Hey everyone, welcome to my first mock draft of the year!
Up front, I will tell you I do not have any industry connections - I'm not that important. I use the research I do every year to figure out each team's tendencies. We are still far enough from the draft that rumors aren't really that strong yet. In later mocks, I will definitely try to take those into account a bit more. And I use my personal draft rankings to help put together this mock draft. I will cover through pick 20 in the first round here. In part two, I will go through the supplemental round to pick 41. I had to break it up due to the length of this piece (over 2100 words) and time to put together. But I hope you enjoy!
1. Philadelphia Phillies: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
The Phillies tend to pick high school bats in the first round. However, at the top of the draft, draft tendencies are especially weak. I think they will go with the best player available, which to me is Kyle Lewis. He is still 20 years old, with three successful years in college, and mashed the ball with the wood bat in the Cape last summer. He is also still toolsy enough to attract the Phillies.
If they did want to go with a high school bat, Blake Rutherford is the best available, although you could make an argument for Mickey Moniak. The team has many advanced arms thanks to some shrewd trades and great draft picks, but very little at the lower levels of the farm. Because of that, they could also be tempted by the best high school arm, Jason Groome.
2. Cincinnati Reds: A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
The Reds don't really have any strong draft tendencies, either overall or in the first round. They lean slightly towards college bats in the first, but for the most part are a "best player available" type of team. With that, I have them taking A.J. Puk, the big lefty from Florida who is my second-ranked draft prospect. They very well could go with Jason Groome here as well. If they did go with a college bat, the best available after Lewis is Corey Ray.
3. Atlanta Braves: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS, NJ
The Braves tend to focus on prep arms in the first round, and Jason Groome is there waiting for them, when he could be the number one overall pick in the draft. They could go Riley Pint, but the Braves tend to go for arms with a bit more polish, rather than those with poorly aimed lightning bolts coming out of them. They are also known to love looking in their region for talent, so someone like Josh Lowe could be a sneaky grab, especially with an under slot pre-draft deal.
4. Colorado Rockies: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep, CA
The Rockies tend to lean either prep bat or college arm in the first round. The best prep bat available in my opinion is Blake Rutherford. Others have tied Colorado to Mickey Moniak, another prep outfielder from California, who may very well be the pick here. Moniak would give them an extra year of development (he's a year younger than Rutherford), and better defensive skills, but not the same type of power potential as Rutherford. If they did go with a college arm, I suspect Dakota Hudson would be a prime target. Hudson has big time stuff with low mileage. The ridiculous movement on his fastball could help in the pitching hell that is Coors Field.
5. Brewers: Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS, CA
The Brewers don't really have any strong tendencies, especially in the first round. They lean slightly towards college arms, and even more slightly towards high school bats. I think they are taking the best player available. For me, that would be Moniak, who would be a nice complement to last year's first round pick, Trent Clark. If they went college arm, Dakota Hudson makes the most sense here. Or they could surprise, and take the flamethrower Pint.
6. Oakland Athletics: Zack Collins, C, Miami
The A's have one of the stronger tendencies to take high school bats in the first round. However, with Moniak and Rutherford going right before them, they switch up tactics, and look for the best offensive prospect the college ranks have to offer this year in Zack Collins. Dude can mash a baseball. The big question mark is defense, but the A's aren't a team that cares about that too much. Reports are that Collins has worked hard on his defense - combine a strong work ethic with pro coaching, and there's a chance he sticks. In a similar vein, the A's could look at Nick Senzel, who is my highest rated college bat remaining and to whom the A's have already been connected. If the A's did want to go with a prep bat, they love shortstops and they may take a stab at Delvin Perez here.
7. Miami Marlins: Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, KS
This may be the dream scenario for the Marlins. A flamethrower ranked in the top five, sometimes top three, falls into their lap. However, they could be feeling burned from the last time they went this route and selected Tyler Kolek. But they do lean pretty heavily towards prep arms in the first round. So if that's the case, the could focus on one of the other more polished high school prospects, like Braxton Garrett or Matt Manning.
*Comment edited for geographical error. This is why you don't try to write while dealing with the flu.
8. San Diego Padres: Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendehowa HS, NY
The Padres lean pretty heavily towards prep arms and college bats in the first round. I have a feeling they are going with an arm this year. Ian Anderson is the best on my board. The cold weather product has a decent floor for a prep arm, yet he still has the projectability you look for this early in the draft. If they decide to go with college bats, the two best players left on my board at this point are both college bats, in Nick Senzel and Corey Ray. I could see the Padres go for either player with the eighth pick.
9. Detroit Tigers: Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
It seems like a meme at this point, but the Tigers love big armed college righties. Hudson may have the biggest arm of any college pitcher outside of Puk. If they don't go with Hudson, they could take someone like Robert Tyler, a big righty from Georgia, earlier than most anticipate (although he should still be a first round guy). Or they could go with a college bat like Corey Ray.
