The MLB draft is a rare phenomenon. Unlike in the NBA or NFL, players are not expected to contribute to their new teams right away. With different rules and regulations surrounding player eligibility and the high failure rate of baseball prospects, MLB teams have more variables to weigh than, say, the Philadelphia 76ers choosing between Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.
As such, no one knows what is going to happen on June 9. Even ESPN Insider Keith Law is baffled, and his latest mock draft is more conjecture than confirmation. That won't stop us from playing along, though. Law projects that the Detroit Tigers could take right-handed pitcher Dakota Hudson, a starter at Mississippi State University. The top of the 2016 draft is loaded with promising arms, and Hudson is the sixth arm on Law's mock.
Hudson, like most starters in the SEC, is built to last, at 6'5 tall. He features a fastball that has gotten as high as 97 miles per hour, according to Baseball Prospectus' Chris Crawford. He typically sits between 91-94 miles per hour during outings, but can clearly reach back for more in a pinch. Crawford notes that the slider is possibly Hudson's best pitch, with plenty of late movement and swing-and-miss potential.
One concern surrounding Hudson leading into the 2016 season was a lack of results during his first couple seasons in Starkville. Michael Bonner of the Clarion-Ledger noted that Hudson posted ERAs of 4.67 and 4.32 in his freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively. However, the big righthander has put everything together this year, holding opponents to a 2.35 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings. SB Nation's Jeff Gray identified Hudson as a player to watch during the College World Series, even calling him "arguably the most dominant pitcher in the country through the first two months of the season."
The hard-throwing righty allowed just three earned runs in his last 31.1 innings pitched, a span that includes two complete-game shutouts to close SEC regular season play. It'll be hard to keep State out of Omaha if Hudson keeps up that pace, and he'll likely lock himself into a top-15 spot in the draft.
The Tigers have a lot riding on their first round selection, as they forfeited their second and third rounders when they signed Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton last offseason. The No. 9 overall pick is their highest selection since they took Jacob Turner at that spot in 2009.
Law also notes that the Tigers could consider high school righthander Riley Pint, who he projects to the Colorado Rockies at No. 4 overall. Pint has a monster fastball, but his command is lacking. He is committed to play baseball at LSU next year, but like most top picks, could probably be wooed into pro ball by the large signing bonuses offered in the first round.