After covering the American League team-by-team recaps on Thursday, we now focus on how National League teams did in the first five rounds of this week's MLB Rule 4 draft. Again, I'll mention lower-round picks as appropriate if it's a player of note or someone I thought was worthy of a higher pick.
With their first pick (seventh overall), the D-backs took Virginia’s Pavin Smith, who had more homers (13) than strikeouts (12) this spring. He's a first baseman with a great approach and probably projects more as a hitter for average than power. They might try him in the outfield, but it's more likely he's going to end up a first baseman. I've seen him a few times over the past three years, and while the swing works well, I haven't seen him make the hard contact I'd expect from his resume.
Louisville infielder Drew Ellis (second round) never met a first pitch he didn’t like, but he does have power and can turn on a fastball; he’s likely to end up at first base in pro ball, too, although the Snakes announced him as a third baseman, and he might spend a few years there or move to right field. Wisconsin-Milwaukee catcher Daulton Varsho (Competitive Balance Round B after the 2nd round, or 2B) is the son of former Cubs and Pirates outfielder Gary; he has put up huge offensive numbers in a very weak conference but also raked in the Northwoods League last summer, which is good, because he's not a catcher in the long run. Boston-area prep right-hander Matt Tabor (3) has thrown up to 95 mph but has no average breaking ball, lands on his heel and has a really late arm in his delivery.
Tallahassee prep right-hander Harrison Francis (4) is clocked throwing up to 93 mph with a high-effort delivery and a very inconsistent curveball in the upper 70s. Buddy Kennedy (5) is from Millville, New Jersey, hometown of Mike Trout; he has some feel to hit and is a slightly above-average runner but has no position. Maryland right-hander Brian Shaffer (6) is a command guy; he gets up to 90 mph with a cross-body delivery and slider around 78-81 that he uses to dominate right-handed batters, but the arm action points to a future in the bullpen rather than the rotation. Oregon catcher Tim Susnara (8) is a decent catch-and-throw guy but hit just .248/.346/.347 over three years for the Ducks.