The preliminary order for Major League Baseball’s next Rule 4 draft, set to begin June 4, 2018, is now set.
With the regular season over, the Tigers have earned the No. 1 overall pick, with their 98 losses tying the Giants for the worst record in the game. Because Detroit finished with a one fewer win than the Giants in 2016—the previous year’s record is the tiebreaker—the Tigers will pick first in 2018, the first time since 1997. Detroit did it in style, winning just six games in September after trading Justin Verlander to the Astros at the end of August. San Francisco still hasn’t ever had the No. 1 overall pick, but this is its highest selection since 1985, when it took Will Clark.
The final draft order next June will change as teams lose draft picks as free agent compensation and as they gain them in the competitive balance rounds, but this will be the raw oder from the third round on and the basis of the order for the first round. So th
The draft is a long, long way off, but we figured that with our High School and College Top 50 prospects lists just recently released, and the draft order determined, that it was a good time for a Way Too Early 2018 Mock Draft. Enjoy this first, too-early look at how next June could shake out.
Detroit’s scouting department hasn’t had much experience picking this high, but David Chadd—the club’s vice president of amateur scouting and special assistant to GM Al Avila—has picked high before, including working with the Marlins when they picked Josh Beckett (No. 2, 1999) and Adrian Gonzalez (No. 1, 2000). Since he’s been in Detroit, coming over from the Red Sox in 2005, Chadd has played a part in shaping the club’s college-heavy approach to the draft overall despite a nearly 50-50 split of high school and college top picks.
Having the Tigers at No. 1 makes Florida’s Brady Singer a prohibitive favorite. They value top performers in the Southeastern Conference, and may have struck gold in 2017 when Singer’s rotation mate from the spring, Alex Faedo, inexplicably fell all the way to the Tigers at No. 18 overall. The duo could help jump-start a Motor City rebuild.
Scouts have some delivery questions, and Singer only got to college because of an issue with his physical with the Blue Jays that scuttled his deal when he was a second-round pick in 2015 out of high school. But he dominated at the end of a 126-inning sophomore season and was the top pitcher in the Cape Cod League in 2016. He has the pedigree and stuff to go No. 1 overall.
PICK: Brady Singer, RHP, Florida |
Scouting director John Barr and team president Brian Sabean have been involved in high draft picks before, but it was a long time ago. The Giants haven’t had the homegrown pitching success in recent years that propelled them to three World Series titles from 2010-2014, led by Madison Bumgarner, the retiring Matt Cain and long-gone Tim Lincecum.
This draft class is pitching-heavy, especially on the high school side, with Georgia prep Ethan Hankins poised to become the third prep righthander in five drafts to go out No. 2 overall, joining the Marlins’ Tyler Kolek (2014) and Reds’ Hunter Greene (2017). Scouts want to see more consistency out of Hankins’ breaking ball, but his fastball, size, dominant summer with USA Baseball’s 18U national team and makeup all push him toward the top of the draft class.
PICK: Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central High, Cumming, Ga. |
The Phillies’ rebuild gained momentum in the second half, mostly thanks to the arrival of prospects such as Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro to boost a previously moribund offense. The Phils’ last three first-rounders have been outfielders in Adam Haseley, Mickey Moniak and Cornelius Randolph, but their best pick of the last decade was righthander Aaron Nola, a fast mover out of Louisiana State. So the Phillies likely will pay special attention in 2018 to the top tier of college starting pitchers, a group that includes Singer and his rotation mate Jackson Kowar, lefthanders Shane McClanahan (South Florida) and Ryan Rolison (Mississippi) and righthanders Casey Mize (Auburn) and Logan Gilbert (Stetson).
However, if the organization liked Moniak, it should love Brice Turnag, who has a similar profile but a longer track record, big league bloodlines and the ability to play shortstop.
PICK: Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS, Corona, Calif. |
4. White Sox
Chicago’s rebuilding efforts have moved into overdrive with trade acquisitions and solid early returns from bat-first college first-rounders the last two years in Zack Collins and Jake Burger. If the White Sox continue in that vein, they could pursue college bats such as top Cape Cod League performers Greyson Jenista of Wichita State or Griffin Conine of Duke.
But Chicago won’t have to limit itself to college bats, and a need for athletes could push it to pick a prep bat this high. If so, the best choice is Nander De Sedas, who attends the same Florida prep school that produced another American League Central shortstop, Francisco Lindor. De Sedas switch-hits like Lindor and has some lightning in his bat to go with middle-of-the-diamond athleticism.
PICK: Nander De Sedas, SS, Montverde (Fla.) Academy |
The Reds last had three straight years of top-10 picks from 1983-85, and they’ve hit with the last two No. 2 overall picks with Nick Senzel (already in Double-A) and Hunter Greene (the hardest thrower in draft history). Cincinnati employs a Best Player Available philosophy, and in this draft class, that’s going to mean a high school player, with more upside available. In other words, even though they have Senzel, that’s not going to keep them from pursuing Nolan Gorman, who has the best power bat in the class, high school or college.
PICK: Nolan Gorman, 3B, O’Connor HS, Phoenix |
The Mets have been curiously cautious in recent years, sticking to college picks, and until ownership changes, there’s no reason to believe that direction will change. Injury concerns may dog McClanahan (who already has had Tommy John surgery) and Mize (limited to seven innings this summer by a forearm strain), but the Mets have had their eyes on McClanahan for a while. They drafted him in the 26th round out of Cape Coral (Fla.) High in 2015 and will have reason to take him again.
