Welcome to the penultimate mock draft on MLB.com!
Jim Callis and I will be back one last time with a names-only projection of the first 34 picks that we will use as our “official” scorecard when the Draft starts tonight (the Draft preview show begins on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET).
As of right now, the top of this mock is very similar to what Callis wrote in his last projection. While the temptation to really blow things up right away is strong, the changes start at Nos. 9 and 10.
1. Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
The chatter has been loud about the O’s going in a different direction here, with Cal’s Andrew Vaughn and Vanderbilt’s JJ Bleday the most likely alternatives (Bobby Witt Jr. seems to still be in the conversation as well), but there’s not enough as of this writing to make the switch official.
2. Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS
Even if the O’s don’t take Rutschman, look for the Royals to stick with Witt (unless Baltimore takes him, of course). This one has appeared to be the most bankable projection all spring.
3. White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
The White Sox continue to debate toolsy high school shortstop CJ Abrams vs. the advanced bat of Vaughn. Bleday is in the conversation, too, and the club has at least investigated making a deal with Texas prep infielder Brett Baty. It’s probably safe to assume Rutschman wouldn’t get past this spot.
4. Marlins: JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
Bleday appears to be the top choice but there could be a spirited debate if Vaughn got here. Abrams and Florida area outfielder Riley Greene are the high school options.
5. Tigers: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Oviedo, Fla.)
The Tigers have long been connected to Greene, but there are sure to be advocates for Abrams as well. Arizona State’s Hunter Bishop and TCU lefty Nick Lodolo remain in the conversation.
6. Padres: CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Roswell, Ga.)
There is the chance that Abrams could slide a bit. There’s some talk the Padres are looking at college bats, which could mean Bishop.
7. Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian
There’s been no intel to force a change from this projection. Lodolo is the best in a relatively weak pitching crop. Should they decide to go with a college bat, Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers could enter the picture.
8. Rangers: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
This could be a tipping point in most mocks, with the Rangers being mentioned in possible deals with Baty and Josh Jung from Texas Tech. But Bishop has tools and upside as a college hitter, not something that comes around every day.
9. Braves: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto (Texas) JC
(Compensation for failure to sign 2018 first-rounder Carter Stewart)
There’s some buzz they might go the high school bat route, namely Corbin Carroll, in this spot. But the gut says they’ll stick with the arm, and Rutledge has one of the best ones in the class.
10. Giants: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
This could be a Jung vs. Bryson Stott (UNLV) debate in terms of college bats unless Rutledge slips. High school right-hander Matthew Allan gets mentioned here quite a bit as well.
11. Blue Jays: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
If given the choice, the Blue Jays might prefer Rutledge, but Manoah’s size and premium stuff shouldn’t last too long. Carroll, the speedy high school outfielder from Washington, could be an interesting option.
12. Mets: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky
The Mets are leaning arm here, and almost certainly a college one. Thompson gets the edge assuming his medicals check out OK. Baty’s name has come up here in a deal as well.
13. Twins: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
Langeliers certainly didn’t hurt his cause with his 11-RBI game on Saturday in regional play. The Twins have largely been associated with bats all spring. A high school option could be SoCal infielder Keoni Cavaco.
14. Phillies: Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
His name has been mentioned as high as the top 10, and he could still go there. If they wanted to go college arm, Elon’s George Kirby could be in the mix.
15. Angels: Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, Calif.)
Sometimes, pop-up players with helium plateau or even sink drop down a bit. That hasn’t happened with Cavaco, who should go somewhere in this range.
16. D-backs: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Seattle)
There’s a solid chance Carroll will be gone by this pick, and a good chance the D-backs will be thrilled if he’s available. Allan could be an option should they decide to go high school arm here.
17. Nationals: Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS (Sanford, Fla.)
There is a supposed high asking price to sign Allan away from his University of Florida commitment, but the Nationals have never shied away from that challenge before. There’s a slew of college hitters they could consider here instead.
