MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo discussed the First-Year Player Draft during a live Web chat with fans on Friday. During the chat, Mayo answered questions about first-round potentials, the best high school arms, and why certain players were rising and falling on Draft boards.
Jonathan Mayo: Hey everyone. Thanks for coming to talk Draft. We're only about 10 days away from the big day and, as always, there's plenty to talk about.
This year is particularly difficult to figure out what's going on in that first round, but I love a good challenge. So let's get started with some questions.
guyclark: Jacob Turner looked filthy in person a couple weeks ago, touched 97, big breaking curve. Do you think there is a real chance he prices himself into a dorm at UNC?
Mayo: There's no question Turner's got some serious stuff, and some serious arm strength. The way he was pitching down the stretch, puts him right at the top of the list for high school arms. Is there a chance he prices himself to Chapel Hill? Sure, there's a chance. Just ask Matt Harvey about that. Will it happen? It's too soon to know for sure. If I was a betting man, which I'm not, I'd say he prices himself down the Draft a little, but ends up signing.
jayzball: Hi John, what's your take on the enigmatic James Paxton out of Kentucky? Is he going in the first round and is the "Canadian" factor and potential enough for the Jays to take him at either #20 or #37?
Mayo: He's a tough one to figure out, that's for sure. There's always going to be interest in a lefty who throws that hard. Some think he might be a reliever in the future because of his delivery and two-pitch mix. He was a guy who seemed to be on the rise, but his overall numbers (other than the K rate) don't really add up. That being said, the thing that's probably hurting his Draft status the most is that he was a late signee with Boras Corp. I don't want that to be the theme in this chat today, but the fact of the matter is, Scott Boras has a large quantity of top players in this Draft class and his impact will be felt.
gmdewar: Hi, what would you say are the chances the Nats have Strasburg pitching in the bigs right away?
Mayo: I know a lot of people want to see that happen. But I'm not one of them. First of all, it might take some time to get this deal done, don't you think? I'm not saying it will come down to the last minutes of the deadline, but that's a lot of money we're talking about. Second, let's see how far SDSU goes in postseason play. If they make a run and he makes more than one start, the innings total could get up there to the point where you really don't want him to pitch in that kind of situation right away. Honestly, if it were me, I'd want to protect my investment either way. Sign the guy, if he's got some gas left in the tank, give him a start or two in the Minors (good for attendance in Potomac!), then let him come up for a brief "tip of the cap" kind of deal in DC. Then, shut him down and tell him to be ready to compete for a job in the 2010 rotation.
vikingsbaseball: I am a local baseball coach in southern New Jersey and have played against Michael Trout. I know he is a fundamentally sound high school baseball player and I was wondering what your thought of him is?
Mayo: I like him a lot and everything I've heard about him has been positive, coach. He plays the game the right way, but not only is he fundamentally sound, but he's got some serious tools, too. That's a great combination and it's why he's being mentioned as a probable first-round pick.
jcarlos44: Who would you take if you were the Padres? This Draft is getting a lot of attention in San Diego because of last year's wreck of a season, the Peavy trade rumors and new ownership. What's the best hope for Padres fans?
Mayo: The best hope is for Strasburg to fall two spots. ... In all seriousness, it's a strange year to be picking third. Everyone keeps saying the guy you get at 10 or 15 might be as good as the one who goes at No. 3. The two players who are mentioned the most in that spot are Vandy lefty Mike Minor and toolsy high school outfielder Donavan Tate. There are issues with both, in my opinion. Minor is what he is, and he' s not an ace or the kind of front-of-the-rotation arm you'd normally get at that spot. That being said, he's got a track record of success, and in big settings. Tate is raw with the bat -- some worry about his ability to hit -- but more importantly, he's a two-sport star with a commitment to play football and baseball at UNC. It's going to take beaucoup bucks to sign him away from that, and it might not be possible at all. If I were picking third and Strasburg and Dustin Ackley were gone ... if I could somehow be convinced that there's no medical issue, I think I might take Tanner Scheppers there.
Draftguru: What players may fall to the end of the first round due to salary demands?
Mayo: The aforementioned Tate and Turner are potential candidates for that. So is USC shortstop Grant Green. Word was that high school lefty Matthew Purke was looking for "Porcello money," and that could cause a slide. All of these players but Purke are Boras advisees.
aso513: Does a strong possibility of signing Sano mean Gibson instead of Crow for the Pirates?
Mayo: I don't totally understand why people are automatically assuming that one would necessitate the other. I know there's a history of how the Pirates have done things in the past, but this group goes about it a little differently, no? They took and signed Alvarez and also went over-slot with some late-round picks like Robbie Grossman.I'm not saying there will be no financial consideration, but I think there's room for them to sign Sano AND take who they want at No. 4, within reason, of course. And while Crow didn't sign last year over bonus demands and won't come at a discount, he really does need to sign, doesn't he?
Giants_55: Hi John, Do you think the Giants will take a high school pitcher with the no. 6 pick or do they look at Green or Tate?
Mayo: It's looking like a high school pitcher for the time being and it could be any of a number of the top ones. I believe they'll be considering Green, just like everyone is. I don't see Tate figuring into the equation. That being said, the Giants always take who they want to take, period. So anything's possible. As I mentioned in my last projection, two dark horses for them could be Mike Leake or Drew Storen.
guyclark: Trout or Tim Wheeler? Who do you like?
Mayo: Can't I like both of them? Not exactly the same guy. Wheeler will get there faster, Trout has a bit more upside, though Wheeler has some projection, too. If I'm lucky, I Draft Trout in the first and get Wheeler in the sandwich round. Unlikely, but a guy can dream.
howiethehalo: Who are your top five high school hitters? Of the five who have the highest ceiling?
Mayo: It's not a great year for bats in general, but I'll say: Donavan Tate, Michael Trout, Everett Williams, Bobby Borchering and, just for fun, Max Stassi. Stassi probably isn't one of the top five hitters overall, but catchers get bonus. As I mentioned, the feelings on Tate are mixed, but it'd be hard to find anyone else with a higher ceiling than that guy.
rdf8585: Who has the biggest BUST potential among possible first rounders?
Mayo: Why do you have to be so negative? Come on, people, a little optimism here, huh? Calling out busts before a single player has been Drafted? ... OK, if you're going to force me, I'll say Tanner Scheppers because his shoulder could fall off.
howiethehalo: Where do you see Matt Davidson going in the Draft? I've watched this kid quite a bit this year and he seems to be a legit high school hitter. Do you see him staying at third base, or will he be moved to the outfield?
Mayo: Davidson does seem to be a pretty legit prep option for some. I think if he has to move, it would be to first, not to the outfield, but he'll be given every opportunity to stay at the hot corner. Guessing a little bit, but I'll say he goes in the sandwich-to-second-round area.
dadhunter: I keep seeing Turner to Detroit. If he fell to them would they take them, and at what point do they begin to address their lack of position prospects? Who are a couple of dark horses for the No. 9 pick to Detroit?
Mayo: The Tigers haven't, in the past, shied away from taking anyone (see Porcello, Rick). So, they'd have a serious conversation about Turner if he were there at No. 9. I don't think you Draft for need when you pick in the top 10, although in this year's class, with so little separation, need could figure into the equation a little more than usual. The only position players they'd consider there, I'd think, would be Grant Green or Donavan Tate.This brings up an interesting point: The strength of the Draft is clearly in the pitching, so you could go one of two ways in dealing with that -- play to that strength and take a pitcher, or take one of the few bats that are worth consideration that high because you think the pitching depth will filter down to the later rounds.
14tyler: I'm from Louisiana. I want to talk about LSU's Jared Mitchell. Go Tigers!
Mayo: OK. He's a seriously good athlete who's a little raw still on the baseball field. In an ideal world, once he's focusing on baseball only (he played WR for the LSU football team as well), he'll become a center fielder with power who can also steal some bases. Suffice it to say, though, that it looks like it will be a long road from Point A to Point B.
googlybob: With the Braves in need of a third baseman with Chipper near the end, do you think they could take Borchering, who would take a few years to develop? Also, would Green be a possibility with the intention of moving him to second due to an underperforming Kelly Johnson?
Mayo: Again, see the answer above about drafting for need. The Braves, in particular, wouldn't really do that. That's not to say they wouldn't look for a third baseman or a second baseman later on in the Draft, especially if the farm system is lacking there, but they wouldn't reach for a guy at No. 7 just because Chipper's getting old. Borchering would be a stretch that high. Green could be a top-10 guy if you believe in him, but that' s not a Braves-like pick (and I don't mean just because of Boras). No, look for an arm at No.7, and a high school one in all likelihood.
jliston: I can't understand why experts are predicting the Orioles to Draft a pitcher. They are loaded with pitching at this moment yet lack holes in the infield and could use a big bat in the outfield. Has Garret Green really fallen so much to not be considered for them?
