Scouts thought that the 2019 Draft was strong on hitting and light on pitching when the year began, and nothing has happened to change their minds. This Draft should break records for most consecutive position players taken at the top of the first round (five in 2005) and in the first round as whole (21 in 2015), and MLB Pipeline's initial full first-round projection reflects those expectations.
Oregon State's Adley Rutschman remains the top-rated prospect and the favorite to go No. 1 overall to the Orioles in June. If the Draft unfolds as we suggest below, Rutschman will be the first catcher taken atop a Draft since Joe Mauer in 2001. Bobby Witt Jr. and C.J. Abrams would surpass Tommy Bianco and Condredge Holloway (Nos. 3 and 4 overall in 1971) as the highest-drafted pair of prep shortstops ever, while California's Andrew Vaughn would join David McCarty (No. 3 in 1991) as the only right-handed-hitting first basemen ever selected with a top-five choice.
This mock draft comes with the usual caveat that a lot can and will change in the next five weeks. To put our predictions in context, there's a good amount of intel on the first seven picks, a decent amount in the 8-12 range and a small bit from 13-21. Anything after that is just hopefully educated dart-throwing at this point.
1. Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Baltimore is zeroing in on the first four players on this list -- also the first four on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 -- and is monitoring Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop as well, but Rutschman is the strong favorite to go No. 1.
2. Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS
Kansas City is focusing on the top tier of four players as well. Witt, a potential five-tool shortstop, is the front-runner as of now.
3. White Sox: CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Roswell, Ga.)
Chicago has taken college hitters with its first pick in the last three Drafts, leading to the thought that it will extend the streak to four with Vaughn. But the White Sox have plenty of corner bats and could use some up-the-middle players, which could lead them to Abrams, one of the best athletes and hitters in the high school crop.
4. Marlins: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
If Vaughn makes it past Chicago, then Miami figures to grab the reigning Golden Spikes Award winner and the best all-around hitter in the Draft. If not, word is that Marlins executives want Abrams and their scouts prefer Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday.
5. Tigers: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Oviedo, Fla.)
Unless one of the top-tier foursome makes it to No. 5, Detroit's choice comes down to Greene and Bleday. Greene is the best all-around hitter among the high schoolers and his biggest backers see some Cody Bellinger in him.
6. Padres: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
Scouts knew Bleday could hit and wanted to see him produce some power, and he has responded by leading NCAA Division I with 21 homers. San Diego likely goes with a hitter but could be tempted to take a left-hander (Texas Christian's Nick Lodolo) in the first round for the fourth year in a row.
7. Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian
Cincinnati could snag any of the six hitters above if they get to No. 7. The backup plan is likely a left-hander, with Lodolo and Kentucky's Zach Thompson the prime candidates.
8. Rangers: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
One of the most improved players and better athletes in college baseball, Bishop has gone from a .759 OPS and five homers as a sophomore to a 1.313 OPS and 18 homers this spring. Texas also could opt for West Virginia right-hander Alek Manoah and might be the first club that could pop a high school arm (Matthew Allan).
9. Braves: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Carter Stewart.)
He can't match Rutschman's offensive upside, but Langeliers is one of the best defensive catchers of the last decade and is hitting better this spring despite a broken hamate that sidelined him for just three weeks. Manoah could be a factor, and this could be the peak for San Jacinto (Texas) right-hander Jackson Rutledge or Washington high school outfielder Corbin Carroll.
10. Giants: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
Manoah is on fire (49 strikeouts and just one run in 33 innings over his last four starts) and takes the mound Friday against Lodolo in the spring's most anticipated pitching matchup. San Francisco's new regime is tied mostly to college players such as Lodolo, Bishop, UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott and Rutledge.
11. Blue Jays: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto (Texas) JC
The best junior college prospect since Bryce Harper went No. 1 overall in 2010, Rutledge has some of the most overpowering stuff in the Draft and tops national juco pitchers in ERA (0.93) and ranks second in strikeouts (123 in 77 2/3 innings).
12. Mets: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky
Thompson is pushing to join the top tier of college pitchers, though some teams worry about his medical history because he had shoulder issues in high school and missed two months last year with an elbow injury. Stott also would be a consideration here.
13. Twins: Bryson Stott, SS, Nevada-Las Vegas
The best of an unusually deep crop of college shortstops, Stott is a proven offensive performer and a good bet to stay at the position.
14. Phillies: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
Though Jung hasn't driven the ball as much as a junior as he did as a sophomore, he's still one of the best offensive prospects in the college ranks and has a track record of production.
15. Angels: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Seattle)
Carroll lacks physicality but he ranks among the most advanced hitters, fastest players and best up-the-middle defenders in the prep class. This feels like his floor.
16. D-backs: Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS (Sanford, Fla.)
With four first-round choices, seven of the first seven selections and an MLB-high $16,093,700, Arizona is in play on almost every prospect. The best high school pitcher available, Allan could go earlier than this based on talent but prep right-handers are the demographic that scares clubs the most.
17. Nationals: George Kirby, RHP, Elon
The shortage of first round-worthy college arms is going to push them up boards, and Kirby has helped himself by following a strong sophomore year with leading NCAA Division I in strikeout-walk ratio (16.8).
18. Pirates: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove HS (Cary, Ill.)
While Allan is the best high school arm, Priester is the one with the most upward mobility. Pittsburgh has an affinity for athletic prep right-handers.
19. Cardinals: Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
With the best tools package among college position players, Misner could fit in the first five picks based on upside. But he has really scuffled in Southeastern Conference play, so where exactly he'll fit in the first round is a mystery.
20. Mariners: Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Austin, Texas)
Baty is one of the more polarizing prospects because he rivals Greene as the best high school hitter for average and power but also will be 19 1/2 on Draft day. Some clubs won't touch him in the first round because of his age while others don't think he'll last 20 picks.
21. Braves: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
Get ready for a run on college infielders, who are ranked in a variety of different ways by different teams. Davidson gets plus grades for his raw power, speed and arm from some evaluators and scares others because he hasn't hit well with wood bats.
22. Rays: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Malone owns one of the top fastball/slider combinations in the Draft and helped his cause with a strong performance at the National High School Invitational in April.
23. Rockies: Michael Busch, 1B/OF, North Carolina
One of the more polished and disciplined hitters in the college ranks, Busch could go a bit higher in the Draft to a club that believes he can handle left field or second base.
24. Indians: Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State
Wilson would add to Cleveland's seemingly endless supply of middle infielders who are gifted hitters.
25. Dodgers: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane
A 35th-round pick as an age-eligible sophomore a year ago, Hoese has made one of the biggest leaps into the first round by tying Bleday for the NCAA D-I lead with 21 homers.
26. D-backs: Seth Johnson, RHP, Campbell
(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Matt McLain.)
Johnson has made an even greater leap than Hoese. He has gone from a light-hitting shortstop who pitched six innings at Louisburg (N.C.) JC in 2018 to a lock first-rounder with an effortless delivery and a fastball that reaches 98 mph.
27. Cubs: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M
Chicago has had a lot of success taking gifted college hitters in the first round, and Shewmake fits that profile even if he looks a bit unorthodox at the plate.
28. Brewers: Rece Hinds, 3B, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Hinds has as much raw power as anyone in the Draft, albeit mitigated by some swing-and-miss concerns and questions about whether he can remain in the infield.
29. Athletics: Hunter Barco, LHP, The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The only prep left-hander ranked in the upper half of MLB Pipeline's Draft Top 100, Barco has the potential for three solid or better pitches.
30. Yankees: Gunnar Henderson, SS, Morgan Academy (Selma, Ala.)
One of the high school position players with the most helium right now, Henderson has played his way into the first round by getting faster and stronger and showing more power and defensive prowess at shortstop.
31. Dodgers: Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence HS (Jacksonville, Fla.)
(Compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn.)
Callihan has a similar profile to Baty, including being old for the high school class, and offers some added intrigue with some experience as a catcher.
32. Astros: J.J. Goss, RHP, Cypress (Texas) Ranch HS
Goss has outpitched previously more touted teammate Matthew Thompson and possesses one of the nastier sliders among prepsters. There are several other high school righties who could factor in the first round but seem more likely to command over-slot bonuses a bit lower in the Draft, such as Daniel Espino (Georgia Premier Academy, Statesboro, Ga.), Jack Leiter (Delbarton School, Morristown, N.J.) and Josh Wolf (St. Thomas HS, Houston).
33. D-backs: Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, Calif.)
(Compensation for Patrick Corbin, who signed with the Nationals. Washington forfeited its second- and fifth-highest picks.)
One of the breakout players of the spring, Cavaco combines impressive power potential with quality defense at the hot corner.
Boston was initially slated to pick here, but it was dropped 10 places as a penalty for being more than $40 million over the tax threshold.
34. D-backs: Maurice Hampton, OF, Memphis (Tenn.) University HS
(Compensation for A.J. Pollock, who signed with the Dodgers. Los Angeles forfeited its second-highest pick.)
If any team can afford to buy Hampton away from a commitment to play baseball and football (cornerback) at Louisiana State, it's Arizona with its $16,093,700 bonus pool. He's a potential 25-25 center fielder if he refines his tools.