On June 3rd, several amateur baseball players will have their dreams come true as they take the next step towards becoming a Major League Baseball player. At the same time, general managers will have the perfect opportunity to restock their farm system with young talent; the draft is critical for teams to sustain long-term success. So, who are the top players in this draft class? Let’s take a closer look, going from 50 all the way to the top prospect.
*Note: These top 50 came from MLB Pipeline’s top 50 prospects, so this is simply me reranking their list in what I believe is a better order.
#50-46: Callihan to Shewmake
#50: 3B Tyler Callihan, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 32)
Callihan is earning serious first-round consideration after impressing with a .528 batting average during Team USA’s gold medal run last season, yet his success during that time likely won’t be sustainable at the professional level. He completely “steps in the bucket”, and does not have a smooth swing, which neutralizes the little power he has in his stocky 5’11” frame, and is a limited defender at third base. He’s a massive project, and I wouldn’t be comfortable selecting him in the early rounds of this draft at all.
#49: SS Greg Jones, UNC Wilmington (MLB.Com Rank: 48)
Jones was given a perfect 80/80 grade for his speed, and also is appealing as a switch hitter. However, with a long swing and little current power, Jones’ offensive profile is limited. Plus, he’s an average defender at shortstop and may have to move off the position; all he brings to the table for sure is speed. As baseball continues to not value speed in the way it used to, I certainly wouldn’t spend on early pick on Jones just because of how fast of a runner he is.
#48: OF Sammy Siani, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 41)
A year after his brother Mike signed an overslot deal with the Reds in the fourth round, Sammy Siani will likely be selected even higher than his brother in this year’s draft. He has some nice loft to his swing, but his hit tool is incredibly unpolished as a result of a subpar approach. Siani also doesn’t have eye-popping athleticism, and his arm and fielding is average. He’s a jack-of-all-trades master, but he doesn’t have a trait that truly stands out.
#47: SS Nasim Nunez, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 50)
Despite being ranked relatively low on my draft board, Nunez is a prospect that still intrigues me. The Clemson commit has tremendous athleticism, and his range and his cannon arm give him the profile of a gold glove caliber defender at shortstop. The concerns about Nunez are regarding his offensive profile, which is hard to project at the moment; he currently doesn’t have much in his little 5’9” frame and he only possesses an average hit tool. However, we’ve seen smaller players such as Ozzie Albies grow from being seen as defense-first middle infielders to becoming All-Star caliber players, so discounting Nunez this early in his development would be a mistake. If he ends up with the right team, he could be a very similar player to Albies, with the floor of a gold glover. That’s worth a selection at the end of round one.
#46: 2B Brendan Shewmake, Texas A&M (MLB.Com Rank: 25)
With an impressive 6’4” frame and with a knack for hitting, Brendan Shewmake will almost certainly be selected in the first round of this year’s draft. However, the thought of this is baffling. Shewmake’s hitting ability is not as strong as describes; he’s too funky to project. He also is more of a slap hitter, so his power likely won’t translate. Plus, he doesn’t have the arm strength to play shortstop, which further decreases his value. I see him more as a bench player than an everyday player, and that certainly isn’t worth a first-round pick.
#45 to #41: Cavaco to Wilson
#45: 3B Keoni Cavaco, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 37)
Despite not being invited to many of the showcases this past summer, high school third baseman Keoni Cavaco has worked his way into first-round conversations. The 17-year-old shows plus power, with a strong arm and terrific agility. However, he definitely has an inconsistent hit tool, and his plus athleticism may be a wash at third base. I could see him ending up as a plus utility power who hits 25+ home runs per season, similar to Brandon Drury or Marwin Gonzalez. That may not be worth a first-round pick, but after that, he’s definitely worth the investment.
#44: RHP Quinn Priester, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 21)
There’s definitely a major gap between my ranking and MLB Pipeline’s ranking on Quinn Priester, and that’s because he’s a very difficult player to judge. Priester definitely should be able to show a better fastball than he does, but currently, his low 90s fastball isn’t very impressive. His curveball is indeed a solid pitch, but his changeup and command don’t leave much of a positive impression. Priester could end up becoming a middle of the rotation starter, but it’ll take time, and by drafting him in the first round, a team will definitely be taking a huge risk.
#43: RHP Matt Canterino, Rice (MLB.Com Rank: 45)
Matt Canterino’s unorthodox delivery will likely be debated heavily amongst scouts, but it’s a critical part of his success. The delivery allows his fastball to play up, and the same goes with his slider. It’s very hard to have proper timing off of him, and if he can continue to develop a changeup and more consistent command, he absolutely could end up as a #3 or #4 starter.
#42: SS Logan Davidson, Clemson (MLB.Com Rank: 24)
Logan Davidson’s lanky 6’3” frame and raw power generated from his launch angle oriented swing definitely make him an exciting prospect. His hit tool is definitely hindered by his long swing, however, and he’ll strike out a lot at the next level. Still, with 30 home run power and passable defense at shortstop, he should be a decent starter or at least a solid role player; he certainly has the capability to exceed this ranking.
#41: 2B Will Wilson, NC State (MLB.Com Rank: 23)
Another middle infielder that I actually like more than my ranking would indicate, NC State product Will Wilson has a very smooth swing and sneaky power that give him a quality offensive profile. He’s an alright fielder, but he isn’t a tremendous athlete and has shaky arm strength; he’s more of an offensive first player that’ll end up as a utility player, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes a starting second baseman. There are some shades of Nico Hoerner, who has hit his way into MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects in
#40 to #36: Strumpf to Wolf
#40: 2B Chase Strumpf, UCLA (MLB.Com Rank: 40)
Chase Strumpet doesn’t have the athletic profile or the raw power that scouts desire, but he does have clear knack for consistent hitting. The UCLA product projects to be a .300 hitter at the next level, and though he doesn’t have any other strengths, he doesn’t have a major glaring weakness that will prevent him from being a solid second baseman. His ceiling is extremely limited, but if a team needs a prospect who can come up and play in the MLB within a couple years, Strumpf might intrigue them.
#39: SS Gunnar Henderson, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 33)
One of the fastest rising prospects in this draft, high school prospect Gunnar Henderson has the makings of a solid starting shortstop. He has excellent bat to ball skills, and uses his lower half effectively. He definitely should try to smoothen his swing by lowering the effort needed to perform it, but with decent raw power, solid athleticism, and a great arm, he doesn’t project to have a weakness. Obviously, not having an eye-popping trait may hurt his overall ceiling, but it wouldn’t be opposed to a team taking him at the end of the first round.
#38: 1B Logan Wyatt, Louisville (MLB.Com Rank: 49)
Just like the player who played his position before him at Louisville (Brendan McKay) first baseman Logan Wyatt is not a flashy athlete or power hitter. Instead, his value comes from his plate discipline; he led the Cape Cod league in walks this summer. In fact, he could afford to be a little less patient at the plate, which would allow him to tap into some of the raw power his smooth launch angle swing would suggest. Though not a terrific fielder, he gets the job done; he’ll likely be a 2-3 WAR type player as an MLB first baseman. He’s a safe bet to be some sort of contributor at the next level, though he probably isn’t worth a first-round pick on him given his limited potential to be much more than that at first base, unless a team finds themselves in desperate need for a cost controlled first baseman who could possibly start in the MLB within the next couple seasons.
#37: LHP Erik Miller, Stanford (MLB.Com Rank: 44)
Erik Miller may be one of the strangest players to evaluate in this draft. At times, he shows a fastball around 97 MPH with solid command. However, he also has outings where the fastball sits in the high 80s and he can’t find the strike zone. This inconsistency, along with his nasty sharp slider that is a tremendous strikeout pitch, means he’ll likely end as a reliever, where he could thrive. Given the need for cost controlled bullpen help, he’s probably worth a second-round pick; there’s a chance he could be ready to make a quick impact if he is moved to the bullpen permanently.
#36: RHP Josh Wolf, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 34)
Josh Wolf is recieving legitimate first-round consideration, especially as he begins to fill out his 6’2’’ frame. The right hander’s fastball isn’t ridiculous at 89-92 MPH, but it does possess some late movement. Plus, if he can fix a mechanical flaw and use his legs more, his velocity could easily see an uptick. I’m not as high on his breaking ball as most, but it’s still a solid offering, while his changeup should at least be an average pitch. He does have work to do with his command; he seems to not be able to handle the movement that comes with his fastball. Still, the tools are there for him to grow into a middle of the rotation starter, and he’s probably worth a late first round to early second-round selection.
#35 to #31: Hinds to Johnson
#35: 3B Rece Hinds, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 35)
A powerful third baseman with a 6’4’’ frame, Rece Hinds has the potential to hit 40 home runs at the next level. However, his outstanding power is all he currently offers; his hit tool is still inconsistent and his fielding is definitely below average. There is room to grow, and although he’s somewhat of a project, a team that is able to have patience with him should look at him as a solid gamble in the late stages of the first round; he could be an All Star if his his tool develops.
#34: OF Maurice Hampton, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 38)
A four star cornerback commited to play two sports at LSU, Maurice Hampton could easily take off if he indeed chooses to play baseball. He is an athletic freak, who demonstartes incredible bat speed, an above average arm, and tremendous speed. He could easily be a 20-25 homerun/30-40 steals type of center fielder, and although he lacks polish and should be considered a project, his upside as a potential five-tool talent warrants a late first-round pick for a team with proper player development, particularly the Dodgers, Astros, and Yankees.
#33: 3B Davis Wendzel, Baylor (MLB.Com Rank: 47)
Though he may not have the looks of an everyday player with his non-projectable frame, massive beard, and crouched stance, Davis Wendzel does indeeed have the makings of a solid contributor. Though he has work to do with the timing of his very early toe tap, he has a clean swing that should allow him to be an above average pure hitter in the MLB. There could be some untapped power if he redos his stance, but at the least, he is an above average fielder who is athletic for his size, and can play multiple positions. Expect him to not ever be a star, but a solid role player for the team that drafts him. I definitely believe he’ll exceed where he is drafted, which is expected to be around the second or third round.
#32: RHP Ryan Pepiot, Butler (MLB.Com Rank: 46)
Ryan Pepoit is definitely one of the most intriguing college pitchers in this draft class. He has a smooth delivery, and already displays three plus offerings. His changeup, in particular, has a chance to become his go to pitch at the next level, and pitchers who possess solid changeups have a good track record, especially in today’s swing and miss day and age. With a fastball and slider than are also fine pitches to complement the changeup, if Pepoit can refine his command, he has all the makings of a #3 starter and is another player who could prove to be worth more than his draft position similar to Wendzel.
#31: RHP Seth Johnson, Campbell (MLB.Com Rank: 29)
A coverted infielder, Seth Johnson is a rather unpolished pitcher, which is expected considering that he just started pitching. Johnson has a solid fastball and slider pairing, but that’s about it; I’m not sure his ceiling is high enough to warrant taking an unrefined pitcher in the first round. Plus, he’ll turn 21 in September, so the patience needed for him to develop will dwindle quickly as he continues to be in the minors; college prospects are supposed to be polished, ready-made products.
#30 to #26: Malone to Doxakis
#30: RHP Brennan Malone, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 18)
Based on his high 90s fastball and projectable frame, Brennan Malone is certainly an appealing pitching prospect. However, he lacks polish, and is currently more of a “thrower” than a pitcher. I like the sharp cutter he pairs with his fastball, but his command is inconsistent and well below average at the moment. The upside could warrant a first-round pick, but he is definitely years away from the majors; he requires a significant amount of development.
#29: OF Corbin Carroll, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 14)
Corbin Carroll will likely require a massive bonus in order to prevent him from honoring his commitment to UCLA; it’s difficult to get a grasp on where he’ll be drafted, though it’ll certainly be in the first round. He swing does get long at times, but it also often compact, making him rather refined for a High School product. With a lackluster arm and limited power, he’s definitely a fast, contact oriented center fielder. That’s definitely valuable, and I think this ranking may be undercutting Carroll’s abilities, but I’m not sure what he brings to the table is worth giving him an overslot deal in the first round.
#28: 1B Michael Busch, North Carolina (MLB.Com Rank: 28)
With back to back seasons with an OPS around 1.000, Michael Busch has put himself in position to be a first round pick. Though he’ll likely be limited to one position (first base) at the next level, his plus hit and power tools are evident. Busch stays through the baseball very well, and is able to use all fields. He also is cited for having excellent plate discipline, further increasing his value, though he projects as an average defender at best. He does have a Joey Votto type of ceiling, but it’s likely he’ll be more of a solid starter than a consistent All Star.
#27: SS Bryson Stott, UNLV (MLB.Com Rank: 9)
Bryson Stott has been gaining steam throughout the draft process, and has been linked as high as the Giants with the 10th overall pick. He isn’t an exciting prospect, but with a solid hit tool, 20 home run power that should develop, and decent fielding, he doesn’t have a clear weakness. He’s a .350 OBP/20 HR/4 drs type of shortstop, which is valuable, though not top ten worthy. He’s another player that I believe will most likely prove to be better than his ranking on this list.
#26: LHP John Doxakis, Texas A&M (MLB.Com Rank: 42)
John Doxakis may not be a flashy pitcher, but finding an apparent weakness with his stuff is difficult. He flashes a solid fastball and slider pairing, while his change up and command are fine. There is too much effort in his delivery, but if he does end up as a reliever, his slider and fastball could definitely allow him to thrive. I’m not sure if I’d be willing to gamble a first-round pick, but he does have the capability to make a quick impact as a reliever and then be converted into a starting pitcher, similar to how Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have been utilized by the Brewers.
#25 to #21: Leiter to Bishop
#25: RHP Jack Leiter, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 30)
Likely heading to Vanderbilt, prep pitcher Jack Leiter, son of Al Leiter, is rumored to be only interested in playing for one of the two New York teams. His fastball lacks projection given his smaller frame, but it has solid sink, while his curveball should be a strikeout pitch at the next level. He also flashes solid command, and is strangely polished for his age. He’s worth a gamble for a team that can afford to pay his price, and reminds me a lot of Sonny Gray, who has showed flashes of being an ace when he finished third in the Cy Young in 2015 as a member of the A’s.
#24: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane (MLB.Com Rank: 27)
Kody Hoese is a very under the radar prospect heading into the MLB Draft. The big 6’4’’ third baseman has excelled at the University of Tulane; he has hit more homeruns and walked more times than he has struck out this season, according to MLB Pipeline. With good enough defense to complement a complete offensive profile (plate discipline, power, hit tool), he should be a nice starting third baseman for years to come and presents great value for any team that is able to snag him after the top half of round one.
#23: SS Matthew Lugo, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 36)
From the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico, Matthew Lugo may be one of the most underrated prospects in this entire draft. Despite being just 18-years-old, he already shows an advanced feel at the plate, one that should help him hit for a high average and have a high on-base percentage in the future; he uses all fields and has a line drive oriented approach. The power isn’t there yet, but I definitely see it coming as he fills out given the sneaky loft and pop he has in his swing. His defensive profile is limited, but even if he has to move off of shortstop, he’ll be a valuable asset for any team and should be earning serious consideration in the middle of the first round.
#22: SS CJ Abrams, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 4)
Another major disagreement between my rankings and MLB.Com’s ranking is regarding CJ Abrams. There’s no doubting Abrams’ speed, which is definitely rare. There also isn’t any question that if Abrams can put all his traits together, he could be an above player. However, each one of Abrams’ other tools are very unpolished. His hitting is inconsistent, he hasn’t yet put his raw power together, and he likely won’t be able to stick at shortstop with his current defensive ability. There are a few teams (Padres and Braves) that can afford the luxury of drafting Abrams and praying he develops properly. However, for teams picking in the top five that need a sure thing to boost their franchise’s outlook, taking an extensive risk on such an unpolished prospect would be foolish; the opportunity that comes with having a top five pick cannot be squandered.
#21: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State (MLB.Com Rank: 7)
Hunter Bishop may have the most raw power in this entire draft class, and he has made drastic improvements this season regarding his hit tool. However, that hit tool is still below average, and though he’s a solid athlete, his lackluster arm and fielding ability will force him to move off of center field. If Bishop can develop his pure hitting ability, he’ll definitely be an above average left fielder. However, considering he’s a college prospect, you’d wish he was a little more polished or had another standout trait besides his power; there probably isn’t enough justification to suggest that’s he’s worthy of a top ten pick.
