John Sickels of SB Nation's Minor League Ball website released his latest mock draft Monday. Sickels says his drafts are based on "industry buzz/rumor/innuendo, history, logic, and intuition ... but he warns that even a "strong rumor" doesn't mean much heading into the draft.
As we've seen from the previous simulations, nobody seems to agree with who the New York Mets are going to take at No. 13. Maybe if we had some consistency from scout to scout we could say there's a good chance (better than 50 percent) we know the route the Mets will take.
Well, Sickels has the Mets taking Connecticut center fielder George Springer. Keith Law has Springer going to the Oakland A's with the 18th pick.
Springer is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound 21-year-old in his junior season at UConn. In his first two years at the school, totaling 455 at bats, he hit a combined .347, with 34 home runs (16 in his freshman year, 18 in his sophomore year) and 119 RBI. More impressively: he had 45 steals in 50 chances.
This year, the 21-year-old continued his college dominance, with a . 361 AVG in 219 at bats, with 12 HR and 74 RBI. He also has 30 walks compared to 35 strikeouts and 31 steals in 38 attempts.
Sickels has this to say about the potential Mets' pick:
Loads of tools with some risk involved, but rumors indicate the new front office is willing to be more aggressive in the draft. I had John Stilson here last time but Springer makes more sense. Mikie Mahtook is also plausible, and there are rumors they like Brandon Nimmo.
Law, like every other scout I've read, loves Springer's tools, saying, "he has the type of total package we rarely see in a college position player and some hints of polish around his game." ESPN's scout believes Springer is the 16th best draft prospect (but did originally have him No.2, then No. 25, then No. 20). He warns of of a "back-side" collapse to his hitting, making him swing uphill and prone to less solid contact, which has obviously brought his draft stock down. Even so, Law sees the promise:
If a hitting coach can clean him up, he has the potential to hit in the middle of a major-league lineup with plus defense in right field, but that's a substantial and very open question.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has Springer as his No. 10 best prospect, but warns of the "holes in his swing" and strikeout propensity, though that has dropped this season.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he grabs your attention the second he walks off the bus, and his power, speed, and arm strength all earn 60-plus grades on the scouting scale.
How Springer fits in New York: While I've warned of taking chances in the early rounds and instead going with the guarantees, there comes a time when potential should trounce a possibly "boring" pick. It's obvious that Springer has some serious issues to correct in his swing -- he needs to cut down on the strikeouts and work on hitting inside pitches better, but the sheer tools-only makeup is extremely enticing for a team that needs an infusion of high-impact players. George undoubtedly needs to work on his swing, but that's what the coaches in the minor/major league level are paid to do. I won't pretend to have ever seen Springer play, but maybe a slight adjustment here or there makes him become an altogether better hitter, covering more of the plate while not becoming the next Mark Reynolds.
With those risks involved, there doesn't seem to be a better prospect projected to be available at this point (Bubba Starling will most likely be gone) with the collection of tools like Springer. As someone who can hit for power, run very well and play solid defense (with a great arm) in the outfield, the Connecticut product seems to have superstar ability. Goldstein's breakdown encompasses the scouting grades -- and 60-plus (out of 80) on several attributes is very hard to find. The possible five-tool talent is hard to ignore, and any team that drafts Springer will not have to worry that his body doesn't "project" favorably as he's certainly built with what scouts love in a physique. I recognize there's some ifs with Springer, but I'd love if the Mets take a chance with this pick, work with the young outfielder and hopefully see his tools translate on the field in a short time.