We are officially less than a month from the start of the 2016 MLB Draft, and getting a grasp on the players who will potentially be available for the White Sox to pick at the No. 10 spot of the first round doesn’t seem to be getting any more clear than it was a few months ago.
Unlike recent years when the White Sox picked 1-3 (and ended up with Carlos Rodon) and 1-7 (Carson Fulmer) the White Sox options are tougher to pinpoint, in part because they’re picking deeper (albeit slightly) in the first round than they have in recent years, and partly because the beginning of the first round seems to be less certain.
Mock drafts and power rankings are coming out in full force, so it’s time to get acclimated with the players who the White Sox might be considering at 1-10 in this June’s draft. Before we begin, I should start out by saying that I’m not a scout and don’t pretend to be a scout. These speculations are an assortment of my research of scouting reports, rankings, discussions with scouts, and my own viewing of those I’m able to see.
Every year I have one or a few players who I prefer more than anyone else who could potentially be available when the White Sox pick. Two years ago, Rodon and I were love at first sight. Last year, I was kind of into Fulmer, but had eyes for Tyler Jay and, more explicitly, Andrew Benintendi. Neither of those two made it to the White Sox pick, of course, and I had no knowledge suggesting they preferred either to Fulmer, but this list represents who I would most like them to draft among the players who at least have a shot at making it to No. 10.
Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
If Ray were to make it to No. 10 in the first round, he’d immediately be a sentimental favorite and great story as a Chicago native who graduated from the White Sox ACE (Amateur City Elite) Program, which helps Chicago inner city youth discover baseball and grow as athletes and individuals.
Aside from that, Ray is an incredibly intriguing prospect, so much so that ESPN’s Keith Law has him ranked No. 1 on his list of top prospects for the upcoming draft, comparing him to Ray Lankford (who the uninitiated might think is a slight, but had a hell of a 6-7 year run during the peak of the Steroid Era).
Where he’s being placed in mock drafts varies quite a bit. Baseball America’s John Manuel actually has him reaching the Sox at No. 10 and them selecting him. Scout.com’s Jeff Ellis has the Braves taking him at No. 3, while Taylor Ward has him going to Milwaukee at No. 5. Over at MLB.com, Jonathan Mayo has the Marlins selecting him No. 7 overall.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
Law called Senzel and Ray the two highest-floor bats in the draft, and the 21-year-old has seen his draft stock soar this season while mashing SEC pitching in his third year with the Volunteers, hitting .343/.441/.591 with more walks than strikeouts. You don’t need me to tell you that draft prospect stats, whether they’re coming from high school or college, don’t mean a whole lot, but he seems to have risen in similar fashion as Benintendi a year ago.
Unlike Ray, however, none of the aforementioned mocks have Senzel lasting to the White Sox at No. 10. BA’s Manual and MLB.com’s Mayo both have him going sixth to Oakland, while Scout.com’s two draft experts have him going first and second, respectively.
One mock draft says…
Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep HS, Canoga Park, Calif.
MLB.com’s Mayo has both of my aforementioned favorites off the board before the White Sox pick, and has them taking the prep outfielder Rutherford. Baseball Prospectus’ Chris Crawford, in his Draft Guide, says Rutherford has a plus hit tool and the potential to have plus power, with the biggest question mark for the 19-year-old being whether he will be able to stick in center field or if his future is in right field. Prep players are tougher to project, of course, but “chance to be an All-Star” is something you appreciate reading about a player your team might select.
Other guys who would be cool
Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, Calif.
Moniak’s stock has risen so much of late, that even if the White Sox want him it’s becoming increasingly likely he isn’t around at No. 10 anymore. Both Mayo and Manuel have him going No. 4 to the Rockies. Moniak, who turned 18 today, is expected to be a guy with a plus hit tool and speed, but little power, per Crawford, who also called him the highest floor prep player in the draft. It’s rare that a prep player could be considered a “safe” pick, but Moniak seems to be it.
Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS, Sacramento, Calif.
Manning’s rankings are all over the board. He’s Law’s ninth favorite prospect, while Mayo doesn’t have him getting selected until Toronto at No. 21. Manuel, on the other hand, pegs him for the Twins at No. 15. He’s supposedly a long-term development project, but is 6-foot-6 and can throw 98 mph, so there’s obviously a lot to like.
Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
Hudson certainly fits the bill of White Sox targets as a polished college pitcher with the potential to move through the system quickly. However, it would be foolish to compare him to Rodon or Fulmer. Hudson didn’t really break out as a prospect until a dominant summer in the Cape Cod League, and is one of a surprisingly small amount of college arms who are expected to go in the top half of the first round. Mayo has him going 15th to the Twins while Manuel actually has him being selected before the White Sox pick, at No. 9 to Detroit. Crawford says his slider is his best pitch and he has the upside of a mid-rotation starter with high-leverage relief as a fallback option.
Oh, that No. 26 pick
While the No. 10 pick will get the focus, the White Sox also pick 26th overall as a compensation pick for losing Jeff Samardzija in free agency. As tough as it is to predict a Top 10 pick, doing so for the latter portion of the first round is even more difficult, but some names to note are high school shortstop Gavin Lux (Mayo’s pick for them at No. 26), college LHP Eric Lauer (Manuel’s pick), and the guy I have my eye on, Stanford RHP Cal Quantrill, who had Tommy John surgery a little more than a year ago and has yet to pitch this season, but was once considered a potential Top 5-10 pick and is now expected to come off the board around the mid-20s.
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