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2018 MLB Draft Analysis, Sleepers For All 30 Teams

Image credit: (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)

NL East

Atlanta Braves

Story Of Their Draft: The Braves went high upside in the first round with prep RHP Carter Stewart (1), and then followed it up with a leavening of college position players and pitchers with solid track records of success. OF Greyson Jenista (2) is a corner outfielder/first baseman whose value is tied to his bat. After that, the Braves took some talented college pitchers who have battled significant injuries including RHP Tristan Beck (4) and LHP Jake Higginbotham (11).

Keep An Eye On: RHP Victor Vodnik (14) is a high school pitcher with years of development ahead of him, but his arm generates above-average velocity and he’s figuring out a promising slider. Louisiana State RHP Zack Hess (34) would be a coup if he signed as he was an early day two pick on talent, but he’s almost assuredly going back to the Tigers.

Miami Marlins

Story of Their Draft: The Marlins went all in on high-upside prep hitters, selecting OF Connor Scott (1) with the 13th overall pick and then buying the rising stock of SS Osiris Johnson (2) before nabbing the biggest upside defensive catcher in the class in Will Banfield (2s) to round out day one. Miami seems to be just starting a rebuild and each of these players could wind up playing big roles down the line.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Sam Bordner (16) has a solid track record as Louisville’s closer and could have been a player who moved quickly through the system before he was shut down with elbow inflammation. His injury status will be worth watching. RHP Cason Sherrod (7) has a fastball into the mid-90s and changes things up on batters by varying his arm slot.

New York Mets

Story of Their Draft: Typically a college-oriented team in the draft, New York instead went to the high school ranks, selecting arguably the draft’s top prep bat in OF Jarred Kelenic (1) and then getting an upside play with RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (2), who is one of the youngest players in the draft class, and would have been an interesting two-way player if he made it to campus at Texas.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Bryce Montes de Oca (9) has battled injuries—he had Tommy John surgery and then followed that up with ulnar nerve transposition surgery—but when he got back on to the mound, he showed flashes of dominance this season mixed around outings of shaky control and command. He struck out 12 as he threw the first seven innings of a no-hitter early this season. Montes de Oca could develop as a starter, but if the Mets wanted to throw him into the bullpen he could move quickly as fastball/slider reliever with a 100 mph heater and a power slider.

Philadelphia Phillies

Story of Their Draft: With no second- or third-round picks, 3B Alec Bohm (1) will define the Phillies’ draft. Selecting the big, physical Wichita State slugger signals something of a shift in Philadelphia’s draft philosophy, after taking up-the-middle, slighter, hitterish players the previous two years with outfielders Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley.

Keep An Eye On: SS Logan Simmons (6) was a polarizing player throughout the draft process as he has real hit questions and might slide to third base, but he has big tools in plus raw power and plus arm strength. After the first five rounds went by, it seemed like RHP Dominic Pipkin (9) would be going to school at California. But with the Phillies taking the projection arm in the top 10 rounds, they likely will sign him. He’s got plenty of upside with a frame that can add more weight and a fastball that’s been up to 96 mph in short stints.

Washington Nationals

Story of Their Draft: The Nationals continue to target pitching after nine of their first 10 selections a year ago went to arms. This June, the Nationals took one of the higher upside prep pitchers in RHP Mason Denaburg (1) at No. 27 and continued to draft more arms, with seven of their 10 first picks devoted to pitchers.

Keep An Eye On: The first hitter Washington selected, OF Gage Canning (5), was one of college baseball’s most impressive performers this spring and doesn’t have many holes in his game. RHP Zach Linginfelter (19) has struggled to throw strikes at times, but he’s got an explosive fastball and could become a lights-out reliever if everything breaks right.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Story of Their Draft: The Cubs made a bit of a surprising move by taking Stanford SS Nico Hoerner (1) in the first round, but he’s hit everywhere he’s been. If he can stick at shortstop, he should be a player with a very high floor. Chicago went for some more upside with its next two picks, in athletic OF Brennen Davis (2) and an interesting power-speed threat in OF Cole Roederer (2s)

Keep An Eye On: OF D.J. Artis (7) had a down spring, but his freshman and sophomore seasons were some of the most productive in the country. Artis has some tools, but it will be interesting to see whether his passive, crouched approach translates to the pro game. LHP Mitchell Parker (28) didn’t have a great spring, but he’s flashed strikeout stuff at times and has an exciting 12-to-6 curveball. He should be a tough sign in the 28th round and might make it to Tennessee.

Cincinnati Reds

Story of Their Draft: The Reds continued to draft like the Reds, with no discernible trends other than simply taking the best player available. 3B Jonathan India (1) is a high-floor player who could wind up having more upside thanks to a successful swing change this spring, while RHPs Lyon Richardson (2) and Josiah Gray (2s) both show tremendous raw stuff and could use continued polish on the mound.

Keep An Eye On: OF Bren Spillane (3) was something of an enigma for scouts this season and he put up gaudy numbers across the board with 20 home runs. There is some concern about the hit tool, but the power is 70-grade raw and he also has the tools to play a decent corner outfield. OF Mike Siani (4) went right after Spillane, but is almost the antithesis of him, as a plus runner with plus-plus defensive potential as a center fielder and a bat that is more hit over power.

Milwaukee Brewers

Story of Their Draft: The Brewers took advantage of the industry developing prospect fatigue with a few big-name players, and nabbed SS Brice Turang (1) with the 21st pick of the draft and Joe Gray (2) with the 60th. Turang was seen as a top-10 player in this class last summer, but had a mediocre spring, while Gray oozes with upside and has first-round tools but hit questions that he’s seemed to slowly answer throughout the fall and spring.

Keep An Eye On: LHP Drew Rasmussen (6) has had two Tommy John surgeries already, but has fantastic makeup that’s necessary to come back from multiple surgeries and big time stuff when he’s healthy. OF Elijah Cabell has tools similar to Gray, so if Milwaukee is able to sign him in the 14th round, that’s a huge steal on talent alone.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Story of Their Draft: The Pirates landed a five-tool center fielder in Travis Swaggerty (1) with their 10th overall pick and then went after a few high-upside prep arms in RHP Gunnar Hoglund (1s)—who might have the best command in the prep class—and RHP Braxton Ashcraft (2), who’s an elite athlete with life on his fastball.

Keep An Eye On: SS Zack Kone (13) never had the draft buzz of Duke teammates Griffin Conine and Jimmy Herron, but he’s got some power and bat-to-ball skills out of an unorthodox setup at the plate and a strong arm that might fit better that third base.

St. Louis Cardinals

Story of Their Draft: The first five picks for the Cardinals are big-time upside power plays with some risk: 3B Nolan Gorman (1) has the best raw power in the 2018 draft class but swing-and-miss concerns and new defensive questions; RHP Griffin Roberts (1s) has one of the best breaking balls in the class, but he’s a converted reliever who might wind up in the bullpen long-term; 1B Luken Baker has huge righthanded power but has never been consistently healthy and has no defensive value; SS Mateo Gil (3) was a divisive prospect this spring and has some tools but is a projection play; and LHP Steven Gingery (4) blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery after his first start of the season, but has a strong track record in the Big 12.

Keep An Eye On: SS Kevin Vargas (22) is likely the top Puerto Rican prospect in a down year for the island, but he has some defensive talent and should stick at the position long-term. He might be tough to sign out of Florida International in the 22nd round.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Story of Their Draft: The D-backs targeted the hit tool on day one, reaching to get SS Matt McLain (1) with their 25th pick and adding OF Jake McCarthy (1s) and OF Alek Thomas (2) to their day one haul. It would surprise no one if each of these players ended up with a plus hit tool, and they all play premium defensive positions, though McLain might wind up at second.

Keep An Eye On: Arizona seemed to like scouting IMG Academy this spring, taking RHP Levi Kelly (8) and the hardest throwing infielder in the class, SS Blaze Alexander (11), early on day three. Kelly’s fastball velocity ticked up this spring and Alexander showed an improved hit tool to complement his elite defensive tools.

Colorado Rockies

Story of Their Draft: College, college, college. Aside from 1B Grant Lavigne (1s) with the 42nd pick of the draft, the Rockies drafted exclusively from four-year universities and junior colleges until the 33rd round where players are unlikely to sign. The Rockies got perhaps the best college lefthander to fall to them at No. 22 in Ryan Rolison (1) and took a gamble on Lavigne’s big-time power bat on day one.

Keep An Eye On: C Willie MacIver (9) has played more first base than catcher with Washington thanks in part to some injuries, but scouts are intrigued with his defensive potential behind the dish and his bat would profile much better at the position. 3B John Cresto (28) has massive raw power but he struggles to get to it with any real consistency.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Story of Their Draft: The Dodgers went after a pair of risky pitching prospects with big stuff on day one, taking RHP J.T. Ginn (1) with their first selection and then grabbing RHP Michael Grove (2) with their second, despite the fact that Grove didn’t throw a pitch this season. Ginn has perhaps the best fastball/slider combination in the class but is a reliever risk, while Grove showed a plus fastball, plus breaking ball and above-average control when healthy.

Keep An Eye On: LHP Julian Smith (15) has already had Tommy John surgery, but is a projectable lefthander with a 6-foot-4 frame and a fastball that’s up to 95 mph and a developing curveball.

San Diego Padres

Story of Their Draft: The Padres had their pick of the prep arms in the class and went with polished LHP Ryan Weathers (1) at No. 7 before grabbing switch-hitting, elite-speed SS Xavier Edwards (1s) with their next selection. Using their acquired 74th pick, the Padres went to the college ranks to draft OF Grant Little (2s), who has a tweener outfield profile but can also play in the dirt and makes plenty of contact.

Keep An Eye On: OF Jawuan Harris (7) played football and baseball at Rutgers and is a top-of-the-scale runner, like Edwards, with bat speed and a chance to be an above-average defender in center field.

San Francisco Giants

Story of Their Draft: The Giants got their guy at No. 2 in Georgia Tech C Joey Bart (2), who the team was all over throughout the entire season. He played his way into an argument as the best position player in the class and could be the heir to Buster Posey as an all-around talent with plus raw power. After Bart, San Francisco loaded up on college righthanders throughout the top 10 rounds to take advantage of the team’s impressive history of developing pitchers.

Keep An Eye On: OF P.J. Hilson (6) is a 70-grade runner in the outfield and he also has a plus arm, which gave him the ability to be a two-way player at Alabama if he made it there.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

Story of Their Draft: The Orioles took the pop-up player of the year with their first pick of the draft in RHP Grayson Rodriguez (1), who has electric stuff and impressive strike-throwing ability. They also grabbed one of the better defensive shortstops in the class in Oregon State’s Cadyn Grenier (1s) and took RHP Blaine Knight (3 ) and his high spin-rate curveball early on day two.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Yeankarlos Lieras (6) is undersized and raw, but has a whippy quick arm on the mound and has been into the mid-90s. C Cody Roberts (11) has a 70-grade arm behind the dish and is an impressive receiver and blocker, though his bat is light.

Boston Red Sox

Story of Their Draft: With Seth Beer on the board, the Red Sox opted for a high school version who has better supplemental tools in 3B Triston Casas (1). Casas will likely slide to first base at some point in the future, but he has a plus arm that could work at third and more athleticism than you would think, given his size. Regardless of the position, Casas’ bat will play with 70-grade raw power and an advanced offensive approach at the plate.

Keep An Eye On: OF Jarren Duran (7) is a plus-plus runner who’s played second base with Long Beach State, but he might be better suited for center field. He’s also shown a knack for getting on base. 3B Nick Northcut (11) has one of the better hit/power combos in the high school class and would have been a two-way player if he made it to Vanderbilt, but an 11th-round selection seems to mean the Red Sox think they can sign him.

New York Yankees

Story of Their Draft: The Yankees got the unicorn of the draft class in C Anthony Seigler (1), who is a switch-pitching, switch-hitting, above-average defensive backstop. He hit all spring and has fantastic makeup and work ethic. New York doubled down on catchers who can get on the mound and throw with C Josh Breaux (2) at No. 61, though Breaux might have more upside if he eventually moves to the mound.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Rodney Hutchison (6) saw his stuff tick up late in the season and has a big frame. If he improves his command he has interesting upside. RHP Daniel Bies (7) has an even bigger frame at 6-foot-6, 245-pounds and has improved year after year since undergoing Tommy John surgery in high school.

Tampa Bay Rays

Story of Their Draft: Tampa Bay somehow managed to get LHP Matthew Liberatore (1), the top prep pitcher in the class, with its first pick of the draft at No. 16 and then doubled up by getting South Florida LHP Shane McClanahan (1) at 31. Yes, McClanahan was sliding a bit thanks to a bit of a rocky season, but his electric arm seems like a steal that low. The Rays then took arguably the country’s hottest high school hitter in Roncalli High (Indianapolis) OF Nick Schnell (1) with their second supplemental pick.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Taj Bradley (5) is one of the youngest players in the class and while he’s extremely raw presently after pitching for just a few years, he has a lot of upside with physicality and arm strength. LHP Nick Sprengel (15) was a potential day one talent entering the year but developed a serious case of the yips and lost the strike zone. If he finds the strike zone, Tampa Bay might have found a real gem on day three—if they can sign him.

Toronto Blue Jays

Story of Their Draft: The Blue Jays drafted both halves of the prospect duo out of Magnolia (Texas) High in SS Jordan Groshans (1) and RHP Adam Kloffenstein (3) and sandwiched the huge power bat of OF Griffin Conine (2) in between.

Keep An Eye On: SS Addison Barger (6) was one of the best players in the Tampa area this spring and has solid tools across the board, impressive bat speed and a high baseball IQ. 3B Johnny Aiello (14) has above-average power and the arm for third base, but he struggled this spring—he could still be signable here.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Story of Their Draft: The White Sox managed to get the best hitter of the college class in Oregon State 2B Nick Madrigal (1) despite four teams picking in front of them. Chicago doubled up on polished hit tools by taking OF Steele Walker (2) with their second pick, getting two of the most pure hitters in the entire class.  

Keep An Eye On: OF Caberea Weaver (7) is a plus-plus runner with a wiry frame who could end up growing into some power, but there’s a lot of rawness to be ironed out of his game. RHP Jonathan Stiever (5) had a career-year for Indiana this spring, and while he’s not overflowing with plus pitches, has a great feel for a solid three-pitch mix with excellent control. OF Bryce Bush (33 )has an unorthodox swing but some of the best pure bat speed in the class, though he might be better off going to Michigan.

Cleveland Indians

Story of Their Draft: C Noah Naylor (1) has a chance to be the best hitter of the prep class and also offers some defensive versatility with an arm and glovework that could fit at second or third, while RHP Ethan Hankins (1) was once a threat to become the first prep righty taken 1-1. The Indians doubled up on youthful flamethrowers with RHP Lenny Torres (1s) with their third pick on day one.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Nick Sandlin (2) could be a quick mover to the majors to help a struggling Indians bullpen. SS Raynel Delgado (6) has above-average power potential from both sides of the plate and has advanced defensive actions in the infield, though his defensive home could come at shortstop, third or second base.

Detroit Tigers

Story of Their Draft: The Tigers had the first pick and they walked away from the draft with the consensus No. 1 player in the class in RHP Casey Mize (1). He will define Detroit’s 2018 draft—good or bad—for years to come.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Hugh Smith (6) has had tremendous growth, both physically and stuff-wise, since coming out of high school and now has a plus fastball with good life and an above-average slider. The younger brother of Austin Meadows, OF Parker Meadows (2) isn’t as polished as his brother was at the time, but he’s a tooled up outfielder with a chance to stick in center, plus running ability and plus power potential down the road.

