It’s finally here! Through the early rounds of the MLB Draft, follow live to get my instant analysis and reaction to every pick made. Will Adley Rutschman go #1? What will the Diamondbacks do with four picks in the top 34? Who will come out on top? Who will make the most questionable pick? We’ll have answers to all these questions, and more, in what should be a very enjoyable draft.
#1 Pick: Baltimore Orioles Select C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
Sticking with what seemed to be a slam-dunk selection for so long, the Orioles have selected Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick. Rutschman is one of the best catching prospects of all time; he’s a switch-hitting catcher who should have an on-base percentage around .400 with a pure hitting ability and advanced approach, while he has 30 home run power, and incredible defense. Baltimore needed a face of their franchise, and Rutschman is the perfect fit for them. This is an outstanding selection that should pay dividends for them in the future.
#2 Pick: Kansas City Royals Select SS Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
To no one’s surprise, the Royals have drafted high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. with the second overall selection. Witt Jr. flashes five-tool potential, including tremendous raw power, gold-glove caliber defense, and above-average athleticism. I would have liked to see Kansas City complement last year’s college pitching heavy draft by taking a polished college hitter in Andrew Vaughn, but Witt Jr. gives them something they were lacking: a high-ceiling talent to build around; it’s understandable that they opted for Witt Jr. with this pick.
#3 Pick: Chicago White Sox Select 1B Andrew Vaughn, California
The White Sox have drafted first baseman Andrew Vaughn with the third overall pick. This is a pleasant surprise; Chicago had been rumored to favor high school shortstop CJ Abrams with this pick, which would have been a major mistake. Vaughn is a flawless hitter who has the potential to have an on-base percentage over .400 and a slugging percentage over .600. Yes, he may be limited to first base, but his offensive profile is very similar to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the undisputed best prospect in baseball. Chicago has selected many college players in recent years, including last year’s 4th overall pick Nick Madrigal, so adding Vaughn to complement that group is super logical. He could even be ready to replace Jose Abreu at first base as soon as next year.
#4 Pick: Miami Marlins Select OF JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
The Miami Marlins have selected Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday with the 4th overall selection. Bleday is seen as a pure hitter with excellent raw power, and with the arm strength to stick in right field. His athletic profile and defensive profile are limited, which means he’s more of a complementary piece than a superstar. He also doesn’t quite fit Miami’s timeline; they are still 3-5 years away from competing and won’t be able to take advantage of Bleday’s polished hitting ability. Still, they needed to get this selection right, so it’s it definitely is justifiable that they went with the safe option.
#5 Pick: Detroit Tigers Select OF Riley Greene, Hagerty HS (Florida)
The Tigers have drafted high school outfielder Riley Greene with the fifth overall pick. Greene is a pure hitter with sneaky raw power and should thrive offensively at the next level. However, his athleticism is limited, and his arm strength is poor; he’s limited to left field as a hitter-only type. Still, Detroit needed to find an impact position player in this draft class, and Greene certainly fit. He won’t be a star for them, but he should be a nice piece to their rebuild.
#6 Pick: San Diego Padres Select SS CJ Abrams, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Georgia)
The sixth straight position player selected, CJ Abrams has been selected by the Padres with the 6th overall selection. Abrams’ speed can’t be questioned; he’s a terrific athlete. However, he’s an unpolished hitter that will have to move off of shortstop, making him a massive project. Abrams’ main asset is speed, but with baseball not valuing speed like they used to, it’s hard to see Abrams as a top ten pick. However, San Diego’s farm system is so rich in talent, that they can afford to take a risk on Abrams’ upside, which is similar to Ketel Marte. They don’t get a complete pass for what is a reach in my opinion, but if any team was going to select him early, it was them.
#7 Pick: Cincinnati Reds Select LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU
Taking the first pitcher in this draft, the Reds have drafted TCU left-hander Nick Lodolo. Lodolo may not have the highest ceiling, but few prospects can match his overall polish. He has an impressive three-pitch mix, including a plus slider and changeup. He complements that with above-average command, and could have a very similar career to Cole Hamels; a solid number two starter who should make a quick major league impact. The Reds’ window of contending is starting to open, but they still could use more pitchers in their farm system. Lodolo should be ready to help them soon; there is no question that this was a terrific pick for the team.
#8 Pick: Texas Rangers Select 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
Though he was rumored to be a target late, it’s still somewhat of a surprise that the Rangers have selected Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung with the 8th overall pick. Jung has a terrific offensive profile with 25 home run power, pure hitting ability, and excellent plate discipline. In addition, his defense is fine at third base; he should be a very solid, possibly even all-star caliber third baseman for years to come. He’s also a rather polished product and should move up quickly through the Rangers system. For a farm system with several high ceiling, yet incredibly unrefined talents, he complements them very well. It isn’t a flashy pick, but it is certainly a solid pick.
