With the draft roughly six weeks away, it’s time to take our first look at the picks and start putting some names with MLB teams.
Welcome to MLB draft season! Okay, in truth, for many of us, and likely for many reading this, draft season began, oh, roughly 10 months ago after about a one month break following the previous draft.
However, this year’s draft is just around the corner now, and it’s time to start looking more deeply into the teams and who they will choose at their selection. While mock drafts are fun to put together, more informative are the discussions around the picks with teams that inform better how things could break down on when the MLB draft happens on June 12th.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
1. Minnesota Twins
RHP/SS, Notre Dame HS (CA)
While the Twins have the largest draft pool this season, it is not like previous seasons, where there was a huge gap between the #1 pick and future picks in draft pool money due to the new CBA. Greene has the highest level of talent in the draft by a ways with an elite arm off the mound and a legit bat at the plate. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs recently said the only true 80-grade tool in this draft would be Greene’s arm at shortstop, but most likely Greene is going to be a pitcher for the Twins.
2. Cincinnati Reds
1B/LHP, University of Louisville
#1/2 are nearly written in pen in most mock drafts with Greene and McKay. McKay’s tremendous hitting in 2017 has led to a number of teams discussing him as a hitter first, but he’s a very high-floor guy who would be a legit top of the draft talent off the mound as well. Interesting fit in Cincinnati as at the plate, he does remind me a lot of former Cincinnati Red first baseman Sean Casey.
3. San Diego Padres
IF/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (CA)
Lewis has struggled some this spring, but he has arguably the most athleticism of any player in the entire draft. He has a strong arm that will play in the outfield and speed to burn that worked up the middle defensively. I’d gauge him as a future 2B or CF, not a SS, but he’s got an offensive profile that would lead one to think he could put up decent pop numbers along with very good speed, which would be an asset up the middle.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
RHP, Vanderbilt University
Wright was a strong consideration as the best player in this draft class in early mocks done last summer and last fall, but struggles early in the spring saw him drop down a number of boards. He’s turned around his season significantly, showing dominance of the SEC. Wright doesn’t have elite pitches, but his feel for pitching and ability to manipulate pitches in multiple ways is ahead of the normal draftee, giving him a very high floor.
5. Atlanta Braves
LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)
The Braves love athletic players who have plenty of projection left that they can develop within their system. Gore is a perfect fit in this draft as quite possibly the best athlete in the entire draft. He’s not got the elite stuff that Greene does, but he’s just a tick below, and he’s got much more physical projection left that could lead to him ending up even better in the long term, and he’s left-handed.
Smith is in legit consideration for the Twins at #1 due to just how elite his bat is at the collegiate level this season. Smith is incredibly difficult to strike out, and he has very good control through the zone. While he doesn’t show big power now, he’s got the bat speed and physical power to project as a guy who could provide high average and 20+ home runs as a quick mover through the system.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
OF, Ballard HS (KY)
Adell may be the most athletic position player in the draft this season, as a legit prospect off the mound. His hit tool is the biggest question evaluators have, but he has power and speed that have both received plus grades depending on who is giving the grades (some like his power projection more, some like his speed projection more). With the Diamondbacks resetting their system after the struggles of the Dave Stewart regime, a major upside player like Adell would be a huge get.
8. Philadelphia Phillies
RHP, University of Florida
The Phillies were rumored heavily last season to be pursuing a top college pitcher when the had the #1 overall selection. They instead (wisely) used their financial advantage to secure more upside players, but they certainly got a good look at Faedo in their extended scouting of his teammate A.J. Puk last spring. Faedo could move through their system quickly with stuff that has a high-floor as an elite reliever but could be a front line starter at his top end.
9. Milwaukee Brewers
RHP, University of North Carolina
Often a college pitcher doesn’t have extreme projection left, and at Bukauskas’ small frame, he wouldn’t seem to have a ton of projection either, but his stuff is very possibly as good as any college pitcher in the draft, and he has the ability to profile as a front-line starter with refinement to his approach in the Marcus Stroman mold. His fall back of an elite reliever would also work very well.
