2018 First-Year Player Draft Review

Arizona Diamondbacks

Round 1 | Pick 1 | 3B | Vladimir Guerrero Jr. | Age 19 | Canada | Grade: A- |

Being the son of a Hall of Famer often means you won’t follow in your dads footsteps. You could be good, but no chance you live up to the expectations that come with your name. Well, Vlad Jr. could very well do that.

The 19-year-old gets some benefit from the fact that he will stick at third base, which is a fairly weak position in the league. He was also one of the few surefire hitters in this draft class, that had lots of pitching depth, without any future aces.

The only concern with Guerrero Jr. is how he’ll do now that he’s playing at a higher level. Although he did the showcases like anyone else, he was playing high school baseball in Canada. It’s such a low level of competition, that most teams didn’t even look at his stats from high school.

Regardless, he has the raw talent to become a .300 hitter with 30+ home runs. On top of that, he will be a solid defender at the hot corner. There’s a few questions about his pitch selection, but if he is half the bad-ball hitter as his dad was, he will be more than okay. The only other concern is for a 19-year-old high schooler, he is very raw, but the hopes are is work ethic will help him progress through the Diamondbacks system quickly.

Round 2 | Pick 1 | CL | John Mason | Age 21 | Cal State – Fullerton | Grade: C+ |

How To Get Drafted 101: Throw 99 MPH. Obviously tons of players can, but when you do it as consistently as John Mason, you’re going to get drafted somewhere. He has a pretty nice slider, although it’s still 92 MPH and moves more like a cutter than anything. He really just rears back and throws as hard as he can 100% of the time, which is why is control isn’t anything to write home about. Mason has a chance to be a good middle reliever, maybe more if he gets some control and a real offspeed pitch.

Round S2 | Pick 2 | RF | Jarred Kelenic | Age 18 | FAU | Grade: B- |

Kelenic left high school at age-17 and is now a draft eligible sophomore as he’s about to turn 19, and with his youth and what he’s shown for the Owls, it’s no surprise he’s picked this high. He’s shown a decent bat and has the chance to be an very good defender in right field. While there are other hitters out there with more potential, his combo of bat and defense does boost his stock, plus it’s not too many 18-year-old college players you see hitting 24 home runs.

Round 3 | Pick 1 | SP | Joe Allen | Age 18 | Bayport – Blue Point (NY) HS | Grade: B+ |

Allen relies heavily on his late movement and deep repertoire to get hitters out. He flashes four 55-grade pitches, with the best being his 95 MPH 2-seam and his splitter, although he would argue it’s his slider. He has had some struggles with commanding his pitches, but he is constantly working to get better, even using the new technologies to break down his mechanics frame by frame. As a high schooler, he’s impressive and should be able to get better with some of that hard work in the minors.

Houston Astros

Round 1 | Pick 2 | CF | Ronald Acuna | Age 20 | Venezuela | Grade: B |

Acuna didn’t even play high school ball, which is why he has no stats. Growing up in Venezuela, he played ball anytime he could after school, and when he got to his teenage years, he started attending the MLB workouts near him.

This meant he’s been on teams radars for years, and there were several that have said they were very high on him, including the White Sox, the Yankees and the Mariners, which the Astros may have used this knowledge to take him ahead of the other teams draft picks in order to use him as trade bait.

Breaking: News has broke that Acuna was traded to the Chicago White Sox, and got #31 prospect C Ron Winterhalder in return, which completes an earlier deal between the two teams. While this does move the White Sox top prospect, it does net them a top draft pick, and another good OF prospect while they still have another solid catching prospect. Grade for Houston: A+ Grade for White Sox: A-

Ultimately, he’s a contact first outfielder, who can survive in center but would be Gold Glove caliber in the corners. He’ll put up 15-20 home runs despite his small frame, due to his long through the zone swing and strong lower half. Stolen bases will also be a part of his game.

The biggest question mark on Acuna is whether a 20-year-old who has not played organized baseball will be able to handle the transition, and obviously the hope is that he can develop quickly. Many also wonder why he decided not to enter MLB Pro as an international free agent when he was younger, given the hype on him. Some close to him have said that he wanted to go first overall, and get an even bigger bonus than he would in international free agency. Let’s see if going second in the draft puts a chip on his shoulder, or if now that he has his money, he rolls over and becomes a dud.

Round 2 | Pick 2 | SS | Fernando Tatis Jr. | Age 19 | Dominican Republic | Grade: A |

Tatis is just a nice shortstop prospect, especially in a draft that was not super deep with hitters. He’s a smooth fielder and has shown promise at third base as well, and while his hitting is nothing close to that of an MVP, he displays good hand-eye coordination, solid power and a good idea of the zone. To put it simply, he’s just a ballplayer.

Round S2 | Pick 1 | SP/3B | Roy Nelson | Age 20 | Missouri | Grade: B+ |

Roy Nelson has very little chance of sticking at third base, although some teams do like his bat. His poor defense makes it hard to keep him there, but the Astros will likely give him some at-bats just to see what he can do.

His potential is on the mound, where he’s been a Friday night starter in the SEC for the last two seasons. He has a 96 MPH 4-seam fastball and a terrific curveball and slider and he controls all fairly well. Some wish he had a changeup, but with two very different breaking pitches, he may not need it. The Astros really love what he brings on the mound, and the hope is that when he concentrates there, he’ll improve drastically.

Round 3 | Pick 1 | SP | Randy Thompson | Age 22 | Oklahoma | Grade: A- |

Randy Thompson does sound somewhat similar to Randy Johnson.. And the similarities don’t stop there. Despite the foot height difference, they both relied on elite stuff and had poor control, and they both throw left-handed. Thompson throws a great slider and an even better changeup, which are both set up by his 94 MPH 2-seamer. The Oklahoma starter will need to up his control some while in the minors, but has as much upside as anyone picked this late in the draft. At worst, he becomes a strikeout centered reliever.

Chicago White Sox

Round 1 | Pick 3 | SP | Ethan Hankins | Age 17 | Lookout Valley (TN) HS | Grade: A- |

The White Sox missed out on their main man, but they went out and grabbed a highly projectible, young arm. The 17-year-old from Georgia already throws in the high-90s and with a slim 6’6″ frame. Already showing a solid feel for a curveball and slider, he’s got the makings of a future #1 in Chi-town.

The high schooler dominated, with his team winning every game he pitched, with the 4 games he did not factor into the decision coming when he left before the 5th inning because his team was so far ahead. In his 8 wins, he averaged 8.1 innings pitched, showcasing his stamina. His late game velocity is what establishes his fastball as his premier pitch, but even late in games he never lost his control.

Having already gotten a pretty heavy workload in his high school season, the 3rd overall pick will likely start his pro career in short season ball, but his strong work ethic should help him progress quickly, especially if he adheres to the team workout plan and diet in order to put on some weight.

