(The mock itself is at the bottom buried under 9000+ words of attempted quantitative and qualitative analysis. Skipping to it won’t hurt my feelings, I promise.)
(Also, I’m back. Took a little extra time “off” over the summer than planned. Time away was well spent, both in terms of the work I’ve been able to compile without having to worry about updating the site — I’m more on top of this high school class than I have been in years — and in the good old fashioned battery recharging department. I’m ready to go. That said, I have no idea how my schedule will look now that there’s a human being who depends on me and doesn’t understand how punching away at a laptop could possibly be more important than reading Good Night Moon for the thousandth time. I mean, are you saying no to this face?
But I’m going to do my best to keep the site up and running as long as I can. We’ve come too far to shut it down now. So even though I don’t know the exact future of the site, I can say with a high degree of certainty that the 2018 MLB Draft [and likely beyond] will be covered in as much depth as time allows. This dumb thing is a part of me now, and I really can’t imagine life without it.)
(I really appreciate all of the messages and emails over the last few months. I enjoy doing this for entirely selfish reasons, but knowing that other people enjoy it really does make my day. I’ll respond to everybody within the next week or so. In the meantime, the big question that I keep getting asked — are you doing 2017 draft reviews? — doesn’t have an answer yet. I want to, but there’s no way I can do them as I did last year and still a) function as a normal human these next few months, and b) get the kind of 2018 draft preview content up that I want. So, I’m on the fence right now. I think the most likely outcome is a modified version of the reviews, streamlined somewhat…but that suggests that I know how to self-edit, and that’s something we know I can’t [or won’t] do. So…we’ll see? There will be something for 2017, but I just don’t know what exactly.)
This upcoming draft will be my tenth since starting the site. Hard to believe, but true. One of the best parts about being around so long is having a bit more perspective to look back on past drafts and determine if there are any worthwhile trends to share. I’ve long thought that draft trends function better as fun discussion starters than meaningful predictive tools, so don’t take my attempt at using simple math to make this research feel more scientific as anything but a nice little way to kick off the 2018 draft season conversation.
In the nine drafts covered on this site to date, there have been 295 total first round picks. Let’s look at some demographic information on those lucky 295 players…
HS catchers – 8
HS first basemen – 3
HS second basemen – 2
HS third basemen – 5
HS shortstops – 24
HS outfielders – 37
HS pitchers – 61
HS total = 140 (47.5%)
College catchers – 9
College first basemen – 6
College second basemen – 4
College third basemen – 12
College shortstops – 14
College outfielders – 27
College pitchers – 83
College total = 155 (52.5%)
Now let’s talk averages. Who doesn’t love data landmarks? It’s fifth grade math class all over again. We’ve got means, modes, medians, and ranges to get to. Let’s start with the mode for each demographic subsection…
HS catchers – 0
HS first basemen – 0
HS second basemen – 0
HS third basemen – 1
HS shortstops – 2
HS outfielders – 5
HS pitchers – 7
College catchers – 1
College first basemen – 0
College second basemen – 0
College third basemen – 1
College shortstops – 1
College outfielders – 2
College pitchers – 9 and 10
More often than not, we’re getting first rounds with no HS catchers, HS first basemen, HS second basemen, college first basemen, and college second basemen. Interesting! And now the medians…
HS catchers – 1
HS first basemen – 0
HS second basemen – 0
HS third basemen – 1
HS shortstops – 2
HS outfielders – 4
HS pitchers – 7
College catchers – 1
College first basemen – 0
College second basemen – 0
College third basemen – 1
College shortstops – 1
College outfielders – 3
College pitchers – 9
Not sure how useful this data is because we’re dealing with such a small sample to begin with, but I typed it all up so we might as well use it. Let’s look at the ranges next and hope for something a bit more meaningful…
HS catchers – 2 (0 to 2)
HS first basemen – 1 (0 to 1)
HS second basemen – 1 (0 to 1)
HS third basemen – 1 (0 to 1)
HS shortstops – 2 (2 to 4)
HS outfielders – 4 (2 to 6)
HS pitchers – 5 (5 to 10)
College catchers – 3 (0 to 3)
College first basemen – 3 (0 to 3)
College second basemen – 2 (0 to 2)
College third basemen – 4 (0 to 4)
College shortstops – 5 (0 to 5)
College outfielders – 3 (2 to 5)
College pitchers – 4 (7 to 11)
I like this. We can now see that there’s never been a year with more than one HS first baseman, HS second baseman, or HS third baseman. The large spread of high school pitchers and college shortstops is fun, too. You never really know what you’re going to get with those two groups. Finally, everybody’s favorite, the means…
HS catchers – 0.9
HS first basemen – 0.3
HS second basemen – 0.2
HS third basemen – 0.6
HS shortstops – 2.7
HS outfielders – 4.1
HS pitchers – 6.8
College catchers – 1.0
College first basemen – 0.7
College second basemen – 0.4
College third basemen – 1.3
College shortstops – 1.6
College outfielders – 3.0
College pitchers – 9.2
This is the data we’ll do most of our work off of going forward. We’ll come back to it soon. In the meantime, let’s look at all of the data put together (with rounded means)…
HS catchers – 0, 1, 2, 1
HS first basemen – 0, 0, 1, 0
HS second basemen – 0, 0, 1, 0
HS third basemen – 1, 1, 1, 1
HS shortstops – 2, 2, 2, 3
HS outfielders – 5, 4, 4, 4
HS pitchers – 7, 7, 5, 7
College catchers – 1, 1, 3, 1
College first basemen – 0, 0, 3, 1
College second basemen – 0, 0, 2, 0
College third basemen – 1, 1, 4, 1
College shortstops – 1, 1, 5, 2
College outfielders – 2, 3, 3, 3
College pitchers – 9/10, 9, 4, 9
Some pretty clear data landmark trends seem to have developed. That’s always comforting to see. Let’s finish this math off. If we take the original means that produced a 32.8 player first round on average and adjust them to our upcoming 30 player first round, we get these figures…
HS catchers – 0.8
College catchers – 0.9
First basemen – 0.9
Second basemen – 0.5
Third basemen – 1.7
Shortstops – 3.9
HS outfielders – 3.8
College outfielders – 2.7
HS pitchers – 6.2
College pitchers – 8.4
Some logical combinations were also made along the way, clearly. If we then round everything off, we see we’re at 31 players in this year’s first round. That’s one too many, so somebody is going to get unfairly cut along the way. It probably makes the most sense to dump one of the pitchers, but we’ll play it by ear and see what make actually makes sense once we get started. Maybe we can find a sneaky way to slip that thirty-first player in. We’ll see. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the prospective names that match up with the numbers…
HS Catcher (1)
Will Banfield (Brookwood HS, Georgia), Noah Naylor (St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS, Ontario), and Anthony Seigler (Cartersville HS, Georgia) have separated themselves from the rest of the prep catching class by a pretty healthy margin at this point. All three are sensational athletes with the clear defensive tools and understanding of the nuances of the game to remain behind the plate. Many would argue that Banfield’s last calendar year was so impressive that he belongs in a tier unto himself. I’m not quite there as Naylor is his near equal athletically and Seigler can more than hang with him as a hitter, but I can appreciate the sentiment.
If we had to bet on only one of these high school catchers getting drafted in June, Banfield is the smart present choice. Of course, two prep catchers were selected in each of the 2010, 2012, and 2013 drafts, so one of those two top guys joining Banfield (or even Naylor and Seigler squeezing out Banfield altogether) can’t be ruled out. You also can’t discount the possibility of all three catchers going in the first round, but allowing for the possibility amounts to ignoring recent draft history. I checked every single MLB Draft in my literal lifetime (i.e., since 1985) and could not find a single first round with three prep catchers. Maybe we make history this year…but probably not.
Others: Naylor, Seigler
College C (1)
If you read the site regularly, you know I love college catchers. I’m pretty sure I write about them a disproportionate amount compared to what they are actual worth, but I don’t care. I think college catchers are fun. That’s why it pains me to say that this year’s class isn’t really grabbing me in the same way recent classes have. Part of that is my admitted lack of love for some of the consensus top guys, something that can change quickly as we move closer to the actual draft and the contrarian impulses begin to die down a bit. My favorite current guys include Nick Fortes (Mississippi), Ryan Jeffers (UNC Wilmington), Nick Meyer (Cal Poly), and Cal Raleigh (Florida State). Fortes has the feel of a player on the verge of a major breakout; give him steady playing time, good health, and all the opportunities to show off for scouts that come with playing in the SEC (and catching some premium draft arms to boot)…and watch out. Meyer is somewhat similar in terms of defensive upside and athleticism, but with the plus of a longer track record and the minus of less functional present power. It may be a career backup catcher profile if he proves unable to drive the ball with consistency, but a three-tool catcher like him is pretty interesting regardless. I can’t pretend to know all that much about Jeffers’s defensive acumen (“above-average to plus arm” is all I have on him for now), but his offensive profile (plus raw power, unique physical strength) and stellar sophomore season have me intrigued to learn more.
All in all, I think the most interesting college catcher in the class is Raleigh. He’s got the best blend of power, patience, and likelihood of sticking defensively for me. His intersection of upside and certainty is pretty exciting, though the knocks (too big for the position, too much swing-and-miss) are valid. I can’t tell if the fact there are a half-dozen worthy contenders for the college catcher throne speaks to the quality depth at the position or the lack of star power. Little bit of both, I suppose.
Others: Fortes, Jeffers, Meyer, Nick Dalesandro (Purdue), Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State), Vito Friscia (Hofstra), Dominic DiCaprio (Rice), Garrett Wolforth (Dallas Baptist), Grant Koch (Arkansas), Michael Curry (Georgia), Kole Cottam (Kentucky), Chris Cullen (South Carolina), Josh Breaux (McLennan JC)
First Basemen (1)
In a typical year, just one first basemen is selected in the draft’s first round. Actually, that’s not entirely true because four of the last nine years saw no first base prospect at all selected in the first round, but one per year has been the statistical mean over the last nine years so let’s go with that. Either way, the presence of Seth Beer (Clemson) makes this an atypical year. Much has been written about Beer already and plenty more will be said between now and June. My quick take coming from an individual who consumes far too much draft-related content: Beer is this year’s (or one of this year’s) properly rated to overhyped to underrated prospect. Every draft cycle there are a couple of prospects who capture the imagination of mainstream baseball fans. Beer, thanks to a fun last name and monster freshman numbers, became one of those very prospects for 2018. Verdict? Properly rated. That fame (and, to be fair, that ridiculous freshman season) had some fans thinking of Beer as a potential 1-1 candidate. Survey says…overhyped! Now we see early draft rankings and general prospect-related buzz that puts Beer well outside the draft’s first round. To me, this feels a little bit like an overcorrection based on wanting to show the “non-draft” people who were excited about Beer that he’s really not as good as they think. Maybe I’m off on that guess and people aren’t nearly as petty as I think they are (or, more accurately, as I know I am), but it does seem weird to me that a player who has hit the way Beer has these last two seasons can’t find a place in the top thirty or so picks. While I think Beer has a good shot of being a first round pick even as a first baseman, the fact that he has an outside shot to work himself into shape as a playable corner outfielder just sweetens the whole deal. Barring an offensive collapse (not likely) or serious injury, I think Beer can safely be called a future first round pick.
Alec Bohm (Wichita State) is pretty great, too. He’d be a slam dunk first round candidate any other year. He’s also another player that we’re currently calling a first baseman that may not actually be announced that way (third base and corner outfield are both possibilities for him) come June. If you like plus raw power and a discerning batting eye, Bohm is your guy. Could be recency bias infected our heads, but I’ve heard the name Rhys Hoskins mentioned multiple times (two is multiple!) as a point of comparison to what Bohm could be in pro ball.
I’m as excited about Triston Casas (American Heritage HS, Florida) as can be, but will admit to being a bit gun-shy after last year’s version (Alex Toral) went from expected first round pick (by me) to very much not a first round pick and on campus at Miami. I realize that’s not a very fair way to judge a prospect and Casas’s virtues (power and patience, mainly) are entirely his own, but nobody ever said prospect analysis was fair. The history of high school first basemen going in the first round isn’t very kind, but Casas has enough early buzz that a big spring could carry him all the way into the top thirty.
Others: Bohm, Casas, Luken Baker (TCU), Nick Patten (Delaware), Mickey Gasper (Bryant)
Second Basemen (1)
Nick Madrigal (Oregon State) is a first round lock. He’s a true five-tool talent with a legitimate plus hit tool, double-digit home run pop, plus speed, and all the defensive skills (athleticism, hands, arm) to project as an impact talent in the middle infield. The only way he doesn’t wind up as this year’s only first round second baseman is if he’s announced on draft day as a shortstop, a position that he might just have enough arm talent to play in pro ball. This may be a little too out there as far as predictions go and I’m spoiling a pick on the “mock” already, but why not: Madrigal follows the Alex Bregman route to pro ball by getting himself selected second overall in June. Quick performance comparison between the two using Bregman’s junior year (top) and Madrigal’s sophomore year (bottom)…
.323/.412/.535 – 36 BB/22 K – 38/48 SB – 260 AB
.380/.449/.532 – 27 BB/16 K – 16/20 SB – 237 AB
There hasn’t been a prep second baseman drafted in the first round since 2010. That doesn’t seem likely to change in 2018. It’s Madrigal or bust this year.
Others: Devin Mann (Louisville), Nick Dunn (Maryland), Ako Thomas (Michigan), Terrin Vavra (Minnesota), Ryne Ogren (Elon), Cobie Vance (Arkansas)
Third Basemen (2)
It’s early, but, wow, does it look like a rough class for college third basemen. I guess I’d go with Brendan Donovan (South Alabama) as my top guy for now, but that’s without the benefit of knowing as much as I’d like about his defense (some peg him as a future outfielder) or with the full confidence that his sophomore year jump in production can be sustained. I’m quite bullish on the guy, but there’s still little denying that his place on the top of the heap is owed to a lack of competition as much as anything he’s done.
On the bright side, the high school class of third basemen looks excellent. I currently count seven prospects at the hot corner who could challenge for first round consideration. Of that seven, I’d say three are obvious and four are slightly more sleeper-ish. Forgive the cliché, but Nolan Gorman (Sandra Day O’Connor HS, Arizona) has the scout favored classic “light-tower power” that makes scouts, coaches, teammates, and fans weak in the knees. As nice as the power is, it’s Gorman’s mature approach as a hitter, above-average to plus arm, and solid defensive tools that give him a shot to be a long-term fixture at third base. Then there’s Jordan Groshans (Magnolia HS, Texas), a rangy 6-4, 190 pounder with a big arm, above-average speed, game-changing power, and the kind of electric bat speed that gets even a guy typically ambivalent about bat speed to take notice. Then there’s arguably my favorite prep third baseman of them all, Nick Northcut (Mason HS, Ohio). I swear I had this comp before Perfect Game mentioned it (good call by them, by the way), but Northcut’s profile reminds me a whole heck of a lot of a young Nolan Arenado. Northcut is a wildly athletic defender with one of the best prep hit tools around. Him getting the Vanderbilt seal of approval doesn’t hurt, either. Beyond those three, Hunter Watson (Pottsboro HS, Texas), Cory Acton (American Heritage HS, Florida), Tim Borden (Our Lady of Providence HS, Indiana), and Bryce Bush (De La Salle Collegiate HS, Michigan) all stand out for one reason or another as potential sleeper-ish first round talents.
Watson has plus raw power and, contradictory or not, a pro-ready body with plenty of projection left. Acton’s hit tool is so advanced that I’ve had more than one contact (two is more than one!) wonder aloud if batting titles were in his future. A separate contact predicted Borden would wind up at Louisville and come out the other side as a top ten pick. Finally, Bush’s power and sneaky athleticism — some have him earmarked for first base, but I think he can hang at third or at least an outfield corner — make him a high-priority follow as we enter the spring season. The depth and impact talent at the top of the prep third base class makes it likely that we’ll see more than one of these guys off the board in the first thirty picks or so.
Prediction: Gorman, Northcut
Others: Donovan, Groshans, Watson, Acton, Borden, Bush, Romy Gonzalez (Miami), Kyle Datres (North Carolina), Jordan Verdon (San Diego State), Jonathan India (Florida)
We need four first round shortstops to hit the nine-year mean. I think we get there with room to spare. Two high school players stand out at the top of the class: Brice Turang (Santiago HS, California) and Nander De Sedas (Montverde HS, Florida). Turang has generated some of the most interesting comps of any player in recent memory including Christian Yelich (everybody), Roberto Alomar (Sam Monroy), and Dansby Swanson (BA). I could see his absolute best case scenario looking a little bit like a lefthanded Mookie Betts, though that could have something to do with my subconscious lumping them together because both are excellent amateur bowlers. I’m all in on Turang as a hitter — he makes tons of hard contact (most of the time…), sprays it to all fields, knows how to run hitter-friendly counts and take what the pitcher gives him — but the rest of his game has some catching up to do. I’m fine with bat-first college hitters, but bat-first prep players make me a little nervous. Turang is a good runner, but can he kick his speed up a notch and become a true base stealing threat? His defensive tools have flashed, but will he have the arm strength to consistently make the throw from the deep in the hole at short? Will his swing, body, and approach ever result in enough power to keep pro pitching honest? The fact that there remain so many questions about his game make him something closer to a mid-first round pick than top five guy as we sit here in early October. That’s doesn’t preclude him from rising back up nor is it a knock on where he currently sits — being a mid-first round pick is really good! — but I think the hype on him is a little bit louder than the reality. Or maybe I’m falling into the same pitfalls I’ve accused others of when it comes to Seth Beer. We’ll see.
What is known about De Sedas is really damn exciting: real deal hit tool, plus raw power, rocket arm, plus defensive tools. So much about his profile reminds me of some of the big name shortstops out of Puerto Rico in recent drafts like Correa, Lindor, Baez, and Perez. There’s also the Floridian connection comparison out there with Manny Machado. Heady stuff, I realize, but big comps are the norm (for me, anyway) this early in the draft process. It’s fun to get excited about players, after all. De Sedas’s upside is thrilling, though it is worth acknowledging that his pop-up status — in as much as any player can “pop up” this early in the process — allows him to come out of the early stages of draft evaluation relatively free from the scrutiny that players who have been in the spotlight longer have been up against. Compare him to Turang, a prospect pegged as a potential 1-1 candidate for well over a year now, who has had loads of time on the big stage where evaluators (and wannabes like me) can pick apart the most minute negatives in his game. The longer you’re a prospect, the more holes in your game they’ll try to poke. When you’re new and exciting, you get the benefit of the doubt. It’s just the way things are, fair or not.
With a high degree of confidence that Turang and De Sedas wind up as first round pick, we’re left only searching for two more six-spotters. Xavier Edwards (North Broward Prep, Florida) and Brandon Dieter (South Hills, California) would be my next two personal prep picks to crash the first round party. Edwards is a standout defender with the speed and approach to excel as a leadoff hitter at the highest level. Dieter just flat knows how to hit. There may not have been a player more fun to watch at the plate all summer than him. So good.
Collegiately there are plenty of options, but no sure things. Jeremy Eierman (Missouri State) has the power and speed (above-average to plus, both) to shoot up boards this spring. Cadyn Grenier (Oregon State) brings pedigree and a well-rounded skill set that grows on you the more you see him play. I personally like Ford Proctor (Rice), Richard Palacios (Towson), and Jax Biggers (Arkansas) more than I probably should. Proctor is steady across the board, Palacios has serious speed and flashes considerable power, and Biggers brings an intriguing blend of contact, pop, and patience with at least average defense up the middle defense. It’s a slightly better group at the top than last year with a clear edge in depth. That said, it wouldn’t be a total shock to college shortstops get squeezed out of the first round entirely for the second year in a row. This group could match last year’s one first round pick or it could get shutout like 2016’s class, but it definitely won’t approach the magic of 2015.
Prediction: Turang, De Sedas, Dieter, Eierman
Others: Edwards, Grenier, Proctor, Palacios, Biggers, Turner Brown (East Carolina), Luke Manzo (College of Charleston), Nick Mascelli (Wagner), Reid Leonard (Morehead State), Nico Hoerner (Stanford), Charles Mack (Williamsville East HS, New York), Jeremiah Jackson (St. Luke’s Episcopal HS, Alabama), Kendall Simmons (Tattnall Square Academy, Georgia), Blaze Alexander (Bishop Verot HS, Florida)
HS Outfielders (4)
What this prep outfield class lacks in clear present star power, it more than makes up for it with depth all over the place. It’s early enough in the process that I don’t feel too guilty about having no idea who the top outfielder is or will be in this group. I have my favorites, sure, but I’m glad nobody is forcing me to choose a top guy or five just yet.
Mike Siani (Penn Charter, Pennsylvania) plays his home games a short drive from me, so I’ll be seeing a lot of him this spring. Though I’ve seen him a few times in the past already, I’m still pumped to see the plus throwing, plus running, incredibly athletic center fielder hit and throw and run and pitch and spit seeds and mingle with teammates and just generally do things teenage baseball players do. Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West HS, Wisconsin) is currently suffering a bit from the same issues Brice Turang is facing: backlash from being nitpicked as one of the draft’s sneaky 1-1 prospects going back over a full year. He’s no less of a player than he was when his prospect stock was at its pick, but his flaws are more magnified now than his many draft peers.
Connor Scott (Plant HS, Florida) saw his profile rise every single time he stepped on the field this past summer. The persistent comparisons to Kyle Tucker (noted by both D1 and PG) paint the picture of a long, lean outfielder who is both a glider in the bases and in the outfield as well as a projectable power hitter. Scott also has legitimate two-way intrigue as a three-pitch power lefthander who flashes an above-average low-80s changeup already. Ryder Green (Knoxville Christian HS, Tennessee) is really good. Watching him makes this pretty clear as he’ll show you three above-average or better tools regularly (power, speed, arm), but, as mentioned with Nick Northcut above, the Vanderbilt stamp of approval doesn’t hurt.
Joe Gray (Hattiesburg HS, Mississippi) might remind you of some of the top prep outfield prospects in recent years. I’m thinking Jordon Adell specifically, though not enough so that I’d use him as a comp just yet. Anyway, like that classic teenage high school prospect archetype we all know and love, Gray has monster raw power, a big arm, and enough quicks to stick in center. The big question for him centers on whether or not he’ll hit enough to make all of his loud tools sing. If he hits, he’s scary. If he doesn’t, he’s still pretty enticing. That’s the nice thing about betting on tools and athleticism. Less toolsy but surer bats include Nick Schnell (Roncalli HS, Indiana) and Nick Decker (Seneca HS, New Jersey). Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel HS, Illinois) is a future plus defender in center with blazing speed and worlds of athleticism. Parker Meadows (Grayson HS, Georgia) lurks as my “sleeper” (note: there’s really no such thing as a sleeper if you follow this stuff as much as we do…and you really can’t be a sleeper when your brother was a recent first round pick anyway) to slip into the draft’s first round. His power and speed combination is at or near the top of this class for any position player. My hunch is that he explodes this spring in a way not entirely dissimilar to what his brother once did, so he takes the fourth and final projected first round spot for now.
Prediction: Kelenic, Scott, Green, Meadows
Others: Siani, Gray, Schnell, Decker, Thomas
College Outfielders (3)
The mean of around three college outfielders per draft since 2009 blows my mind; I would have guessed it would have been significantly higher. Maybe something closer to the range of five to seven. I guess that doesn’t make a ton of logical sense considering the high cost of first round real estate — with only thirty or so spots, getting 10% of that market share for your position isn’t too shabby — but it still feels like college outfielders, a relatively safe investment if recent draft history can be trusted, are underrepresented on draft day. That’s where math comes in handy, right? When things feel a certain way but aren’t actually that way, math is there to open our eyes to what’s real. More surprising than the mean is the fact that the high end of the college outfielder range since 2009 was five…and that was all the way back in 2009. The five back then were Dustin Ackley (1-2), AJ Pollock (1-17), Jared Mitchell (1-23), Brett Jackson (1-31), and Tim Wheeler (1-32). So even the high water mark came in a year where it took the literal last two picks of the round to get there. That class is also a pretty fair representation of why maybe college outfielders aren’t quite as safe as one might think. A quick look…
’09 – Ackley, Pollock, Mitchell, Jackson, Wheeler = one hit, four misses
’10 – Bryce Harper, Michael Choice, Gary Brown, Kyle Parker = one hit, three misses
’11 – George Springer, Mikie Mahtook = one hit, one whatever it is Mahtook is (useful player is fair, I think)
’12 – Tyler Naquin, James Ramsey, Victor Roache = one whatever it is Naquin is (useful player weirdly banished to the minors again), two misses
’13 – Hunter Renfroe, Phillip Ervin, Aaron Judge = one hit, two maybe’s
’14 – Michael Conforto, Bradley Zimmer = one hit, one maybe
’15 – Andrew Benintendi, Ian Happ, DJ Stewart, Christin Stewart – two hits, two maybe’s
Too soon to bother trying to evaluate the last two drafts (and possibly even 2015, but oh well), so that leaves us with seven drafts, twenty-three players, seven hits, five guys in the early stages of the sink-or-swim portions of their careers (Mahtook, Naquin, Renfroe, Ervin, Zimmer), two guys young enough we really don’t know yet (Stewart and Stewart), and nine misses. Without the context of how every other position/class has fared, this data isn’t super useful…but it’s enough for me to argue that college outfielders aren’t as much of a sure-thing (in as much as any draft pick is a “sure-thing”) as I might have first thought. Interesting but probably just a coincidence that there was one hit and one hit only in every year but 2015. Even in the year with five first round outfielders, we only had one hit. Coincidence or not, that’s a little weird.