#9 Pick: Atlanta Braves Select C Shea Langeliers, Baylor
To my delight, the Braves have drafted Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers with the 9th overall pick. Langeliers shouldn’t be more than an average hitter, but his defense is simply off the charts. His receiving skills are tremendous, and his arm strength is already one of the best amongst major league catchers. Finding a quality catcher is difficult to find, so for Atlanta to acknowledge that, especially since they don’t have any blue-chip catchers, is very smart. Like Jung, it’s not a pick that will excite fans, but it’s a very logical decision.
#10 Pick: San Francisco Giants Select OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
Keeping him in the Bay Area (he grew up there), the Giants have drafted outfielder Hunter Bishop with the 10th overall selection. Bishop adds an exciting dimension to San Francisco’s farm system: power. He has the chance to be a 40 home run hitter at the next level and has the athleticism to thrive in a corner outfield role. There are some serious swing-and-miss concerns with him, but if he further develops his hit tool, he could be a superstar at the next level. This isn’t an incredible pick by any means, but San Francisco needed to select a high-ceiling player with this pick, and if they believe they can develop Bishop into an all-around star, I don’t fault them from making him a top-ten pick.
#11 Pick: Toronto Blue Jays Select RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
One of the best picks so far in this draft is definitely this one; the Blue Jays have drafted West Virginia pitcher Alek Manoah with the 11th overall pick. Manoah already flashes two elite pitches (fastball and slider) and has the upside similar to Gerrit Cole. There are some concerns with his size and lack of a changeup, but he’s both polished and is projectable, which is a rare combination. The Blue Jays have plenty of position player talent headlined by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and a year after passing on Matthew Liberator and Brady Singer, they are able to make up for it by adding another piece to what should be an exciting young core for years to come.
#12 Pick: New York Mets Select 3B Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
In what is somewhat a surprise pick, the Mets have selected high school third baseman Brett Baty. Baty’s old for his class, which drew some teams away, but it’s hard to doubt his complete offensive profile, including his raw power. He could have a Nolan Gorman-type ascension to being a premier prospect and eventually an above average everyday starting third baseman, and although I would have preferred a college player, this definitely is a fine decision.
#13 Pick: Minnesota Twins Select 3B/SS Keoni Cavaco, Eastlake HS (California)
The Twins have drafted infielder Keoni Cavaco with the 13th overall pick. Cavaco is a surprising entrant into the top half of the draft, especially since his stock didn’t start to rise until relatively soon. He’s intriguing with raw power and an excellent defensive profile and has some similarities to Matt Chapman. However, his hit tool and overall approach are so unrefined, that I see him more as a Brandon Drury type of utility player. There’s a high variance from his ceiling and floor, so this is a risky pick, especially given the fact that there were better, safer prospects still on the board.
#14 Pick: Philadelphia Phillies Select SS Bryson Stott, UNLV
Stopping his fall, the Phillies have drafted UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott. Stott was seen as a top ten pick at the beginning of the draft process and seemed like a lock to go in between picks #10 and #12. However, he lasted until pick #14, and although the Phillies got him later than expected, it doesn’t mean they got an absolute steal. Stott’s a solid hitter with okay athleticism and fine defense, but he’s more of a decent starter (2-3 WAR) than an all-star, and may have to move to second base. His polish is a good fit for a team that needs prospects that are ready to contribute, but I would have preferred for them to take one of the available college pitchers.
#15 Pick: Los Angeles Angels Select SS/2B Will Wilson, NC State
In what is a surprise decision, the Angels have drafted NC State middle infielder Will Wilson. Wilson was deemed by scouts to be one of the safest players in this class; there isn’t much projection to his game, and you know what you’re going to get from him. He has a chance to be a plus hitter at the next level, but his defensive profile and upside are limited; he looks more like a utility player than a key piece of a franchise. The Angels had the chance to take a college pitcher in Jackson Rutledge, Zack Thompson, and George Kirby, yet they reached for Wilson, who seemed more like good value at the back-end of the first-round. This would be a fine pick for some teams, and at least Los Angeles didn’t take a project, but they definitely passed on better players.
#16 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select OF Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS (Washington)
To no one’s shock, the busy Arizona Diamondbacks have drafted high school center fielder Corbin Carroll with their first of four top 34 picks. Carroll likely fell slightly due to monetary concerns, but his a rather polished high school player who projects to be an everyday center fielder as a pure hitter and gold glove defender. He won’t be a star, but he doesn’t have a major weakness, which makes him a safe, yet exciting addition for Arizona, who are just starting what is going to be an exciting day for the franchise.
