Springfield (AP) –
In what now seems to be the norm, a flurry of trades has led to numerous first round picks changing hands. As with last year, four teams (Springfield, Canyon Country, Seattle, and Ed Couch) do not have selections in the first round of this year’s draft. This marks the second straight year that Seattle and Canyon Country have eschewed the 1st round of the draft in favor of MLB talent.
In a change of pace from recent drafts, offense rules the day in this year’s first round and starting pitching is hard to come by. As such, the Times predicts 12 hitters going in Round 1.
Without further adieu, the following is the Springfield Times’ Annual First Round Projections.
#1) Vermont Fighting Sioux – Carlos Correa (SS)
This is the most “up in the air” #1 overall selection in years as the Sioux could go one of the three ways here. Power in the middle of the infield is a rare commodity. That is what rules the day here as the Sioux choose Correa over Lindor and Bryant as the future face of the franchise.
#2) Troy Haymakers – Kris Bryant (3B)
Probably the most highly touted young hitter to hit NASBL since Mike Trout, in most years Bryant would be a no doubt 1:1 selection. However, there are some legitimate shortstop prospects in this draft and there are some questions about Bryant’s glove at the hot corner. Troy already has two defensive wizards on its roster at the shortstop position – which makes it decision an easy one here. The selection of Luis Valbuena in the supplemental takes some pressure off Bryant and allows him to DH until his glove catches up with his bat.
#3) Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs – Francisco Lindor (SS)
Let’s see, switch hitter that hits both lefties and righties (check), good speed/base-running (check), and a “1” as a rookie at the most important defensive position (check). The Iron Pigs trade of Xander Bogaerts allows them the luxury of taking a shortstop like Lindor here without having to waste a DH spot on a 2e12 shortstop. Great pick/great value.
#4) Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (From SPR) - Francisco Cervelli (C)
The Iron Pigs have five good/great starting pitchers (albeit some with limited innings) and can afford to look at need here. Well the thing that the Iron Pigs could use most is a championship caliber catcher. It is a known fact that the Iron Pigs’ GM, Kevin Burns was shopping Travis D’Arnaud right before roster cut-down. There happens to be a potential championship caliber catcher available here in Francisco Cervelli. At 29 years old, Cervelli doesn’t fit the typical mold of a #4 overall pick. But when it comes to offense and catchers, beggars cannot be choosers and strengthening the Iron Pigs up the middle is Burns’ #1 priority in this draft.
#5) Illinois Chow Chows (From GCG) – Noah Syndergaard (SP)
The Topes need starting pitching – having dealt Zach Greinke in an apparent rebuilding effort to secure this pick. Replacing Greinke with a young Norse god is a good way to start. As mentioned in the intro to this article, impactful young starters are in short supply in this draft and it is never a bad idea to get the top guy on the board at such an important position – especially one who had a 166:31 K/walk ratio in his first 150 innings of big league action.
#6) Shawnee Crows – Miguel Sano (3B/1B)
Look, I could try to talk up Sano’s defense, but it would disingenuous if I did so. The ear doesn’t lie and the last time that the sound off Sano’s bat Sano’s was made by a rookie was back when a man named Giancarlo still called himself “Mike”. Sano hits both lefties and righties and should continue to do so for the foreseeable future making him a great pick here – even if he “only” ends up as a clean-up hitting DH for the Crows.
#7) Grundy County Grizzlies (From CCC) – Kyle Schwarber (C/OF)
Somebody needs to catch the Grizz ridiculous pitching staff. Calling what Schwarber does behind home plate “catching” may be a slight exaggeration. However, if he sticks at catcher, Schwarber could be the next Mike Piazza. If he doesn’t, Schwarber could still be the next Carlos Delgado. What I’m saying is, Bam-Bam’s bat plays no matter where he calls home on the defensive side of the diamond – which makes him a great pick here for the Jack Howard and the Grizz.
#8) Pocono Chin Music – Maikel Franco (3B)
In an era where 160+ strikeouts are shrugged off as par for the course for a middle of the order hitter, Franco has an extremely advanced approach which led to a 52/26 strikeout to walk ratio in his first 335 plate appearances of MLB action. This approach has not resulted in a lack of power as Franco slugged 37 extra base hits in his MLB debut – including 14 long balls. All of this at the age of 22 while playing above average defense at the hot corner. Great value at a position of need here for the Chin Music.
#9) Lake Champlaign Cannibals – Jaime Garcia (SP)
The Cannibals look pretty much stocked on the offensive side of the diamond, but are two starters short of a full staff. Although Garcia only had 20 starts in MLB this year due to injury (I can hear the shock-filled gasp as you digest the fact that Jaime Garcia suffered an injury plagued season). While he may be about as durable as Rich Harden, Garcia’s performed like an ace in his 20 starts and reminded everyone why he was the 12th overall pick in the 2011 NASBL rookie draft. If he’s able to stay healthy, Stephen Beard may have the best value in this draft. If not, Garcia is still the Cannibals #2 starter in any playoff series – which is saying something on a team whose staff includes a guy named Kershaw.
#10) Georgia Roadkill – Mike Moustakas (3B)
The guy who was the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft is followed by a guy who was the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Who said there are no 2nd chances in NASBL? Although it seems like Moose has been around for a while, he is still only 27 years old and finally fulfilled his promise a year after everyone in NASBL gave up on him.
#11) Slatington Bulldogs – Randal Grichuck (OF)
A 23 year old who slugged .548 in 350 plate appearances – while playing good defense at all three outfield positions is still available at #11? The Bulldogs could definitely use another outfielder – considering Adam Eaton’s “defense” in center and Jackie Bradley’s limited at bats. Adam Leickel is thrilled to get Grichuk here.
#12) Outlaw Josey Wales – Raisel Iglesias (SP/RP)
After defecting from Cuba, Iglesias had an impressive 104/28 Strikeout/Walk ratio in 95 innings as a 26 year old rookie with a 1.14 WHIP. Even more impressive, in the 2nd half of the season, Iglesias pitched like an ace after being recalled from the minors with a 0.98 WHP and 10.4 K/9 innings in 11 starts after the break. We may easily look back on this draft and see Iglesias as the steal of the 1st round in a couple of years.
#13) Grundy County Grizzlies (from SPL) – Ryan Goins (2B/SS/3B/OF)
Goins calling card is his defense in the middle infield. The Grizz have no carded 2B on their roster and can do much worse than grab Goins and plug him and his ludicrous 1e8 card at 2B in their lineup for each of his 428 plate appearances.
#14) Illinois Chow Chows – Addison Russell (SS/2B)
It’s never a bad idea to take a guy good enough to be an everyday player at the age of 21. It worked out well last year in NASBL with the selections of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Rougned Odor. It will be seen if it works out for the Chows here in their selection of Russell.
#15) Slatington Bulldogs (from ILL/from ECN) – Taijuan Walker (SP)
The Bulldogs still need a couple of starters to fill out their staff. Walker appears to be the best combination of youth/innings available here. Although the Bulldogs could go with Erasmo Ramirez or Kyle Hendricks here.
#16) Dallas Fort Worth Spurs – Nick Hundley (C)
The Spurs are looking to repeat as champs and have no 2nd, 3rd, or 5th round pick. As such, Red Robbins will take the best player available with this pick at a position of need – regardless of age. That happens to be Nick Hundley. Not sexy, but one of the top catcher cards in the deck. With Mesoraco in tow to take over the catching duties next year, Red doesn’t even need a repeat season from Hundley to make this a great pick.