A Look at the Top Hitters in the 2016 Amateur Draft
Prospecting is about evaluating tools and conservatively projecting what a player's current profile could reasonably develop in to when you combine physical and mental maturity with professional coaching and experience. In last week’s article I wrote about how the organization that drafts a player can impact the development of a prospect. This week, I will profile the tools and potential of the 2016 Amateur Draft prospects and how their tools could impact Fantasy Baseball.
After an extremely disappointing 2015 draft it is easy to get enamored with the improvement in this class. It isn't a group that will rival some of the strongest drafts I have seen, but it has more Fantasy relevant hitters and plenty of exciting potential on the bump, and that doesn't factor in the loss of Riley Pint's future to Coors Field. The draft was deep enough that I have separated it into two articles, batters and then pitchers.
Kyle Lewis, OF, Seattle Mariners
[caption id="attachment_108079" align="alignright" width="375"] Brewers draft pick Corey Ray has the all-around tools to be an impact Fantasy prospect. Photo Credit Andy Meade/IconoSportsWire[/caption]
Ceiling: Yoenis Cespedes/Jose Bautista
Floor: Khris Davis/Brandon Moss
Lewis has the highest ceiling and the most electric offensive profile in this draft. Scouts are quick to point out that they don't love his hitting mechanics and that major changes may be necessary to unleash his full power potential. They also cite the weak competition he faced at Mercer.
Impact tools have been rare in the last two drafts, but Lewis is one of the few batters to own them. It is common that with high upside comes meaningful risk, but to win leagues you need stars and Lewis has the potential to be a Top 20 pick and a star for Fantasy teams. Lewis is my first Fantasy hitter off the board in this draft.
Blake Rutherford, OF, New York Yankees
Ceiling: Colby Rasmus/Kole Calhoun
Floor: Ryan Raburn/Marlon Byrd
Rutherford is a unique mix of potential and risk. He is old for a High School player (19) and scouts have downgraded their projections because of his age. However, he isn't a polished, mature product like you see with many of the college players.
The tools are impressive and he has possibly the best mix of power and approach along with potential in this offensive draft class. He has plus power and at times a very good approach that allows him to maximize his tools, but there are times that he loses his way and gets overly aggressive. At his best, Rutherford has a plus approach, but he needs to be more disciplined and consistent with it. That potential and his plus power gives Rutherford a chance to be the second best offensive prospect in this class behind Kyle Lewis.
Delvin Perez, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Ceiling: Ian Desmond
Floor: Name your most talented Bust
Perez is the biggest boom or bust prospect in this class, but it isn't because of his tools and whether he ever fully realizes them. He has explosive defensive tools that will keep him at shortstop, and he has plus stolen base ability to go with plus bat speed that could result in above average power for a middle infielder. That’s the potential boom with his tools. The potential bust is that he has poor pitch recognition, poor plate discipline and an overly aggressive approach that could make it difficult for him to turn plus bat speed into double-digit home runs. That’s the potential bust in his tools.
Where Perez is truly boom or bust beyond his physical profile, is that Perez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug before the draft. There isn't a wilder card than Perez in this draft or maybe any draft that I can remember. If you're a risk taker this is your guy; if you're a conservative "steady as you go" guy, Perez may be a little too spicy for your liking. I would love to hop in a time machine and jump forward five years to see how Perez’ story turned out. Performance enhancing drugs are an accepted part of major league baseball, but we have yet to fully examine or try to quantify how it might impact a teenager’s future ceiling and development. When you add his raw physical abilities to that tricky mix, it makes for a fascinating experiment in profiling.
Corey Ray, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Ceiling: Brett Gardner
Floor: Gerardo Parra
Ray is a power/speed prospect with a plus hit tool and a good approach at the plate. Ray profiles similarly to Mickey Moniak, but what makes him a better Fantasy prospect is that he has more upside and he is closer to contributing in the majors. College players are typically more polished and closer to what they will eventually be, but Ray still has some upside to dream on.
Ray's downside, like his profile, is a lot like Moniak. For him to be an impact Fantasy player he will have to spread his production around all of the Fantasy categories because he lacks a true impact tool that could produce 30 home runs or 30 stolen bases with consistency. The upside is that he has more current power and scouts expect his raw power to continue to develop.
Mickey Moniak, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Ceiling: Mookie Betts/Melky Cabrera
Floor: Odubel Herrera
Moniak is a safer prospect than most high school hitters because of a plus hit tool and above average speed, but he has a lower ceiling because of his lack of impact stolen base ability and the likelihood that he is a below average power source. The risk is that he could end up with an empty batting average without enough stolen bases to justify a starting job on your Fantasy team.
Moniak will steal some bases and he should hit for a high batting average. If he can develop even moderate power then he can be a five-tool contributor and a solid third outfielder. He benefitted from a lack of impact offensive tools in this years draft. He is a good baseball player with plus intangibles and a chance to exceed expectations.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
Ceiling: Jake Lamb/Chase Headley
Floor: Casey McGehee
Senzel has the polish that you expect from a College draft pick. He has a mature approach at the plate and he makes consistent, hard contact that scouts believe will generate more home runs as he continues to develop and mature.
If the power develops, Senzel has the potential to be a solid offensive third baseman, but his plus hit tool and approach make him a safe investment. Senzel is polished and a complete enough prospect right now to feel confident that you are getting a Fantasy contributor while also having enough upside that you can dream on some level of potential as well. It’s a good mix, and if he catapults forward like Paul Goldschmidt did, then you hit the lottery with minimal risk.
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