We are just over two months removed from the 2018 MLB first year player draft and due to three teams failing to sign their first round picks that throws next year’s draft for a twist. At the moment the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Dodgers all hold 2 picks in the first round of next year’s draft.
The 2019 player pool is headlined by Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., son of 16-year veteran Bobby Witt, and Adley Rutschman from Oregon State, who made a name for himself during his sophomore season and thriving in the 2018 College World Series.
While there is still a month and a half left of regular season baseball there can still be some significant movement between the draft order. One thing for sure is that Baltimore and Kansas City are going neck and neck for the number one pick, as they are both on pace for historically bad seasons.
Even though there are still 10 months until draft day I think now is a great time to roll out my first mock draft on the year.
- Baltimore- Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)– Bobby Witt Jr. is sought to be the best player in this year’s class given his 5-tool potential. One scout even has each of Witt Jr’s traits at at least a 60 grade on the 20-80 scale. Witt beat out fellow projected 1st rounder Rece Hinds in the high school home run derby. He also made quite the showing in the Under Armour All American Game at Wrigley Field, where he hit a 3 run home run that almost left the friendly confines. If Witt is not the 1st overall pick come June, I won’t be surprised, but the chances of that are fairly slim.
- Kansas City- Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State- At this time last year, Shea Langeliers from Baylor was thought to have been the top catching prospect for the 2019 class. But after a strong sophomore season from Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman, where he posted a .408/.505/.628 slash line, it is now clear that he is not only the top catcher in the class but most likely the best college player in the class.
- Chicago (AL)- Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor- When talking to a number of White Sox fans earlier in the year, most of them say that even though they have Zach Collins in the system, they want another catcher and they believe that would be the last piece they need for their rebuild. While the dream pick here would be Rutschman, they still won’t be upset at getting the next best thing in Shea Langeliers. While Langeliers did have a slight dip in production from his freshman campaign, the power numbers were there. Hopefully, Langeliers can bounce back for his junior season and maybe even challenge Rutschman as the top catcher in the class.
- San Diego- Rece Hinds, 3B, Niceville HS (Florida)– While Hinds might not be the ideal pick in this situation, he does have promising upside. Hinds stands at 6-foot-4 and producer very good power from the right side of the plate. He is a plus defender who should be able to stick at third base and be able to manage the hot corner in the big leagues.
- Miami- Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson– In this situation, I think Hunter Barco should be taken here purely based on talent, but due to Miami’s track record with high school pitchers, let alone left-handed high school pitchers, the safer route is to go with the best middle infielder in the class. Davidson is a plus defender who possesses a good amount of power and speed and would work well into a Miami rebuild.
- Detroit- Hunter Barco, LHP, Bolles School (Florida)– Barco is the top prep lefty in this class and in all reality there is an argument that should be made where he goes 3rd overall purely based on talent. But he falls in this case due to other teams needs and draft tendencies. The big strong lefty stands at 6-foot-4 with a fastball that sits in the low 90s he also has a slider and a changeup which can all be thrown for strikes.
- New York (NL)- Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky– Thompson’s sophomore campaign was cut short due to an elbow injury but he still remains as the top college pitcher on the board. The 6-foot-2 lefty has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and already has above average secondary stuff. He should be Kentucky’s Friday night starter this upcoming season, and with a strong showing, he could see his stock rise.
- Cincinnati- Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Florida)– Riley Greene might be the best pure hitter in this class. Greene possesses good power and a plus hit tool from the left side of the plate. That was most definitely on display at the Under Armour All American game, when Greene sent one into the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field.
- Atlanta*- C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS (Georgia)– Abrams was a guy that stood out at the Under Armour All American game for his speed. Most evaluators are giving him a 70 grade in the speed category. He swings a nice bat from the left side of the plate and he has the skills to stick at shortstop long term.
- Texas- Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech – Josh Jung is one of the more advanced bats in the class, which is shown by his .392/.491/.639 slash line during his sophomore season. His freshman season wasn’t something to slouch at either. He finished 2017 with a .306/.395/.453 slash line, and by the looks if his skill set, I should not be surprised if the number improve for his junior season. This past season he started to hit for more power, which was shown by him doubling his home run total from his freshman year going from 6 to 12. He also is a very solid defender with a plus arm at third base.
- Toronto- Nick Lodolo, LHP, TCU– Lodolo was the 41st pick in the 2016 draft, he opted not to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates and chose to attend TCU. While the numbers are not in Lodolo’s favor, he does have all the makings to be a solid pitcher. The lefty stands at 6-foot-6 and has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. And his two secondary pitches are nothing to scoff at either.
- Minnesota- Tyler Dyson, RHP, Florida- The next arm to come from the pipeline that is the Florida Gators is Tyler Dyson. During his Freshman year, Dyson pitched out of the bullpen and impressed there. This spring, they moved him to the starting rotation behind 1st round picks Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar. While his numbers aren’t phenomenal, he has all the tools to be a frontline starter. He has a fastball that touches 97mph and has a dirty slider.
- San Francisco- Matthew Thompson, RHP, Cypress Ranch HS (Texas)– Thompson, a 6-foot-3 righty from the Lone Star State, has a fastball that sits in the low to mid-90s and tops out at 96mph to go along with a plus breaking ball. The main thing that Thompson will need to work on is his control and command.
- Pittsburgh- Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M- Braden Shewmake is definitely in the running for best name in the draft, but that’s beside the point. Shewmake made a name for himself during his freshman season hitting .328 with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases. His sophomore season saw a dip in the home run category but maintained the batting average and stolen bases. He still needs to work out the kinks in the field but his hit and speed tools both show promise.
