In what now seems to be the norm, a flurry of trades has led to numerous first round picks changing hands. In what may be a record, five teams (Pocono, Shawnee, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Ed Couch and Troy) do not have selections in the first round of this year’s draft. At first glance, this year’s draft class appears to be slightly weaker than last year’s. The big difference being the dynasty changing potential of the top picks in last year’s draft (Trout, Strasburg, Harper, Machado, and Darvish). However, this draft is very deep.
The last two years, the team with three first round picks won the NASBL World Series (Slatington & Lehigh Valley). Based on this fact, the Springfield Times can safely say that no team will win this year’s NASBL World Series since no team has three picks in the first round this year. Either that or the championship is up in the air this year, I’m not sure which.
Without further adieu, the following is the Springfield Times’ Annual First Round Projections.
#1) Illinois Chow Chows (via trade from Slatington) – Jose Fernandez (SP)
The Chows traded a good young catcher in Wilson Ramos for the right to move up one spot in the draft and swap picks with the Bulldogs. It is believed that the elder Sherlag made this deal for the sole purpose of grabbing the 20 year old Fernandez. Taking a pitcher with the top pick in the draft is something that hasn’t been done since 2009, when the New York Knights selected starter Jon Lester with the first pick in the NASBL draft. Fernandez will join his teammate Lester at the top of the Chows’ rotation.
#2) Slatington Bulldogs – Yasiel Puig (OF)
Although there appears to be many good young pitchers available in this draft, impact offensive talent appears hard to come by. Perhaps the best combination of youth/production for an everyday player in this draft resides in the form of Yusiel Puig. Though extremely raw by all accounts, Mr. Puig has been successful at every level he has played, both in the United States and internationally and will fit in nicely with Jacoby Ellsbury and Domonic Brown to round out Slatington’s youthful outfield.
#3) Seattle Pilots – Matt Harvey (SP)
Harvey would have easily been the first pick in this year’s draft had the draft taken place after Major League Baseball (NASBL’s sister league) had its all star game. Harvey was the starting pitcher of the All Star Game as a rookie, and deservedly so. As oftentimes happens to young pitchers, elbow soreness turned into a visit to Dr. Andrews and it is thought that Harvey may have to miss next year’s NASBL season after going “under the knife”. Even after factoring in his injury, Harvey’s talent level warrants being picked at #3.
#4) Georgia Roadkill – Wil Myers (OF)
Due to the sordid injury history of some 1st round pitchers in recent years, the safe pick is to take an offensive player in Round 1. Lucky for the Roadkill, the safe play and the most talented player on the board are one and the same in young outfielder Wil Myers. A highly touted prospect, Myers parlayed his impact in MLB into a Rookie of the Year award. Johnny hopes that Myers will give Georgia the bat it has long been looking for to protect Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of the Roadkill lineup.
#5) Seattle Pilots (via trade from Pocono) – Jurickson Profar (SS/2B)
Players that reach Major League Baseball at age 19 are few and far between. While not necessarily a guarantee of success at the NASBL level, it certainly is a bell-weather that you have a very special prospect. Following the mold of Manny Machado last year, Profar did not tear the cover off the ball in his first taste of major league pitching. However, also like Machado, the talent is undeniable with Profar. Add that to reports that former first round pick Dustin Ackley has been shagging balls in the outfield for the Pilots in training camp and it all adds up that the Pilots are looking to grab Profar with its second pick in the top 5.
#6) Canyon Country Cannons – Josh Donaldson (3B)
With eight pitchers already on the squad after cutdown day, Brendan Conrad will more than likely look for offense here. Even inclusive of Puig and Profar, Josh Donaldson will more than likely provide the most impact of any non-pitcher drafted in Round 1. Donaldson plays near gold glove defense at third base, hits both lefties and righties and has close to 600 at bats. With only David Freese “blocking” him at 3B, Donaldson appears to fit a need as well.
#7) Vermont Fighting Sioux – Starling Marte (OF)
If Marte did a little more with the bat against right handed pitching, he could easily have been the #2 pick in this draft. As it stands now, his defense and speed play enough against right handers to warrant this pick. Add this to the fact that left handed pitchers will run and hide when Marte comes to the plate and you have a very happy Justin Rabidoux that Marte is still here at #7.
