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MLB Draft 2018 Round 1

The MLB draft is here! MLB Draft 2018 Round 1. One year after the Minnesota Twins selected Royce Lewis with the first pick, the Detroit Tigers kick off the 2018 festivities.

MLB Draft 2018 Round 1
MLB Draft 2018

Most expect Auburn righty Casey Mize to go No. 1, but surprises are always in store. Follow along with the SI staff and the analysis of Dave Perkin, a retired scout who worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and Baseball America. MLB Draft 2018 Round 1.

1. Detroit Tigers: Casey Mize, RHP, 6′ 3″, 220 lbs., Auburn

The consensus choice to be the first overall selection in 2018, Mize has endured a series of nagging ailments in his career at Auburn, including elbow tightness. In the past, most 1–1 candidates have engendered little doubt or reservations among scouts; not so with Mize.

Mize tosses a 93–95 fastball, mixing in an 88–90 cutter, low 80’s curve and his “out” pitch, an 87–89 splitter.  His 14:1 strikeout to walk ratio is phenomenal. That figure would be difficult to accomplish at the Little League distance of 46 feet.

Mechanics are another story. Mize’s current mechanics don’t negatively affect his command, but they do portend future injury. His stiff, awkward, toppling delivery finish is one concern. Of greater significance is Mize’s inability to counter rotate at the beginning of his delivery. That prevents him from achieving hip and shoulder separation-which is the key to pitching velocity and injury prevention, for it enables a hurler to get his body into the pitch and avoid isolating the arm.

2. San Francisco Giants: Joey Bart, C, 6′ 3″, 225 lbs., Georgia Tech

Almost every recent draft has featured a college catcher selected in the first 10 to 15 picks. Some succeed: Buster Posey, Matt Wieters; some do not: Jeff Clement. Bart is no doubt the top catching prospect available this year. He enjoyed a 2018 season that makes sabermetricians ecstatic: a .359 /.471 /.632 slash line.

Strong and athletic, Bart consistently displays a powerful arm, clocking POP (home to second) times in the 1.90 range—well above the big league average. He exhibits a relaxed, comfortable receiving style and soft hands.

The primary question with Bart is: Will he hit? (A scout’s hitting standards for backstops is substantially more relaxed than for, say, a corner IF or OF). To his credit, Bart has made intelligent adjustments: This season, he eliminated a long stride and instead utilized a moderate up and down leg lift—and the results were striking.

Where to Watch?

The MLB Draft lasts three whole days and 40 rounds, but only part of the first day is televised, with the first round on MLB Network on Monday night (7 p.m. ET, MLB Network).

Monday will feature the first two rounds of the draft plus a few other picks after each round. There are eight compensatory picks for the free agents who signed elsewhere this winter after declining a qualifying offer, and the Tampa Bay Rays got a compensatory pick at No. 32 for failing to sign 2017 first-rounder Drew Rasmussen.

There are also Competitive Balance rounds, with eight teams getting picks after the first round and six more after the second, all for being among either the lowest-revenue teams or in the smallest markets, or both.

All in all, 78 picks will be taken on Monday, but only the first 43 picks will be televised. After that, the remainder of the draft will be broadcast exclusively online on MLB.com.

MLB Draft Monday online streaming

Rounds: 1-2 plus Competitive Balance Rounds A and B (picks 1 through 78)

Time: 7 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network (first 43 picks only)

Streaming: MLB.com

MLB Draft news and notes

Though not as big of a spectacle as the NFL Draft or the NBA Draft, mostly because the amateur players aren’t widely as known in baseball, as other sports, the television aspect adds some fanfare to the first round.

Every team will be represented at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey on Monday by some sort of team representative, either a former player, manager or scout in most cases. There will be 21 former all-stars among that group, including Bo Jackson, Kirk Gibson, and Dale Murphy, plus Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Tommy Lasorda, and Andre Dawson.

There were six players invited to the draft as well, four of them high schoolers:

Alec Bohm, Wichita State third baseman (ranked as the seventh-best prospect heading into the draft by Baseball America)
Carter Stewart, Florida high school pitcher (BA rank: 9)
Travis Swaggerty, South Alabama outfielder (BA rank: 11)
Tristan Casas, Florida high school first baseman (BA rank: 25)
Anthony Seigler, Georgia high school catcher (BA rank: 41)
Xavier Edwards, Florida high school shortstop (BA rank: 43)

MLB Draft 2018 Round 1

Here is all you need to know

Who do the Tigers take with the first pick?

The Tigers are drafting first for the second time in franchise history and hope this pick turns out better than Matt Anderson, the first pick in 1997 who finished with a 5.19 ERA over 257 relief appearances. While there’s no clear-cut No. 1 talent in this draft, the consensus prediction is Casey Mize, a right-hander from Auburn with a great baseball name.

Mize is more finished product than projection and should advance quickly into a big league rotation, perhaps as early as 2019. He’s 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA and a sterling 151-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Proving how difficult the baseball draft can be, there is no guarantee even with the first pick. Three of the past four first overall picks have struggled:

• The Astros took Mark Appel in 2013 ahead of Kris Bryant. Appel never reached the majors and retired this spring.

• The Astros took high school lefty Brady Aiken in 2014, but couldn’t reach a bonus agreement after issues showed up in his medicals. Aiken blew out his elbow in 2015, but the Indians still re-drafted him in the first round. He has yet to pitch in 2018. (At least the Astros received a compensation pick for not signing Aiken and took Alex Bregman in 2015.)

• The Phillies took outfielder Mickey Moniak in 2016 and he already looks like a potential bust, hitting .242 at Class A with no home runs and a 46-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Late update: Law’s Mock Draft 4.0 takes a new twist and has the Tigers going with Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, with Mize falling to the Phillies at No. 3. The last catcher to go first overall was Joe Mauer in 2001. The other three catchers taken first overall were Danny Goodwin (actually taken twice), Mike Ivie (who had to move to first base in the majors after developing the yips), and Steve Chilcott, who never reached the majors.

Is Nick Madrigal the next Jose Altuve or Dustin Pedroia?

The Oregon State shortstop might move to second base in the pros, but that’s not what draws the Altuve and Pedroia comparisons. It’s the combination of hitting prowess and size: He’s listed at 5-foot-8, and that might be generous. The only middle infielder that short taken in the first round was Joey Cora, drafted 23rd overall by the Padres in 1995.

Nobody questions Madrigal’s bat-to-ball skills, although the power will be a question in the pros. He missed some time with a hand injury this year, but in 31 games he’s hitting .406 and has struck out just five times in 146 plate appearances. Law has Madrigal going fifth overall to the Reds in his Mock Draft 4.0 and he could go as high as third to the Phillies and even first to the Tigers. Like Mize, he should advance quickly and has a high floor. You never want to project somebody to reach the level of Altuve or Pedroia, but the recent success of short players has at least allowed scouts to view Madrigal as one of the best talents in the draft.

Will the Florida Gators have three first-round picks?

The 2017 College World Series champions have three potential first-round picks:

• RHP Brady Singer entered the season as a potential No. 1 overall pick, struggled a bit early on, came on strong again, missed a couple of weeks with hamstring issues, then returned in regional play. He’s 11-1 with a 2.27 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 95 innings. Singer was a second-round pick out of high school by the Blue Jays, but scouts remain a little divisive on him thanks to a funky delivery. Some think he ends up as a reliever. Law has Singer going fourth to the White Sox, pointing out they have a history of drafting pitchers with unusual deliveries (such as Chris Sale).

• 3B Jonathan India could go in the top 10. He’s hitting .364 with 18 home runs and a .504 OBP in 59 games as one of top college hitters this season. The one potential concern: His 48 strikeouts are high for an elite college bat (but at least he has drawn 49 walks).

• RHP Jackson Kowar is 6-foot-6 and sits at 95 mph. He has a 3.21 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 92⅔ innings, but a walk rate almost twice that of Singer’s. He could go middle-to-late first round.

What is the strength of the draft?

Looks like high school pitching. Law has eight high school pitchers going in his top 30 picks. One of the most intriguing is Carter Stewart, a right-hander from Melbourne, Florida, who hits 98 mph with his fastball and has elite spin rate on his curveball.

Who are a couple of boom-or-bust types?

Maybe South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty. His tools are as good as anybody’s in the draft, with plus speed and a plus arm (he threw 92 as a pitcher in high school) and some power at the plate. He has hit just .296 in a mediocre conference, however, and though he has drawn 54 walks he has struck out 38 times in 57 games. He’s also on the short side — maybe 5-foot-8, not his listed 5-10. If everything comes together, he could be an elite leadoff hitter in the Brett Gardner mode, with more power.

If not Swaggerty, maybe high school outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who could be the first player from Wisconsin drafted in the top 10. Despite coming from a cold-weather state, he has a strong track record for scouts after playing for the U.S. 18-and-under national team, and they like the power/speed combo. He’s old for his class, however, turning 19 in July, and people who have studied draft history know that’s a red flag.

Arizona prepster Nolan Gorman is another one. He has as much raw power as anybody in the draft, which could land him in the top 10, but there are concerns about the overall hit tool and the likelihood of remaining at third base.

Who is the biggest wild card?

How about Oklahoma outfielder Kyler Murray? One of the best athletes in the 2015 draft, Murray instead enrolled at Texas A&M to play football and baseball. He later transferred to Oklahoma and is the favorite to replace Heisman winner Baker Mayfield at quarterback in the fall. He hadn’t played much baseball recently, but then hit .296/.398/.556 this year with 10 home runs — and 56 strikeouts in 51 games. The tools are juicy enough to get somebody to take him and hope he’ll focus on baseball. Law has him ranked No. 35 on his Big Board.

