With the 2018 MLB Draft just under a week away, time is running out for teams to make final decisions on which prospects to focus on with their first round selections that will be made on Monday, June 4.
Unlike other major professional sports, the MLB draft is unique in the sense that there is a rarely a consensus on who the top prospects are and where they will be drafted, with much more depending on projection, as many of the players taken in early in the draft are seniors in high school and have yet to fully develop physically.
It’s not uncommon for all 30 teams to have a different ranking for a single player, making it that much harder, even for experts, to predict where the player may ultimately end up being drafted. Nevertheless, it’s fun to try.
MLB Mock Draft 2018
Mize is as close to a consensus top pick as there has been in recent memory. Not only has the right hander dominated competition in the SEC, but he also performed well on the international stage with Team USA last summer before being shut down with arm fatigue.
Mize can run his fastball into the upper-90s and complements it well with an advanced splitter. He has great size at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. He looks the part of a future front-end starter in the big leagues.
The thing scouts love about him: he rarely walks batters, as he’s issued only eight free-passes this season in 89 innings, while striking out 124.
As draft day has gotten closer, there has been more and more talk of the Giants taking Bart with the second overall pick on June 4.
As the best catching prospect in the class, this may make sense for San Francisco, as current starter Buster Posey isn’t getting any younger and a move to first base could happen in a few years’ time, lining up perfectly with when the Giants could expect Bart to be ready for a call to the big leagues.
The Phillies have opened some eyes through the first month and a half of the MLB season, as they’re currently battling the equally surprising Atlanta Braves for control of the NL East. They’ll perhaps gain some immediate help on the mound in that endeavor by drafting Singer, who has a chance to make it to the big leagues by the end of this season, like Brandon Finnegan did with Kansas City in 2014.
Singer comes from a Florida program that has been stacked with power pitchers over the last four seasons and produced multiple first rounders, but he may be the best yet. His fastball sits in the upper-90s and he features a good slider, giving him the opportunity to move quickly through the minors, especially if he begins his career in the bullpen.
No. 4 Chicago White Sox — Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State
Standing only 5-8 and 160 pounds, Madrigal may not look the part of a top-five pick in the draft — but he hits like one.
Though he missed roughly half of this season with a broken wrist, Madrigal is hitting .438 for the Beavers in 21 games and has returned, fully healthy, in time for their postseason push. Scouts love the way he plays the game and his overall baseball IQ, comparing him to a young Dustin Pedroia.
He may not hit for as much power as the Red Sox star, but he gets on base a lot thanks to a developed approach at the plate that has allowed him to walk more than he has struck out in all three of his collegiate seasons. Look for Madrigal to be the first hitter off the board in June.
No. 5 Cincinnati Reds — Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie (Fla.) HS
A year ago, the Reds took flamethrower Hunter Greene with the second overall pick and will look to add another this year at No. 5 with Stewart. Like Greene, Stewart is a big-bodied, hard-throwing right-hander, but with more developed secondary pitches that his counterpart, namely a sharp 12-6 curveball that he throws in the mid-80s. Though he has the tools in place to be a front of the rotation starter, Cincinnati will likely give Stewart time to develop in the minors before calling him up.
No. 6 New York Mets — Jonathan India, 3B, Georgia Florida
With Joey Bart off the board at No. 2, the Mets could go with India at No. 6 as their third baseman of the future.
Considered one of the more complete college hitters in the draft, India added some pop to his swing by smashing 16 home runs (and counting) this season. He’s also defensively sound, leading most scouts to believe he’ll be able to stay at the hot corner as a professional.
No. 7 San Diego Padres — Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida 7
With concerns about prep right-hander Ethan Hankins’ shoulder injury growing, Padres could opt to take a more polished and accomplished arm in South Florida’s McClanahan. The lefty has been known to run his fastball into the triple digits and pairs it with an above average slider. The question concerning McClanahan is whether he can remain a starter in the long-term, or if he profiles better for a role in the bullpen.
Liberatore has the talent and upside to go within the first three picks of the draft, but the Giants interest in Joey Bart will cause him to slide to Atlanta at No. 8. His bad luck will be the Braves’ good fortune, as the 6-5 lefty should have plenty of time to develop in Atlanta’s farm system before being called up to the big leagues.
No. 9 Oakland A’s — Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State
Even though Wichita State’s season ended in the American Athletic Conference Tournament last week, Bohm’s stock has been steadily rising as of late and has put him in contention to be a top-10 pick on June 4. His natural power from the right side would play well in the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and, though his lack of range will likely move him from third base to first as a professional, his offensive prowess is something the A’s can build around in the future.
No. 10 Pittsburgh Pirates — Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran (Calif.) HS
One of the more complete high school arms in the 2018 draft, Winn displays three above-average pitches with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. He has an athletic frame at 6-2 and 195 pounds and has worked this spring to sharpen his slider into a true out pitch. The risk-adverse Pirates could gladly scoop up Winn at No. 10 and give him the time he needs to further develop in the minors.
