During the MLB Draft, each general manager’s goal is to strengthen their team’s future outlook by adding young talent to their farm system. Failure to do so, however, can compromise the franchise. The Giants and Marlins, for example, have struggled to hit on their draft picks recently, and now have a barren team on the field and a barren farm system. Meanwhile, teams like the Astros and Dodgers have continued to find success via the draft, and will continue to win for years to come. So, what should each team do in the draft? Let’s play general manager for every team, and identify the prospects that each team should have their eyes on.
For full analysis on prospects: 2019 MLB Draft Big Board
Pick #1: Baltimore Orioles
Plan A: C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
Rutschman is a rare two-way catcher who doesn’t have a weakness in his game. Chance Sisco was once seen as the catcher of the future for the Orioles, but he’s 24-years-old and has yet to carve out a role in the majors. Though Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn may be the better all-around prospect, Rutschman is a once in a generation type of catcher and is the much better value selection. There is no plan B here; Rutschman must be the team’s #1 overall selection.
Pick #2: Kansas City Royals
Plan A: 1B Andrew Vaughn, California
As every other general manager watches in envy as the Blue Jay develop Vladimir Guerrero Jr. into once in a lifetime hitter, teams may have the chance to get their own version of Vlad Jr. with Andrew Vaughn. Vaughn is a flawless hitter with tremendous power, and possesses a very similar profile offensively to Guerrero Jr. He’s not super athletic nor the best fielder, but neither is Guerrero Jr. The Royals need to add offense to their pitcher-heavy farm system. Since they went heavy with college pitchers in last year’s draft, it would be logical to draft a polished college position player in Vaughn to complement them and set them up for a bright future.
Plan B: SS Bobby Witt Jr., HS
Vaughn is the far superior selection over Witt Jr., and will be ready to contribute far sooner. However, as mentioned, they do lack a star position player, and Witt could become that if his hit tool develops. Passing on Vaughn is definitely not the right choice for general manager Dayton Moore, but there would be justification for adding a high upside prospect to a farm system consisting of safe, low-ceiling prospects.
Pick #3: Chicago White Sox
Plan A: 1B Andrew Vaughn, California
Vaughn is a perfect fit for the White Sox, who are ready to win soon, but could use another impact bat in the middle of their order. In this scenario, Chicago could re-sign pending free agent Jose Abreu on a one-year deal, before turning it over to Vaughn for the beginning of the 2021 season. Heck, he could even replace Abreu or fit in as a designated hitter by as soon as next season; Vaughn is the obvious pick if he is still on the board.
Plan B: LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU
If Vaughn is off the board, Chicago should boost their opening window by adding a polished college pitcher to their farm system. Since Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease both have durability and command issues, selecting Lodolo, a durable lefty who has plus command to complement his impressive arsenal, to complement them makes a lot of sense. Either way, Chicago should definitely be thinking college with this selection.
#4 Miami Marlins
Plan A: SS Bobby Witt Jr., HS
The Marlins definitely should be looking to add a High School player with this selection. They are years away from contending, and have yet to identify a core for their next window of contention. Adding the player with five-tool potential in Witt Jr. makes sense. Since Miami isn’t expected to win anytime soon, they can afford to be patient and allow Witt Jr. to establish his hit tool. If Witt Jr. does indeed establish that hit tool, he’ll be the face of the franchise.
Plan B: RHP Matthew Allan, HS
Adding a high school player such as Riley Greene or Brett Baty would be intriguing, but they’d be reaches at this point in the draft. The Marlins have a variety of young pitchers, but none are sure things; many have high ceilings, but very low floors. Matthew Allan, who definitely is a similar pitcher to Trevor Bauer, could emerge as one of the anchors of this pitching staff in the future if drafted here. He’s rather polished for his age, making him more of a sure thing, and he’d complement Miami’s boom-or-bust farm system very well.
Pick #5: Detroit Tigers
Plan A: OF Kameron Misner, Missouri
Obviously, if any of three hitters already mentioned here are available, then the Tigers should definitely select them with ease. Detroit has an impressive core of young pitchers headlined by last year’s #1 pick Casey Mize, but lack many high-upside offensive prospects. Kameron Misner is an intriguing talent who has superstar potential. Even though he doesn’t have a developed hit tool, his excellent plate discipline and power still give him an impressive offensive profile, while his arm strength, athleticism, and fielding allow him to excel at all three outfield spots. I simply don’t understand the concerns about Misner; what he brings to table greatly outweighs the one skill he currently doesn’t bring to the table at the moment. By the time Detroit’s pitching prospects are in the show, Misner will there to emerge as one the faces of the franchise if selected with this pick.
Plan B: OF JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
As mentioned, the Tigers desperately need to add some offensive prospects. Bleday may not be the best fielder or athlete, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be an all-around plus hitter at the next level. He doesn’t have the intriguing superstar upside that Misner has, but he’s a safer pick, and fits with Detroit’s expected timeline to contend (around 2021). He wouldn’t be the star they should be searching for, but he’d be a nice complementary piece to what they already have and would definitely be an important part of their young core.
#6: San Diego Padres
Plan A: OF JJ Bledlay, Vanderbilt
With a stacked young core headlined by shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., second baseman Luis Urias, third baseman Manny Machado (still just 26), and an abundance of pitching prospects, the Padres can afford to go in a variety of ways with this pick. I wouldn’t fault them for taking a shot with a player with a high ceiling (CJ Abrams, Jackson Rutledge), but with JJ Bledlay still available in this scenario, San Diego has the chance to add a left-handed bat who will be ready to contribute as their title window opens. The Padres’ young outfielders have not panned out, and although Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe are fine players, they both follow the stereotype as low on-base percentage, home run or bust type of corner fielders. Bledlay, meanwhile, complements that duo as a left-handed bat with excellent plate discipline. His offense will carry his value at the next level, but San Diego wouldn’t need him to be anywhere more than a compatible piece to their impressive collection of young talent.
Plan B: SS CJ Abrams, HS
I personally do not believe Abrams is worthy of a top ten pick; he is a massive project. However, for a team that already has an incredible amount of young talent ready to contribute soon, it is easy to justify San Diego taking a chance on Abram’s ceiling. Though Tatis Jr. is the franchise shortstop, Abrams, if he pans out, would provide insurance in case Urias doesn’t produce at second base, or in center field. If Abrams doesn’t pan out, it’s not a huge deal; San Diego is already stacked with prospects anyway.
Pick #7: Cincinnati Reds
Plan A: RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
Quietly, the Reds are positioned to be a potential force in the future. Pitcher Hunter Greene, outfielder Taylor Trammell, and third baseman Jonathan India headline a strong farm system, while starting pitcher Luis Castillo, center fielder Nick Senzel, left fielder Jesse Winker, and third baseman Eugenio Suarez headline a solid young group of established major leaguers. Especially with Greene undergoing Tommy John surgery, there looks to be a lack of polished pitchers behind Castillo. Manoah is the perfect combination of polish and potential, and he could easily emerge as a co-ace alongside Castillo. Plus, his high ability to miss a lot of bats would work in the Reds’ small ballpark.
Plan B: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
As mentioned, the Reds could really use a safer pitching prospect that could be ready to contribute at the major league level soon. Thompson may not have an ace-level ceiling, but with an impressive fastball-slider combination, there’s a good chance he develops into a #2 or #3 starting pitcher, similar to Patrick Corbin. He’d be a safe pick at #7, but if Manoah and Lodolo are off the board, he’d be a smart pick.
Pick #8: Texas Rangers
Plan A: C Shea Langeliers, Baylor
The Rangers currently are starting Jeff Mathis at behind the dish and have no intriguing catching prospects. It’s safe to say that finding their future catcher should be a major priority for them, and Langeliers would be exactly that. Though the Baylor product is an average hitter, his excellent receiving skills and incredible arm strength give him a high floor as a tremendous defensive catcher. Current President of Baseball Operations John Daniels seems to value defensive skills at the position considering that he signed Mathis to a two-year-deal, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to add a future starting catcher, especially considering the rarity of being able to find impact catchers.
Plan B: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
The Rangers have taken a lot of gambles with high ceiling pitchers in the past, and have lost that gamble far too often. Therefore, Thompson would be a nice fit for them, considering he’s one of the safest pitching prospects in this entire class. He wouldn’t be the team’s future ace, but he’d be a really nice #2 starter for the team for years to come. Manoah and Lodolo should definitely in heavy consideration if they are available with this selection.
Pick #9: Atlanta Braves
Plan A: OF Riley Greene, HS
With a stacked farm system full of pitchers ready to make an impact soon, Atlanta should be looking for a position player with their first of two first round selections. With Langeliers, Misner, and Bledlay all off the board in this scenario, Greene is the best prospect remaining. He’s a rather polished hitter for his age, and should grow into a very quality hitter at the next level. His defensive skills are limited, but that would be fine in an outfield consisting of him, Ronald Acuna, and top prospect Christian Pache. Atlanta does have two solid outfield prospects in Pache and Drew Waters to complement Acuna, but it’s never a sure thing that they’d both pan out; Greene would provide insurance if one of the two falters, and is solid value at the end of the top ten.
Plan B: RHP Matthew Allan, HS
The only reason the Braves have this selection is because they failed to sign prep pitching prospect Carter Stewart in last year’s draft. If they want to compensate for that loss, Allan is a very similar prospect; he’s a power pitcher with a stellar curveball. In fact, Allan is a more polished prospect than Stewart was, and although Atlanta doesn’t need to add another pitcher with a high draft pick, it’s never a bad idea to continue to collect as many as possible in the hopes that enough pan out to build a formidable rotation in the future. Pitchers Daniel Espino and Jackson Rutledge would also make sense with this selection, given their high ceilings.
#10 Pick: San Francisco Giants
Plan A: RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto Community College
If Misner and Manoah are on the board, the Giants, who need any sort of young talent, should definitely select one of the two. The same goes for Bledlay and Greene, who definitely would emerge as one of the team’s top prospects. In this scenario, however, all four of those players are off the board, making Rutledge the definite top player for them. After transferring from Arkansas, Rutledge has taken off at San Jacinto Community College. He features a fastball that sits in the triple digits with late movement, and pairs it off with an unfair slider. He should have no problem striking out hitters in the majors, and if he can develop a better changeup and refine his command, he’ll be a future ace. For a team with no high-ceiling young pitchers whatsoever, Rutledge would be a perfect fit.
Plan B: RHP Matthew Allan, HS
In this scenario, San Francisco is picking from a much deeper group of pitchers than position players, since seven position players are already off the board. Allan would instantly become the Giants’ top pitching prospect, and his polish could allow him to reach the majors quicker than most high school pitchers. That would fit the timeline where the team’s few impact prospects would be ready to make an impact; Allan makes a lot of sense with this selection.
#11 Pick: Toronto Blue Jays
Plan A: RHP Matthew Allan, HS
With Vladmir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Jordan Groshans, Cavin Biggio, and Rowdy Tellez, the Blue Jays have a set infield and lineup for years to come. What they could use is another young pitcher, especially after passing on multiple top pitching prospects in last year’s draft in favor of Groshans. Allan definitely fits the bills of a young, high-impact pitcher. Plus, as mentioned previously, he’s rather refined for his age, and could make be MLB ready sooner than usual high school prospects. Securing Allan outside of the top ten would be an absolute steal and would give a huge boost to the team’s future outlook.
Plan B: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
If the Blue Jays are searching for a pitcher that could make an impact very soon, then they could opt for the safe pick with Thompson. Thompson would actually complement Toronto’s other high-ceiling pitching prospects very well, making him a nice fit, especially if Allan is off the board at this point. If Toronto desires a position player, outfielder Hunter Bishop would be an intriguing addition to add more power to an already fearsome group of young hitters, but selecting a pitcher such as Allan or Thompson definitely is more logical.
#12 Pick: New York Mets
Plan A: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
The selection of Thompson here can be seen in two different perspectives. At this point of the draft in this scenario, he’s the best prospect left on the board, so New York can easily justify drafting him as the best player available. At the same time, he’s an ideal fit for a team trying to stay competitive with little young talent on the way to boost their major league roster. With practically zero exciting pitching prospects and little depth in the rotation behind Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, taking a polished college pitcher in Thompson is too sensible for the Mets to not do so, assuming Thompson is still on the board.
Plan B: RHP Daniel Espino, HS
The Mets should definitely be thinking college with this selection, and should definitely consider pivoting to Elon pitcher George Kirby if Thompson is taken before their selection. A more intriguing option, however, would be to add a pitcher with an incredibly high ceiling in Espino, who definitely is on track to develop into a front-line starter. Obviously, he wouldn’t bring an immediate impact, but his potential makes a terrific fallback option for New York.
Pick #13: Minnesota Twins
Plan A: RHP Daniel Espino, HS
The Twins are another team with another underrated young nucleus of pitching and position player talent that should make them a prolonged winner. Therefore, they should look to take the best prospect available with their selection, and in this case, it’s Espino. As mentioned, the hard throwing hander has front-line starting pitcher potential, and Minnesota is the perfect team to be patient with his development. A rotation in five years headlined by Jose Berrios, Espino, top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol should definitely be too exciting of a possibility for to pass up.
Plan B: 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
Alternatively, the Twins could also look at Miguel Sano’s inconsistencies and be prompted to add another young third baseman. Jung is a pure hitter with tremendous plate discipline and solid power; he should have no problem hitting at the next level. His defensive profile is limited, but his offense more than makes up for that. Even if Sano pans out, either him and Jung could split time between third base and being the designated hitter, or Sano could move to first. I wouldn’t fault Minnesota for adding such a refined offensive skillset at a potential position of need for the future.
Pick #14: Philadelphia Phillies
Plan A: LHP Hunter Barco, HS
After shipping top prospect Sixto Sanchez to the Marlins in a package for JT Realmuto, the Phillies definitely are in need of another young pitching prospect. If any of the pitchers previously mentioned are on the board, then Philadelphia should select one of them without hesitation. In this scenario, however, they are off the board; the Phillies instead would have to pivot to another exciting pitching prospect, Hunter Barco. Barco’s stock has slipped this year, but with a stellar changeup, a nice slider, and a solid fastball to go along with decent command, I’m not sure what the issue is. He certainly could emerge as a quality #2 or #3 pitcher in the future, with the chance to possibly even be more than that. That’s excellent value at this point in the draft; Philadelphia should be content with the idea of selecting Barco.
Plan B: RHP George Kirby, Elon
Since the Phillies’ window to contend in currently opening up, it also is very valid for them to desire a move polished prospect that is ready to contribute. Outside of Aaron Nola and maybe Zach Eflin, Philadelphia’s future rotation looks bleak, and with a lot of money being used on Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins’ future extension, JT Realmuto’s future extension, and another possible big position player splash (Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant), they probably don’t want to spend heavily on the rotation. Kirby may not have front-line starter potential, but he definitely has the makings of a mid 3.00 ERA type of pitcher. In other words, he’ll likely develop into a suitable #3 starter, and should be ready contribute within the next couple years. That may appeal to the Phillies, which is certainly reasonable.
#15 Pick: Los Angeles Angels
Plan A: RHP George Kirby, Elon
The Angels are in danger of wasting the prime of Mike Trout’s career. A major part of this is due to the team’s inability to field a healthy and capable pitching staff. Though Griffin Canning could emerge as a staple in the rotation, there aren’t many young pitchers to get excited about in this organization. Kirby wouldn’t solve their quest for an ace, but he’s a relatively sure thing to be a part of a big league rotation in the future, and possibly very soon. That should be valuable for a team that has dealt with so much inconsistency from their pitchers, and after gambling heavily on high ceiling athletes in recent years, balancing it out with a very safe prospect in Kirby is the way to go with this pick.
Plan B: 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
Outside of their outfield, the Angels don’t have any positions set for the future. Third baseman Zack Cozart has been a complete bust for the team, and the fact that they had to reach and give him a three-year deal in the first place illustrates the lack of in-house options at the hot corner. Jung’s complete offensive profile could allow him to emerge as one of the team’s best hitters; Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and him could emerge as an outstanding 2-3-4 punch for the future. I prefer taking the pitcher considering the Angels’ struggles to field a serviceable pitching staff, but if Kirby and all the other top pitchers are gone for whatever reason, Jung is a nice fit as a backup plan.
#16 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks
Plan A: SS CJ Abrams, HS
Obviously, a team will take Abrams in the top ten, probably the top five. However, in my opinion, this exactly the range where Abrams should be drafted at. He definitely could emerge into an everyday starter in the future, and possibly more. However, the only tool he flashes consistently is his stellar speed, and in the top half of round one, teams should be looking for more “sure things”. However, a team like the Diamondbacks, who have four picks in the top 34, can afford to take a chance on Abrams. At this point in the draft, teams can start to take projects who they hope can become everyday players eventually. Abrams follows under that category, and 16th is the earliest a team should select him to get proper value.
Plan B: RHP JJ Goss, HS
Arizona’s farm system isn’t particularly strong in one area; taking a pitcher makes as much sense as taking a position player. Goss, who is easy to project as a front-line starting pitcher, maintains his funky delivery, and possesses a mid 90s fastball with laye movement. Even better, his slider is incredibly polished for a high school pitcher, and his command is fine. For a team lacking a big-time pitching prospect, Goss would be an excellent addition for the future.
Pick #17: Washington Nationals
Plan A: 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
The Nationals face an incredibly tough position regarding the future of third baseman Anthony Rendon. As the team continues to fall out of the playoff hunt, they have to seriously consider trading the pending free agent. At the same time, Washington may see Rendon as a part of their future, and may be inclined to sign him to a long-term deal. However, the Nationals payroll is already loaded with future commitments, and given that the team is heading towards a second straight season without making the playoffs, it doesn’t make sense to make another heavy financial commitment to Rendon. Instead, the team should be looking to bring in more young talent, and save money down the line to extend players like Juan Soto and Victor Robles. Jung’s all-around offensive abilities actually give him a future profile that could be similar to Rendon. He’s close to a sure thing to hit at the next level with his advanced approach and polished mechanics, and he’s excellent value at this point in the draft.
Plan B: 1B Mike Togilia, UCLA
One of the most underrated players in this entire draft class, Togilia’s outstanding fielding and power as a switch hitter should allow him to develop into a potential All Star in the future at first base. Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams aren’t cutting it currently at first base and the team has no exciting first base prospects; Togilia’s path to the majors would be simple. He’s an excellent fit for this team and like Jung, is a safe prospect to complement some of Washington’s high-ceiling, low floor prospects.
Pick #18: Pittsburgh Pirates
Plan A: RHP JJ Goss, HS
The Pirates have one of the most stacked pitching staffs in baseball, and Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove, and Trevor Williams are all relatively young, while top prospect Mitch Keller is also waiting to contribute. At the same time, this is a team that has to constantly ship off premium talent in search of cheaper talent, due to their budget. After all, they traded Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen in the 2017 off season despite heavy fan criticism; they are always looking towards the future. At this point in the draft, Goss would be an absolute steal. He’s a perfect mixture of a polished enough high school pitcher with a high ceiling, and Pittsburgh is one of the league’s best at developing pitching. If Goss is available with this selection, the idea of having him potential step up in the future as a cheap front-line starter should be too enticing for them to pass up.
Plan B: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
The Pirates did add a college outfielder, Travis Swaggerty, in last year’s draft, and have Gregory Polanco and Bryan Reynolds as young pieces to the outfield. However, looking at the team’s current group of young talent, power is lacking after the incredible Josh Bell. Bishop has the most raw power out of anyone in this draft class, and he and Swaggerty could potentially come up together. Bishop is probably better served in a corner outfield spot anyway, where his power and speed can thrive despite his average fielding; he definitely makes sense as a nice addition to Pittsburgh’s farm system.
Pick #19: St. Louis Cardinals
Plan A: SS Matthew Lugo, HS (Puerto Rico)
With last year’s 19th overall selection, the Cardinals absolutely nailed it by drafting third baseman Nolan Gorman. With an exciting group of young pitching and outfield talent, St.Louis doesn’t need to draft for need at all. In this scenario, Puerto Rican middle infielder Matthew Lugo is the best fit for them, out of all the players still on the board. He has a knack for hitting, and his advanced approach gives him the projection to hit for a high on-base percentage in the majors. Even though he hasn’t yet hit for power, the sneaky loft in his swings suggests he should. The major knock on him is that he’ll likely have to move to second base, but since Paul DeJong is the team’s future shortstop anyway, that isn’t a problem for St.Louis. Lugo should be ready to take over by the time Kolten Wong’s tenure for the team is over; he certainly has a path to becoming the team’s second baseman for the future.
Plan B: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
With Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neil already in the fold, the Cardinals may be set in the outfield. However, O’Neil has not carved out a major league role, and could alternatively be used as trade bait to add a bullpen arm or another starting pitcher. Bishop is similar to O’Neil, but has even more power, better athleticism, and a superior approach. In other words, he’s an improved version of O’Neil, and the flexibility presented to them by drafting Bishop would definitely be a pleasant development for the front office.
Pick #20: Seattle Mariners
Plan A: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
After being in the cards for multiple previous teams, Bishop finally lands with Seattle at pick #20 in this scenario. For the most part, Seattle has acquired near MLB ready prospects in their minor rebuild, and have mostly drafted college players in recent drafts. To continue to fit the timeline of future contention, which general manager Jerry Dipoto has hinted will be 2021, taking the college player that fits them best makes sense, and that’s Bishop. Mitch Haniger is already 28-years-old, and should be used as a trade piece rather than a part of the future. The selection of Bishop would give the front office a good reason to ship out Haniger; Bishop should be ready by the time they’re ready to make a concentrated effort to contend. His lack of a polished hit tool and average fielding ability are legitimate concerns, but his raw power and speed make him nice value at pick #20.
Plan B: 1B Mike Togilia, UCLA
The Mariners have one of the better first base prospects in former first-round pick Evan White, but his overall athleticism and lack of power may make him a better in the outfield. That would open up a future role for Togilia, who simply is terrific value at this point of the draft; he definitely could emerge as a middle-of-the order bat and future All Star for the team in the future.
Pick #21: Atlanta Braves
Plan A: RHP Jack Leiter, HS
High school pitcher Jack Leiter will likely be a very tough sign for many teams; it will likely require a lot for him to forego his Vanderbilt commitment. It’ll definitely be a risk for any team to sign, but outside of the Diamondbacks, the Braves are in the best position to take that chance. They have the fifth highest bonus pool, which gives them a legitimate shot at meeting Leiter’s asking price. At the same time, they already have a selection in the top ten, so even if Leiter chooses not to sign, they’re not coming away empty handed in this draft. In fact, since there aren’t a lot of obvious fits here with this pick anyway, receiving the 22nd pick in next year’s draft for not being able to sign Leiter is actually a better reward for them than any other prospect they may consider with this pick. Leiter is still the hopeful ultimate prize for Atlanta if they make this selection, however; he’s a polished high school pitcher with an advanced feel for pitching. He possesses a sinking fastball with a power breaking ball, and he’s a very similar player to Sonny Gray, who even flashed as an ace for the A’s for multiple seasons. Leiter definitely should be in a major league rotation at some point, making him a safe prospect, and his possible ascension into a front-line starter makes him well worth this pick.
Plan B: OF Maurice Hampton, HS
Atlanta, as mentioned previously, has an absolutely stacked group of young talent; they can afford to take a shot in the dark. That’s exactly what Hampton is; a potential five-tool talent that is tremendously unpolished, yet definitely flashes with his exciting traits. His bat speed, outstanding arm, and speed gives him a very high ceiling that teams should explore as a potential luxury pick. If any team can afford to make a luxury pick, it’s Atlanta.
Pick #22: Tampa Bay Rays
Plan A: 3B Brett Baty, HS
Few teams have as strong as a young nucleus as the Rays, who practically have their future Major League roster built via their farm system. Still, they could use more corner infield help, and more offense, especially at third base. Baty projects as an outstanding, all-around hitter with tremendous raw power and a very smooth swing. Plus, with an outstanding arm, his defense should also develop to be above average. The team that drafts him will need to patient to allow him to develop properly, but few teams do a better job at player development than the Rays. If he’s available for them at #22, this is the obvious choice for them; he’d be a steal at this point in the draft.
Plan B: OF Corbin Carroll, HS
The Rays have shown in the past that they aren’t afraid to select high school players with high asking prices. Carroll’s asking price is reported to be somewhat high, which may scare some teams off. He does project as a fast centerfielder with good contact skills and defense, and could be the player the team was hoping for Kevin Kiermaier to become. If Baty isn’t available, Carroll would be a nice addition. If both are off the board, a high school prospect such as Hampton or Nasim Nunez would make sense.
#23 Pick: Colorado Rockies
Plan A: 1B Mike Togila, UCLA
The Rockies do have two first base prospects in Grant Lavigne and Tyler Nevin, but neither project to type of impact player that Togila projects to be. Unlike Lavigne and Nevin, he’s an all-around player; he combines his raw power and decent hitting ability with gold glove caliber defense. Honestly, at this point of the draft, he’s too good of value for Colorado to pass up on. Daniel Murphy is signed through the 2020 season, and by then, Togila should be the team’s starting first baseman; that’s definitely worth the 23rd selection of the draft.
Pick B: OF Corbin Carroll, HS
Looking at the Rockies’ farm system, there are practically zero outfield prospects present. Obviously, you don’t want to draft for need, but that’s still a major issue. At this point of the draft anyway, Carroll is excellent value. He’d be an excellent fit with the large dimensions at Coors Field.
Pick #24: Cleveland Indians
Pick A: SS Bryson Stott, UNLV
The Indians are in a very difficult situation. They still have a stacked rotation and a franchise superstar in Francisco Lindor, but the rest of their team is severely limited due to budgetary concerns. They’ll likely continue to keep pushing to win with Lindor, but since the 25-year-old will be a free agent after the 2021 season and will be out of their price range, finding a suitable replacement has to be a priority at some point. Bryson Stott won’t be a star at the next level, but he should at least be a solid starter with solid hitting and decent defense. He doesn’t have a clear strength, but he also doesn’t have an obvious weakness. Stott would be ready to take over for Lindor in the 2022 season, and if he’s ready sooner, he could easily fill in at second base or third base.
Pick B: OF Corbin Carroll, HS
The Indians are yet another team that should see Carroll as a nice plan B if their coveted target is not available. Their outfield is a mess right now, and with few outfield prospects in their farm system, it probably will continue to be. Like Stott, Carroll won’t be star, but he’ll an exciting piece for the team that helps them recover from losing Lindor in free agency, which is inevitable.
Pick #25: Los Angeles Dodgers
Plan A: OF Maurice Hampton, HS
The Dodgers may be in the best state out of any current MLB franchise. With an infusion of young, impact talent, their major league roster is stacked, and should continue to be stacked in the future; they have one of the best farm systems, as a result of them hitting on their draft picks. Therefore, they can afford to gamble” on a high-ceiling player, and Hampton is the perfect fit for them. As mentioned previously, the two-sport star is a potential five-tool talent if developed properly. Since Los Angeles is arguably the best team at player development, he’s the perfect project for them.
Plan B: OF Corbin Carroll, HS
It feels redundant to continue to have Carroll as a team’s “Plan B”, but he makes sense for the Dodgers as he does for other teams. Los Angeles definitely are in position to be patient and develop high school talent, and Carroll definitely could emerge as another piece that keeps them winning in the future.
Pick #26: Arizona Diamondbacks
Plan A: OF Corbin Carroll, HS
Finally, Carroll comes off the board; the most interesting team in the draft snags him with the 26th overall selection. He certainly is deserving of consideration with the 16th overall pick, but getting him with their second first-round pick is much better value for the Diamondbacks. They certainly can meet Carroll’s financial asking price, since they have the largest bonus pool, and will be getting a future everyday center fielder at the end of the end of the first round. That’s excellent value, and although Carroll is seen as a fringe top ten pick by many, this is a better area of the draft for him to be selected at.
Plan B: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
Alternatively, Arizona could go with an underslot pick here, which would save their bonus pool for their last two picks inside the top 34. If so, Hoese is the best fit for them; the Tulane product has all the makings of an all-around offensive threat with excellent plate discipline and power, and his defense is also above average. He should be a quality third baseman for years to come, and although he has already maxed out his ceiling, he’s a steal at this point of the draft.
Pick #27: Chicago Cubs
Plan A: LHP John Doxakis, Texas A&M
At the end of the first round, trying to find a star should not be the primary goal. Instead, teams should try to find players that may be key pieces of the future, though not the centerpiece. John Doxakis fits that description perfectly for the Cubs. With a barren farm system, the team may reach for a high-ceiling player. However, they cannot afford to miss with their first-round picks as a result of the poor state of their farm system; taking a safe player is the better option. Doxakis doesn’t have the elite pitching arsenal to make him a future ace, but with a solid fastball-slider pairing with passable command and decent changeup, he should definitely become a middle of the rotation starter. He certainly also has the makings of a reliever, and for a team in win-now mode without the resources to upgrade a weak bullpen, the Cubs definitely should see Doxakis as someone who could quickly contribute as a reliever and then take over in the rotation in the future. That isn’t ideal for all teams in the first round, but it certainly is for Chicago, especially since he’d likely be willing to agree to an underslot deal.
Plan B: RHP Isiah Campbell, Arkansas
Campbell is one of the most underrated players in this class with a deceptive delivery, impressive splitter, and solid fastball. He has all the makings of a middle of the rotation starter, which would complement Chicago’s high ceiling, low floor pitching prospects. Doxakis is definitely a better fit, but Campbell would also work with this pick.
#28: Milwaukee Brewers
Plan A: RHP Isiah Campbell, Arkansas
Currently, eight of the Brewers top ten prospects are hitters, including each of the top five. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta are expected to lead the rotation in the future, but only Woodruff has emerged so far. Therefore, drafting a safe player in Campbell, who can be a quick contributor in their rotation, is the most cogent choice. At this point of the draft, Campbell is a steal, and Milwaukee without a doubt should snag the Arkansas product with this pick.
Plan B: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
Though Campbell is the best player available, Hoese is the best hitter available. He profiles as a two-way third baseman with a complete offensive profile, which is usually rare to find at the end of the first round. He could be Travis Shaw’s ideal replacement in Milwaukee, though with several infield prospects in the system already, I’d heavily lean towards selecting Campbell.
Pick #29: Oakland Athletics
Plan A: 2B/SS Will Wilson
In recent years, the A’s have been targeting players with nice athletic profiles that are unrefined, to say the least. So far, it hasn’t panned out; former sixth overall pick Austin Beck has made little progress advancing through the minors, last year’s ninth overall pick Kyler Murray left the team in favor of football, and the team’s farm system has faded in recent years. Especially since their small budget requires them to constantly use young, controlled talent, Oakland needs to select a polished player capable of helping them contend while they still have team control over Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. Wilson may not an impressive athletic profile, but he’s a plus hitter with sneaky power, and could develop into at least a nice utility player and eventually an everyday second baseman. He reminds me of Nico Hoerner from last year’s draft, who has since emerged as a top 100 prospect; there’s a chance Wilson could end up being one of the steals in the draft, and if not, the A’s will still be receiving proper value from this pick.
