This week’s Prospect Stock Watch celebrates the amateur draft – which kicks off later today. Let’s have a look at three early draft picks from 2016 and catch up on their exploits.
Mickey Moniak, OF, Phillies: We can’t review the 2016 draft without checking up on the first player selected. This 19-year-old outfielder isn’t producing eye-popping numbers just yet but he’s holding his own in low-A ball. Although he’s hitting just .266, he projects to develop into a .280-.300 hitter with gap power and maybe 10-12 home runs. He has good speed that helps him play excellent center-field defence but he’s struggled on the base paths with just five steals in nine tries. He’s probably about three years away from the Majors at this point when he might push Odubel Herrera to a corner outfield spot.
Corey Ray, OF, Brewers: Ray’s prospect value lost some momentum after he opened the 2017 season on the disabled list but it’s starting to pick up again. The second college bat selected in the ’16 draft (fifth overall), he returned to action in mid-April and has shown gap power (20 of 49 hits have gone for extra bases) and a willingness to take a walk (23 in 47 games). On the down side, he’s struck out 69 times in 192 at-bats at the high-A ball level. Once Ray learns to make more consistent contact and grows into his man-strength, he should be a 20-20 (HR-SB) threat. The Brewers are in the middle of a rebuilding effort but they have some real talent surfacing at the big league level. Ray should be ready for everyday play in The Show in 2019 or 2020 and that should coincide nicely with the club’s resurgence.
Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves: Considered a “value pick” third overall so the club could spread bonus money to other players later in the draft, this young right-handed starter has already justified his slot. Anderson, 19, has 73 strikeouts through 56.1 low-A innings and has forced opposing hitters to pound his offerings into the ground – although he has allowed eight homers when the ball has found the air. At 6-3 and 170 pounds, he has room to add additional velocity to his offerings and his command/control should eventually be better than average. If everything breaks right with Anderson, he could develop into a front-line arm. Look for him to follow the Braves’ development strategy for young starters (see Mike Soroka) and jump to double-A as a 20 year old in 2018.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.