MLB Draft: Outfielders

Steve O Speak

Corner Outfielders:

1. Michael Choice

2. Bryce Brentz

3. Austin Wilson

4. Jose Sale (also could be a corner infielder)

5. Kyle Parker

6. Christian Yelich (also could be a 1st baseman)

7. Drew Vettleson

It is not a deep year for corner outfield prospects, as there could be under 10 drafted in the top 100 picks. Of these 7 only Choice, Brentz and Parker are college guys, and Parker comes with some serious risk. He is Clemson’s starting quarterback, and coming off a very good redshirt freshman season, meaning he has a couple of  more years of eligibility on the football field. It might not be easy to buy him out of that commitment entirely, and if you are willing to have him split time between football and baseball, you could very well lose him in a couple of years. Brentz has fallen down some draft boards, but it wouldn’t shock me if he ends up being the best of this group. Choice is one of the best power prospects in this class and could very well end up being the top outfielder taken. If he finds a way to stay in center field (unlikely) then Choice would likely be a top 5 talent. As for the High Schooler’s, Sale is a legit top 10 talent if he can stay at 3B (probably still worth it as an outfielder as well), he may slide a little in the draft, but probably won’t get out of the top 15 given his potential. Wilson has 5-tool potential if he can learn better pitch recognition and not strikeout quite as much. He will be a bit more of a project, but could be worth it for some team.

Center fielders:

1. Gary Brown

2. Brett Eibner (could be drafted as a pitcher)

3. Mel Rojas Jr.

4. Austin Wates

5. Jarrett Parker

6. Delino DeSheilds Jr. (might move to 2B)

7. Ryan Lamarre

8. Levon Washington

9. Aaron Shipman

Center field is a little deeper of a position than the corner outfield spot, but it isn’t nearly as top heavy. There could be 4 corner outfielders taken in the top 20 (counting Sale), when it is quite possible the top centerfielder isn’t off the board yet. Brown and Eibner are fighting to be the top CF taken in this class, with I think Brown being the better player, but Eibner likely drafted higher (though possibly as a pitcher). Brown is probably the fastest player in this draft and should be a weapon on the basepaths and in robbing hits in the outfield. He hits the ball well, but likely won’t have too much pop at the next level. He will have to show better plate patience to keep his OBP up enough to justify him hitting at the top of the lineup. Eibner is an interesting case, because it seems like a number of teams like him as a pitcher. While he probably could be successful in that role, he is probably no more than a mid-rotation starter. I think he is far more valuable as a centerfielder, where his skill set profiles well with a Jim Edmonds type. He has a strong arm, and good power and approach on offense. He still needs to work on some areas, but if he can switch to hitting full time he should develop quickly. For me the biggest reason I’d make him a hitter, is because that is what he wants to do and is his greater passion.

As for the rest of the bunch there are a number interesting athletes available in the Sandwich Round through the 3rd Round. Two that really stick out are Mel Rojas Jr. and Delino DeSheilds Jr., both are sons of big league ball players and both have the potential to be all-stars. DeSheilds may move to 2nd base, but he is probably worth at least trying in center in rookie ball to see what he takes to. Wates is an interesting case, because no one really knows if he can play center. He has spent the majority of his time in the corner or at 1st base leaving scouts unsure of if he can still handle the position. He has the potential to be a good centerfielder, but losing this year of development time for defense will slow down his timetable to the majors.

All-in-all it is an interesting outfield class. There are some very talented players in the corner, and a ton of potential in center, but this class is lacking the depth or top 5-10 talent we usually see from the outfield position.

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