San Francisco Giants

Round 1 | Pick 4 | SS | Jared Stevens | Age 21 | Coastal Carolina | Grade: A |

Stevens was one year late, as last season he may have been the #1 overall pick. His only question mark is on the defensive side, just like Scott’s was last season. And Stevens may be an even better hitter, runner and he’s just as good of a teammate.

Stevens will be special, as he can fit in at second base or third base if the Giants front office decides he can’t cut it at shortstop. His bat would put him smack dab in the middle of any lineup, and if he fulfills his potential, he’d be feared by every pitcher in the league. The speed may be what puts him over the top though, as he could feasibly be a 40/40 player. He will most certainly be an offensive superstar.

The only thing that holds him back is how raw he is coming out of college. While he had a good season for Coastal, they don’t necessarily play the greatest competition. That and many feel like at 21 years old, he’s not even ready for full season ball yet, and needs to work on some things in the back fields in extended spring training, and after that, head to short season ball. Either way, if the Giants are patient with him, he should turn out to be a monster bat for them.

Miami Marlins

Round 1 | Pick 5 | SP | Dane Grier | Age 21 | Long Beach State | Grade: A- |

Grier was expected to be a late first round pick, maybe even lower going into his junior season for the Dirtbags. Many felt there was a good chance that he would publicly state that he would not sign any contract so he could return for his senior season. Then he did this: 12-2, 2.31 ERA, 132.1 IP, 1.07 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 11.6 K/9.

The righty relies on a cutter and slider to get hitters out, as at the decision point both pitches look identical. Then one cuts 4-5 inches glove side, while the other slides close to a foot in the same direction. As the season continued, he found success by tunneling his changeup with the cutter and slider, as it had good arm side run and late drop. He’s also been able to rack up K’s by throwing a 97 MPH fastball at the hands after setting it up with his other pitches.

His repeatable and clean mechanics have made the LA native avoid any arm troubles, and his work ethic on the field and in the weight room, as well as his tendency to use videos and unconventional training methods have made him look like a quick riser once he makes his pro debut, and a potential future ace.

Cleveland Indians

Round 1 | Pick 6 | SP | Brody Matthews | Age 21 | UCF | Grade: B+ |

Matthews finished his senior season and had taken a huge stride forward after a rocky first 4 seasons in Orlando. His freshman year he did not pitch in a game, and watched as his team collapsed in a Super Regional they hosted. Ultimately, he used a redshirt for that season. His sophomore year, he was all geared up and ready to be a factor out of the  bullpen, and potentially see some weekday starts against weaker competition. Three days into fall practice, he heard a pop in his shoulder while warming up. Scared of what it may be, he never said anything to his coaches or trainers and tried to play through it. When he went to throw his bullpen, he was at 75 MPH, and the coaches knew something was wrong. A torn rotator cuff forced him to use a medical redshirt. Junior year, he was in the same spot as he was sophomore year, but then over winter break, he got news that his mother was diagnosed with cancer and only had 6 months to live. He wanted to make her proud, and began to put in even more work than he had before. He was living at home so he could see her more often, and after late night practices he would crash on a teammates couch, sleeping with no pillows or blanket, often still in his sweaty baseball clothes. Despite living 45 minutes from the field, he was the first one there, and the last one to leave. He was running extra roles, working out twice a day, and spending all his free time watching mechanical videos. His coaches noticed his effort, and also saw the improvements in his game. He ended up being named the closer and got the final out in Omaha. He skipped celebrating with his teammates and ran to his mother to hug her. She told him she had gotten a call, and that the cancer was gone.

This didn’t stop Matthews’ work ethic though, as he had seen what he could do. While he was happy to have been the closer, he wanted more, and spent the offseason building stamina and learning a changeup. He stopped driving from his home, and started biking the 32 miles. In his backyard, he built a mound and at the plate he set up a cone with a baseball on it. He would throw his changeup until he hit the ball off 10 times, then he would move the cone.

When he returned for his senior-academic (sophomore-athletic) season, his coaches pulled everyone in, and announced that he would be their #1 weekend starter, and a captain. He rewarded them for trusting him, after he was named a finalist for the Pitcher of the Year award, and led them back to a Super Regional.

After hearing he was drafted, he tweeted out thanking the Indians organization, but that he’d see his UCF brothers soon, as he would be returning to take grad courses over the fall and winter. Even if Matthews does not have the same raw talent that other pitchers in this draft have, he has an intangible that no one else can match. His dedication and devotion to his craft and his leadership make him a great player, and it doesn’t hurt that he is also one of the better pitchers in the draft class. You could see him as early as next September, as you know he will be working to get to the majors as quickly as possible, and he could excel in a bullpen role before moving to the rotation.

Round S2 | Pick 4 | SP | Blake Witt | Age 20 | Florida | Grade: A+ |

How often does a Florida ace fall out of the first round? Basically never. Witt dropped because of a lack of a slider, and that while he calls his curveball and slider two different pitches, no one can tell the difference. He runs his fastball up to 95 MPH and uses that curveball/slider to ring batters up. He’s shown very good control over his pitches, and his desire to better himself every game is looked upon highly. He could progress through the system real quickly after dominating in the SEC for three seasons.

Boston Red Sox

Round 1 | Pick 7 | SP | Drew Lock | Age 21 | Missouri State | Grade: A- |

The Missouri State junior has been considered a potential top draft pick since before he made his first pitch in college. That was because coming out of high school, he was a five-star football recruit, considered the top dual threat QB in his recruiting class. He’s been in the talks as the number 1 overall pick in the NFL for years, and due to the delayed NFL draft this season, he still has to wait to see where he ends up. But his hype wasn’t just in football, as he’s been considered a top draft prospect since his first college appearance, when he came out of the pen, into an extra-innings affair. The 22nd inning against Marshall, where last year’s #6 pick played, Jorge Alvarado, the Golden Spikes and John Olerud Award winner. The bases were loaded, nobody out.

Two pitches later, the Bears were back in the dugout. Lock threw a 95 MPH sinker at the knees, then threw what looked like the same pitch, but turned out to be a splitter that Alvarado hit of the end of the bat to first base. After touching the bag, the throw went home to catch the runner in a pickle. In a baserunning mistake, the runners that started on first and second both went to third, so after the runner in the pickle was tagged out, the MO State third baseman just tagged both of them, one was called out and it was on to the 23rd.

Lock went on to win that game, and 6 more that season, all out of the bullpen. No one knew how Major League team had missed an 18-year-old throwing a 95 MPH sinker that he combined with a devastating splitter. In the next two seasons, Lock dominated while starting for the Bears, winning 31 games, including several MVC championships and NCAA regional games.

The only downside on Lock is that he has mainly dominated with just the sinker and splitter. He has always thrown a changeup too, but since it’s similar in velocity to the splitter, just with less movement, he’s stuck with the splitter. In some workouts for teams, he has thrown a fastball too, but has not been comfortable with the grip and hasn’t found his control for the pitch. In order to become an effective starter at the major league level, he’ll have to develop a slider or curveball, but if he can’t find the feel for either, he will be a dominant closer. That is, if he doesn’t go straight to the NFL following the draft in July. Although, he has said he wants to be a dual-sport athlete, the first successful one since Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders.