10. Chicago White Sox: Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
The White Sox would be ecstatic to get a talent like Corey Ray at the #10 spot in the draft. They tend to focus on college picks in the first round. The ChiSox like outfielders more than most teams. If they didn't go with Ray, who has perhaps the highest floor of any college position prospect, they could go with Nick Senzel here. If they wanted a college arm, Connor Jones would be an ideal target for the White Sox.
11. Seattle Mariners: Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
Nick Senzel is 6th in my rankings - getting him at 11th overall is a steal. The Mariners love college bats in the first round, and the second-ranked college bat fell into their lap. Senzel should be a fast mover through the minor leagues,and I can easily see a Bill Mueller type of career at the big league level. If they didn't go with Senzel, they could reach slightly for Bryan Reynolds from Vanderbilt. Or they could go with an arm like Connor Jones.
12. Boston Red Sox: Braxton Garrett, LHP, Foley HS, AL
The Red Sox don't have many tendencies, they tend to go with the best player available. At this point, on my board that would be Garrett, the projectable lefty from Alabama. The next two on my rankings are Matt Manning, a big righty from California, or Josh Lowe, the sweet swinging third baseman from Georgia.
13. Tampa Bay Rays: Delvin Perez, SS, International BB Academy, PR
Tampa Bay doesn't have any real strong tendencies. They do like high school prospects and bats more than most teams over the first four rounds, and lean slightly to prep bats in the first round. The consensus best available at this point would be Delvin Perez, even though I would have at least Josh Lowe ahead of him. Perez has a glove unrivaled in this year's draft. That alone gives him a high floor. But he needs to work offensively to become a starter at the big league level. If they didn't want to go with Perez, they could go with Lowe or Nolan Jones.
14. Cleveland Indians: Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS, CA
The Indians lean high school arm or college bat in the first round. The best available at this point is Matt Manning. He's a big, projectable arm with more polish than one would expect from a two-sport star - he started his baseball season late due to basketball, the sport his father played professionally. They do like lefties more than most, so they could target Joey Wentz here. If they go with a college bat, they could go for a guy who has lost some shine in Buddy Reed.
15. Minnesota Twins: Forrest Whitley, RHP, Alamo Heights HS, TX
Minnesota doesn't have any real strong tendencies in the first round. They do lean high school, and arms more than bats. The best available prep arm is Forrest Whitley. Whitley is a giant of a man-child at 6-7, 230. Unlike most big guys, his mechanics are fairly clean and repeatable, leading to a mid-90s fastball. If they decide to go a different direction, Josh Lowe is still there. Or they could go after a different prep arm, like Joey Wentz, the last tier two prep pitcher available.
16. Los Angeles Angels: Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn
No one goes college more in the first round than the Angels over the past five years. They specifically focus on college bats. There are three college guys I think they will target: Buddy Reed (the guy whose stock keeps going down), Bryan Reynolds (the consistent guy), and Anfernee Grier (the college helium guy). They are all similar center fielders with speed and a bit of pop. It is a tough choice, but I get a feeling that Grier is more to their liking than the other two.
17. Houston Astros: Joshua Lowe, 3B, Pope HS, GA
The Astros have picked at the top of the draft so long, it will be hard to guess where they will go with this pick. They favor prep bats more than any other group in the first. If this continues, I could see them taking the best prep bat available, Josh Lowe. If he doesn't stick at third, he has a cannon and should have the bat to move to right field. Beyond Lowe, they could look at either Alex Kirilloff or Nolan Jones, prep bats with a bit more power than Lowe.
18. New York Yankees: Joey Wentz, Shawnee Mission East HS, KS
The Yankees don't have many strong tendencies over rounds 1-4. In the first round, they pick college bats most often, followed by high school arms. Bryan Reynolds, the lanky outfielder from Vanderbilt seems like the best fit. But I think they may go with a prep arm, and Joey Wentz as a big armed left-hander is right in their wheelhouse. A sleeper for the Yankees to draft is Matt Thaiss, a New Jersey kid with a big bat playing at Virginia.
19. New York Mets: Nolan Jones, SS, Holy Ghost Prep HS, PA
The Mets target high school position players pretty heavily in the first round. The two best available are both from Pennsylvania: Nolan Jones, a SS with pop in his lefty swing, and Alex Kirilloff, who has perhaps the best raw power in the prep rankings this year. They also look at college bats, and could target Bryan Reynolds here. But I think they would grab Jones if he's available here.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers: Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia
The Dodgers focus heavily on college arms in the first round. Looking at the board, the best available are Connor Jones, Jordan Sheffield, and Robert Tyler. They could go with any of these three, but the most likely is Connor Jones, the righty from Virginia.
Watch out for part two in a couple days! Who is too high? Who is too low? Who is missing? Am I crazy? How crazy am I? Let me know what you think below!