When the Houston Astros held the first overall selection in the draft, the choice was all ours. We could select whoever we wanted. We didn't have to worry about who was going to be available. We didn't have to worry about what the other teams were likely to do (for one round, anyway). However, things have changed. In light of reaching the playoffs last season, the Astros, this season, will take their first pick of the draft at number seventeen overall. Sixteen teams will select before us. Sixteen players will be gone before we even have a chance.
Naturally, therefore, trying to work out who is, and who isn't, going to available at number seventeen overall becomes central to the Astros' draft agenda. So, this calls for one thing, and one thing only: a mock draft. However, at the Crawfish Boxes, we like doing things differently. And so, instead of just attempting (and most likely failing) to predict who each team will draft, I am going to use sabermetrics.
Just prior to last season's draft, Minor League Ball published some extremely interesting research into each team's draft tendencies over the last five seasons. In turn, they calculated a z-score for each team. The main categories, or, the categories I plan on using, are each team's preference for bat, or arm, and college, or high school. And, within that, do they have a preference for a certain position, and left-handed or right-handed pitchers. The results were as follows. It must be noted, some of the tendencies are extremely slight.
|Marlins||High School||Bats||Middle Infielders|
|Yankees||High School||Bats||Third Basemen|
|Giants||College||Bats||First Basemen, Shortstops|
|Blue Jays||High School||Arms|
#1, Philadelphia Phillies: Jason Groome, LHP
The Phillies have a slight tendency of selecting high-schoolers, and that's about it. Thankfully, that fits the profile of someone who I believe is likely to be the number one overall pick of the draft: the left hander, Jason Groome. Groome is extremely polished, and built for a high schooler. Furthermore, his curveball is probably the best pitch in the entire draft, and has drawn Clayton Kershaw comparisons. While he has a long way to go before he can even think about pitching in the major leagues, the upside of the 6'6" left hander is too hard to pass on with the first overall selection.
#2, Cincinatti Reds: Nick Senzel, 3B/SS
With a tendency of selecting college bats, in particular, third basemen, Senzel makes the most sense here. Again, mock draft experiment aside, I actually really like Senzel at number two overall. Probably the best hitter in the draft, the third baseman has a great understanding of the strike zone, plenty of patience, and power in abundance. Even though he is unlikely to stick at shortstop, Senzel has shown much improvement defensively at the hot corner.
#3 Atlanta Braves: Kyle Lewis, OF
The Braves have been edging towards college hitters over the past five years. While I actually like Raley Pint, or A.J. Puk in the number three overall slot, Lewis is most certainly the best college hitter available in the draft (after Nick Senzel). He dominated quality pitching in the Cape Cod League over the summer, and followed that up with more dominance in the Southern Conference.
#4 Colorado Rockies: Corey Ray, OF
After going high school heavy in their selections last year, they Rockies will look to return to a college selection (right in line with their drafting tendencies). Ray is a five-tool centre fielder, which says it all, really. His speed will play especially well in the huge Coors Field outfield. While Mickey Moniak makes a lot of sense here, too, given the Rockies' slight propensity for going for college players, Ray is the fourth overall choice.
#5 Milwaukee Brewers: A.J. Puk, LHP
Puk may very well go number one overall, and is most certainly the most talented college pitcher in the draft. Again, in an actual mock draft, I'd have the Brewers going for Delvin Perez (especially considering David Stearns' success with Carlos Correa), but going along with the rules of our mathematical draft sees Puk going to the Brewers, due to their slight preference for drafting pitchers. With three strong pitches, Puk has the stuff of an ace pitcher, and, if his developmental process goes well, could sit comfortably atop a major league rotation.
#6 Oakland Athletics: Zach Collins, C
Due to the rules of this mock draft, the A's have to draft a catcher or a shortstop. And, that gives them the perfect opportunity to take the potential jackpot of the draft, Zach Collins. While it's unlikely he is able to stick behind the dish, I'm going to say the A's pass up on the chance to draft Perez, in favour of taking a flyer on Collins, who may very well be the best hitter in the draft. Collins has posted incredible numbers this season, including a slashline of .398/.565/.684. The A's should appreciate his absurd K/BB numbers.
#7 Miami Marlins: Delvin Perez, SS
The 17-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop has the potential to be the best position player of this draft. He has outstanding tools and athleticism (especially given his age) the only thing going against Perez is his lack of consistency. The Marlins have liked drafting up the middle, and Perez stands a great chance of sticking at shortstop with his cannon of an arm. He adds a powerful bat to his defensive abilities, too. In the real thing, if Perez isn't available, Zach Collins, from Miami University, could be a good fit.
#8 San Diego Padres: Mickey Moniak, OF
The Padres have three first round selections this year, and so it's likely they play it safe/cheap with their first overall selection to save money for their next two selections. Of course, under Preller, the Padres are linked to almost every toolsy high school player. Their tendencies have been lying with position players over the years, and so outfielder Moniak fits the bill. Moniak as an extremely well developed hitter, who has a great understanding of the strikezone with plenty of speed, all whilst playing a good centre field.