Kansas City Royals

Story of Their Draft: A team known for favoring high school players, the Royals went in a completely different direction this year and selected 12-of-13 college players in the top 10 rounds. Kansas City pulled quite the coup by getting Florida ace Brady Singer (1) to slide to No. 18 and doubled up by taking his rotation partner Jackson Kowar (1) at No. 33. The Royals then added some lefthanded throwing to the bunch with Daniel Lynch (1) and Kris Bubic (1s), who both have impressive control over secondary offerings.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Jon Heasley (13) has a fastball that gets into the 94-95 mph range with a power slider, but his results haven’t matched his stuff to this point.

Minnesota Twins

Story of Their Draft: The Twins got one of the better college power bats in OF Trevor Larnach (1) with their first pick before going quite a bit off the board to take C Ryan Jeffers (2) with the No. 59 selection.

Keep An Eye On: C Albee Weiss (23) has a ridiculous track record of hitting for power, but he’ll need to improve his breaking ball recognition. 2B Michael Helman (11) is a plus runner with excellent hand-eye coordination and an ability to grind out at-bats. A fringe-average arm will likely limit him to second base or centerfield, where his speed would be an asset.

AL West

Houston Astros

Story of Their Draft: The Astros took just seven high school players out of 40 picks, and of those, only one—RHP Jayson Schroeder (2)—was selected before the 35th round. OF Seth Beer (1) was the team’s first selection, and he has an ability to hit and hit for power that rivals anyone in the class, but no defensive value and no wood-bat track record.

Keep An Eye On: SS Trey Dawson (15) is a rangey shortstop with hands that should allow him to stick at the position, but his hit tool is a question. C Lyle Lin (29) has an average, accurate arm behind the plate and a contact-oriented, line drive approach at the plate.

Los Angeles Angels

Story of Their Draft: The Angels drafted arguably the most athletic player in the class in OF Jordyn Adams (1), who was committed to play football and baseball at North Carolina. The team then took SS Jeremiah Jackson (2) with its second pick after an outstanding spring season that featured 15 home runs. After that the Angels drafted 30 pitchers.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Cooper Criswell (13) stepped into Chapel Hill and posted a 2.89 ERA with an outstanding strikeout-to-walk rate this spring. RHP Nick Frank (15) doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he has above-average control and could be a solid back-of-the rotation arm.

Oakland Athletics

Story of Their Draft: The A’s took the biggest risk of the draft when they selected OF Kyler Murray (1) with the ninth overall pick. That risk was expedited when it was revealed that Murray would still head to Oklahoma to play football this fall. He does bring a lot of upside as an athletic outfielder who’s improved his hitting this spring.

Keep An Eye On: RHP Gus Varland has a fastball that touches 97 and struck out 79 batters while walking just 14 this spring. OF Devin Foyle doesn’t have a plus tool to speak of but he’s an excellent hitter with track record in the Big 12.

Seattle Mariners

Story of Their Draft: The Mariners continued to lean towards the college ranks, selecting just two prep players prior to the 35th round. RHP Logan Gilbert (1) is the prize of the class and has a potential 70-grade fastball with projection remaining on the mound. OF Josh Stowers (2) has an exciting combination of plus speed, average power and a plus hit tool, while C Cal Raleigh (3) has some defensive ability and above-average power from either side of the plate.

Keep An Eye On: OF Keegan McGovern (9) is a solid senior sign who had a breakout spring with 14 home runs and 12 doubles. He’s likely a corner outfielder with no wood bat track record and some injury history, but he’s an interesting player to take a shot on.

Texas Rangers

Story of Their Draft: The Rangers stuck to their guns and drafted five straight upside prep prospects, headlined by the most consistent arm in the country this spring in RHP Cole Winn (1). RHP Owen White has a four-pitch mix of above-average offerings and SS Jonathan Ornelas (3) has above-average hands, a strong arm and a projectable power bat.

Keep An Eye On: C Xavier Valentin (19) has major league bloodlines and some defensive potential behind the dish, but he needs more consistency. LHP Destin Dotson (12) was unexpected to sign this year as a lanky, 6-foot-6 arm who can touch the 93-94 mph range with feel to spin, but the Rangers drafted him in a potentially signable spot.

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