Jonathan Mayo fielded questions on Friday afternoon regarding the upcoming First-Year Player Draft. The chat was the first of three to be held before the Draft, which takes place June 7-9.
Jonathan Mayo: OK, kids. Lets get this thing rolling. Sorry I was a bit late -- I had to buy stock in eye-black in advance of Bryce Harper getting drafted...
kyle9: Where do you think Bryce Harper is going?
Mayo: Start with an easy one, right? All signs point to him being the No. 1 pick on June 7. I haven't heard from anyone that the Nationals won't take him. If he doesn't go 1-1, I'm not sure the Pirates would take him, but I think that's a moot point.
rmr61788: Is this Draft deeper than last year's?
Mayo: It's very easy to get a negative view of any draft class when talking to scouts because it's their job to nitpick and find flaws. That being said, the general consensus is that this year is not deeper than last year's. Even up top, after the first four names, it's very muddled and few have separated themselves.
broom30: Where do you project Michael Choice to go in the draft and why?
Mayo: It's looking right now that Choice, the outfielder from Texas-Arlington, could go in the top 10. It's not a great year for college bats and some smaller program guys have had a chance to step up. Choice has (and he's done well with Team USA, too). Right now, I'd say the top half of the first round seems fairly certain.
honkbal1: Are Yasmani Grandal and Brandon Workman first rounders?
Mayo: Yes on Grandal, and probably on Workman. Grandal's offensive production this year has moved him into conversations in the top 10. Even if that doesn't quite happen, he'll go plenty high enough. Workman has been OK, not great at Texas. But those college arms often tend to sneak up when teams decide to play it a little safer.
thetruekin: Any idea who the Mets will be able to pick up in round one?
Mayo: Projections now are tough (look for my first shot at picks 1-10 on Wednesday). Picking at No. 7, there are many directions the Mets could go in. I think if the aforementioned Grandal is available, that might make some sense. So would an outfielder like Choice or Bryce Brentz.
punksroo: Any insight on what direction the Rays will take going into the Draft?
Mayo: Tampa's always been about best available player and they don't shy away from high school talent. You can wait for guys to develop when your big-league roster is that young and your system is that deep. Way too early to tell, but maybe a high school arm early? Then, with that compensation pick, while they won't be super-cautious, they'll take someone they know they can sign because they won't get compensated again like they did this year.
pads06: Thanks Jonathan. Any whispers relative to whom the Padres may be targeting at No. 9? With the lack of catching in their system, I though Grandal might be a fit, although the new regime seems likely to select a higher-upside player. Thoughts?
Mayo: New management, new scouting director in San Diego now, so it's hard to pinpoint. Of course, who knew they'd actually take Tate last year. I've been hearing that they're looking high-ceiling arm there as of now. Could be Karsten Whitson, Dylan Covey or maybe Aaron Sanchez.
_tim_: Good afternoon! Who do you feel the Pirates will take at No.2? Taillon, Pomeranz, McGuire, any others to consider?
Mayo: I don't think McGuire is in their mix. I think the three guys you should be looking at are: James Taillon, Drew Pomeranz and Manny Machado. Then, whomever the Pirates don't take, the Orioles and Royals will (unless Pomeranz proves to have a more severe injury or something like that).
jmknox: The Braves no longer have Roy Clark running the show, and no first-round pick this year. How do you think they approach this draft?
Mayo: Wait and see! It's impossible to know what to do when you pick No. 35. It will be interesting to see if they have a different philosophy ... if, say, last year's selection of Mike Minor was a sign of things to come in terms of more college guys.
tfav: Who is the best pitcher in the Draft?
Mayo: There's a small selection of arms at the top you'd have to consider. Right now, I'd say it's between James Taillon and Drew Pomeranz. Taillon has much more upside, Pomeranz should get there more quickly. I'll go with the higher upside guy. That being said, there could be a high school arm who'll go lower in the first round or in the second or third who develops better than anticipated and ends up being better than all of them taken up top.
facemelter99: Is there any way that Washington DOES NOT take Harper with the first overall pick?
Mayo: Any way? Sure. Likely? No.
drabekfan: Hey, Jonathan. Just wondering if you know what way the Blue Jays were leaning with pick No. 11.
Mayo: I haven't quite honed in on them yet, but with a lot of picks, the Jays could do just about anything. They've also got new management and a whole crew of new scouts, so it's hard to know. There's some buzz that they really like Delino DeShields Jr., but I don't know if that's for pick No. 11.
big_ern: Hi, Jonathan. Do you think MLB would benefit from being able to trade draft picks like in the NFL?
Mayo: Absolutely. I think it would make for a much more fun event. I know there's some concern with the financials the way they are, that teams up top would just bail on the Draft to save money. That, of course, would defeat the purpose of the Draft in terms of it making the weaker teams stronger.
Mayo: But I think if they can couple pick-trading with a hard slot system and have specific rules about the trading, I think it would work.
jstudz: Who is the best player the Yankees could end up with at No. 32?
Mayo: This dovetails nicely with some questions about who might slide. Everyone always wants to look at the players advised by Scott Boras as potentials, not that he has cornered the market on that. That being said, the guy who could sneak down there, perhaps, is Anthony Ranaudo out of LSU. He is a Boras guy and he's struggled lately coming back from injury. Now, if he rights himself the last few weeks here, he'll be back up at the top where most saw him.
jaerock: Who do you think the Giants will go after in the Draft? I'm thinking position players or an outfielder. Who could be available at their spot? Thanks!
Mayo: Picking at No. 24, the Giants have to have about 100 guys on their list for potential scenarios. Judging from some of the questions here, people want the Giants to take a hitter, but remember you tend not to draft based on need, especially in the first round.
Mayo: There's some depth in high school pitching in this class and the Giants have liked those types in the past, including last year. You know what they say, you can never have enough pitching.
facemelter99: Is James Taillon really the best overall talent outside of Harper?
Mayo: Yes, I think he is.
honkbal1: Best college player in the draft?
Mayo: First, I have to give it up to honkbal1 -- filling up the queue with great questions -- sorry I can't get to them all. For now, we'll say Harper isn't a college player, so I'll go Pomeranz as the top college pitcher (though I'm a big Chris Sale fan) and lets say Michael Choice as the hitter (though I think Christian Colon's going to be an outstanding big leaguer).
tdotbluez: Who has the most picks in this year's Draft?
Mayo: The Blue Jays have 11 picks in the first five rounds; the Angels have 10. The Rays and Rangers are next with eight each.
broom30: Any chance of Choice going to the Rangers in the first round?
Mayo: Sure, there's a chance, but I have a feeling right now he's going to go ahead of them.
tgold: Any idea on Taillon's signability? Do you see him slipping past the second or third pick?
Mayo: Haven't heard anything about his signability yet. He's advised by the Hendricks Brothers, for whatever that's worth. It's going to take a well over-slot deal to sign him, but you know that if you take him No. 2. I don't see him sliding past No. 4 unless something wacky happens.
BUZZ: Jonathan, Do you see MLB setting age limits on the draft as the NBA or NFL?
Mayo: They already do. You have to be a high school graduate at the very least. If you don't sign out of high school, then it's either after one (and then two) years of junior college or three years of a four-year school. The exception for that last one is if you turn 21 during your sophomore year, you're then eligible.
Frag: Hey Jonathan! I was wondering whether you think that Karsten Whitson will drop to the Jays at 11th?
Mayo: Tons of Jays questions. There's a chance Whitson could be there, sure. There are some teams above the Jays who like him, but sometimes those high school arms do drop a little bit.
deeezntz: Zach Cox is not your prototypical third baseman. He is more of a 15-20 HR guy, with a high average. His swing reminds me of Bill Mueller. What do you see him ending up as?
Mayo: That's not a bad comp. He might not be a third baseman when all is said and done. Remember, Arkansas has had him play a bunch of second base this year, so who knows.
sners: I read that the Jays had Austin Wilson for a private workout. Is he a possible pick for them?
Mayo: The Jays had a workout with a bunch of guys in California. They can't fly guys to Toronto for stadium workouts, so they go to them. I don't see that at No. 11, but you never know. There has been some buzz that Wilson might be a tough sign.
otpilot: The Red Sox have recently shifted from college guys to high school/prep players at the top with Casey Kelly, Fuentes, and Renfroe. Do you see that trend continuing, and what high school guys do you think might still be around at No. 20?
