The MLB draft is upon us, and today the Nats will make the number 6 overall pick. They also get to make the number 23 pick and the number 34 pick. A pretty impressive haul, although it pales in comparison to the Rays in number of picks in the first round and the sandwich round (24, 31, 32, 38, 41, 42, 52, 56, 59, 60). But still, the Rays first pick isn’t until after Washington picks twice, and all most fans are going to focus on is that shiney #6 pick. So here are some of the candidates:
Bubba Starling (HS, OF) – Projected as the Nat’s pick by Keith Law in ESPN’s Mock Draft v3.0 and v4.0 (which is the last one) and Jim Callis in Baseball America’s Mock Draft. This one is a stretch for sure, and I’m surprised Law saw him dropping this low. Starling is a high school outfielder who he calls the best athlete in the draft, and he’s choosing between getting paid by baseball and a QB scholarship at Nebraska. #6 picks get money though, so the risk might be how much, rather than whether or not. He’s a 5-tool type guy, with speed and power. Law compares him to Josh Hamilton and says he has superstar potential in CF. He won’t move as quick as Harper, but if he’s there, you’d think the Nats would jump at the chance. No matter how much he wants, it won’t cost as much as their last two top picks.
Trevor Bauer (UCLA, RHP) – Projected as the Nat’s pick by Keith Law in ESPN’s Mock Draft v2.0, ranked as the #6 prospect in the mlb.com prospect watch list. Bauer is the other UCLA starting pitcher, next to Garrett Cole, who many believe is the obvious #1 pick. Bauer has a low- to mid-90s fastball and throws three or four other pitches, and he gets plenty of swings and misses. Criticisms include the fact that he has thrown way too many pitches in college, and that his stuff isn’t so swing and miss, it’s those college hitters that are chasing out of the zone. Still, Law likes him enough that he bumped him up to the #3 projected pick in his mock draft v3.0.
Dylan Bundy (HS, RHP) – Projected number 5 and higher in several drafts. I put Bundy in here because if Starling goes higher, and everything else gets knocked down one slot, he’s the Nats pick in that final Keith Law draft. He’s considered the best high school pitching prospect, and probably the best pitcher other than Cole. He’s got a strong, mid-90s fastball to go along with a devastating cutter and a decent curveball. He’s also got very good command, especially considered he’s only a high schooler. The biggest strike against him if he falls this low is that he’s a 6’0″ righty, and Mike Rizzo has an aversion to short RHPs. If he’s available, though, and exception to that rule would be reasonable.
Danny Hultzen (UVA, LHP) – Projected number 3 With the possibility of Cole, Starling, Bundy, Rendon and Bauer going before, it is possible that he falls down to #6. Hultzen is a lefty that throws low-90s and hits 95 at times, which is always attractive. He’s got some decent offspeed stuff and has a good command of the strike zone. Law notes that he can project as a #2 starter for those that like him, but even those that don’t see him as a middle of the rotation kind of guy. Maybe not the ceiling of some others, but if the Nats have Strasburg and Zimmermann, a lefty that is at the very least a #4 type starter, could be a #2, and will move up much quicker than a high school guy, might be quite attractive.
Alex Meyer (Kentucky, RHP) – Projected as the Nat’s pick by Keith Law in ESPN’s Mock Draft v1.0. I actually already previewed this pick, because there was alot of chatter a couple of weeks ago that he’d go to the Nats for sure. Law now projects him to go 23, also to the Nats. It is an indication of both how tough it is to project and predict these drafts, and how rumors link teams to guys that nobody else seems interested in drafting. Meyer’s a tall righty pitcher who’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and can hit the high-90s. He’s got some control issues, but while I’ve heard some call him a Daniel Cabrera-type, Keith Law loves his mechanics and sees him being effective, albeit not with that 4-1 K-BB ratio that you dream about. At this point, though, I’d be pretty surprised if the Nats take him way up at #6.
That’s just a few of the names that might go with that number 6 pick. The draft begins tonight at 7 pm, and can be seen on the MLB network as well as on mlb.com.