Round S1 | Pick 1 | LF | Ryan Lowell | Age 17 | Live Oak (LA) HS | Grade: C |

Lowell is a surprisingly average hitter, not doing any one thing that great, although he does have a nice on-base profile. Some scouts were higher on Lowell, but since he was undersized coming into this year, before a nice summer in a wood bat league, he’s been underscouted, and a decent but not spectacular school season left some scouts questioning if his bat was as good as his summer numbers made it out to be.

His glaring weakness is his defense, as he was so bad in the outfield that he was primarily used as a DH in high school ball, which does not bode well for his future. The Red Sox are taking a chance that his bat develops into that of an impact hitter at the Major League level, but when looking at a top 30 pick, you’re surprised to see a DH taken.

Round 2 | Pick 3 | SP | Jeff Elson | Age 21 | ASU | Grade: B- |

Elson shows 3 solid pitches, with his 98 MPH fastball and his 12-6 curveball being his main two. He recently started to throw a slider as well, and it looks pretty decent in the limited action we’ve seen of it. He’s been the Sun Devils Friday night starter for 3 years now, ahead of Brewers’ first rounder Bruce O’Slattery.

He’s going to need to show some feel for a changeup or better his slider if he wants to be truly effective at the Major League level, but his two-pitch offering he has currently is good enough to be a reliever in the Major Leagues by the end of next season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Round 1 | Pick 8 | 3B/LF | Brandon Gill | Age 18 | Arbor View (NV) HS | Grade: B |

Gill was attempting to follow in the footsteps of Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper by being a top 3 overall pick out of Las Vegas. Sadly, he was not quite the same level of player. Coming into this season, he was looked at as a mid-2nd round pick, which likely would have been good enough to get him to get him to sign away from his commitment to Oregon State. Then he had a strong high school season, that included a .505/.577/1.132 slash line.

At 5’11” and not even 200 lbs soaking wet, he won’t be a power hitter. So he spent hours learning how to play baseball the right way. Fundamentally, he’s perfect. From his swing to his defense, he’s going to do it all correctly. He knows how to hit to all fields, fight off the 0-2 breaking pitch, read balls in the dirt and more.

The high schooler profiles best as a utility player, like Ben Zobrist. Start him one day at third, then left field, right field, maybe even a game or two at second base or first base. Having this kind of versatility really helps his value, as he will never be a .300 hitter with 25 home runs, and he will never be a Gold Glove candidate at any position. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a switch hitter who hits fairly equally from both sides.

Hopefully Pittsburgh can maximize his value by making him a super utility, but that also may delay his time to the majors. Either way, as a high schooler he’s looking at 4 to 5 years in the minors to hone his skills, although if he continues to work like he did in high school, that may be closer to 2.5 or 3 years.

Round 2 | Pick 4 | CL | Hudson Helton | Age 20 | USC | Grade: A+ |

Of the players drafted with the knowledge that they will be relievers, Helton is the best. The kid has dominated as the Friday night starter for USC, despite “only” throwing a 98 MPH 2-seam and a wicked curveball.

He’s going to be an elite closer for the Pirates, as he can get hitters out with either pitch, especially since he spots them so well. On top of it all, since he’s been a starter this long, he has the stamina to go multiple innings if need be. If his ERA is anywhere near the 1.90 he had this season, the Pirates will have gotten a steal in the 2nd round.

Washington Nationals

Round 1 | Pick 9 | CL | Mike Ridell | Age 21 | Georgia Tech | Grade: C- |

The Nationals selected a college closer in the top 10, which is certainly odd. But Ridell has had experience closing, and while he was mainly a sinker-changeup pitcher in college, he’s added a fastball in his team workouts. He’s still in need of a true breaking pitch, like a slider or a curveball, but his tendency to get groundballs is valued by many.

The Canadian represents the idea of getting a high floor player, even though the upside is not there. Even at his very best, he would likely be a #4 starter, but he could be a great setup man. Add that to the fact that he could zoom through the Nationals system, and it’s certainly more understandable.

Regardless, you have to feel that Ridell could have been picked in a later round, especially considering he was a senior and you didn’t have to draw him away with a large signing bonus. It will be interesting to see if this comes back to bite the organization, who could have picked a higher potential pitcher here.

Round S1 | Pick 3 | LF | Beau Ryan | Age 18 | Bogan (IL) HS | Grade: D |

This pick surprised many scouts in the industry, as Beau was not on most of the teams lists for anywhere in the draft. The Chicago high schooler (originally from Wisconsin) is “committed” to D3 Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he may not even start during his 4 years. He put up an average senior season, but really the only thing going for him is that he walks more than he strikes out. He shows a below average ability to hit, with no pop in the bat and chases too many pitches. He’s a below average outfielder, although if it does hit him in the glove, he will hold on to it. More than likely, he ends up as a single-A dud.

Round 2 | Pick 5 | SP | Elijah Holifield | Age 20 | St. John’s | Grade: B+ |

Pitchability is the name of Holifield’s game. Well, yes the Red Storm ace does get up to 98 MPH, but he’s effective because of a 5 pitch mix (which you could even argue is more). He throws a 4-seam, 2-seam and cut fastball, a curveball (which he can throw like a 12-6 or closer to a slider), a slider (which he can throw with either horizontal or vertical movement, or a mixture of both) and he throws a different changeup based on whatever he thinks will work best in that situation (either a straight changeup, a forkball or a circle change).

Since he throws so many variations of his pitches, he doesn’t have the best command over each of them, since he doesn’t throw them as often in bullpens, but he always has hitters guessing so it isn’t as much of a problem as it would be for other pitchers. He also does not last deep into games, which is a concern to some teams, but as long as he can pitch well while he is in the game, the Nationals will find a spot for him.

Colorado Rockies

Round 1 | Pick 10 | SP | Kyle Cartwright | Age 21 | Dallis Baptist | Grade: B+ |

Cartwright would have been even higher in this draft if it weren’t for the partial tear in his UCL that required him to skip a summer season, as well as the torn ACL that caused him to miss his sophomore season. Since then, he’s dealt with ankle sprains, forearm tightness, rotator cuff tendonitis and back tightness.

Still, the talent is unquestionable. He still throws 98 MPH, and many feel like if he can get passed the injuries, that could be well above 100 MPH. That’s incredibly scary when you consider he throws a cutter as his main pitch, and just started to throw a 2-seam fastball when at team workouts. He uses two sliders, one with sharp horizontal break and one with sharp vertical break, which many scouts simply just call a curveball. These pitches play really well off of his cutter as he throws them all out of the same release point, which has made him nearly unhittable in college. His splitter is his best pitch though, and he has gone deep into many starts without even throwing either of his sliders.

If he stays healthy, he will be an ace, although may not end up with Colorado as two-thirds of his earned runs this season came off of home runs. But he does not allow many walks, and is a strikeout machine, so the team will certainly give him a chance instead of writing him off.

Round S1 | Pick 6 | SP | Riley Ferguson | Age 22 | Vanderbilt | Grade: C+ |

The Vanderbilt Saturday starter fell all the way to the 33rd overall pick, but with good reason. Ferguson really only threw a fastball and a cutter, albeit at 99 MPH. He’s shown no feel for a changeup, especially after he abandoned the forkball he threw because of blisters. He tried throwing a curveball, but since he had never thrown one before, he looks lost trying it now. His dad always forced him to stay away from a curveball, out of fear it would get him injured, but now it cost him a few million dollars in signing bonus. Because he sells out with a full effort delivery, he loses a lot of control. Thankfully his high velocity and late movement make up for it, but it could be apart of his downfall when it comes time to decide if he’s Major League ready or not.

Round 2 | Pick 6 | SP | Wes Clark | Age 21 | Mississippi State | Grade: B- |

The Miss State Friday night starter has topped out at 102 MPH, although he sits at 99 MPH with his cutter. He also uses a splitter as his breaking pitch and offspeed, which is why he fell in the draft. A lack of a good curveball or slider has made people question his ability to dominate at the next level. Also, an injury to his lat has hurt his stamina with him struggling to get over 80 pitches in any start. Some have also questioned his drive and if he wants to be the best, or just good enough to make his money. Hopefully, he can show in the minors that he is the real deal, but there seems to be a few reasons as to why he won’t be.

Oakland Athletics

Round 1 | Pick 11 | SP | Ed Petty | Age 20 | Oral Roberts | Grade: A+ |

Petty was seen by some teams as a potential pick in the #1 overall spot. For that kind of talent to drop out of the first 10 is wild, and The Waiting was not easy for him. No one will be able to tell you why he fell, as teams who didn’t pick him will say they picked other players because they felt they had higher upside, not that Petty did anything wrong.

The Oral Roberts junior has four outstanding pitches, and he works them all off of a nasty 2-seam fastball that is around 96 MPH. He throws a Kershaw-esque curveball that comes in at 76 MPH, as well as a tight slider at 88 MPH, that some could even classify as a hard breaking cutter. His forkball, a pitch he found when messing with grips at a practice his sophomore year, is his favorite though. You can often hear a little chuckle come from the mound every time he throws it and the hitter looks lost.

On top of all of his talent, Ed is always trying to improve, not just himself, but his teammates as well. He has that ‘I Won’t Back Down’ mentality, and he’s a natural born leader, maybe as the product of two Oklahoma schoolteachers. He’s a workhorse who will headline a rotation some day. When asked what they thought of him, one AL GM said “he’s all that, and more”. When asked how it feels to end up in Oakland, he said, with a smile, “No One Knows How It Feels”, as though he was ready to be the start of a dynasty in Oakland. Now it’s time for the 5’10” Oklahoman to finish Runnin’ Down A Dream.

Round 2 | Pick 7 | SP | Kevin Knaust | Age 19 | UC Irvine | Grade: B+ |

Knaust seems like a solid pitch, as he isn’t in the group of elite SP prospects, but he does have upside, as well as a high floor. He’s got everything you look for, from a low-90s fastball with some life on it to a firm slider and two offspeed pitches in a changeup and a splitter. He controls all of his pitches pretty well, but his biggest attribute is his ability to be a workhorse. You never have to worry about him tiring, nor do you have to worry about him slacking off at all. You could also argue that he has one of the best pickoff moves as a righty in this draft class. If he develops, he’ll form a nice duo with Ed Petty.

Kansas City Royals

Round 1 | Pick 12 | SP | Logan Gilbert | Age 20 | LSU | Grade: A |

The 6’5″ Florida native is the stereotypical SEC pitcher. He throws hard with decent enough offspeed and a sad attempt at a changeup. His coaches overwork him and his mechanics are ridiculous, since they just care about getting the most velocity for the most innings.

Regardless, Gilbert throws in the high 90s, can go for a complete game anytime, and has a solid slider due to his low three-quarters delivery. He also has a decent curveball, although it profiles as inferior to his slider. His changeup is a change of velocity, but he tips it by slowing his arm down.

The LSU ace also runs a full time Youtube channel, where he sings covers of songs. This would 100% be a violation of NCAA rules, especially since he started it after he signed to play at LSU. But since it is an SEC school he’s playing for, they bend the rules, allowing him to make close to a million dollars a year.

Round 2 | Pick 8 | SP | Michael Favre | Age 21 | Southern Mississippi | Grade: A- |

Brett Favre’s nephew has been the ace of Souther Mississippi for the last 4 years and finally all his hard work paid off. The senior had a stellar senior season, going 13-3 with a 2.27 ERA and 199 K. This is in large part due to his 97 MPH 2-seam fastball, but he also uses it in combination with his curveball and slider, both are which are elite breaking pitches.

The one downfall is his control, which has plagued him for years. He’s always had so much movement that it was touch to throw everything with pinpoint movement and since he never needed better control to dominate, he never focused on it, instead being effectively wild. Favre will have time in the minors to harness his pitches, and if he does he has the chance to become an ace in Kansas City.

Round S2 | Pick 3 | SP | Alex Holtmann | Age 18 | Milan (MO) HS | Grade: B |

The Royals are yet another team using the strength of this class to stock up on quality arms. Holtmann just recently started throwing a slider and morphed his changeup and forkball, but it now gives him 3 solid offerings, with his late moving 94 MPH 2-seam being the main one. He has solid control, and has shown good stamina, as well as an ability to control the run game. The high school lefty doesn’t flash any elite potential, but he does have potential to become a solid #3 for the Royals.

Chicago Cubs

Round 1 | Pick 13 | SP | Josh Garrett | Age 21 | Long Beach State | Grade: B+ |

Josh Garrett wasn’t even in the top 200 draft prospects at the start of the season. The senior at Long Beach State only got on people’s draft lists after Dane Grier was scratched from a start due to a rain delay between his warmup and first pitch. Garrett stepped in and the lefty threw a 10-inning no-hitter.

He’s a tough pitcher to project, because all three of his offspeed pitches are so similar. The splitter, forkball and changeup all play up his fastball, but with no true breaking pitch, teams weren’t sure what they were getting from him. The word is in a workout for the Cubs, Garrett showed feel for a cut-change which is what impressed them.

A lot of his success will come down to how much movement he gets on his offspeed, and if his splitter and forkball can become Major League ready. That he’s a college lefty means he may advance through their system quickly, and perhaps as a reliever if only one pitch emerges as Major League level.

Round S1 | Pick 2 | SP | Jeffrey Scanlon | Age 18 | Woodcrest Baptist (MN) HS | Grade: A |

Scanlon is a nice pick for the rebuilding Cubs, especially considering his upside. He’s a very raw pitcher, although he has worked with Minnesota legend Jack Morris, who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. He mainly uses a cutter and circle change, but he has shown some feel for a curveball, which he just recently started throwing. He runs his cutter up to 95 MPH, but with the late movement he’s shown some inability to control it. His curveball is similar, as he just hasn’t found out how to throw it to a spot, instead just throwing it as hard as he can towards the mitt and letting it move. The Cubs will have to take their time with him, but if he develops his curveball and harnesses his cutter, he could be a special part of their rotation.

Round S1 | Pick 4 | SP | Austin Bergner | Age 20 | Pacific | Grade: B- |

It’s clear that the Cubs are just trying to stockpile pitching for their rebuild, again taking a college pitcher with decent upside. Bergner has an electric 98 MPH fastball and has shown flashes of brilliance with both his slider and his curveball, but never simultaneously.

In order to blossom into a true ace, he needs to showcase some consistency with those pitches, or at least one of them, and also show better feel throwing his changeup. That all may come from getting a more repeatable delivery, which should also help him limit the walks. At best, Bergner develops into a #2 for a winning Cubs team, at worst he’s a solid middle reliever with 1 or 2 very good seasons.

Round 2 | Pick 10 | SP | Chris Roach | Age 21 | Virginia Tech | Grade: B |

Chris Roach has been a solid pitcher for Virginia Tech for 4 years and turned in his best campaign in his senior year. At 6’5″, he’s got a projectable frame, although he’s already touched 97 MPH in a few of his starts, although that was with a cutter. He also has a decent slider and changeup, and has recently started showing better feel for his curveball. Right now, only his slider looks like it could become a Major League outpitch.

Tampa Bay Rays

Round 1 | Pick 14 | SP | Ben Richardson | Age 18 | Vancouver Christian | Grade: A |

If he didn’t play high school in Canada, he would have been in the conversation as the #1 overall pick. Instead, questions of his talent came into the picture because of the poor talent he faced in high school.

Like any high schooler, he needs to continue growing some, as he’s just 6’0″ – 180 lbs. But even at his size, he’s throwing in the mid-to-high 90s, with a beautiful slider. Lots of scouts love his changeup the most though, as it gives him a viable 3rd pitch, and it’s late movement allows him to pitch late into games. He evens has a 4th offering in the form of a splitter/forkball, which he uses an unconventional grip for, that is his most developed pitch.

Tampa will have to take their time with Richardson, but his potential makes him look like a future big league ace. Born in 2000, he’s very young coming into the draft, but given a few seasons in the minors he could still make his ML debut by age 21 or 22 at the latest.

Round 2 | Pick 11 | CF | Tim Murphy | Age 19 | Westford Academy (MA) HS | Grade: C |

Murphy is a high school outfielder with good range, solid hand eye coordination and good speed. At 6’1″ and just 175 lbs, the Rays are hoping that with some added weight, he’ll develop some power and that with some coaching he can get better discipline and fielding.

Milwaukee Brewers

Round 1 | Pick 15 | SP | Bruce O’Slattery | Age 21 | ASU | Grade: B+ |

The Arizona native is a surprise at this pick, as he wasn’t viewed that highly in the industry. Most likely, he was taken here in order to cut a deal in terms of slot bonus, allowing the Brewers to go after higher priced talent later in the draft.

O’Slattery is still a solid pitcher, posting a 2.50 ERA this season in the PAC-12. He relies mainly on his 97 MPH fastball, with decent feel for a changeup, and generally good control, he has the makings of a good reliever. If he can show good feel for a curveball, then he has the chance to blossom into a starter.

The Brewers also seem to be high on his intangibles, as one of their scouts said of him, “He sets an example of hard work and camaraderie”. He’s good friends with all of his teammates, remembering everything from their struggles in classes to their parents names, and he knows how to motivate each guy to get the best out of them.

Round 2 | Pick 12 | SP/SS | Doug Sánchez | Age 18 | Progreso (TX) HS | Grade: B+ |

Doug Sánchez has much more upside as a pitcher, although the Brewers will likely at least keep him hitting now in then in hopes to develop a potential pitch hitter. The Texas high schooler has a cutter that runs up to 92 MPH and a forkball that he’s shown good feel for, but his best pitch is a sharp changeup, which some scouts have said is the best changeup in the draft. Sánchez should benefit from concentrating on pitching and as he puts on some weight he should go up in velocity, and although he’s shown good control for all of his pitches, but his starts were either no walks or multiple, so he needs to find some consistency.

Toronto Blue Jays

Round 1 | Pick 16 | SP | Casey Mize | Age 20 | South Carolina | Grade: A- |

Mize could be the steal of the draft, as he’s a polished 21-year old with 5, yes, you read FIVE, 55+ grade pitches. He relies on a good moving fastball, then can go to either of his changeups or breaking pitches, which are all good enough to get Major League hitters out. After posting a 2.40 ERA in the SEC, he really stood out to many Major League scouts. He was a workhorse over the last three seasons, and has been seen as a coachable player, who also works 24/7 to better himself.

With his advanced feel for all five pitches, and good command, he could be seen in the Majors as early as late 2019, with a good chance that he’s in the rotation full time Opening Day 2020.

Round 2 | Pick 13 | 3B | Nolan Gorman | Age 17 | Mesa (AZ) HS | Grade: C+ |

Gorman is a nice 2nd round pick, especially considering he has the chance to stick at third base. He profiles as a decent power bat, but will need to improve his hand-eye coordination to make sure he gets more contact. He does need to improve on his defense there, but he is good enough at third to not be a total liability. He also gets a boost as a prospect since he is a left handed bat. There’s three outcomes with him: he becomes a Major League third basemen with power, he becomes an average Major League first basemen or his contact never improves and he dwindles in the minors.

Philadelphia Phillies

Round 1 | Pick 17 | SP | Damon Edwards | Age 21 | TCU | Grade: A- |

Damon Edwards was terrific this season for the Horned Frogs, as he finished with 12 wins and a 2.08 ERA. There’s very little that you can say bad about him, as he as three 70 grade pitches.

His 96 MPH two-seam is his go-to pitch and he spots it well, but his slider and his circle-change are just as effective, which is why he struck out 11.8 per 9.

While he only walked 2.6 per 9 this last season, there is concern of his control. The main reason that he walked so few was he was filthy, and hitters were lost facing him. If he gets the control down, he has the makings of an ace, but if not he’ll be a mildly inconsistent 4th starter.

Round 2 | Pick 14 | SS/CL | Will Johnson | Age 18 | Tanque Verde (AZ) HS | Grade: B |

Johnson is a fairly solid high school bat, and likely where the Phillies will use him. As someone who has been highly scouted for years, there was originally tons of hype for him, but that has slowly dropped. The UCLA commit did play shortstop in high school, but is probably best suited for second base and perhaps even first base. At his very best, he’s still going to be a contact first hitter, without much power potential.

He also has the chance to be an elite reliever, throwing a 93 MPH 2-seam and a screwball.. yes, you read screwball. He has great control of both and it’s a true screwball, which has made him nearly untouchable. The hope is that the Phillies keep him there while he lets his bat develop, because he has the chance to be something special.

St. Louis Cardinals

Round 1 | Pick 18 | 2B | Dion Hightower | Age 18 | White Bear Lake (MN) HS | Grade: B- |

Hightower is the epitome of “single them to death”. He’s just going to get singles and walks every game. He won’t strike out and hits into the gap often enough that he will get a few doubles in there.

With all that being said, he will struggle to even stick at 2B, and he’s never played first base, while most scouts don’t think he has the hands to succeed there.

At 18, he’ll have at least 5 years to work out his defense in the minors while he polishes his hitting skills and becomes a poor man’s Andrés Yánez.

Round S1 | Pick 7 | CF/SP | Chad Rix | Age 18 | Central Dauphin (PA) HS | Grade: A- |

Rix has the rare opportunity to be a two-way player, although many feel he has more upside as a pitcher. That’s easy to understand since he went 11-0 with a 0.40 ERA and 207 K, but you can’t ignore his 1.632 OPS with 13 HR in 25 games.

The only thing he can’t do is field, and that’s mainly due to the fact that after finishing batting practice, he’d go to work on his pitching rather than take extra fly balls. This could hurt his chances of fully developing as a two-way player all the way through the Major Leagues, but the Cardinals should be able to set it up so he is both in the rotation as well as in the lineup at DH. If he shows he can hit well, he’ll become an elite pinch hitter and pitcher, or if the pitching falls off he can be used as trade bait for American League teams if his hitting develops.

As a pitcher, his run his fastball up to 94 MPH and has a very good changeup in his repertoire. He relies on good command over those two pitches, although he doesn’t project as a strikeout pitcher at the next level due to the fact that he’s missing an effective breaking pitch. He’s going to have to work to prove himself, but he always has the opportunity to be just a pitcher or just a hitter if need be.

Round 2 | Pick 16 | LF | Mason Majerle | Age 20 | University of Portland | Grade: C- |

MLB scouts are torn on Majerle, with some seeing him as a potential elite bat and others seeing him as not even worth using a pick on. Some have seen him show great speed, others have seen him as slow. Some think he could be a center fielder or great left fielder, others question if he can field at all. You have to question how good a .305 college hitter, in the WCC nonetheless, will be at the next level. Sources say that he will be traded shortly after the end of the draft.

Breaking: Majerle (and SS Kevin Francis) were traded to the Rockies for two third round picks (CL Alex Maynard and SP Kumar Rocker). While Maynard and Rocker are both prospects with their own flaws, both seem to have more major league potential than Majerle, but that being said the Cardinals could have drafted someone better here. Grade for Cardinals: B- Grade for Rockies: D

San Diego Padres

Round 1 | Pick 19 | SP | Michael Brooks | Age 19 | Durango (NV) HS | Grade: B+ |

Yet another potential ace here in the first round, Brooks really improved in his prep season out in Nevada. Since he is older, he wasn’t viewed as highly as other high school pitchers, especially since after he graduated last year, he went undrafted due to his low projectability.

This season, he grew 4 inches, revamped his entire delivery, added a sinker and learned how to actually throw his changeup. His curveball isn’t as sharp as it was before, but that’s because he throws it harder now, with sharper movement, almost like a slider.

His groundball tendencies are what really pushes him up in the draft, as anytime someone can effectively get groundballs regularly, he’s an asset that teams want. He’ll need to continue to show his velocity wasn’t a fluke this last season, and that he can continue to throw strikes with all four of his pitches. He’s a project, with lots of upside.

Round 2 | Pick 17 | 1B | Steve Cartwright | Age 22 | Arizona | Grade: A |

6’7″ – 250 lbs and from Idaho. You got a farm strong kid who has batted cleanup for the Wildcats for all four seasons. He’s a dedicated player, working constantly to get any edge that’s there. With his frame, there’s elite level power potential from him, although he’s also shown great hand-eye coordination and understanding of the zone. He has the chance to develop into a poor man’s Gary Copeland.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Round 1 | Pick 20 | SP | Evan Smith | Age 20 | William & Mary | Grade: A+ |

I’m not a fan of comparisons to Major Leaguers, but can anyone say Justin Verlander? A pitcher worthy of the #1 overall pick from a small time school. William & Mary and Old Dominion (Verlander’s alma mater) were both in the CAA until 2013, when ODU left for C-USA. Smith came very close to breaking all of Verlander’s conference records, but fell just short.

While Smith doesn’t throw all of the same pitchers as Verlander (he’s noticeably lacking the curveball), but he makes up for it with a terrific forkball that he uses to keep hitters on their front foot. His slider and changeup are just as devastating, which is what led to a 12.2 K/9.

The weaker competition did scare some teams away, but if you watch the kid pitch, you know he’s the real deal. He still needs to work on controlling his fastball (despite the sub-2 BB/9) and may even consider switching to a 2-seam, sinker or cutter grip in order to get some movement on his fastball.

Round 2 | Pick 18 | SP | Keith Bowman | Age 23 | East Carolina | Grade: A- |

Bowman was listed as a catcher, mainly cause his coaches at ECU never recruited another catcher worth a damn. Let’s be real, all of Bowman’s potential is on the mound. He consistently goes deep into games, using the standard three-pitch mix and good control to stay ahead of hitters. His changeup is his best pitch, and he uses it to set up a fastball at the hands, which he can get up to 95 MPH. Bowman’s background as a catcher and hitter may help him to attack hitters better. Can’t wait to see what this guy does as a full time pitcher.

Baltimore Orioles

Round 1 | Pick 21 | SP/CF | Brandon Bonilla | Age 21 | Canisius | Grade: C+ |

Last year, it could be argued that the Orioles had the best pick of the draft getting Anthony Roberts at the 9th pick. While his potential has dropped, he still was a steal. This year, it could be argued that the Orioles made the worst pick of the first round.

Bonilla didn’t even hit .300 in college ball in the MAAC, a conference that no one has heard of, and he profiles as a bottom of the order hitter, at the very best. His speed is great, and provides him with tons of range in the outfield, and as a pitcher, he has a good arm out there as well. But he routinely gets bad jumps or just misses balls, allowing them to bounce past him for extra bases.

If the Orioles plan to use him as a pitcher, that boosts his stock some, but even then he doesn’t possess the same potential some other SP still available have. He does have 4 nice pitches, all graded out 60+, but part of that is in part due to him showing them off less than most other college pitchers.

He does need to improve on his control some if he wants to stick as a pitcher, but specialization will help with that. If he does develop and improve due to focusing on pitching, he could be seen as a steal, but for right now, he looks like a reach pick.

Round 2 | Pick 19 | SP | Cole Thompson | Age 19 | Warsaw (IN) HS | Grade: B- |

This draft is full of pitchers with big upside and Thompson is yet another of them. He has four pitches graded 55+, with his best being his changeup. He does run his fastball up to 95 MPH, and if he can show some control of it, it could be a great pitch. He runs into the same problem with his splitter, so he will need to spend time in the minors working on his command. If he can improve it, he has the chance to be a top of the rotation pitcher for the Orioles.

Atlanta Braves

Round 1 | Pick 22 | SP | Carter Parker | Age 19 | Minneapolis Southwest HS | Grade: B |

Parker was seen by many as a left handed high school reliever, which would still make him projectable considering how dominant he was and how good his best two pitches are. Many scouts had only seen his sinker and his curveball, because he never threw his changeup, due to the fact that he never needed it during his 9-0, 0.40 ERA, .121 BAA, 1 XBHA and 176 K/19 BB in 90.1 IP campaign.

So many scouts had him going as a 5th round pick, which is the level he was working out with for the Braves, when during a bullpen he showcased his 93 MPH sinker and his elite level curveball, but then signaled to throw a changeup. According to the people in attendance, it was on par with any of the other great changeups thrown in this draft class.

If his changeup is as good as claimed, this could be the steal of the draft. He has the ability to add some velocity, but if not he has an 65-grade sinker which gets him groundballs for days, and a curveball that consistently gets strikeouts. At the very worst, he becomes an elite reliever, who can go multiple innings and get out of jams.

Round 2 | Pick 20 | 1B | Seth Beer | Age 21 | UNC | Grade: C |

Beer has been one of the best bats in the college ranks for 4 years now, but he’s an interesting pick for the Braves as he can’t field in the outfield or at first base. He does everything quite well, with consistent contact, good pitch recognition and extra base power.

Detroit Tigers

Round 1 | Pick 23 | CF | Adam Black | Age 17 | Urban (CA) HS | Grade: B |

Going into the season, Black was on the shortlist for the #1 overall pick. But as the season wore on, the overexposure on him caused his flaws to be seen. He still has the chance to be an solid Major League bat, but not the elite level that people originally thought.

The high school centerfielder is probably best suited to end up in right field, since others have better range and he has a fantastic arm. But a lot will come down to the development of his bat.

This season in high school his chase rate and groundball rate went way up, while his hard contact rate went way down. Yes, he was playing some elite competition out in California, but it was still concerning. He’ll have plenty of time to prove to everyone that this season was just a fluke, since he’s a 17 year old going into the minors.

Round 2 | Pick 21 | SP | Jeff Penrice | Age 21 | Cleveland State | Grade: A- |

Yet another pitcher with huge potential. Penrice somehow ended up at Cleveland State despite growing up in New Hampshire, but the Vikings are sure glad he did. The rest of the Horizon League not so much though, as his 1.88 ERA in his senior season was a down year.

He has a fastball that he runs up to 97 MPH and pairs it well with a nasty slider that he dominated with each year in the NCAA regionals. He also has a very good changeup, and that solid three pitch mix is what makes him a Major League prospect. He also has solid command of his offerings, and while his fastball and changeup are fairly straight, they’re a big enough velocity difference to not impact him much, especially considering how good his slider is. The only reason Penrice slipped this far is because of him being in the Horizon League, but it may not be long before he’s pitching the the American League.

Cincinnati Reds

Round 1 | Pick 24 | SP | MacKenzie Gore | Age 19 | Montebello (CA) HS | Grade: B+ |

Gore is yet another pitcher that could blossom into an ace with the proper development. He’s an older high school lefty who gets up to 98 MPH and throws a curveball and a slider, and has shown advanced feel for his changeup.

While he only has two elite 65-grade pitches, he’s been so effective in high school. His senior season, he had a 10-0 record with a 0.53 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and only allowed 2 extra base hits. While his walk rate was low in high school, that tends to happen when you strike everyone out (15.2 K/9), and he does need to work on his control some in order to fulfill his potential.

What really helps Gore is his deceptive delivery, mainly his wonky leg kick. He lifts his leg in a Bronson Arroyo-esque type way, although this creates some concerns about repeatability in his mechanics. Also, due to the fact that he changes his leg kick when there are runners on, many feel this constantly changing motion won’t help with his consistency.

If for some reason he does end up inconsistent, a move to the bullpen may help him. With two elite pitches and high velocity, any troubles with his control would be played down, and he could choose to scrap his windup and go from the stretch all of the time. But the Reds will surely try to keep him as a starting pitcher for as long as they can, and hope he develops into a number two for Kolby Allard, creating a dominant lefty rotation.

Breaking: Gore has been traded to the White Sox for C Kent Conner. Conner has some Major League potential, but if he was in this draft class, he would not have been picked this highly. Grade for White Sox: A Grade for Reds: C

Round 2 | Pick 22 | CF | Bill Harrison | Age 21 | SDSU | Grade: A- |

Harrison has some of the best speed in the class, which is why he’s going to stick in centerfield. On top of that, he has a sellout swing which results in some serious power potential, despite his 5’11” – 175 lb frame. He’s also shown a solid understanding of when to unleash his swing and when not to, although since it is a full effort swing, his head’s moving which results in a decent number of swings and misses. On the defensive side, he does need to get a new arm, but it hasn’t been too much of a problem since he catches everything.

Minnesota Twins

Round 1 | Pick 25 | SP | A.J. Bentley | Age 18 | Eisenhower (WA) HS | Grade: B- |

It’s rare you see a high school reliever selected anywhere in the MLB draft, but A.J. has the chance to become an elite reliever, and if he can develop a better feel for his changeup potentially a top-of-the-line starter.

He has a nasty 95 MPH two-seamer (although sometimes when throwing it outside to lefties, it moves like a cutter) and a devastating 12-6 curveball. He struck out 16.7 per 9 innings, and allowed just one extra base hit. His groundball rate was through the roof (although that happens when only 1/3 of the hitters put the ball in play off of you).

While the Twins will hope his changeup becomes a good enough third offering to keep him as a starter, he is best served as a reliever. He’s left-handed with the ability to go multiple innings, strikeout a lot of batters and get out of trouble. He is an 18 year old version of Andrew Miller or Josh Hader and you can easily picture him being a key piece in another Twins World Series run.

Round 2 | Pick 24 | LF | Griffin Conine | Age 20 | Beresford (SD) HS | Grade: B- |

Conine is an odd pick, since he’s almost 21, just leaving high school, and out of South Dakota nonetheless. He’s shown solid feel with the bat during his 10 high school seasons (he was playing varsity in 6th grade), but nothing shows as an elite tool. He will become a solid right fielder with a good arm, and scouts do love the work ethic he has, which could help him develop as a hitter.

Seattle Mariners

Round 1 | Pick 26 | SP | Tommy Lewis | Age 19 | Chula Vista (CA) HS | Grade: C |

Tommy Lewis is interesting, because he has consistently dominated for the first 5 innings of every start he had this season, but then he tires and it shows. He was tiring so much, that his high school coach decided he’d be best served as a reliever.

The high school lefty is a groundball machine due to his 93 MPH sinker and his big league changeup. He also has a nice slurve that he calls a curveball, which is his putaway pitch on his strikeouts.

When he made the switch to reliever, due to his quick tiring when pitching, he worked with coaches to figure out why he had no stamina. They ultimately decided that a change in his delivery may help to ease the fatigue on his arm, but with that change he lost some feel for his changeup. With more consistency, he should develop more stamina and get that feel back and that’s a risk that the Mariners were willing to take.

Round S1 | Pick 5 | SP | Roger Brown | Age 18 | Key (MD) HS | Grade: A+ |

The Mariners supplemental pick was a steal. The 18-year-old Maryland pitcher dominated in high school with a 94 MPH cutter and 86 MPH slider, and just because he could, he used his changeup against the best of hitters just to mess with them. He’s got a few control issues, mainly because he uses a similar grip for his cutter and slider, causing them to blend together at times, but he looks like a very solid pick this deep into the draft, especially considering all the other pitchers selected ahead of him.

Round 2 | Pick 25 | SS | James Hardy Jr. | Age 18 | Lisle (IL) HS | Grade: B- |

Hardy Jr. is a high school shortstop with a solid bat, and he looks good enough defensively to stick at short. If he does, the Mariners will have a solid prospect on their hands, despite him only having one above-average tool, which is his 60-grade power.

Los Angeles Angels

Round 1 | Pick 27 | SS | Gleyber Torres | Age 21 | Venezuela | Grade: C |

Gleyber is a tricky one to project because he is a smooth fielder at shortstop with solid feel with the bat. But he doesn’t have the power for extra base hits, the eye for a high OBP and he showed a lack of patience while chasing bad pitches from Venezuelan pitching.

His defense alone may get him into the big leagues, as he can be an above average fielder at any of the infield positions, but his offense is the bigger question. He makes hard enough contact to hit .275 at the Major League level, but he strikes out too often and hits very few home runs or doubles. It looks like his ceiling may be backup infielder, although that is needed for a winning team.

He is flashy though, always making sure to make impressive plays, anywhere from glove flips to barehanded plays, and leaving the field knowing the fans will remember his name. There are concerns that he is too cocky though, and when you’re looking at a 21-year-old who has been playing at a competition level even lower than high school ball and needs to develop, his ego may get in the way of that.

Round 2 | Pick 26 | SS | Adam Smith | Age 18 | Lakeview Centennial (TX) HS | Grade: B- |

Smith has the potential to be an elite level fielder with an average bat. If his bat develops to where some scouts have it, he can hold his own as a backup infielder or a weak end-of-the-lineup bat. His defense will be what brings him along, as he could be playing shortstop in the Major Leagues right now, and can play anywhere in the infield or outfield at a Gold Glove level.

Texas Rangers

Round 2 | Pick 9 | SP | Nick McDermott | Age 20 | Iowa | Grade: C |

McDermott is an interesting prospect because he did well pitching at Iowa, which is in the Big Ten, but he relied heavily on fastballs. Now, he was able to do that because he throws up to 99 MPH with good control on a 4-seam fastball and a cut fastball, but his lack of offspeed concerned many scouts.

Not only does he have poor offspeed pitches, but he doesn’t have any breaking pitch, instead opting for a circle change and a changeup. This is why his K/9 was not as high as some others in this draft class, and why he allowed more extra base hits than other top picks.

That being said, this is a 2nd round pick, and you aren’t going to find any prospects without a few flaws this late into the draft. With such a live arm, McDermott has the chance to become a top of the rotation pitcher, but he’ll need to spend time in the minors perfecting his craft.

New York Yankees

Round 2 | Pick 15 | SP | Brady Singer | Age 21 | Long Beach State | Grade: B- |

There appears to be some bias in the Yankees front office, as their scouting director Josh Byrnes, all of their top area scouts and the special advisors all had Singer further down the draft board, with one source telling me that the Yankees draft room had 5 other college RHP ahead of Singer. But the Yankees still picked him due to his childhood friendship with the Yankees GM Chipper Coltre.

Singer isn’t a bad mid-2nd round pick, but he just doesn’t have the upside that you could have gotten. The Yankees always have the ability to go out and sign a free agent to be a secondary piece on their team, but it’s rare to get superstars moving in this league, and so they should have drafted based on the highest potential.

Singer does have two 65-grade pitches, in a 97 MPH 2-seamer and a sharp slider that he uses to get strikeouts. His changeup is developing, but still a step behind his other pitches. He’s shown solid command of all three pitches, and has been able to pitch late into games often. At his ceiling, he’ll be a nice #3 pitcher in a rotation, but the real value is in his high floor, as he should move through the system quickly due to his age and advanced feel for pitching. In the worst case scenario, he becomes a long reliever, utilizing just his two main pitches.

New York Mets

Round 2 | Pick 23 | CL | Brandon Tewksbury | Age 21 | FIU | Grade: B |

It’s rare to see a team use their first round pick on a reliever, and while this is an end of the 2nd round pick, it still means this guy has some serious upside. Tewksbury has shown serious dominance at FIU, coming close to multiple C-USA records for K/9 and saves.

The one concern is that he doesn’t have a breaking ball, but he has a fantastic splitter which he uses to get groundballs for days. There’s some concern over his control, as he gives up some command to get his velocity up to touching 100 MPH, but with late movement he’s still been hard to hit. As a college reliever, he should advance through the system quickly, especially after showing the poise in late game required to be a closer. If for some reason he doesn’t end up as a closer, he will be a high leverage man, coming in with runners on base and getting out of the jam, since he is able to get groundballs and strikeouts.

Best Available:

1B | Jordan Jenkins | Age 18 | Chaminade (NY) HS | KC (Round 6, Pick 12)

SS | Nick Madrigal | Age 21 | Santa Clara | MIA (3, 34)

SS | Bill Boyce | Age 20 | Louisiana Tech | OAK (6, 11)

CF | Chase Fieler | Age 18 | Mar Vista (CA) HS | KC (3, 12)

CF | Billy Rounds | Age 21 | USC | LAD (3, 22)

RF/SP | Chad Smith | Age 21 | Stanford | HOU (4, 2)

SP | Blaine Knight | Age 21 | Tulane | ATL (3, 24)

SP | Keegan Thompson | Age 23 | Kent State | NYY (3, 19)

SP | Kumar Rocker | Age 18 | Mississippi State | COL (3, 37)

SP | Ryan Rolison | Age 20 | UC – Riverdale | OAK (4, 11)

CL | Patrick Starr | Age 18 | Genesse (ID) HS | (5, 2)

CL | Hudson Henry | Age 20 | Boston College | 

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