The 2019 MLB Draft is only a few days away, as the event will kick off on June 3rd in Secaucus, New Jersey. Here’s a look at our latest full first-round projection as the big day approaches.
1. Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Adley Rutschman is the consensus top player in the draft. A catcher who can hit is a rare commodity and he can rake. A switch-hitting backstop with power and leadership skills, who helped the Beavers win a College World Series as a sophomore and was named College World Series Most Outstanding Player. This season he’s slashing .419/.580/.765 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI.
The Orioles aren’t locked in on Rutschman and could be waiting for one of the other top prospects to offer to take a below-slot deal. They’re in on all the top college bats and Andrew Vaughn could also wind up being the pick here.
2. Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville HS (TX)
By most accounts, Bobby Witt Jr. is the top player on Kansas City’s board, which fits perfectly here. A potential five-tool shortstop with range, a big arm, power, speed and a really nice hit tool, he’s also a baseball junkie. He was the MVP of the 2018 Under Armour All-America Game, and his dad was a 16-year big leaguer. If you want pedigree, Witt has it.
The Royals are focused on Witt, but if Rutschman drops to this spot they could have some discussions.
3. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal
A sweet-swinging righty, Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn is a below-average runner and just a decent fielder, but man, can he hit. He’s got excellent power and hit .402 with 23 home runs in 2018. He’s continued to mash this year, and might be the best all-around hitter in the draft. He’s got power to spare, makes consistent contact and has a great approach at the plate. So far this season he’s slashing .387/.549/.728 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI.
This is where the draft could pivot. Vaughn is likely the top player available, but the White Sox like prep shortstop C.J. Abrams as well.
4. Miami Marlins: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
J.J. Bleday exploded this season after being Vanderbilt’s best hitter as a sophomore. So far this year he’s slashing .357/.467/.752 with 26 home runs and 67 RBI. He will almost certainly be the first college outfielder taken. He has a short lefty stroke, great knowledge of the strike zone and can hit the ball all over the park. He’s got a good arm and profiles as a corner outfielder despite average speed.
The Marlins appear to be leaning towards Bleday after a ton of internal debate. College outfielder Hunter Bishop and prep shortstop C.J. Abrams are also under consideration.
5. Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (FL)
Riley Greene is the consensus best prep hitter and proved that on the showcase circuit over the summer. He’s got a really nice approach at the plate, is patient and can drive the ball all over the park. There’s power in his swing, but he’s more of a line-drive hitter at the moment. He’ll play a corner at the next level and an average arm will likely force him to left field, but he’ll hit — and likely hit a ton — so teams are going to overlook his defensive limitations.
The Tigers are looking to see who falls here. They have been connected to Greene for a while, but there are six top players in this year’s draft and they’ll have to choose from whoever drops. Vaughn, Bleday, and college lefty Nick Lodolo are all possibilities depending on how things play out.
6. San Diego Padres: C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (GA)
C.J. Abrams has incredible speed, and is one of the better hitters in this high school crop. He makes good contact from the left side and has some power in his bat as well. His speed is elite and will make every routine grounder into a bang-bang play at first. He may not stick at short long-term though. Abrams has a solid arm but isn’t the most natural fit at the position. He could wind up at second or in center field, and would still have a ton of value at both spots.
Like the Tigers, the Padres are basically waiting to see who falls. They’ve shown the most interest in Bleday, Greene and Abrams and should wind up with one of them come draft day.
7. Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, TCU
Nick Lodolo has established himself as the top college pitcher in the draft, and the fact that he’s a lefty only makes him more attractive. A string bean at 6’6″ and 190 pounds, Lodolo likely has more projection in him, but he currently works in the low-90s but has been up to 96 mph with his fastball. He has a developing low-80s slider and a changeup that’s coming along.
The Reds have been on Lodolo for a long time and this feels like a lock. If not, they’ve been attached to a number of different collegiate arms.
8. Texas Rangers: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
Josh Jung possesses one of the better bats in the college class. He’s currently slashing .332/.471/.609 with 11 home runs and 53 RBI, after leading the Big 12 in hitting (.392) and on-base percentage (.491) as a sophomore last year. He’s not an elite fielder at third but is solid and has a plus arm.
Everyone is connecting the dots on this one over the past week. The Rangers have centered on Jung, though they would likely jump on one of the top six hitters if they fell.
