In one month, the 2018 MLB Draft will kick off on June 4. Although the MLB Draft doesn’t receive the attention it deserves, it is a critical part for sustained success for major league teams.
The teams in baseball who consistently compete and make the playoffs are the ones who draft well and develop talent from within. Here’s how I see the first round playing out in the 2018 MLB Draft, as of May 4:
1. Detroit Tigers: Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
Casey Mize has solidified himself as the top prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft class, remaining durable and showing consistency on the mound this spring.
Read an in-depth story about the Auburn right-handed pitcher here.
2. San Francisco Giants: Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
Over the last two years, Florida pitchers A.J. Puk and Alex Faedo were top prospects entering the spring. Each pitcher posted respectable seasons, but neither heard their name called in the first five selections because their numbers didn’t jump off the page.
Teams that passed on them are regretting it now and don’t expect teams to make the same mistake a third time around. While Singer isn’t blowing anyone away, he’s still having a solid season in a difficult Southeastern Conference. The Giants will go the college route and Singer fits the bill. Singer will move through the minor leagues quickly.
3. Philadelphia Phillies: Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State
Bohm has the best raw power in the draft class and will have a chance to stick at third base in pro ball. Read an in-depth story about the Wichita State star draft prospect here.
4. Chicago White Sox: Nick Madrigal, SS/2B, Oregon State
Nick Madrigal is only 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, which could hamper his draft stock. He’s also missed all but eight games with a fractured hand this spring. However, since returning from injury, Madrigal is hitting .455 with two doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs in 13 games. He’s also 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts and hasn’t committed an error at second base.
5. Cincinnati Reds: Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha West (Wis.) HS
The Reds could go in multiple directions with the fifth overall pick. While selecting a pitcher or South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty are options, Jarred Kelenic’s five-tool potential will be too much to pass on.
Read an in-depth story about Kelenic and his development here.
6. New York Mets: Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi
South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty and prep left-hander Matthew Liberatore are also options for the Mets.
7. San Diego Padres: Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (FL)
The Padres drafted prep lefty MacKenzie Gore with the third overall pick last year and will likely add another high-ceiling prep arm in June’s MLB Draft. A 6-foot-6, 200-pound righty, Carter Stewart has moved up draft boards this spring, as his fastball velocity has increased to the mid-90s. He also continues to flash the best curveball in the draft class.
8. Atlanta Braves: Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge (Ariz.) HS
At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Matthew Liberatore is the top prep left-handed pitcher in the 2018 MLB Draft class. He has the potential to have three above-average offerings, as he throws a low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup, which is his best pitch.
9. Oakland Athletics: Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
Despite playing at a mid-major school, Travis Swaggerty is one of the top college outfielders in the 2018 MLB Draft, after strong collegiate seasons and summer performances. He could go as early as the No. 2 overall pick and would be a great value selection for the Athletics if he falls to the ninth overall pick.
Read an in-depth story on the South Alabama outfielder here.
10. Pittsburgh Pirates: Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
Joey Bart is putting together an impressive spring, hitting .367 with 12 home runs and 25 RBIs in 38 games. He’s moving up draft boards and might even end up going in the first five picks by the time June’s MLB Draft rolls around.
Read an in-depth story on the highly-regarded catcher here.
11. Baltimore Orioles: Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
A 6-foot-1, 173-pound lefty, Shane McClanahan throws a three-pitch mix, featuring a fastball that sits 97-100 mph. A knock on him has been his poor mechanics and a lack of command, which could mean he’s destined for a role as a reliever.
12. Toronto Blue Jays: Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida
Jackson Kowar has a clean and easy delivery that allows him to throw his fastball consistently in the mid-90s. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound righty also throws a curveball and changeup, which is his best off-speed pitch.
13. Miami Marlins: Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central (Ga.) HS
Ethan Hankins has the talent to go No. 1 overall, but a shoulder issue and mixed results this spring have hurt his draft stock.
Hankins has the potential to become an ace caliber pitcher in professional baseball. He possesses the best fastball in the draft class, which sits in the mid-to-upper-90s, and also throws a curveball, slider and changeup.
14. Seattle Mariners: Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
The Mariners have taken a college player with each of their last five first-round picks. After posting average numbers in his first two years at Florida, India impressed scouts in the Cape Cod League last summer and has continued that success this spring.
15. Texas Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran (Calif.) HS
Cole Winn has moved up draft boards this spring. He has a three-pitch mix, featuring a mid-90s fastball, slider and changeup. All three pitches are above-average offerings. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound righty has a clean and low-effort delivery.
16. Tampa Bay Rays: Nolan Gorman, 3B, O’Connor (Ariz.) HS
Nolan Gorman is a left-handed hitting third baseman and possesses as much raw power as anyone in the 2018 MLB Draft class. Early on in the spring, scouts regarded Gorman as a top-10 pick. But an inconsistent spring has slightly hurt his draft stock.
17. Los Angeles Angels: Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State
Jeremy Eierman is one of the top college position players in the 2018 MLB Draft. Although he isn’t the quickest player, he will have a chance to stick a shortstop in the professional ranks due to his arm strength. Read a feature story on the Missouri State shortstop here.
18. Kansas City Royals: Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS, (Ga.)
Kumar Rocker is an imposing figure on the mound, standing 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, and is one of the top prep arms in the class. