This first-round projection looks an awful lot like my previous one from two weeks ago, with only the fourth and fifth picks flipping among the first nine. And it closely resembles Jonathan Mayo's predictions from last week, with our first seven selections matching.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
That's not to say the top of the Draft is locking into place. While Auburn right-hander Casey Mize remains the front-runner to go No. 1 overall, the Tigers still are considering four alternatives. It continues to look like college players will monopolize the first six picks, and clubs are busy scurrying from conference tournament to conference tournament this week to evaluate them, and others who will fit later in the first round.
Further complicating matters is the high school pitching. It's plentiful, with at least 11 legitimate first-round candidates, but it's also a demographic that scares a lot of clubs because of the risk involved. All 11 won't go in the first round, several will go lower than where their talent alone will dictate and three of them (Mason Denaburg, Ethan Hankins, Mike Vasil) missed time this spring with physical ailments.
Ten days away from the start of the Draft, here's our best guess as to how the first round plays out:
1. Tigers: Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
Mize's last two regular-season starts were his worst of the year, but his combination of stuff and precision is still unparalleled in this Draft. Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart appears to be Plan B, and Detroit also is keeping tabs on Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm, Wisconsin high school outfielder Jarred Kelenic and Florida right-hander Brady Singer.
2. Giants: Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
Mize and Bart, easily the best catcher available, likely will go 1-2 or 2-1. If San Francisco decides to take a deep discount to save extra money for later picks, it could cut a deal with California high school right-hander Cole Winn.
3. Phillies: Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State
All of the teams in the top four are doing their due diligence on Bohm, the consensus best college position player in terms of hitting for both average and power. Philadelphia almost certainly will take a college performer, with Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal and Singer the other leading candidates.
4. White Sox: Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
If the top three picks unfold as expected, Chicago will choose between Kelenic, Madrigal, Singer and South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty. MLB Pipeline's No. 1-rated prospect entering the year, Singer would be the best fit for the White Sox current needs, not that need will drive a choice this high.
5. Reds: Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State
Cincinnati would pounce on Bart or Singer. If that's not an option, the choice will come down to Madigral, Arizona prep left-hander Matthew Liberatore and Jonathan India. Madrigal is the best hitter in the Draft, just like Nick Senzel was when the Reds made him the No. 2 overall pick in 2016.
6. Mets: Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
Unless one of the five selections above unexpectedly drops, New York will consider India, Kelenic, Liberatore and Swaggerty. The Mets are leaning college and that probably means India, who had a breakout season as the Southeastern Conference player of the year.
7. Padres: Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (Glendale, Ariz.)
The run on collegians figures to stop here, though San Diego does like Swaggerty. The Padres are expected to choose from the top tier of high school arms: Liberatore, right-hander Carter Stewart (Florida), left-hander Ryan Weathers (Tennessee) and Winn. Liberatore is the consensus top prep pitching prospect, but all four guys are in play.
8. Braves: Nolan Gorman, 3B, O'Connor HS (Phoenix)
Atlanta is associated with mostly high schoolers. The Braves appear to prefer Gorman -- the best power hitter in the Draft, but also a bit of a polarizing prospect who might slide into the mid-teens if he doesn't go here -- to Kelenic. The prep pitchers also will be in play, starting with Weathers.
9. Athletics: Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
Oakland looks destined to take a position player, though Liberatore could change that. Swaggerty has some of the best all-around tools in the college ranks and gets the nod over Kelenic and Gorman.
10. Pirates: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Central Heights HS (Nacogdoches, Texas)
Rodriguez has more helium than any first-rounder right now, which could vault him all the way into the top 10 to a club focusing on high school arms. Stewart, Weathers and Winn also are in Pittsburgh's mix.
11. Orioles: Cole Winn, RHP, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS
Baltimore is targeting the same prep pitchers as Pittsburgh. If the Orioles go for a college arm, this could be the high-water mark for Stetson right-hander Logan Gilbert.
12. Blue Jays: Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Every Draft has a guy who seems to be considered by several teams, but doesn't quite make it to their top choice, and this year that may be Kelenic. The best high school hitter available, he may not be able to overcome the preference for collegians at the top or for prep arms right ahead of Toronto. If he's gone, the Blue Jays are on more prep bats such as Gorman, outfielder/wide receiver Jordyn Adams (North Carolina) and others who could drop into the 20s if they don't go 12 or 13: shortstop Xavier Edwards (Florida), third baseman Jordan Groshans (Texas) and catcher Noah Naylor (Canada).
13. Marlins: Triston Casas, 1B, American Heritage School (Plantation, Fla.)
Miami is pursuing a lot of the same high school bats as Toronto, as well as two more in Casas, who has power to rival Gorman's, and outfielder Connor Scott (Florida).
14. Mariners: Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi
After sliding out of the top 10 and possibly into the 20s, Rolison reversed course with a strong outing Wednesday at the SEC tournament. The best bet is that Seattle takes him or one of the other college arms on the second tier behind Mize and Singer: Gilbert, Florida right-hander Jackson Kowar and South Florida left-hander Shane McClanahan. The Mariners likely would take one of the college hitters projected above here and possibly Oregon State outfielder Trevor Larnach.
15. Rangers: Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (Melbourne, Fla.)
With a fastball that reaches 98 mph and a super-spin curveball, Stewart shouldn't last 15 picks, but high school right-handers often last longer than they should. If he's gone, Winn or Weathers also would be attractive.
16. Rays: Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS (Tampa)
Tampa Bay is another club in the market for high school bats. The Rays have three first-round choices and the second-largest bonus pool at $12,415,600, so they're in great position to make a run at Adams, who is signed to play football at North Carolina, where his father Deke is a defensive line coach. Or they could take another speedy outfielder in Scott and save their cash for later picks.
17. Angels: Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS
College arms such as Gilbert, Kowar and McClanahan would be tempting, but Weathers would be hard to pass up. Los Angeles also has shown interest in Adams and Georgia prep right-hander Ethan Hankins, MLB Pipeline's top-rated high school prospect, until he battled a muscular issue in the area of his pitching shoulder.
18. Royals: Jordyn Adams, OF, Green Hope HS (Cary, N.C.)
Kansas City can match Tampa Bay's three first-rounders and has the largest bonus pool at $12,781,900. If the Royals want Adams, they probably have to take him here to ensure they get him. The same is true of Groshans, whom they have covered heavily. One of the top-tier high school arms would be hard to pass up if they got to 18.
19. Cardinals: Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
Unless some of the first tier of prep pitchers lasts longer than expected, the second tier of college arms should start to come off the board around here. St. Louis gets mentioned mostly with pitchers ...
20. Twins: Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida
... as does Minnesota, which wouldn't be adverse to a high school arm, but figures to be mostly looking at collegians. The Twins also are monitoring a number of high school shortstops such as Edwards, Jeremiah Jackson (Alabama) and Osiris Johnson (California) -- but apparently not the more expensive Brice Turang (California).
21. Brewers: Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
A lefty who can hit 100 mph and mix in a plus changeup, McClanahan looked to be solidly in the 6-12 range until he started scuffling with his control and command over his last six starts. Falling this far might be a bit extreme. Milwaukee isn't wed to any particular demographic and is one of several landing spots for Larnach in the 20s.
22. Rockies: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS (Ringgold, Ga.)
Wilcox has the potential for three plus pitches and isn't far behind the top group of high school pitchers. Colorado also has been tied to another Georgia prepster, switch-hitting and switch-throwing catcher Anthony Seigler.
23. Yankees: Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS (Corona, Calif.)
Turang was mentioned as a candidate to go No. 1 overall entering last summer, and while he hasn't lived up to those expectations, he's still a talented shortstop in a Draft thin at that position. A variety of high school position players get mentioned with New York, including Adams, Casas, Edwards and outfielder Mike Siani (Pennsylvania).
24. Cubs: Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State
Chicago has had a lot of success taking the best college bat available in the first round, which would make Larnach a fit. The Cubs would love for one of the prime college or high school arms to get to No. 24. They're also the peak for players such as Indiana high school outfielder Nick Schnell or Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner, though this would be a bit high for both.
25. D-backs: Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
A year after taking an accomplished college bat in Pavin Smith at No. 7, Arizona could go the same route with Walker. Other college position player options include Clemson first baseman Seth Beer, Duke outfielder Griffin Conine, Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman, Larnach and Virginia outfielder Jake McCarthy. It's no secret that the D-backs love prep shortstop Matt McLain, but No. 25 is rich for him.
26. Red Sox: Jordan Groshans, 3B, Magnolia (Texas) HS
Unless someone with a higher ceiling slides, Boston could grab one of the better all-around high school bats in Groshans. The Red Sox probably would consider several of the college position players mentioned with the D-backs above.
27. Nationals: Mason Denaburg, RHP, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS
Washington has had a lot of success buying low on pitchers with physical questions such as Lucas Giolito (first round, 2012), Erick Fedde (first round, 2014) and Jesus Luzardo (third round, 2016). That makes it an obvious target for Denaburg (biceps tendintis), Hankins and Massachusetts high school right-hander Mike Vasil (elbow soreness). Back on the mound Tuesday, Denaburg struck out Casas twice and showed the same upper-first-round form he displayed before getting sidelined.
28. Astros: Alek Thomas, OF, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago)
A run of high school outfielders should start around here. Adams and Scott won't last much longer if they haven't been taken, while Parker Meadows (Georgia), Schnell, Siani and Thomas may not get to pick No. 40. Naylor and Seigler are two non-outfield possibilities.
29. Indians: Noah Naylor, C, St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS (Mississauga, Ont.)
Cleveland has two selections toward the end of the first round and could double up on prep bats unless one of the premium high school arms makes his way to No. 29. Besides Naylor, the Indians also are watching the outfield group mentioned with the Astros, plus Edwards and Georgia high school catchers Will Banfield and Seigler.
30. Dodgers: Jameson Hannah, OF, Dallas Baptist
An outfielder is a good guess for Los Angeles, whether it be sweet-swinging collegians Hannah or Walker or one of the high schoolers.
31. Rays: Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.)
Hankins does have a clean MRI and could go much higher than this, though only Kansas City can match Tampa Bay's ability to pay him. If the Rays take a pitcher at 18 and Adams is still on the board, he'd be an obvious choice.
32. Rays: Seth Beer, 1B, Clemson
Scouts either love Beer's track record of production or hate his all-bat profile and lack of success with wood bats. He'll go in the first round somewhere and there's buzz that he could land in the top 20, but he's a total wild card.
33. Royals: Anthony Seigler, C, Cartersville (Ga.) HS
Groshans would be the guy if he gets this far, which probably won't happen. Seigler has the up-the-middle athleticism Kansas City covets. The Royals also could take a shortstop such as Oregon State's Cadyn Grenier or Jackson.
34. Royals: Mike Vasil, RHP, Boston College HS (Boston)
Kansas City figures to take at least one pitcher with its three first-rounders. Vasil looked healthy while touching 95 mph on Tuesday. The Royals also could grab high school right-handers J.T. Ginn (Mississippi) or Kumar Rocker (Georgia), who have first-round arms and will command those type of bonuses even if they slide into the second round.
35. Indians: Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.)
The high demand for shortstops and the relatively short supply makes it increasingly unlikely that Edwards and his all-around skills make it out of the first round.