We’re now just six days away from the first day of the draft, where the M’s will pick five times in the first three rounds. For the last few months, everyone’s just been collecting reports on different guys, but when you get within a week, we start finding out which teams are likely to do what. This year is no exception. Here’s what I’m hearing about the M’s picks as of right now.
First Round, #2
Dustin Ackley – 90%
Aaron Crow – 9%
Field – 1%
It will be a pretty big upset if the M’s don’t take Ackley. He’s the second best prospect in this draft, and there’s not really an argument for anyone else. He’s a good fit for the M’s organizational needs and their home park, and he’s the kind of player that can get to the majors quickly. There’s a chance that the M’s could go with Crow if they really want an arm who could be in the rotation in 2010, but bet on Ackley at #2.
First round, #27
Supplemental Round, #33
I’m lumping these two together because these picks are going to be made in conjunction with one another. If they take Ackley at #2, the M’s would really like a high upside arm at #27. However, most of the premium pitchers will be off the board before then, so their best bet to snag a quality pitching prospect will be to grab the inevitable tough-sign guy who slides. However, in order to sign that kind of player, they’ll have to go over the slot recommendation for the #27 pick, and that’s where the #33 pick comes in.
Depending on who you talk to, the M’s have already cut a pre-draft deal or are working on a pre-draft deal with HS catcher Steven Baron, whom they will select with the 33rd pick. Baron will sign for less than the #33 slot recommendation, which gives the M’s extra cash to throw at the #27 pick. Baron’s a catch-and-throw guy with top notch defensive skills and a questionable bat – he showed better than expected power at a HS event last week, but there are still significant questions about how well he’ll hit with wood. On talent, he’d go in the 50-100 range.
So, these two picks are basically a package deal. The odds listed below are for the different packages you might expect the M’s to end up with at #27/#33 under this scenario.
25% – Tanner Scheppers and Steven Baron
20% – Matt Purke and Steven Baron
20% – James Paxton and Steven Baron
10% – Kyle Gibson and Steven Baron
Those four are the pitchers most likely to fall to #27. Scheppers and Purke are asking for more money than any team is willing to give them right now, while Paxton and Gibson have been hurt by some low velocity readings in their end of season starts. Odds are pretty good that at least one of those four will be on the board at #27, which would give the M’s a chance to pull off the current plan. However, they might all be off the board, or the M’s could decide they’re not interested in the specific guy who does fall, at which point they’d likely turn to the backup plan, which right now appears to be AJ Pollock, a shortstop-turned-center fielder from Notre Dame whom the M’s would convert back into a second baseman. If they went with Pollock at #27, they’d probably take a more conventional player at #33, and then select Baron at #51.
There’s also the scenario where they don’t take Ackley at #2, which then puts them in the hunt for Brett Jackson at #27 or #33.
20% – AJ Pollock and Field (leaning towards a pitcher – Drew Storen or Kyle Heckathorn?)
5% – Brett Jackson and AJ Pollock
Second Round, #51
Trying to tie down names to the later picks is basically a fool’s errand, because there are so many variables in play ahead of the second and round third choices. Baron is a pretty likely pick if the M’s don’t take him at #33. If they do, they might save money again with another lower ceiling guy who will sign quickly in order to make sure they have enough cash in the budget to sign both Ackley and whatever pitcher they took at #27. If they’re not looking to save money with the pick, I’ve heard Nick Franklin (HS switch hitting middle infielder with some power) attached to the M’s.
Third Round, #82
No one has any idea, even the M’s. We’ll find out on Tuesday night.
Here are the MLB.com reports for each player listed above:
Dustin Ackley, 1B/CF, UNC
Steven Baron, C, HS
Aaron Crow, RHP, Indy
Nick Franklin, SS/2B, HS
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri
Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State
Brett Jackson, CF, Cal
James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky
AJ Pollock, CF/2B, Notre Dame
Matt Purke, LHP, HS
Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Indy
Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford