1) Baltimore Orioles
Riley Greene, OF, FL (HS)
6-2 190 L/L
The Buzz at 1 is around Witt and Rutschman, but who I think the Orioles new regime winds up taking is Riley Greene. The guy is a flat out stud, both on tape and in his measurables, with a track record of major success in the big tournaments. Greene is somewhat widely regarded as the most advanced bat in this HS class, with plus pitch recognition, what Perfect Game describes as a “Fluid and easy swing” that generates “Easy power to all fields”. On top of this, he has a cannon in right throwing 92 MPH on tape. Add in that he has a 6.62 60 time (94th percentile for the prep class) and more importantly a 1.51 10 yard (99.14 percentile!) he has plus speed. Already generating 100 MPH exit velos (99.21% for the class) and electric bat speed with his “easy and fluid swing” with an approach and eye that will generate “big walk totals in the future” per perfect game. What’s not to love? In summation, Greene projects to hit for average and power, with a high walk rate, have plus speed, elite quickness, an electric and accurate arm and all on a prototypical frame. Did I mention he’s considered to have a good makeup and is a good student? Rutchsman and Witt are very much in play here, but a new GM can’t afford to miss here and Witt’s swing and miss against the best arms in HS leads to questions and catchers are risky investments; even the elite prospects like Adley. For me, it’s an easy pick. 2
2) Kansas City Royals
Michael Busch, OF/1B, UNC
5-10 200 R/R
Surprise! No Witt or Rutschman in the top two, who would have thought. Both are in play here, but I think Dayton Moore will lean Busch in this situation. Already stocked with a still in prime premium catcher under contract and looking for a quicker rebuild, I think the Royals continue their trend of drafting quick moving college players. I loved their draft last year and think it really showed how they plan to rebuild. Busch may not be the greatest athlete ever and he likely winds up in left. But his bat is the rare high floor, high ceiling combo that GM’s covet. He slashed .317/.465/.521 with 13 home runs and a 55/30 BB to K Ratio for a UNC team that is my early favorite to take down Omaha in 2019. Busch also showed his wood bat acumen against the best of the best in the Cape Cod League. The man slashed .322/.450/.567 with 10 XBH and 3 steals in just 90 AB. He walked 19 times to 17 K’s. Nobody is Joey Votto, but that’s the profile here. Mildly athletic LF guy, who may wind up at first, but with 25-30 power, a chance to hit for average and post absurd walk rates. With their lack of sure thing bats, I can’t see the Royals passing Busch up, while saving a few dollars for later picks.
3) Chicago White Sox
Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
6-2 215 S/R
Rutschman is a steal at 3. This is a no-brainer pick for the Sox. They get a guy who should be up very quickly, with likely the highest floor and a ceiling very few (if any) catching prospects can match. The guy can do it all. He has a hit tool that is plus plus, maybe even 70 with elite raw power. Game power is limited due to approach, but he should mash doubles. Absolute leader in the clubhouse, excellent game caller, World Champion, a great framer with a strong accurate arm and plus blocking. Last year for the champion Oregon State Beavers, he hit .408/.505/.628 with 34 XBH in just 67 games (including 9 home runs) and walked 53 times to 40 strikeouts. He also showed up majorly on the big stage, putting up the best average in College WS history. There are minor worries, like a terrible wood bat track record and a bad freshman year. But it’s not a cause for concern when you watch the tape. Adley could easily go 1 or 2, but as of now, pairing up with his college teammate (Nick Madrigal) in Chicago is his floor.
4) Miami Marlins
Bobby Witt Jr, SS, TX (HS)
6-1 185 R/R
Probably the most talked about player in the class and maybe the most known prep player since arguably Bryce Harper, people love some Bobby Witt Jr. I’ve heard buzz that had he been eligible, he might have gone #1 in last year’s draft. He has all the tools, a plus frame, agile and fast, great defense and a plus arm at short, monster power for a SS, lightning quick wrists and bat speed. Some scouts see him at plus plus in all 5 tools. But prospect fatigue is a real deal, as we saw with Brice Turang and others last year. Make no mistake, Witt is a much better prospect than Turang ever was, but his issue is the same. He just doesn’t show up against the high-level pitching at the big events. He flashes the tools, and shows them in spades during the workouts and home run derby. But when he’s hitting against the top arms, he shows signs of being susceptible to changing speeds and true plus fastballs. He’s young and he has plenty of time to fix these issues, which are nitpicky anyways. But as of now, he looks like a high k-rate guy to me. Even with a high k-rate, this is a valuable player. Even if he’s only a 230/240 hitter, he should have power/speed and plus defense to be a solid WAR player and fantasy relevant. But it does make him too risky for me at #1, especially with the signing bonus he will command. He has the highest upside in this draft though. And I have to think Jeter will see shades of himself in Witt and I can’t see him passing up on the kid.
5) Detroit Tigers
Daniel Espino, RHP, GA (HS)
6-3 200 R/R
Espino is my favorite arm in this class. He can reach back to 99 MPH and showed it on the big stage. Fastest fastball in Perfect Game history and that’s including Hunter Greene. Think about that, he throws harder than Hunter Greene did at the same age. He also has better offspeed stuff than Greene. His slider is plus to plus plus for me. Great movement, changes planes and he throws it for strikes. He throws a curve and a change but they need some work. Still, 4 pitches and I am confident that at least the change will improve and play off his 80 grade heat. The fastball has life and he is sitting at 95-97, so 99 isn’t a fluke. He has a prototypical starters build, tall and athletic with a strong lower half, good hip movement and an athletic leg kick. His arm action is long, he doesn’t hide the ball well from hitters and HS righties are notoriously risky. But the comp is Michael Kopech with better control. The Tigers have a lot of pitching depth, so CJ Abrams, Will Holland and Shea Langeliers are in play. But at the end of the day, I can’t see the Tigers passing on this kind of arm and what their potential 2022 rotation could look like.