Who are the teams to watch?

The Rays and Royals both have five picks on the first day of the draft, which includes the first round through the second round of compensation picks (the first 78 picks in the draft). The Rays don’t pick until 16th in the first round and the Royals 18th, but both have more bonus pool money to spend than the Tigers. The Cubs and Indians also have four picks each, with Cleveland picking 29th, 35th and 41st.

Will anybody draft Luke Heimlich?

The Oregon State senior lefty has some of the best stats in college baseball: 14-1, 2.49 ERA, 139 K’s in 104⅔ innings and just three home runs allowed after posting a 0.76 ERA as a junior with no home runs in 118 innings. Just before last year’s draft, however, it was reported that when he was 15 years old, Heimlich had pleaded guilty to molesting his 6-year-old niece. Heimlich removed himself from the team’s College World Series roster and went undrafted.

Heimlich’s initial plea deal in 2012, written in his own hand, reads “I admit that I had sexual conduct with my niece.” Now, however, Heimlich says he accepted the deal only to avoid a trial and possible jail time, and had consistently denied any wrongdoing. “Nothing ever happened, so there is no incident to look back on,” he told The New York Times in May. “There is no way he didn’t do it,” the niece’s mother said.

He throws in the 90s with a curveball and changeup and good command. He’s a second-round type of talent. Several teams — most? — have removed him from their draft boards, according to reports. Will somebody take a chance?

Any familiar names?

As always, there are plenty of them. A few to look for in the early rounds:

• Murray is the son of former Texas A&M quarterback and Brewers minor leaguer Kevin Murray and nephew of former big leaguer Calvin Murray.

• LHP Ryan Weathers is the son of former big league reliever David Weathers. The high schooler from Tennessee is a potential top-10 pick.

• SS Brice Turang is the son of Brian Turang, who played two seasons with the Mariners. Law has him going No. 26 to Boston.

• C/IF Noah Naylor is the brother of Padres prospect Josh Naylor, the 12th overall pick in 2015, who is having a breakout season in Double-A. Noah could be just the eighth Canadian taken in the first round.

• RHP Kumar Rocker is a potential first-round pick. He’s 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds — the son of former NFL defensive lineman Tracy Rocker (who won the Lombardi and Outland trophies at Auburn).

• OF Griffin Conine, son of Jeff, entered the season as a potential top-10 pick, but the Duke product has hit just .265, albeit with a 15 home runs. He now projects as a second-round selection.

• OF Tristan Pompey is the younger brother of Blue Jays outfielder Dalton. The Canadian plays for the University of Kentucky and could go in the second or third round.

• OF Alek Thomas is the son of the White Sox strength and conditioning coordinator Allen Thomas. He has committed to play baseball and football at TCU, so could be a tough sign unless he gets drafted high enough.

Which player is potentially most destined for big replica jersey sales?

Clemson first baseman Seth Beer. Or rather, make that Clemson DH, as some feel he’s so limited in the field that he projects as an AL-only player. Beer was the college player of the year as a freshman when he hit .362/.535/.700 with 18 home runs, but he hasn’t matched those numbers as a sophomore or junior, hitting .316 with 20 home runs this year. He could slip into the back of the first round.

MLB Draft 2018 Round 1

First Round Analysis in Details:

1. Detroit Tigers: Casey Mize, RHP, 6′ 3″, 220 lbs., Auburn

The consensus choice to be the first overall selection in 2018, Mize has endured a series of nagging ailments in his career at Auburn, including elbow tightness. In the past, most 1–1 candidates have engendered little doubt or reservations among scouts; not so with Mize.

Mize tosses a 93–95 fastball, mixing in an 88–90 cutter, low 80’s curve and his “out” pitch, an 87–89 splitter.  His 14:1 strikeout to walk ratio is phenomenal. That figure would be difficult to accomplish at the Little League distance of 46 feet.

Mechanics are another story. Mize’s current mechanics don’t negatively affect his command, but they do portend future injury. His stiff, awkward, toppling delivery finish is one concern. Of greater significance is Mize’s inability to counter rotate at the beginning of his delivery. That prevents him from achieving hip and shoulder separation-which is the key to pitching velocity and injury prevention, for it enables a hurler to get his body into the pitch and avoid isolating the arm.

2. San Francisco Giants: Joey Bart, C, 6′ 3″, 225 lbs., Georgia Tech

Almost every recent draft has featured a college catcher selected in the first 10 to 15 picks. Some succeed: Buster Posey, Matt Wieters; some do not: Jeff Clement. Bart is no doubt the top catching prospect available this year. He enjoyed a 2018 season that makes sabermetricians ecstatic: a .359 /.471 /.632 slash line.

