In just about a month, the MLB First Year Player Draft will commence. Players that could wind up as generational talents and members of the Hall of Fame will begin their professional careers. However, few fans really know what to expect from the MLB Draft since a vast majority of these players won’t wear the uniform of the team that drafted them for another couple years. Even fewer fans know who their team may draft, even in the top round. Here’s my predictions for the first round of the upcoming MLB First Year Player Draft so you can get to know the players that will mark the future of baseball.
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Player: Adley Rutchman, C, Oregon State University
Scouting Report: 60 Hit, 60 Power, 40 Run, 60 Arm, 60 Field, 60 Overall
Rutchman is the consensus number one prospect in this draft and the Orioles need help all over the place. Chance Cisco hasn’t given the team much to be excited about during his stints in the big leagues, and Rutchman has the potential to be the best catcher in the majors. The best news for O’s fans: Rutchman should be MLB-ready by mid-2021 at the very latest.
Team: Kansas City Royals
Player: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
Scouting Report: 50 Hit, 55 Power, 60 Run, 60 Arm, 60 Field, 60 Overall
Witt, like Rutchman, has grown into a consensus top-three pick by most sources and could even be ready for his debut in the majors ahead of the rest of his Draft Class. Witt fits the description of a superstar shortstop and has the profile of a Corey Seager type of shortstop.
Team: Chicago White Sox
Player: CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS (Georgia)
Scouting Report: 55 Hit, 40 Power, 75 Run, 55 Arm, 50 Field, 60 Overall
Abrams reminds me a lot of Adalberto Mondesi. His bat is okay, but will probably fall just short of league-average in the majors, but he’ll compensate for that with his speed. Whether that will be a good thing is to be seen. Abrams could also find himself at third base or second given the emergence of Tim Anderson in the White Sox lineup, more likely third thanks to Yoan Moncada.
Team: Miami Marlins
Player: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, University of California – Berkeley
Scouting Report: 60 Hit, 60 Power, 30 Run, 50 Arm, 50 Field, 60 Overall
Vaughn is a promising first baseman that fits well into the Marlins system. Of the Marlins’ current top-30 prospects, none of them play first base, and very few have as much upside as Vaughn. Placing him in the lineup with some of the other young players Miami has been featuring could be fun to watch.
Team: Detroit Tigers
Player: Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian University
Scouting Report: 55 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 55 Slider, 55 Control, 55 Overall
Lodolo is just the next in a long line of recent pitchers to come from TCU. The school has pumped out eight different pitchers in the top ten rounds of the draft since 2015. The Tigers have a number of promising young pitchers in their farm system, but few left-handers and none as promising as Lodolo. If he can develop his slider more into something like Chris Sale’s and another breaking ball, he could find himself in the Tigers’ rotation quickly.
Team: San Diego Padres
Player: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech University
Scouting Report: 55 Hit, 55 Power, 40 Run, 60 Arm, 50 Field, 55 Overall
From initial impressions, Jung looks to be a solid bet as a future major league third-baseman. Solid hitting throughout his college career and defense that is reliable enough have built up a solid draft resume for the Red Raider. All that is left is to find out where exactly he fits into the Padres’ loaded farm system, which is going to be a concern for any player drafted by San Diego.
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Player: Zack Thompson, LHP, University of Kentucky
Scouting Report: 55 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 55 Slider, 55 Curveball, 55 Control, 55 Overall
The first of four SEC products to make it in this mock draft is Zach Thompson, a starter for the Kentucky Wildcats. Thompson possesses a very solid four pitch repertoire that he can use to keep hitters off-balance and rack up a lot of strikeouts (he already has 37 K through 22.2 innings this year).
Team: Texas Rangers
Player: JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt University
Scouting Report: 55 Hit, 55 Power, 50 Run, 60 Arm, 50 Field, 55 Overall
Bleday should be able to quickly find a spot for himself in the organization, given his impressive play in the SEC, as well as the Rangers’ lack of depth in the outfield throughout their organization. The Rangers have just four outfield prospects in their top-30, and even one of them is near the bottom of that list.
Team: Atlanta Braves
Player: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor University
Scouting Report: 50 Hit, 50 Power, 40 Run, 70 Arm, 60 Field
In most years, a player like Langeliers would be the first catcher off the board, and it wouldn’t be close. Langeliers possesses an absolute cannon of a right arm that deters even some of the best runners from going into motion on him. The Baylor product is a very safe bet for an organization that hasn’t had a really solid catcher in a few years.
Team: San Francisco Giants
Player: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia University
Scouting Report: 65 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 55 Slider, 50 Control, 55 Overall
Monoah probably needs to develop his off-speed a bit more and learn a second breaking-ball, but there are glimpses that he could already be close to being ready for his big-league debut. Over 82.2 innings this year, Manoah is carrying a 2.07 ERA and a .192 On-Base Percentage Against this season to go along with 108 strikeouts to just 21 walks.
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Player: Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS (Florida)
Scouting Report: 60 Fastball, 55 Changeup, 60 Curveball, 55 Control, 55 Overall
Of all the pitching prospects in this draft, Allan’s curveball looks as good as anyone’s. He adds onto that with a fastball that has won awards at prospect showcases, and was speeding past hitters at 95 mph last August. Allan is almost certainly the best non-collegiate pitcher in this draft.
Team: New York Mets
Player: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State University
Scouting Report: 50 Hit, 60 Power, 60 Run, 50 Arm, 50 Field
Through 46 games with the Red Devils this spring, Bishop has been absolutely destroying baseballs. He’s blasted 21 homers (ten in the previous two seasons combined), while also dropping his strikeout rate, increasing his walk rate, and carrying an other-worldly 1.306 OPS. The Mets could have another All Star outfielder on their roster in the next couple of years with Bishop.
Team: Minnesota Twins
Player: Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
Scouting Report: 55 Hit, 55 Power, 40 Run, 60 Arm, 45 Field, 55 Overall
Baty could find himself at first base if his glove becomes a liability, but, all-in-all, his bat by itself could carry his career a long way. The Twins have no third-base prospects in their top-30 and doubts are starting to grow within the organization about Miguel Sano and his ability to stay in the majors.
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Player: Riley Greene, OF, Haggerty HS (Florida)
Scouting Report: 60 Hit, 55 Power, 45 Run, 45 Arm, 50 Field, 55 Overall
With the Phillies top-two outfield prospects, Mickey Moniak and Jhailyn Ortiz, struggling to continue progressing over the last two seasons, the Phillies are staring at a farm system that is somewhat thin of outfielders. Adding in a player like Riley Greene could bring them up to par and give them another great option to join Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto in that lineup.
Team: Los Angeles Angels
Player: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto Junior College (Texas)
Scouting Report: 70 Fastball, 45 Changeup, 65 Slider, 55 Curveball, 45 Control, 55 Overall
Simply put, if Rutledge can find better command over his pitches, he will be absolutely dominant for the Angels in their rotation. His fastball and slider are absolutely devastating, and he uses his curveball well to compliment the slider. The St. Louis native would be an excellent addition to a farm system that already has the likes of Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez.
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Player: Michael Busch, 1B/OF, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Scouting Report: 55 Hit, 55 Power, 45 Run, 40 Arm, 50 Field, 50 Overall
Busch has held some really solid numbers for the Tar Heels over the last two seasons, but they’re not numbers that blow you away. He has good (not great) power, and probably will average about 20-25 home runs per year in the big leagues. His skills likely translate more toward first-base at the professional level, which should fit nicely into the D-backs system where they don’t have a lot of depth at that position.
Team: Washington Nationals
Player: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Washington)
Scouting Report: 60 Hit, 40 Power, 70 Run, 45 Arm, 55 Field, 55 Overall
The Nationals’ farm system is pretty thin on outfielders (only three in the top-30) and Carroll would be a solid pick up for them to place in center field. His speed is elite and watching him alongside Trea Turner on the base-paths would be absolute madness.
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Player: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Florida)
Scouting Report: 65 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 60 Slider, 50 Curveball, 50 Control, 55 Overall
Malone is the only non-collegiate pitcher in this draft that compares to Matthew Allan. Malone has demonstrated throughout the spring that he is a professional pitcher, and that any team would be lucky to have him. He put up a fantastic performance at the NHSA tournament a couple weeks ago and will likely continue his dominant play through to the draft.
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Player: Bryson Stott, SS, University of Nevada – Las Vegas
Scouting Report: 60 Hit, 45 Power, 55 Run, 55 Arm, 55 Field, 55 Overall
The Cardinals seemed to have found their franchise shortstop in Paul DeJong, however, Stott is a talent that can’t be passed on if he is still available at this point. The Redbirds’ farm system has two shortstops that were once promising but haven’t progressed like they had hoped. Stott could wind up at second-base when all is said and done, but would still be a solid add to the middle infield for any organization, especially in the mid-to-late first round.
Team: Seattle Mariners
Player: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane University
Scouting Report: 50 Hit, 55 Power, 40 Run, 55 Arm, 50 Field, 50 Overall
The Mariners are going to need help at third base in the near future as Kyle Seager gets deeper into his thirties and Hoese is a great solution. Hoese has similar fielding ability to Seager and will likely grow into a better hitter, so this could turn into a very good long-term answer for the Mariners.
Team: Atlanta Braves
Player: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson University
Scouting Report: 45 Hit, 50 Power, 55 Run, 55 Arm, 55 Field, 50 Overall
Davidson is a really solid infielder for the Braves to add to their organization. He’s not the fastest runner, but he’s great on the bases, as he has 36 stolen bases (eight caught stealing) through his first two-and-a-half years with the Tigers. Along with his baserunning, Davidson can add solid pop to the lineup with 40 home runs in his time at Clemson. Davidson projects as a potential 20-20 guy on a regular basis if he can find a spot in the crowded lineup for the Braves.
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Player: George Kirby, RHP, Elon University
Scouting Report: 60 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 60 Slider, 50 Curveball, 50 Control, 55 Overall
Kirby is an absolute tank for the Elon Pheonix with three complete games this year to go along with a 96-6 K-BB ratio. In 77.2 innings, he has allowed just 66 runners on base this season over 12 appearances. He’s the exact kind of pitcher the Rays love.
Team: Colorado Rockies
Player: Kameron Misner, OF, University of Missouri – Columbia
Scouting Report: 50 Hit, 55 Power, 60 Run, 60 Arm, 55 Field, 50 Overall
Misner is simply the best prospect to come out of Mizzou since Max Scherzer. The Junior has posted a .962 OPS this year along with ten homers, while keeping a 52-52 K-BB ratio at the plate. His best feature is his skills on base with 19 stolen bases this year and getting caught just once.
Team: Cleveland Indians
Player: Hunter Barco, LHP, Bolles HS (Florida)
Scouting Report: 55 Fastball, 55 Changeup, 55 Slider, 50 Control, 50 Overall
The Indians have a serious lack of left-handed pitching in their minor leagues, and Barco would be a great solution to that problem. He can mix his pitches as well as anyone in this draft with all three of his main pitches being just as good as the next. If he can develop another breaking-ball, he could be a fantastic starter for the Indians’ already great rotation.
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Player: Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence HS (Florida)
Scouting Report: 55 Hit, 50 Power, 40 Speed, 50 Arm, 45 Field, 50 Overall
The Dodgers are going to need a new face at third-base sooner, rather than later, as Justin Turner continues to get older. Callihan can provide a solid option at the spot, provided the Dodgers want to save some money and bring in a replacement from within the organization.
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Player: Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Georgia)
Scouting Report: 70 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 60 Slider, 55 Curveball, 50 Control, 50 Overall
Espino is another guy who could be an ace at the big league level if he’s able to lock down his command over his pitches. As seen in his scouting grades, Espino has a killer fastball and a great slider that are complimented by an above-average changeup and curveball that allow him to mix up his pitches effectively. Despite the large quantity of pitching prospects in the D-backs system, Espino would likely climb the latter in that group very quickly.
Team: Chicago Cubs
Player: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary Grove HS (Illinois)
Scouting Report: 60 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 60 Curveball, 50 Control, 50 Overall
Hailing from half-way between Chicago and Rockford, the Illinois native would be a perfect addition for the Cubs. The Cubs always seem to be on the look out for pitching and and Priester will likely be the best available pitcher at this point in the first round.
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Player: JJ Goss, RHP, Cyprus Ranch HS (Texas)
Scouting Report: 55 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 60 Slider, 50 Control, 50 Overall
The Brewers only have nine pitchers in their top-30 prospects. Goss will need some work to develop his control, as well as a fourth pitch, but has shown a lot of potential while playing his high school ball in Texas.
Team: Oakland Athletics
Player: Jack Leiter, RHP, Delbarton HS (New Jersey)
Scouting Report: 55 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 50 Slider, 55 Curveball, 55 Control, 50 Overall
Leiter’s control is as good as any non-collegiate pitcher in this draft, and he has a solid four-pitch repertoire to go along with it. The Athletics need to add some pitching to their minor leagues. This seems like a match made in heaven.
Team: New York Yankees
Player: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M University
Scouting Report: 55 Hit, 50 Power, 50 Speed, 55 Arm, 50 Field, 50 Overall
The Aggies shortstop has demonstrated one thing beyond all doubt in his time at College Station: he’s really good at getting on base. He doesn’t put the ball over the wall much, or steal a ton of bases, but he has help an OBP over .370 in each of his first two seasons and holds a .369 OBP for the 2019 season as of May 8. That’s a quality that every team will happily take and add to their organization.
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Player: Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State University
Scouting Report: 50 Hit, 50 Power, 40 Run, 50 Arm, 50 Speed, 50 Overall
If his three years as a member of the Wolfpack are any indication, Wilson might be a great sleeper pick in the first round. Both 2018 and 2019 have seen Wilson make an 80+ point jump in OPS where he now sits with a 1.066 through the first 44 games of the 2019 season. His lack of speed and mobility might force the Dodgers to move him to third, but he could turn into a force to be reckoned with at the plate.
Team: Houston Astros
Player: Josh Wolf, RHP, St. Thomas HS (Texas)
Scouting Report: 60 Fastball, 50 Changeup, 60 Curveball, 50 Control, 50 Overall
Everyone knows the Astros love pitchers and Wolf is a prospect that seems to fit their profile. The Houston-area native has skyrocketed his draft stock this spring after increasing his fastball speed up to the mid-90’s and blowing hitters away with his 12-6 curve that sits in the low-80’s. If Wolf develops his changeup and adds another 15-20 pounds to his 6’2″, 165 lb. frame, he could find himself as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
Look for the next installment of Diamond Digest’s draft coverage coming later this month.
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org