With the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft just three weeks away, it seems fitting to predict where some of the nation’s best young players could end up.
Keep in mind, teams often don’t necessarily draft the best player with their first-round pick, but the player with the best slot value. Not every selection is guaranteed to sign, and some are willing to sign for less than others.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
- Baltimore Orioles – Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Rutschman is the consensus number one overall pick and is the best prospect in this draft. At a shallow position, he can defend and hit for power from both sides of the plate. Rutschman will most likely demand a large signing bonus, but this should be a no-brainer for the O’s.
- Kansas City Royals – Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
Just like Rutschman, Witt is a clear choice here and should immediately boost a weak Royals farm system. He profiles similar to Corey Seager and Carlos Correa as a power hitter at the shortstop position, but his size should allow him to stick to there long term.
- Chicago White Sox – Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
Another Pac-12 selection, Vaughn profiles to be an advanced hitter, despite his defensive limitations. The White Sox have a history of drafting college players in the first round, so this pick seems all but guaranteed.
- Miami Marlins – C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Georgia)
This is the first selection that could seemingly go several different routes. With the Marlins already having a decent crop of outfield prospects, but still a shallow farm system, I see them going Abrams here as a high upside pick. Abrams has the potential to develop into a five-tool player, but coming out of high school with a smaller frame, also has a pretty low floor.
- Detroit Tigers – Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Florida)
Greene has a suspect profile as a defender but may end up being the best all-around hitter in this draft class. If the defensive instincts come around, the Tigers could be looking at a five-tool player.
- San Diego Padres – JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
There seems to be a big gap between the first six prospects in this draft and the rest, and Bleday is the last remaining of those six. The Padres already having an elite farm system might prefer a high school bat, but it is hard to pass up on the best player on this board. Bleday projects to provide value both with the bat and in the field.
- Cincinnati Reds – Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian
Lodolo is the best arm in this class and would add to an improving Reds farm system. Lodolo has three plus-pitches but still needs to improve on his command.
- Texas Rangers – Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
Bishop’s combination of having the ability to stay in center field for the future as well as raw power makes him an intriguing pick here for Texas. Bishop has risen up the draft boards as of late and should be a high upside pick.
- Atlanta Braves – Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Washington)
Carroll has plus speed and an advanced bat, but scouts worry about his size. Standing at only 5’10, Carroll also provides the ability to stick in center field. For a team that has an arm-heavy farm system, and employs the 5’8 Ozzie Albies, Carroll seems to be a good fit.
- San Francisco Giants – Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto HS (Texas)
For a team run by Farhan Zaidi that is desperate for young arms, Rutledge to the Giants is a match made in heaven. Three plus pitches, impressive velocity, and elite spin rate is everything an analytics minded front office could want. Rutledge has the best raw stuff in the country.
- Toronto Blue Jays – Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
Langeliers profiles as a terrific defender, whose bat has also improved over the past year. This is a simple, best player available pick.
- New York Mets – Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
Manoah is one of the best four-year arms in this class and is a relatively safe pick for New York. Definitely not the most exciting, but could reach the majors before anyone else in this class.
- Minnesota Twins – Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
Jung was once considered to be a top 5 prospect in this class, but his bat this year has fallen off considerably. The track record is strong and the risk outweighs the benefits here at this point in the draft.
- Philadelphia Phillies – Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky
The first southpaw to come off the board, Thompson would be selected much higher if not for some injury concerns. Even so, with four pitches at his disposal and good velocity, this is another pick where the benefits outweigh the risks.
- Los Angeles Angels – Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
Most would be shocked to see Stott fall this far, and the Angels would be thrilled. Stott is easily the best player still on the board here and could prove to be Andrelton Simmons’ eventual replacement.
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- Arizona Diamondbacks – Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS (Florida)
A weak farm system could take a risk here and go for a high upside, but low floor pick in Allan. The Diamondbacks would have to spend big here to sign Allan given his commitment to Florida, but his impressive fastball and three plus pitches should entice them to do so.
