The MLB draft kicks off today at 4 PM PT/7 PM ET. This draft is a little different than other years in that while the talent pool is wide, there’s no clear-cut hierarchy of consensus top picks as there have been in other years. As later mock drafts have come out, we’ve seen some consistency in the names in the top 5, if not the order (Mize/Bart/Singer/Madrigal and some combination of Cole Winn/Alec Bohm/Jonathan India filling out the last spot). This year’s draft is complicated, too, by the presence of so much outstanding right-handed prep pitching, notoriously a draft category that GMs approach with caution due to high variance in outcomes. We polled our SB Nation affiliates for each team site to get a sense of what direction they felt the teams they cover closely might go in, regardless of what national draft-talkers might think.
1. Detroit Tigers - RHP Casey Mize, Auburn
Despite my staff’s best attempts to turn this mock draft upside down and select Nick Madrigal or Joey Bart, Mize is the smart, safe pick here. The Tigers will almost surely take the right-hander come draft day, and for good reason. He has a mature four-pitch mix that he commands well, with a lethal splitter that should be a true out-pitch at the professional level. He has allayed concerns about his durability with a full season in Auburn’s rotation, and has dominated his SEC competition like few pitchers in recent memory. That he was atop mock drafts for nearly the entire cycle is no accident. Mize is this year’s top prospect, and the likely No. 1 pick.
-Rob Rogacki, Bless You Boys
2. San Francisco Giants - RHP Brady Singer, Florida
Everyone says it’ll be Joey Bart here because the Giants will want a succession plan in place for Buster Posey. Thing is, Posey wants to catch for as long as his body is able, Brandon Belt is a better first baseman than left fielder, and every level of the organization is starved for pitching. Singer has a higher floor than a high school pitcher and could contribute quickly. Bart might not develop in time to save front office people’s jobs. Also, Singer reminds me a little bit of Matt Cain, and as much as the Giants swear they’ve gone cold turkey on old school scouting, I think they still might be tempted by a player who simply has “the look”.
-Bryan Murphy, McCovey Chronicles
3. Philadelphia Phillies - 3B Alec Bohm, Wichita State
Almost every rumor points the Phillies to Bohm here and third basemen taken top 10 have a really, really good track record.
-Dan Cormican, The Good Phight
4. Chicago White Sox - C Joey Bart, Georgia Tech
There is organizational need at both infield and catcher, and everyone in the world points to the White Sox taking Nick Madrigal, but with Joey Bart falling to No. 4, the pick here is Bart. The White Sox have some catchers in their system making noise — particularly Seby Zavala and Zack Collins at Double-A Birmingham — but it’s almost exclusively with the bat. An easy argument can be made that the White Sox have zero future MLB catchers on the farm. Bart has as good or better offensive tools and can actually field the position. As a polished Georgia Tech/SEC product, the hope is that Bart can move through the system quickly enough to be a factor for the White Sox once their window opens in 2020.
-Brett Ballantini, South Side Sox
5. Cincinnati Reds - 2B Nick Madrigal, Oregon State
Nick Madrigal doesn’t exactly fit a “need” in the Reds organization, as they’re surprisingly deep in the middle infield, both on their current roster and down on the farm. He does check off a few boxes for the Reds front office, though, as seemingly the “Best Player Available” at this point in the draft and an advanced college bat that should move quickly through the minor leagues. The Reds plan, insofar as they have one, is to contend sooner rather than later. Madrigal’s advanced plate discipline, athleticism, and plus glove work should go a long way to help realize that version of the Reds future. The Reds’ last high pick, middle infield, advanced college bat (2016’s number two overall pick Nick Senzel) should arrive in Cincinnati any time now. Adding Madrigal to the system (especially if one of those two can end up playing a passable or better SS) makes the top of the Reds lineup very interesting in the near future.
-Derek Grimes, Red Reporter
6. New York Mets - RHP Matthew Liberatore, Mountain Ridge HS (AZ)
Liberatore is the top left-hander available, because of what he currently throws and how he projects to develop. There is always risk with high school players, but because of Liberatore’s high pitching IQ, his floor might be higher than most. The Mets have a history of developing frontline pitching, and Liberatore has the stuff needed to be the next great Mets pitcher.
-Steve Sypa, Amazin’ Avenue
7. San Diego Padres - LHP Ryan Weathers, Loretto HS (TN)
AJ Preller and his scouting staff don’t care about organizational need, they care about potential ceiling, especially at the top of the draft. Weathers is a surprise early pick because the Padres are going after an under-slot value to spread the wealth later in the draft… but they’ll have to pay him enough to break him away from his commitment to Vanderbilt. As a lefty prep arm, he’ll surely draw comparisons to the team’s top pick from last year, MacKenzie Gore. Weathers doesn’t have the electric stuff or eye-popping numbers that Gore posted, but he has the frame to build around an athletically sound delivery, a polished repertoire with command that’s rarely seen at his level, and the makeup to execute a game plan and properly deploy his arsenal. The son of 19-year MLB veteran David Weathers, he will join Fernando Tatis Jr. and Cal Quantrill as Padres prospects with MLB pedigree. That gives him a higher floor than most high school pitchers and a ceiling somewhere near the front of an MLB rotation. Random note: he’s John Sickels’ favorite prep arm in the draft. Random negative note: he’s a Dodgers fan. That’s okay, we can fix that. A college arm or bat might move quicker through the system, but the organization isn’t going to target a contention window. We’re trying to build sustainable growth through waves of “hot talent lava.”
-Roy Thomasson, Gaslamp Ball
8. Atlanta Braves - RHP Carter Stewart, Eau Gallie HS (FL)
The current prevailing wisdom is that the Braves are likely to select power hitting prep third baseman Nolan Gorman and we certainly wouldn’t be unhappy to see him, Oregon State outfielder Trevor Larnach, or prep RHP Cole Winn here. However, Stewart possesses a Trackman-breaking curveball to go along with a very live fastball that makes us marvel at his ceiling as a pitcher. It is certainly a close call with the players available, but Stewart is our pick here.
- Eric Cole, Talking Chop
9. Oakland Athletics - SS Xavier Edwards, N. Broward Prep (FL)
Switch-hitter with an all-fields approach, Edwards possesses at least 70 grade speed and is a base-stealing threat. With quick hands, quick feet, and good hand-eye coordination, Edwards has the athleticism and instincts to stay up the middle, be it at SS or 2B. Power will never be a big part of his game, but he’ll add at least 15 pounds with maturity and be able to reach the gaps with regularity. Most projections have him falling out of the Top 20, where a $3 million or lower slot signing bonus might not be enough to buy him out of his Vanderbilt commitment, but I think the A’s will be able to go a little under-slot and sign him for $4 - $4.5 million.
-Nathan Thompson, Athletics Nation
10. Pittsburgh Pirates - RHP Cole Winn, Orange Lutheran HS (CA)
The Pirates have been linked to prep arms in multiple mock drafts and Winn’s strong spring has put him in competition with Liberatore as one of the best prep arms in the draft. With three potential plus pitches, a projectable frame, and mechanics praised by scouts as clean and repeatable, there’s a chance Winn, who moved from Colorado to California in order to be seen by more scouts, could go even higher than this.
11. Baltimore Orioles - 3B Jonathan India, Florida
My SB Nation compatriots ahead of me have drafted all of the prep arms who seem to excite the mainstream prospect writers of the baseball world, leaving a board of position players, some of whom I am surprised are still here: India, Travis Swaggerty, Nolan Gorman, Jarred Kelenic. I feel like the speaker in Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” except there are four roads diverging instead of two. Though I may be telling this with a sigh ages hence, I’ve gone with India, whose potential is summed up thus by the Fangraphs team: “India offers clubs a high probability, 2 to 3 win, everyday third baseman.” Sign me up.
-Mark Brown, Camden Chat
12. Toronto Blue Jays - LHP Shane McClanahan, South Florida
The Blue Jays’ top prospects, at the moment, are mostly hitters, so I figured first pick they would go with a pitcher. McClanahan is a hard-throwing lefty who has hit 100, but will sit mid to high 90s, who also has a good changeup and a slider that sounds more like a work in progress. He’s a strike-thrower, with 117 strikeouts in 71.1 innings pitched. McClanahan had Tommy John a couple years ago, so health is a minor concern, and he needs to work on his control, but there seems to be a lot of upside in his 6’2”/190 frame. McClanahan will be 22 next April, and hopefully can hit the floor running and not be too far behind Vlad Jr, Bo Bichette and the other Juniors in the Jays system getting to the majors.
