Over the last three weeks, we've taken a look at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 MLB Draft. The series finishes with the 2016 class; a group that is mostly potential, but has a chance to be the best group of the bunch.
A quick reminder of some rules:
- The focus is mostly on what the player can offer in the future, but their previous success is also applied.
- Every team gets a pick, and teams that had more than one first-round selection had their extra choice removed.
- Positional need was not considered, a best-player-available approach was taken with all selections
Now, the 2016 MLB redraft.
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1. Philadelphia Phillies
The pick: Bo Bichette, SS
Originally drafted: 2.66 (Blue Jays)
Actual 1st pick: Mickey Moniak, OF
There are three legitimate candidates for the first pick in this draft, and while the next two players have more “track record”, I’m taking the upside -- along with what we saw from him in 2019 -- in Bichette. He blistered the baseball last season to the tune of .311/.358/.571 with 11 homers in 46 games, and he’s a solid defender at a premium position. Bichette has a chance to be a superstar, and he has the best combination of ceiling and floor in this class.
Moniak saw his stock soar after a strong spring season, but wasn’t considered by most analysts as the top prospect in this draft, and yes, I am included in that. After signing for $6.1 million, the 21-year-old has yet to advance past Double-A, and his career line of .256/.302/.390 with 355 strikeouts in 402 games help illustrate just how big of a disappointment he’s been. There’s still time for Moniak to rebound, but he profiles as a fourth outfielder -- at best -- at this point in his career.
2. Cincinnati Reds
The pick: Shane Bieber, RHP
Originally drafted: 4.122 (Cleveland)
Actual 2nd pick: Nick Senzel, OF
Bieber was very successful while at UCSB and helped the program reach the College World Series in 2016. He was viewed as a potential backend starter when drafted, but he’s obviously exceeded those expectations; particularly in 2019 with a 3.28 ERA and 259 strikeouts against 40 walks in 214 1/3 frames. Bieber throws strikes with the best of them, and that combined with well above-average stuff should keep him as a top-of-the-rotation option going forward. If you want to argue that he should go first in this redraft, I wouldn’t argue with you for very long.
3. Atlanta Braves
The pick: Pete Alonso, 1B
Originally drafted: 2.64
Actual 3rd pick: Ian Anderson, RHP
Again, you can make the argument that Alonso should be a couple of spots higher after his ridiculous rookie season. It feels weird putting a player that just hit 53 homers with a .941 OPS this “low,” but consider it a compliment to Bichette and Bieber rather than an insult to Alonso. The first baseman has huge power, and while he is unlikely to hit for a high average because of his swing-and-miss, he’s going to get on base at a high enough clip to compensate. The only reason Alonso goes below the two names below is the positional value, but again, I think you can make a strong argument for any of these three going in any order.
4. Colorado Rockies
The pick: Gavin Lux, SS
Originally drafted: 1.20 (Dodgers)
Actual 4th pick: Riley Pint, RHP
At some point, we may be arguing that Lux deserves to be in discussion for the first pick, as well. Drafted out of Indiana Trail High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the 22-year-old infielder held his own in the majors with a .705 OPS in 22 games with the Dodgers in 2019, but it was what he did in the minors last year (.347/421/607, 26 homers, 10 steals) that saw him go from a Top 50 prospect to the best infield prospect in baseball not named Wander Franco. He has a chance to hit for both average and power, and while he likely will play second base for the Dodgers, he can handle shortstop. Lux will likely be the starter at the keystone when/if the season starts in July, and he has a chance to be a well above-average regular for the next decade or so.
Pint showed sensational stuff as a prep at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Kansas, and was widely regarded as one of -- if not the -- top pitching prospect in this draft. He’s dealt with injuries, and he also has struggled to throw strikes at any of his levels with 122 walks in 156 innings. In 2019, he appeared in just 21 games, and he posted an ugly 8.66 ERA with a 23/31 K/BB ratio for Low-A Asheville. He has a long way to go if he’s ever going to pitch in the majors, but remember that he’s still just 22 until November.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
The pick: Jesus Luzardo, LHP
Originally drafted: 3.94 (Nationals)
Actual 5th pick: Corey Ray, OF
Luzardo was viewed as a potential first-round pick in the spring, but he fell to the third-round when it became known he needed Tommy John surgery. He was traded with Blake Treinen to Oakland in the Sean Doolittle trade -- a move that will be discussed for a long, long time -- and when he’s been healthy, he’s shown some of the best stuff of any pitching prospect in baseball. He also locates his stuff for strikes, but it’s worth pointing out he’s dealt with injuries through his career. Still, Luzardo has a chance to be an ace, and that combined with his impressive command make it impossible for the 22-year-old to escape the first five selections.
Ray was my favorite hitting prospect in the draft, and looked like a surefire starting outfielder coming out of Louisville. Welp. Ray has had unforeseen contact issues with 496 strikeouts in 376 games, and the other tools -- while present -- haven’t been good enough to make up for his low average. The 25-year-old can still be a solid bench bat because of above-average power and plus speed, but his chance of becoming any more of that are slim.
6. Oakland Athletics
The pick: Nick Senzel, OF
Originally drafted: 1.2 (Reds)
Actual 6th pick: A.J. Puk, LHP
Senzel was drafted with the second pick out of Tennessee as a third baseman, but because of Eugenio Suarez, he made the move to second base, and then to the outfield. The 24-year-old was not great in his rookie season with a .256/.315/.427 line in 104 games, but there more than enough flashes to suggest that the future is very bright for Senzel. The one concern here is that staying healthy has been a real issue for the right-handed hitter over the past few years, but he still profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter who can hit for average, steal bases and provide some pop as well.
7. Miami Marlins
The pick: Will Smith, C
Originally drafted: 1.32 (Dodgers)
Actual 7th pick: Braxton Garrett, LHP
Smith was the second player from Louisville behind Ray, but if the redraft were to commence, he’d obviously go ahead of Ray. While he hit just .253 after being called up by the Dodgers last summer, he also hit 15 homers in just 54 games, which equates to a 45-homer pace over 162 games. He also has average to slightly above-average speed that could give him double-digit theft seasons in his best years, and he’s a very solid defender behind the plate. I don’t expect 40-plus dinger years from Smith, but I think 25-to-30 home run campaigns are well within reason, and that along with his positional value make him one of the most valuable young players in baseball right now.
Selected with the seventh pick out of an Alabama high school, Garrett showed an impressive combination of stuff and pitchability, but made just four appearances before needing Tommy John surgery in 2017. He missed all of 2018, but he pitched well in 2019 at High-A Jupiter with a 3.54 ERA and 119/40 K/BB ratio in 21 starts and 106 2/3 innings. If we need to do a redraft again in a couple of seasons, Garrett certainly is a candidate to go higher, but there’s obviously some risk because of the injury.
8. San Diego Padres
The pick: Dylan Carlson, OF
Originally drafted: 1.33 (Cardinals)
Actual 8th pick: Cal Quantrill, RHP
It was surprising to see Carlson go with the 33rd pick out of Elk Grove High School, and after signing for $1.35 million -- which was over $500,000 less than the slot value -- he was viewed as more of a “signability” selection. Things escalated quickly, however, and after posting a line of .292/.372/.542 with 26 homers and 20 stolen bases at the Double and Triple-A levels, he’s now easily the top prospect in the St. Louis system. On top of his offensive upside, Carlson also is a terrific corner-outfielder, and he looked like he was on his way to making the Cardinals -- or being just a short time in the minors to manipulate service time away -- before the COVID-19 shutdown. When/if the season resumes, Carlson should contribute, and his skill set suggests middle-of-the-order outfielder. He only goes this low because of the lack of MLB experience.
Quantrill was considered a candidate for the first-overall pick after an impressive freshman season for Stanford, but three starts into his sophomore season, the right-hander was shut down with an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery. He was able to work out for teams close to the draft, and the Padres gave him a bonus close to $4 million after taking him eighth. The 24-year-old right-hander has seen his stuff digress, but was able to make 18 starts for San Diego with a 5.16 ERA and 89/28 K/BB rate. He projects as a backend starter long-term, but his stuff may be able to play up in a relief role.
9. Detroit Tigers
The pick: Matt Manning, RHP
Originally drafted: 1.9 (Tigers)
Actual 9th pick: Manning
Here's an ever-so-rare occasion where things stay the same. Manning was drafted with that ninth pick as a projectable, athletic right-hander, and he’s now considered one of the best prospects on the pitching side in the game. The 22-year-old has two potential out pitches in his fastball and curve, and he’s made progress with his change, as well. After registering a 2.56 ERA and 148/38 K/BB ratio for Double-A Erie, Manning should open the 2020 season -- again, assuming there is one -- in Triple-A, and it’d be an upset if he didn’t make his MLB debut this season. Again, assuming there is a season.
10. Chicago White Sox
The pick: Bryan Reynolds, OF
Originally drafted: 2.59 (Giants)
Actual 10th pick: Zack Collins, C (White Sox)
Reynolds was widely considered to be one of the best outfield prospects in the draft by analysts, but slipped all the way to the second round; mainly because of concerns over upside. Those concerns appear to have been unfounded, and the 25-year-old was outstanding in his rookie season with an OPS of .880 and 16 homers in 134 games for the Pirates. Traded to Pittsburgh in the Andrew McCutchen deal, Reynolds isn’t likely to get much better, but he doesn’t need to in order to justify a pick this high. If he does take another step, this will be a few picks too low.