Mayo: There should be plenty of arms. Hey, if you want to go the Renfroe/Kelly route, there's Zach Lee, a good looking pitcher who's been throwing really well. He's also slated to play QB at LSU next year and many think he's unsignable.
Dodgerdoug: Jonathan, there is a kid out of Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork, Utah -- Adam Duke. He consistently has 10 scouts at every game. Have you heard of him and do you know much about his draft potential?
Mayo: I do know who he is. Even did a Draft Report on him. He doesn't offer a ton of projection, but he's got a good arm and has shown well this spring. Looks to me like, hmm, lets say a third rounder or so?
lipchitz: Where do you see DeShields being taken? The comp round?
Mayo: Been hearing his name creeping up into the first round proper. Tools and MLB bloodlines certainly don't hurt.
yanksgot27: Where do you see Stefan Sabol and Brett Krill getting drafted?
Mayo: Not sure on Krill, but Sabol's one of those guys who's a "name" because he's been on the showcase circuit for a while. Whether that leads to him being over-drafted remains to be seen, but his evaluations haven't been so great. College might be his next destination.
JBUCK03: How would you rate the JUCO class for this year's Draft? And who do you think could make an early impact on the Draft other than Harper?
Mayo: There's always some interesting talent from the junior college scene. After Harper, the biggest name is LeVon Washington, the Rays' first rounder from a year ago who didn't sign. He's been at Chipola JC and had a bit of an uneven year.
Mayo: After that, I'll tell you, I kind of like some of Harper's teammates on the mound there at Southern Nevada. Roach in particular. I've said all along I could see the Nats taking Bryce No. 1, then over-drafting his brother a little bit. I think Bryan can pitch.
dave_477: Vitek a first rounder?
Mayo: He's referring to Kolbrin Vitek out of Ball State and I'd have to say yes. All he's done is hit and hit some more. Guys who perform, even in a smaller program, tend to move up.
Mayo: Guys, about 10 more minutes. The good news is we're going to do more chats before the Draft hits on June 7 (shameless plug: MLB Network and MLB.com will carry the Draft live on the 7th. Preview show starts at 6 p.m. ET).
schapman: Any chance James Paxton is re-drafted by the Jays?
Mayo: I would be shocked if they did. That usually doesn't happen and if last year left a bad taste in everyone's mouths -- player, team, agent -- it won't happen. Paxton would actually have to sign a waiver to allow the Jays to re-draft him. He's pitching in indy ball tonight, by the way.
deeezntz: How would you rank: Allie, Covey, Cole, Whitson, Taillon, Sanchez?
Mayo: I'll go: Taillon, Covey, Whitson, Sanchez, Cole, Allie.
mcarthur21: Are there any top prospects out of Canada? If so, who do you see them going?
Mayo: There are always, aren't there? Top one might be catcher Kellin Deglan. He could sneak into the first round. Had heard good things about LHP Evan Rutckyj as well.
Sanft: Hello Mr. Mayo. In your opinion, which prospect is closest to being ready to play in the big leagues?
Mayo: A lot of people like Alex Wimmers (assuming health) as that type. But I'll go college reliever and pick ASU's Jordan Swagerty. I don't think he'll close in the bigs, but he could help out a bullpen very, very fast.
Mayo: Time for one more...
mcarthur21: Is there any way to have you answer questions you don't have time to answer now?
Mayo: Well, two.
Mayo: Yes, you can always find me on Twitter -- @JonathanMayoB3. Or go to my blog -- http://minors.mlblogs.com -- and leave comments there.
Mayo: Ok, really the last question...
drabekfan: Where do you see Josh Sale going? Some scouts say he's the best high school hitter in the Draft. But I keep hearing his name dropping lower and possibly out of the first round. Why is that?
Mayo: He's kind of all over the place and he's gotten kind of differing reports. But I'd heard he was hitting well lately and could find his way into the middle of the first round. He definitely has power, but some are concerned about holes in his swing.
Mayo: OK, guys. Wish I had time for more, but we'll be doing this again soon, I promise. Thanks for coming and thanks for being so interested in the Draft!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.