-Tom Dakers, Bluebird Banter
13. Miami Marlins - RHP Kumar Rocker, North Oconee HS (GA)
Miami’s farm system has built up more starting pitching depth than at any other point in recent memory (largely via trade). But none of those prospects—none of the healthy ones, at least—profile as a top-of-the-rotation stud. The Marlins successfully convinced another Vanderbilt commit, outfielder Thomas Jones (third round, 2016), to turn pro out of high school. It’s worth the risk to try the same approach on Rocker, who has the strong build, easy delivery and filthy repertoire to dominate.
-Ely Sussman, Fish Stripes
14. Seattle Mariners - OF Jarred Kelenic, Waukesha HS (WI)
Seattle has a tendency to go with college players, but if Kelenic is available here, he’s too good to pass up. A five-tool player who was once predicted to go in the top five, a weather-shortened season and a slow start dinged Kelenic’s draft stock. However, he’s the kind of impact player a depleted Mariners system desperately needs with his elite bat-to-ball skills, speed, and overall athleticism, and has been universally praised for his work ethic and makeup, a good fit for an organization that puts a premium on strong character.
-Kate Preusser and John Trupin, Lookout Landing
15. Texas Rangers - OF Connor Scott, Plant HS (FL)
The Rangers generally prefer high-ceiling prep players with their premium picks, and have a particular fondness for toolsy athletes from the Southeast. The Rangers have been linked to two-way North Carolina high schooler Jordyn Adams, as well as hard-throwing high school RHPs Grayson Rodriguez and Ethan Hankins, all of whom are still on the board. But the choice here is Connor Scott, a Tampa, Florida high school outfielder who has prompted comparisons to fellow Plant HS grad Kyle Tucker. He’s big, toolsy, and is seen as having a pretty decent chance of sticking in center field.
-Adam J. Morris, Lone Star Ball
16. Tampa Bay Rays - CF Travis Swaggerty, South Alabama
With three extra picks on the first day of the draft, the Rays have been heavily linked to high school talent in mock drafts. However, the chance to draft one of the top college hitters with the No. 16 pick is too good of an opportunity to pass up. Baseball America named him the No. 2 prospect on last summer’s USA Baseball collegiate team behind Nick Madrigal, and he had a solid spring with South Alabama. Thanks to his athleticism, he’ll stick in center field as a professional. At the plate, he has the patience to hit at the top of the lineup, and he also has some power potential.
-Scott Grauer, DRaysBay
17. Los Angeles Angels - LHP Ryan Rolison, Ole Miss
The Angels’ system is thin on top-shelf arms, especially left-handed ones, and a fast-moving collegiate could be a good balance to last year’s first-round choice, high-impact prepster OF Jo Adell. Rolison has a four-pitch mix, including a plus curveball and a fastball that doesn’t overwhelm with velocity but can occasionally play up to the mid-90s. He’s got two other pitches, a slider and a promising-looking changeup, that will be the difference between him developing into a middle of the rotation pitcher and a top of the rotation pitcher. There’s a possibility the Angels roll the dice here and go for one of the high-ceiling prep arms still available, but a polished college lefty feels like a solid choice.
18. Kansas City Royals - OF Trevor Larnach, Oregon State
Given the option between what the Royals will do and what I would do, the answers will be very diverged. The Royals like raw players, and I do as well with the right player, but I also think that perhaps organizations can overrate their ability to convert tools into product. The Royals would likely take a high school pitcher here (Cole Wilcox, Mason Denaburg), but I’d rather lean on a hitter given the present choice of players left in this exercise. My preference came down between prep 3B Nolan Gorman (who if on draft day was still available at this pick means something went very wrong for him) and college outfielder Trevor Larnach. I’m going to chose the latter. While I like Gorman and his immense raw power, I think Larnach offers similar raw power, a better present hit tool, and he dominated a competitive PAC-12. Yes, Gorman currently has the better defensive position, but the difference between third base and a corner position isn’t that extreme from a positional adjustment standpoint and certainly isn’t enough to fill the gap for me of a good college hitter vs. a raw high school one.