10. Los Angeles Angels
OF, North Davidson HS (NC)
Beck has jumped up boards this season as teams have seen that he is healthy after an ACL injury cost him the majority of his junior season, and he did well limiting his stress on the knee in the showcase circuit, meaning many scouts hadn’t seen him since a sophomore year that had him rocketing up 2017 future lists. Beck is a raw athlete that would rival Adell as the best athlete in the draft.
Kendall, along with teammate Wright, had big preseason ranks, but he struggled to open the season. His swing and miss concerns have still been strong, even as he’s gotten his season back on track, but teams that love toolsy outfielders with some level of polish will jump on Kendall, and that certainly fits the White Sox.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates
RHP, Burnsville HS (MN)
Minnesota’s high school season starts later than most, and when Carlson recently got on the mound for the first time, he flashed stuff that had jumped up from his summer showcase numbers, which were legit top-two-round stuff. Touching 96-97 with a wicked slider and very advanced feel for a change, Carlson has jumped up a number of teams’ boards, but his profile fits the Pirates’ system very well here.
13. Miami Marlins
LHP, University of Houston
Romero would be working into the top 5 if he could keep his off field stuff right, but the Houston lefty earned a suspension that will keep him off of the field until the draft. He put up some solid scouting performances this spring before the suspension and his previous performance is worthy of a high slot. The Marlins have been rumored as a team that would have interest, and with two picks before the second round, they could make a play for him here.
14. Kansas City Royals
1B, Huntington Beach HS (CA)
Very intriguing fit here as Pratto could certainly go much higher, but his similarity to Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, also a prep first baseman when he was drafted, is very interesting. Pratto was a legit prospect off the mound, but his bat has jumped forward so much this spring that teams are not even considering him as a pitcher anymore as he’d be more of a 4th-5th round selection.
15. Houston Astros
RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)
Baz is a guy who has been getting a lot of helium as a guy with already present big stuff, but also a guy who has shown elite athleticism and a loose arm that could project to even more. Teams love his wide frame and the fact that he has a feel for five pitches presently and a clean delivery.
Hall is the prototype high school lefty with low-90s present stuff that can touch 95 with an impressive curve as his primary breaking pitch. Hall isn’t huge at 6′ with a frame that will not allow for a ton of added strength, but he will be a top-20 pick nearly certain come June, barring an off-field issue or injury that’s currently unforeseen.
17. Seattle Mariners
3B, Missouri State University
After grabbing small school power guy Kyle Lewis in 2016, this would be another similar pick for the Mariners as Burger has been a masher for two seasons with Missouri State. His ability to play the hot corner has been questioned by some, but he’s a grinder on defense that seems to get what he needs to done while not being terribly flashy at the position. His power is what teams will desire, however, and adding Burger’s big right-handed bat into the system will be a big addition for the Mariners.
18. Detroit Tigers
RHP, Louisiana State University
Lange was a legit top draft pick out of high school, but he went undrafted due to his extremely strong commitment to LSU. Now, the 6’4, 200 pound junior has shown elite skills and was one of the best pitchers on the US college national team this past summer. With improved showing on his change in 2017, Lange could even jump much higher with a team that likes his profile, but he’s a perfect fit with the Tigers.
19. San Francisco Giants
OF, University of Virginia
After grabbing Bryan Reynolds and Heath Quinn with their first two picks of 2016 in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, the Giants would seem an odd team to grab Haseley, but Haseley’s skills are such that those players certainly shouldn’t portend a pick as he’s really pushed his way to the top of the top of the college outfielder class, over Kendall on many boards.
20. New York Mets
RHP, University of California at Los Angeles
Many seem to have the idea that the Mets develop their deep pitching core from a number of high school picks that develop in their system, but the Mets have been more known for picking excellent college players or making astute trades (only Steven Matz in their projected starting 5 was a HS pick by the team). Canning would fit the Mets development with a huge fastball present and offspeed stuff that has flashed elite but needs coaching/refinement.
Houck has been viewed for some time as a legit prospect due to his impressive fastball. He can touch upper 90s with the pitch and sits in the mid-90s, but the movement of the pitch and its sink is what makes it a truly special pitch. While that alone could get him notice, he has shown improvement in his offspeed stuff this spring, specifically his change. While his arm slot does bug some evaluators, he has a good frame and repeats his delivery well.
22. Toronto Blue Jays
SS, University of North Carolina
Viewed as more of a “grinder” type coming into college, Warmoth has put his average to above-average skills across the board to use with UNC, putting him in the conversation as the first collegiate middle infielder off the board in what is a weak college middle infield class. Warmoth is very good at controlling the strike zone and knows how to use his above-average speed well on the base paths. Definitely a high “feel” player, Warmoth is a guy we all could look back on in five years and be amazed he’s 2-3 years into a major league career.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers
3B, American Heritage HS (FL)
The Dodgers will want to take the best upside play they can find, and I’m not sure there’s a better one here than Vientos. Vientos came into the season with discussion as one of the top 5 high school position player prospects, and he’s had some struggles this spring, which has knocked him down some teams’ boards. Vientos has a very solid hit tool that allows him to spray the ball and raw power that many have said could translate to 25+ home run power as he fills into his 6’4 frame. Defensively, the comparison to Manny Machado has been made often as he can handle short and could even be passable there, but at third he would be very good, even elite defensively.
24. Boston Red Sox
IF/OF, University of California at Irvine
Arguably the best pure hitter in the entire college class, Hiura could be a legit top 10-15 pick if his arm wasn’t likely going to require Tommy John surgery after this spring before he’ll be able to take the field. I liken him strongly to Chicago Cubs’ prospect Ian Happ, who went 9th overall in 2015. He’s got the ability to handle 2B or an outfield spot with enough arm to handle 3B possibly as well. Hiura has an advanced feel for the barrel and a lightning-quick bat.
25. Washington Nationals
RHP, University of South Carolina
Crowe and teammate Clarke Schmidt would both have been first-round selections if their health had held, and either would be in play for the Nationals, who have an organizational comfort for their in-house TJS recovery program. Crowe had his surgery in 2015 and missed all of 2016, so he’s along the time line well. He also has a four-pitch mix that has flashed top of rotation potential and is getting better as his 2017 goes along. He may not last this long on draft day.
One of the few two-way guys out of the top two that is still questionable whether he’ll be a higher pick as a pitcher or hitter, Danner has really shone one both sides this spring. He Is a tremendous defensive catcher that some believe would increase the use of his present raw power if he moved into the infield, where his quick reactions would likely suit him well at third as well. Danner off the mound has been very good, showing plus control this spring and a tick more velocity, with some reports hitting 96-97 after maxing out at 95 previously.
27. Chicago Cubs
LHP, State Junior College of Florida
After being underutilized at North Carolina as a freshman, Little transferred to be draft-eligible this June. He had a big showing in the Cape Cod League this past summer against top collegiate hitters that set him up well, as his spring will be spent against many guys who are going to be a tough gauge for teams as far as competition goes. Little has a fastball that can work into the upper 90s and a big curve that leaves hitters frozen. His change is a work in progress, and his command seems to struggle, though he doesn’t really have any delivery concerns. There is plenty here for a team to build on, and after the successes with trade acquisitions with similar profiles, Little seems like a guy who would work well in the Cubs system.
28. Toronto Blue Jays
LHP, University of Oregon
Anyone who caught Peterson’s masterful 20-strikeout game on April 29th for Oregon may think this is a tremendous fall for him, but instead, that performance is a big reason why he’s rising into at least the back end of the first round and perhaps even higher. One west coast scout I talked with called Peterson “what you wanted Puk to be last year without the hype Puk had.” That’s tremendous praise, but not terribly off, once you look into Peterson’s profile. He’s 6’6 and a strong 240 pounds listed. He’s got above-average to plus control of four pitches, three of which would grade as at least above-average, and his slider flashes average to above-average as well. He can get to mid-90s in velocity and yet repeats his delivery very well. He could be a fast-riser as the draft approaches.
29. Texas Rangers
LHP, Carlsbad HS (NM)
The 6’6″ lefty from New Mexico has been pushing up draft boards all spring due to an impressive summer showcase performance and, while his performance hasn’t been as elite this spring, teams have been impressed in talking with Rogers and seeing him in game action during some adversity. While one of the older prospects in the class as well, Rogers has a three pitch mix that is very impressive from the left side and should certainly make him a first-rounder.
30. Chicago Cubs
OF, Etowah HS (GA)
While the Cubs have been known for drafting plenty of college players, they know their way around the prep ranks as well, and this season’s prep outfield class has some depth that could intrigue the organization here. Waters is a guy who has been overshadowed in a lot of showcases because he’s more of a “good at everything, amazing at nothing” sort of profile in scouts’ eyes, but he could work in a corner or center field with good defensive instincts and a fringe-plus arm, and he’s got above-average power and speed both.
A two-sport star that decommitted from Auburn and changed his commitment to Alabama, Thompson was a quarterback for his high school team that accumulated a total of 43 touchdowns last fall. Thompson is raw in many facets of his baseball game, but his speed and defensive skills are plus to plus-plus across the board, and his power has really played up this spring. As teams have looked at him this spring, he’s really shot up boards and could end up being this spring’s version of Will Benson.
32. Cincinnati Reds
OF, Leadership Christian Academy HS (PR)
Last season, the Reds used multiple early picks to secure a very talented college player in Nick Senzel and then take a flyer on one of the elite raw talents in the draft in Taylor Trammell. This season’s draft could shape up similarly if they’re able to grab McKay early and then secure an elite talent like Ramos in this spot. Ramos is one of the youngest players in the draft, not turning 18 until September, and he has big raw tools across the board. He is a guy who some teams see as a possible high pick and others prefer more in the 2nd or 3rd round, so he could very well be off the board by this point.
33. Oakland Athletics
RHP, St. Amant HS (LA)
After a summer showcase season where he performed very well, Enlow’s name started to show up very prominently on teams’ boards. With a 6’4 frame and arguably the best breaking ball in the class, Enlow is continuing to get lots of attention this spring. Many teams have talked about Enlow much higher, but he makes a lot of sense for a team with two picks that could help buy him off of his LSU commit.
34. Milwaukee Brewers
1B, Mississippi State University
Rooker opened the season fairly well off most draft boards, especially for the first round, but a huge season this spring has rocketed his stock to the first round, and he could move up to the teens of the first round if he can finish strong as well. Rooker has some questions about his future defensive home, with Mississippi State moving him to first base and DH this season after playing the outfield previous with mixed results. He has led the SEC in stolen bases for much of the season, so while he’s not an elite runner, he’s got some solid quickness to his frame as well that could lead to the outfield. As an older 22, he could be a tough fit higher on most teams’ boards, but college bats that perform always creep up, and this year’s class has been fairly weak, so Rooker has a chance to move even higher than this.
35. Minnesota Twins
RHP, Dana Hills HS (CA)
If the new Twins front office wants to inject some immediate life into their system pitching depth, they couldn’t have enjoyed the way this draft scenario played out any better. Greene has the most electric raw stuff in the draft, and Crouse has been the guy that has shown up in post-showcase reports every time he’s attended a showcase as he’s truly got a “bulldog” approach on the mound. Crouse has excellent stuff as well with a fastball that can get into the upper 90s and a hard curve that’s a swing-and-miss pitch, but a little funk to his delivery and some effort have him as a wide-variance pitcher in reports. This could be an excellent spot for him to land.
36. Miami Marlins
C, Westminster Christian School (FL)
Son of a coach, Melendez is a guy who has very good baseball feel, and while high school catching isn’t exactly a position that teams normally like picking too early due to the high failure rate, Melendez has incredibly elite defensive tools and some very good offensive skills, including tremendous bat speed that allows him to get to pitches even when he’s been fooled initially. He’s a high-variance guy that could go low in the second round as easily as he could go here, but the home state fit seemed good for the Marlins in this pick.