6) San Diego Padres
Corbin Carroll, OF, WA (HS)
5-10 165 L/L
This might seem high for Carroll given his size and some of the college OF and high end catching talent (plus Padres’ love of HS arms), but the more I watch Carroll the more I think he’s a stud and the more I like this match. The kid is an absolute gamer and just has no flaws besides his size. Plus hit tool that showed up against the best arms HS has to offer? Check (he was the MVP of the All-American Classic). Plus plus speed? Check (99th percentile in 60 and 10 split). Surprising power and bat speed? Check (elite in all 3 bat speed categories and finished 4th in the HS home run derby). Plus arm that can already throw it over 91 MPH from CF? Check. So he’s 5-10 165, who cares? He’s 18, he will likely grow some more. Plus, he’s already a genuine 5 tool stud, it’s early for comps, but he reminds me a lot of Andrew Benintendi. The Padres system is loaded with arms and bats, only weaknesses I see are catchers and CF, but even those they have guys. Shea Langeliers and an arm (Brennan Malone?) are in play here, but Carroll checks all of the boxes and fills a rare need in the system. This is my favorite player in the draft.
7) Cincinnati Reds
Graeme Stinson, LHP, Duke
6-5 245 L/L
My favorite college arm in the draft (narrowly). This is a weak class at the moment for college pitching, especially compared to last year at this time, but some arms are going to break out. Of the guys with day 1 level stuff, Stinson has statistically been one of the best, going 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA and 98 K to 19 BB in 62 IP. However, he was mainly a reliever, making just 4 starts for Duke in 2018. And the ACC isn’t quite the level of competition you would see in the SEC. That being said, he is making the transition to starter this year and it’s off to a great start!! In the Cape Cod league, he made one start, going 5 dominant IP of shutout ball, only allowing 3 hits and a walk while striking out 12 of college’s best bats. He also dominated as a reliever last year in the Cape. He then went on to throw 6 IP with 0 earned runs and 10 K for Team USA. The big lefty has dominant stuff. He maxes at around 97 MPH and sits at 93-95 with movement and a straight up nasty 70-grade slider, look at this thing. The mechanics are meh, but that just means there’s more upside to unlock. He will need to refine his changeup, but a 60 heater, decent control and a 70 slider with a starter’s build are a good place to start. Shea Langeliers, Carter Stewart, CJ Abrams, and the top college arms are all in play here as well; but Stinson is my guy for this system if he can handle a starters load.
8) Texas Rangers
CJ Abrams, SS/OF, GA (HS)
6-2 185 L/L
The Rangers will be ecstatic to see Abrams on the board here. Pick is in as soon as their turn is up. Abrams will be expensive, but he’d probably be in play for Texas if they were picking #1 overall. For as bad of a stretch as the Rangers have had, I actually think Jon Daniels is a decent GM, and I think he values athletic players highly. Look at his last first-round picks: Bubba Thompson and Cole Winn, both plus athletes with projection. Look at his biggest bonus International guys in Julio Pablo Martinez and Leodys Taveras. Both are pure, projectable athletes. Abrams is one of the best athletes in the class, while also being very advanced mechanically and as a hitter. Abrams has the tools to play SS, an area of weakness in the Ranger’s system; but his lefty arm might fit well in second. His strong arm (throws in the 90s) and elite 99th percentile speed should allow him to play center if needed. He’s playing up the middle in some form. He’s hit well against the best arms college has to offer in both tournaments and in the Georgia Prep grind. The ball jumps off his bat and his frame is ideal for a hitter. Abrams is the 4th ranked player on my board, so he will command a big bonus to keep him away from an Alabama commitment. But he fits everything the Rangers need and value. Shea Langeliers is again a fit here, as are Cal’s Andrew Vaughn and a plethora of arms. But Abrams is the guy here.
9) Atlanta Braves*
Will Holland, SS, Auburn
5-10 175 R/R
This one is easy. Carter Stewart is the best arm here (assuming he doesn’t win his pending case against the Braves for not offering him a minimum contract offer to get a comp pick) and that’s not gonna happen again. The Braves system is absolutely loaded on the corners, behind the plate, in the outfield and the arms are notorious. But middle infield is a little bit sketchy, as is former #1 pick Dansby Swanson. With Witt and Abrams off the board, the Braves have their pick of the top college middle infielder and for me, there’s no doubt that player is Holland. Holland has a few questions (high k-rate in a short cape cod stint and for Team USA and occasional mental lapses at SS). But the pros are plus power, plus speed, highlight reel plays at SS, success against the SEC (.313/.406/.530 with 30 XBH (12 HR) and 9 steals in 66 games. And a short but sweet Cape Cod appearance. He does a little of everything and has room to improve. His ceiling is very high and he flashes 5 plus tools. Plus, as a college junior, he may sign a bit under slot here, allowing the Braves to go over slot with pick #21. In a deep college SS class, I can’t really see the Braves going anywhere else but the top SS here but Josh Jung could be in play if they sour on the SS crop.