- Washington Nationals – George Kirby, RHP, Elon
Kirby is an excellent prospect with four pitches he can command and a rising fastball velocity. It would not surprise many if Kirby ended up contributing the quickest out of any prospect thus far.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Cameron Misner, OF, Missouri
Misner has an elite collection of raw tools but many worry about his high strikeout rate and inability to make consistent contact. This is one of the riskier picks, but banking on raw tools exclusively has worked before.
- St. Louis Cardinals – Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove HS (Illinois)
Priester’s stock has risen as much as anyone’s and should provide good slot value here for St. Louis. His curveball has been acclaimed to be one of the best pitches in this entire class.
- Seattle Mariners – Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
Baty is one of the biggest mysteries in this draft, and thanks to the Robinson Cano trade, the Mariners have a strong enough farm system to take a risk. Baty has two-way potential as both a pitcher, and a position player, but exactly where that position would be is unclear. Baty is as intriguing as anyone, although his floor to ceiling discrepancy is easily the largest in this class.
- Atlanta Braves – Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Florida)
The Braves get another pick in the first round and after taking Corbin Carroll earlier, I have them adding an arm. Malone and his four pitches profile as a future starter, but his command needs work. He will also demand a rather large slot value, but the Braves have a big enough pool to get it done.
- Tampa Bay Rays – Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
Davidson, a switch-hitter, has the raw tools to have gone much higher in this draft, but there are concerns about his ability to hit with wooden bats. The Rays have one of the best player development systems in the MLB, so if any team is to take a chance on Davidson, they seem to make the most sense.
- Colorado Rockies – Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Georgia)
Espino has some of the best raw stuff in this class but will need some major refinement with his delivery and command. The Rockies have proven over the past few years that they are exceptional with developing young arms, so this is another perfect match.
- Cleveland Indians – Michael Busch, 1B, UNC
Busch, a left-handed free swinger, has big power potential but will need to improve on his plate discipline. He may be able to play some corner outfield at more advanced levels but certainly hasn’t impressed any scouts with his defense.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane
Hoese has improved his stock just as much as anyone and would be a welcome addition to an already stacked Dodgers farm system. Hoese has also been dubbed as a “launch angle guy”, something I’m sure the Dodgers aren’t opposed to.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M
Shewmake has impressed with his contact rate and ability to spread the ball to all fields. After drafting a pitcher earlier, this pick seems to make sense for Arizona.
- Chicago Cubs – Seth Johnson, RHP, Campbell
The Cubs seem locked in to get another prospect out of college and Johnson fits that bill. He will require a bit of development but is a nice high upside pick this late in the first round.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State
The Brewers would love for Shewmake to fall but if not, Wilson is a fine alternative. He may have to move to third or second base, but provides good power and plate discipline.
- Oakland Athletics – J.J. Goss, RHP, Cypress Ranch HS (Texas)
Goss will require a lot of development as a raw, young pitcher out of high school. Even so, his fastball-slider combo is one of the best in the draft and his command is slowly improving.
- New York Yankees – Jack Leiter, RHP, Delbarton HS (New Jersey)
The son of Al Leiter, Jack is one of the most advanced high school pitchers in this class, but his slot value has lowered his stock. If any team is willing to shell out lots of money, the Yankees would probably be it.
- Los Angeles Dodgers- Hunter Barco, LHP, Bolles HS (Florida)
Barco is a unique lefty with a very low arm slot and relatively low velocity. The Dodgers love southpaws and after drafting a position player a few picks ago, Barco makes the most sense.
- Houston Astros- Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake HS (California)
Cavaco has risen up the draft boards as of late but his hit tool puts a limit on his ceiling. He still plays an elite third base and provides rare speed at the position, making him enough of a high upside pick to squeak his way into the first round.
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