With there being just a few days before the draft, it’s time to present my official mock draft. We’ve already ranked these prospects, and have examined what each team should do. Now, let’s look at who each team will likely select on draft day. After looking at the draft rumors regarding each team, as well as looking at recent draft history, I’m confident I’ve put together an accurate mock draft. Only time will tell if that winds up being true, but for now, let’s speculate on who each team will take!
#1 Pick: Baltimore Orioles Select C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
There has been some speculation that a combination of medical history and his asking price may cause Adley Rutschman to not be made the #1 overall pick by the Orioles. However, the chances of Baltimore passing on the Oregon State product are still incredibly unlikely. Rutschman is the best two-way catching prospect available in the draft since Buster Posey, and a legitimate argument can be made that he’s an even better prospect than Posey was. With an extremely advanced approach, pure hitting ability, solid power, outstanding fielding, and tremendous leadership, Rutschman has all the traits of an elite, superstar catcher. It’s simply too difficult to imagine that the Orioles would pass on Rutschman just to save some bonus money.
#2 Pick: Kansas City Royals Select SS Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
The Royals are in an interesting spot heading into the draft. With the selection of multiple college pitchers in last year’s draft, selecting a premier college bat to help speed up their rebuild makes a lot of sense. At the same time, their farm system is in need of a high-ceiling talent; they need to identify the face of their rebuild. That will likely lead them to high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who excites scouts with his raw power, bat speed, stellar defense, and excellent athleticism. They’ve been linked to Witt Jr. throughout the spring; there is probably a 99% chance he is selected here. Obviously, Baltimore passing on Rutschman would change Kansas City’s approach, but assuming the Orioles do what they’re expected to do, Witt Jr. will almost certainly end up with Kansas City.
#3 Pick: Chicago White Sox Select SS CJ Abrams, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Georgia)
This is where the draft gets really interesting. Based on multiple sources, the White Sox are deciding between high school shortstop CJ Abrams and California first baseman Andrew Vaughn with this pick. However, with rumors that Vaughn is slipping combined with Fangraphs stating in its recent mock draft that Abrams is “the favorite”, and it that definitely looks like the 18-year-old will be drafted with this selection. This would be a drastic mistake in my opinion, but Chicago hasn’t drafted a high school prospect since 2012, but after years of bringing in safe college talent, it definitely looks like they shifting towards a strategy centered around high-ceiling talents. There’s definitely a chance the White Sox will end up taking Vaughn to continue with their recent trend, but for now, Abrams looks to be the player they covet with this pick, assuming the first two picks go as expected.
#4 Pick: Miami Marlins Select OF JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
If Abrams makes it to this selection, there is a great chance that the Marlins will select him; Derek Jeter is apparently very interested in the high school shortstop. They’d also likely be tempted by Vaughn, who’ve they’ve scouted heavily recently. Still, with new scouting director’s DJ Svihlik’s Vanderbilt connections, it should come as no surprise if Miami opts for a player Svihilik knows well in outfielder JJ Bleday. Bleday’s an intriguing outfield prospect with an advanced approach and raw power, and has long been the consensus pick for the Marlins if Abrams isn’t available. Vaughn is probably the smarter pick, but I definitely expect Svihlik to argue tremendously for Bleday, which would almost certainly push the tide in his favor.
#5 Pick: Detroit Tigers Select 1B Andrew Vaughn, California
Since practically the beginning of spring, the Tigers have been linked steadily to high school outfielder Riley Greene. However, recent reports suggest Detroit may be selected to draft a fast-moving college player, which makes sense considering their pitching prospects are almost ready to make an impact in the majors. In recent years, the Tigers have adjusted their draft plans if a blue-chip prospect falls to them, and with Vaughn available here, I expect them to do the same with him. The California product is practically a flawless hitter with tremendous power, and ironically I see him having a similar career trajectory to Miguel Cabrera, a Tigers legend. By selecting Vaughn, Detroit kills two birds with one stone by adding a young offensive threat to a farm system that lacks position players, while also finding a replacement for Cabrera as the face of the franchise. This would be an excellent boost to their rebuild, and I believe the idea of that will be too difficult to pass up, even with Greene still available.
#6 Pick: San Diego Padres Select OF Riley Greene, Hagerty HS (Florida)
The Padres are extremely likely to take the remaining offensive player available out of the top six players in this mock draft. In this case, that player is Greene, who is a nice fit for this team. Greene’s lack of fielding or athleticism makes it very unlikely he’ll develop into a franchise-changing superstar. However, San Diego already has plenty of high-ceiling talents in their organization; Greene would be a nice complementary piece to this team’s future. There’s a chance the Padres could reach for a player on an underslot deal, but there are no reports to back up that claim, and especially if Greene or Abrams are available, expect the team to snatch up who they believe is the best player available.
#7 Pick: Cincinnati Reds Select LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU
Since the first six selections will almost certainly be position players, the Reds are in a position to grab the best pitcher available. Nick Lodolo is the consensus top pitcher in this draft class; he flashes three plus pitches with above-average command. Cincinnati doesn’t have many pitching prospects that will be ready to help them soon, which makes Lodolo the perfect fit for them. There is a chance that the Reds could look at a position player such as Hunter Bishop, or a different pitcher (Quinn Priester has been mentioned), but Lodolo has been linked to them from the start, and there’s no reason to think they’ll go in a different direction than expected.
#8 Pick: Texas Rangers Select RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
This is where money starts to become a factor. The Rangers have long been rumored to be looking to select a prospect with the 8th overall pick that would be willing to sign an underslot deal. The names mentioned? High school third baseman Brett Baty, Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese, Bishop, and junior college flamethrower Jackson Rutledge. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the other prospects, especially Baty, is selected, but Rutledge fits their recent draft strategy. Texas often looks for high-ceiling talents, and few fit that description better than Rutledge. The 6’8” right-hander reaches 100 MPH easily with his fastball and complements it with a filthy slider. He could be a fantastic addition to Texas’ farm system, and his upside will likely be too onerous for President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels to pass up on.
#9 Pick: Atlanta Braves Select OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
With two first-round picks, the Braves could go in a variety of directions, especially with the 9th overall selection. They’ve “scouted Bishop very heavily”, according to Fangraphs; the Arizona State outfielder looks to definitely be the favorite to be selected with this pick. Bishop’s raw power and athleticism excites teams, making it almost a certainty he’ll be drafted within the top ten. Rutledge could be the pick here if still available, but if the draft plays out like this, there’s little doubt that Bishop will be an Atlanta Brave.
#10 Pick: San Francisco Giants Select RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi has a difficult task at hand, as he’ll have to lead the Giants down a very tough rebuild. In his first draft, it’s hard to peg what he’ll do with the 10th overall selection. They’ve mostly looked at college players, and would likely select Bishop if available, but assuming he’s off the board, this pick will likely come down to West Virginia pitcher Alek Manoah, UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott, and Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner. Stott looked to be the target for a while, but that link has seemed to cool off recently, and with Misner falling down draft boards, Manoah is the pick by default. With front-line starter pitcher potential and a tremendous pitching arsenal, he’d be a perfect fit for a farm system with little impact pitching prospects; he makes the most sense to be Zaidi’s first selection since being hired by San Francisco.
#11 Pick: Toronto Blue Jays Select SS Bryson Stott, UNLV
Like the Giants, the Blue Jays likely will select who they believe is the top player available, rather than signing a prospect to an underslot deal. They would like to select one of the remaining lefty college bats, according to Fangraphs, which in this case would be Stott. Stott is definitely in play for the Giants at #10, and should develop into an everyday player at the position. Toronto has favored infielders in recent drafts, and drafting Stott fits that trend. All signs point to the UNLV shortstop being selected with this pick.
#12 Pick: New York Mets Select LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
One of the most obvious player-team matches from the beginning, the Mets seem destined to select Kentucky lefty Zack Thompson. They are looking for a college arm, per MLB.Com, and with Lodolo, Manoah, and Rutledge off the board, Thompson is the next best college pitcher. He has Patrick Corbin-type upside, and definitely could be ready to make an impact at the major league level very soon. The only factors that could prevent this match is a top player falling, or Thompson’s past injury history, but even with those in play, Thompson is the safe bet to be the selection here.
#13: Minnesota Twins Select 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
With recent rumors from MLB.Com that high school third baseman Keoni Cavaco is receiving serious consideration with the Twins’ first-round pick, it’s tempting to change this pick. However, Minnesota is known for cutting underslot deals with college players in the first round, and since they are looking heavily at Alabama high school catcher Ethan Hearn in the second round, according to Fangraphs, they likely will do the same here. They’ve been linked to third baseman Josh Jong for some time; assuming they stick to their recent draft strategy, he’s the overwhelming favorite here. Even if it’s not the Twins, expect Jung to land around this selection; polished college hitters usually don’t last long.
#14 Pick: Philadelphia Phillies Select RHP George Kirby, Elon
The Phillies’ analytics-driven staff has favored production in recent drafts, and with an incredible 107-6 K-BB ratio, Elon pitcher George Kirby fits that mold. The right-hander may not have the highest ceiling, but he’s rather polished with a terrific feel for pitching and solid command, evidenced by his K-BB ratio. High school shortstop Gunnar Henderson is rumored to be a target with this pick, but Philadelphia is in need for pitching prospects ready to contribute soon, and Kirby would be an excellent fit from that perspective.
#15 Pick: Los Angeles Angels Select 3B Keoni Cavaco, East Lake HS (California)
As mentioned previously, Cavaco’s draft stock has been rising rapidly. He is in play for Minnesota at pick #13, but with Kirby off the board, the Angels seem like the best bet to draft the high school infielder. Los Angeles has favored taking high-ceiling, athletic high school players in recent drafts; Cavaco would certainly fit that trend. He has the chance to be a tremendous defender at third base with 25-30 home run power, but a team needs to be convinced that his hit tool will develop to sacrifice an early selection on him. My guess is that Los Angeles will be, since they’ve been connected to him, and he seems to be the prospect they covet with this selection.
#16 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select OF Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS (Washington)
With four picks inside the top 34, the Diamondbacks are in the perfect situation to draft the top player that falls to them, and also take chances on high school talents with major monetary demands. Corbin Carroll fits both of those descriptions; he projects to be an everyday centerfielder with a refined hitting ability and tremendous fielding and speed but could fall in the draft if his financial demands are high. Arizona would seem to be ready to pounce on Carroll if available, and if not he’s not available, then another high impact high school prospect.
#17 Pick: Washington Nationals Select C Shea Langeliers, Baylor
Jung, high school pitcher Matthew Allan, and Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers look to be the targets for the Nationals with their first-round pick. However, with Jung off the board and Allan expected to fall due to a high asking price, Langeliers makes a lot of sense as the team’s pick. Good catchers are hard to come by, and with Washington not having a future catcher, Langeliers would have a clear path to being a key part of the team’s future. This is another rather obvious player-team fits present in this draft.
#18 Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates Select RHP Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove HS (Illinois)
The Pirates love taking athletic, projectable high-school pitchers, so much so that it’s almost too easy to have them select one. Quinn Priester would fit that mold, and Fangraphs suggests that the 18th overall pick would be his floor. He’s somewhat of a polarizing pitcher; he is intriguing with a sinking fastball and a nasty slider, but he’s more projection than actual polish. Still, Pittsburgh loves to take on projects and develop them, and I expect them to do the same with Priester.
#19 Pick: St.Louis Cardinals Select 2B/SS Will Wilson, NC State
The Cardinals have been connected to NC State middle infielder Will Wilson for some time now, and with a lack of middle infield talent in the farm system, it makes some sense. Wilson isn’t a flashy prospect, but he’s a fundamentally sound player, and certainly fits the “Cardinal way” of playing baseball. It’s almost a certainty that he’ll be available, but no matter who they take, St.Louis will be looking for college talent, given who they’ve been linked to.
#20 Pick: Seattle Mariners Select SS Anthony Volpe, Delbarton HS (New Jersey)
Oftentimes, if a player has signability concerns, teams have to reach to sign him away from college. That applies to high school shortstop Anthony Volpe, who has been linked to Mariners with their first-round pick for a long time. They seem to love his profile, and also seem to be looking for high-school players. This definitely would be a reach, but it also shouldn’t come as a surprise if Seattle snatches Volpe away from his commitment to Vanderbilt.