10) San Francisco Giants
Carter Stewart, RHP, CC
6-6 200 R/R
The Giants could grab so many players here, Stewart is the top arm available here and the Giants are known to love elite curveballs and tall pitchers. Stewart has genuine ace upside and, by all appearances, the injury concerns were overblown. The curveball has the potential to become an 80-grade pitch, the guy throws hard, spins the ball well and wants to play. Of note, he recently switched to becoming a Boras client and the Giants are one of the few teams that won’t shy away from Boras. This just feels like a good fit. Misner, Jung and Malone are all in play here as well, as is hometown hero Andrew Vaughn. The Giants have plenty of needs outside of catcher and a new GM with something to prove.
11) Toronto Blue Jays
Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
6-6 260 R/R
Pretty much the right-hand version of Graeme Stinson. Manoah is a mammoth human with monster stuff. I have a 70 on the fastball, which lives 93-96 with double plus movement and a 65 on the slider. He’s huge and gets good extension as well. Like Stinson, he’s been primarily a reliever so far and despite his frame hasn’t ever pitched over 55 IP in a year yet. Unlike Stinson, he has had control issues, over a 4.67 BB/9 both years at WVU. Much like Stinson though, he absolutely dominated the Cape Cod league. He went 7 starts for 33 ⅓ IP with just 15 hits and only 11 walks (2.97 BB/9) and struck out 48 with a 2.70 ERA and 0.79 WHIP against college baseball’s best. And watch him throw, that’s day 1 stuff. Most years he would be a late first round projection pick, but with this college class, he’s vying for the top arm spot after what he showed in the cape. The Blue Jays have shown a like for big righties with two absurd pitches (Noah Syndergaard and Nate Pearson) and this Mountain of a Mountaineer fits that mold to a T and gives you a feel for the ceiling. His changeup needs work and he will have to demonstrate improved command and handle a starters load, but I love the size, love love the stuff and love what I saw in the Cape. Misner and HS arms are in play here as well.
12) New York Mets
Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
6-2 215 R/R
This is the hardest pick of the round for me. Both because the Mets are the Mets and because this pick could go so many directions. So naturally, I’m mocking the player I have the hardest time ranking. Jung could go anywhere from 2nd overall (and I did consider mocking him there) to 30th and I wouldn’t be shocked. Against the somewhat soft Big 12 pitching, Jung followed up a Big 12 Freshman of the Year award with a monster .392/.491/.639 with 35 XBH (12 HR) and a 39BB/32K sophomore season. He also had a solid summer as the starting 3B for Team USA, albeit with no home runs. I love the bat, but he’s not athletic and the power doesn’t wow me, especially for a corner guy. The arm is nice, but he won’t cover much ground. Overall, I see a 55 hit tool with 45 game power and 50 raw. I like the approach and I do see a high average, high OBP guy, but the comp is maybe Jeff Cirillo. I’m concerned that I haven’t seen him hit against the best USA talent or with a wood bat, but he’s mashed everywhere he’s been. I do like some of the Mets 3B guys in Shervyen Newton and Mark Vientos, but they are far away and Jung should quickly be MLB ready. The Mets have shown via trades they think they can rebuild quickly as well. I think Misner and Langeliers (again on both) could easily go here, as could an arm but my money is on Jung at this point.
13) Minnesota Twins
Rece Hinds, 3B, FL (HS)
6-4 210 R/R
This was one of the easier mocks for me. The Twins have shown an impressive ability to develop their last few early HS bats, most notably my #2 overall prospect in Royce Lewis and #11 overall in Alex Kirilloff. I think that trend continues with Hinds. The big righty has massive power legitimized by massive bat speed. The swing can get a bit long and I think he will have a decent amount of K’s, but the profile is similar to my 2018 draft crush Nolan Gorman. The difference being, Hinds is actually the better defensive 3B (and I prefer Gorman’s approach). Hinds is decently agile for a big guy, not SS level agile but capable at 3B and the arm strength is 70 grade, maybe higher. The manchild throws 98 from 3B and that # might go up as he matures. He’s also top of the class in exit velo, and he will get stronger as he matures. He needs to add some polish, but the tools are there for a Troy Glaus profile. The Twins are set in the outfield and up the middle, so I think this pick will come down to a corner infielder, catcher, or an arm. Langeliers, Shenton, Vaughn or an HS arm would all make sense here. But I think this match is just too perfect for the Twins to pass on.
14) Philadelphia Phillies
Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
6-0 195 R/R
Finally, Langeliers goes off the board. He could easily have gone anywhere 5 through now, but the Phillies are excited to see him here. After making the 2017 NCAAll-Freshman team, Shea has had some BABIP struggles in the hitter-friendly Big 12, and raised some strikeout rate concerns in the Cape and Big 12. But he’s shown plus power with a wood bat as a Freshman in the Cape, shows great game calling for Team USA and hit very well for Team USA. A bit of a down year had him at .252/.351/.496, not quite elite for the Big 12 and Baylor, but the power has been there at every level and he’s willing to take his walks. Could have been unlucky (though it mirrored his 2017 Cape numbers). All in al,l we are looking at a plus defensive catcher, with a decent arm who hits for very legitimate power and is willing to take walks. Think Mike Zunino with a bit less raw power, but much better discipline. He’s a top 10 guy in most drafts and could easily wind up as high as fifth overall if his average trends up and K’s trend down. Should progress quickly for a catching prospect. I don’t see the Phillies passing on him in this scenario, but Misner or an HS arm are the alternatives.