Collins was drafted as a bat-first backstop out of Miami, and he's posted an .840 OPS in the minors. He's also hit just .244 in that time and isn't a good defender behind the plate, so he's going to have to max out his bat as a DH or first baseman to be anything more than an up-and-down player going forward. Possible, but the risk outweighs the reward.
11. Seattle Mariners
The pick: Carter Kieboom, INF
Originally drafted: 1.28 (Nationals)
Actual 11th pick: Kyle Lewis, OF
If you just look at the .128 average in 11 games that Kieboom posted after being called up by the Nationals, you’ll be confused as to why the infielder is going this high. If you are looking at 43 plate appearances to make a judgement on a player, you’re making a big mistake. Kieboom, 22, has hit at every other level, and he has a chance to hit for both average and power while having a skill set that suggests Kieboom can help at whatever defensive position the Nationals choose to deploy him at; most likely third base. Sure, it would have been nice to see Kieboom hit when he got a chance, but I’m choosing to ignore such a small sample. He has a chance to be a very solid regular for a long time.
12. Boston Red Sox
The pick: Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
Originally drafted: 1.15 (Twins)
Actual 12th pick: Jason Groome, LHP
Kirilloff is a bit of a divisive prospect, and it’s understandable why. That being said, count me as one of the prospects on the high side, as I see a prospect who has a 70-grade hit tool (on the 20-80 scouting scale) who also has above-average power from the left side. He was not great in 2019 with a .756 OPS in 94 games at Double-A, but I think the .348/.392/.578 line he put up the season before is a more accurate representation of his talent. There’s certainly some risk -- he missed time in 2019 and missed all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery -- but there’s even more potential for reward.
Groome was my top prospect in the 2020 draft, and one of the best prep pitching prospects I’ve seen in person. He showed two 70-grade pitches in his fastball and curve, and he threw those offerings as well as a change for strikes. There were serious red-flags off the field that saw him slide to the 12th selection, and he’s dealt with a lat strain and needed Tommy John surgery in the middle of 2018. There is certainly time for Groome to become a quality starting pitcher, but it’s doubtful he’d be considered in the first-round if we were to do a redraft.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks
The pick: Dustin May, RHP
Originally drafted: 3.101 (Dodgers)
Actual 13th pick: Josh Lowe, OF (Rays)
May, 22, was given nearly a million dollars to buyout his commitment to Texas Tech, and he’s been worth every penny and then some. He’s improved each year, and he was a solid late-season option for the Dodgers in 2019 with a 32/5 K/BB ratio over 34 2/3 innings and 3.63 ERA during that time frame. With four pitches that grade at least average -- three of them plus -- and the ability to throw them for strikes, May is a high-floor, high-ceiling pitcher that should be a part of the Dodgers’ rotation shortly, and could pitch at or near the top of a rotation someday.
Lowe was considered a two-way prospect coming out of Pope High School in Georgia, but most viewed him as a hitting prospect, and the Rays agreed. He hasn’t been bad in the minors, but a .734 OPS in 398 games isn’t anything to write home about. He profiles as a bench option at this point in his career; one that offers some value because he’s a solid defender in the outfield and can be used as a pinch-runner late in games.
14. Tampa Bay Rays
The pick: A.J. Puk, LHP
Originally drafted: 1.6 (Athletics)
Actual 14th pick: Will Benson, OF
Puk likely goes several spots higher in this exercise if we were to do it prior to the 2018 season. The former Florida left-hander still is a lock for the first-round because of his fastball/slider combination as well as a solid change, but he has seen his stock slide after missing a year-plus while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The A’s may decide to take things slow with Puk because of the depth of their pitching staff, but he has the stuff to be a front-line starting pitcher, with high-leverage reliever as a very usable -- if slightly disappointing -- floor.
If Benson’s name sounds familiar and you’re not a draftnik, you may remember that he’s the hitter who hit four homers in a game last April. The 6-foot-5 outfielder has plus potential power and can move well for a player of his size, but his career .212 average shows just how bad his contact issues are. He did draw 68 walks last year, so there’s at least a chance he becomes a poor man’s Adam Dunn, but there’s too much risk in his profile to call him anything more than an organizational bat right now.
15. Baltimore Orioles
The pick: Forrest Whitley, RHP
Originally drafted: 1.17 (Astros)
Actual 15th pick: Kirilloff (Twins)
It was nearly impossible to project where Whitley would go in a redraft, so putting him in the middle of the first-round almost feels like a cheat. The positives are obvious: Whitley might have the best stuff of any current prospect, and at times -- added emphasis on times -- he’s put it together enough to suggest he can be a future ace. The negatives are just as obvious; Whitley has a drug suspension, dealt with shoulder inflammation and registered a 7.99 ERA in 59 2/3 innings with 44 walks at four different levels. There is no riskier player in this draft, but outside of the top four, there’s no player with more upside either. It’s also worth pointing out that he doesn’t turn 23 until September, and he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League with a 2.88 ERA and 32/9 K/BB mark.