Amateur Notes: Top Picks, Gordon, Zimmer, Hoffman, Nola

Baseball’s amateur talent season is in full swing, even if it generates less national hype than the football version. (Of course, if you follow the NFL, you’ll want to pay close attention today to MLBTR’s sister site, ProFootballRumors.com, for the latest draft news and rumors.) The Rule 4 amateur draft is set to begin on June 5, with the July 2 international amateur signing period just behind it. Here’s the latest:

  • Despite some recent questions, N.C. State lefty Carlos Rodon still lands atop the first mock draft of Baseball America’s John Manuel. While the Astros will surely be tempted by an attractive group of prep arms that includes Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken, says Manuel, Rodon’s two primary offerings are good enough to make him a big league pen option right now, though obviously he’ll be taken as a starter. Ultimately, his “combination of stuff, physicality and track record” makes Rodon the most likely pick for Houston, in Manuel’s estimation. The first position player off the board in the mock is high school shortstop Nick Gordon, who Manuel has going to the Twins fifth overall.
  • Aiken takes top billing in the top 100 draft prospect list produced by ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link), based upon his wide arsenal of offerings and lofty ceiling. One of the largest gaps among the top potential choices (as between Law’s ranking and Manuel’s draft projection) belongs to University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer. Law places him at fifth overall, citing his size, athleticism, and projectable power, while Manuel believes he could fall into the second half of the first round.
  • It was recently reported that Jeff Hoffman, who had been viewed as a top-five choice, will undergo Tommy John surgery. While that surely bumps him down the board, Law still has Hoffman as the 25th-best player available, while Manuel thinks the Blue Jays will take a chance on his rehab with the second of the team’s two early-round choices (9th and 11th overall).
  • In response to reader questions, MLB.com prospect guru Jim Callis joins the consensus holding Rodon, Kolek, and Aiken as the three top players available. While the White Sox may hope to get a college arm, says Callis, Chicago will probably take whoever is left from that trio (even if it is not Rodon) with the third choice in the draft.
  • Profiling Louisiana State righty Aaron Nola, Callis says that Reds hurler Mike Leake is a good comp as a command-first, quick-to-the-bigs arm. But Callis opines that Nola has somewhat more upside than Leake, who was the most recent player to jump straight to MLB out of the draft.
  • After recently discussing the set of international players expected to be signed to cap-busting bonuses, Ben Badler of Baseball America profiles five other July 2 prospects who are making waves. Leading the pack is Venezuelan outfielder Brayan Hernandez, who Badler says could near the $2MM level in his contract. According to Badler, Hernandez is both well-rounded and projectable, and could be headed to the Mariners.


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