We’re a week closer to the Draft and it would be great to report that with this new mock draft, we’re closer to figuring things out in the first round.
A few things do seem to be taking shape. There seems to be a general consensus over who the top six or seven players will be when things get started on June 3, with the ever-present caveat of a wild card thrown in. What order that group gets selected is still very much up in the air.
Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman still remains atop Draft boards and still seems the most likely to go No. 1 overall, though it’s too early to discount the Orioles from going with one of the other candidates, with Bobby Witt Jr. the most likely No. 2 candidate. Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn, Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday, Georgia prep shortstop CJ Abrams and Florida high school outfielder Riley Greene round out that top six, while TCU lefty Nick Lodolo is the first pitcher any team seems to bring up.
This week’s mock has two new names in the top 10: junior college standout Jackson Rutledge and UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott. Down near the bottom, some of the new names making this first round projection are Delbarton Prep right-hander Jack Leiter and shortstop Matthew Lugo from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico.
1. Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
He’s still the favorite to go in the top spot, and why not, given his .429/.576/.805 line and his ability to catch and throw. There’s a little buzz about Bobby Witt Jr. being favored, but not enough to switch things up.
2. Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS
In some ways the Royals are in an enviable position here, being able to pick who they think is the best player after the O’s make their choice. That still looks like it’s Witt at this point.
3. White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
College bats have been their thing and Vaughn might be the best pure one in the class. Vanderbilt’s JJ Bleday could be an option as well. They are looking at up-the-middle players (CJ Abrams) and arms (Nick Lodolo) as well.
4. Marlins: JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
It seems like the Marlins are looking for a hitter here, and we’ve seen the Abrams vs. Bleday talk already. If they wanted to go arm, they could look at Lodolo and they’ve been watching ASU’s Hunter Bishop for a college bat alternative, as well as Florida prepster Riley Greene. Scouting director DJ Svihlik, it should be noted, coached at Vanderbilt last year before joining the organization.
5. Tigers: CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Roswell, Ga.)
There is some consensus over who the top five or six players are, all hitters, though Lodolo figures into the mix in a bunch of spots. The Tigers could just wait and see who gets to them and can pick between Abrams, the toolsy shortstop who might move to center, or Greene, the more polished bat.
6. Padres: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Oviedo, Fla.)
Greene is the best pure high school bat in the country and it’s hard to envision him staying on the board much further than this.
7. Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian
Sure, the Reds often like hitters this high, taking Jonathan India last year and Nick Senzel in 2016, so maybe they look at a Hunter Bishop here if none of the other bats get to them. But Lodolo has separated himself as the top arm in the class.
8. Rangers: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
Bishop has done more than probably any other player this spring to improve his stock and with scouts giving him a chance to stick in center, that adds even more to his profile to go along with his raw power.
9. Braves: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto (Texas) JC
(Compensation for failure to sign 2018 first-rounder Carter Stewart)
The top junior college talent in the country has also risen up close to the top of the pitching list. He has overpowering stuff, missing a ton of bats with his fastball and slider alone, though his curve flashes plus as well.
10. Giants: Bryson Stott, SS, Nevada-Las Vegas
Stott is most frequently compared to Brandon Crawford, both physically and the way he plays, and that worked out pretty well for the Giants. He has a strong track record of performance and has a very good chance at staying at short.
11. Blue Jays: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
Manoah didn’t pitch well in his big matchup against Lodolo and TCU last week, but he’s still the second-best (four-year) college arm in the class and the Jays have taken big college pitchers (Nate Pearson, T.J. Zeuch) in 2017 and 2016.
12. Mets: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky
The Mets would probably rather have a bat and if one of the ones above gets to here, that would be ideal. If they’re gone, they could open things up and go with the advanced college lefty in Thompson (provided his medical is OK), start looking at more college hitters like Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers or even consider a high school pitcher like Matthew Allan in Florida.
13. Twins: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Seattle)
The Twins have taken hitters with their last three first picks, two of them of the high school variety. Carroll has one of most advanced bats among the high school set with plus speed to go along with it.
14. Phillies: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
The Phillies have gone college hitter the last two years in the first round and they could have the chance to do so again with a number of advanced bats in this next tier. Langeliers can really catch and was starting to come on with the bat after dealing with a hamate injury.
