On June 3rd, the MLB Amateur Draft will commence from MLB Network Studios in Secaucas, New Jersey. 78 players will hear their names called on the first day of the draft, but only 32 will be able to hold the right of being first-rounders.
As the draft comes closer, I’ve decided to take my chances on creating a mock draft for the first round of the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft. Adley Rutschman, Oregon State catcher, is projected to go 1-1 for the time being, with Bobby Witt Jr. and Andrew Vaughn expected to occupy the two spots behind Rutschman. After that, it’s a mess to project picks. I’ve only seen a handful of prospects in-person this spring, meaning that most of the scouting reports will come courtesy of Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.
#1 – Baltimore Orioles – C Adley Rutschman
Rutschman is the consensus 1-1 pick in the industry and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t go to the Orioles. He’s the best player available in the draft, with plus defense behind the plate and a plus hitter from both sides of the plate. He’s currently slashing .429/.576/.805 in 46 games for the Oregon State Beavers and boasts an insane 59:32 BB:K ratio. That’ll play nicely.
#2 – Kansas City Royals – SS Bobby Witt Jr.
Witt is a five tool player from Texas who is the best high school player in the draft. He’s had a very solid spring, solidifying himself to go within the top 3 of the draft come June. Whether that be to the Royals or White Sox is yet to be known, but Witt possesses plus power, speed, arm strength, and defense up the middle. He is committed to Oklahoma.
#3 – Chicago White Sox- 1B Andrew Vaughn
Like Witt, Vaughn is a solid pick to go within the top 3 next month, but Vaughn is expected to be the fastest riser of this draft class wherever he goes. Winner of the 2018 Golden Spikes Award, Vaughn is considered to be the best all-around hitter in this draft class, with an exceptional bat and immense raw power. He’s solid at first base defensively, as well. He could go as high as second overall to the Royals, with that pick more than likely coming down to draft day.
#4 – Miami Marlins – SS C.J. Abrams
Abrams’ biggest asset is his speed, as it grades at 70 among many scouts. His bat lags behind, along with his power, but defensively, he fits well at shortstop, but a move to center field is not out of the question. I saw Abrams at NHSI and he performed well on the field, leading to the belief that the move to center could be held off, at least for now. He could go as high as third overall, but with the Marlins track record of prep players, he’s more likely to go fourth. He is committed to Alabama.
#5 – Detroit Tigers – OF Riley Greene
Another NHSI standout I had the pleasure of scouting, Greene is the best hitter in the high school class this year. While his stance may need some work, he has a solid approach at the plate and has an accurate arm in the outfield, which plays best in the corner spots. He had some solid at-bats at NHSI, and he will more than likely be the best player available at this point. He is committed to Florida.
#6 – San Diego Padres – OF J.J. Bleday
Bleday has rose up draft boards this spring, vaulting himself into the top ten within the last couple of months. After hitting just six home runs in his first two years at Vanderbilt, he has clobbered 23 this spring, along with a slash line of .352/.465/.791. There’s a good chance that Bleday can be a top five pick next month.
#7 – Cincinnati Reds – LHP Nick Lodolo
It’s hard to believe that the lowest a pitcher has been taken is sixth. This year’s pitching class is relatively weak, meaning that the first pitcher to be taken could fall past sixth. For Lodolo, a former first rounder in 2016, he’s the best pitcher available in the draft. In 12 starts, Lodolo has a 2.42 ERA in 77 innings, with 89 strikeouts and only 16 walks. His arsenal consists of a low-90’s fastball, a sharp curveball, and a changeup that is average.
#8 – Texas Rangers – OF Hunter Bishop
Like Bleday, Bishop has risen up draft boards with an exceptional spring at Arizona State, slashing .354/.484/.792 in 45 games, hitting 19 home runs. An improved approach at the plate led to his rise this year, and he possess some of the best power in this draft class. There’s a good chance he sticks at center field as a pro, but a corner outfield spot is not out of the question for Bishop. He could go higher than this with a great finish to his year.
#9 – Atlanta Braves – OF Corbin Carroll
Carroll was considered a top five candidate as late as a few weeks ago, but has fallen a little bit since. He is one of the best high school hitters this year, and defensively, he is solid in center field and could stay there as he goes through the minors. While he is undersized at 5’9, 165 pounds, he is not afraid to cause chaos on the basepaths with plus speed, and he has a solid plate approach. He is committed to UCLA.
#10 – San Francisco Giants – RHP Alek Manoah
Manoah has been insanely good this spring for West Virginia, as he currently boasts a 2.07 ERA in 82.2 innings, with 108 strikeouts and 21 walks. In the middle of the season, Manoah went on a video game-like tear, as he went 26 innings where he gave up 10 total hits, 0 runs and walks, and struck out 41 batters. With a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and can reach 98 MPH, Manoah pairs it with a solid slider and changeup. He could continue to rise further into the top ten if he continues his torrid pace.
#11 – Toronto Blue Jays – RHP Matthew Allan
Allan is the top high school arm available at the present time, and he could be a top ten pick next month. He has a strong, physical body that wields a mid-90’s heater that can touch 96 MPH and a 12-6 curveball that has a big drop. He throws a firm changeup as well that can be a plus offering in the big leagues. He is committed to Florida.
#12 – New York Mets – SS Bryson Stott
Stott is a highly regarded prospect out of UNLV that is one of the best, if not the best, college shortstop on draft boards. While there are some question marks about his bat, as scouts consider his swing “slap-heavy,” he’s worked on his defense considerably and has a chance to remain at shortstop. There’s a chance he could go higher than this, including to the Giants at ten.
#13 – Minnesota Twins – C Shea Langeliers
While a hamate fracture earlier this year derailed his campaign, Langeliers has come back considerably strong for Baylor. While he is not as highly regarded offensively as Rutschman, Langeliers is the better defender, as many scouts consider him the best defensive catcher in the draft. There’s a possibility that the Braves take him at nine, but the hamate injury hampered a potential top ten selection for now.
#14 – Philadelphia Phillies – LHP Zack Thompson
Thompson is a strikeout machine for the Kentucky Wildcats, as he has struck out 102 batters in 71.2 innings in 2019. He’s got an athletic delivery, but injuries have held Thompson back considerably in recent memory. He’s had elbow problems, but teams may still take a chance on him in the middle part of the first round. A low-90’s fastball and a sharp low-80’s slider are his main weapons, but he also has a fringe curveball and a strong changeup. There’s reason to believe he could limit walks as he progresses thanks to his delivery.
#15 – Los Angeles Angels – RHP Jackson Rutledge
A former Arkansas recruit, Rutledge went to junior college in Texas after struggling with the Razorbacks. He’s managed to vault himself to be the best junior college player available, ahead of Carter Stewart. His lanky frame (6’8, 260 pounds) leads to the belief that he can handle heavy workloads in the majors. A fastball that can reach the high-90’s and has amazing running life on it leads his arsenal, which is backed up with a slider that could become a solid putaway pitch.
#16 – Arizona Diamondbacks – 3B Josh Jung
All Jung has done with Texas Tech is hit, hit, and hit. A career slash of .353/.457/.572 in college gives him a good track record, and there is still potential that his power could go up as he gets closer to the majors. He is more backside-heavy in his approach at the plate, but that comes with quality bat speed. Defensively, there is work to be done. This could be closer to the floor for Jung in this draft, as he could go higher than this.
#17 – Washington Nationals – 3B Brett Baty
Baty has some of the best raw power in this draft class, as it rivals Rece Hinds from IMG Academy. He possesses power to all fields and has plenty of pop, but on the defensive side of things, there’s a good chance he profiles more as a first baseman. He is committed to Texas.
#18 – Pittsburgh Pirates – RHP Quinn Priester
Priester has risen up draft boards as of late, as the Chicago native has had a very impressive spring to date. With a fastball that can reach 95 MPH with run, there is a chance he could work on a two-seam fastball in the minors that he recently introduced. To accompany that heater, Priester throws a solid curveball that has 11-5 break on it. Largely self-taught, Priester could go higher than 18, but it seems unlikely. He is committed to Texas Christian.
#19 – St. Louis Cardinals – OF Kameron Misner
After a hot start to his spring, Misner was considered to be a top ten candidate. However, a cold stretch hindered that progress, but he is still a solid option in the later part of the first round. An easy swing from the left side of the plate and an athletic frame, he’s more of a line-drive hitter and has solid raw power. There’s a chance he could play all three outfield positions as he looks to find a home defensively.
#20 – Seattle Mariners – RHP George Kirby
Kirby’s spring has been nothing short of spectacular. He boasts a 2.20 ERA in 77.2 innings so far, with an insane 96:6 K:BB ratio for Elon. I recently scouted his start against Northeastern, and he thoroughly impressed a few scouts in attendance, sitting in the mid-90’s throughout the outing and touched 97 MPH on multiple occasions. A sharp curveball and a slider accompany the heater, and he has a feel for a changeup, too. He could rise higher as the draft nears.
#21 – Atlanta Braves – SS Logan Davidson
A shortstop from Clemson with a solid track record for hitting, Davidson draws some question marks with his bat after an abysmal summer performance with wooden bats. While it has led to a high strikeout rate and inconsistent approach, scouts are not deterred by the summer performance, as he could still hit well in the minors. With his defense, many scouts don’t expect Davidson to stick at shortstop.
#22 – Tampa Bay Rays – RHP Brennan Malone
Malone had arguably the best start of any pitchers who performed at NHSI. Some scouts I talked to said it was the best they had ever seen him, as he matched up against 2020 1-1 candidate Jared Jones and pitched 7 shutout innings. He sits in the mid-90’s and can touch 97 MPH, and while his off-speed needs some work, his slider projects to be a solid offering, as well as a decent curveball and changeup. Like many mentioned before, there’s a good chance he goes higher than this. He is committed to UNC.
#23 – Colorado Rockies – RHP Daniel Espino
The Rockies are not afraid to take pitchers that are relatively similar to Espino. They took Riley Pint 4th overall in 2016, and Espino, like Pint, can reach triple digits on his fastball, but sits around 94-98 MPH. He also possesses a solid slider and a changeup that could use some work. One issue that hurts Espino is his projection, as scouts worry about his arm action. He is committed to LSU.
#24 – Cleveland Indians – 1B/OF Michael Busch
An undersized first baseman at UNC, Busch has hit very well the past two years in Chapel Hill, but scouts project him more as an outfielder, preferably a corner outfield spot. With his bat, he has a feel for barreling up pitches, which could be what keeps him at first base.
#25 – Los Angeles Dodgers – SS Will Wilson
Another infielder from the ACC, Wilson has a very strong track record of hitting through his three years at NC State, with a .311/.386/.576 in his career. He has found some power this spring, as he already has 14 home runs, but his below-average speed is a concern. He could profile more as a second baseman in the minors, but there’s a chance his defense could keep him at shortstop.
#26 – Arizona Diamondbacks – 3B Kody Hoese
Hoese has seemingly come out of nowhere to mash the ball like very few, as he currently has 21 home runs this spring after hitting just five in the two years prior. His track record is sketchy, however, and his fringe defense is a concern among many teams. He’s the prime example of a guy with “helium,” but he’s vaulted himself into first round conversation.
#27 – Chicago Cubs – RHP Seth Johnson
A pop-up draft prospect at Campbell, Johnson was a shortstop prior to converting to a pitcher. It has worked pretty well for him so far, as he has raw stuff in his arsenal. Among his pitches, he has a fastball that sits low to mid-90’s, two breaking balls that project as average, and a changeup that shows some promise.
#28 – Milwaukee Brewers – 3B Rece Hinds
Hinds has the best power of any prospect in the draft, but with that comes some concerns. Most notably, his swing and miss issues are evident at times, which is not uncommon for power hitters. He has a very strong arm, but at 6’4, 210 pounds, the likelihood he stays in the infield is small. He is committed to LSU.
#29 – Oakland Athletics – SS Braden Shewmake
Shewmake, like Wilson, has a very impressive track record for hitting at Texas A&M. He is more of a utility guy, as he has played every position in the infield and scouts think there is more in his bat in the future. There is a good chance he outgrows shortstop, which creates a challenge to find a future home defensively.
#30 – New York Yankees – LHP Hunter Barco
Barco is one of the top southpaws available this year, but that may take a hit, as he has been shut down for the year after a shoulder strain. With three pitches that project plus, Barco sits in the low-90’s with good sink on his fastball, a solid changeup, and a slider. It’ll be interesting to see how the shoulder strain affects his stock in the next few weeks.
#31 – Los Angeles Dodgers – RHP Jack Leiter
Son of Al Leiter, Jack Leiter has one of the best breaking balls in this year’s class, which is a hammer curveball. At NHSI, he was extremely impressive against South Forsyth, allowing only 1 hit over 6 shutout innings. He sat in the low-90’s and could touch 95 MPH, with his curveball being his go-to pitch and a good slider. He could go higher, as the Diamondbacks scouted him thoroughly in Cary. He is committed to Vanderbilt.
#32 – Houston Astros – RHP J.J. Goss
To finish out the first round, the Astros may stay local and take Goss, who attends Cypress Ranch High School. He possesses a fastball that can touch 93 MPH, a slider that has 10-4 spin, and a changeup that has solid fade to it. His delivery could use some work, but he’s a solid pick to see go in the late first round.