9. Atlanta Braves: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto College (TX)
*(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Carter Stewart)
Jackson Rutledge is flying up draft boards as the big day approaches, thanks to his incredible upside. At 6’8″ and 240 pounds, he’s a big righty out of the junior college ranks who can hit 99 on the radar gun and has a wipeout slider in the high-80s. He has a decent curveball and hasn’t shown much of a changeup yet, but he’s a 20-year-old with arguably the best pure stuff in this draft class.
Rutledge recently threw for the Braves and Blue Jays. This is likely where he winds up unless the Braves make a last-minute switch. This is probably prep outfielder Corbin Carroll’s ceiling.
10. San Francisco Giants: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
Manoah has jumped a much as any player in this year’s draft thanks to his performance as a junior. So far this season he’s 9-3, with a 1.85 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 135 strikeouts in 102.1 innings. He’s huge (6’6″ and 260 pounds), has an elite, heavy fastball that sits between 94-97 mph, and his slider has been better this season. He has been working on a changeup but it’s a development pitch at this point. The question is whether he can continue as a starter or if he’ll turn into a high-leverage reliever.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
Hunter Bishop has exploded this year after being a talented enigma during his first two collegiate seasons. A massive outfielder at 6’5″ and 210 pounds, Bishop has been crushing the ball as a junior, posting a 1.238 OPS with 22 home runs and 61 RBI. A new batting stance has unlocked his potential. He’ll still swing and miss some but he’s barreling balls better than ever and has shown tremendous power from the left side. He has good speed for his size and may even be able to stick in center field, though he probably fits best in right.
The Blue Jays have been all over college bats but could also take a college pitcher if there’s a fit at this spot. Basically Toronto will jump on the best collegiate player who falls to this spot.
12. New York Mets: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky
Zack Thompson possesses an intriguing four-pitch mix, including a fastball that can get up to the mid-90s. His slider and curveball rate as above average, while his changeup is a work in progress. At 6’3″ and 225 pounds he’s a well-built lefty who has gone 6-1 this season with a 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 90 innings.
The Mets like the top bats in this draft, but none of them made it to 12 in this projection. This could be Elon’s George Kirby as well.
13. Minnesota Twins: Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
Bryson Stott could have been a top-five guy in this draft if his tools had popped as a junior this season, instead he’s shown himself to have solid-to-plus ability across the board. Stott is a good hitter, making lots of contact from the left side and showing a good approach. Most believe he’ll stick at short long term, though his arm isn’t the greatest. Stott slashed .356/.486/.599 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI this season.
The Twins have been connected to pretty much everyone, so this is a guess. At this point a well-rounded player up the middle like Stott is just too hard to pass up.
14. Philadelphia Phillies: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane
Kody Hoese has jump up draft boards by annihilating college pitching this season. He finished this season hitting .391 with 23 home runs, 61 RBI and a ridiculous 1.265 OPS. He found his groove in the Cape Cod League last summer and hasn’t looked back. At 6’4″ and 200 pounds, Hoese has a solid frame and should stick at third base long-term. As his number show, Hoese isn’t just a raw power guy. He can hit and has a disciplined approach at the plate.
The Phillies want Rutledge, but he’s gone here. The feeling is they’ll cut an underslot deal with a college bat. In this case, Hoese’s stock is rising as a potential buy-low candidate.
15. Los Angeles Angels: George Kirby, RHP, Elon
George Kirby is one of the more underrated starters in this class. He has a great frame at 6’3″ and 205 pounds, and has four pitches that could wind up being useful as a pro. His fastball is a low-90s offering but he has shown the ability to dial it up to the upper-90s, and he has both a slider and a curveball he can get outs with. His changeup needs work, but it has the makings of a solid offering. So far this season, Kirby is 8-2 with a 2.75 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 107 strikeouts against just 16 walks in 88.1 innings.
Kirby’s stock is rising big-time as the draft approaches. The Angels like the top college starters available but they could cut a deal with a prep pitcher as well.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside High School (WA)
Despite a small frame (5’11” and 165 pounds), Carroll can hit and hit a ton. He’s probably the second best pure hitter in this class. He consistently makes great contact with a nice left-handed swing, has a ton of speed that works on offense and defense and draws comparisons to a young Jacoby Ellsbury. He’s a great fit in center field, and even has some late-developing power in his line-drive swing.