#21 Pick: Atlanta Braves Select 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
Third baseman Kody Hoese is a difficult player to peg in this draft. He could go as high as #8 to the Rangers, #9 to the Braves, and #14 to the Phillies. However, it’s Atlanta’s second first-round pick that is the most likely spot for the Tulane product. If they are seriously considering selecting him with the 9th overall pick, there’s no reason to believe they won’t jump at the opportunity to select him with the 21st overall pick. I’m not sure Hoese would fit in their future plans, but they seem to be very interested in him, and there’s no doubting his abilities; he should be a fabulous all-around hitter.
#22 Pick: Tampa Bay Rays Select 3B Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
To be honest, there have been no connections between the Tampa Bay Rays and third baseman Brett Baty. However, Tampa Bay has a reputation for taking high school players early in the draft, and Baty may simply be too good of value to pass up on; he’s a tremendous hitter who also certainly could develop into a solid defender. He’s old for a high school prospect, but that shouldn’t be a major factor for teams; he’s an outstanding talent and would be a steal at this point of the draft.
#23 Pick: Colorado Rockies Select 1B Michael Busch, North Carolina
The Rockies are a team with an open window to contention but are flawed with a rather tight budget. Therefore, it’s to no one’s surprise that they are looking at college players in this draft. The player they’ve been connected to the most in North Carolina’s Michael Busch, who has tremendous plate discipline and a natural feel for hitting. He’s not a great fielder at first base and is limited to the position, but it’s clear that teams view his offensive profile as first-round caliber. He’s a great fit for Colorado and definitely seems like their coveted target.
#24 Pick: Cleveland Indians Select RHP Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy
With a fastball that reaches triple digits and a nasty wipeout slider, prep pitching prospect Daniel Espino has all the makings of a top ten selection. However, with a frame that isn’t very projectable and a long arm action, it seems that he’ll likely go towards the back-end of round one. The Indians took two flamethrowers with major red flags in Ethan Hankins and Lenny Torres Jr. in last year’s draft; they certainly fit as a team that could take a gamble on Espino. Wilson would be a target if available, but with the major college bats off the board, a high-ceiling prep pitcher like Espino makes the most sense for them.
#25 Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers Select RHP Brennan Malone, IMG Academy (Florida)
The Dodgers seem to be all over Espino, who threw a private bullpen session for them, per Fangraphs. However, with the Indians drafting Espino one spot ahead, expect Los Angeles to turn to another high-ceiling high school pitching prospect: Brennan Malone. Malone’s high 90s fastball and sharp slider are intriguing, but a lack of command and feel for pitching could and should drop him to the back-end of the first round. However, the Dodgers have an outstanding track record at player development and will be looking at taking a project with one of their two first-round picks. Espino is the clear target, but Malone definitely could be a fallback plan.
#26 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select RHP Matthew Allan, Seminole HS (Florida)
As mentioned, the Diamondbacks, with the largest bonus pool, are in position to draft falling high-impact talents, primarily high school prospects with major financial demands. High school pitcher Matthew Allan has a $4 million asking price, according to multiple reports, that many teams may not want to offer. Arizona, however, is well equipped to meet that asking price, which is why they’ve been an obvious fit for Allan throughout this process. Landing a high school pitcher with the potential to be an excellent power pitcher and a refined feel for pitching with the 26th overall selection would be an absolute steal for the Diamondbacks, and would be a terrific piece of what should be an exciting haul for the team.
#27 Pick: Chicago Cubs Select SS Logan Davidson, Clemson
The Cubs have favored college hitters in recent years, and have been rumored to be looking to do the same in this draft. It’s also been rumored that they would love for Hoese to fall here, but with him off the board, Chicago likely will pivot to another college player: Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson. Davidson intrigues teams based on his power and athleticism but has a rather long swing. Therefore, a team needs to be convinced they can develop him. Based off several sources linking Davidson to the Cubs, it seems like they believe in him, and he fits their trend in drafting accomplished and productive college players from well-known schools.
#28 Pick: Milwaukee Brewers Select RHP JJ Goss, Cypress Ranch HS (Texas)
According to Fangraphs, the Brewers are looking heavily at high school pitching in this draft. In this scenario, JJ Goss is by far the best prep pitching prospect available. He has a deceptive delivery, a terrific slider, and a fastball that reaches upper 90s MPH. He would be terrific value at this point of the draft, and would and should be impossible for Milwaukee to pass up on.
#29 Pick: Oakland A’s Select SS Greg Jones, UNC Wilmington
One of the worst kept secrets in this draft process is the Oakland A’s love for UNC Wilmington shortstop Greg Jones.; according to multiple sources, they’ve been all over Jones throughout the draft process. Oakland has taken shots at high-ceiling, but high-risk talents in recent drafts and Jones certainly fits that model. He has blazing speed and is a switch hitter, but will almost certainly not stick at shortstop and isn’t much of a hitter at all. To me, that does not warrant first-round consideration at all, but the A’s certainly seem to think otherwise.
#30 Pick: New York Yankees Select OF Kameron Misner, Missouri
The Yankees have targeted “toolsy” prospects in recent years, and have taken pride in developing them into impact players. Kameron Misner has five-tool potential, including tremendous raw power and terrific athleticism. However, a lack of success against SEC play has dropped him down draft boards, which New York is certainty ecstatic about. This wouldn’t too different than what the Yankees took a chance at the back-end of the first round on an unpolished outfielder named Aaron Judge, and we know how that worked out for them. If Misner falls to this pick, this is definitely his floor; New York won’t pass on him.
#31 Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers Select SS Brooks Lee, San Luis Obispo HS (California)
High school shortstop Brooks Lee recently committed to Cal Poly, where his dad is a coach. Therefore, if a team wants to select him, they’ll likely need to do so with the Dodgers. Los Angeles has been linked to Lee for a while, as they likely see him as a switch-hitting shortstop with a pure hitting ability and a plus arm. It may be difficult for the Dodgers to manage their bonus pool by taking two high school players in Malone and Lee, but my guess is that they’ll sacrifice some later picks to make that happen, assuming their affection for Lee’s talent is true.
#32 Pick: Houston Astros Select 1B Mike Togila, UCLA
In recent years, the Astros have targeted pitchers with high spin rates on their breaking ball and powerful college bats. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the four prospects they are connected to are Espino, Goss, Davidson, and UCLA first baseman Mike Toglia. Toglia has excellent raw power, is a switch hitter, and has a chance to be a gold glove defender at first base. There are a lot of similarities to Brandon Belt, a player that Houston has ironically been linked to on occasion. The Astros can sit back and pick the best player available thanks to their strong farm system. By my accounts and likely theirs, that player will be Toglia.
#33 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select SS Matthew Lugo, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico)
Obviously, as a result of their massive bonus pool, the Diamondbacks have been linked to a variety of high-school players. One of those prospects is shortstop Matthew Lugo, who is actually the nephew of Carlos Beltran. Lugo has an advanced approach at the plate, a smooth swing, and should develop into a solid everyday middle infielder. He would be excellent value at this point in the draft and based on the linkage between Arizona and Lugo, it seems as though the team feels the same.
#34 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select LHP Blake Walston, New Hanover HS (North Carolina)
The Diamondbacks are also connected to North Carolina high school lefty Blake Walston, who possesses a terrific curveball that will intrigue many teams. The former high school quarterback has a lot of projection left in his 6’4” frame, and could definitely emerge as a top player in the 2022 draft class if he goes to college, according to MLB.Com. There doesn’t appear to be a major signability issue, though, so even though this would be their fourth high school pick, Arizona wouldn’t have to exhaust a significant amount of their budget to sign him.
Some Late Notes:
Abrams to White Sox no longer a sure thing, Vaughn may end up being picked there, which means Greene to Tigers, and Abrams to Padres
Rangers seem very interested in Jung; he may be the pick, meaning Braves could pick Rutledge, Giants could pick Bishop, and Manoah goes #11 or #12