#17 Pick: Washington Nationals Select RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
The Nationals have selected junior college right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge with the 17th overall selection in the draft. Rutledge is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft class; he reaches triple digits with his fastball and complements it with a filthy slider. There are command and consistency issues, and Washington doesn’t have the greatest track record developing pitchers like this, but Rutledge was excellent value at this point of the draft, and with Jung and Langeliers off the board, he makes sense at this point in the draft.
#18 Pick: Pirates Select RHP Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove HS (Illinois)
As expected, the Pirates have selected high school pitcher Quinn Priester with the 18th overall selection. Priester is a polarizing prospect, since he’s more projection than polish, and although I was down on him at the beginning, news that he’s reaching 97 MPH with his fastball and hasn’t lost the movement on his pitches is encouraging. Still, I don’t see anything more than a possible middle of the rotation starting pitcher, and that isn’t worth taking at this point of the draft. Pittsburgh loves to develop pitchers, but I saw Priester as more of a target in the Competitive Balance Round A rather than in the middle of the first-round.
#19 Pick: St.Louis Cardinals Select LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
The Cardinals have drafted Kentucky lefty Zack Thompson with the 19th overall selection. Thompson may have dropped in this draft, likely due to his injury history, but there’s no doubting that this is a steal for St.Louis. Thompson has a polished feel for pitching with an excellent slider and could be in the majors very soon. He has front-line starting pitcher potential as well and reminds me a lot of Patrick Corbin. I viewed him as worth a pick around #10 overall; getting him at #19 is incredible value for the Cardinals, and they definitely should reap the rewards soon.
#20 Pick: Seattle Mariners Select RHP George Kirby, Elon
A year after taking a college pitcher in the first round, the Mariners have done the same this year; they selected Elon pitcher George Kirby with the 20th overall pick. Kirby was an enticing pitching prospect in this year’s draft, as he had a 107-6 K-BB ratio, and has a terrific overall feel for pitching. He looks to be a middle of the rotation starter, but he should be ready to contribute soon and has the chance to possibly be more than that if he can find a way to add some velocity. This is a safe pick for Seattle, but it’s nice to see them continue to bring in pitching talent and adopt a draft strategy.
#21 Pick: Atlanta Braves Select 2B/SS Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M
With their second first-round pick, the Braves have drafted Texas A&M middle infielder Braden Shewmake. Shewmake is seen as a plus hitter with defensive versatility, but I’m not sure about either. He’s more of a slap hitter, yet has a very funky swing and little power despite his 6’4” frame. Additionally, he’ll likely have to move off of shortstop, making him a second baseman only. For a team that seemed to be saving money after selecting Langeliers, taking a college player, especially Shewmake is strange, and definitely the worst pick so far in round one.
#22 Pick: SS Greg Jones, UNC Wilmington
The Rays have selected shortstop Greg Jones with the 22nd overall selection. Jones is known for his blazing speed and is also a switch hitter. However, he’s not much of a hitter, and he’ll likely have to move off of shortstop. His only asset, in reality, is speed, and as mentioned with Abrams, that’s not warranted a first-round pick in a game that isn’t valuing speed like it used to be. It’s always risky to criticize the Rays, who have arguably the smartest front office in baseball, but I’m going to do so here.
#23 Pick: Colorado Rockies Select 1B Michael Toglia, UCLA
Actually picking the player I had recommend for them (link), the Rockies have selected UCLA first baseman Michael Toglia with the 23rd overall selection. Toglia was one of the most underrated prospects by draft experts. He has tremendous raw power and a compact swing that gives him a tremendous offensive profile as a switch hitter and is also a gold glove defender at first base. His profile should be very similar to Brandon Belt, which would be great value at this point in the draft. No complaints here, and neither should there be from Toglia, whose power could breakout tremendously at Coors Field.
#24 Pick: Cleveland Indians Select RHP Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy
Finally, a team has picked a player I had them taking on my mock draft! The Indians have selected high school flamethrower Daniel Espino with the 24th overall selection. Espino has some of the best pure stuff in this draft; he has a triple digits fastball with a wipeout slider. His command and feel for pitching are also impressive for someone of his age, and although there are some concerns with his frame and long arm action, I don’t see those two factors as concerns at all. He definitely has the potential to be an ace, and should at least settle as a #2 or 3 starter. Great value at this point of the draft.
#25 Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers Select 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
The Dodgers continue to add to their rich farm system, selecting Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese with the 25th overall pick. Hoese has one of the most impressive offensive profiles in this draft class; he has tremendous power, walked more than he struck out last year, and also has a natural, quick swing. He also has a chance to be a solid defender at third base and should develop into an above-average everyday third baseman. He also has a clear path to the majors; he’ll take over once Justin Turner’s contract expires. Plus, this gives Los Angeles a lot of options with their next first-round pick, since Hoese should sign for under slot or slot value. This is just an outstanding pick for a team that has a super bright outlook.
#26 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select LHP Blake Walston, New Hanover HS (North Carolina)
To the surprise of some, the Diamondbacks have selected North Carolina lefty Blake Walston with the 26th overall selection. Walston is super projectable with his 6’4”, 172-pound frame, and possesses a solid fastball and a nice curveball. This is a little higher than he was projected to go, but Walston may have a high monetary asking price, and there’s a chance he may have been gone by their next selection. I’m disappointed that they didn’t pick Matthew Allan, as it’s unclear if he’ll actually sign with a team now, which is a shame since he’s a far superior pitching prospect to Walston. Still, this isn’t a horrible pick for Arizona, since they obviously love Walston’s upside
#27 Pick: Chicago Cubs Select RHP Ryan Jensen, Fresno State
Speaking of surprises, the Cubs have drafted Fresno State pitcher Ryan Jensen with the 27th overall selection. Jensen was ranked as the 99th best prospect from MLB.Com and 109th by Baseball America; this is a definite reach. He does possess a 98 MPH fastball, but he doesn’t bring much to the table beside that. In fact, especially with his smaller frame, it’s likely he’ll end up as a reliever, which could allow him to have a quick impact. However, this certainly too early for that; there are other pitchers who have elite reliever upside that also could be starting pitchers, unlike Jensen, such as Texas A&M’s John Doxakis. Additionally, there were still better college hitters and high school prospects still on the board; this is a very questionable pick, and the Cubs are gambling that Jensen can flourish as a reliever.
#28 Pick: Milwaukee Brewers Select LHP Ethan Small, Mississippi State
Another surprise; the Brewers have drafted Mississippi State lefty Ethan Small with the 28th overall selection. He is very deceptive, has a plus changeup and fastball, but doesn’t have a feel for his breaking ball and does have injury concerns. He would have been a solid investment in round two, but taking him in round one, especially with multiple college bats available and high school pitcher JJ Goss, is a little too soon. This is a better pick than the Cubs, but that doesn’t mean its a good one by any means; he doesn’t have much of a ceiling.
#29 Pick: Oakland A’s Select SS Logan Davidson, Clemson
After missing out on Greg Jones, which actually may be a blessing in disguise, the A’s have drafted Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson with the 29th overall selection. Davidson excites scouts with his raw power and 6’3” frame, to go along with his above- average athleticism and defense. The only concern is his pure hitting ability, as his long swing compromises it. I see him likely being a solid everyday shortstop, though there’s no doubt he has a high ceiling, which is encouraging since he currently isn’t as refined as most college products.
#30 Pick: New York Yankees Select SS Anthony Volpe, Delbarton HS (New Jersey)
Though he didn’t go to the Mariners as expected, Anthony Volpe has still been selected in the first round; he was drafted by the Yankees with the 30th overall pick. Volpe is praised for his makeup, fielding, instincts, and bat control. His offensive profile is limited due to his little raw power, but his overall tools point to him being a fine second baseman in the future. I’m not sure if he’s worth a first-round investment though, as I’m not sure what the ceiling is with him, and passing on Kameron Misner has to hurt for a team that loves to develop “toolsy” prospects.
#31 Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers Select 1B/2B Michael Busch, North Carolina
With their second first-round pick, the Dodgers have selected infielder Michael Busch. There is no doubting Busch’s offensive abilities; he has incredible plate discipline and is a polished hitter. That offensive profile is very similar to Joey Votto, which should intrigue Dodger fans. He was announced as a second base, but he’s more likely to end up as a first baseman or left fielder, but no matter what, he’s an average defender whose value comes from his offense. Busch is versatile, however, and should find a role with this team in the future, thanks to his offense.
#32 Pick: Houston Astros Select C Corey Lee, California
A pick that surprised practically everyone capped off the official first round of the draft; the Astros selected California catcher Corey Lee. Lee was ranked as the 119th best player on the draft board of MLB.Com; he certainly wasn’t viewed as a first-round prospect. He does have power and a solid arm, but he’s a below average pure hitter and defender, and may profile more as a backup catcher. Yes, catchers are hard to find, but you still need to be a quality catcher to be drafted in the first round, and there is nothing unique about Lee compared to other average catchers that are cheaper and easier to find than a first-round investment. Drafting a catcher in general saves it from being an F, since they always have some value, but this is a very confusing pick.
