be more pro ready, but Florida has a good track record of getting its commitments on campus.
Mitchell Hansen needs to be saved by a team from going to Stanford to learn the "Stanford swing." Hansen is a well rounded outfielder with a projectable frame and at least average grades on all five tools, and chances for plus in almost all of them as well.
Tristan Beck is another slender built pitcher like Chandler Day but has shown more plus velocity with his fastball. I like him as a prospect but his delivery isn't as clean as either Day or Woodford, and Beck lacks the change-up of Day that I value more highly. Beck is a Stanford commit but has the projectability worth gambling on if the price is right.