15) Los Angeles Angels
Greg Jones, SS, UNC-Wilmington
5-11 170 S/R
The Angels love raw but ultra athletic players. Jones, a draft eligible Sophomore from a smaller school fits that description nicely. High waisted and a natural athlete, reviews from the Cape were absolutely glowing and he was drafted in the 17th round by the Orioles in 2017, and on many top 100 lists coming into the draft, so he didn’t come out of nowhere. The numbers don’t yet match the tools as he hit .278/.412/.370 in the not exactly intimidating Colonial Athletic Conference with 70 K in just 60 game and more strikeouts than hits. Something repeated on the Cape, where he hit .259/.374/.353 with 41 K in 30 games and just 4 XBH. He is willing to take his walks, good for a young toolsy guy and something that will let his 70 grade speed play, which showed in his 20 steals on the Cape in just 37 games (and 48 times on base total) and 16 SB in 60 games for UNCW. The projectable frame and quick twitch athleticism Jones has leads me to believe at least average and being a switch hitter, platoon risk is unlikely. He’s a capable defender as well. The swing miss is legitimate and major, but he has time and the tools are very evident watching him play. He’s closer to 50 on my personal list, but top 10 in upside and he fits both a need and a clear preference for the Angels. Easy call.
16) Arizona Diamondbacks
Chase Strumpf, 2B/SS, UCLA
6-1 195 R/R
Most of the UCLA draft buzz is centered around Michael Toglia, who could easily be in play for this pick as well, and Ryan Garcia. But Strumpf is who I see the D-Backs going with here. The Stocky middle infielder missed playing on Team USA due to a minor injury but will be back for the start of the season. He reminds me of a two year’s advanced version of Matt McClain (the D-backs 2018 first round pick and 2019 UCLA teammate of Stumpf’s) if everything went right. That, combined with Strumpf likely not commanding the highest bonus ever, allowing the D-Backs to spend up with the McClain comp pick later in the round; make this a no brainer pick for me. In all 6 practice mocks I made, Strumpf comes off the board here. While no one tool is truly exceptional, Strumpf combines plus hit, with plus approach and power, solid middle infield defense if not spectacular and is very advanced. He balled out last year in the competitive Pac 12, slashing .363/.475/.633 with 36 XBH in just 58 games. He was aided by a high BABIP, but the numbers speak for themselves. The speed is average at best, so don’t expect steals but the bat and plus approach makes up for it. I wish I could see the power with a wood bat, but that will have to wait until after draft. A solid player comp is Brandon Lowe of the Rays, who like Strumpf is criminally underrated due to a lock of one true standout tool. A college bat is the pick here barring someone major falling.
17) Washington Nationals
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal
5-11 210 R/R
The Nationals always seem to get a steal in the draft. This hypothetical draft is no exception. The best hitter in college baseball and favorite to repeat as the golden spikes winner, Vaughn is a straight up masher! Following a .349/.414/.555 freshman year that saw him launch 12 bombs, the former pitching recruit burst out to the tune of a .402/.531/.819 slash with 37 XBH (23 HR) in just 54 games and less than 200 AB! He also drew 44 walks to just 18 strikeouts. Then went on to the Cape to slash .308/.368/.654 with a wood bat (8 XBH in just 52 at-bats) before struggling a bit for Team USA. If you watch him hit, the sound off of the bat is unmistakable, this guy has real deal power. And he has a decent approach, although he didn’t look quite as good against the upper echelon of pitching. If this were a 6-4 lefty 1B, he would likely be a top 5 pick. But the amount of sub 6 foot, righty 1B only guys that get drafted Round 1 are extremely few and far between. But he hits to all fields with an easy swing and easy power and takes his walks. He’s competent at 1B. Vaughn fills a need for the Nats as Ryan Zimmerman is on his last legs and he should be a fast mover. The arm is better than you’d expect as well for a 1B only type. It just makes sense and it will fun seeing him hit monster dongers back to back with Soto in 2021.
18) Pittsburgh Pirates
Brennan Malone, RHP, NC (HS)
6-5 210 R/R
Brennan Malone is a steal here at 18, but that’s just the way this draft falls. Coincidentally, he reminds me of a right-handed Matt Liberatore, who despite being the top HS lefty, fell unexpectedly come draft time and signed under slot. Malone could easily go as high as top 5. Tall, projectable and athletic, with an easy repeatable delivery, a mid-90’s fastball that bumps 96, a plus slow curve and plus flashing changeup, this is the most advanced HS arm and packs plenty of upside. If he was a lefty, there would be #1 overall buzz. Despite an elite track record heading into the year and passing every bit of the eye test, Malone’s actually been tagged at a few of the bigger events this year. But no reason to worry. All of the pieces are here for a top of the rotation arm ceiling and a floor as high as they come for HS righties. Great makeup as well. Slam dunk pick here for a system needing to reload on high-end arms.
19) St. Louis Cardinals
Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
6-4 205 L/L
It’s always fun when the hometown boy is the pick. That’s the case here as Misner stays in Missouri. While Misner, unfortunately, missed half of last season with a now-healed foot injury, he followed up a solid Freshman year (and monster New England Summer League performance) by truly breaking out his Sophomore year. Much like college football, the SEC is a different beast when it comes to baseball than any other conference. Misner popped off a .360/.497/.576 line against the best pitchers college had to offer. In just 34 games, Misner hit 16 XBH and stole 13 bases, while drawing 32 walks to 26 K’s. Add in a projectable frame that should produce plus power with double plus raw to go with a plus arm (9 assists in 34 games and just 1 error) with plus speed and you have a tailor made first round pick. Look for Misner’s name to really jump out this year. He’s #12 on my big board, but college OF is the strength (along with Catching and college SS depth) so I can see teams waiting. A player comp is a more athletic Greyson Jenista with better offspeed recognition. Lodolo, Zach Thompson and the HS lefties are all in play here as well.
20) Seattle Mariners
Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
6-3 195 L/R
This is my hometown team. The Mariners clearly need help across the board (besides 1B,Evan White who I think is going to break out in a major way this year). In my opinio,n SS and 3B are the biggest holes in the system. Sure Segura and Seager are locked up long term but there is genuinely nothing beneath those guys…nothing. People will say pitching is a need here, but with a potentially returning Sam Carlson, Logan Gilbert and a steal in Michael Plassmeyer (combined with the sad state of the system) you could argue its the strength of the system right now. Luckily for the M’s, this class has about 4-5 college SS with mid to late first round draft grades. Besides Holland, who’s already off of the board here, Stott and Braden Shewmake are my favorites. But Stott being the better defender and having the better year and summer, he feels like the pick here. Stott, the starting SS on Team USA and for the Cape Cod champion Wareham Gatemen, had a major breakout year for UNLV. He hit .365/.442/.556 with 37 XBH (just 4 HR) and 14 steals in 59 games with a 32 BB/18K line. With a large and athletic 6-3 195 frame, there is hope for power to come. But the Cape and Team USA stats suggest he’s not getting into yet as he .275/.383/.325 in 12 games on the Cape and .262/.340/.333 (although he did hit a bomb) for Team USA. I’ve heard reports the swing looks “lazy” and lacks true power, but that’s the only reason he’s still on the board at 20. If the home run power shows up and he keeps his above average speed, this could be top 5-10 pick next year. But I don’t see that happening. He does strike me as an Evan White type prospect in that he hit for average and discipline with plenty of doubles, has plus speed and defense and a frame that suggests a swing change could unlock plus power and a track record of success with Team USA. Dipoto loves his college first rounders and the system can’t afford to whiff. Shewmake, Logan Davidson, Austin Shenton and the college arms are in play here,
21) Atlanta Braves
Hunter Barco, LHP/1B, FL (HS)
6-4 210 L/L
It pays to have two first round picks and that higher bonus pool. And it pays even more when you get the first follow up pick to grab the top HS faller. Barco is not my top HS lefty, but I do think he’s good value here and the Braves are one of the few teams that can afford him. The rich get richer. Barco won’t overwhelm you with fastball velocity, I usually see him sitting 89-91 (i’ve seen it max at 94) but it has plus movement. And he has two more plus pitches in his nasty slider and change. Barco has legitimate command and control and with his frame, he should see some velo improvement. He strikes me as the type of guy that will learn to tunnel his pitches and sequence well. He also has a day one potential at 1B with a smooth stroke, ideal frame and legit plus bat speed and raw power. You are basically looking at a Brendan McKay clone, and that’s a major compliment. He will cost a well over slot bonus at pick 21, but the Braves are one of maybe two teams who can afford it. Another easy pick to make.
22) Tampa Bay Rays
Spencer Jones, LHP/1B, CA (HS)
6-7 205 L/L
And now for my favorite HS lefty in the class, Spencer Jones. The Rays love two way players and Jones is the best in the class for my money, but he won’t cost as much as Barco. I prefer him as a pitcher, where his projectable 6-7 frame launches 91-93 mph fastballs with excellent downhill plane and high spin rate heartbreaker slurves. He mixes in a changeup that flashes but isn’t yet consistent. With his frame and minor mechanical bugs, a sizeable velocity uptick should be coming. When he learns to get better extension, the perceived velocity could be “Big Unit”-esque. He needs to refine his command, but that will come with reps. At first, his swing is a bit long and he needs to learn to drive from his lower half better, but monster raw power is there and he’s a much better athlete than you’d expect. Again, highly projectable and there is easily potential for 70 raw power at maturity (albeit with a likely high strikeout rate). All in all, Jones is an extremely likable guy (op-notch student, good makeup) highly projectable guy on both sides with two-way genuine star potential. The floor is lower than your Barco’s or Malone’s but the upside is sexy. It might costsomee money to get him away from Vanderbilt’s open arms, but not as much as Barco and he’s the perfect system fit for the Rays. If he goes to Vandy, look for him at #1 overall in 2021.
23) Colorado Rockies
Tyler Dyson, RHP, Florida
6-3 225 R/R
Florida always has at least one first round arm, this year it’s Dyson. I don’t love Dyson, but a lot of people do and the Rockies strike me as one of those teams. Dyson is a two pitch monster with a high 90s fastball that sits 93-95 and touches 97 (though he was more 90-93 on the Cape) and a devastating slider. He throws a change up that simply put, needs work if he’s going to start. After a monster Freshman year out of the pen for the NCAA Champion Gators in 2017, Dyson lost control of himself switching to a starter behind Singer and Kowar in the rotation. He managed just 50 IP in 14 appearances (11 starts) and just 51 K with 28 BB and a 4.47 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. His stuff is much better than that. This showed on the Cape where he was nearly unhittable, managing 19 IP over 3 starts with 21 K, a 2.37 ERA and just a 1.11 WHIP despite 9 walks. But the velocity was lower, the change still needed work and the control was again vacant. Dyson will take the mound on Fridays for the Gators, a task that has meant top 10 draft pick expectations for years now and the raw ingredients are there. But he needs major advancements to hit that for me. The change needs to vastly improve and he needs to learn how to mix it well. The velocity needs to keep living 93-95 while he proves he can handle a starters load and the control/command issues need to vastly improve. I have Dyson solidly second round on my board right now, but he has day 1 stuff, there’s no denying that. Up to him how he uses it. I think someone will bite on him in Round 1 and I think the rockies are that team. College arms like Zack Thompson, Nick lodolo and Ethan Small are in play here as well. They have enough bats, but don’t count out an HS catcher.