#33 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select RHP Brennan Malone, IMG Academy (Florida)
With their third pick inside the top 34, the Diamondbacks have selected another high school prospect: right-handed pitcher Brennan Malone. Malone is a very intriguing prospect as a result of his high 90s fastball and sharp slider. He lacks command and an overall feel for pitching, but his ceiling is tremendous if he is developed properly. I was lower on Malone than most, but this is around where I thought he should be drafted, and although it’s unfortunate that Matthew Allan is likely not going to sign with a team now, Malone sticks to the theme of their busy draft.
#34 Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks Select RHP Drey Jameson, Ball State
Adding another arm to their draft haul, the Diamondbacks have selected Ball State righty Drey Jameson with the 34th overall selection. Jameson has three plus pitches in his arsenal, including a high 90s fastball, but lacks a true changeup and command. He could take off as a reliever, but he definitely has starting pitcher potential if developed properly. This is what the Cubs wanted to receive from their pick; a high-ceiling arm who could thrive at the next level possibly.
#35 Pick: Miami Marlins Select OF Kameron Misner, Missouri
Possibly the steal of the draft, the Marlins have drafted Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner with the 35th overall pick. Misner flashes five-tool potential with raw power and athleticism in his 6’4” frame and should be a plus defender in the outfield. He also had high walk rates at college, further increasing his value in an era that values on-base skills. Misner struggled against the SEC this year and has some swing and miss concerns, but I see him as an above average everyday outfielder with the chance to be a superstar. I saw value with him the top ten, so to get him after the first round is simply incredible. ‘
#36 Pick: Tampa Bay Rays Select RHP JJ Goss, Cypress Ranch HS (Texas)
Pick #36 presents another major steal in this draft; the Rays have selected high school pitcher JJ Goss. Goss has the ceiling of a front-line starting pitcher with a filthy slider, plus fastball, and deceptive delivery. He also has more projection in his game, and should sit in the mid to upper 90s with his fastball to complement that slider. There isn’t a clear weakness with him, and I’m not sure why he fell, but Tampa Bay certainly won’t complain.
#37 Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates Select OF Sammy Siani, Penn Charter HS (Pennsylvania)
The Pirates have drafted high school outfielder Sammy Siani with the 37th overall pick. Siani is a solid hitter with fine athleticism, but I’m not sure what his ceiling is. I’m not sure he’s warranted a early-round pick and most likely an overslot deal, but there’s a chance he’ll develop into a nice player for the Pirates.
#38 Pick: New York Yankees Select LHP TJ Sikkema, Missouri
The Yankees may have missed out on Kameron Misner, but they still managed to select a Missouri product in lefty TJ Sikkema with the 38th overall selection. Sikkema isn’t a flashy pitcher, but he has a solid fastball-slider combination and could either turn out as a middle of the rotation starter or late inning reliever. There probably were better pitchers on the board, but he should be ready to make an impact soon, which is a nice bonus for a team in win-now mode and will be a nice addition to their farm system that has a lot of high-ceiling arms and needed a more consistent pitcher like Sikkema.
Pick #39: Minnesota Twins Select OF Matt Wallner, Southern Mississippi
The Twins have drafted Southern Mississippi outfielder Matt Wallner with the 39th overall pick. Wallner’s 6’5” frame, power, and arm strength make a very interesting prospect, especially given his college production. He also draws a lot of walks, though his overall plate discipline isn’t super strong. He definitely could profile as a powerful corner outfielder in the future, and Minnesota has had success developing these type of players.
Pick #40: Tampa Bay Rays Select RHP Seth Johnson, Campbell
With their third selection within the top 40, the Rays have selected Campbell pitcher Seth Johnson with the 40th overall selection. Johnson is a small school product that wasn’t very productive and also is a converted infielder that lacks polish. Still, his pitching arsenal contains an impressive fastball and breaking ball, and his upside is very high. Usually, I would be against a team taking a risk on Johnson, given how unrefined he is. However, the Rays have a knack for developing pitchers like him, and I could even see him taking off as a potential opener for them in the future.
Pick #41: Texas Rangers Select 3B Davis Wendzel, Baylor
To cap off the overall first portion of the draft, the Rangers have selected Baylor infielder Davis Wendzel with the 41st overall pick. Wendzel is already 22-years-old and has limited upside, but his pure hitting ability cannot be refuted. He definitely could tap into more power at the major league level and isn’t super athletic, but he should be a plus defender at the next level. He should develop into at least a solid utility player, with the potential to become an everyday starter.