These 2018 Draft picks are off to hot starts

August 7th, 2018

Two months ago, all 30 teams brought in a ton of new talent via the Draft. Those amateurs who signed have had the opportunity to go out and get their first tastes of professional baseball at a variety of levels.
What a draftee does in this first summer is far from the be-all, end-all for them as prospects. It's more about getting the ball rolling on what can be a lengthy development process. Performing well is obviously never a bad thing, giving a young pro confidence and a foundation to jump off from for the first full season that lays ahead.
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Of the 20 draftees profiled a year ago, 16 of them are on a team Top 30 list. Seven are on the Top 100 list and four played in this year's Futures Game. Perhaps that's not a surprise for the first-rounders discussed as having good starts, but six of the 10 from beyond the first round have also found their way onto team lists and several players used that springboard to already reach the upper levels of the Minors.
Who from the Draft class of 2018 has gotten off to a good start? Here are 20 draftees who have been particularly impressive.
First-round hitters
1. Nolan Gorman, 3B, Cardinals
St. Louis challenged Gorman by skipping over the Gulf Coast League and moving him straight to the Rookie-level Appalachian League. The No. 19 overall pick responded with a .343/.438/.664 line in 160 plate appearances, and he's second in the league in home runs (11) and slugging percentage.
2. Joey Bart, C, Giants
The No. 2 overall pick played a few games in the Rookie-level Arizona League before moving to the short-season Northwest League. And the catcher has raked there, with a .331/.381/.685 combined line in 139 plate appearances (.346/.395/.750 with Salem-Keizer).

3. Jordan Groshans, SS, Blue Jays
Taken No. 12 overall, Groshans hit the ground running in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Over his first 123 plate appearances, he's posted a .380/.439/.593 line, and the 18-year old is second in the league in OPS (1.032) and fourth in batting average.
4. Seth Beer, OF/1B, Astros
Beer was a polarizing prospect, but if his start is any indication, taking him No. 28 overall was a good move for the Astros. The left-handed hitter is now at his third level, in the Class A Advanced Carolina League and has put up a .314/.416/.500 line in 203 combined plate appearances.

5. Brice Turang, SS, Brewers
Any time a high school draftee earns a promotion, it's worth noting. Turang, taken No. 21 overall, has moved from the Arizona League up to the Pioneer League and has hit a combined .343/.444/.388 in 81 plate appearances. He's also stolen nine bases in 10 attempts.
First-round pitchers
1. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Some were surprised when Rodriguez went No. 11 overall in June, but he's been very impressive so far in the Gulf Coast League. He's yet to allow a run over 12 innings of work, giving up seven hits (.167 batting average against) and five walks while striking out 10 over six short outings.
2. Daniel Lynch, LHP, Royals
Not only has Lynch, the No. 34 overall pick, already reached full-season ball, he's thrown the fourth-most innings (35 1/3) among all drafted pitchers. In that span, he's managed to go 3-0 with an ERA of 1.53 and a WHIP of 1.13 after allowing 33 hit and seven walks, while striking out 38.

3. Ryan Rolison, LHP, Rockies
Taken No. 22 overall, Rolison has used his polish and pitchabilty to his advantage in the Pioneer League. In 17 innings, he's allowed just 10 hits (.161 BAA) and three walks (0.76 WHIP) while striking out 22 and posting a 2.12 ERA.
4. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Rays
Liberatore was a top 10 talent who slid to No. 16 overall, much to the Rays' delight. While he's walked a few too many (seven) in his 13 innings of GCL work, he's also struck out 13 and allowed just 10 hits (.208 BAA) while compiling a 2.08 ERA.
5. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers
Yes, the No. 1 overall pick hasn't thrown much -- just eight innings in fact. But Mize is already in the Florida State League and just gave up his first runs after tossing five scoreless frames to begin his career. Overall, he's racked up nine strikeouts and given up six hits and three runs, all in that last outing.

Beyond the first round
Not every strong performer was taken in the first round, of course. Here are 10 draftees taken later on who have excelled.
1. Grant Lavigne, 1B, Rockies
The New Hampshire high schooler went No. 42 overall and has been lighting up Pioneer League pitchers since. The left-handed hitter has a .360/.454/.547 line in 163 plate appearances. He's second in the league in both batting average and OPS.
2. Ryan Jeffers, C, Twins
The UNC Wilmington product tore up the Appalachian League to earn a promotion to the full-season Midwest League. The second-round pick kept hitting there for a combined .391/.505/.603 line over 186 plate appearnces.
3. Kyle Isbel, OF, Royals
The third-rounder has also hit his way to full-season ball, posting a robust .348/.425/.555 line between the Pioneer and South Atlantic Leagues. The UNLV product also has 18 stolen bases (in 21 tries), tying him for the most among all 2018 draftees.
4. Blaze Alexander, SS, D-backs
The D-backs went well above pick value to sign Alexander in the 11th round, and he's already showing why he's worth the investment. The Florida prep infielder has already earned a promotion from the Arizona League to the Pioneer League, and in 138 plate appearances, he's put up a .357/.457/.589 line.
5. Jarren Duran, 2B/OF, Red Sox
A seventh-round pick out of Long Beach State, Duran has played his way from the NY-Penn League to the South Atlantic League. He's hit very well -- .372/.414/564 in 186 plate appearnces -- and he's run well, with 16 steals in 21 tries.
1. Simon Rosenblum-Larson, RHP, Rays
Taken in the 19th round out of Harvard, the reliever has been lights out, pitching his way to the Midwest League in the process. Rosenblum-Larson yet to give up an earned run, allowing just three unearned runs in 26 1/3 combined innings. He's allowed just 13 hits and five walks while striking out 42. Hitters have a .149 BAA and he's picked up six saves to boot.
2. Tarik Skubal, LHP, Tigers
Skubal missed all of his 2017 season at Seattle because of Tommy John surgery, but he's shown no rust during his debut. The ninth-rounder has pitched across three levels and is now in the Midwest League. He has three wins and two saves, and in his 22 1/3 combined innings, he's allowed just 15 hits (.192 BAA) and one earned run, while walking four and striking out 33.
3. Bennett Sousa, RHP, White Sox
At age 23, Sousa was a bit old for the Pioneer League, but he's already pitched his way to the Midwest League. In 21 1/3 innings, the 10th-rounder given up just one run on nine hits, walking only four while racking up 29 strikeouts. He has a 0.42 WHIP and .123 BAA.
4. Joey Murray, RHP, Blue Jays
An eighth-rounder, Murray has been dominant in the short-season Northwest League. The right-hander has yet to give up a run over 16 innings of work. While his eight walks are high, he's given up just nine hits (.161 BAA) and struck out 23.
5. Tanner Dodson, RHP/OF, Rays
That's right, the Rays have another draftee still playing both ways, joining last year's first-round pick Brendan McKay. Taken in the Competiive Balance Round B, Dodson is hitting .286/.343/.389 with five steals as a center fielder. On the mound, he's yielded just one earned run (four total) in 16 2/3 relief innings in the NY-Penn League. He's given up seven hits (.127 BAA) and four walks and struck out 14.