The 2018 MLB Draft is going to be here before we know it and now is as good as any to start learning about the stars of the future. The strength of this class is the high school pitching crop, headlined by right-handers Komar Rocker and Ethan Hankins and left-hander Matthew Liberatore. The early weakness of the draft happens to be the college bats.
The Tigers earned the first pick thanks to Pablo Sandoval’s heroic game-winning home run, with Sandoval giving the Giants the second pick in the draft. As of now, the Dodgers have the last pick in the first round, thanks to their incredible 104 win season.
Nolan Gorman, 3B, Sandra Day O’Connor HS
Nolan Gorman is the type of talent that should cause the Tigers to break their recent draft trend of drafting pitchers because of his overall two-way package. The Arizona commit poses plus-plus raw power and seems to win every home run derby he enters himself in nowadays. Where Gorman differentiates himself from many home run derby participants is he translates that power into game power. Unlike most power hitters he takes great pride in his defense, which it’s not hard to see why you see Nolan Arenado comparisons for the young Arizona product.
San Francisco Giants
Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS
It seems like every year we have a California high school position player pushing for the top of the draft and Brice Turang continues that trend. Turang projects to stick at shortstop because he has smooth movements and a strong arm which should help him be a plus defender. At the plate, the left-hander has a plus approach that is more oriented towards contact over power. He posses many of the same attributes that Dansby Swanson had at Vanderbilt but with more upside. The Giants would be ecstatic to get their shortstop of the future with this pick.
Komar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS
Philadelphia misses out on the two best high school hitters so they could go a few different ways with this pick. In this scenario, the Philly faithful grab Komar Rocker the 6’5 250-pound prep pitcher from Georgia. He already has the frame to eat innings, so his development will be on refining him as a pitcher. Komar gets his fastball up to 98, with a slider that projects to be a true out pitch for him.
Chicago White Sox
Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
There are three guarantees in life; death, taxes, and Florida producing a first-round pitcher. Brady Singer falls right to a spot that likes to grab top college pitchers and bring them to the South Side of Chicago. Singer possesses the typical Florida Gator plus slider to go along with a fastball that can get up to 95. The changeup is a point of emphasis for him this season and if it develops into a plus offering Singer will go higher in the actual MLB Draft.
Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS
The Reds have employed the best player available approach with their first-round pick leading them to draft Ethan Hankins. Hankins’ off-speed offerings are lagging behind his fastball but that’s only because the fastball is electric. His fastball gets up to 96 with late life and is a plus offering for him right now.
New York Mets
Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State
The Mets have been very risk averse with their first-round picks and the last time they picked an Oregon State product they got a 4.4, in his short 2017, fWAR outfielder in Michael Conforto (get well soon homeboy). Madrigal will play up the middle and is an approach over power, who has shown the ability to swipe bags when given the green light. The Oregon State Beaver also has won a college gold glove at second base so his defense won’t hold him back.
San Diego Padres
Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
San Diego has shown they like to draft college pitchers early with multiple plus offerings. Casey Mize fights the typical Padres mold thanks to a fastball that he can crank up to 96 and a plus slider and curveball. Injuries have held him back as he suffered forearm tightness this summer while with the United States Collegiate National Team. The Auburn right-hander abandoned his changeup in favor of two plus breaking pitches. Casey Mize has the stuff to be a front of the line starter down the road if he stays healthy.
Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS
We’ve seen the other top Arizona high schooler go earlier and now it’s time for Atlanta to do what it does best. Drafting high school pitching early in the draft is as much an Atlanta tradition as fried chicken and sweet tea. Liberatore has a fastball that gets up to the mid 90’s, plus from the left-side, a curveball that can make hitters look bad and a changeup that drops off the table. The 6’5 lefty will mix in three potentially plus offerings from the left side which should make Liberatore desirable on draft day.
Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
Oakland has always been one of the more conservative, draft wise, focusing mostly on college players leading them to the best college player available in South Florida’s Shane McClanahan. McClanahan has struck out 104 batters in 76 innings, showcasing big strikeout stuff for the lefty. McClanahan has dominated in his small conference but also is an injury risk which may cause teams to take a second look when thinking about selecting him.
Nander De Sedas, SS, Montverde Academy
Pittsburgh has been going high school heavy with their drafts for a while now and there’s no reason they shy away from that with the selection of toolsy Nander De Sedas. De Sedas is a switch-hitter who plays shortstop (cough like Francisco Lindor cough) who many teams should cherish. Whether he sticks up at shortstop is a real question, but he possesses enough power where it doesn’t matter where he plays he could be a stud.
Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS
The Orioles keep up the pattern of drafting high school left-handers as they pick Tennessee lefty, Ryan Weathers. Ryan Weathers knows what it takes to a big leaguer thanks to his dad David Weathers. The younger Weathers spins a breaking ball that has flashed plus and can hit his spots with his fastball.
Toronto Blue Jays
Tristan Pompey, OF, Kentucky
Besides the fact that he is Dalton Pompey’s brother the Toronto Blue Jays draft their first ever Canadian in the first round. Tristan Pompey hit for .361/.464/.541 in the SEC this past year for the Kentucky Wildcats. Pompey has a well-rounded skillset hitting ten over the fence and swiping nine bags in 2017.
Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS
Carter Stewart has a curveball that is reported to have the highest spin rate ever recorded. The young Floridian already has the curveball to get big leaguers out and a solid fastball. For him it could all just be about the curveball, that pitch is nasty (trust me).
Griffin Conine, OF, Duke
Griffin Conine fits right in with the Mariners draft philosophy, college players. The Duke outfielder improved from a .205/.306/.247 his freshman year to .298/.425/.546 his sophomore year.
Mason Denaburg, RHP/C, Merritt Island HS
What do they love in Texas, football, so do the Rangers as they drafted an athlete who turned down SEC schools in Bubba Thompson, leading them to select Mason Denaburg. Denaburg is intriguing as he is the top two-way talent but the jury is out on his future on either side of the ball. Whatever the team that selects him asks of him, they will know they are getting a moldable athlete as a pitcher or catcher.
Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan Rollison, LHP, Mississippi
Sometimes all you need is a good cape cod league, as a college pitcher, to get on the radar of scouts and Ryan Rollison had one hell of a summer. Rollison in 28 innings struck out 35 batters and held batters to a .133 batting average. The Mississippi left-hander has many evaluators salivating because his arm is fresh due to his redshirt year where he wasn’t putting as much stress on his arm.
Los Angeles Angels
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha West HS
During this past draft, the Angels went after a toolsy outfielder in Jo Adell, and they will again (in this scenario) with Jarred Kelenic. Jarred Kelenic is very similar to Jo Adell in they are potential 5-tool outfielders with the upside to have multiple all-star games to their names when they retire. Jarred’s story will be one worth following because this summer is the last chance people will get a serious look at the Wisconsin high schooler.
Kansas City Royals
Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS
Kansas City is about to go through a long and tedious rebuild so why not take a gamble in the first round with a high school catcher. Will Banfield has all the tools to be an elite defensive catcher; he’s smooth behind the plate, has a cannon for an arm, and is already a plus framer. The Georgia catcher brings power to the batter’s box to go along with plus-plus defense at the catcher position.
St. Louis Cardinals
Tristan Casas, 1B, American Heritage School
The Cardinals through a multitude of reasons did not have many picks in the first few rounds and could very well lose this pick. So let’s give them a big-time power bat in Tristan Casas. The only thing holding him back from being higher up is the fact that he projects to play first base.
Mike Vasil, RHP, Boston College HS
Minnesota likes to draft high schoolers so they go with best prep player available and that happens to be Boston College High School righty, Mike Vasil. The University of Virginia commit gets in the low 90’s with his fastball and will have a fresh right arm having to fight the Northeast winters.
Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State
Milwaukee was so close to making the postseason this past year, yet so far. Last draft they drafted Keston Hiura from UCI, so we (mostly me) will give them another polished small conference hitter in Jeremy Eierman from Missouri State. Eierman is a power-speed guy 23 home runs, and 17 steals this past season for MSU. Who also hit .313/.431/.675, one concern is he might move off of short.
Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State
The Rockies organization knows what they are doing as they target players who would thrive in their ballpark, look at Ryan Vilade, and Alec Bohm would look like a potential star in Coors. Bohm has a polished bat, never hitting below .300 during his time at Wichita State, and improved to have a 1.07 K/BB ratio this past season, 31 strikeouts to 29 walks in 58 games.
New York Yankees
Seth Beer, 1B/DH, Clemson
Some people are avoiding Seth Beer but let’s put a massive power hitter on the New York Yankees farm system and watch him demolish balls in the little league park known as Yankee Stadium. While you would want someone who plays defense when you draft in the first round the Yankees have no lock for their DH of the future and Beer can slide right in there. The Clemson product shows polish and the ability to smash the ball out of the yard with his career .333/.506/.651 and 34 homers in 2 years at Clemson.
Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
The Cubs go back to the college hitter well that brought them such players as Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Ian Happ with the selection of Travis Swaggerty. The South Alabama outfielder had an uptick in power going from 4 home runs to 10 home runs. He projects to be a power-speed guy who sticks in center-field.
Zach Watson, OF, Louisiana State
Arizona is slowly but surely adding talent and grabbing Zach Watson from LSU. Watson is more of a speed threat at the moment, as evidenced by his twelve steals this past season for the Tigers. You could easily see him develop into an AJ Pollock type.
Boston Red Sox
Mike Siani, OF, William Penn Charter HS
Boston has done a pretty good job drafting outfielders so why not grab a twitchy prep outfielder in Mike Siani. Mike Siani might be among the best athletes in this draft which leads him to profile as a center-fielder. With plus bat-speed from the left-side, he could very well be like Benny Biceps himself, if Boston develops him properly.
Sean Hjelle, RHP, Kentucky
Washington has selected college pitchers with three of their four first rounders since 2014. Sean Hjelle continues the trend in this scenario. Sean Hjelle is a mountain of a man standing at 6’11 and has plenty of room to fill out. Hjelle’s height makes it hard to replicate his delivery, like many tall pitchers, which impacts his control. Hjelle could become a dangerous bullpen piece, but his upside is high as a starter intrigues evaluators.
Slade Cecconi, RHP, Trinity Prep
Congratulations to the Astros for winning the World Series, now it’s time for them to nail the draft again with Slade Cecconi. Cecconi has a fastball that can get up to 96 and a slider that gets up to the mid 80’s, which projects to be an out pitch for him. He also mixes in a curveball and changeup with his two plus pitches. An arm of his talent only dips this far because of the depth of this class.
Alek Thomas, OF, Mount Carmel HS
Alek Thomas is of the most intriguing athletes in the entire draft, holding a scholarship to play football and baseball at Texas Christian University. Thomas is explosive in the outfield and has center-field tools with high-end athleticism. Alek also has explosive bat speed from the left-side and fits right in with the athletic outfielder the Tribe has coveted.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
Unfortunately, for Dodgers fans, they lost the World Series to the majesty of Justin Verlander( Shameless Verlander fan here) and the Houston Astros. However, it’s time to move forward and select Steele Walker, all Big-12 First Team Steele Walker. Walker slashed .333/.413/.541 and had a 100 fielding percentage in all 59 games for the Sooners. Steele may move to a corner but with a polished approach and solid defense, he will what the Dodgers like to draft.
Once we get through the big free agency signings and we know which teams lose their first round pick, I will do an updated mock. So keep on the lookout for that.
Photo Credit: Major League Baseball