The trickiest thing about Jeren Kendall might not be that his strikeout rate has gone the wrong way during his third season at Vanderbilt, which is contrary to the usual idea of college players gaining polish.
It might be his representation. Scott Boras is his adviser, and he’s usually not one to advise below-slot deals. That could be a bad fit for teams who see a draft thin on college talent and might want to attempt to reduce risk by spreading their pool money around.
That mixture has created uncertainty around Kendall’s stock, which means he’s not nearly the favorite that he used to be for the White Sox at No. 11.
Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
It was just Friday that BA’s John Manuel wrote, “The lure of Jeren Kendall’s tools — plus the knowledge gleaned from having him on the White Sox’s Area Code Gmaes team in 2013 — will be too much to ignore.” Now?
This would be a tough choice for Chicago—Bukauskas, whom they have kept tabs on even when it seemed he would go higher, or Jordon Adell, the raw prep outfielder? This mock says neither; the Sox need hitters and polished ones at that.
Kendall drops all the way down to the Dodgers at No. 23, noting the “combination of bad strikeout rate and tough signability.”
Update: The latest (final?) BA mock draft sticks with Smith, although it has a new No. 1.
J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
But Baseball America is on its own when it comes to Smith, even when he’s still on the board. The rest have settled on a collegiate pitcher.
The White Sox will get their pick of a number of players they seem to like, including Jeren Kendall, Evan White and Jake Burger, but Bukauskas -- projected all year as a top-10 pick -- would be a minor steal at 11. The Sox are historically unafraid to take college arms with great performances and questionable deliveries -- witness Chris Sale, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen.
After issuing separate mock draft forecasts, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo deliver their predictions in the same article.
Mayo: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina - Many figured Bukauskas would go in the top 10, but a rough regional start may have dinged him just enough to get him down to Chicago, which likes college arms when possible.
Callis: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina - Barring an unexpected slide, Chicago figures to choose between Bukauskas, Beck, Kentucky first baseman Evan White and Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger.
Mayo has Kendall ends up going one pick later to the Pirates, while Callis tags him to the Astros at No. 15.
Update: Mayo and Callis diverged in their latest (final?) mock draft.
Callis: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
Mayo: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina