The MLB Draft is one of the most unusual in sports. First off there are 40 rounds, which makes it special in and of itself. It does not get the same type of attention as the NFL and NBA drafts however, with the main reason being there are generally no direct results. When the Redskins took RGIII, he became the starting QB the next week. When the Wizards draft the player of their choice (Beal of MKG) in the upcoming June draft, that player will be in the rotation for the next seasons tip-off. With baseball though, you may not see the player for the next 3 years while they are in the minors. This makes it less interesting to some people, but nonetheless the Orioles and Nationals have a chance to keep building for the future — something both clubs have done a great job at recently.
I will be taking a look at the first round possibilities for both ball clubs, and will take a look at the draft overall once it is complete.
Orioles: Round One -Pick 4
The Orioles have gone the High School player route with their last two first round picks in SS Manny Machado and RHP Dylan Bundy. They have hit so far, with both players being ranked in the top 10 prospects in baseball. The O’s sit pretty again with the number four pick and a lot of options.
Kevin Gausman: RHP – LSU
Gausman is coming out of the baseball power house of LSU, and its possible that he may go number one to Astros, but I believe they will take Stanford RHP Mark Appel. Gausman is 6’4″ 185 pounds with a mid 90’s fast ball that scouts say has the potential to grow into the upper 90’s. His breaking stuff is already a plus pitch, but his change-up is what he will need to work on coming out of college. Unlike some college pitchers who are taken early because they may go through the minors faster, Gausman will most likely spend a year or more in the minors fine tuning his craft, but he does have the potential to be a 1 or 2 in a rotation.
Carlos Correa: SS – Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Correa is a player who sort of came out of nowhere to be on the Orioles radar, but it makes very little sense to me. The Orioles already have one SS who may grow out of the position eventually in Machado, and Correa is in the same situation being 6’4″ and 190 pounds at 17 years old. This pick would also be entirely for upside. Correa has not seen very good competition in Puerto Rico, so no one really knows how he will react on an even playing field. To me this pick makes no sense for the Orioles.
Kyle Zimmer: RHP – San Francisco
Zimmer is a big boy at 6’4″ 220 pounds, with a big arm that runs fastballs up in the mid to upper 90’s. Unlike Appel and Gausman though, Zimmer is new to pitching and has only been on a mound since a move from 3rd base his freshmen year in college. That means more minor league time for Zimmer will be required, but also means he does not have the innings on his arm that other pitchers might. This spring though, scouts did notice a drop in velocity which makes you question whether or not he will be fit to be a starter in the MLB.
If Gausman is there the Orioles have to take him. The Cerro pick makes little to no sense, and Gausman has better overall stuff than Zimmer. Drafting arms still needs to be the Orioles number one priority.
Nationals: Round 1 – Pick 16
The Nationals got lucky to be bad enough to draft 2 once in a generation prospects in back to back seasons. However, now that they are in the middle of the pack, someone may actually have to do some scouting. The good thing for Nats fans is there is a lot of talent to be found in this area of the draft as well.
Deven Marrero: SS – Arizona State
Marreo is hands down the best defensive shortstop in the draft, but he has shown some struggles at the plate. But with the Nats planning on contending for several years, having a solid defensive short stop up the middle may not be a bad idea. Marreo may end up being an average to decent hitter in the bigs, but with limited power. No one would question this pick at 16.
Richie Shaffer: 3B/1B – Clemson
Listed as 1st and 3rd base, Shaffer could play in the outfield if need be. Position aside, Shaffer can flat-out hit and is the best right-handed bat in this years draft. Shaffer hit a home run every 25 times he came up to the plate while at Clemson. He was all ACC the last two seasons at two different positions. With Shaffer it all comes back to the bat. He is going to hit at any level, which should excite the Nationals since they have had offensive struggles as of late and are left a little position player depleted after the Gio Gonzalez trade.
Lance McCullers: RHP – Jesuit HS (Fla.)
McCullers is a big high school arm who throws in the low to mid 90’s, with the potential to be mid to upper 90’s. The one thing the Nats don’t need right now is pitching because they are stockpiled with good, young pitchers for the foreseeable future. However, McCullers may be a nice pick up at this point in the draft because at 17 years old, he already has another plus pitch with his curve ball — which is rare to find in a high school pitching prospect. And of course, as any baseball person knows, there is no such thing as too much pitching.
If Shaffer is there it is a no-brainer, and the Nationals have to take him. He is the best hitter in the draft hands down, and it’s not even close. The Nats could luck out in this pitching heavy draft if they see Richie Shaffer’s name available when they select.
The Nats and O’s both sit in a position to better their organizations over the next few days and 40 rounds of this draft. For baseball fans, it should be fun to watch.