Arizona would likely jump on a high-end college bat if one falls, but this is probably the bottom of Carroll’s stretch of teams. He could go as high as No. 9 and the value here is too high to pass up.
17. Washington Nationals: Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole High School (FL)
Matthew Allan is regarded by many as the best prep pitcher in a weak class this year. At 6’3″ and 210 pounds, he’s likely the size he’d be at the next level but he’s got plenty of stuff already. He’s been hitting 97 mph with his fastball while sitting in the mid-90s, he has an excellent curve and has a developing changeup. He does have an awkward delivery, but the stuff is too good to pass up.
The three players connected to the Nationals are Shea Langeliers, Josh Jung and Matthew Allan. It’s Allan in this projection despite his large price tag.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
Shea Langeliers entered the season as a potential top 10 pick, but a broken bone in his left hand this season hurt his stock. He’s an oustanding defensive catcher with a laser for an arm. He makes good contact and has decent power from the right side. So far this season he’s slashed .304/.372/.485 with seven home runs and 31 RBI.
The Pirates are looking at bats and prep pitchers. Langeliers can hit and is the best defensive catcher in the draft. It’s an excellent combination.
19. St. Louis Cardinals: Maurice Hampton, OF, Memphis University High School (TN)
Maurice Hampton is an All-American in baseball and football and has a strong commitment to LSU to play both sports. That said, someone will fall in love with his tools and take him early. He has ridiculous athleticism and upside, with a lot of raw power, dynamic speed, a plus-arm and the ability to play center field long term.
The Cardinals have been monitoring Hampton this spring and know what they’re getting in him. St. Louis is also looking at college bats. If the Cards want upside, they’ll go after Hampton.
20. Seattle Mariners: Anthony Volpe, SS, Delbarton High School (NJ)
Anthony Volpe is shooting up draft boards as the big day approaches but some teams have been scared off by his signing demands. A strong commitment to Vanderbilt could be an impediment to a first-round selection. That said, Volpe is a true baseball junkie with fantastic makeup. He’s a good hitter — though with little power — a smooth fielder, a plus-runner and an above average arm. Though he may not stick at short, he’s the kind of guy who should figure things out and improve.
There have been tons of rumors connecting Volpe an the Mariners recently. A team was bound to fall in love with his makeup.
21. Atlanta Braves: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy
Brennan Malone is another prep hurler with outstanding upside. At 6’3″ and 203 pounds, he’s well built and has a mid-90s fastball along with a wicked slider that should make his average curveball unnecessary. If his changeup never develops, Malone could wind up as a high-leverage relief option, but he’s shown that he’s more than just a power arm this year. He looks far more poised on the bump this spring.
The Braves are looking at prep pitchers for this pick, if Allan falls they’d be all over him and Quinn Priester is also a possibility.
22. Tampa Bay Rays: Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy
In a weak year for prep pitching, Daniel Espino might have the best pure stuff in the class. But what separates him from his peers is an upper-90s fastball that can top 100 mph. While he’s listed at 6’2″ and 200 pounds, Espino looks smaller than that (probably around 6′ and 185), meaning there’s likely not more velocity to come. But that shouldn’t matter, he’s already hitting 100 mph. He has a really nice slider, a decent curveball and has dabbled with a changeup. The main knock on Espino is the long arm action in his delivery.
The Rays have been looking at college arms but they’ve been fans of Espino’s stuff for a while.
23. Colorado Rockies: Michael Busch, 1B/OF, North Carolina
Michael Busch shined in the Cape Cod League last summer and his swing from the left side has scouts excited. He can barrel the ball up to all fields with excellent power and a great approach at the dish. He’s undersized for a first baseman at 6′ and 207 pounds, but doesn’t have the arm or speed for the outfield. That said, the bat is worth his awkward defensive fit. Busch is slashing .294/.447/.569 this season with 15 home runs and 55 RBI.
The Rockies were on hand to watch Busch at the ACC Tournament and liked what they saw.
