MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Pipeline Inbox: Will Swanson go first in Draft?

Jonathan Mayo responds to fans' questions about the upcoming Draft

Pipeline Inbox: Will Swanson go first in Draft?

We are just days away from the 2015 Draft, folks. Can you feel the excitement building?

In between breaking down the class by positions and working on mock drafts (Jim Callis will have a new one on Friday), we didn't want to miss an opportunity to answer some of your Draft-related questions.

Please join us for our start-to-finish coverage of the Draft, beginning Monday with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at noon on Wednesday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Click here to submit an Inbox question

Now, on to your questions.

Who's the biggest threat to overtake Dansby Swanson at No. 1?
-- Ryan C., Chicago

All signs are pointing to Swanson, Vanderbilt's shortstop, being the top pick on Monday. But that doesn't mean the D-backs have completely made up their mind and are guaranteed to take him.

Arizona still brought catcher Tyler Stephenson in for a private workout, though that does sound more like a backup plan than anything else. The D-backs have scouted a number of players extensively, with decision-makers going to see Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate, for instance. For a while, high school outfielder Garrett Whitley's name was being mentioned as a possible candidate.

2015 Draft: Tyler Stephenson, C

It's possible those names are still somewhat in play, but it seems like the biggest threat to Swanson might be his own signability. Arizona will likely offer Swanson, if he is indeed the choice, a certain amount below the pick value of just over $8.6 million. I can't imagine a scenario where the offer would be too low for Swanson to take it, or that he's going to be a particularly tough sign, but if something does go south in that regard, then the D-backs will look at other options.

What can we expect from the Pirates: best player available or a high school arm?
-- James C., McKeesport, Pa.

I would be remiss if I didn't take a question from the Burgh, my hometown. James is from McKeesport ("dahn there" in Pittsburghese), but I digress. On to the Bucs.

The Pirates, by and large, have been a best-available-player type of team, especially up top (The one exception may have been 2009, when they took Tony Sanchez). Even last year, Cole Tucker may have seemed like a reach at the time, but he was near the top of boards for several teams drafting in the 20s, and the Bucs knew he likely wouldn't be around for their next pick at No. 39.

Of course, picking lower down in the first round as the Pirates did last year and again this year is a little different than taking the best available player at No. 1 or 2. But I see the Bucs continuing with the same plan. Whoever they have atop their board who is still available at No. 19, that's who they will take. Now, keep in mind that if a player the Pirates really like gives an indication that signability might be an issue, they could go in another direction.

The good news is that your either/or scenario isn't necessarily either/or. It's quite possible that best available player and high school arm will be one in the same, both at No. 19 and even more so at No. 32. Prep pitchers tend to filter down a little bit, and there could be some very good value from that crop at No. 19 and on down through the opening rounds of the Draft.

Any chance of Tate going to Boston at No. 7?
-- Brock T., Washington D.C.

There's always a chance. If I've learned anything regarding the Draft, it is that the whole "never say never" thing carries some weight. The first question, of course, is whether Tate will be available when the Red Sox pick at No. 7. That's possible. It seems right now (disclaimer: this could change as information starts flowing over the weekend) that Tate could come off the board ahead of Boston, likely starting with Texas at No. 4. There isn't a team, however, that seems set on taking him. The Rangers, Astros and Twins could all go in another direction, leaving Tate available at No. 7 for the Red Sox to consider.

2015 Draft: Dillon Tate, P

That leads to the follow-up question: If Tate is there, will the Red Sox take him? That remains to be seen. If Alex Bregman, long considered to be Boston's first choice, is off the board, it does seem like the Red Sox will take a serious look at college players like pitcher Carson Fulmer and Andrew Benintendi. If Tate is still available, I'd assume they'd have to have a serious conversation about him. It will be interesting to see what Callis comes up with in his mock draft on Friday.

With teams able to get Brady Aiken's medical records, are you getting a sense of where he goes?
-- Derek H., Sheboygan, Wis.

Aiken continues to be one of the biggest wild cards in the Draft. If it were just a matter of his Tommy John surgery, teams have shown a willingness to take pitchers who have had the procedure (or need it) in the first round, like the Blue Jays did with Jeff Hoffman a year ago. But, as has been discussed ad nauseam, Aiken's case is more complicated because of what happened with him and the Astros in 2014. Teams need to feel comfortable with his medical records before rolling the dice.

Just because teams now have that medical information doesn't mean that I -- or others in my line of work -- have a real sense of where he'll land. There has been a lot more talk about Aiken going somewhere in the middle of the first round, as teams in the 20s seem to believe the left-hander will be gone by the time they pick. But teams really interested in taking Aiken are likely to keep that close to the vest, not wanting other teams to know they might be planning to take the risk.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.