Image credit: Adley Rutschman (Photo Courtesy USA Baseball)
While the 2019 draft is far from the main concern for most baseball fans in mid-December, scouting directors are spending much of their time over the holidays pouring over reports from scouts and cross-checkers, lining up priority players and locking in travel plans for the spring.
“I think we’re always trying to do whatever we can to better position ourselves for June,” said one American League scouting director. “While guys aren’t out playing right now, it’s about reading our reports from the summer, talking to our scouts, looking forward to the spring and starting to think about schedules.
“Scouts are getting into the homes and meeting with players. It’s really all about preparation. The spring is about the results of the work we do now. It’s more research-based and planning-based, and obviously over the course of meetings and leading up to the spring we will talk about the players we need to be most focused on.”
With that in mind — and since the draft is always on our minds here at Baseball America — we figured it would be fun to do a Way Too Early 2019 Mock Draft and take a look at how the class has shaped up to this point.
None of these players are specifically tied to the following teams, because scouting directors would laugh us off the phone if we asked who they were targeting for the back of the first round on December 20, but we did try to match players’ current industry value with teams that might make sense for them if things remain static for six months. Spoiler: That won’t happen.
“I would say obviously there is not a ton of clarity at this point,” the scouting director said. “It looks to be another solid class. I don’t think we are seeing quite the level of high school depth that (we had last year). There are certainly some exciting high school arms, some exciting high school bats, but maybe not quite the volume of mid-first round caliber guys that we saw last year.
“Like any year, those guys will start to separate themselves as we go into the year. It seems like there is more depth at the college level right now—especially at the positing player area … There seems to be a good level of depth of (college) players who could play their way into the better part of the first round.”
The consensus top prospect in the country is still Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, while Colleyville (Texas) High shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. takes the top spot for the high school class. At this point, both of those players are the favorites to be the first names off the board, though much can change leading up to June.
With all of that being said, here are players that every team in baseball outside of Boston (sorry Red Sox fans) could wind up with next June, and our rationale for every pick: