It goes without saying that I am not an MLB Scout or Draft Expert, but after studying up on the teams, players and draft here’s my predictions on how the 1st round plays out.
- Minnesota Twins- Kyle Wright, P, Vanderbilt
The Twins seemed to be narrowing it down to Wright, Hunter Greene or Brendan McKay, with the safe selection of Vandy ace Kyle Wright being the frontrunner. Wright has emerged with a strong junior season, separating himself from Alex Faedo, J.B Bukauskas and Brendan McKay as the clear top college pitcher. Interestingly, Wright could be the first ever 1-1 pick not even selected out of High School.
2. Cincinnati Reds- Hunter Greene, P, High School (CA)
The Reds are in an enviable position, watching the Twins stay conservative and placing the draft’s top prospect squarely in their hands. Greene is the clear cut top prospect, armed with a 100 mph fastball, and enough athleticism to be a 1st round pick at SS as well. The Reds have certainly discussed McKay, but it seems like the talented Greene will be the pick here.
3. San Diego Padres- Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS (CA)
The Padres will be pretty crushed Greene doesn’t make it to 3, instead settling for California’s 2nd best prep prospect, SS Royce Lewis. Most scouts see Lewis moving to CF long term, but his overall offensive profile and ability to handle a premier up the middle position make him an easy top 5 choice. The Padres will be willing to be patient with a HS bat, as their rebuild is nowhere near complete. Lewis should immediately vault into top 100 lists, only adding to the Padres treasure chest of young talent.
4. Tampa Bay Rays- MacKenzie Gore, P, HS (NC)
On pure pitching talent alone, Gore may even be a better prospect than Greene at this moment. Gore spent 4 years completely dominating North Carolina High Schoolers, and has an extremely polished repertoire for a High School pitcher. The Rays usually draft for ceiling, and have shown an ability to groom talented pitchers. Gore seems like a natural fit here.
5. Atlanta Braves- Shane Baz, P, HS (TX)
The first 4 picks are fairly boring for a MLB draft standpoint. There are 5 players going in those 4 picks, and we know Wright is probably going 1, Greene is going before Lewis-Gore and the Padres are taking one of Gore-Lewis or Greene. At #5 though, the Fun really starts. Conventional wisdom says the Braves grab Brendan McKay, the last remaining prospect in the big 5. However, the Braves have been very open to the idea of cutting an under slot deal up top to strengthen their draft as a whole, and have also been very aggressive in targeting High School players (see: Ian Anderson last year at #3). Shane Baz is going to require a decent sized bonus to forego his TCU commitment, which may make it hard for a team in the mid teens to select him. Enter the Braves at #5. Drafting Baz here gives them a premium High School arm who has already develop 5 pitches and has elite spin rates, and gives them room to work out a deal with another premium HS arm with their 2nd pick (In this mock, NM HS arm Trevor Rogers falls, imagine it being him).
6. Oakland A’s- Brendan McKay, 1B, Louisville
The McKay hype reached it’s a maximum in early May, when he seemed he was the Twins guy at 1-1. Wright has since asserted himself at #1, and Hunter Greene seems like the Reds guy at #2. The Padres and McKay has never been a fit, and at #4 the Rays just can’t pass on Gore. With the Braves going under slot at 5, McKay makes it to 6, where Oakland welcomes him with open arms, getting arguably the top college prospect for the 2nd year in a row (The early AJ Puk returns have been good). P-DH anyone? The A’s would so be the team to try.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks- Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia
Adam Haseley has been this year’s biggest riser, as the lack of college bats and his performance have all but assured him a top 10 selection. With their farm system being as bad as it is, the Diamondbacks should target a nice college bat like Haseley, as they really can’t afford a huge swing and miss here (which, coincidentally, are Jo Adell and Austin Beck’s problems).
8. Philadelphia Phillies- Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
Smith is probably the most polish pure “hitter” in the class, throwing up a downright ludicrous 12 HR-8 K season at Virginia this year. The Phillies need help everywhere, as their rebuild isn’t going well so far, and have been linked to both the UVA stars.
9. Milwaukee Brewers- Jordon Adell, OF, HS (KY)
The Brewers, with Lewis Brinson-Corey Ray-Brett Phillips-Keon Broxton-Domingo Santiago, don’t seemingly have a huge demand for a toolsy OF, but that’s where all the rumors have them. Specifically, the Brewers seem to be all over the Louisville prep product with as high a ceiling as any hitter in the draft. A future Addel-Brinson-Ray outfield would be as toolsy as any OF in the league.
10. Los Angeles Angels- Austin Beck, OF, HS (NC)
The team that drafted Mike Trout drafts the guy who Keith Law compared to Mike Trout (body shape, not skill). Obviously, nobody believes Beck is going to be Mike Trout, just that he has loud tools and a linebackers body, while playing CF. Beck is an incredible risk, much like Trout out of HS, because he missed the showcase circuit last summer with a torn ACL leaving him with very little wood bat experience vs. high caliber pitching.
11. Chicago White Sox- Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
I’m sure plenty of White Sox fans while shudder at the idea of drafting a guy who is known for his incredible power-speed combination and high K rate, but Kendall has proven his worth in the SEC and USA baseball despite the swing and miss, so this isn’t exactly Courtney Hawkins 2.0. Still, the risk with Kendall is clear, his swing and miss might never allow him to capitalize on his plus speed and power.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates- Evan White, 1B/OF, Kentucky
The Pirates seem to be looking at college bats, so the 1B who may become a CF in the pro’s gets the call at pick 12. White proved it in the SEC this season, and should go flying up draft boards with a general lack of polish college hitting available.
13. Miami Marlins- D.L Hall, P, HS (GA)
The Marlins just got some rough news that top prospect Braxton Garrett might need Tommy John, which is something their already weak farm system didn’t need. The solution? Draft the most comparable player to Garrett, Georgia High School Lefty D.L Hall. The early returns on Garrett were excellent, so hopefully Hall can follow Garrett’s path.
14. Kansas City Royals- J.B Bukauskas, P, UNC
Bukauskas’s slide ends here at pick 14 with the Royals, who see the electric stuff and small stature and imagine another Yordano Ventura (RIP). Bukauskas could easily go 8 picks before this, but after a poor close to his season in getting shelled by Davidson, I’ll guess his small size scares a few more teams off and he slips to 14.
15. Houston Astros- Alex Faedo, P, Florida
The other free falling college pitcher, Faedo started the year in the 1-1 conversation, but just wasn’t good enough all spring to warrant consideration over guys like Kyle Wright or Brendan McKay. Much like Bukauskas, Faedo experiences a bit of a free fall in this draft thanks to meh returns this spring, but the Astros gladly scoop him up, enticed by the possibility of moving him quickly and having him in the MLB in time to compete with this current core.
16. New York Yankees- Nick Pratto, 1B, HS (CA)
Pratto’s range of outcomes is a volatile as it gets for a first rounder, as he has been linked to the Braves at #5 as an underslot deal, and could fall way down in the first round due to his “1B only” tag. Focusing on the positives however, Pratto’s makeup and hit tool are outstanding, and Pratto has thrived at every level, winning championship at the LLWS, with USA baseball, and in California High School baseball. The Yankees, with their emerging young core, can afford to take a HS bat and wait for it to develop, so Pratto makes a ton of sense for them, and has been oft rumored to land in New York.
17. Seattle Mariners- David Peterson, P, Oregon
The Mariners have been looking at college pitching, which makes sense given the decline of Felix Hernandez and the lack of MLB calibers not named James Paxton in their system. Peterson has emerged on the scene this year with excellent command at the University of Oregon, highlighted by a 20K outing this season.
18. Detroit Tigers- Sam Carlson, P, HS (MN)
The Tigers like High Schoolers with big arms. Sam Carlson has a huge arm, and the only reason you don’t see him in the Baz-Hall range is because the lack of competition he sees in Minnesota. Carlson is exactly what the Tigers covet.
19. San Francisco Giants- Logan Warmoth, SS, UNC
The Giants have been on college bats, and UNC’s SS represents the best college bat on the board. Scouts generally believe in Warmoth’s ability to stick at SS in the pros too, so this represents nice value at choice 19 for the Giants.
20. New York Mets- Nate Pearson, P, JC (FL)
Pearson is one of the biggest arms in the entire draft, and the Mets just saw his bullpen in which he touched 102 mph, so this makes sense at #20.
21. Baltimore Orioles- Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
The Orioles typically target college bats, and Burger makes sense as a prolific college hitter who could one day serve as Manny Machado or Chris Davis’s replacement.
22. Toronto Blue Jays- Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC Irvine
The best hit tool in the entire draft belongs to Hiura, but his stock takes a hit due to an unsolved elbow issue that lead his defensive future in great question. If Hiura can stick at 2B and his elbow heals then his combination of up the middle defense and premium hit tool makes him a total steal for the Blue Jays at #22. It seems like an AL team is a much more likely destination for Hiura given the uncertainty surrounding the elbow.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers- Bubba Thompson, OF, HS (AL)
The Dodgers have been frequently linked to the high-upside Alabama outfielder, and so that’s where they go in this mock. Thompson is a classic high risk high reward HS hitting prospect.
24. Boston Red Sox- Seth Romero, P, Houston
Romero at 24 is an incredible value in terms of raw talent, as the ex-Houston pitcher is probably the 3rd most talented college pitcher after Kyle Wright and Brendan McKay. However, after being kicked off the team at Houston this spring, the makeup concerns send him flying down the draft boards. The Red Sox, who drafted last years troublemaker Jay Groome, are willing to take on the risk with the talent, and snag Romero up 24th.
25. Washington Nationals- Tristan Beck, P, Stanford
Speaking of talented hurlers with big red flags, Beck was in the discussion for top college pitcher in the draft during the winter until Tommy John shut him down for the season. Now, teams are left betting on a return to form from the Stanford Ace. The Nationals seem like the team willing to take the risk.
26. Texas Rangers- Tanner Houck, P, Missouri
The Rangers end Houck’s slide, as a real brutal SEC tournament performance makes teams think twice about the powerful right hander. The Rangers need pitching and can’t help but jump on Houck’s talent.
27. Chicago Cubs- Alex Lange, P, LSU
Lange looked terrific at the SEC tournament and should have one more chance to pitch in the Super Regional before the draft, so he might not make it to 27 with other college pitchers like Tanner Houck done for the year. Nonetheless, the Cubs grab the talented LSU hurler, hoping he can move quickly and one day help out a rotation that will soon be without Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.
28. Toronto Blue Jays- Griffin Canning, P, UCLA
The Blue Jays go college again, this time drafting the UCLA ace who profiles as a future #3.
29. Texas Rangers- Jeter Downs, SS, HS (FL)
The Rangers reach for some off that High School potential, grabbing the immensely talented Florida prep SS named after Derek Jeter,
30. Chicago Cubs- Nick Allen, SS, HS (CA)
The Cubs and Allen are one of the most linked picks of the entire draft, and I can’t help myself but make the prediction as well. Theo Epstein did draft Dustin Pedroia after all.