Mayo: Green (Grant) hasn't fallen that far, and they are/will discuss him. He's a distinct possibility. There isn't a big outfield bat to take at that spot, unless you really believe in Donavan Tate. Then you'll have to shell out serious money and wait several years to get him. Any baseball GM will tell you that you can never have enough pitching. I tend to agree.
joeybats2: Who is the best CATCHER in the Draft?
dcc1220: Your current Top 20 projection has the Royals taking Tony Sanchez (C). Is he really worth a first Round pick or is this a need pick because the Royals have very little in terms of catching prospects?
Mayo: I put these two together for a reason. I bet you can figure out why. Sanchez is probably the top catcher on most boards and yes, it's a bit of a reach at 12. I think the Royals would love it if Gibson slid a tiny bit further to them at 12, honestly. But this could be the year that a team picking there doesn't like what they see, so they take a guy they like at a position they need. After Sanchez, the college catching scene is weak. There are a number of interesting high school catchers who could go end of the first round and into the sandwich round.
conch9: Where do you project Leake to go?
Mayo: I'm a big Mike Leake fan, and not just because he's blogging for us leading up to the Draft. I appreciate guys who just go out and perform, and do so in a big program against top competition. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but so what? He knows how to pitch and was outstanding all year hits season. He's the kind of guy who might not be Option A for a lot of teams, but you can be sure he enters into conversations from about pick No. 6 on down. I can't imagine him getting past about No. 20.
topgun9ii: Where do you see Jason Kipnis being drafted? Do you think he will go as high as round two? What kind of player do you project him to be?
Mayo: Back-to-back ASU-related questions. Kipnis has had one heck of a year, hasn't he? He's definitely the type that the stats-friendly set will be interested in. Yes, I can see him going in the second round, maybe even sneaking into the compensation round because of the lack of bats. I think he is what he is, there's not much projection there. Hey guys, I've got about five or so minutes left, so I'll try to cram in as much as I can.
oakland52: Who do you see the A's taking with their first pick?
Mayo: Tough one with the way things look above them. I went with Alex White dropping to them, but don't put it past them to think differently than most. They did take Jemile Weeks, after all.morrowfan: Besides the obvious in Strasburg being the best pitcher in the Draft, who would you say is the next top of the rotation pitcher in this Draft?
Mayo: I'd go with one of the high school guys. If forced to pick one, I'll say Zack Wheeler.jfish26101: Pretty much everyone knows the guys who will go in the first couple of rounds, can you give us some names of players that may go later in the Draft but may still have a bright future ahead of them?
Mayo: Had to get my buddy jfish into the mix. ... How about New Mexico high school outfielder Max Walla as one choice there, though he might go in those first couple of rounds. ... While we're in that area of the country, someone sent in a question about Tommy Joseph. I'll put him in that mix, too. He can hit, and if teams believe he can catch, he'll go pretty well. He comes from the same high school (Horizon) as Tim Alderson.
aso513: Long term, is Crow a starter?
twilb: Why no big breakdown of Chad Jenkins? He's a projected Top 10 pick but there's barely any info on him out there!
Mayo: I beg to differ -- check out the most recent batch of Draft reports. He's on there.
k9cop282: Who are the Cincinnati Reds most likely to Draft first?
Mayo: Man, they're tough to figure out. I said Scheppers this week, but who knows for sure? I'm fairly certain it will be a pitcher, and if Gibson throws well this weekend, he could fit there nicely. It could be one of the high school arms as well.
nico415: Why does Donvovan Tate keep dropping? He used to be a consensus top-10 pick. Also, are there any shortstop prospects that the Giants could Draft that would be on the fast-track to the Majors, seeing as we will let Edgar Renteria go after next year?
Mayo: Signability. The only shortstop who could move fast in this class would be Grant Green.
royalsfan8: Who are your top-five high school arms? Is there really a difference between them?
Mayo: In no particular order: Zack Wheeler, Tyler Matzek, Mathew Purke, Jacob Turner, Shelby Miller. Not a huge amount of difference in terms of talent, no, though each has abilities unique to them.
Mayo: Alright folks, that's all the time I've got for today. Thanks for all the great questions. I'll be doing another one of these right before the Draft, so stay tuned for details on that one. Bye!