Hello there. This is my first draft article, and I will be exploring the choices in this year’s upcoming MLB amateur draft. The top 10 is somewhat predictable within the industry, and only a few picks could actually change. The following picks are anything but predictable, so here goes. The draft is June 8th, so I would love to do two mock drafts, with this as my first. I know you skip the introduction anyway, so let’s get started.
PICK 1: Arizona Diamondbacks
Everyone wants to know who the first overall pick is. The pick belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The pick: Dansby Swanson. This Vanderbilt shortstop is a five tool player, with all five tools grading at average or better. His best tool is the hit tool, but the power has steadily improved over this last year. The Diamondbacks would normally be inclined to go with a pitcher here, but in this draft there is no clear cut ace who stands at the front of the pack. There is no player who stands at the top at all really, and that leads into my next pick.
PICK 2: Houston Astros
The second pick is a mystery. The industry usually does not share secrets, and the Astros have perfected that policy. The Astros tend to surprise people, and they also tend to go with high school talent with plus makeup. The player at the top of their board would appear to be Brendan Rodgers, a shortstop, so that is who I have them taking here. The fact was brought up in a Fangraphs post earlier this week that next year’s class appears to be much, much better. Also, if Houston forgoes signing their guy here, they receive next year’s number two overall pick. This would make Brady Aiken the gift that keeps on giving. The reason they do so, is, because they failed to sign their first overall pick, they received this pick in the first place, and thus have two top five picks. This means that their bonus pool for later round selections is remarkably sound even after taking out his pick’s slot value. The smart pick is Rodgers here because it would appear he would be the most difficult to sign, like most high school players with college commitments. This would also deny any other teams from getting the consensus top high school player
PICK 3: Colorado Rockies
Tyler Jay is the rumored pick here. He had the most helium coming into the draft, and scouts see him converting from a reliever to a starter once leaving college behind. Scouts say he has three plus pitches (curveball, fastball, slider), and they add he is the most polished pitcher in the class. He has been floated here in just about every mock draft on the Internet, so unless Swanson falls here he is the clear pick here.
PICK 4: Texas Rangers
Shortstops rule the earth in this draft, and it seems the Rangers love one in particular. Rather than chasing upside as in the past with high school players, word is the general manager will try the college route this year. Alex Bregman of LSU has an above average hit tool and average to better four other tools. He reminds scouts of a college version of Dustin Pedroia with better defense, and he should stick at short long term.
PICK 5: Houston Astros
I tend to lean towards the Astros taking a high school hitter again here, but this is where the mock drafts are divided. Since the Astros are ahead of schedule on contending, they may lean towards a college player. I think they are still going to chase upside here, so they are picking Daz Cameron, a tools high school outfielder who should stick in center long term. Though he may be a ways away from the Majors, he has a ton of upside. He, like most of these picks, has average or better tools across the board. Scouts love that. I would not be surprised to see a college pick here either.
PICK 6: Minnesota Twins
The Twins have gone High School three years in a row, and they have stocked their farm system by doing so. The trend will continue here with one of the nation’s top prep outfielders, of which there are several. Kyle Tucker, brother of newly promoted Houston Astro Preston, appears here a lot. Over the past week the Twins have met with him, and he is apparently well- liked in their organization.
PICK 7: Boston Red Sox
The hardest to predict top 10 pick, as all three of the Red Sox hopes and dreams have already been picked, is down to two: Andrew Benintendi vs. Carson Fulmer. Both college players, outfielder Benintendi has shot up draft boards this spring, while Fulmer has slowly dropped due to size worries. Plenty of pitchers have been scrutinized because of durability concerns that have fallen later in previous drafts, and the Red Sox do not want that to happen here. He reminds me of Sonny Gray, as both have a plus curveball, adequate changeup, and plus fastball. Fuller is the best pick at this spot.
PICK 8: Chicago White Sox
The Sox love their college hitters. Their last three first round picks have been hitters, and their last two college ones. Expect that to continue, as Andrew Benintendi will be scooped up after being looked at for the past four to six picks. He mixes a strong hit tool with speed and centerfield defense, and he also has an average arm with slightly above average power. He is the perfect choice for the White Sox if he lasts to this point.
PICK 9: Chicago Cubs
The Cubs have to draft a college pitcher here, right? You would think so. According to scouts, though, they have been scouting pitchers and a high school outfielder named Garrett Whitley. Whitley is highly thought of, but a pitcher seems to be the Cubs primary focus, and a "sure bet" being a priority. Missouri State’s Jon Harris has a high floor, a projectable frame, four average or better pitches, and some upside, so the Cubs should pick him at this spot. If they pick an outfielder and shock the world like last year, though, do not be surprised.
PICK 10: Philadelphia Phillies
One of the most predicted picks, the Phillies and catcher Tyler Stephenson have been linked for a while. He is the number one catching prospect this year, so expect the Phillies to pick him here.
