While the big news for the Mountain West Conference coming on Monday is the release of the new logo/rebranding (and maybe more?), the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft also kicks off at 7 pm ET and the MWC has a few interesting players that should be involved. The top three players available from the Mountain West teams are Utah’s C.J. Cron and TCU’s Kyle Winkler and Matt Purke. Follow me after the jump for some quick scouting reports on each player and where I think they will go in the draft.
UPDATE: Winkler left TCU's game today in the first inning holding his elbow. Depending on what it is it could greatly affect where he goes in the draft.
C.J. Cron - Utah - 1B/DH/C
C.J.’s strength is his in his bat. While he might possess the most power in the draft, he’s also shown the ability as a pure hitter at the plate hitting for average and drawing a good amount of walks. He started out at Utah as a catcher, but has been at first base this year after some shoulder problems forced him to find a new position. Cron's foot speed is very slow and having no range in the field limits him to 1B professionally, however the team who drafts him may give him a look behind the plate. At either position his bat should play, though he will need to continue to show what he did in the minor leagues to play 1B in the big leagues as you must be a good hitter to play there as a professional. Some scouts see him as an eventual DH, which would limit his value. So long as he can hit, a team will find a place for him to play.
Possible Destinations: Oakland A's, Colorado Rockies
Projected Round: Late 1st, though he could fall into the supplemental round
Kyle Winkler - TCU - RHP
Winkler was a late riser and really stepped up after Matt Purke went down to become TCU’s ace. Winkler features a low to mid 90’s fastball, a good curveball that should translate to the big leagues, and a useable change that will need some improvement as a third pitch if he wants to stay as a starter. The biggest question surrounding him is his mechanics which are seen by some as a red flag. Due to his roughish mechanics and possible two pitch arsenal some scouts think he profiles better as a reliever. It’s possible he could further develop his stuff and smooth out his delivery to stay a starter, so its not out of the question that he can stay there. The team that drafts him will be hoping he can.
Possible Destination: Tampa Bay Rays
Projected Round: Mid to late 2nd, could fall into the 3rd
Matt Purke - TCU - LHP
A former 14th overall selection in 2009, Purke was seen as one of the top arms available this year at the beginning of the year. His freshman year he was phenomenal, recording 142 Ks in only 116.1 innings. After dealing with blister problems to begin the season, Purke eventually ended up hitting the shelf with shoulder problems. Due to being a draft-eligible sophomore he is seen as a wild card in this draft and it is tough to tell where he will end up. Prior to this season scouts saw him as at least a future big league starter and a possible top-of-the-rotation ace. Purke had featured a mid 90’s fastball, which has touched the upper 90’s at times. Purke’s best pitch is his curveball, which profiled as an out pitch in the majors leagues. He also features a cut fastball and a useable change which with some work could become an average or better pitch in the big leagues. He’s shown the ability to command all of his pitches.
Purke’s selection in the 2009 draft came with some controversy. Purke and the Rangers were rumored to have agreed on a $6 million dollar signing bonus, but with the team in financial trouble the MLB front-office would not approve the deal. The Rangers reportedly reduced the offer to $4 million which Purke chose to turn down and head to TCU. Being a draft eligible sophomore and having the down year makes it tough to project where he will go in this draft. A team may gamble early on his upside, but he could be a tough sign and is an injury risk which will scare some teams away. I don’t expect a team will offer more than $4 million due to the injury concerns, but I could see a team offering around that and hoping he takes it. I expect him to return to school, but you never know.
Possible Destination: Boston Red Sox
Projected Round: Late 2nd to mid 3rd, though he could go anywhere in the 2nd to 5th round range.
- TCU Senior Steven Maxwell is another player that will be selected in the draft. He was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 12th round in 2010, but chose to return to TCU for his senior season. He should go in the 5th to 12th round range.
- The draft lasts 50 rounds which will take place over 3 days June 6 - 8.
- In case you missed it, Russ Oates provided us with a look back at some past Mountain West selections