Early Winners & Losers of 2015 MLB Pro Draft
For comparison’s sake, we completed our review of last year’s draft in December. Today, we present our assessment of some of the early winners & losers in the 2015 first-year player draft.
Three 2015 draftees have made their MLB Pro debuts thus far, all pitchers – Cody Ponce (CHW), James Kaprielian (HOU) and Michael Matuella (SD) with many others approaching their MLB Pro due dates.
Based upon OSA’s latest prospect rankings, SP Mark Davies of the Washington Nationals (drafted by the Detroit Tigers), is the top prospect in MLB Pro heading into 2017 Spring Training. However, Davies is not your typical draft pedigree as he was drafted late relative to his billing, taken in the 2nd round with pick #53.
Aside from Davies, early analysis of the 2015 draft shows pitchers developing at a faster clip than hitters. 2015 draftees currently account for 20% of OSA’s top 100 prospects with only 5 of those 20 prospects being position players. After Davies, Dodgers’ P Cristia Bishop (taken 9th overall), Seattle’s P Kyle Cody (drafted by the Cubs at #6 overall) and Pedro Magana (8th overall by Philadelphia) comprise the top three prospects presently from the 2015 draft.
Below are 2015’s draftees currently listed in OSA’s top 100 prospects:
#1 WAS P Mark Davies (53rd overall by Detroit)
#9 LAD P Cristia Bishop (9th overall)
#16 SEA P Kyle Cody (6th overall by Chicago Cubs)
#31 PHI P Pedro Magana (8th overall)
#33 CIN P Kolby Alllard (2nd overall)
#37 ARZ P Andrew Morales (24th overall by Texas)
#38 CLE P Ken Gary (76th overall by St Louis)
#42 ATL P Will Rainey (19th overall)
#43 BAL P Brady Aiken (1st overall)
#49 SF P Ashe Russell (60th overall)
#51 NYY P Steve Badger (57th overall)
#56 LAA 2B Anthony Kerr (48th overall)
#57 HOU SS Aaron White (5th overall)
#69 OAK P Jeremy Benson (47th overall by Boston)
#71 TEX 2B Erik Lee (174th overall)
#79 STL P Dave Smith (16th overall)
#84 ATL P Walker Buehler (17th overall by Boston)
#88 SD P Michael Matuella (3rd overall)
#91 PIT OF Michael Conforto (108th overall by Los Angeles Angels)
#93 KC P Reginald McMillan (337th overall)
Two items warrant particular attention in regard to the ’15 draftees included on the top prospect list.
Boston drafted and has since traded two top current 100 prospects (#69 Jeremy Benson, #84 Walker Buehler) while not being able to lay claim to a single top 100 prospect at this time.
The Nationals 2015 trade deadline decision to unload 2016 Cy Young winner Stephen Strasburg to Detroit led many throughout the league to second guess GM Anthony Savoca’s mental constitution. Despite Strasburg’s continued dominance (32-10, 2.50 ERA, 9.9 WAR, 0.97 WHIP, 471 K in 403 IP as a Tiger) in the American League, Washington has to be happy with what came back to the nation’s capital. Along with the league’s top prospect (Davies), Savoca also netted SP Miguel Pineda (14-6, 1.20 WHIP, 3.23 ERA in his rookie 2016 campaign), RP Marlon Vance (OSA #29 prospect) and 2B Daniel Paolini (used in the Nats 2016 deal with the Angels to acquire OF Kole Calhoun and C JR Murphy) in the deal and seem to have a strong foundation to build upon as they compete in a competitive NL East.
Finally, a look back at the draft’s top 10 picks presents league talent evaluators with a mixed bag of talent development nearly two years after their selection.
Seven of the top 10 have lived up to their billing and find themselves among the league’s top prospects. However, two former top 10 selection are, at best, considered fringe prospects heading into 2017 and the 7th overall pick is no longer in organized baseball. 10th overall selection OF Nick Plummer is presently Oakland’s 16th best prospect although the A’s boast the league’s 2nd best minor league system so there still may some upside to him. However, his 2016 production at A ball left much to be desired as he posted a .211/.333/.308 line, stealing 17 bases over 110 games. The White Sox’s Cody Ponce (4th overall) is not listed among the league’s top 100 specs but Sox management can’t hold that against him as he has already made his way to the Southside in his age-22 season. While posting pedestrian numbers (1.1 WAR in 25 starts and 149 innings) in 2016, his age, pedigree and experience thus far will most likely result in a #4-5-caliber starter while GM Jonathan Hodges can hold onto a sliver of hope that Ponce ultimately morphs into a top of the rotation starter over the next couple of years.
SS Dave Franklin (7th overall pick by Kansas City) presents a cautionary tale for league GMs to take into consideration. After finding himself involved in two trades in less than 18 months despite progressing steadily through the minors, Franklin shocked many after he decided to call it quits and retire following a 2016 season split between Minnesota’s AA and AAA affiliates. With elite speed (59 SB in 76 attempts in 2016), Franklin, and more importantly the Twins, may ultimately come to second guess the decision to walk away from the game he once loved.