Hey everyone, John and I have decided to reprise our fun mock draft back and forth. The rules are simple: I start with the first pick, John takes the second pick, and so on.
- Minnesota Twins: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS, CA
For the majority of the spring, the debate has been around two players: Greene and Brendan McKay. Recently, Vandy righty Kyle Wright has pushed his way into the conversation, making this a three-way race. I still think the Twins could be a little crazy and go for a surprise like Austin Beck or Royce Lewis. But it’s been fashionable in recent mocks to have Greene not be picked at the top of the draft. So let’s buck consensus, and have the best talent in this year’s draft go #1 overall.
2. Cincinnati Reds: Brendan McKay, LHP, University of Louisville
The Reds have been linked to McKay for weeks, reportedly liking him as a pitcher. There’s been some concern lately about a velocity decline but McKay has remained extremely effective and won’t need long in the minors. The fact that he’s an excellent hitter as well is additionally attractive to a National League team. Kyle Wright out of Vanderbilt would be the other most likely option.
3. San Diego Padres: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS, NC
The San Diego Padres have spent all spring hoping and praying the local boy Hunter Greene falls to them. In this mock, he doesn’t, and they’re forced to go with plan B. Gore is perhaps the most athletic prep pitcher in this year’s draft, and has the stuff to warrant being drafted here at #3. If the Padres are interested in a more polished, faster moving arm, they could go with Kyle Wright here, which would be perfectly defensible. Or they could decide to go with a prep bat in Royce Lewis or Austin Beck.
4. Tampa Bay Rays: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt University
A host of attractive alternatives present themselves, notably uber-toolsy preps Austin Beck and Royce Lewis. But Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright is still on the board, and the last time the Rays drafted a Commodores ace, it turned out pretty well. Wright’s combination of upside and ready skills should get him to the majors quickly as a top-of-the-rotation candidate.
5. Atlanta Braves: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS, TX
After spending all spring being tied to Mackenzie Gore, they see him gone to the Padres. In shades of last year’s draft, they go down the board a bit looking to save some money for later picks and grab the precocious Texan Shane Baz. Baz has very good stuff, and is more advanced than any other prep arm in this draft - qualities that the Braves are always looking for. He is similar to Zach Greinke as a prepster, the Braves are hoping he follows in those footsteps.
6. Oakland A’s: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, University of North Carolina
The Athletics are most commonly linked with MacKenzie Gore, J.B. Bukauskas, and various college hitters. Gore is gone in this scenario so we’ll go with Bukauskas, University of North Carolina ace with blistering stuff and an excellent performance record.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia
I think the Diamondbacks would love to grab Bukauskas, but he doesn’t get here. They are a team that leans college in round one, and tend to take athletic talent. At this point, Haseley is the best fit for those parameters. He’s shown perhaps the best package of power, speed, plate discipline, and defensive skills, giving him a high floor as perhaps the best bet to make the majors in this year’s draft. If they don’t go Haseley, they are trying to pick between Royce Lewis, Austin Beck, and Jo Adell.
8. Philadelphia Phillies: Pavin Smith, 1B, University of Virginia
The Phillies have selected high school bats with their first picks in the last two drafts (Cornelius Randolph and Mickey Moniak) and drawing from the prep well again seems a bit much. While it is awfully hard to overlook the loud tools of Royce Lewis and Austin Beck here, the Phillies have been consistently linked with the extremely polished bat of Pavin Smith, University of Virginia first baseman. We’ll stick with him.
9. Milwaukee Brewers: Royce Lewis, J Serra Catholic HS, CA
The Brewers could have never imagined that both Austin Beck and Royce Lewis would be available at the ninth pick. In this case, they choose Lewis, who has been pegged as a top five pick for most of the spring. Lewis is one of the most complete packages of tools in this draft class. The question is can he stick at shortstop or will he move to second base or center field. But he should hit for average, with decent power, and with speed on the bases.
10. Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Adell, OF, Louisville, Kentucky
With a farm system in the early stages of an extensive rebuild, the Angels could go in any number of directions: you could make a good case for an advanced college player, and you could make a good case for the toolsiest player available even if they are a bit raw. We’ll go with impact here, selecting the explosive tools of Adell, who perhaps has the best toolset of any high school player this year.
11. Chicago White Sox: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
The White Sox lean towards college pitchers in round one, and Faedo is the best one still available. He’s a big righty with a nasty fastball/slider combo. He was a bit off earlier in the season, likely due to minor knee surgery in the fall, but has done better as the season has progressed. There are some concerns about his mechanics, but the White Sox have never shied away from a pitcher because of those concerns. They could also look at Tanner Houck or David Peterson here.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State University
Rumors indicate that the Pirates want a polished college hitter. Jeren Kendall’s tools fit well here but he may not have the refinement that the Bucs want. The most impactful college bats still available are Jake Burger, Keston Hiura, and Brent Rooker, but all three come with questions. We’ll go with Burger given that it looks like he can stay at third base.
13. Miami Marlins: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS, NC
The Marlins like prep players, especially prep pitchers in round one. They also love lefties, and they are tempted by Trevor Rogers and DL Hall, which would both be nice choices here. Except they look up and see Austin Beck sitting there, and throw the plans out the window. Beck is the type of tool shed they like in their prep players, and would likely become their top prospect as soon as a he signed. Monster power potential here.
14. Kansas City Royals: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt University
The Royals are consistently linked with New Mexico high school lefty Taylor Rogers but reports also indicate they’ve been looking at college hitters. Although his contact issues are genuine it is hard to overlook Jeren Kendall’s tool set at 14th overall, given that he was considered for the first overall spot back in February. There’s risk here but the upside is an All-Star outfielder and even with some doubts he’s still less risky than a prep arm.
15. Houston Astros: Nick Pratto, 1B, Mater Dei HS, CA
The Astros lean prep players in the first round, regardless of position. They are also one of the teams most likely to draft a first baseman. Here is one of the top prep bats, whose lone knock seems to be that he’s a first baseman. The Astros take one of the best bat-to-ball prep hitters in this draft. They could also be tempted by the young pitchers available here, like DL Hall, Trevor Rogers, or Sam Carlson.
16. New York Yankees: David Peterson, LHP, University of Oregon
The Yankees have been linked to both college pitching and high school bats. It is also very hard to ignore the high-impact bat of Hiura here, but I can’t bring myself to pass up the combination of solid stuff and outstanding performance metrics from University of Oregon lefty David Peterson.
17. Seattle Mariners: Keston Hiura, 2B, UC Irvine
Seattle is the team most likely to draft a college bat in the first round, and they grab a good one here in Hiura. Huira would be a top ten, perhaps a top five, pick if not for the lingering elbow injury that may require Tommy John surgery. But he has one of the best hit tools in college ball, and should make the majors quickly, even if he does have TJS. Evan White, Brent Rooker, and Stuart Fairchild may tempt the Mariners as well.
18. Detroit Tigers: Tanner Houck, RHP, University of Missouri
The Tigers have gone with high school pitchers at the top of their last two draft classes, so we’ll switch back to the college ranks with University of Missouri ace Tanner Houck. Houck is a physical 6-5, 215 pounder who throws hard and throws strikes. His track record is a bit inconsistent but the upside is quite high.
19. San Francisco Giants: Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
The Giants pick college arms more than any other team in the first round. Peterson is likely their top target, but seeing as the Yankees grabbed him in this mock, they have to look elsewhere. They could decide to go for one of the JuCo arms, Brendan Little or Nate Pearson. They could look at Griffin Canning or Alex Lange. But instead they take someone who was a top ten talent before the season, who hasn't pitched due to a back injury, but who also just started throwing off the mound again: Tristan Beck.
20. New York Mets: Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville, Minnesota
Rumors link the Mets to just about everything: college pitching, high school arms and bats, college hitting; what happens here in real life will depend on what other teams ahead of them do. In this case the enormous physical potential of Minnesota high school right-hander Sam Carlson stands out as the arm with the most upside left on the board, and the Mets have certainly had good luck helping similar pitchers develop.
21. Baltimore Orioles: DL Hall, LHP, Houston County HS, GA
The Orioles have no strong tendencies in the first round, with only a slight lean towards prep bats and college arms. In this case, I'll go with the top rated player on my rankings, DL Hall. The O’s would have to be giddy to grab what many see as a top ten talent here at #21. They could be a dark horse to grab Clarke Schmidt, or take one of the Little/Pearson duo.
22. Toronto Blue Jays: Logan Warmoth, SS, University of North Carolina
The Blue Jays are reportedly looking at the college ranks with a particular focus on hitters. Evan White and Logan Warmoth have the best combination of offensive and defensive ability left on the board among college hitters. We’ll go with Warmoth because it is harder to find a shortstop who can hit.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA
The Dodgers tend to grab college arms in the first round. There are still plenty of options available, the top two being Griffin Canning and Alex Lange. Wil Crowe is there as well, along with Pearson and Little. They could grab a headcase with an electric arm in Seth Romero. Or they could follow the Giants' lead and grab a guy who was talked about as a top ten talent before injury in Clarke Schmidt. In the end, they go with Canning. If they don't go with a college pitcher, rumor has it they are in on prep outfielders like Bubba Thompson and Garrett Mitchell.
24. Boston Red Sox: Alex Lange, RHP, Louisiana State University
The Red Sox are linked to college players although I also think it possible that they could do something unexpected, say perhaps nab a prep player like Nick Allen or Drew Waters. That said, they went with high-ceiling high school arm Jason Groome last year so perhaps a quick-impact guy would be a better choice this time to provide some balance. Alex Lange out of LSU has a long track record of success with a top program and should get to the majors more quickly than most other players in this draft.
