Happy Opening Day! It's one of the happiest days of the year, and also means it's time to get my 2018 predictions on the record. I've gone 11-for-12 picking division winners the last two seasons and got the 2016 World Series champion correct as well, though I whiffed on all
Happy Opening Day! It's one of the happiest days of the year, and also means it's time to get my 2018 predictions on the record. I've gone 11-for-12 picking division winners the last two seasons and got the 2016 World Series champion correct as well, though I whiffed on all four Wild Cards in 2017.
AL East: Yankees, Red Sox (Wild Card), Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles
AL Central: Indians, Twins, White Sox, Royals, Tigers
AL West: Astros, Angels (Wild Card), Mariners, Rangers, Athletics
NL East: Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Mets, Marlins
NL Central: Cubs, Brewers (Wild Card), Cardinals, Pirates, Reds
NL West: Dodgers, Diamondbacks (Wild Card), Rockies, Giants, Padres
World Series: Astros over Dodgers
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Great question. For my answer, watch the video at the top of this column.
We're still a little more than two months away from the Draft, so a lot can change. But as of now, I'd be surprised if the Tigers didn't take a pitcher with the first selection.
There are plenty of interesting options on the mound: Auburn right-hander Casey Mize, South Florida left-hander Shane McClanahan and Florida righty Brady Singer from a deep college crop; plus southpaw Matt Liberatore (Mountain Ridge HS, Glendale, Ariz.) and righty Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central HS, Cumming, Ga.) as the headliners among the prep arms.
By contrast, there isn't a high school hitter who belongs in the mix at No. 1 at this point. Oregon State's Nick Madrigal is the top position player and top position prospect in college baseball, a middle infielder with well-above-average hitting ability and speed. But he's also 5-foot-7, won't have more than average power and might be a second baseman in the long run, a profile that doesn't add up to the top pick in the Draft.
Considering the Rockies are trying to return to the playoffs after earning a Wild Card berth in 2017, you'd think they'd put their most talented players in the lineup. Though McMahon apparently will open the season as a reserve in Colorado, he's more talented than Ian Desmond, who has four years remaining on a regrettable five-year, $70 million contract. If performance matters, McMahon should win the first-base job quickly.
Desmond struggled offensively and defensively in his first season in Colorado in 2017, and McMahon outplayed him in the Cactus League. Spring Training stats don't mean much, but McMahon is one of the best hitting prospects in baseball and should hit for power as well. He ranked second in the Minors in batting last year at .355/.403/.583 and has the versatility to play third base and fill in at second base.
A junior at North Carolina State, Kinneman currently ranks second in NCAA Division I with 12 homers. He has done a nice job of tightening his strike zone this spring and is batting .353/.427/.804 after having contact issues with the Wolfpack and in the Cape Cod League a year ago.
Though he plays left field for the Wolfpack, Kinneman has average to solid speed and arm strength, so he could move to right field in pro ball. If he keeps hitting, he should go in the top three rounds, something only one North Carolina State outfielder ever has done. The Rangers took Chuckie Canady in the second round in 1981.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.