24. Cleveland Indians: Will Wilson, SS, N.C. State
Will Wilson is solid across the board, with a nice swing, decent pop and the arm and quickness to potentially land at short long-term. He has below-average speed, which means he may wind up at second, but he’ll likely hit. He’s slashing .346/.435/.682 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI this season. His bat is what gets him drafted, then he’ll have to prove he can stick up the middle defensively.
The Indians are looking in a number of directions but Wilson is the best fit of those options.
25. Los Angeles Dodgers: Gunnar Henderson, SS, John T. Morgan Academy (AL)
Gunnar Henderson is racing up draft boards as the big day approaches, mostly because of his increased power and a solid glove at short. A 6’3″ lefty, Henderson has a great frame and a solid approach at the plate. He makes good contact consistently and his power has begun to show up as he’s filled out. He has a good feel for the position at short and a plus arm. He’s around 200 pounds right now, but if he adds much more bulk a move to third may be coming.
The Dodgers like Henderson a lot and I’ve got them connected to him still.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove High School (IL)
*(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Matt McLain)
Quinn Priester is a Midwestern prep pitcher with excellent athleticism and great stuff. He can hit 97 mph with his fastball, has a heavy two-seamer and owns probably the best curveball in this high school class. At 6’3″ and 198 pounds, Priester has the frame and athleticism to be a long-term starter.
The Diamondbacks are looking at arms here and Priester is the best on the board.
27. Chicago Cubs: J.J. Goss, RHP, Cypress Ranch High School (TX)
J.J. Goss is a pitcher from Texas with a live arm. Shocker. At 6’3″ and 185-pounds, there’s plenty of projection left in his frame. As it stands, he can reach the mid-90s with his fastball and has a wipeout slider in the low-80s. His changeup has developed nicely this season after showing as average in 2018.
The Cubs are looking closely at college bats, but Goss has too much upside to pass on here.
28. Milwaukee Brewers: Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis High School (TX)
Old for a prep player at 19 years old, Brett Baty has one of the best power bats in this year’s draft, as his swing from the left side generates consistent, heavy contact. His hit tool isn’t far behind his power and he possesses a great arm at third base. He’s a below-average runner but is a decent fielder and should stick at third base if he doesn’t add weight. He’s 6’3″ and 210 pounds now, and if he gets any bigger a move to first base or an outfield corner isn’t out of the question.
The Brewers are always up for grabbing a high-upside bat, and they get that here.
29. Oakland Athletics: Greg Jones, SS, UNC-Wilmington
Greg Jones boasts elite speed that puts him at the top of this class in the category. Jones has 40 stolen bases in 50 attempts this season, and the switch-hitter is slashing .343/.491/.551. He’s gotten on base a ton this year which should make him appealing as a leadoff option. He’s almost certain to move off shortstop and end up in center field down the road. His game-changing speed will be worth the risk.
The A’s are in on college bats, and Jones and Logan Davidson are the best remaining.
30. New York Yankees: Rece Hinds, 3B, IMG Academy (FL)
Rece Hinds is yet another IMG Academy kid slated to be a first-rounder. At 6’4″ and 200 pounds, he’s big kid with incredible raw power from the right side. He’s struggled making consistent contact, but that’s not shocking for an 18-year-old power hitter. He has a decent arm, but may not stick at third base long-term but could fit at first if he continues to mash the ball as he has.
The Yankees have been connected with Hinds for a while. They have also been connected to a few other prep players, and Kameron Misner.
31. Los Angeles Dodgers: Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
*(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn)
Kameron Misner is a toolsy outfielder with plus power, plus speed and a great arm. He should be able to stick in center field, and while he’s struggled with contact recently, his upside will be worthy of a first-rounder. This season he posted a .286 batting average, with a .921 OPS, 10 home runs and 32 RBI. He also stole 20 bases in 21 attempts.
Misner will go in this area of the draft, and the Dodgers are looking at college bats with this pick. He’s got the best tools of those remaining.
32. Houston Astros: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
Logan Davidson has been an excellent collegiate hitter, but has had issues adjusting to wood bats. If teams aren’t worried about that, he might actually go higher than this. He’s a good runner, an excellent fielder with a plus arm and the switch-hitter has good natural power from both sides of the plate. This season Davidson is slashing .296/.414/.588 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI. There’s some swing-and-miss to his game, but when he makes contact it’s consistently hard.
The best college bat on the board, the Astros will pounce on Davidson here if he’s available.