25. Washington Nationals: Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida JC
The Nationals are tied as the most likely to draft an arm in the first, especially college arms. At this point in the draft, there is depth in that tier. They are also a team that doesn't shy away from drafting injured players they feel could be steals if healthy. That would make Clarke Schmidt a target here, especially with Tristan Beck gone. They could also be the one team in the first round most likely to grab Seth Romero. But in the end, they grab the big junior college righty Nate Pearson.
26. Texas Rangers: Bubba Thompson, OF, Mobile, Alabama
Alabama high schooler Bubba Thompson seems like the most Rangery guy still on the board, being an ultra-toolsy outfielder with power-speed potential, certainly the type of player the Texas brain trust has been interested in for many years. Reports indicate that he actually has a bit more polish than typical of players in this category. It is hard to see him falling much further than this.
27. Chicago Cubs: Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State
The Cubs are one of the teams most likely to draft a college bat in the first round. Evan White is the top college bat available, but Brent Rooker and Riley Adams would be on the radar as well. In the end they go with Rooker and his ridiculous offensive potential. The guy has crushed the ball all season.
28. Toronto Blue Jays: Evan White, 1B, University of Kentucky
We went with Warmoth with the previous Blue Jays pick and we’ll stick with the “advanced college hitter” scheme with Evan White, a terrific defender who should be at least a solid hitter and won’t need much minor league development time.
29. Texas Rangers: Blayne Enlow, RHP, ST. Amant HS, LA
The Rangers focus on prep talent in the first round, pretty evenly split between bats and arms. Given that John has them taking Bubba Thompson, that likely reduces the chance they double up with another prep bat like Heliot Ramos. Instead, they grab one of the top prep pitchers on the board in Blayne Enlow. Hans Crouse and Trevor Rogers would pique their interest here as well.
30. Chicago Cubs: Hans Crouse, RHP, Dana Point, California
Mike has the Cubs taking the booming bat of Brent Rooker at number 27 and we know the Cubs love their college power hitters. We will switch to an arm here, going with the high upside of prep arm of Hans Crouse, who shouldn’t present a signability risk given the amount of money the Cubs have to work with plus (perhaps) a theoretical below-slot deal with Rooker at 27.
31. Tampa Bay Rays: Mark Vientos, SS, Flanagan HS, FL
The Rays pretty heavily focus on bats in the first round, especially prep bats. There is a pretty deep tier of prep bats at this point in the mock draft. My top ranked prep bat is Heliot Ramos, but there are others that would interest the Rays, including Nick Allen, Drew Waters, and Mark Vientos. Given the Rays are a sabermetric-friendly organization, let's have them take one of the youngest players in the draft, and Florida raised, Mark Vientos. He likely won't stick at shortstop, but he should have enough pop in his bat to weather a move to third base.
32. Cincinnati Reds: Nick Allen, SS, San Diego, California
The Reds could use more up-the-middle talent in the minors which makes Allen doubly attractive. This isn’t a case of drafting-for-need, though, as Allen’s superb defense and promising line drive hitting could see him come off the board much sooner than this. He’s rumored to be on the radar of the Cubs so I should probably have placed him at 30, but we’ll stick with the original decision under the principle of “weird stuff happens on draft day.” He would be awfully hard to resist if he does drop this far and I have to think that he would get grabbed quickly.
33. Oakland A’s: Drew Waters, OF, Etowah HS, GA
John has the A's taking college righty JB Bukauskas at #6. Prep bats have been their favorite cohort in the first round. There are plenty of options, but the A's take one of the top bats in the prep ranks, Drew Waters. Waters is above average defensively, one of the best in the draft. He also has one of the better hit tools in the draft, and if the A’s think they can increase his power potential, he’s a no brainer at #33.
34. Milwaukee Brewers: Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad, New Mexico
Given Milwaukee’s known recent interest in toolsy players I was looking at Waters myself but Mike beat the Brewers to the punch. With Royce Lewis to the Brewers at nine, let’s go with a pitcher for balance. Somehow Trevor Rogers is still on the board and he would be a real steal here, plus the Brewers are not afraid of lefties with unusual profiles.
35. Minnesota Twins: Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian HS, PR
I had the Twins take Hunter Greene #1 overall. At #35, they go back to a favored first round cohort, prep bats. With plenty of options, they take the one with the highest ceiling available, outfielder Heliot Ramos. Ramos could go about twenty picks higher on draft day if a team falls in love with him.
36. Miami Marlins: Jeter Downs, SS, Miami, Florida
With the Marlins getting Austin Beck at number 13 an arm seems appropriate here, but would the Marlins go college or high school? They have been interested in prep arms at the top of drafts lately, so Matt Sauer or perhaps Hagen Danner could fit. On the other hand, this is also an organization in turmoil that might want to save money, especially since Beck won’t be cheap. On the third hand, they are also rumored to be interested in any player with local ties to boost interest in the team, and local Miami prep hero Jeter Downs would be hard to pass up. We’ll go with Downs and anticipate the Marlins go cheap in subsequent rounds to afford both him and Beck.