Strong and athletic, Bart consistently displays a powerful arm, clocking POP (home to second) times in the 1.90 range—well above the big league average. He exhibits a relaxed, comfortable receiving style and soft hands.

The primary question with Bart is: Will he hit? (A scout’s hitting standards for backstops is substantially more relaxed than for, say, a corner IF or OF). To his credit, Bart has made intelligent adjustments: This season, he eliminated a long stride and instead utilized a moderate up and down leg lift—and the results were striking.

3. Philadelphia Phillies: Alec Bohm, 3B, 6′ 5″, 240 lbs., Wichita State

Josh Donaldson’s famed MLB Network hitting lecture has become a modern hitting blueprint—if not bible—for many young sluggers. Bohm exhibits all aspects of the Donaldson swing—high leg kick, severe upward launch angle swing, wide leg spread at the finish with the hands extended (with a flourish) above the head at follow through.

A third baseman built like Troy Glaus, Bohm’s style has worked exceptionally well in 2018—at the college level. His 16 home runs (Homer Bohms?), .436 OBP, .625 SLG and 1.061 OPS make sabermetricians giddy with delight. Bohm’s .899 fielding percentage, well…not so much.

Perhaps a better fit with an analytics driven AL ball club, Bohm has strength, bat speed and plus power. A move to 1B or DH may be in his pro future. However, with Major League Baseball trending as it is (home runs, home runs and more home runs) Bohm will be a prized commodity for many organizations.

4. Chicago White Sox: Nick Madrigal, 2B, 5′ 7″, 165 lbs., Oregon State

Media and Internet draft prognosticators love to play up the “scrappy little battler” aspect with Madrigal, claiming that modern sabermetrics helps scouts include smaller players that were earlier overlooked. Of course, that is hogwash. A players abilities dictate his appeal to scouts—not height or bulk—and smaller, shorter players have always been a staple of baseball-from Mel Ott to Joe Morgan to Kirby Puckett to Jose Altuve.

Madrigal’s primary tool is his defense—he exhibits smooth fielding actions, quality hands, excellent range and playmaking ability. Gold Gloves could conceivably be in his future. Strong and athletic, Madrigal possesses decent but not blazing off the charts speed.

Madrigal’s hitting mechanics are a concern. He has produced at the college level (despite a broken wrist earlier this year), but his swing is stiff in the upper body. Madrigal lifts his front leg and extends his stride out too far.  He also tilts his weight back and then hangs momentarily in that position—coming perilously close to bringing his back knee beyond his back foot—a huge no-no.

5. Cincinnati Reds: Jonathan India, 3B, 6’ 1”, 185 lbs., Florida

India’s 2018 offensive numbers are the stuff of arcade games: 18 home runs, .365/.506/.730. Teams starved for offense—currently nine NL clubs have team batting averages under .240—are salivating at the chance to nab India.

India’s natural quick hands and bat speed are augmented by solid hitting mechanics. He sets the bat on his shoulder parallel to the ground—think of Cal Ripken—and employs a moderate leg lift. India’s swing is compact on the back end and well balanced, and he uses the bat head to attack the ball in front of the plate.

At Florida, India plays 3B and should be able to transition to another position if needed. His speed and defensive skills are only average, but it is doubtful any ball clubs care about that. India’s value is almost exclusively in his bat.

6. New York Mets: Jarred Kelenic, OF, 6’ 1”, 195 lbs., Waukesha West HS (WI)

It’s a misnomer to think all top draft prospects hail from baseball-oriented sunshine states such as California, Arizona, Texas or Florida. Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Darin Erstad (North Dakota), Brandon Nimmo (Wyoming), oh, and a guy named Trout (New Jersey) were all early selections who prepped in cold weather climes.

Kelenic became the first Wisconsin prep star to crack the top 10, and his selection was based on merit. Well-constructed, strong, fast and athletic, Kelenic easily has the arm and speed to fit either corner outfield spot.

Scouts rarely see high school hitters with advanced hitting mechanics, particularly ones who can play only a handful of games in late spring. Kelenic’s swing fundamentals are ideal: short stride, compact backswing, still head position, upward plane, high follow through. He projects as a top of the order threat who can hit for power and average.

6. New York Mets: Jarred Kelenic, OF, 6’ 1”, 195 lbs., Waukesha West HS (WI)

It’s a misnomer to think all top draft prospects hail from baseball-oriented sunshine states such as California, Arizona, Texas or Florida. Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Darin Erstad (North Dakota), Brandon Nimmo (Wyoming), oh, and a guy named Trout (New Jersey) were all early selections who prepped in cold weather climes.

Kelenic became the first Wisconsin prep star to crack the top 10, and his selection was based on merit. Well-constructed, strong, fast and athletic, Kelenic easily has the arm and speed to fit either corner outfield spot.

