Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

These draftees will be their team's No. 1 prospect

@JimCallisMLB
June 20, 2019

It's a shame that Mike Martin's coaching career didn't culminate in a College World Series championship, but that can't detract from his accomplishments and his class. Martin's final game with Florida State was a 4-1 loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday night. The Seminoles rallied late in the season to

It's a shame that Mike Martin's coaching career didn't culminate in a College World Series championship, but that can't detract from his accomplishments and his class. Martin's final game with Florida State was a 4-1 loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday night.

The Seminoles rallied late in the season to become one of the last four teams selected for the NCAA tournament, extending Martin's records for most consecutive appearances (40 in his 40 years) and most consecutive 40-win seasons (also 40). He tied Texas' Cliff Gustafson with his 17th CWS appearance and finished with 2,029 victories, making him the winningest coach in NCAA history.

I covered several of Martin's CWS teams for Baseball America and MLB.com, and he was always a treat to talk to because of his graciousness and humor. Congratulations on a career well done, Eleven.

It's that time again ... Which Draft picks automatically become their organization's No. 1 prospects once they sign?

-- J.P. S., Springfield, Ill.

J.P. has asked this question every June for years, dating back to when I was answering reader questions for Baseball America's Ask BA.

The two obvious choices to become their organizations' new No. 1 prospects are the top two picks in the Draft, Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman (who hasn't signed yet) and Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. (who inked the second-highest Draft bonus ever at $7,789,900).

Rutschman is the Draft's best catching prospect in years and the best No. 1 overall pick prospect since Bryce Harper in 2010. Witt is the Draft's top shortstop prospect since Alex Rodriguez. So, it's easy to say that Rutschman and Witt will displace a pair of 2018 first-round right-handers (Grayson Rodriguez for Baltimore, Brady Singer for Kansas City) when we revamp all of our prospect lists between the Draft signing deadline on July 12 and the Trade Deadline on July 31.

The only other 2019 draftee who should vault atop his organization's Top 30 list is Marlins outfielder J.J. Bleday, who leads NCAA Division I with 26 homers and may be more impressive as a hitter than slugger. He's currently playing with Vanderbilt at the College World Series and I would take him in a close call over right-hander Sixto Sanchez, whom Miami acquired as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade with the Phillies.

For more on this question, including some talented draftees who can't get to No. 1 just yet, check out the video at the top of this Inbox.

As soon as Rutschman signs with the Orioles, he not only becomes their best prospect but also baseball's best catching prospect (ahead of last year's No. 2 overall pick, Joey Bart). We'll add 2019 draftees (and international signees) to our various lists when we do our annual midseason overhaul, and he'll probably fit in the 10-15 range on the overall Top 100.

If Rutschman were a first baseman, he wouldn't have nearly as much defensive value as he does as a catcher, but he'd still be a switch-hitter who can hit for power and average while drawing a lot of walks. One scouting official I spoke to this spring said that if he considered Rutschman for his bat only, he'd compare him to Mark Teixeira. Lofty praise indeed, and Rutschman would rank as the game's best first-base prospect if that were his position.

Rutschman moves well enough that he could become at least an adequate defender at the hot corner if he shifted there. Austin Riley will graduate from prospect status after his next big league at-bat, so Rutschman would challenge Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) as baseball's top prospect at third base. Gorman has more raw power but Rutschman is a better all-around hitter.

You've been doing 10-round hypothetical drafts since 2003. Who are your 2019 picks?
-- Jim C., Winnetka, Ill.

Yes, that's me asking myself a question so I can run my annual exercise of shadowing a random team through the first 10 rounds of the Draft. I like to see how well I can identify future big leaguers while held to the same bonus-pool restrictions that the clubs deal with.

I randomly drew the Blue Jays and their $8,463,300 bonus pool, which I can stretch to $8,886,465 without forfeiting a future first-rounder. I'm all in on Brett Baty's bat and decided to make him my first-round pick at No. 11. I feel pretty good about my crop, which also includes MLB Pipeline's top-rated high school pitcher (Matthew Allan) and prep catcher (Ethan Hearn), plus a shortstop with first-round tools who slid because of a rough start to his junior season (Will Holland).

Here's my draft:

Round: Player, Pos, School (Actual pick)

1st (No. 11): Brett Baty, 3B, HS/Texas (NYM, 1st)
2nd: Matthew Allan, RHP, HS/Florida (NYM, 3rd)
3rd: Will Holland, SS, Auburn (Min, 5th)
4th: Ethan Hearn, C, HS/Alabama (ChC, 6th)
5th: Hunter Brown, RHP, Wayne State (Hou, 5th)
6th: Zack Hess, RHP, Louisiana State (Det, 7th)
7th: Drew Millas, C, Missouri State (Oak, 7th)
8th: Dominic Canzone, OF, Ohio State (Ari, 8th)
9th: Colin Peluse, RHP, Wake Forest (Oak, 9th)
10th: Antoine Duplantis, OF, Louisiana State (NYM, 12th)

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.