24) Cleveland Indians
Tyler Callihan, 1B/3B, FL (HS)
6-1 200 L/L
The word that often comes up when you hear about Tyler Callihan is leadership. Always a good interview and beloved by coaches and teammates, Callihan is an energetic, charismatic guy. But that’s not all he brings to the table. The kid has a steady swing with major bat speed and a nice swing plane that has resulted in some monster bombs against good competition. Currently playing a lot of 2B and while he is fairly agile for a big boy, he doesn’t have that body type and he’s not an MLB middle infielder. But I do think he can stick at 3B or play corner outfield and he would be a plus 1B. He has a solid hit tool and solid power, with great leadership and work ethic. I have him more in the late 30’s on my big board, but it just seems like a good fit. The Indians seem to like young for their class players, which Callihan is not, so guys like Jaden Brown and Erik Rivera are in play here. But I think the Indians fall in love with Callihan’s bat, personality and versatility.
25) Los Angeles Dodgers
Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky
6-2 225 L/L
Thompson is another guy who is a bit overrated for what he is right now for me. But in this class, he is a Day 1 arm. Sure Thompson’s fastball CAN reach 95, but he lives more in the 90-91 range and I don’t see a ton of movement. The fastball is just a 50 for me. The big thing about Thompson is the offspeed stuff, his big slow curve is a 55-60 grade pitch, but his slider and change both look like 50-55 grades to me. That’s an impressive arsenal. He has had decent success in the SEC and was damn near unhittable for Team USA, although his 7K to 5 BB over 8 ⅔ IP didn’t wow me. Coming off of an elbow injury, Thompson both has the potential to find his control this year, but also legitimate catastrophic injury potential. If I start seeing control (don’t even need command) and either running life at 89-91 or him to start living more 94-95 with the heat, I feel better about him first round. But somebody will jump on the arm and the pedigree is major. The Dodgers could really do anything here, but I see them pairing a young project player with a polished player between the two picks.
26) Arizona Diamondbacks*
JJ Goss, RHP. TX (HS)
6-3 185 R/R
I love me some JJ Goss. And the D-Backs can use the money saved with the Strumpf pick to nab an elite HS arm. Goss lives 92-93 with elite sinking action on his heater and has touched 96 with a lean and projectable build, so more velo could be coming. It’s the sinking action that I love though, he will get a ton of ground balls with that pitch, always a plus in Arizona. He also a tight, high spin rate slider and the reports are that he has exceptional command of it. That is the strikeout pitch. If that wasn’t enough, he throws another high spin rate sinking change that should be good for swing and misses, keeping lefties off balance and generating even more. He is an HS righty and needs to add polish and fill out his frame, repeat his mechanics, etc. But he has genuine command of 3 pitches. If he learns sequencing and can hit his spots, he has one of (if not the) highest ceilings in this class. All 3 pitches have the potential to be 60 offerings for me. That is exciting. The comp is a healthy JB Bukauskas with more movement on the change. Lodolo and Matt Thompson are in play here, as are both HS and College OF Bats.
27) Chicago Cubs
Thomas Dillard, OF/C, Mississippi
6-0 215 S/R
Between Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, it’s no secret the Cubs value catchers who are capable of playing in the outfield. They also clearly value quick moving college bats, particularly with pedigree and a track record. Enter Thomas Dillard. Dillard had Day 2 draft buzz and was a consensus top 100 player in the 2016 HS class as a catching and pitching prospect, but passed on the opportunity to go pro in favor of being one of the key pieces in Ole Miss’s #1 in the nation recruiting class. At Ole Miss, Dillard shifted to outfield, where he could show off his plus speed and arm strength. After an up and down freshman year, Dillard was absolutely dominant against college’s best pitching slashing .310/.439/.563 with 30 XBH (13 HR) and 17 SB in 65 games with a 49BB/50K ratio. He then went on to display solid pop, speed and on base skills in the Cape. Most importantly, Dillard returned behind the plate in 2018 and looked good. Considered a plus defensive catcher in high school, Dillard again looked light on his feet, with quick transfers and a powerful and accurate arm. Dillard has some flaws, physically he’s mature and built like a truck, so he will lack projection and it’s unclear how he will age. But for now, he’s a premium athlete with plus speed and plus power. My main concern is that he has notable loft to his swing and should be an extreme flyball hitter. This should mean both high home run totals and high strikeout rates, something his stats lead me to believe as well. Dillard is very patient and has shown against high end pitching that he does have good plate discipline and pitch recognition and should draw plenty of walks. All in all, I see a player who will hit for both power and speed, high OBP and a 240-260 batting average, who plays above average catcher and corner outfield, allowing Maddon to rest Contreras. This is also a polished player offensively, who has shown up against college baseball’s best and should move quickly. Seems like a Cubs pick to me.
28) Milwaukee Brewers
Hayden Dunhurst, C, MS (HS)
6-0 210 S/R
This is a guy who isn’t on many first round mocks at this point, but I am absolutely in love with this kid! Behind Rutschman, this is my favorite catcher in the draft class. The Brew Crew could definitely use some catching depth in their system and I think Dunhurst is a great fit. While people tend to shy away from Mississippi prep bats in the first round, the Brewers drafted an MS prep bat with their 2nd round pick last year and must have scouts in the state. It also means that they aren’t afraid to take an MS prep bat early. Here’s why I love Dunhurst: he is a genuinely athletic player, with a solid catchers build, who has truly elite transfer and arm talent behind the plate, advanced receiving skills, plus agility, great pitch recognition for his age with an advanced approach and he MASHES the ball with ELITE bat speed. Having seen Dunhurst on tape, his transfer on throws reminds me of watching AAron Rodgers play football, there is almost no wind up and the ball just zips and with elite accuracy. This guy is going to throw many runners out with an arm that can reach above 90 MPH and a pop time that was in the 98th percentile according to Perfect Game. Now let’s talk bat speed. Perfect Game measures 3 categories; max barrell speed, impact momentum and max acceleration. Dunhurst was in the 97.32, 96.35 and 98.93 percentile in each category respectively, and showed a 98 MPH exit velo, good for 98.16 percentile. That’s first round bat numbers. Add in a truly elite arm behind the plate with plus athleticism for a catcher, good receiving skills and a great make up and that’s a first round player. But what really makes you love Dunhurst, is his consistency. He shows that arm speed, pop time and bat speed in games, every at bat and inning behind the plate. Extremely good repetition of mechanics and his wide base stance with a loose swing should allow him to adjust to pitching well. I love this pick for the Brewers. Love it. An HS arm or college 3B seem in play here as well.
29) Oakland Athletics
Jaden Brown, SS, CAN (HS)
6-1 180 R/R
The A’s are a fun organization to mock. They love athletes and they aren’t afraid to grab them. That approach has been more miss than hit so far (Austin Beck is middle ground, Kyler Murray who knows if he’s even a baseball player and Jorge Mateo has been a disappointment) but there’s still time for all 3 to become studs. What’s for sure is they like athletes and they like high ceilings. The most athletic player on the board here is Jerrion Ealy, but I don’t think Ealy will be a Day 1 pick due to the combo of how raw he is and how hard he will be to sign away from his football commitment combined with the aforementioned reservations about MS prep bats. Enter Jaden Brown, an athletic 2B/SS type with a plus arm strength (showed 86 MPH at age 15), plus speed and agility, and absolutely insane bat speed (his worst percentile was 98.08 in the 3 cats). Brown is a line drive hitter, who hits to all fields with power. He plays solid up the middle defense with great range and shows a solid arm. But what really sets him apart is projectability. Just turning 17 in October, Brown is one of the youngest players in the entire class. Already a solid 6-1 180 with an extremely athletic build (think wide receiver), he looks to get stronger and faster as he matures. Then add in that he’s a cold weather player from Ontario who doesn’t have access to all of the best baseball tools and you can start to truly dream. If he matures like he looks he will and changes his swing plane slightly, and the rest comes together….this a true superstar shortstop in the mould of Carlos Correa. In a system with some high end pitching, an outfield stocked with high upside players and arguably the top catching prospect in the game and tons of young corner infield talent, who highly value projectability and athleticism. This seems like an ideal fit.
30) New York Yankees
Brett Baty, 1B/3B, TX (HS)
6-3 205 L/R
The Yankees could go many ways here but the system is stocked pretty much everywhere but middle infield and corner infield. So, I see them going high upside at one of those two spots. Enter Baty, the 2018 Texas Gatorade player of the year over names like Bobby Witt Jr. Simply put, Baty can crush baseballs and he does it with a nice compact smooth swing. He also has an absolute cannon that should allow him to play 3B if he has the athleticism, showing 90 MPH on throws. He also was tied for top exit velo in the class at 101 and showed plus bat speed. I was tempted to go with Henry Gargus here, who actually shows even better arm speed and bat speed with much more speed and agility, but Gargus is wild with his throws and is more 1B/LF and his numbers didn’t match the talent considering he’s a Washington Prep. Both players swing with natural pull and lift from the left side with monster raw power, and are tailor made for the Yankee’s short porch in left, so I have to think one of these two will be the pick.
31) Los Angeles Dodgers*
Matthew Lugo, SS, PR (HS)
6-1 185 R/R
With the money (potentially) saved in the Thompson pick, the Dodgers can spend for high upside with another one of my absolute favorites in the class in Matthew Lugo. Like Correa, Lugo is an ultra athletic Puerto Rican SS who stands out for his defense (many people forget Correa was considered a glove and arm first guy heading into his Senior year). And like Correa, he has a big frame and his offensive tools have been making major jumps. Lugo is a quick twitch easily projectable athlete, who is silky smooth at short and has an absolute cannon, throwing 90 plus from short with accuracy. The nephew of Carlos Beltran has both elite speed and agility, showing 98th percentile 60 times, one of the top 10 splits in the class and clear eye test athleticism. He looks like a bigger version of Greg Jones, who went 15th in the mock, but he’s actually bigger and faster. Like Jones, the bat is the question. But he shows solid bat speed (ranging 87.81 to 93.17 percentile in the three tracked cats) and showing 95 MPH exit velo (94.52 percentile) so the raw ingredients as well as projectability are there. The swing is fluid and from a wide base too, so it’s just a matter of exposure to plus pitching. If he hits his ceiling, this is a genuine 5 tool player who could be a 25-25 threat while playing elite shortstop. He will spend this year at his Uncle’s (Carlos Beltran) Puerto Rican Baseball Academy. While he will cost a decent amount to sign away from Miami, his upside is well worth it and the Dodgers can afford it. This is the guy I’ll be hoping my Mariners draft at 20.
