Bud Selig's reanimated corpse likes the draft, and I do to! (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
With the MLB Amateur Draft, or the Rule 4 Draft if you like, coming up in just under three weeks, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some Baylor players and where they might be taken. Unlike the NFL Draft, the MLB Draft is a marathon that runs forty to fifty rounds (I'm still trying to get a bead on all the changes made in the last CBA), making it virtually impossible to say which team might take a player, or exactly where they might be drafted. Making it even more difficult, teams don't just take players from the college ranks. Puerto Rican, Canadian, and high school players are all eligible.
Even the first round this year is a bit of a crap-shoot, lacking any Strasburg-like standouts. Teams take players based on a number of different factors, such as performance, projectability, signability, and hype. Occasionally teams will draft based on "needs", but teams usually just try to take the best player available. After all, these draftees will not make an immediate impact, but rather, they will toil for several years in the obscurity of the minor leagues. For these reasons, I will give a range of rounds for each player based on what I've read and where players with similar skill sets have been taken in previous years.
The Big XII has several possible first-round or supplemental first-round draftees. Unfortunately, none of them are Baylor players. Andrew Heaney (OSU), Michael Wacha (A&M), Barrett Barnes (Tech), and Tyler Naquin (A&M) should all go high in the draft. If I were drafting for a team, I would go Heaney in the mid-first round. A lefty with an above average fastball and impressive stats to back it up is a good pick in my humble opinion. Conversely, I'm not very impressed with Wacha from an MLB point of view. His fastball is only average for a righty, and although he has a good changeup, his breaking ball (curve or slider) doesn't look to be a plus pitch. From what I've seen and read, his ceiling is perhaps a #3 starter and his floor is middle-reliever. I don't think I take that in the first round.
At any rate, let's move on to the meat of this post and talk Baylor players. One more thing: I want to say that I am not a scout. What I am is an obsessive baseball fan, and I love the draft more than just about anything else. I research it a great deal and keep track of "gurus" such as Keith Law, John Sickels, Jonathon Mayo and some smaller writers that most people don't know. I'm primarily going to focus on the "definite" draftees, or the guys that I fully expect to be taken and begin their professional careers. I'll also list the guys who, barring a big surprise, could be taken toward the end of the draft. As always, feel free to agree, disagree, or otherwise discuss in the comments section.
While Baylor doesn't have any first-rounders, the players who will definitely get drafted will likely be taken in the first fifteen rounds, which will give each of them ample opportunity to prove themselves and work their way up the ladder. Teams generally don't give up quickly on players they took in the top ten-to-fifteen rounds.
Max Muncy - Projected 3rd to 6th round - Muncy has been the most consistently ranked Baylor player. He's been on the radar for quite some time, and he's done nothing to fall off the radar. Everything I've seen and read says that his bat will absolutely play at the Major League level. So why won't he go earlier? I believe teams see him as something of a tweener as a college first baseman. Muncy has power, but he doesn't hit a ton of homers like a prototypical MLB first baseman (see: Fielder, Prince; Pujols, Albert). He plays good defense at first base, but as a first baseman, there's nowhere to go on the defensive spectrum. A player drafted as a shortstop/second baseman has far lower offensive expectations, but a first baseman has to produce a great deal with the bat. I doubt any team would try him in an outfield corner, as Muncy doesn't really have the speed to play out there. My hope is that a team will take a chance on Muncy as a third baseman. The offensive bar for MLB third basemen is fairly low at the moment, and Muncy could easily hit enough if he could stick at third defensively.
Logan Vick - Projected 5th to 10th round - From everything I've read, Vick is considered a fourth-outfielder type who could play all three outfield positions in a pinch. It seems as though teams don't consider Vick a true centerfielder, because if they did, he'd probably go higher. From what I've seen, Vick has good closing speed in the outfield, and he can steal some bases, but he's probably not a true "burner" like most centerfielders. At the same time, Vick doesn't have the homerun power that teams look for from a corner outfielder, although he obviously has gap power, hitting doubles like it's going out of style. I think a pretty good comparison is actually David Murphy, as Vick could likely carve out a good career as a backup who gets a ton of at-bats per year due to injuries.
Josh Turley - Projected 9th to 15th round - Lefties with the kind of numbers Turley puts up never last too long in the draft. Turley is a great control pitcher with deception in his delivery that makes his below average velocity play up. The only reason Turley won't be taken earlier is that same lack of velocity. For better or worse, MLB teams covet a good fastball over just about anything else in a pitching prospect and will consider Turley's ceiling to be that of a middle-reliever until he proves otherwise. However, as I said, being drafted in these rounds will give Turley plenty of opportunities to prove himself at the next level, hopefully as a starter.
Max Garner - Projected 10th to 20th round - Garner didn't get much hype, if any at all, before he burst onto the scene this year. Garner has average velocity from the right side and has been successful this season as both a starter and closer (although he has been much better since his move to the pen). Someone will snap him up with the chance to be a middle reliever.
Josh Ludy - Projected 5th to 20th round - I wish that I could be more exact with Ludy, but I'm having a hard time figuring out an appropriate range for him. He has several things working in his favor: 1) All teams always need catchers. ALWAYS. 2) He is known for a strong arm, and I've read that his footwork is pretty good. 3) His bat has really progressed this year, especially in the power department. If there is a knock that I've heard on Ludy, it's that some scouts aren't sure he can stay at catcher in the long term because he's a "big-bodied guy." I'm not sure if those same scouts have ever seen the Molina brothers play baseball, but they seem to do pretty well without being "trim." Personally, I don't see this being a problem. I think one of the main things holding Ludy's stock down a bit is simple hype. If he keeps hitting the way he has, I think we'll see him keep rising in the draft, and in a fairly weak college catcher class, he could go surprisingly high.
There are several other Baylor players who could be taken toward the back end of the draft. I think Dan Evatt has a legitimate chance to be taken as an outfielder with some surprising pop this year. Trent Blank could be taken as a sidearm righty reliever. Nathan Orf is draft eligible, but I hope he takes over the full time catching reigns next year to raise his stock. Both Jake Miller and Cal Towey are draft eligible and could definitely be taken in later rounds, but I'm hoping that both of them come back for their senior years. If they think that they'll raise their stock by doing so, I would bet that they'll return. No one is talking about it, but Lawton Langford should be draft eligible sophomore this year, and I've read very positive reviews of his second base defense. Langford can obviously hit like a champ, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him taken at some point. With two years of eligibility left though, I hope that he comes back for his redshirt junior year. Tyler Bremer, Kolt Browder, and Joey Hainsfurther could also be drafted in the later rounds as relievers.
These situations are always fluid, especially when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. I feel like every year, at least one college player impresses everyone in the CWS and their stock shoots up (See: Jackie Bradley Jr. from South Carolina). I'll do updates if anyone's stock rises or falls dramatically.