15. Angels: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
There’s no high-end, toolsy athlete, the Angels’ preference in the first round of late, to really consider here, so maybe they go with a Matt Thaiss version 2.0 kind of deal.
16. D-backs: Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS (Sanford, Fla.)
The top high school arm in a relatively thin crop, Allan’s name has come up as high as the top 10 with three above-average or better pitches and a feel to throw all of them.
17. Nationals: George Kirby, RHP, Elon
Kirby continues to be one of the most consistently dominant college arms in the class and there’s some upside in terms of velocity to bank on here.
18. Pirates: Gunnar Henderson, SS, Morgan Academy (Selma, Ala.)
The Alabama prep shortstop continues to have helium. He keeps performing well as more and more decision-makers pour in to watch him play this spring.
19. Cardinals: Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Austin, Texas)
Baty continues to be a hard one to place because of his age (19) and his lack of a clear defensive home, but he is one of the better pure bats among the high school crop.
20. Mariners: Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
Scouts continue to scratch their heads about Misner, who has the raw tools to be a 20-20 player, but has struggled to produce consistently this spring with a lot of swing and miss.
21. Braves: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove HS (Cary, Ill.)
Priester has a definite up-arrow next to his name and is now behind only Allan on most boards in terms of high school pitching.
22. Rays: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Malone started showing growth from thrower to pitcher this spring and the athletic right-hander has some serious upside projection to him.
23. Rockies: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane
It’s been a huge breakout campaign for Hoese, who has continued to hit for power after doing so over the summer, while also hitting over .400, putting him firmly in the first round picture.
24. Indians: Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Statesboro, Ga.)
While there is some concern about his ultimate role because of his delivery and command, Espino might have the best fastball in the class to go along with a pair of very good breaking balls.
25. Dodgers: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
A college shortstop who has a very good chance to stick there, Davidson has solid raw tools offensively as well, even if there’s concern about him hitting with wood from the summer.
26. D-backs: Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, Calif.)
(Compensation for failure to sign 2018 first-rounder Matt McLain)
Another high school position player with a big up arrow next to his name, Cavaco was missed over the summer but has attracted crowds all spring and hasn’t disappointed as an athletic third baseman with power.
27. Cubs: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M
Theo Epstein and company almost always goes college in the first round, and have grabbed hitters in four of the last five Drafts. With Nico Hoerner tearing it up in the Minors, having them go back up the middle makes some sense.
28. Brewers: J.J. Goss, RHP, Cypress (Texas) Ranch HS
He’s projectable and will add more consistent velocity to go along with one of the best sliders among high schoolers in the class.
29. Athletics: Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State
Wilson can really hit and has more pop than you might think. He has the chance to play short, despite below-average speed, though he could end up being an above-average second baseman.
30. Yankees: Jack Leiter, RHP, Delbarton Prep (Morristown, N.J.)
Jack’s dad Al started and ended his career with the Yankees and he’d get to stay close to home. The high schooler with an advanced feel for pitching could be tough to sign away from his Vanderbilt commitment.
31. Dodgers: Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence HS (Jacksonville, Fla.)
(Compensation for failure to sign 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn)
He can really hit, and with power, even doing so in international competition with Team USA. A lack of a sure-fire defensive home gives some teams pause.
32. Astros: Michael Busch, 1B/OF, North Carolina
He has power and draws a ton of walks, with some thinking he might be limited to first base. Maybe a Seth Beer, v2.0?
33. D-backs: Seth Johnson, RHP, Campbell
(Compensation for loss of free agent Patrick Corbin)
With a lack of college pitching, there’s a good chance Johnson will be off the board before the D-backs make their third choice of the round. There’s upside here given how new to pitching the right-hander is.
34. D-backs: Matthew Lugo, SS, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (Florida, P.R.)
(Compensation for loss of free agent A.J. Pollock)
Heliot Ramos was the last Puero Rican player to go in the first round (2017) and Delvin Perez the last shortstop to go (2016). Lugo’s bat is ahead of some of the more defensive-minded prep shortstops in this class, like Nasim Nunez and Yordys Valdes.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.