Anyway, all of that is a long way of saying that I think this year’s class has an outside shot of reaching five college first round picks, especially if some creative bookkeeping (e.g., a player like Seth Beer gets announced as an outfielder and not a first baseman) takes place. The two top guys in this class as of now look like Griffin Conine (Duke) and Travis Swaggerty (South Alabama). Conine’s big sophomore season in the ACC put him on the prospect map, but it was his showing on the Cape that made him a potential star in the eyes of so many. My secret confession: I think performance during summer wood bat leagues, namely the Cape Cod League, are wildly overrated when assessing a player’s overall body of work. They are a piece of the puzzle, clearly, but that’s it. The prestige and romance of playing on the Cape can get normally level-headed baseball prospect writers woozy with hyperbole for each season’s summer league stars. Baseball on the Cape is baseball in its purest form, we hear. They aren’t entirely wrong, but still…gross. There’s a lot of great baseball being played outside of New England that counts just the same in the grand scheme of things. I get that the competition is particularly tough up there, but sometimes all the romanticizing about the whole experience is just too much for me. Maybe I’m just a bad baseball fan. I don’t know.
All that said, I’m willing to ignore my own warnings and go all-in on Conine this year. He’s great not just because of what he did on the Cape, but because of everything that he’s done (including mashing this past summer!) dating back to his prep days. Conine’s body of work is unimpeachable. The fact that we’re talking about a college hitter who doesn’t play an up-the-middle defensive position as a sure-thing first round pick speaks to how much of an impression Conine made on all who saw him these past few months. He’s the modern prototype for what a right fielder should be, a hit over power offensive standout (who also happens to have plus raw power) that takes consistent professional quality at bats and leverages an above-average to plus throwing arm and average to above-average speed to play damn fine defense in a corner. What more could you want?
Well, maybe you want the guy who can do many of the same things as Conine while also manning center field. That’s Swaggerty. It should be noted that the qualifier “many” in that initial sentence is an important one: you’re pretty clearly trading some of Conine’s power for some of Swaggerty’s speed, so pretending as if the two have similar offensive profiles does both young hitters a disservice. Still, Swaggerty, like Conine, is a highly advanced hitter who controls the strike zone like a wily veteran and never wastes an at bat. He doesn’t have quite the same game-changing speed and the two men obviously play different positions (brief foray in the big leagues for our comp notwithstanding), but I see a little bit of Trea Turner in Swaggerty’s game.
The race for the third college outfielder spot is wide open. Greyson Jenista (Wichita State), Tristan Pompey (Kentucky), Alex McKenna (Cal Poly), and Trevor Larnach (Oregon State) are all jostling for the spot. McKenna can make a case for best pure hit tool in the college class. Jenista might be one of the ones who can challenge him. Same with Alfonso Rivas (Arizona) for that matter. Brock Hale (BYU) has mashed for two years, but now it’ll be time for scouts to really start bearing down on him as a hitter to determine how much is real and how much is due to park/league adjusted inflation. I’m buying, but am also glad to have another season to make a more informed decision on what kind of player he really is. Pompey was a big summer away from launching himself into the “no doubt about it” first round stratosphere (i.e., he could have been Griffin Conine if Griffin Conine wasn’t Griffin Conining the Cape Cod League), but things didn’t really work out. He’s still as talented as ever, so the breakout might just happen a few months later than we were hoping. I’m not typically one to get too worked up over a hitter’s swing, but, damn, is Larnach’s stroke aesthetically pleasing. It’s the kind of swing that’s so pretty that you’d find it almost impossible to believe he won’t hit at the pro level.
I’m not sure Carlos Cortes (South Carolina) can mash his way to the first round, but I’m also not sure he can’t. It’s not a comp per se, but there are some shades of Keston Hiura there. Lars Nootbaar (USC) has the name to make him a fan favorite on the internet and the game (above-average raw power, elite athleticism) to make him a fan favorite on the field.
The absence of a clear-cut third guy — and, for the record, you could argue that even the top two are more up for grabs than I’m making it seem and I wouldn’t put up much of a fight — gives me the opportunity to get a little weird with pushing some personal favorites. DJ Artis (Liberty) already got some love around here back when I thought I could write every day while also taking care of a two-month old baby. Artis is a great athlete who can run, defend, and throw…and he has a 114 BB/58 K ratio through two college seasons. I have no idea how pro teams will value him come June, but I love him and would want my favorite team to draft him without hesitation. Same for Andrew Moritz (North Carolina Greensboro), a plus runner who covers loads of ground in center with a damn near ideal approach needed to excel as a leadoff hitter in pro ball. Count me in. Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist) is a highly instinctual player in both center and on the base paths. Beyond that, his power (above-average to plus), speed (ditto), and keen understanding of his strengths and weaknesses as a hitter make him one of this year’s most interesting underhyped college bats.
I happened upon Ashton Bardzell (Hartford) one time while he was in high school. I really liked him then. That look (plus all the other information obtained via various means along the way, but let’s pretend it was mostly that look since I’m such an eagle-eye) was enough for me to rank him 204th in his class out of high school. Now I’m patiently waiting for the 2018 Hartford schedule to be announced so I can happen upon him again (this time on purpose…long story on that HS viewing) and run him even higher up the draft rankings this time around. Bardzell is a really impressive athlete with above-average raw power, above-average to plus wheels, an easy plus arm, and solid range in the outfield. I think he has a chance to become a major college star this season and a top three (minimum) round pick. I’d buy up all the imaginary Ashton Bardzell stock with all my imaginary money (just kidding, I have a kid now so even in my wildest imagination I’m broke) if an imaginary baseball draft prospect stock market existed. In fact, let me go on the record real quick…
Prediction: Conine, Swaggerty, Bardzell
Others: Artis, McKenna, Larnach, Nootbaar, Rivas, Pompey, Cortes, Moritz, Hale, Jake McCarthy (Virginia), Jimmy Herron (Duke), Jackson Lueck (Florida State), Josh Stowers (Louisville), Cameron Simmons (Virginia), Robert Neustrom (Iowa), Marty Bechina (Michigan State), Jawuan Harris (Rutgers), Kyler Murray (Oklahoma), Steele Walker (Oklahoma), Tyler Williams (Arizona State), Steven Kwan (Oregon State), DaShawn Keirsey (Utah), Eric Cole (Arkansas), Antoine Duplantis (LSU), Zach Watson (LSU), Diandre Amion (Alabama State), CJ Newsome (Jackson State), Niko Decolati (Loyola Marymount), Kyle Dean (BYU)
High School Pitchers (7)
The draft is still eight months away, so your best bet here is to throw the top thirty or so high school pitching names in a hat, pull out five to ten names (mean is seven), and loudly declare that those will be the first round prep pitching prospects come June. It’s as good a method as any, I think. One name that probably doesn’t deserve the hat is Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central HS, Georgia), the present and likely future top pitcher in the high school ranks and a real threat to become the first ever prep righthander to go first overall. Hankins is pretty much what you’d get if you programmed the transmogrifier to the “Projectable High School Pitcher” setting and put it on full power. High heat, a weaponized curve, a nascent but interesting change, and a brand new slider because hey why not add a slider…yeah, that’ll work. Player development is non-linear and I know I fall for this trap more often than I should, BUT if Hankins is this good now with his frame, athleticism, work ethic, and aptitude for learning new things then it’s a whole lot of fun to picture where he could be at in two to three years.
Fellow Peach Stater Kumar Rocker (North Oconee HS, Georgia) is more of a fully realized physical specimen. There’s a part of me that looks at Rocker’s massive 6-5, 250 pound defensive end frame and feels some trepidation wondering about how he’ll look three to five years down the line, but that’s a problem for future me to worry about. Present me loves the stuff Rocker already possesses — no projection needed with his fastball/slider, and his change has looked better the more he’s used it (imagine that…) — and is willing to believe that his size won’t be an issue going forward because of his athletic profile and bloodlines. A fun comp I got on Rocker recently: Jimmy Nelson of the Brewers. Lots of time between now and June to make that look silly, but I don’t hate it for now.
Judging on feedback I’ve gotten on this list already, it appears I’m particularly bullish on Austin Becker (Big Walnut HS, Ohio). He’s a Vanderbilt commit (like both Hankins and Rocker) who already shows command of three easy above-average pitches. That alone sounds pretty good to me. His frame and athleticism suggest he could sit in the mid-90s one day, but he might not even need that kind of premium velocity if his breaking ball (above-average already, chance to be plus) and changeup (not ready to put a grade on it, but it’s really good) continue to progress. Matthew Liberatore (Mountain Ridge HS, Arizona) got better every time he took the mound all summer long. In the early days of the site, I used to talk about how much I loved pitchers without big velocity who got by with superior offspeed stuff and great command suddenly growing into velocity and retaining all the other aspects of their game that made them great originally. It’s like when a talented yet normal-sized basketball player with guard skills shoots up to 6’10” in high school. That’s Liberatore. He’s 6’10” now. Not literally, but you get the idea…I hope.
Slade Cecconi (Trinity Prep, Florida) has a one-two punch (mid-90s sinking fastball, 80-85 cut-slider with plus upside) as good as any arm in the class. Carter Stewart (Eau Gallie HS, Florida) throws a curve so good that I’ll be telling my incredibly bored grandkids about the first time I saw it in action. I’ve heard the name Kluber whispered as a possible comp, especially when he has that curve working. I’ve also heard Luke Bartnicki (Walton HS, Georgia) has a stronger than you’d think commitment to Georgia Tech, but there’s no way a pitcher as talented as him (89-95 FB, 79-85 SL, mid-80s CU, everything down) turns down a first day paycheck. I’m totally enamored with Landon Marceaux (Destrehan HS, Louisiana), a pitcher with command beyond his years who reminds me a lot of Aaron Nola for reasons both meaningful and superficial. Fellow LSU commit Jaden Hill (Ashdown HS, Arkansas) has a potentially special changeup and incredible athleticism. Mike Vasil (Boston College HS, Massachusetts) is the best cold-weather pitcher here. You can count on him for three average or better pitches already. JT Ginn (Brandon HS, Mississippi) is the obligatory “reliever delivery, but stuff to start” prospect in the class. There has to be one every year, right? If it doesn’t work out for Ginn as a starter, his fastball/breaking ball combo in short bursts could get him to the big leagues as fast as any prep pitcher here.
I’m running out of angles for the rest of these pitchers, but rest assured that every name mentioned in the “Others” section below is really damn good. This is a legitimately great year for high school pitching. You’ll see first round talents in most years fall a few rounds past that as teams reach for other, shallower positions under the assumption they can still get quality teenage pitching later.
Fun aside: in my copying/pasting haste, I lost all of my notes on every high school pitcher you see listed below from Hankins to Ashcraft. Good work by me. There’s enough time to rebuild between now and June, but, damn, do I hate myself right now.
Prediction: Hankins, Liberatore, Becker, Cecconi, Rocker, Stewart
Others: Bartnicki, Marceaux, Hill, Vasil, Ginn, Cole Winn (Orange Lutheran HS, California), Jonathan Childress (Forney HS, Texas), Ryan Weathers (Loretto HS, Tennessee), Cole Wilcox (Heritage HS, Georgia), Adam Kloffenstein (Magnolia HS, Texas), Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island HS, Florida), Tyler Ras (Middletown North HS, New Jersey), Jack Perkins (Kokomo HS, Indiana), Simeon Woods-Richardson, (Kempner HS, Texas), Braxton Ashcraft (Robinson HS, Texas), Brandon Birdsell (Conroe HS, Texas), Lineras Torres (Beach HS, New York), Jonathan Gates (Nature Coast Tech HS, Florida), Drew Rom (Highlands HS, Kentucky), Bo Blessie (Lee HS, Texas), Dominic Pipken (Pinole Valley HS, California), Garrett Wade (Hartselle HS, Alabama), Angel Tiburcio (Trinity Christian HS, Florida), Seth Halvorsen (Heritage Christian Academy, Minnesota)
College Pitchers (9)
Depending on who you talk to, Logan Gilbert (Stetson) is either a stealth 1-1 contender or a borderline first round pick. Since you’re talking to me (or whatever the writing/reading equivalent is), you’re going to hear about Gilbert as arguably the top current prospect in this draft. One of the patterns I’ve noticed in successful pitching prospects is a common ability to excel at the “little things.” The scare quotes are needed here because a) these aren’t little things at all, and b) for many people, these aren’t even considered little things. When I get asked about pitchers, the questions are almost always the same. How hard does he throw? What’s his breaking ball like? Can he throw an effective changeup? Tell me about his size, his mechanics, his injury history, his track record on the field…that sort of stuff. Little things like deception, extension, and athleticism are often overlooked. Well, that’s not entirely true. Were overlooked is a more fair way of putting it. Athleticism has always been critically important, but it is being talked about (and measured) in different ways today. Same thing with deception and extension, especially with the proliferation of TrackMan data collection and PitchFX and all the other fancy stuff now being used for pitchers as early as middle school (!) these days.
This is all a long way of saying that Gilbert’s “little things” come up huge. He’s a fantastic athlete by any measure. Picking up the ball on him seems like it would be a nightmare. His extension is just silly as opposing hitters have remarked it looks like he’s handing the ball to the catcher at times. As important as all of this stuff is, he wouldn’t be a 1-1 contender if it weren’t for also excelling at the “big things.” Fastball? He’ll sit anywhere from 89-95 and touch 97, but the pitch hops up another full grade because of the ridiculous natural movement he gets on it. Breaking ball? There’s an average 74-80 curve that will flash better and an above-average 79-82 slider that comes in as a plus pitch at times. The two breakers can run together at times — enough so that I know some just call it a hybrid — but I think the two distinct velo bands speak to the differentiation in break of the two. Changeup? I’d like to see more here this spring, but he has one at 82-85 that has looked fine enough in small doses so far. Size, mechanics, injury history, track record? Check, check, check, and check.
So why are some relatively down on Gilbert at this point? It could be that they aren’t weighing those “little things” as heavily as I am. It could also be some risk-aversion when looking at some of the fair concerns hidden in all of the positivity above. Gilbert’s breaking ball (or balls, depending on your view) can be a devastating pitch, but the consistency isn’t there yet. Same thing with the changeup, though that pitch is more of an unknown than anything else. Not having a reliable knockout offspeed pitch is normally enough to disqualify a guy from early first round talk, so what gives with Gilbert’s lofty rating? It’s all about that fastball. I’ve written a lot of words on the guy already, but it really could have just been one: FASTBALL. Gilbert’s fastball is such a dominating pitch that he could throw it almost exclusively and still get through a lineup multiple times. The fact that he has the makings of a really good breaking ball (or balls) and a serviceable change is akin to icing on the cake. Between the way he pitches off the heat, his build, and the way he gets the most of his “little things,” I can see a bit of both Justin Verlander and Jacob DeGrom in him.
Since I’ve used up all my words for the week already, we’ll do our best to be brief with the remaining college arms. There’s zero chance that this will happen after so much time away, but let’s pretend that it’s possible to help preserve my own sanity. One of my big questions heading into the 2018 college season is pretty straightforward: are we really going to get a Friday night rivalry game with Konnor Pilkington (Mississippi State) and Ryan Rolison (Mississippi) head-to-head this season? I’m truly wondering as I have no idea how these teams are planning on setting up their (stacked) rotations, but, man, wouldn’t that be great? Rolison is the bigger current name thanks to his star turn on the Cape this past summer. Turns out that scouts like lefties with above-average velocity (88-94, 95 peak), stellar hybrid breaking balls (a 76-84 offering that takes the best parts of a good slider and a good curve and turns into something special), and command not typically seen at the amateur level. Pilkington is a little less famous…for now. This port-sider has a similar fastball to Rolison, a better present changeup, and a step or so less breaking ball and command. Add it all up and the two are really close. Two additional fun quirks besides their status as bitter college rivals: 1) Rolison, a draft-eligible sophomore, is old for his class, while Pilkington, a typical draft-eligible junior, is young for his class; despite being a year apart in terms of academics, the two are only two months apart in age, and 2) take a peek at what each pitcher did last season…
KP – 9.3 K/9 – 3.9 BB/9 – 3.08 ERA
RR – 9.4 K/9 – 3.5 BB/9 – 3.07 ERA
We’re not exactly entering The Twilight Zone just yet, but that’s at least a little freaky, right? For the record, the two teams square off on April 6 at Mississippi State. Do you think I can convince the wife that Stark Vegas is an appropriate place for the baby’s first real vacation?
Casey Mize (Auburn) is awesome and maybe a tad overlooked because Auburn isn’t quite Florida or Vanderbilt or Mississippi State, but I’d put his mid-80s split-change up against any offspeed pitch in this class. Mize vs Pilkington or Rolison or Singer would be a pretty nice consolation prize if I can’t sneak my way into the baseball version of the Egg Bowl. In any event, it’s worth noting that Mize put up the best sophomore season (11.7 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 leading to a 2.04 ERA in 83.2 IP) of any of this year’s top college pitchers. When stuff like his converges with major on-field success, you’re looking at a clear top of the first round talent. Health permitting, naturally.
Speaking of health, Shane McClanahan (South Florida) has a few red flags he can’t help — Tommy John surgery already under his belt and a lack of ideal size (6-1, 175 pounds) — so he might be a little scary for some, but the payoff (mid-90s heat, nasty upper-70s slider, solid mid-80s change) is worth rolling the dice. I loved Blaine Knight (Arkansas) last year. Nothing has changed to make me love him any less. His frame screams projection and, at his best, his stuff is ace-caliber.
Brady Singer (Florida) is the people’s favorite for 1-1 among my quick and dirty random sampling of the Top Five Pick Internet. I get it. Between comparisons by the Florida coaching staff (via D1 and BA) to Aaron Nola, a Cape Cod League coach comparing him to Jeff Hoffman (per MLB.com), and the out of left field but great comp by Brett Myers (!) to Kevin Brown, there’s a ton of support for Singer having a long, successful pro career by those who have seen him up close. No argument from me. As those disparate comps might suggest, Singer fits so many different pitcher archetypes that he’s hard to pin down as a prospect. He’s got the plus command to make you think that’s how he gets by (like the prospect version of Nola). But then he shows a big fastball (up to 97) with a power breaking ball (77-83), so you’re thinking power pitcher (a la Hoffman). Finally he starts using his explosive sinker to get ground ball outs (hence the evocation of Brown). One name that I’ve heard is the now fully realized version of Charlie Morton. Isn’t it wild that drafting Charlie Morton 2.0 with the first pick in a really good draft doesn’t sound crazy?