#8) Outlaw Josey Wales – Shelby Miller (SP)
It is believed that Outlaw is looking at a pitcher here. The question is – which 22 year old does GM Mark Hildebrandt go with – Shelby Miller or Gerrit Cole? When in doubt, go with the guy who has done it over more innings – which leads to the selection of Shelby Miller here for Outlaw.
#9) Canyon Country Cannons (via trade from Shawnee) – Jose Iglesias (SS)
As I mentioned earlier, the Cannons appear set on the mound. Did I also mention that the Cannons shortstop is named Zach Cozart. Yes, that Zach Cozart. With no apologies necessary, the only question that the Cannons have is which young shortstop to grab with this pick – Jose Iglesias, Jean Segura, Andrelton Simmons, or DiDi Gregorius. Rey Ordonez and Omar Vizquel are the only shortstops in recent memory that the Times can remember rivaling Jose Iglesias’ 1e6 rating at SS. Iglesias can also hit as well or better than any of the other shortstops available. The only issue with Iglesias is that he does not have as many at bats as some of the other young shortstops in this draft. Having another shortstop in the fold in Cozart allows Brendan the luxury of grabbing the proverbial best shortstop available with this pick.
#10) Lake Champlain Cannibals – Gerrit Cole (SP)
Lake Champlain looks like its squad is ready to challenge for the NASBL championship this year. Lucky for GM Steve Beard, there is a player that can help achieve that goal that is also a top 5 talent available here. The Cannibals gobble up Cole with this pick and thank their lucky stars that he fell to them here.
#11) Grundy County Grizzlies – Yan Gomes (C/1B)
The Grizz have a chance to compete for a title this year. That often means sacrificing youth for production in the 1st round. The Grizz can straddle both sides of the fence and grab their catcher of the future here in Gomes. Gomes has a cannon for an arm and can hit both lefties and righties. Young backstops that can swing the bat and play defense are hard to come by. Gomes appears to be one.
#12) Springfield Isotopes – Jean Segura (SS)
The Topes do not have a single carded shortstop on their roster. Luckily, there are a few choices here for GM Doug Sherlag to pick from. The best combination of at bats/performance would probably be Jean Segura. Add in that Segura is just 23 years old and the younger Sherlag has to be pleased with this pick.
#13) Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (via trade from Dallas/Ft.Worth) – Christian Yelich (OF)
Lehigh Valley’s strength is in their pitching. Unfortunately for the Iron Pigs, this draft lacks a true impact bat with a full slate of at bats here at #13. The best hitter available against right handed pitching also happens to be a young outfielder - an apparent need of the Iron Pigs. The only players that get on base at a higher clip against righties than Christian Yelich are guys named Choo and Votto. Last I checked, they were not available in this draft. The Iron Pigs will use all 240 of Yelich’s at bats during the regular season and Christian should be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs/future for the Iron Pigs.
#14) Slatington Bulldogs (via trade from Ed Couch) – A.J. Griffin (SP)
How would you like a 25 year old starter that has proven himself over 200 innings of Major League Baseball? Sign the Bulldogs up as they grab A.J. Griffin with the 14th pick. Griffin is a great value here. Although susceptible to the long ball, Griffin’s stuff keeps hitters off base. Slatington should be happy that Griffin gave up his share of homers this year. Otherwise, there is no way that he would still be available with the 14th pick.
#15) Lake Champlain Cannibals (via Trade from Troy) – Hyun-jin Ryu (SP)
The Cannibals appear poised to compete for a title in 2014 based on the strength of its rotation and a solid lineup at all positions. The Cannibals are one starter short of a full rotation and the Times predicts that they will full it here. The best available starter here is up for debate. There are a few other candidates here in Hyun-jin Ryu, Andrew Cashner and Chris Archer. In the end Ryu’s 192 innings win out and he is the Cannibals pick here.
#16) Grundy County Grizzlies (via Trade from Lehigh Valley) – Scooter Gennett (2B)
As mentioned earlier, the Grizz have a chance to compete for a title this year. Jack Howard grabbed Darwin Barney in the supplemental draft. Barney can be kindly described as offensively challenged. The biggest impact bat left on the draft board is Scooter Gennett, who also happens to play second base. It is a win/win for Howard and although Gennett has limited at bats, Barney’s selection gives the Grizz the luxury to draft Gennett here and potentially ride Scooter’s bat to a crown in 2014.