The 2019 MLB Draft is only a few weeks away, as the event will kick off on June 3rd in Secaucus, New Jersey. Here’s a look at our initial 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. He’s worthy of the top pick.
The Orioles are in on the top college bats, and could also look at Andrew Vaughn and Hunter Bishop. If someone gives them a discount, maybe they move off Rutschman.
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 only drawback here is Witt’s age. He’ll turn 19 right after the draft, making him old for this prep class. But only a worry if you’re picking nits. He’s worthy of a top pick. Witt is committed to Oklahoma but it’s doubtful he ever ends up a Sooner.
3. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal
The White Sox are looking at bats and Andrew Vaughn is the best available at this point. The reigning Golden Spikes Award winner probably won’t last past this point.
A sweet-swinging righty, 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 great, consistent contact and has a great approach at the plate. He should should move quickly through whichever organization lands him.
4. Miami Marlins: C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (GA)
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.
Wherever he winds up defensively, Abrams profiles as a leadoff hitter with some pop and game-changing speed.
5. Detroit Tigers: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
Bleday exploded this season to lead Division I with 21 home runs after being Vanderbilt’s best hitter as a sophomore. 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 Tigers would take Abrams if he fell here (and he might), but it would be hard to pass up Bleday’s power at this spot. They’ve also been linked to prep outfielder Riley Greene and West Virginia righty Alek Manoah.
6. San Diego Padres: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (FL)
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 Padres are sitting at six basically waiting to see who falls. I think Greene is their preference, but Abrams and Bleday are likely on their list as well. If they go with an arm, it would almost certainly be TCU’s Nick Lodolo or Manoah.
7. Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, TCU
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 would be happy to land him. If one of the hitters above drops, they could jump, but in this scenario the guy they’ve been linked to the longest is available and they take him.
8. Texas Rangers: 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 1.306 OPS with 21 home runs and 58 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.
As with the Reds, the Rangers would likely take any of the top bats that fall, but Bishop would be a nice consolation prize. They’ve also been tied closely to prep outfielder Corbin Carroll.
9. Atlanta Braves: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (WA)
*(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Carter Stewart)
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.
The Braves have been connected most closely to Bishop and Carroll, in this scenario they take the one that falls.
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 2-0, with a 2.07 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 108 strikeouts in 82.2 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.
The Giants need help and fast. That’s why they’re focused almost exclusively on college players. They’re interested in Bishop, Lodolo and UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott. They’ve also been connected to prep righty Matthew Allan and Kentucky lefty Zack Thompson.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
Josh Jung is possesses one of the better bats in the college class. He’s currently slashing .355/.491/.634 with nine home runs and 49 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.
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 2.14 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 121 strikeouts in 84 innings.
The Mets like the top bats in this draft, but none of them made it to 12 in this projection, so they go after Thompson a lefty with upside despite some past injury issues.
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.
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: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto College
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.
The Phillies take the best player available here as Rutledge’s high ceiling is too much to pass up.
15. Los Angeles Angels: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove High School (IL)
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 Angels are looking closely at the prep prospects in this year’s draft and Priester would be an excellent add here. If they can get him to improve his changeup, he could wind up being the best pitcher in this class.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: 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 Diamondbacks have a ton of picks in this year’s draft and, thus, a ton of bonus pool money. They can afford to splash some on the consensus best prep pitcher in the class here for a high-upside play.
17. Washington Nationals: 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 .327/.394/.510 with six home runs and 28 RBI.
The Nationals are looking college players at this spot and Langeliers could drop to them due to his injury issues. At worst, they get a fantastic defensive catcher here, at best they get a two-way backstop who continues to improve at the plate.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (FL)
Brennan Malone is another IMG Academy 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 develop, 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 Pirates are looking at college bats, but it would be hard to pass up Malone at 18, especially since the most enticing collegiate hitters are off the board.
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. There’s a general feeling they’ll angle for an upside pick in this spot.
20. Seattle Mariners: 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/.429/.681 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI this season. His bat is what gets him drafted, then he’ll have to prove he can stick up the middle defensively.
Seattle is looking at college bats and any number of guys could go here. Wilson seems like a logical organizational fit.
21. Atlanta Braves: 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 .300/.418/.599 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI. There’s some swing-and-miss to his game, but when he makes contact it’s consistently hard.
The Braves are looking at college bats and getting one who could stick in the middle of the infield is excellent value here. If Davidson can adjust to wood bats this could be a great pick.
22. Tampa Bay Rays: 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.
Like many in this draft, the Rays like the college bats available. At this point, Busch is the best on the board.
23. Colorado Rockies: Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
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’s posted a .290 batting average, with a .941 OPS with 10 home runs and 32 RBI.
Misner’s tools and the potential upside is absolutely worth this pick. The Rockies are in wait-and-see mode for the best player to drop here.
24. Cleveland Indians: 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 Indians are looking at the prep bats in this class, though if one of the better college bats falls, they could shift their focus.
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 are never shy about taking a shot on a late-rising high schooler. They’re looking at bats right now and Henderson is a rapidly-rising option.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Seth Johnson, RHP, Campbell
Seth Johnson was a shortstop without much of a bat before transferring to Campbell, where he was moved to the mound full-time. It’s been a fantastic development. Johnson can hit the upper-90s with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, and he complements that with a plus-slider in the mid- to low-80s. He needs a lot of work because of his relative inexperience on the mound, but if he has one of the liveliest arms in the draft.
As mentioned, Arizona has a ton of picks and big bonus money, grabbing Johnson here could wind up saving cash to use later.
27. Chicago Cubs: 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 8-1 with a 2.07 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 105 strikeouts against just six (!!!) walks.
The Cubs often look for a college bat that drops when they’re drafting in this range, but their organization needs pitching depth and a guy like Kirby could move quickly.
28. Milwaukee Brewers: 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 Brewers love upside plays and at this point in the draft, Goss is a good fit.
29. Oakland Athletics: Hunter Barco, LHP, The Bolles School (FL)
Hunter Barco is likely the best lefty in this prep pitching crop, but his awkward delivery has created some concerns. At 6’4″ and 210 pounds, he has a great frame and has some room for projection. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with movement, he owns a good, but inconsistent slider and a solid changeup.
As always, Oakland is looking at college bats and arms, but Barco could have a high-ceiling if he tweaks his delivery.
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, as well as George Kirby.
31. Los Angeles Dodgers: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane
*(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn)
Kody Hoese has jump up draft boards by annihilating college pitching this season. So far this year he’s hitting .395 with 23 home runs, 60 RBI and a ridiculous 1.295 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 Dodgers are looking at all the power bats available, prep and college. Hoese is easily the best available.
32. Houston Astros: Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence High School (FL)
Tyler Callihan is one of the best pure hitters in this year’s draft, the problem is finding him a position. He’s been a catcher in the past and is currently playing third base, but there’s not a true fit for him. That said, the kid can rake, with an excellent lefty swing, good power and a solid approach.
The Astros never shy away from taking hitters without much defense. Callihan is a perfect fit for their “we’ll find a spot for him” philosophy. His bat is worth it.