Scouts rarely see high school hitters with advanced hitting mechanics, particularly ones who can play only a handful of games in late spring. Kelenic’s swing fundamentals are ideal: short stride, compact backswing, still head position, upward plane, high follow through. He projects as a top of the order threat who can hit for power and average.

Not surprisingly for the offspring of a former major leaguer, Weathers exhibits advanced mechanics. He does a terrific job of achieving and utilizing hip and shoulder separation and is able to drive straight through to the target and not fly open or fall off as do so many young hurlers.

8. Atlanta Braves: Carter Stewart, RHP, 6’ 6”, 200 lbs., Eau Gallie HS (Fla.)

High school prospects occasionally make significant “leaps” from the summer showcase circuit to their spring season six months later. Nolan Arenado is a prime example of one player who made enormous strides from summer to spring in his senior year of high school.

Displaying a low 90s fastball with a flippy curve last summer, Stewart emerged this spring firing a mid-to-high 90s heater accompanied by a sharp mid-80s curve. His change needs improvement but that is to be expected; elite pitching prospects can easily dominate high school competition without much need for a change.

Stewart’s delivery reminds old time scouts and fans of Jim Palmer—an upright delivery with a distinct over-the-top release point. The few mechanical issues Stewart has—opening the front side a tad too soon, balance at finish, lack of full extension in his arm path—will be easily cleaned up in pro ball. He projects as a No. 1 or 2 starting pitcher.

9. Oakland Athletics: Kyler Murray, OF, 5′ 11″, 195 lbs., Oklahoma

In terms of their draft philosophy, the A’s have now officially buried the “Moneyball” philosophy. An option QB who was set to replace Heisman winner Baker Mayfield for the Sooners, Murray is a sensational athlete with stunning speed combined with fast twitch quickness and reflexes.

He is a baseball novice, and will need to learn the nuances of the game in the minors. If Murray’s tools develop, he profiles as a 30-plus base stealer and an elite defensive centerfielder with range, playmaking skills and an above-average arm.

Murray’s bat is the primary question mark. His swing mechanics are decent, but of course, hitting is mostly about reading pitches and timing.  Obviously, the A’s are banking Murray will learn to hit; no doubt Oakland has no problem in accepting a high K rate with Murray.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates: Travis Swaggerty, OF, 5’ 11”, 190 lbs., South Alabama

To crack the upper portion of the first round in the modern MLB draft, a college hitting prospect has to post offensive numbers that dazzle an organizations’ analytics department. Having a local scout file a report praising the player’s tools and potential doesn’t cut it anymore.

Swaggerty enjoyed a decent season in 2018, but his stats were not atmospheric, as were those posted by India, Bart, Bohm and Madrigal. He hit .296/.455/.526 with 13 homers and nine stolen bases. Nice, not phenomenal.

Once he reaches the minors, Swaggerty will need to adopt more of a pro hitting style. Currently, his stride is too long, he lacks a load mechanism and he must separate his hands. Profiling as a corner outfielder, Swaggerty has a plus arm and average running and fielding tools.

11. Baltimore Orioles: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, 6’ 5”, 230 lbs., Central Heights HS, Texas

Big, hard throwing righthanded pitchers are as much of a staple of major league baseball as are hot dogs, peanuts and warm, overpriced beer. The term “innings eater” for many years was a derogatory term masquerading as praise. However, with modern starters rarely lasting more than six innings or 100 pitches, a power righty like Rodriguez will draw intense interest in the first round.

Built like a tight end, Rodriguez has raw stuff that should land him at or near the top of a big league rotation one day. He fires a 92–94 fastball that touches 96 and a hard low 80s slider. Rodriguez will need to develop two more pitches—a curve and change, perhaps—to fill out his arsenal.

Modern biomechanically influenced pitching analysts insist that velocity comes from three sources: arm speed, lower half drive and hip and shoulder separation. In other words, what traditionalists call upper and lower half. Rodriguez does an excellent job of using his upper half but will need to significantly improve the mechanics in his lower half.

MLB Draft 2018 Round 1

12. Toronto Blue Jays: Jordan Groshans, 3B, 6’ 4”, 190 lbs., Magnolia, Texas HS:

In a calendar year, most elite prep prospects will play more games in showcases or in travel ball than they will for their high school ball club. The net result of this merry-go-round is that scouts hope to get a grasp on whether or not a player can hit advanced pitching with a wood bat.

Groshans participated in almost every offseason event on the schedule, and, not surprisingly, scouts are widely divided on whether he will hit pro pitching.  Advocates like his size, height, leverage and bat speed. Doubters see severe inconsistencies in his production and game results. Perhaps the problem lies in Groshans’s swing: He uses an elaborate Eric Davis-like hand pump and leg kick routine, which makes consistent timing nearly impossible.

Despite the mixed opinions on his bat, there is a lot to like in Groshans. He is athletic, projectable and shows the hands, arm and range to be an average or slightly above-average defensive 3B.

13. Miami Marlins: Connor Scott OF, 6’ 4”, 180 lbs., Plant HS (Fla.)

The term “five-tool player” gets bandied about frequently in discussion of draft prospects. In reality, a player who profiles to possess five average or plus tools is rare. Tall, lanky and projectable, Scott has an excellent arm—low 90s from the mound. He exhibits excellent speed—under four seconds from home to first on a full swing from the left side of the plate.

Flashy non-hitting tools are dandy, but to crack into the top half of any draft, a high schooler has to convince scouts that he will hit professional pitching. Determining if a H.S. prospect will hit is by far the most difficult task for any scout.

Scott, as scouts often say, “has a chance to hit” an average number (16 to 24) of home runs per year and a plus .275-.280 batting average. His swing is simple and direct—subtle load, short stride, bat head out front—and is bereft of the gimmicks commonly used by many modern hitters—open stance, elaborate leg kick or severe upward launch angle.

14. Seattle Mariners: Logan Gilbert, RHP, 6’ 6”, 220 lbs., Stetson University

In contrast to the NFL or NBA draft, the MLB draft rarely provides ball clubs with immediate or near-immediate help. An organization seeking a mid- to back-of the-rotation starting pitcher within one to two years may snatch Gilbert up, probably in the middle of the first round.

Gilbert’s stuff is excellent but not devastating and more importantly, he locates all of his pitches well. He tosses a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a sharp 79–81 slider, adding a 73–76 curve and 80–83 change.  He recorded 157 K’s this year in 107 innings with only 23 walks.

Gilbert is mechanically polished, separating his hips and shoulders well and showing a strong finish. Minor problems should be solved quickly once he reaches pro ball—such as landing on his heel and pulling his head leftward.

15. Texas Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP, 6’ 2” 195 lbs., Orange Lutheran HS, Calif.

After his junior season at a high school in Colorado, Winn transferred to Orange Lutheran, a Southern California sports powerhouse (Carson Palmer and Gerrit Cole are alums). The move paid off, as Winn moved into early first-round draft consideration.

Winn features a 92–94 MPH fastball, which he can move in several directions: rise, sink, glove side, arm side. The curve is his best secondary pitch; it’s an old fashioned 12-to-6 hammer.

Mechanically, Winn is advanced for a high schooler but will pull his head slightly to his left, causing some pitches to sail to his glove side. Winn also tips his pitches: From a wind up, he’ll pump his hands up and down when throwing the fastball—but sets his hands shoulder high when delivering the curve.

16. Tampa Bay Rays: Matthew Liberatore, LHP, 6’ 5”, 200 lbs., Mountain Ridge HS (Ariz.)

Almost every year, a high school lefty pitcher gets snatched in the first round of the draft: Max Fried in 2012, Kodi Medeiros in 2014, Brady Aiken in 2014, Kolby Allard in 2015 and Trevor Rogers last year. Tall, rangy and projectable, Liberatore figures to be the first prep lefthander off the board in 2018.

Liberatore has decent current stuff, which promises to improve as he develops within a pro organization. His fastball sits 91–93 and can touch up to 95; his change, while a tad erratic, sits in the low 80s and he snaps off an old fashioned 72–75 curve ball.  Liberatore projects as a No. 2 or 3 starting pitcher.

All organizations film top prospects these days, and there is little question that every scouting director, upon viewing the video, has a few concerns with Liberatore’s mechanics.  He rotates his lead hip too early, causing his arm to drag. That flaw negatively affects Liberatore’s command and velocity.

17. Los Angeles Angels: Jordyn Adams, OF, 6’ 2”, 190 lbs., Green Hope HS (N.C.)

Adams is a two-sport athlete, having committed to play football and baseball at North Carolina—where his dad is an assistant football coach. Fans and media love the romanticized idea of a two-sport star (Bo Jackson, Kirk Gibson, Deion Sanders) but baseball scouts generally want those athletes to pick one sport and stick to it.

The reason is obvious: Football is tough and physical, but hitting a baseball is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports. Adams has a perfect frame with projection, terrific speed and the tools to be a top notch defensive outfielder. He’ll need to improve his arm, but Adams profiles as a centerfielder in pro ball.

At bat, Adams shows quickness and bat speed. His gimmicky high-leg kick, arm pumping pre-swing habits cause his timing to be frustratingly inconsistent. Adams will need significant time in the minors to learn how to hit. The organization drafting Adams will need to be patient, but with his athleticism, the payoff could be enormous.

18. Kansas City Royals: Brady Singer, RHP, 6’ 5”, 180 lbs., Florida

Singer began the year as a candidate to be the first pick. Inconsistency and minor health issues (he recently returned from a three-week absence due to hamstring tightness) have dropped his stock somewhat—but he is still a top-five prospect. Singer has a Jered Weaver-type build and top of the rotation stuff. A bit quirky, Singer will perform a pirouette when satisfied with a pitch—and often, with two outs, has such confidence in his defense he will walk off the field when a ground ball is still 50 feet from reaching an infielder.

Pitching from the third-base side of the rubber, Singer makes an obvious effort to create a distinct diagonal angle with his mid-90s fastball. Utilizing a quick side-step wind up and accelerated delivery, he adds an 81 slider and 85 change—all potential plus pitches.

Singer shows two primary mechanical problems. His lack of hip and shoulder separation causes his front side to open too soon. Of more concern, Singer’s elbow drives forward way ahead of his hand—a red flag precursor for an elbow injury.

19. St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Gorman, 3B, 6’ 2”, 210 lbs., O’Connor HS (Az.)

Media members too often fawn over a players’ batting practice or home run derby prowess, failing to recognize that while scouts pay attention to BP, their evaluations are more often based on a hitters’ in-game production, not how many trophies he wins in exhibitions.

The linebacker-sized Gorman was the darling of the summer showcase series, winning multiple home run derby titles while knocking out bleacher seats in BP. Complaints have surfaced over Gorman’s inconsistency in games; that is more of a concern with Division I college hitters, for scouts understand that inconsistency is commonplace for teenagers.

A patient organization will give Gorman time to develop and the payoff could be substantial: His swing mechanics, power and bat speed are the best in this year’s crop of high-school hitters. Gorman could develop into a middle of the order, 30-home run per season slugger.

20. Minnesota Twins: Trevor Larnach, OF,  6′ 4″, 205 lbs., Oregon State

Michael Conforto may be the best comparison for Larnach, a corner outfielder from a prominent Div. I college program in the Pacific Northwest.  Larnach has a fundamentally sound lefty swing, compact on the back end with an excellent weight shift. His saber numbers—.455 OBP and a .626 SLG are outstanding, however his strikeout rate is a bit high.

Larnach profiles best as a corner outfielder. His run, throw and field tools are somewhat pedestrian and project to fringe average. With there being a premium on lefthanded power bats, Larnach may be in Minnesota within a couple of years.

21. Milwaukee Brewers: Brice Turang, SS, 6’ 1”, 180 lbs., Santiago HS (Corona, Calif.)

Brice is the son of Brian Turang, a utility infielder/outfielder who played with the Seattle Mariners in 1993 and 1994. Prior to the beginning of the spring season, Turang was hyped as a potential top-five pick; his draft stock has fallen significantly as the season has progressed.

The reason is simple: Turang is trying to be a hitter he is not. He has adopted a severe upward launch angle, fly ball, home run or nothing swing—think Joc Pederson or Cody Bellinger. Thin and wiry, that style is not suited to Turang.

If he switches to a gap-to-gap (slight upward angle) line drive type of swing, Turang will have a far better chance to succeed. His non-hitting tools are outstanding. Turang runs well, is athletic, shows a fine arm with excellent fielding skills. He should stick at shortstop but could easily transition elsewhere.

22. Colorado Rockies: Ryan Rolison, LHP, 6′ 2″, 195 lbs., Mississippi

Rolison offers two plus pitches—a 93–94 fastball and an 83–84 breaking ball. He works from the far first base side of the rubber, creating a drastic cross fire angle into home plate. Mechanically clean, Rolison will need to develop his additional secondary pitches—a change, for instance—to major league quality.

Profiling as a No. 3 starter, Rolison will need to improve his command and reduce his walk rate. If he does so, he can make it to Colorado quickly.

23. New York Yankees: Anthony Seigler, C, 5’ 11”, 200lbs., Cartersville HS (Ga.):

Seigler is a rare switch-hitting catcher, who, in an odd twist, is also a switch thrower. How that will help him in catching is anyone’s guess, but it may provide news outlets with a warm and fuzzy oddball feature report on a slow news day.

Seigler is strong and powerfully built, and as a defensive backstop he checks all the boxes scouts look for. He is comfortable and quiet behind the dish, gets in a low, spread position to receive the pitch, shows relaxed hands and easily performs the catchers triumvirate: extend, frame, hold.

Hitting production standards for catchers are far more modest than for say, 1B prospects, and Seigler shows the potential to meet those goals. As he swings, Seigler rises up and pulls off the ball, but his fundamental swing is sound and smooth from both sides. He profiles as an everyday catcher who’ll hit from No. 6 on down in a big league lineup.

24. Chicago Cubs: Nico Hoerner, SS, 5′ 11″, 195 lbs., Stanford

College prospects begin to gain notice and separate themselves during the summer prior to their junior season, when they play in the Cape Cod League.  A strong Cape season leads to scout attention in the spring. If a player produces in the spring at a high level, he secures an early spot in the draft.

This is the path Hoerner has taken. Not gifted with extraordinary tools and inhabiting a somewhat thick body, Hoerner has produced offensively at Stanford this spring. The Cubs figure to use Hoerner in the same fashion they use Ben Zobrist: play multiple positions with the ability to hit at several different spots in the lineup.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt McLain, SS, 5′ 11″, 175 lbs., Beckman HS, (Calif.)

McLain’s selection at this point is a shocker, particularly with Xavier Edwards, a highly regarded high school shortstop, still available.  McLain has solid but certainly not the overwhelming tools normally found in a first rounder.

To his credit, McLain is a polished player, is dedicated and enthusiastic, has a strong work ethic and knows how to play. He probably moves to another position—second base most likely—as a pro. McLain’s ascent through the minors will depend on his offensive output. His swing is fundamentally sound, however McLain will have to prove he can catch up to advanced velocity.

26. Boston Red Sox: Triston Casas, 1B, 6’ 4”, 235 lbs., American Heritage School (Fla.)

In scout jargon, the phrase “you’re buying the bat” means a prospect has little to offer except offensive ability. Legend has it that when the Mets drafted Daniel Murphy, the Scouting Director told the area scout, “He better hit or you’re fired.”

Casas does have a strong arm, but his other non-hitting tools are below average. To his credit, Casas does possess big-time power and bat speed and will appeal to a club which prizes that skill above all others. In a moderate embarrassment, Casas was outhit this spring—in both homers and average—by a far less touted teammate.

When his front foot touches during his swing, Casas assumes a Bryce Harper type of position—hands high, left shoulder and elbow tucked behind his head. An adherent to the modern launch angle craze, Casas shows too much length in his backswing, then over strides and over swings on his follow through. Projecting as a big power, high strikeout hitter, an organization will need to be patient with Casas, banking on the possibility that early struggles in the minors will eventually lead to home runs in the majors.

27. Washington Nationals: Mason Denaburg, RHP, 6′ 3″, 200 lbs., Merritt Island HS (Fla.)

At a showcase event several years ago, Vincent Velasquez (now with the Phillies) wowed scouts with a blow away pitching performance.  Velasquez was also a shortstop and occasional outfielder. Said one scout, “So much for playing the infield!”

Denaburg has fiddled with catching and playing the outfield, but those dalliances will end pronto. Tall and projectable, Denaburg fires a mid 90s fastball and adds a hissing breaking ball.  A tendency to pull off to his left during his delivery negatively affects his command. When that issue is solved, Denaburg profiles as a No. 2 big league starter.

28. Houston Astros: Seth Beer, OF, 6′ 2″, 200 lbs., Clemson

Beer enjoyed a fabulous freshman year at Clemson and was projected in 2016 to be the number one pick in 2018.  His stock has dropped for several reasons: Beer has no set defensive position and figures to be a liability wherever he winds up, plus he has well below average speed.

Still, there is no question Beer has produced offensively at Clemson. He is the rare power hitter who has a modest K rate. Perhaps the main knock on Beer’s hitting ability is the fact he has produced with metal bats throughout his career, but has performed poorly in events when he swings a wood bat.

29. Cleveland Indians: Noah Naylor, C, 6’1”, 195 lbs., St. Joan of Arc HS, Ontario

Canadians, of course, have played in the majors leagues and many quite prominently—Larry Walker, Ferguson Jenkins, etc. Naylor is a lefthanded hitting catcher from Ontario, a background rarely if ever found in big league history.

Naylor’s primary appeal is as a defensive catcher. His showcase and in game POP (home to second) consistently hovers in the 1.85 to 1.90 range, well above major league average. He will need to polish his receiving skills—it is safe to assume that as a Canadian youngster he has not had the opportunity to play quite as often as his American counterparts.

At bat, Naylor projects as a bottom of the order hitter, but with time and patience will not be an automatic out. Naylor has boarded the launch angle bandwagon, but those who do so need to avoid lifting and pulling their front side off the ball as they swing. If he solves that problem, Naylor may become a productive hitter.

30. Los Angeles Dodgers: J.T. Ginn, RHP, 6′ 2″, 200 lbs., Brandon HS (Miss.)

To many observers, Ginn is a surprise pick at this spot by the Dodgers, but with his arm strength, perhaps he shouldn’t be a shocker. (Don’t forget the role signability plays in the draft also—often more highly touted players drop due to high bonus demands, while less touted players agree to more humble bonuses and leap frog upward.)

Ginn fires a blistering mid-to-high 90s fastball and a wicked mid 80s slider. He does an excellent job of driving off his back leg in his delivery, but his command is negatively affected by his habit of pulling off hard to his left as he finishes. Once those problems are ironed out, Ginn projects as a shut down closer.

Source: sbnation.com,si.com, espn.in

Azad Hind News

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