Doing a projection of the first round of the Draft at this time of year is typically a challenge. That’s even more true this spring with so much up in the air.
While players can’t help or hurt their stock with performance, the unknown variable of how many rounds the Draft will be -- when it will be is also up in the air, but that doesn’t change how teams will line up their boards that much -- makes it very difficult to nail anything down at this point.
But it’s a fun exercise, trying to forecast what the first 29 picks (the Astros do not have a first-round pick as part of their penalty for illegally stealing signs) of this year’s Draft will look like. This first full mock comes from a combination of conversations with scouts and looking at franchise history and tendencies. As always, we’ll be back several times over, with the hope of getting it right before Draft day.
1) Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
A first baseman hasn’t gone No. 1 overall since Adrián González back in 2000, but Torkelson has the chance to be a true impact bat, and in a hurry.
2) Orioles: Austin Martin, 3B/OF, Vanderbilt
Most feel the Orioles are in a good spot this year, being able to take whichever college bat the Tigers don’t take.
3) Marlins: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
With Torkelson and Martin gone, it’s time for the top college arms to come off the board, with Lacy getting the edge now over Georgia’s Emerson Hancock.
4) Royals: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
The Royals went pitching-heavy back in 2018, but someone once said you can never have too many arms.
5) Blue Jays: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
His huge performance on the Cape made teams feel comfortable his production wasn’t just a product of his hitting-friendly environment in New Mexico.
6) Mariners: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
Three straight years with a college arm for Seattle, with Meyer answering a lot of questions about his ability to stay in a rotation with his hot start this spring.
7) Pirates: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Fla.)
The first high school player to come off the board, and he could go a bit earlier. College options here: Garrett Mitchell (UCLA); Reid Detmers (Louisville)
8) Padres: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Ore.)
The Padres don’t shy away from high schoolers with upside, so Abel could make a lot of sense, as could Nick Bitsko from eastern Pennsylvania.
9) Rockies: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
He’s the next best college arm after the trio that came off the board in the top six picks.
10) Angels: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
While the Angels are in need of pitching, it’d be a reach for a college arm here and Mitchell has the best set of tools in the class.
11) White Sox: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
The White Sox haven’t taken a high schooler in the first round since 2013 and Kjerstad has as much raw power as any college bat not named Torkelson.
12) Reds: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (Tex.)
Kelley’s name comes up in the same conversations as the top high school arms in the class, including some of those in the Top 10.
13) Giants: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pa.)
The raw power and bat speed are elite-level, though he was a bit mercurial over the summer.
14) Rangers: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East HS (Pa.)
Bitsko is a bit tougher to place since he reclassified to this year’s class and wasn’t seen this spring, but he has Top 10-type stuff.
15) Phillies: Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (Tenn.)
Many see Hassell as the best pure high school hitter in the class and he could come into play as early as the back end of the Top 10.
16) Cubs: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State
Excellent defensive skills behind the dish combined with good raw power from both sides of the plate have Bailey primed to go somewhere in the middle of the first round.
17) Red Sox: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
If questions about the injury that sidelined him before the shutdown are answered, he could either go much earlier than this or be a huge steal because his stuff is legit.
18) D-backs: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Ill.)
Howard’s a bit tough to place because he wasn’t seen at all this spring, but he has up-the-middle skills and the D-backs already have a history with Mount Carmel, taking Alek Thomas in 2018.
19) Mets: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (Calif.)
There are some who aren’t sure if he can stick behind the plate, but his bat gets him off the board somewhere around here, especially because he’s athletic enough to play elsewhere if needed.
20) Brewers: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
If they don’t want to go with the up-the-middle potential Crow-Armstrong brings, they could go with a college arm like Cade Cavalli here.
21) Cardinals: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
There’s not as much track record with Cavalli, but he has a lot of upside to go along with his 6-foot-4 frame and easy velocity.
22) Nationals: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
The Nats took Wilcox two years ago and have the chance to do it again, with the Draft-eligible sophomore giving the Bulldogs two first-round picks.
23) Indians: Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State
The Indians could stay in their backyard (relatively) to nab Dingler, who’s name was coming up quite a bit in first-round conversations thanks to his athleticism and excellent defensive skills.
24) Rays: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
As teams contemplate Miami’s staff, it could come down to Cecconi’s pure stuff and ceiling vs. Chris McMahon’s higher floor and stronger track record.
25) Braves: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
He was hurt his sophomore year, but was dominant on the Cape last summer, which many teams will be using to make Draft determinations.
26) A’s: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
An offensive-minded second baseman who was seen a lot last summer with Team USA, Foscue’s ability to handle the bat is sure to attract teams that like college performers.
27) Twins: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
Loftin’s name is coming up as a back-end-of-the-round pick because he’s one of the few in this class who have a real shot to stick at shortstop and he has excellent bat-to-ball skills.
28) Yankees: Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (Ariz.)
Because he lives in Arizona he was seen a lot before the shutdown during Spring Training, so he could sneak in here, following in brother Cole’s footsteps.
29) Dodgers: Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
Falling a few picks after his double-play partner at Mississippi State, Westburg provides more ceiling compared with Foscue’s high floor.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.