PICK 11: Cincinnati Reds
Hometown native second baseman Ian Happ slides here as the Reds board has been completely decimated by picks out of their control. They also may take Dillon Tate, and Benintendi is as sure a bet as they come to go here if he lasts. Happy just hits, and he can hit with the best of them. He has average power and can run, maybe enough for twelve homers and 15ish steals any given year. Everyone loves the hometown kid here, and scouts say he is gone by twelve for sure. Ian Happ goes at eleven.
PICK 12: Miami Marlins
In this dream scenario for the fish, Dillon tate lasts here and gets reeled in by Miami. I seriously doubt Tate would not go earlier, but durability concerns and lack of interest from top pick mean the Marlins get a college player, of which they are said to favor this year.
PICK 13: Tampa Bay Rays
I see the pitching factory trend continuing ever further here, as our third Vanderbilt player gets drafted. Right hander Walker Beuhler will be summoned based on his incredibly solid, deep arsenal. One of my favorite players, he can throw four above average pitches.
PICK 14: Atlanta Braves
As they are building for their 2017 stadium, I see Atlanta going after a quick rising player. Kyle Funkhouser and his quality three pitch mix go here. If he can improve his command, he may be a number two starter.
PICK 15: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers went all in on high upside last year, and despite slow starts, it could be the key to jumpstarting a successful rebuild. This trend should continue, and center fielder Garret Whitley is the player to grab for upside. He has five tool upside and gets compared to Mike Trout at the high school level sometimes.
PICK 16: New York Yankees
The Yankees have not picked this high in a while, and they will want a big leaguer out of it at all costs. They will opt for a good college pitcher here, and James Kapriellian has one of the highest floors in this draft. He has been estimated to go around picks ten through fifteen so a selection here is not a reach.
PICK 17: Cleveland Indians
The Indians like their hitters, and the top hitter on the board is Trenton Clark, an outfielder from a Texas high school. Newman and Bickford would be the pitching candidates, but Clark is a nice tools outfielder for the Indians.
PICK 18: San Francisco Giants
The Giants happen to love high school righties, and high school righties tend to fall into their deep pockets. Mike Nikorak or Ashe Russel are the options here, and Nikorak fits their type well. Measuring nat six foot five inches, Nikorak looks the part of a pick here. He has above average command and two plus pitches, and he is developing a changeup for a third pitch.
PICK 19: Pittsburgh Pirates
For a team that chases upside, the Pirates should draft outfield prospect Nick Plummer as the best player available. Some scouts have him in the top ten. He is another tools outfielder. He can hit for loud power and high average, and he will throw in the stolen base at times. His speed helps him in the field, too, but a corner spot is likely his home. He could fall very low or be drafted very high, and scouts are divided on his ceiling.
PICK 20: Oakland Athletics
The A’s are said to want college players here, and Phil Bickford will fall here with potential shoulder concerns, but Billy Beane will have checked that out beforehand and taken him rather late. Phil, too, might fall much much earlier, but he should not make it past this pick.
PICK 21: Kansas City Royals
The Royals like hitters here, and most experts have them drafting Cornelius Randolph, a shortstop who likely will not stick there. He is a good hitter with some pop, but lacks the speed the Royals tend to crave. Do not be surprised if a pitcher goes here, but a college player in general is unlikely.
PICK 22: Detroit Tigers
A high school pitcher appears to be the theme here. Ashe Russell is the pick here as his fastball slider combo lends him a lot of upside. The top player on the board here, Russel makes sense all around, even though the Tigers normally are secretive about their choice.
PICK 23: St. Louis Cardinals
A high school player is all but out of the question here, and that limits their choices. If the redbirds want an athletic, tall quick riser like usual, they will cross Brady Aiken, last year’s number one pick, off their list. He would be the smart pick, but he would change the rest of the draft. Anyone else would be undersold and let them spend freely later, as has been their strategy as of late. I see them going position player here, and Kevin Newman and his plus hit tool is the top pick here.
Pick 24: Los Angeles Dodgers
Word on the street is they go for an injured pitcher here, and it comes down to Brady Aiken and Michael Matuella. Both have had Tommy John surgery this year. Brady Aiken has the most upside and is younger, so I see the Dodgers grabbing him here.
Pick 25: Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles tend to prefer high school pitchers, and there are plenty to go around in this year’s draft. Kolby Allard is the best available this late, and the Orioles will go get him.
Pick 26: Los Angeles Angels
The Angels must chase upside for a drained farm system. Mike Matuela, another pitcher with considerable upside when healthy.
Author’s note: I do not pretend to know how things will go down, and this is a mock draft. After a few picks, the whole board will turn itself over and be completely unpredictable. This article merely attempts to capture the present evidence for who is picked where. I will do my best to complete another, entirely different one, on the day before the draft.
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