-Shaun Newkirk, Royals Review
19. St. Louis Cardinals - RHP Logan Gilbert, Stetson
Let me preface this by acknowledging that it was definitely a surprise to see Nolan Gorman still on the board as we approach the tail end of the first round. I probably speak for the majority of participants in this mock draft when I say that I didn’t expect him to plummet this far, particularly given the interest the Braves have expressed in him at eighth overall. There is no denying Gorman’s power—especially for a Cardinals farm system that lacks much excitement when it comes to infield prospects—but I felt an obligation to add some realism to this pick. The Cardinals are no strangers to picking in the back half of round one, having selected their fair share of college arms (see: Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales, Luke Weaver, Dakota Hudson) in recent years. Enter Logan Gilbert, a 6-6, 225 pound right-hander with good athleticism and a clean, repeatable delivery. Gilbert was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore in 2017 in addition to a dominant Cape Cod League showing last summer that drew the attention of scouts, including a rave review from Viva El Birdos’ resident prospect guru A.E. Schafer in a January prospect report. Granted, that occurred before Gilbert’s fastball velocity dipped a few ticks into the low-90s early this spring where it previously sat in the mid-90s and touched 96-97 mph on the radar gun. Be it from an injury, excessive pitch counts, or an unknown combination of factors, we can only speculate as to the cause of this velocity decline, although the fastball began to regain some life towards the end of the season. Whether you are buying his late-spring velo resurgence or not, 2018 has been Gilbert’s best season yet, posting a 37.7% strikeout rate and 5.3% walk rate over 100 innings. He possesses plus command and throws a curveball, slider, and changeup–each of which receive around a 50 or 55 grade on the 20-80 scale depending on which scout you ask, with the latter two off-speed pitches generally garnering more praise–to complement his heater. Evaluations of his ceiling can vary a little based on one’s perception of the stuff he displayed as a junior this year, but at the very least Gilbert projects for a fairly quick track to the big leagues as a solid rotation piece with pretty good upside to boot.
-Tyler Kinzy, Viva El Birdos
20. Minnesota Twins - RHP Jackson Kowar, University of Florida
I think the Twins’ draft strategy is to draft one of Winn, Weathers, Gilbert, or Kowar if available, or a prep shortstop if not. That said, the team no longer has a Compensatory Round or third round pick, so there is an outside chance they try to get cute and save some money to spread around.
-Kyle Edelbrock, Twinkie Town
21. Milwaukee Brewers - OF Nick Schnell, Roncalli HS (Indiana)
Schnell is the prototypical pick under the Stearns organization. He’s a potential five-tool outfielder who can play anywhere in the outfield. Eventually, he will likely be stuck to the corners as he gains muscle and loses speed. He’s a high-ceiling draftee, who will also likely save the Brewers a few dollars when it comes time to sign.
-Brad Ford, Brew Crew Ball
22. Colorado Rockies - C Anthony Seigler, Cartersville HS (Georgia)
Truthfully, even if the Rockies weren’t so strongly connected to Seigler, I’d be tempted to make him the pick here just because he is such an intriguing player. Immensely talented, Seigler is a switch-hitting catcher as well as a left-handed starting pitcher and right-handed closer. Most feel that his future is behind the plate, where he has a sub-1.8 second pop time and a strong right arm to control the running game. He has a compact swing that covers the entire field in line drives from both sides which is the perfect batting profile for the massive outfield in the park that he will eventually call home.
-Ryan Schoppe, Purple Row
23. New York Yankees - RHP Grayson Rodriguez, Central Heights HS (TX)
If you believe what all the mock drafts are saying, the Yankees are going to take shortstop Brice Turang in the first round. Despite Turang’s pedigree, I would prefer them avoid his downward trajectory over the last year, and instead go with someone going in the right direction. That someone is Grayson Rodriguez. The organization has plenty of right-handed pitching, but that doesn’t mean they can’t grab one more if he’s the right guy. Rodriguez is trending in the right direction as a big man who recently discovered more velocity, has four potential MLB pitches, throws strikes, and provides more than enough deception with his pitches. It would be difficult for the Yankees to find a better pick if Grayson Rodriguez is still available.
-Jason Cohen, Pinstripe Alley
24. Chicago Cubs - 1B Triston Casas, American Heritage HS (Florida)
There’s too much smoke to not buy at least a little fire here. The Cubs sent brass to see Casas against Mason Denaburg recently. I don’t think it was to see Denaburg. Casas’ timeline fits well to replace Anthony Rizzo, and would provide some much needed pop in the Cubs’ pipeline. This isn’t an ideal match, as Casas has little defensive versatility long-term. However, the pop at first base for his cost-controlled seasons would be a nice payoff at 24. If a few of the college bats they’d preferred would have lasted, they’d have made sense here. I almost pulled the trigger on Greyson Jenista, but the Cubs are more likely linked to Casas.