#20 to #16: Jung to Greene
#20: 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech (MLB.Com Rank: 16)
Josh Jung may have a lot of moving parts in his swing, but the swing itself is terrific, while is lower-body mechanics are nearly perfect. He should develop into an above average pure hitter, while he also possesses 25+ home run power. His defensive profile is definitely limited, but given his offensive abilities, he’s certainly worth a selection in the middle of the first round and should develop into a high-class regular at third base.
#19: 3B Brett Baty, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 17)
Brett Baty has tremendous raw power, similar to last year’s 19th overall pick Nolan Gorman. His hit tool is not polished yet, but he definitely has the capability to develop into an all around, exceptional hitter. Additionally, with a plus arm, his defense also has the potential to be above average, which would give him well-rounded skill set. His upside is tantalizing, and I’d be tempted to take him at the end of the top ten if I was a general manager, though drafting him in the teens of the first-round is much better value.
#18: RHP Isiah Campbell, Arkansas (MLB.Com Rank: 43)
A player I’m much higher on than other evaluators, Isiah Campbell has all the makings of the middle of the rotation starter. His fastball sits around 93 MPH, but plays up thanks to his long downhill stride and his deceptive delivery. That delivery also makes his splitter an above average offering, while his cutter is a nice pitch as well. There are a lot of similarities to Lucas Giolito, and although Campbell will never receive the hype Giolito did, he definitely is worth of an early selection.
#17: RHP George Kirby, Elon (MLB.Com Rank: 20)
George Kirby is a small school prospect that is starting to rise up draft boards. He has a good enough fastball with above average command, repeat and a changeup that has the potential to be a tremendous pitch, and repeats his mechanics well . However, he lacks upside, and is more of a middle of the rotation starter than an ace, but that’s fine for a team picking in the later stages of the first round.
#16: OF Riley Greene, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 6)
Greene’s hitting ability is fantastic, with a terrific approach and a clean, compact swing. He also has projectable power; his offensive profile is through the roof. Unfortunately, with a below average arm, limited athleticism, and a very pedestrian fielding ability, his offense is all he brings to the table; his ceiling is lower than most high school prospects. He’s a bit of a reach with the 5th overall selection, which is where he’s expected to land, but he’s a obvious candidate for an underslot deal in the top ten or being simply a steal in the middle of the first round.
#15 to #11: Togila to Misner
#15: 1B Mike Togila, UCLA (MLB.Com Rank: 39)
Arguably the top draft eligible player on a stacked UCLA team, first baseman Mike Toglia has all the makings of an above average starter at the position. He’s shown the ability to hit for power already, and his 6’5’’ frame gives him 30-35 home run potential. Meanwhile, his hit tool is average, but could improve; his swing is pretty compact and smooth. Additionally, Toglia is a plus defender at first base, giving him the potential to be a gold glove caliber defender at the position. Some may be worried by his first base only profile, but since he plays his one position well and shows some capability to be an emergency outfielder, he’s definitely a first-round talent in this draft. I’m higher than him on most; he’s clearly falling victim to the stigma behind being a first base only type of player, but will be a steal for teams if he gets drafted where other draft prospect rankings tab him to be drafted at.
#14: OF JJ Bledlay, Vanderbilt (MLB.Com Rank: 5)
Bledlay projects to be a solid hitter with 30 home run power and he has the arm strength to play right field. He’s safe prospect due to his polished hitting ability, but his ceiling is definitely limited due to his substandard speed and fielding. I wouldn’t fault a team in need for a player ready to contribute soon to select him early in the draft, but for a rebuilding team, he would not be an ideal fit at all.
#13: LHP Hunter Barco, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 31)
Though he’s been slipping on draft boards, pitcher Hunter Barco is still a very intriguing prospect who is definitely worth first round selection. He has the best changeup in this draft, and pairs it with a sharp power slider and a fastball with movement. Though his lower arm slot is concerning for some, it definitely has the potential to make him more deceptive, similar to Luis Castillo of the Reds. Note: He is dealing with a shoulder injury, which could hurt his draft position, but it isn’t serious enough to hamper his future outlook.
#12: RHP JJ Goss, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 26)
JJ Goss has a very unique delivery that makes him stand out. That’s not all that makes him stand out, however; he possesses a mid 90s fastball that already possesses some movement, and a slider that is extremely polished and unhittable for someone of his age. I don’t see a major weakness with him, and he should definitely be a big league starting pitcher by his early 20s, barring injury. In a draft full of risky, unpolished High School pitchers, Goss should definitely be high on draft boards.
#11: OF Kameron Misner, Missouri (MLB.Com Rank: 20)
Kameron Misner may be the most polarizing prospect in this class. With a 6’4’’ frame, tremendous raw power, excellent speed, an above average arm, and solid fielding, he has all the tools to be a superstar at the next level. However, a lack of a hit tool and his struggles against the SEC have lowered his stock. Still, with a very high walk rate and four out of the five tools already present, his upside is worth a top 15 selection. Worst-case scenario, he’s an outfielder with the ability to get on base, hit for power, and be a solid fielder. Best case scenario? He’s a five-tool, franchise-changing superstar, and he’s a great fit for rebuilding teams in need for a star/piece to build upon that has a plan to develop him into the player he could be become.
#10 to #6: Espino to Rutledge
#10: RHP Daniel Espino, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 22)
Daniel Espino is a fun player to imagine at the major league level. With a triple digits fastball, devastating breaking ball, and passable command, his ceiling is through the roof. He needs to develop his changeup, while he looks to be finished growing at 6’2’’. However, his long leg stride makes his perceived velocity even higher, similar to Jacob deGrom, and should allow him to preserve his arm. High school fireballers are always risky picks, but Espino has the makings of a front-line starting pitcher. Especially if a team (Rangers) is looking to sign someone to an underslot deal, he should be appealing to teams picking around the top ten.
#9: RHP Matthew Allan, HS (MLB.Com Rank: 12)
Since he is apparently demanding a heavy signing bonus, it’s unclear where Matthew Allan be drafted; only a few teams will likely feel compelled to make his monetary requirement. Still, Allan would definitely be worth it. He is rather polished for a high school pitcher, and he possesses a terrific 12-6 curveball that gives him definite shades of Trevor Bauer. His fastball isn’t particularly special, but it’s still an above average offering, while his command and changeup are improving. He isn’t necessarily a future ace, but he should become a very solid #2 starter.
#8: C Shea Langeliers, Baylor (MLB.Com Rank: 11)
To be frank, Shea Langeliers projects to be an average hitter at best in the majors, with little power if he maintains his crouched stance. What makes Langeliers a top ten prospect, however, is his incredible defense. He’s an above average framer already, and his arm strength is already better than almost every catcher. With the catcher position being such a rare position to find a capable starter, teams have to jump at the opportunity to find stability behind the dish when they can. Therefore, although Langeliers has a very limited offensive profile, he’s without a doubt worth a selection within the top ten; he’ll be a very valuable and critical asset to the team that drafts him.
#7: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky (MLB.Com Rank: 15)
With an impressive fastball and even better slider, Zack Thompson is a very intriguing prospect for any team looking for an immediate impact pitcher. Thompson reminds me a lot of Patrick Corbin, who has used his superb slider and fastball combination to become a terrific starting pitcher. Thompson also has a decent changeup and command, and despite his injury history, should become a very useful #2 or #3 starting pitcher.
#6: RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto Community College (MLB.Com Rank: 13)
For teams interested in drafting a player with the highest ceiling, Jackson Rutledge should be at the top of their lists. The 20-year-old has a legitimate 70-grade fastball; it reaches triple digits with ease and has terrific movement. He even complements it with a borderline unhittable slider, which is downright unfair. Furthermore, his 6’8” frame give him some projectability, and his overall abilities are obvious. As expected, Rutledge isn’t a perfect prospect; he rarely utilizes a changeup, while his command is definitely inconsistent. If he can fix those two issues, however, Rutledge has the potential to become one of the top pitchers in the game, and that possibility is worth a gamble in the early stages of this draft.
#5: RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia (MLB.Com Rank: 10)
Another pitcher with evident upside, Alek Manoah is an absolute power pitcher. His fastball, which reaches the upper 90s, has incredible movement that makes it a well above average pitch. It gets better; he complements his fastball with a sharp slider that will allow him to accumulate plenty of strikeouts at the next level, and is already an excellent pitch. If he can refine his changeup and command, he definitely will be on line to become an ace, and there are certainly glimpses of Gerrit Cole in his game. He’d be great for a team looking a high upside, yet already polished pitcher. That pretty much describes every team in the sport; Manoah should be a very coveted prospect.
#4 SS Bobby Witt Jr., HS (MLB.Com Rank: 2)
What Bobby Witt Jr. has the potential to become is obvious. The 19-year-old is the best high school player in this class, and it’s not even close. He has obvious 30-35 home run power thanks to his incredible bat speed, is a tremendous fielder, has an outstanding arm, and is an overall terrific athlete. There’s one tool missing from his arsenal currently, however: a consistent hit tool. His swing is currently long with a lot of flaws, and if that holds, he won’t become the superstar that many believe he’ll become. If he goes to a team in the top five that will properly develop him and be patient with him, most likely a team not expecting to win soon, he’ll most likely be worth it.
#3 LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU (MLB.Com Rank: 8)
Unlike Rutledge and Manoah, I’m not sure if Nick Lodolo has the upside to be a Cy Young caliber pitcher, like Rutledge and Manoah. However, he’s as sure of a thing to become a well above average starting pitcher. He flashes a mid 90s fastball that he can use to attack hitters, and it’ll definitely continue to be a very useful pitch for him at the next level. He complements it perfectly with a frisbee slider that enables some scouts to compare him to Chris Sale, though Sale is a once of a generation type of pitcher. Additionally, unlike the other top pitchers in this draft class, he already has a good feel for his changeup and already has above average command. There isn’t a weakness with Lodolo’s skill set; rather he is above average in practically every area. Though the top two players in this draft class are on a whole different level, Lodolo would be a terrific addition for any team, starting with the third overall selection.
#2 C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State (MLB.Com Rank: 1)
As mentioned, the top two players in this class are on a whole different level from everyone else; they are franchise changing prospects. Based on the rarity of good catchers, Adley Rutschman is the obvious top pick in this year’s draft for the Baltimore Orioles, and for good reason; he’s a once in a lifetime type of catching prospect. Rutschman profiles to be a .400 OBP type of hitter, which is unheard of for a catcher. Even better, he has 25-30 home run power, and his line drive approach will play in any ballpark, but particular at Camden Yards, which has short dimensions. Moreover, Rutschman is an elite defender behind the dish with incredible framing ability and a cannon arm; he should win many gold gloves throughout his career. Honestly, Rutschman is a better prospect than Buster Posey was when he was drafted; Rutschman could very easily be an even better player than Posey, which means there is a legitimate chance he’ll end up as one of the best catchers of all time. There’s no way the Orioles or Royals could screw this up and not make him a top two selection, right? We’ll see; passing on Rutschman would be a franchise-crippling mistake.
#1: 1B Andrew Vaughn, California (MLB.Com Rank: 3)
Though Rutschman should be the number one overall selection based on the rarity of two-way catchers, first baseman Andrew Vaughn is still the best overall player in this draft. If anyone can find a flaw in Vaughn’s offensive profile, they’d be lying to themselves. He has incredible bat speed, uses all fields, has a tremendous approach, and possesses a smooth, compact swing. Furthermore, he boasts superlative power that should allow him to become a consistent 40 home run threat. You’re looking at a player that will have an OBP well north of .400 and a slugging percentage around .600 on a yearly basis. It doesn’t matter if he’s a first baseman only, is not athletic, or is an average defender. He’s a rare, once in a lifetime type of hitter, and in any draft class not containing one of, if not the best catching prospect of all time, he’d be a slam-dunk for the #1 pick. There’s a rumor Vaughn could fall out of the top five in favor of more athletic prospects. If that happens, Vaughn could become one of the biggest steals in draft history, and any team other than Orioles that passes on him will be missing the opportunity to land a potential future Hall of Famer; there are definite similarities to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who emerged as one of the most hyped prospects of all time and is a player every general manager would be dying for. Starting with the Royals with the second overall selection, teams that draft with him remaining on the board will have the chance to land their own Vlad Jr., if they don’t manage to waste that enormous opportunity.
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