Singer’s Gator teammate Jackson Kowar (Florida) isn’t quite the same finished product, but the upside might be a half-step higher. When he’s rolling, Kowar will show three true plus pitches: a 90-95 FB (97 peak) that dances, a filthy 81-86 split-change, and an 82-84 slider. His reacclimation to a starter’s workload last season came with a few hiccups, but if he can put it all together in 2018…damn. Much of the same can be said for Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina), though his main performance issue is (and always has been, if we’re being honest) control. This is in no way a comparison of abilities, but a guy like Bilous reminds me of Michael Cederoth from San Diego State a few years back.
I did a mock draft for 2014 just days after the 2013 draft concluded with Cederoth, the hard throwing but wild reliever poised to make the full-time switch to the rotation, in the two spot. The rest of the list was pretty solid including Trea Turner at three, Carlos Rodon at four, Kyle Schwarber at 8, and on and on and on (plus some bad misses or TBD picks like Touki Toussaint at one, Gareth Morgan at fifteen, and Karsten Whitson at sixteen). Anyway, Cederoth wasn’t the second best player in his class a full year ahead of the draft. Nobody would have argued that. But the perfect world outcome of Cederoth? Now that’s a different story. I feel similarly about Bilous. His best-case outcome is a top five pick; that’s where his talent (like Kowar, a potential three plus pitch starter) pushes him. But his red flags — scattered command and control, Tommy John surgery in the rear-view — and the persistent on-field inconsistencies could knock him down to the same area (third round) where Cederoth was eventually picked. Generally speaking, putting players like this high up on draft rankings early in the process is a smart move. It’s different, but justifiable. It also has a massive payout if you’re right…and if you’re wrong, as I was with Cederoth, it’s easy to sweep under the rug by never bringing it up again. Except when you bring it up on your own three years later. Don’t do that.
Prediction: Gilbert, Mize, Singer, McClanahan, Kowar, Bilous, Pilkington, Rolison
Others: Knight, Tim Cate (Connecticut), Kris Bubic (Stanford), Adam Hill (South Carolina), Colton Eastman (Cal State Fullerton), Austin Bergner (North Carolina), Tarik Skubal (Seattle), Tristan Beck (Stanford), Bryce Tucker (Central Florida), Ryan Feltner (Ohio State), Jensen Elliott (Oklahoma State), Durbin Feltman (TCU), Steven Gingery (Texas Tech), Davis Martin (Texas Tech), Kyle Molnar (UCLA), Tanner Dodson (California), Matt Mercer (Oregon), Nick Sprengel (San Diego), Brooks Crawford (Clemson), Tyler Holton (Florida State), Andrew Cabezas (Miami), Greg Veliz (Miami), Griffin Roberts (Wake Forest), Jackson Goddard (Kansas), Michael Grove (West Virginia), Jack DeGroat (Liberty), Brett Conine (Cal State Fullerton), Noah Davis (UC Santa Barbara), John Rooney (Hofstra), Alex Royalty (UNC Wilmington), Dylan Coleman (Missouri State), Cody Deason (Arizona), Jonathan Olsen (UCLA), Justin Hooper (UCLA), Evan Lee (Arkansas), Davis Daniel (Auburn), Ryan Avidano (Georgia), Kevin Smith (Georgia), Justin Lewis (Kentucky), Sean Hjelle (Kentucky), Christopher Machamer (Kentucky), Zack Hess (LSU), Dallas Woolfork (Mississippi), James McArthur (Mississippi), Zach Linginfelter (Tennessee), Stephen Kolek (Texas A&M), Hogan Harris (Louisiana), Nick Lee (Louisiana), Josiah Gray (Le Moyne)
So now we have our player pool based on a combination of math that isn’t really predictive (unless it is!), my subjective list of the best 2018 draft prospects, and the freshly minted 2018 MLB Draft order. The last minor faux-scientific move is to look at who goes where. I don’t have have the patience to go beyond the top ten, but here’s what I found. These are the demographic groups that have had more than one player selected in each spot in the top five since 2009…
1.1 – College pitcher and HS shortstop
1.2 – HS pitcher and college third baseman
1.3 – College pitcher and HS pitcher and HS shortstop
1.4 – HS pitcher and college pitcher and college catcher
1.5 – College pitcher and HS outfielder
We’ll follow those rules with the one little exception of 1-2…but at least we kept it as a college infielder. If we expand the view for picks six through ten, we see that these are the five demographic groups represented more than three times total in that six to ten range since 2009…
College outfielder, HS pitcher, HS outfielder, college outfielder, HS shortstop
Using all of that, we wind up with this…
1-1 Detroit – RHP Logan Gilbert
1-2 San Francisco – 2B/SS Nick Madrigal
1-3 Philadelphia – RHP Brady Singer
1-4 White Sox – RHP Ethan Hankins
1-5 Cincinnati – LHP Ryan Rolison
1-6 Mets – OF Griffin Conine
1-7 San Diego – SS Nander De Sedas
1-8 Atlanta – LHP Matthew Liberatore
1-9 Oakland – OF Jarred Kelenic
1-10 Pittsburgh – RHP Casey Mize
1-11 Baltimore – RHP Kumar Rocker
1-12 Toronto – SS Brice Turang
1-13 Miami – RHP Austin Becker
1-14 Seattle – 3B Nolan Gorman
1-15 Texas – RHP Slade Cecconi
1-16 Tampa Bay – C Will Banfield
1-17 Angels – OF Parker Meadows
18 Kansas City – 1B Seth Beer
19 St. Louis – OF Ryder Green
20 Minnesota – LHP Shane McClanahan
21 Milwaukee – OF Connor Scott
22 Colorado – OF Travis Swaggerty
23 N.Y. Yankees – RHP Ethan Stewart
24 Chicago Cubs – RHP Jason Bilous
25 Arizona – RHP Jackson Kowar
26 Boston – SS Jeremy Eierman
27 Washington – LHP Konnor Pilkington
28 Houston – 3B Nick Northcut
29 Cleveland – SS Brandon Dieter
30 L.A. Dodgers – OF Ashton Bardzell
…and we’ll skip an unknown pick (31, team TBD) to throw in Tampa’s comp selection for being unable to come to terms with Drew Rasmussen.
31 – Tampa – C Cal Raleigh
Yes, the Rays are doubling up on catchers. No, this mock draft isn’t nearly as scientific as we’re making it out to be. But it’s fun. As importantly, hopefully the avalanche of words above have provided a little more clarity on what makes the players in this year’s draft so exciting.