-Tim Huwe, Bleed Cubbie Blue
25. Arizona Diamondbacks - SS Nico Hoerner, Stanford
Arizona has been vaguely linked to Hoerner in the illuminati-like rumblings of the draft chatter. The polished junior also makes sense from a need standpoint, as the Diamondbacks have cashed in Jean Segura, Brandon Drury, and some minor leaguers for other needs in the past two years, and the middle infield depth needs some rebuilding. He might not have the glove for SS long term, but could still pan out at 2B with his bat. Truthfully, he probably could play for the Diamondbacks right now since their offense was so crap in May.
-Charlie Gebow, AZ Snakepit
26. Boston Red Sox - SS Brice Turang, Santiago HS (California)
The Red Sox need just about whatever help they can get after trades and promotions have decimated their farm system in recent seasons. Most mocks have had them connected to college players, but everyone has indicated that Boston will take whatever impact talent falls to them, regardless of age or position. They just need bodies. The one name that seems to be popping up for them everywhere is Turang, who was seen as a potential 1-1 player at this time last year. If he falls this far, it seems unlikely they will pass on this kind of athletic, up-the-middle player. It is exactly the kind of prospect they’ve been great at developing over the last decade or so, and they desperately need to develop another big-time prospect.
-Matt Collins, Over the Monster
27. Washington Nationals - RHP Cole Wilcox, Heritage HS (Georgia)
Nearly every mock draft has the Nats matching up with high school righty Mason Denaburg due to a shoulder injury and Washington’s history of drafting players who saw their stock drop because of things such as surgeries or character issues. However, Mike Rizzo and Co. also have a history of taking the biggest name left on the board, and as far as this mock draft goes, that would be Cole Wilcox. A 6-foot-5-inch, 220-pound starter who can touch 98 on the radar gun and already boasts three plus pitches in his arsenal, Wilcox has the tools to move quickly through any farm system. His mechanics are a little funky and that could pose an injury risk down the line, but the Nats would be getting a steal if he falls to them at No. 27.
-Matt Weyrich, Federal Baseball
28. Houston Astros - C Noah Naylor, St. Joan of Arc HS (Mississauga, ON)
While many see the Houston Astros selecting a prep outfielder with their first round pick, selecting Noah Naylor would fill a positional need at catcher. If the Astros were to select Naylor, they would be getting a solid defensive catcher with a great arm and plenty of power potential as a left-handed hitter. Naylor has already showcased his raw power on the big stage, as he won the High School Home Run Derby at the 2017 All Star Game. Naylor would certainly be more of a lottery ticket for Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, but the architect of the 2017 World Series champs does have a history of selecting catchers in the early rounds.
-Issa Cook, Crawfish Boxes
29. Cleveland Indians - 3B Nolan Gorman, Sandra Day O’Connor HS (AZ)
If Gorman slips to 29, I have no doubt in my mind that the Indians will snap him up eagerly. Going with a high school player is in-character for the Indians, as, in the last 5 years, 53% of their picks in the first 5 rounds have been high schoolers. This pick would go against one trend, as the Tribe has picked an outfielder or pitcher first since 2011, but seeing as the team has the most money available of any team picking 19-30, just getting the best available player will be the goal. There are questions as to whether Gorman can stay at the hot corner, but even if he moves to an outfield spot or first base, Gorman will play because of his bat. Praised universally for his raw power and advanced bat, which would immediately slot him in as #99 in Fangraphs’ prospect rankings (that’s prospect, not draft, rankings), Gorman would be an absolute slam dunk for Cleveland. Besides having ample funds available for draft picks, the Indians also possess three of the top 41 picks, which could give them flexibility to choose under-slot college players at 35 and 41 in order to save money to sign Gorman.
-Chris Davies, Let’s Go Tribe
30. Los Angeles Dodgers - RHP Ethan Hankins, Forsyth Central HS (GA)
In the Andrew Friedman/Billy Gasparino era of Dodgers’ drafts, Los Angeles has generally practiced “catch a falling collegian.” In this scenario, it doesn’t quite happen, so I instead have the Dodgers gambling on one of the higher ceiling prepsters in Ethan Hankins. As Los Angeles proved with Walker Buehler (and now are reaping the rewards), they are willing to overlook some spring struggles if a track record is there, and Hankins’ stellar summer showcase circuit suggests that he has frontline potential. He will need some mechanical fine tuning with the development staff, as well as refinement and/or picking up a breaking ball (the summer circuit slider would be my choice given his arm slot), but you can’t teach this type of natural arm talent. Hankins is a Vanderbilt commit and the Dodgers have the lowest bonus allotment, but given first round money, the hope is they could work him in with future cost savings selections on day two.
-David Hood, True Blue LA