Below are my reactions for each player picked in the first round of this year’s draft, as well as their best cards currently on the market. In the case of a player who has both a Bowman Perfect Game card versus an Under Armour card, I chose the latter, as it’s considered much more scarce and has a better look to it, in my opinion. In the case of a player who is in both the 2012 Panini USA boxed sets and 2013 Panini USA Champions I again chose the latter. The product’s year aside, I think the Champions set look much better overall, especially their Mirror parallels, whereas the boxed set parallels merely have different color ink autographs.
1) Mark Appel, Astros (Best Card – 2011 Topps Chrome USA Autographs). It was either going to be him or Jonathan Gray. In the end, they chose the local guy with more experience and better secondary stuff.
2) Kris Bryant, Cubs (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). The first quasi surprise of the draft, his 80 power was enough to entice the Cubbies to pass on the only pitcher in this class with the 80 fastball.
3) Jonathan Gray, Rockies (Best Card – None). He’ll have his work cut out for him, as the stigma of pitchers in the Mile High state will apply to him as well. I think he could be the exception to the rule, though.
4) Kohl Stewart, Twins (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Perfect Game). The best HS arm available, he’ll be offered way too much to pass up.
5) Clint Frazier, Indians (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Under Armour). Absurd Trout comps aside, he’s got legit power and exceptional bat speed.
6) Colin Moran, Marlins (Best Card – None). The best college hitter in the class, he can stick at third as well. Has a terrific sense of plate discipline.
7) Trey Ball, Red Sox (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Under Armour). They’re no stranger to grabbing up two-way players (see Kelly, Casey), and he’s the best one to get. If pitching doesn’t work out, he’s a legit hitter and outfielder.
8) Hunter Dozier, Royals (Best Card – None). The first “Huh?” moment of the draft, he was picked as an overdraft to allow KC to afford Sean Manaea later on. I’ll say this for him – he’s almost certainly destined to be better than Christian Colon.
9) Austin Meadows, Pirates (Best Card – 2011 Bowman Draft USA Autographs). An excellent acquisition for Pittsburgh, he’s got legit 5-tool potential who could very well be playing alongside McCutchen in a few years. Could someone point me to his Superfractor Autograph, already?
10) Phil Bickford, Blue Jays (Best Card – None). Great heat, and an excellent last start (18 K’s), but secondary stuff is raw. Could become another Syndergaard someday, though.
11) Dominic Smith, Mets (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Under Armour). Perhaps the owner of the sweetest swing in the draft, I could see him moving up quickly. Also a great defender at 1B.
12) D.J. Peterson, Mariners (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). He’s got very good bat speed, great power and if 3B doesn’t work out, has other options as well.
13) Hunter Renfroe, Padres (Best Card – None). Another one with solid raw power, he has above average speed as well.
14) Reese McGuire, Pirates (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). The best overall catcher in this class, Pittsburgh grabbed another hot commodity. Can easily hit for average as well.
15) Braden Shipley, Diamondbacks (Best Card – None). He’s a great athlete, with excellent stuff, especially his changeup. Would love to see him alongside Skaggs, Corbin and Bradley someday.
16)J.P. Crawford, Phillies (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Under Armour). Easily the best SS in this class, he’s got quick motions and a great bat. Be worried, Jimmy Rollins.
17) Tim Anderson, White Sox (Best Card – None). Another solid SS, which the Sox could certainly use. Not as likely to stick at the position, but is a great athlete with superior speed.
18) Chris Anderson, Dodgers (Best Card – None). Has serious helium, and packs a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. Also holds his velocity deep into games. Good changeup as well.
19) Marco Gonzales, Cardinals (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). Very polished, with great command and the best changeup in this year’s class. One of two lefties the Cards decided to chase in the first round.
20) Jonathon Crawford, Tigers (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). Has a questionable delivery, but holds his fastball deep into games, with a good slider. The Tigers actually got to pick early this year, and got their man.
21) Nick Ciuffo, Rays (Best Card – 2011 Bowman Draft USA Autographs). The Rays could use a solid catcher, what with Bailey and O’Conner languishing in the lower minors, and possesses a great bat as well.
22) Hunter Harvey, Orioles (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Under Armour). A very projectable arm, he’s all but signed already, as he did not commit to a college. He’ll be a real project for the O’s.
23) Alex Gonzalez, Rangers (Best Card – None). Possesses a wipe-out slider and great life on his fastball. Typically the Rangers go after toolsy hitters in the first, so this pick was somewhat of a surprise.
24) Billy McKinney, A’s (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Under Armour). My personal favorite outfielder in this class, he has great bat speed, eye coordination and developing power.
25) Christian Arroyo, Giants (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). Every Mock I’d read predicted they’d go after local LHP Matt Krook, but they went off the board and chose someone who may not be a viable SS, with a decent bat.
26) Eric Jagielo, Yankees (Best Card – None). Great pick for the Yanks, as he’s got a very good chance to stick at the hot corner, with above-average power.
27) Phillip Ervin, Reds (Best Card – None). The Reds believe they got a 5-tooler in him, and might not be far off. He’s a solid or better centerfielder, with good power and bat speed.
28) Rob Kaminsky, Cardinals (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Perfect Game). Perhaps the best HS lefty this year, the Cards see him as a safe bet to become a frontline starter.
29) Ryne Stanek, Rays (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). He wins my award for “Biggest Shocker”, as virtually no one saw him sliding this far down. BA ranked him #13 on their Top 500. Reaches 98 on the gun, and the Rays can definitely help him smooth out his mechanics – given their track record.
30) Travis Demeritte, Rangers (Best Card – 2012 Bowman Perfect Game). After grabbing a pitcher with their first pick, they went back to their usual ways, grabbing a high risk/high reward guy. He’ll likely move from SS to 3B, and is an above-average athlete.
31)Jason Hursh, Braves (Best Card – None). A recipient of Tommy John surgery, he reportedly topped 100 last summer, with great life. Secondary stuff still needs work, though. He’ll be a good project for the Braves.
32) Aaron Judge, Yankees (Best Card – None). A physical specimen at 6’7”, 255, he says he models his game after Giancarlo Stanton, but he’s a lot more than just power. Can run well, and is a great defender in the field.
33) Ian Clarkin, Yankees (Best Card – 2013 Panini USA Champions Autographs). After two toolsy hitters, the Yanks decided to go after a projectable lefty with three average pitches that could become plus in the future.