Plan B: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
At this area of the draft, passing on Hoese should be incredibly different. If not for a deep group of college hitters, he certainly would be in contention for a top ten pick. Oakland doesn’t have a current need at the position since they have Chapman, but the value Hoese brings should warrant heavy consideration with this selection.
Pick #30: New York Yankees
Plan A: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
Looking at the Yankees’ farm system, most of their prospects are still years away from being MLB ready. That’s fine, since a lot of their top young talent is making a major impact for the major league team and they have the budget to sign practically ever. That allows them to go with the best player available, and at this point it’s certainly Hoese. New York seems content with Miguel Andujar, but given his defensive struggles and his recent shoulder surgery, he may be best suited as a designated hitter. That would open up a spot in the future for Hoese, an actual two-way third baseman whose power to all fields would definitely elevate at Yankee Stadium.
Plan B: 3B Rece Hinds HS
If the Yankees want to stick to their recent them of bringing players with high ceilings, yet are projects. With his raw power and 6’4” frame, it’s easy to see Hinds being a 40 home run hitter at the next level. However, with an inconsistent hit tool and below average fielding, he definitely has a lot of room to grow. Not many teams should gamble on Hinds in the first round, but the New York is in position to. Plus, the damage he could possibly be at Yankee Stadium would be downright scary.
Pick #31: Los Angeles Dodgers
Plan A: 3B Rece Hinds, HS
Similar to the Yankees, the Dodgers are in perfect position to take a risk with both of their first-round picks. After taking Hampton with earlier, Los Angeles should double down on this strategy by drafting Hinds. Corner infield power is something missing from the farm system, and no clear future starters at either first base and third base, Hinds could emerge for Los Angeles if developed properly, which I would certainly trust them to do given their track record of player development.
Plan B: RHP Brennan Malone, HS
If Los Angeles truly wants a significant project, then Malone would work. The high school righty possesses an upper 90s fastball with a sharp cutter/slider, but his fastball is very flat at the moment, his command is incredibly inconsistent, and he currently looks more like a thrower than an actual pitcher. That’s certainly a lot of projectability and upside for him, but a team who needs to hit on their pick badly should not have interest in Malone. Still, if he pans out for Los Angeles, he could be a front-line starter, he’s worth the gamble for them specifically in this scenario.
Pick #32: Houston Astros
Plan A: RHP Brennan Malone, HS
The Astros are another team that have almost too much young talent; taking a flyer on a high-ceiling prospect makes sense. Given their history developing pitchers, Malone certainly fits. Houston has had so much success with power pitchers in the past, and Malone definitely has the potential to become that. He won’t be a contributor anytime soon, but the team has so many other talented pitchers, that they can afford to be patient with him. This is one of my favorite player-team fits in the entire draft; this the best chance for Malone to develop into the front-line starter many are hoping he can become.
Plan B: SS Gunnar Henderson, HS
The Astros are set on taking a high school player, which they probably should, Henderson would also make sense. He has excellent bat to ball skills, and with solid athleticism and a great arm, he doesn’t have a clear weakness. A lack of an elite traits hurts him, but he should become an everyday shortstop, and that’s valuable for Houston, who may lose Carlos Correa in two and a half seasons.
Pick #33: Arizona Diamondbacks
Plan A: 1B/OF Michael Busch, North Carolina
At some point with their four first-round picks, the Diamondbacks will need to sign one of their draft picks to an underslot deal. With their third top 34 pick, Michael Busch seems to be an ideal candidate. The North Carolina product is a very polished hitter with outstanding plate discipline and a solid hit tool-power combination. He has a Joey Votto type ceiling, but should at least be an above average first baseman; he could be a quick contributor for the Diamondbacks, who seem to be trying to win in the very near future.
Pick #34: Arizona Diamondbacks
Plan A: SS Logan Davidson, Clemson
Since the Diamondbacks have back to back picks here, whoever their “fallback option” for the previous pick would be should be who they draft here. In this scenario, it’s Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson, whose power from his 6’3” frame and launch angle swing and solid defense should allow him to be a solid starter or at least a role player. If his hit tool can develop – his swing is currently way too long – he could definitely be a top ten player at the position. He’s the perfect mixture of a college player who could contribute in the next couple seasons with a high ceiling; he’s the perfect prospect for Arizona to cap off their first round with.
Plan B: SS Gunnar Henderson, HS
If Henderson wouldn’t require a heavy overslot deal, he’d also make sense with this pick. Though Arizona has a future shortstop in Jazz Chisholm, Henderson is the best high school prospect available for them in this scenario, and could certainly move to second base or third base if needed in the future. He’s a luxury pick, but with their fourth first-round pick, the Diamondbacks will be in a position to make that type of pick.