32) Houston Astros
Erik Rivera, OF, PR (HS)
6-2 195 L/L
From one Puerto Rican prep bat, on to another. Erik Rivera is basically a poor man’s Riley Greene, and that’s a major compliment. Technically a two way prospect and he does have an over 90 lefty heater, thats straight but hard and a tight hard slider that actually flashes plus. But for me, this is a prototypical right fielder. Still growing into an ideal corner outfield (or pitcher) frame, Rivera has big power and a 70 grade cannon. The man guns 97 from right field as a fresh 17 year old, with his projectability and being somewhat raw, triple digits are very believable. While he can’t keep the speed going for as long as Lugo for 60 yards, he’s still fast and actually just as fast in the 10 split agility drill. I see 50-55 speed at present. The raw power is immense, the ball flies off his bat (as evidenced by a 96 MPH exit velo) and its a result of bat speed that ranged between 94.62 and 97.82 percentile in all 3 cats. He’s a bit raw in the outfield, behind the mound and at the box, but you see what he can be in every at bat. Houston is loaded in the minors, especially on the mound, but they have to be enticed by a power outfielder with measurables like this; especially one who is a genuine high end reliever prospect as well. And they are clearly willing to draft toolsy Puerto Ricans in the first. One of the many HS catchers are in play here as well, as is Gargus.
33) Boston Red Sox
Matthew Thompson, RHP, TX (HS)
6-3 185 R/R
I kept mocking college arms like Ethan Small here…but I kept wanting to mock Matthew Thompson here… so that’s what I did. The Red sox have one of the worst minors systems in the majors, maybe the worst; so there is incentive both to play it safe and to grab quick movers. But Thompson is just too good and the system sorely lacks high end arms, especially ones without character concerns. HS righties are risky, especially guys with high effort delivery. That being said, Thompson is just too talented, athletic and good of a value to pass on here. The righty dominated Texas prep’s with a fastball that can get up to 96, living 90 to 93. He also flashes a 60 grade absolute hammer curve. This comes with a long track record of showcase success. Thompson is also very athletic, a great sign for him developing command down the line with his two 60 grade pitches. He will need a change up and he can be wild and high effort at times. But the frame is there, the stuff is clearly there, the track record is there and you can bet on the athlete. By all accounts a good clubhouse guy. He could go earlier. He will cost money to sign away from Texas A&M and a shot to be a top 5 pick in 3 years and he has mild reliever risk. But the upside, system need and value are too much to pass up here. A college arm, HS catcher or college middle infielder are in play here as well.
- Baltimore Orioles– Riley Greene-OF- Fl (HS)
- Kansas City Royals– Michael Busch-OF/1B-UNC
- Chicago White Sox– Adley Rutschman-C-Oregon ST
- Miami Marlins– Bobby Witt JR-SS-TX (HS)
- Detroit Tigers– Daniel Espino-RHP-GA (HS)
- San Diego Padres– Corbin Carroll-OF-WA (HS)
- Cincinnati Reds– Graeme Stinson-LHP-Duke
- Texas Rangers– CJ Abrams-SS/OF-GA (HS)
- Atlanta Braves*– Will Holland-SS-Auburn
- San Francisco Giants– Carter Stewart-RHP-CC
- Toronto Blue Jays– Alek Manoah-RHP-WVU
- New York Mets– Josh Jung-3B-Texas Tech
- Minnesota Twins– Rece Hinds-3B-FL (HS)
- Philadelphia Phillies– Shea Langeliers-C-Baylor
- Los Angeles Angels– Greg Jones-SS-UNCW
- Arizona Diamondbacks– Chase Strumpf-2B/SS-UCLA
- Washington Nationals– Andrew Vaughn-1B-CAL
- Pittsburgh Pirates– Brennan Malone-RHP-NC (HS)
- St.Louis Cardinals– Kameron Misner-OF-Missouri
- Seattle Mariners– Bryson Stott-SS-UNLV
- Atlanta Braves– Hunter Barco-LHP/1B-FL (HS)
- Tampa Bay Rays– Spencer Jones-LHP/1B-CA (HS)
- Colorado Rockies– Tyler Dyson-RHP-Florida
- Cleveland Indians– Tyler Callihan-3B/1B-FL (HS)
- Los Angeles Dodgers– Zach Thompson-LHP-Kentucky
- Arizona Diamondbacks*– JJ Goss-RHP-TX (HS)
- Chicago Cubs– Thomas Dillard-C/OF-Ole Miss
- Milwaukee Brewers– Hayden Dunhurst-C-MS (HS)
- Oakland Athletics– Jaden Brown-SS-Canada (HS)
- New York Yankees– Brett Baty-3B/1B-TX (HS)
- Los Angeles Dodgers*– Matthew Lugo-SS-PR (HS)
- Houston Astros– Erik Rivera-OF-PR (HS)
- Boston Red Sox– Matthew Thompson-RHP-TX (HS)