No. 11 Baltimore Orioles — Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi
A draft-eligible sophomore, Rolison won’t light up radar guns like many of his first-round companions, as his fastball sits in the low-90s. But he features the best curveball in the draft and is comfortable locating it to both sides of the plate, in any count.
Baltimore will likely have to pay slightly over slot value for Rolison, who would still have two years of eligibility remaining should he not sign, but they’ll be happy to have the polished lefty still available at No. 11.
No. 12 Toronto Blue Jays — Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central (Ga.) HS
Originally projected to be a lock within the first few picks of the draft, Hankins has seen his stock fade as the spring has worn on, mainly due to a dip in velocity he’s experienced since returning to the mound from a shoulder injury earlier this year. Prior to the injury, Hankins fastball sat in the mid-to-high 90s, but since his return, has been tracked in the low 90s.
Though some teams are understandably worried about the drop in velocity, others focus on the upside the youngster brings to the table. Should the Blue Jays take Hankins at No. 12, they’d likely limit his innings the rest of this summer, allowing him time to get back to where he was entering the spring, and could develop the righty over a few years’ time to pair with Marcus Stroman at the front of their rotation.
No. 13 Miami Marlins — Mason Denaburg, RHP, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS
Derek Jeter and Co. will make this the fifth-straight year in which the Marlins have taken a high schooler with their first-round pick should they take Denaburg at No. 13. Though he was hampered by injury much of this spring, when healthy, he ran his fastball into the upper-90s and showed the makings of above-average secondary pitches.
If he can manage to stay out of the trainer’s room as a pro, he could be a solid front-of-the-rotation starter in a few years’ time and a player that Jeter can build around moving forward.
No. 14 Seattle Mariners — Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS
The Mariners have not taken a left handed pitcher in the first round since 2011, when they nabbed Danny Hultzen out of Virginia with the second overall pick. Weathers, considered one of the more polished high school arms in the draft, has similar stuff to Hultzen, with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and a power curve, but features a more refined delivery and natural arm action that should help him avoid some of the injuries that cut into Hultzen’s career.
Weathers also has major-league blood lines, as his father David pitched nearly 20 years in the big leagues.
No. 15 Texas Rangers — Nolan Gorman, 3B, Sandra Day O’Connor (Ariz.) HS
Everything is bigger in Texas. That being the case, Gorman’s bat should fit in just fine in Arlington, as the high school senior possesses some of the best power in this year’s draft. At 6-1 and 210 pounds, Gorman features an easy swing from the left side that generates tremendous bat speed. The major question mark surrounding Gorman, however, is whether he can stay at third base as a pro. If he can’t, his power profiles well for a corner outfield spot.
No. 16 Tampa Bay Rays — Jerred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha West (Wi.) HS
Though some consider Kelenic to be a top-five talent in the draft, as he has an advanced approach at the plate and above average power, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to stay in center field, dropping his overall value and causing him to slide to Tampa Bay at No. 16.
The Rays will be ecstatic to pick him up in the middle of the first round, as his pitch selection and ability to take pitches to all fields should help him succeed early and often as a professional.
No. 17 Los Angeles Angels — Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee (Ga.) HS
At 6-5 and 250 pounds, Rocker stands out in this year’s draft. His sheer size allows for easy velocity, as the right hander routinely runs his fastball into the upper-90s with late movement. Beyond his fastball, Rocker also features a power slider that, while inconsistent at times, could develop into a very effective second pitch.
No. 18 Kansas City Royals — Brice Turang, SS, Santiago (Calif.) HS
The big question holding Turang back from perhaps entering the top-15 picks of the first round is whether he’ll be able to hit for power as a professional. Weighing only 165 pounds, scouts love his approach at the plate and his defense but question if he’ll be able to add any pop to his bat. Beyond that, Turang is considered one of the better all-around players in the draft and features smooth hands and good footwork at shortstop.
No. 19 St. Louis Cardinals — Blaine Knight, RHP, Arkansas
Perhaps no player in this year’s class has helped himself more in the weeks leading up to the draft than Arkansas righty Blaine Knight. Entering the SEC tournament a week ago, Knight was already considered a first round talent, but cemented himself as one of the top college arms available by going six solid innings against top-ranked Florida, surrendering only a single run on four hits, in front of dozens of scouts.
The Cardinals could take Knight at No. 19 and allow him some time in the minors to fill out, as he’s listed at 6-3 and only 170 pounds, before joining their rotation in a few years.
No. 20 Minnesota Twins — Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
Once considered a lock to be a top-10 pick, a down junior season has caused Swaggerty to slide on many draft boards. Though he may not go in the first half of the first round, whoever he does fall to will be getting one heck of a player.
Swaggerty combines top-end speed with raw power, meaning he’ll likely be able to stay in center field as a professional. If the Twins get him at No. 20, they’ll be gaining a true center fielder and leadoff hitter for years to come.
No. 21 Milwaukee Brewers — Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State
Larnach, though often overshadowed by classmate Nick Madrigal, has really come on strong in 2018 and played his way into becoming a first-round pick in June. Having hit only three career home runs coming into this season, Larnach dialed up the power in 2018 and has launched 15 so far in 2018. However, he’s not just a boom-or-bust hitter, as he’s also drawn 35 walks on the season and has hit for average as well.
His average speed means he’ll likely be relegated to a corner outfield spot, but, regardless, the Brewers would be getting a very good player at No. 21.
No. 22 Colorado Rockies — Triston Casas, 1B, American Heritage (Fla.) HS
Casas is one of the riskier picks in the first round, but not because he’s isn’t talented. Quite the contrary, actually, as he possesses some serious power. There are a couple factors that may turn teams off on taking him with their first pick.
One such factor is his feast-or-famine track record at the plate. While he has first-round power, he does not have first-round contact, leading scouts to question whether he’ll be able to hit consistently as a professional. The second is his commitment to the University of Miami and how large of a signing bonus it will take to pry him from Coral Gables.
Regardless, if a team takes him in the first round, and is able to sign him, they’ll be gaining a serious power-hitting first baseman who would benefit from a slow progression through the minors before being called up to the big leagues.
No. 23 New York Yankees — Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
With Mike Vasil asking all 30 teams to pass on him in the draft, the Yankees could lock in on Gilbert, a hard-throwing right hander from Stetson University, at No. 23.
Though he’ll likely need a year or two in the minors to refine his secondary pitches, he profiles well as a big league starter and should be able to remain in the rotation in the Bronx.
No. 24 Chicago Cubs — Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida
With the Cardinals taking Blaine Knight at No. 19, the Chicago Cubs would be ecstatic to nab Kowar at No. 24. He doesn’t get as much press as his teammate Brady Singer, but Kowar is a legitimate first round talent on the mound.
Scouts love his 6-6, 180-pound frame and think with some weight gain his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s, could jump up into the high-90s, making his curveball and above average changeup that much more difficult for hitters to handle.
No. 25 Arizona Diamondbacks — Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
With the Yankees nabbing Logan Gilbert two picks earlier, the Diamondbacks could take Steele Walker at No. 25 and add his bat to their already talented outfield. Walker has an advanced approach at the plate, which he uses to hit line drives to all fields, and has added power this season at Oklahoma, something that should play well at the cavernous Chase Field. While he has played centerfield for the Sooners, Walker will likely move to a corner spot as a pro.
No. 26 Boston Red Sox — Will Banfield, C, Brookwood (Ga.) HS
A shaky spring at the plate has pushed Banfield to the back of the first round, but his defensive prowess behind it will keep him from falling to the second. Though he does possess a decent approach at the plate, and slightly above-average power, Banfield’s real gift is his arm, which had many clubs drooling early in the draft process. The Red Sox would be wise to take Banfield at No. 26, and hope his bat develops, as they do not have a catcher in their system with his defensive tools.
No. 27 Washington Nationals — Seth Beer, OF/1B, Clemson
Two years ago as a freshman at Clemson, Beer won the Dick Howser Award, college baseball’s version of the Heisman Trophy, and became a living legend. Since that time, however, his gaudy stats have slowly come down to Earth and many of his peers have surpassed him, thanks in part to a rough junior season in which his average dipped below .300. Though some of the mystique surrounding him has worn off, he’ll still be a first rounder due to his sheer power from the left side.
Defensively, his speed limits him to either a corner outfield position or first base, both of which he played in college. The Nationals are a team toward the end of the first round that could take a chance on Beer, seeing as their power-hitting right fielder is likely to move on this offseason. It would be unfair and unrealistic to expect Beer to fill the shoes of Bryce Harper, especially considering he would likely not make it to the big leagues for a few seasons, but the profile of a home run-smashing former-prodigy, does invite the comparison.
No. 28 Houston Astros — Connor Scott, OF, Plant (Fla.) HS
Picking late in the first round, the Houston Astros are likely to employ the “best player available” approach at No. 28. That would be good news for high school outfielder Connor Scott, as he’s likely to be the highest rated prospect left on the board at that time and would join a loaded farm system, giving him the time he would need to develop at the plate. Scott’s best tool is his natural speed, which should allow him to stay in centerfield as a professional.
No. 29 Cleveland Indians — Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
After missing his entire sophomore season with a back injury, Beck has returned to Palo Alto this spring and picked up where he left off in 2016, when he was named a Freshman All-American, by posting a 2.90 ERA to go along with a 7-3 record. With a fastball that sits in the low-90’s, Beck is not overpowering. Instead, he relies on superb command of his heater and a well above average changeup to keep hitters off balance. The Indians taking Beck at No. 29 would give them a highly polished starting pitcher who would likely move through their farm system at a relatively quick pace to join Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer in the rotation in the next three seasons.
30. Los Angeles Dodgers — Sean Hjelle, RHP, Kentucky
Hjelle is one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft, as the right-hander from the University of Kentucky stands 6-11 and features a low-90s fastball and an impressive curveball that displays considerable movement.
He uses his height to create a downward angle on all of his pitches, which helps him overcome the relative lack of velocity on his fastball and give his off-speed pitches more life. The Dodgers could take Hjelle, the 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year, with the final pick in the first round and make use of his unique height and skill set in either the bullpen or starting rotation.