The 2019 MLB Draft is only a few weeks away, as the event will kick off on June 3rd in Secaucus, New Jersey. There are a ton of excellent prospects in this year’s class, with three that have separated themselves from the pack as the best available. That doesn’t mean there isn’t depth in this crop though.
What follows is our first mock of the 2019 draft, in which we focus only on the top 10 picks. Our first full mock will be out next week.
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 (Seattle)
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.