PICK: Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
Yes, the Padres like toolsy players, but they haven’t shied away from collegians early, such as 2016 first-rounder Cal Quantrill. Mize has a longer college track record than Quantrill and similarly commands a plus fastball well for his experience level.
PICK: Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
Rocker’s father Tracy played in the NFL and was most recently Georgia’s defensive line coach, though he’s out of coaching now, watching his son’s baseball career progress. He’ll have plenty of time to get to know Brian Bridges, Roy Clark and the Braves’ scouting department, which will be happy to grab a Georgia prep product in a banner year of Peach State prospects.
PICK: Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga.
Madrigal is a NorCal kid, having played on some loaded Elk Grove High clubs south of Sacramento. If any team is willing to look past his 5-foot-7, 161-pound stature this high, it’s a club like Oakland, which values kids who can play. Madrigal can play.
PICK: Nick Madrigal, SS/2B, Oregon State |
Pittsburgh would do well to land USA Baseball’s gold-medal starter for the 18U national team, and that’s what Liberatore became in a breakout summer. He’s shown a 93-94 mph fastball with angle to go with a fine curveball with depth and a changeup with fade.
PICK: Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS, Riverdale, Ariz.
This is the first selection that’s not protected; in other words, if the Orioles sign a free agent who’s received a qualifying offer from his former club, they could forfeit this draft pick. Right now, we’re just going off the raw order, but this is where the final order could start to change.
In this scenario, the Orioles keep loading up on lefthanded pitching after taking D.L. Hall in the first round in 2017. Rolison shined in the Cape Cod League this summer and is an eligible sophomore for Mississippi next spring.
PICK: Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi
12. Blue Jays
This all could line up well for the Jays to take a Canadian in the first round, which has never happened in club history. Tristan Pompey of Kentucky, whose older brother Dalton has played in the majors with Toronto, wouldn’t be a big reach here at 12. But other college bats, at this juncture, make more sense, particularly those who performed better with wood in the Cape Cod League this summer. That list starts with Wichita State’s emerging Greyson Jenista.
PICK: Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, Wichita State |
With all the turnover going on with new ownership and Derek Jeter as head of baseball operations, it’s anyone’s guess who will make this pick. Scouting director Stan Meek has served in that post since 2002, tied with Oakland’s Eric Kubota for the longest active tenure in the game. According to an industry source, Meek’s contract expires at the end of this month.
No matter who makes the pick for Jeter, with Jeff Conine one of the first advisors let go, don’t look for his son, Griffin Conine, to cut the Marlins a deal. Instead, we’re getting the top prep bat remaining off the board.
PICK: Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS |
A top college performer would suit Seattle well; a college hitter has been the team’s top draft pick five of the previous seven years.
PICK: Griffin Conine, OF, Duke |
Texas has had success developing lefthanders from Matt Harrison (before his injuries) to Derek Holland to Martin Perez, and has high hopes for homegrown lefties Cole Ragans and Yohander Mendez. The son of ex-big leaguer David Weathers, Ryan Weathers is a lefty who grades well in modern metrics with high fastball and breaking ball spin rates.
PICK: Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS
Lightning Round time: Tampa Bay grabs Gilbert, another top Cape performer.
PICK: Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
The Angels’ new attention to data would make Stewart, with an incredibly high spin rate on his curveball, extra attractive.
PICK: Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS, Melbourne, Fla. |
Vasil has pitchability to go with present stuff (low 90s fastball, above-average curve), a projectable 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and a fresh Northeastern arm.
PICK: Mike Vasil, RHP, Boston College HS
St. Louis gets back into the first round with a college bat.
PICK: Tristan Pompey, OF, Kentucky
Denaburg has athleticism to spare as a football prospect and two-way baseball player.
PICK: Mason Denaburg, RHP/C, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS |
Milwaukee can take some risks with a deep farm system; nothing’s riskier than a high school catcher in the first round.
PICK: Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS, Snellville, Ga. |
Eierman could shoot up draft boards with a big spring, but his summer was pretty so-so.
PICK: Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State |
The rising Yankees still lack a consistent first baseman, and Triston Casas—MVP of the 18U World Cup—has the power to make Yankee Stadium look small.
PICK: Triston Casas, 1B, American Heritage School, Plantation, Fla. |
Physical size and a heavy low-90s fastball put Georgia’s Cole Wilcox on the radar of any team that needs homegrown pitching.
PICK: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS, Ringgold, Ga. |
Arizona’s system could use a fast mover with some swag to his game, as well as his name.
PICK: Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama |
26. Red Sox
Boston has had some hits of late with college bats but needs to replenish its stash of arms, and after grabbing Tanner Houck in the first round in 2017, they could stay in a similar vein with hard-throwing Florida righthander Jackson Kowar.
PICK: Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida |
It doesn’t seem like a power arm like Florida’s Slade Cecconi, a high schooler who has reached 97 mph and has both a slider and a curveball, should last this long. Maybe he won’t.
PICK: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Trinity Prep HS, Winter Park, Fla.
Houston has taken some unconventional athletes who can hit both in the draft (A.J. Reed) and in trades (Colin Moran), and Oklahoma’s Steele Walker fits that bill.
PICK: Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma |
Siani has a panoply of tools and has to prove his bat to some scouts. Cleveland has hit up the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast heavily in recent years.
PICK: Mike Siani, OF, Penn Charter, Glenside, Pa. |
Well, he’s not really a Southern California kid, as Winn transferred in from Colorado for his senior season to SoCal power Orange Lutheran. But his quick arm and hand speed are what the Dodgers, and other clubs, will be interested in.
PICK: Cole Winn, RHP, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS