MLB Mock Draft
By Carlos Collazo
Around baseball, draft meetings are kicking off as teams start to line up their draft boards. One result of that is at the the top of the draft, players and teams are being linked more consistently. Nothing has fully finalized—and if recent history holds it won’t be finalized anytime soon.
With almost any team you talk to, you hear the same five to six names at the top of the board. Hunter Bishop is the wild card who slips into that group depending on the the team, while Nick Lodolo appears to still be the top of a muddled starting pitching tier. Lodolo settled down to pitch well after a tough first inning in a heavily attended matchup against Alek Manoah last Friday at West Virginia, and representatives for every team from pick No. 3 to the middle of the first round were in attendance to scout one of the best pitching matchups of the season.
Because of the unclear state of pitching in this year’s draft class, there’s still room for pitchers to make late surges or late dips. Last year, Virginia lefthander Daniel Lynch pushed himself into the first round by pitching well down the stretch, including an excellent outing at the ACC Tournament in front of dozens of decision makers.
- 1Oregon State CNotes:
Nothing has changed here. The top player in the class is still going with the No. 1 overall pick.
- 2Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS SSNotes:
Witt is still the heavy favorite here thanks to his loud tools and strong performance this spring, although Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg has seen Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday a few times recently.
- 3Blessed Trinity (Roswell, Ga.) HS SSNotes:
There are some rumblings and rumors that the White Sox might prefer to take an athlete with this pick, and Abrams fits the bill, as does Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop or Witt if he gets past Kansas City. Executive Vice President Ken Williams has been in to see Abrams late this spring. You can’t discount California first baseman Andrew Vaughn with this pick either.
- 4California 1BNotes:
It’s hard to see Vaughn getting past the Marlins if the three teams in front decide to pass. We continue to hear than Miami might prefer a college bat, and in this scenario they get their pick of Bleday or Vaughn—the two best non-Rutschman college players in the class. Scouting director D.J. Svihlik has been in to see prep lefthander Hunter Barco, but that makes more sense for their pick at No. 35 than here.
- 5Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.) HS OFNotes:
In this situation, the Tigers get their choice of Greene or Bleday, who both have been tied to them consistently. It’s an interesting comparison as well, as in many ways Greene is a high school version of Bleday as a likely corner outfielder with a hit-over-power offensive profile.
- 6Vanderbilt OFNotes:
The six players who have been mentioned to this point are the same names who continually get mentioned up top. And without getting Abrams to slide here, Bleday could make a lot of sense for the Padres given the amount of young major league talent they have. Of course, Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been seeing players all over the country.
- 7Texas Christian LHPNotes:
The Reds have been linked to Lodolo for a while now, and he just out-pitched West Virginia righthander Alek Manoah in a heavily-scouted matchup last weekend. They could decide between the top pitcher in the class or Bishop, and it sounds like the Reds like Nevada-Las Vegas shortstop Bryson Stott as well. This sounds like the earliest potential landing spot for Stott.
- 8Arizona State OFNotes:
The Rangers have their pick of the high school pitching class in this scenario, but with multiple players from the 2018 class (second-round pick Owen White, and fourth-round pick Mason Englert) and their top two picks from their 2016 class (Cole Ragans and Alex Speas) all going down with Tommy John surgeries, it might be more palatable to take a college hitter. Bishop fits here on talent. He’s toolsier than most college players, which fits the Rangers, and he’s been linked to the team this spring.
- 9Baylor CNotes:
We keep hearing college position players linked to the Braves with their first pick, so Stott could be a fit here with Bishop going one pick in front. But Langeliers has turned things offensively this season after dealing with a hamate injury earlier in the season and has elite defensive skills. Washington prep outfielder Corbin Carroll’s name comes up here, as does the top high school pitcher in the class, righthander Matthew Allan.
- 10West Virginia RHPNotes:
We’re sticking with Manoah here even though he didn’t have the best outing in his matchup with Lodolo—six innings, eight hits, four earned runs, five strikeouts and four walks. He has some of the highest upside of the pitching class in 2019, and it sounds like decision makers with San Francisco could go after that sort of profile this year. This is where the names start to get a bit murkier, with teams casting wide nets and leaving their options open.
- 11Nevada-Las Vegas SSNotes:
We continue to hear hitters mentioned most frequently with the Blue Jays, on both the high school and college side. There are a few to pick from here, including Stott, the top college shortstop in the class, Carroll, who Toronto has scouted heavily this spring, and Baty, who we mocked to the Blue Jays last week. If the Blue Jays are worried at all about Baty’s age or Carroll’s size, Stott makes the most sense here.
- 12San Jacinto (Texas) JC RHPNotes:
This would make Rutledge the highest-drafted JuCo pitcher this century, and he has the stuff, size and performance to more than deserve it. Rutledge posted a 0.88 ERA over 82.2 innings and 13 starts with 134 strikeouts and 30 walks.
- 13Kentucky LHPNotes:
Thompson could fit higher than this purely on his talent, but his struggles with injuries in the past could make finding a landing spot for him a bit tougher. He’s taken the ball consistently all season and performed like one of the best pitchers in the country, with a 1.88 ERA in 71.2 innings with 102 strikeouts to just 24 walks. He has better pure stuff than Lodolo and more starter traits than Manoah. There are some comparisons to be drawn here with Kyle Freeland, from the 2014 draft who the Rockies selected with the 8th overall pick despite some concerns with his medical history.
- 14IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. RHPNotes:
We’re hearing pitchers to the Phillies, although, like every team in this range, they aren’t discriminating on the demographic they are bearing down on. With the top four college arms off the board, perhaps they go for Elon righthander George Kirby here, who is the best strike-thrower in the country. His name has been mentioned routinely in the teens, but the Phillies had several high-level decision makers in to see Malone recently, when he pitched well, touched 99 mph and held 96-97 mph deep into his outing.
- 15Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif. 3BNotes:
Cavaco continues to draw heat this spring and has played well in front of a number of teams. He has huge upside, and the Angels have been a team that aggressively pursues that potential at the top of the draft. With a mix of players in this range who aren’t clearly separated, maybe this pick would allow them to go under-slot and save some money for their second-round pick, like recently reclassified Maine outfielder Trejyn Fletcher, perhaps? Cavaco might be a bit off the board here, but he’s unlikely to get back to the Angels’ second pick and if they like him, take him. The Angels are also bearing down on the top three high school pitchers in the class.
- 16Lakeside HS, Seattle OFNotes:
This seems to be the floor for Carroll. If he’s here, it would be hard to see the D-backs passing on him, although he could fit anywhere in the 8-16 range. Kirby’s name could fit here as well, as could any other player in the class given the D-backs’ allotment of picks and pool money. They should take the best talent that falls to No. 16, and that’s what we have them doing here.
- 17Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill. RHPNotes:
Priester continues to get rave reviews from scouting directors and is routinely talked about in the top tier of high school arms that also includes Malone and Allan.
- 18Clemson SSNotes:
It sounds like Davidson won’t go in the top half of the first round, but he should go quickly thereafter. The Pirates are one team who sounds especially intrigued with his athleticism, toolset and solid chance to stick at shortstop.
- 19Lake Travis HS, Austin 3BNotes:
Baty already draws comparisons to the Cardinals’ 2018 first-round pick, and the Nolan Gorman comparisons would be endless if St. Louis takes him here in the very next draft. He’s been one of the best performing high school players in the country and has plus-plus raw power with an excellent feel to hit.
- 20Texas Tech 3BNotes:
Jung is the best college hitter on the board here and has started hitting for more power in the second half of the season. Seven of his nine home runs have come since April 7, and he’s posted outstanding strikeout-to-walk numbers.
- 21Seminole HS, Sanford, Fla. RHPNotes:
This would be great value for the Braves. It might seem odd for the top-ranked high school pitcher to fall this far, but only the D-backs have more pool money in between the Braves’ first two picks in the first round, so if he starts to slide even a touch, maybe he gets down to No. 21 and gets an over-slot bonus. We’re in spitballing territory now, but the Braves have certainly been bearing down and all of the higher-ups have seen him, including general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
- 22Elon RHPNotes:
The Rays could have a number of college players to pick from at this spot, but Kirby makes sense. He still ranks first among all Division I arms in strikeout-to-walk ratio with 96 strikeouts to just six walks over his first 12 starts and 77.2 innings.
- 23North Carolina State SSNotes:
Wilson’s name pops up in the early 20s, and it sounds like the Rockies are one of the teams who are especially interested. They could also take another college player out of North Carolina in Campbell righthander Seth Johnson. Wilson missed some time recently with a minor injury, but he is already back to his old tricks and has gone 7-for-21 (.333) with a home run in his first five games since returning to the field.
- 24North Carolina OF/1BNotes:
It sounds like a number of college players from North Carolina could go off the board in the 20s, and this scenario would make it three straight.
- 25Morgan Academy, Selma, Ala. SSNotes:
Henderson has played well this spring, gotten more physical and improved his odds to stick at shortstop. He has some tools and athleticism that the Dodgers might covet.