Pipeline Inbox: All-Ceiling Draft Prospects Team

May 3rd, 2018

Draft season is certainly upon us.

Scouts would laugh at that, as they've been working on this Draft for the past 10 months. But in terms of our coverage on MLB Pipeline? We're cranking it into high gear.

Last week, we unveiled our Top 100 Prospects list, headlined by Auburn right-hander Casey Mize. Jim Callis followed that up with a breakdown of who the candidates to go No. 1 overall to the Tigers might be. And earlier this week, we had our first mock Draft, penned by yours truly.

So it only made sense to focus on the Draft for this Inbox. Enjoy, and let the countdown to June 4 and the start of this year's Draft begin!

It can always be a fun exercise comparing players across Draft classes. Keston Hiura and Nick Madrigal have some similarities in terms of being advanced college bats. Check out the video above for my answer to this question.

The Draft, of course, is all about future projections, right? But there are the "safer" picks and the high-risk, high-reward ones. Coming up with a "high ceiling dream team" is just the kind of question we love for the Inbox. Here's the lineup I would come up with:

C: Will Banfield, Brookwood HS (Snellville, Ga.)

1B: Triston Casas, American Heritage School (Plantation, Fla.)

2B: Madrigal, Oregon State

3B: Nolan Gorman, Sandra Day O'Connor HS (Phoenix)

SS: Brice Turang, Santiago HS (Corona, Calif.)

OF: Connor Scott, Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)

OF: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

OF: Jordyn Adams, Green Hope HS (Cary, N.C.)

Rotation: Carter Stewart, Eau Gallie HS (Melbourne, Fla.); Ethan Hankins, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.); Kumar Rocker, North Oconee HS (Bogart, Ga.); Cole Winn, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS; Matt Liberatore, Mountain Ridge HS (Glendale, Ariz.)

Any list like this is going to be extremely high school heavy, keeping in mind that just because a player has a really high ceiling does not mean there's certainty he'll reach it. We don't even know, for instance, if Adams, who has the chance to play football and baseball and North Carolina, will even choose baseball long-term. The rotation is the epitome of the high-risk aspect of high school pitching. Any of these guys have the chance to be frontline starters eventually, but many prep arms don't make it. I wanted to get one lefty on there, and you could make the argument that University of South Florida Shane McClanahan belongs because of his stuff. Liberatore might be more of a high-floor guy, but I think there's enough in the tank to come to put him on here.

I did manage to get a pair of college guys on this squad. Madrigal is just too good of a hitter not to see upside, especially if you think he has an Altuve-like ceiling (not sure the power is there, but then again, we didn't see Altuve's power coming either). Murray has tremendous tools and had split his focus between the gridiron and the diamond in college, so if he focuses on baseball, look out.

No one in this Draft class has improved his stock more than Jonathan India. The Florida Gators infielder wasn't on our Draft Top 50 in December and now he stands at No. 10 overall. India was always a solid player, did the summer showcase circuit in high school and got drafted in the 26th round by the Brewers in 2015. But if anyone saw this coming, I'd like to take them to Vegas.

A three-year starter at Florida, India certainly was a competent college performer. He hit .303 and slugged .440 as a freshman, but then managed a .274/.354/.429 line as a sophomore. India's two summers in the Cape Cod League were good, but not extraordinary. So what happened?

The biggest thing has been an improvement in India's overall approach. His pitch selection has been so much better and that, in turn, has allowed him to tap into his raw power more consistently on good pitches to drive. India's .401/.546/.810 line matches up with just about anyone's, especially considering he's doing it in the ultra-competitive SEC. He has 14 homers and 10 steals and even with the big uptick in power, he has more walks than strikeouts.

Does this huge junior season put India in the top 10? That remains to be seen. He's certainly moved into the conversation. It's not a slam dunk, as I think some teams would prefer a little more track record of this kind of success. A few years ago, another SEC performer had a .701 OPS as a freshman and a 1.205 OPS as a Draft-eligible sophomore. That was . How has that turned out? Now, I don't think India has Benintendi's tools, and it's not entirely clear what position he plays long-term, but it is hard to ignore what he's done. And if there's a team in the top 10 who thinks he has the chance to play shortstop (some do), then that team might very well take him.

You're a glass-half-full kind of person, aren't you? The optimist would say that different mocks say different things because there are so many worthy options. The pessimist might say you're seeing so many different picks because there is no clear-cut No. 2 prospect behind Auburn's Mize (who isn't guaranteed to go No. 1, by the way).

In general, this far removed from the actual Draft, it's not uncommon to see varying options, even as high as No. 2. Sometimes we have a good sense of who the top five picks will be, but the order is still to be determined. In this year's Draft, there doesn't seem to be much certainty at all, and it really will depend on what direction the Giants want to go in. San Francisco has been the kind of team that is willing to take any kind of player in the Draft, and picking at No. 2, it will take the best available player. If it wants a high school arm, that could mean Stewart. If Mize goes No. 1 and the Giants want a college pitcher, it could be Brady Singer, who I had going there in my mock. There are a couple of college bats to choose from, with Georgia Tech's Joey Bart or South Alabama's Travis Swaggerty coming up in conversation. A high school bat doesn't seem likely, but never say never.

There's still a long way to go and all 30 teams are trying to answer a lot of questions that have popped up this spring. Don't be surprised to see all of us mock Draft folks changing things up quite a bit between now and June 4.