We are now less than two weeks away from the 2016 MLB Draft, and with the few latest mock drafts we have a few more players to look at as potential Dodgers targets on the first night of the three-day event.
The Dodgers pick 20th, 32nd and 36th in the draft, with the first two picks classified as first-round selections and the latter mixed within Competitive Balance Round A, a make-good pick given to the Dodgers for failing to sign No. 35 pick Kyle Funkhouser in 2015.
Most mock drafts end at 34 picks, the last of the free agent compensation picks, so they cover just the first two Dodgers' picks, though it is reasonable to assume some of these players mentioned around the No. 32 pick might also be available at pick No. 36, too, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
The latest mock draft from Baseball America, version 4.0 from John Manuel, has the Dodgers taking Vanderbilt right-handed pitcher Jordan Sheffield at No. 20, then Texas high school left-hander Kyle Muller at No. 32. Manuel also mentions Kansas high school and outfielder Joey Wentz as a possibility at that latter pick.
Over at MLB.com, Jonathan Mayo's latest mock draft has the Dodgers taking Sheffield 20th, and Georgia high school outfielder Will Benson 32nd.
David Hood unveiled his top 100 draft prospects earlier in the week, which we will use to compare these new players. Thus far, we have already profiled various players in the 2016 MLB Draft, with Hood's ranking in parentheses:
3B Josh Lowe (5)*
SS Nolan Jones (17)*
OF Reggie Lawson (21)*
RHP Alec Hansen (39)
RHP Justin Dunn (44)
LHP Matt Krook (50)
RHP T.J. Zeuch (58)
*high school player
Here is a brief look at the four new players introduced above - Sheffield, Muller, Wentz and Benson.
Joey Wentz (8)
The 6'5 left-hander is a hitter as well, but has turned heads in his senior season at Shawnee Mission High School in Kansas. John Sickels at Minor League Ball explains:
A winter strengthening program and physical maturity have not only restored his arm strength but have boosted it: his previous 85-88 MPH fastball is now up to 92-94 MPH with reported peaks at 95. The fastball has life to go with the velocity. Both his curveball and change-up are advanced for a cold-weather high school pitcher. His frame is athletic and projectable so more velocity may come, and he already throws strikes with relatively low-effort mechanics. He also draws praise for his intelligence and confident nature.
Manuel notes that Wentz is "now considered a very tough sign away from Virginia," where he is committed to play college ball.
Jordan Sheffield (15)
Sheffield had Tommy John surgery that wiped out his freshman year in 2014, and was teammates for two years at Vanderbilt with 2015 Dodgers draft picks Walker Buehler and Phil Pfeifer. As a junior this year, the right-hander is 8-5 with a 2.73 ERA in 15 starts, with 107 strikeouts and 36 walks in 95... innings.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Sheffield has what Baseball America in May called "a downer curveball that projects as an average or slightly better pitch" plus an improving changeup to go with his 92-96 mph fastball, though Manuel this week noted "his shaky breaking ball."
The Tennessee native is the brother of Indians 2014 first-round pick Justus Sheffield, also a pitcher. Jordan was drafted in 2013 out of high school in the 13th round by the Red Sox, but did not sign.
Will Benson (22)
Mayo mentions "raw tools and upside" for Benson, who he writes "could be a dynamic right fielder in the future."
Baseball America in May said Benson "has arguably the best bat speed in the class."
Benson is a 6-5 (or 6-6, depending on the source) 225 pound left-handed hitter born June 16th, 1998. All the physical attributes are here: above-average raw power and physical strength, above-average running speed, above-average arm strength. Although he has played first base he has considerable experience in center field; in pro ball he projects best in right, where his arm and range will play well. His makeup is considered strong and he is an excellent student with a commitment to Duke University.
Kyle Muller (26)
He's 8-1 with 140 strikeouts and an 0.49 ERA in 74 innings for Dallas Jesuit, and is committed to play college ball at Texas. Baseball America noted that he sits at 90-92 mph with his fastball.