#9 Detroit Tigers: Dakota Hudson, RHP
In reality, if Raley Pint is still on the board, the Tigers won't hesitate to pull the trigger. However, the Tigers have strong college tendencies, with a particular SEC bias. Therefore, Hudson makes the most sense. Hudson has been turning it up as the draft approaches, including an eleven strikeout performance last week. Nevermind Pint, the Tigers can't be too confident that Hudson even falls this far.
#10 Chicago White Sox: Alec Hansen, RHP
At number ten overall, there are still lots of talented prep arms available. However, the White Sox have been swaying towards college arms over the past five years, and so, Hansen is the most logical selection. Coming into the season, Hansen highlighted the draft class with fellow pitches Pint, Puk, and Groome. However, his stock has since fallen slightly. With an electric fastball that nearly touches triple digits, and a huge 6'7" downward plane, it's not hard to see why Hansen had such lofty expectations. Statistically, Hansen has been striking out batters at an incredible rate, the walks, however, have been an issue. High ceiling, high risk. But, the White Sox have been developing electric arms left, right, and centre.
#11 Seattle Mariners: Blake Rutherford, OF
The Mariners haven't shown any college/high school preferences, but have been selecting position players at a much higher rate than pitching prospects. Tom Allison has joined their scouting department, and he has had huge success with college bats whilst with the Diamondbacks, drafting the likes of A.J. Pollock, and Paul Goldschmidt. However, the best college bats are gone by this stage. Rutherford is older than the usual prep pick, and is also relatively polished for his age. Rutherford actually makes sense, if not, Zach Collins could tempt the Mariners, too.
#12 Boston Red Sox: Raley Pint, RHP
The Red Sox have been edging towards pitchers, and Pint is undeniably the best pitcher still available. His standout feature is his sensational fastball, which touches triple digits. In reality, there's not much chance Pint falls out of the top ten, and rather, the Red Sox could go for Collins, Rutherford, or Moniak. Whilst Pint doesn't really fit the Red Sox's analytical mold, he has too much upside to be passed on, with the most electric arm in the draft.
#13 Tampa Bay Rays: Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B
The Rays have a history of prep position players, and Kirilloff has been strongly linked to them. Kirilloff has incredible power, as exhibited during the PH Home Run Derby, and also has a strong throwing arm. With the exact same selection in the draft last season, they selected outfielder, Garrett Whitley, and therefore, are likely to look for an arm this year. If they do, indeed, part with their position player tendency, look for Braxton Garrett to be selected here.
#14 Cleveland Indians: Braxton Garrett, LHP
The Indians have been strongly linked the Sheffield, the ace of the Vanderbilt staff, but have had a lot of success with prep picks of late, including Francisco Lindor. Therefore, their prep arm tendencies lead them to Garrett, who has one of the best breaking balls in the draft (probably second to only Jason Groome's curveball), which is extremely impressive for a high school left hander.
#15 Minnesota Twins: Jordan Sheffield, RHP
The Twins have been enjoying selecting college arms, and if Sheffield doesn't go to the Indians, he makes sense for the twins. The Vanderbilt ace, in his recent start against Texas A&M, had his fastball registering 98 mph on the gun, and paired it with two great secondary offerings. A nice balance between ceiling, and floor at number fifteen overall.
#16 Los Angeles Angels: Connor Jones, RHP
The Angels seriously need some pitching, and Jones is a nice, safe bet with the number sixteen overall pick. Jones has incredible command and has seriously improved his walk rate. He mainly throws a sinker, but has a decent, four pitch repertoire. He was seen as the third overall pick in 2013, but opted to go to College. Since, he has lost some of the glamour on his arm, but has an extremely high floor, something the Angels should like.
And so, we finally reach the Astros' selection. Our mathematical (ish) draft, has had interesting results. Thankfully, they haven't been too far off base. It gives us a rough idea as to who may well be available come the seventeenth overall selection, and gives us a strong idea as to who will definitely not be available. The Astros, according to Minor League Ball's research, have swayed towards college players, with a slight tendency for pitchers. This, unfortunately, rules out some likely picks (Forrest Whitley, Matt Thaiss, Will Benson, Braxton Garrett including others).
#17 Houston Astros: Daulton Jefferies, RHP
I was extremely tempted to select Cal Quantrill here, the fascinating arm who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. But, the risk just seemed too unorthodox for the Astros. So, college arm Jefferies is the selection. He has a strong fastball, an okay curveball, a developing changeup and a potentially devastating slider. He has a compact, athletic delivery, but does lack size. If everything develops well for Jefferies, he could be a fantastic #2 starter. At the same time, he has a high floor, too. It's likely that Jefferies pitches in the major leagues in some capacity.
In many ways, this draft is weird. It's certainly different, and seems to lack importance. Drafting at the top of the draft was a lot fun, and the speculation surrounding the number one overall selection was fever pitch. Yet, for me, drafting much lower down has a certain appeal. There are so many question marks, so many maybes, and so many what ifs. The uncertainty regarding who is, and who isn't, going to be available introduces a new dimension into the Astros' draft agenda for the first round.
I'll leave you with a video of Jefferies, who is a sure thing to be the Astros' selection because maths never fails us. Something like that, anyway.