- LA Angels- Matt Wallner, OF, Southern Miss- Matt Wallner was named 2017 freshman of the year, which was warranted by his .351/.474/.618 slash line, a season in which he also managed to hit 16 home runs. Wallner has also doubled as the Southern Mississippi closer both years in the program. His mid to upper 90s fastball gives him a plus arm grade which will allow him to be a solid outfielder for years to come.
- Washington- Brennan Malone, RHP, Porter Ridge HS (North Carolina)– Brennan Malone stands at 6-foot-5 and has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. He throws a good curveball with a good 12/6 breaking action and can throw it for strikes.
- Tampa Bay- Drew Mendoza, 3B, FSU- Mendoza has a slowly rising stock coming into this season. He can easily jump into the top 10 conversation with a strong junior year at the dish. He is already a standout defender and he has plenty of raw power that is still developing.
- LA Dodgers- Michael Toglia, OF, UCLA– Toglia is another of the rising prospects coming into the year. He plays both first base and outfield for the Bruins but projects long-term at first base. His freshman year wasn’t phenomenal but his sophomore year performance was definitely better. He improved in pretty much all the major statistical categories.
- Milwaukee- Michael Busch, OF, UNC- Busch was a name that broke out last year for the Tar Heels, where he posted a .317/.465/.521 slash line with 13 home runs. With a strong junior campaign, he can cement his spot as one of the better college bats in the class.
- Colorado- Nick Quintana, 2B, Arizona- Quintana is probably one of my favorite prospects going into the season. Quintana has the defensive tools to play either second base or third base, and he has some good raw power which is shown by his 20 home runs over his 2 seasons at Arizona. Quintana is a very good four-tool player and I would not be surprised if he is in the discussion for a top 10 pick.
- St. Louis- Will Holland, SS, Auburn- Will Holland progresses quite well as a hitter in 2018 by showing major improvement in every statistical category. Holland launched 12 home runs and swiped 9 bags. Holland has the tools to be a dangerous hitter at the next level but his one weak spot would be his defense from which he is very inconsistent.
- Arizona- Jerrion Ealy, OF, Jackson Prep HS (Mississippi)- Ealy is not only a standout baseball player, but he also happens to be the No. 3 high school running back in the nation. Ealy is an outstanding athlete both on the football field and on the diamond. The only concern with Ealy is his commitment to Ole Miss, where he would play both football and baseball.
- Philadelphia- Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal– Vaughn could be one of the names that shoots up draft boards come next June. He came in as a freshman and batted .349 with 12 home runs. Moving into 2018, he raised his average to .402 with 23 home runs and managed to lower his strikeout numbers and raise his walk rate. Now I am not expecting a major bump in numbers, but if he puts up similar numbers to last season, he could continue to rise up draft boards.
- Atlanta- Daniel Espino, RHP, Ga. Premier Academy (Georgia)- Espino is another name that could be rising up draft boards this upcoming season. Espino stood out, especially at the Under Armour All American game, where he touched 99mph on his fastball. In addition to his heater, scouts also love his 3 different offspeed offerings, all of which are very solid. Espino is definitely a name to monitor this season.
- Seattle- Jack Leiter, RHP, Delbarton School (New Jersey)- Jack Leiter, son of former MLB pitcher Al Leiter, has slowly been making a name for himself these past few months. He has a low 90s fastball and he uses his breaking ball as his out pitch. Leiter also has a change that mixes in well to give him a decent three-pitch mix.
- Arizona*- Chase Strumpf 2B UCLA- Strumpf is another guy that has a very interesting name. Strumpf saw a major increase in production from freshman to sophomore year. He increased his home run total from 7 to 12. While his strikeout numbers increased a tad, he was able to show more patience at the plate by more than doubling his walk totals.
- Cleveland- Logan Britt, OF, All Saints Episcopal (Texas)- Britt, who is committed to Texas A&M, stands at 6-foot-4 and is a complete all-around player. Britt has impressive raw arm strength and is already a plus hitter. Logan is a guy who is kind of flying under most radars, but come next June, he should be a guy who hears his name called early on day one.
- Chicago (NL)- Zach Watson, OF, LSU- Watson was draft eligible last year as a sophomore but decided to return to LSU for his junior season. Watson has a70-grade speed on the 20-80 scale, and that speed was on display at LSU, where he swiped 25 bags in his two seasons with the Tigers. He’s got a decent arm and is an above average defender in the outfield.
- Oakland- Jud Fabian, OF, Trinity Catholic HS (Florida)- Fabian plays both the outfield and can pitch, but he will for than likely be drafted as an outfielder. He has a heck of an arm and has some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the class. He has the ability to hit the ball to all fields and has some good power that will only improve.
- Houston- Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence HS (Florida)- Callihan swings a good bat from the left side of the plate and makes consistent hard contact. At the moment he could stick with third base, but a position change to first base is not out of the question.
- LA Dodgers*- Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV- Stott is an above average defender who shows solid glove work and a good first step. Stott’s numbers last year took a good jump in production, slashing .365/.442/.556 in his 59 games during his sophomore season. While he doesn’t necessarily have the power to produce many home runs he can hit the ball well to all fields.
- New York (AL)- Spencer Brickhouse, 1B, East Carolina- Spencer Brickhouse started making his name well known this summer in the Cape Cod League, hitting .409 in his 6 games with a home run. Last year at East Carolina he posted 10 home runs to accommodate his .298/.382/.502 slash line. He one of the better college bats going into the season and his stock is still on the rise.
- Boston- Kam Misner, OF, Missouri- Misner was pretty good his freshman year at Mizzou but really broke out last year. He posted a .360/.497/.576 slash line with 4 home runs and 13 stolen bases. While he may not have great power, he has great speed and can hit the ball very well. Another plus to Misner’s game is freshman year he struck out 55 times. In 2018 he only struck out 26 times, and he even increased his walk total which is always a plus.