18. Pirates: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove HS (Cary, Ill.)
Fellow high school arm Brennan Malone might be of interest, or the Pirates could go with Kirby if they want a college pitcher to help a thinned-out system. They took a college hitter last year in Travis Swaggerty, so they could be intrigued by toolsy shortstop Greg Jones, or a pure bat like Michael Busch.
19. Cardinals: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
There are several college bats available here (Busch, Jones, Will Wilson, Kameron Misner) and the Cards can choose their favorite before a run on them occurs later in the round.
20. Mariners: George Kirby, RHP, Elon
Delbarton Prep shortstop Anthony Volpe keeps getting mentioned here, and there is interest, but this could go down like last year, when the M’s went college arm with Logan Gilbert.
21. Braves: Greg Jones, SS, UNC Wilmington
How many college players with 80 speed have you seen in any Draft? Jones got hot at the right time, too, playing well in conference tournament action.
22. Rays: Gunnar Henderson, SS, Morgan Academy (Selma, Ala.)
Henderson’s name starts popping up a bit higher than this, but the Rays still could be the best landing spot for him.
23. Rockies: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane
Hoese’s offensive profile at the hot corner has him moving up boards and he could be gone at this point. He's perhaps the best of the second group of college bats. The Rockies are debating the college bats vs. the high school arms still on the board.
24. Indians: Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State
If things play out like this, the Indians could be looking at a choice between college hitters like Wilson and Busch. Prep pitching like Malone or Daniel Espino might also be options.
25. Dodgers: Michael Busch, 1B, North Carolina
Don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but there are a lot of solid college hitters to choose from in this class, especially at this point of the Draft. The Dodgers could go after one of those high school arms if they feel one they like won’t last until its second pick (spoiler alert: I think one will).
26. D-backs: Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Austin, Texas)
(Compensation for failure to sign 2018 first-rounder Matt McLain)
Baty’s name comes up in a number of spots much higher than this. Because of his age (19 1/2), he is one of the tougher players to place, but the D-backs, with their extra picks, might be willing to buck the model (that doesn’t like older high school players) and take the chance on his bat.
27. Cubs: Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
So many tools, so little performance, especially in SEC play this year. It’s possible Misner could slide out of the first round as a result, but there’s some serious upside to tap into if a team feels they can straighten him out.
28. Brewers: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Malone might have as much ceiling as any high school pitcher in the class and the Brewers would be happy to add his upside to their system, while they will also monitor for deals cut above them in the hopes someone falls to them.
29. Athletics: Seth Johnson, RHP, Campbell
It’s still possible the A’s will go college bat here, but with the run above, there may not be one they covet. Johnson, a converted infielder, is a rare college arm with upside.
30. Yankees: Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence HS (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The Yankees might be happy if Misner were still available and there’d be interest in Baty. With them gone, Callihan is a solid pure bat the Yankees seem to covet.
31. Dodgers: Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Statesboro, Ga.)
(Compensation for failure to sign 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn)
In this mock, I had the Dodgers taking a college bat with their first pick. They can then go upside with Espino, who has the best fastball in the entire class.
32. Astros: JJ Goss, RHP, Cypress (Texas) Ranch HS
The Astros could very well stay in their backyard in taking Goss from Cypress Ranch, which is only about 30 miles away from Minute Maid Park.
33. D-backs: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M
(Compensation for loss of free agent Patrick Corbin)
Arizona could go with a safer player like Shewmake, or a high school player like Matthew Lugo, in order to save money so they can go after…
34. D-backs: Jack Leiter, RHP, Delbarton Prep (Morristown, N.J.)
(Compensation for loss of free agent A.J. Pollock)
Leiter sounds like he’s not signable, with a very strong commitment to Vanderbilt. But if anyone can afford to meet what is a high asking price, it’s the D-backs, with all of their extra picks.