Teams looking for impact hitters to draft in June are going to be sorely disappointed this year. There are no Kris Bryants, guys who are poised to rise quickly through the minors and contribute quickly. But because it’s really hard to win baseball games without nine hitters in the lineup, teams will draft them anyway. Corey Ray, an outfielder out of Louisville, is probably the prize of the position players in this draft. Outfielders Mickey Moniak and Blake Rutherford lead the prep prospects, while Delvin Perez is going to be a highly coveted shortstop out of Puerto Rico’s International Baseball Academy. Other guys who could go off the board quickly include Nick Senzel, Nolan Jones, and Kyle Lewis.
Literally every team could use position players like this, but some need them just a little more. Indeed, these teams have the barest of cupboards when it comes to hitters in their systems:
The Tigers have given away so many of their prospects to try to extend their competitive window that, if they need to replace any of their regulars in the next couple of years, the pickings are very slim. Christin Stewart represents the best the system has to offer at the moment, as he continues to rake in his second year of pro ball. He has 15 homers through his first 50 games at high-A.
Derek Hill is a blindingly fast, true centerfielder, but has shown no growth in the Midwest League this eyar, with a .297 OBP over 146 plate appearances. Dixon Machado has gotten on base at Toledo, but a guy who can’t break a .300 slugging percentage at triple-A isn’t going to succeed in the majors. Jacoby Jones was suspended last November for a drug of abuse, and only just got back on the field. And Steven Moya is in the majors.
With no long-term solution for center field, Ian Kinsler getting up in years, and Jose Iglesias looking like he might not be able to hold down the shortstop spot, the Tigers could really use some help up the middle. Although both Keith Law and Jim Callis have them winding up with one of the many prep arms that are out there in this draft.
The Tigers’ first pick is ninth overall.
Los Angeles Angels
The state of the Angels’ farm system was a great joke this Spring, as writers struggled to invent new and creative ways to explain just why, and how badly, it sucked. These writers largely succeeded.
Since then, the Angels’ top "prospects" haven’t exactly acquitted themselves. Jahmai Jones and Julio Garcia are still in extended spring training. Taylor Ward is an offensive disaster at High-A. Kaleb Cowart continues to show no power, despite playing in a bandbox. Ditto for Kyle Kubitza.
This is their first real chance to make it better, and almost certainly, whoever they draft will automatically become their best prospect. They’re expected to go after a high school outfielder.
The Angels’ first pick is 15th overall.
Well, I mean, they had Touki Touissant. And they had Dansby Swanson. But Arizona is absolutely allergic to prospects, particularly of the position player variety. Now, their Major League roster is not particularly old or close to free agency. The first hard decisions they’ll have to make are on Jean Segura and A.J. Pollock in two years. Still, now that they’ve promoted Brandon Drury out of the minors, there isn’t much left.
Socrates Brito was highly regarded by the club coming out of spring training, and made the Opening Day roster once Pollock went down with his elbow injury. But Brito was a flop, and has really struggled to get it going in Reno. Jaime Westbrook has played like a young Johnny Giavatella at Mobile, which is not a compliment. Peter O’Brien has slugged as expected at triple-A, but in a tiny ballpark, and with a 54/6, K/BB ratio in 182 plate appearances. Nobody else is even worth talking about right now in that system.
Someday, maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, the Diamondbacks are going to need a position player prospect again. But soon. And then for years to come after that. It’d be nice if they start accumulating those now, rather than selling them to the Braves at such a ridiculous discount and being caught short-handed. Then again, due to signing Zack Greinke, the D-Backs don’t have a first rounder this year, so maybe they’ll have to wait until 2017 to start this project in earnest.
The Diamondbacks’ first selection is in Lottery Round A, 39th overall, unless they trade it. Which, c’mon. They’re totally going to do. They’re the Diamondbacks.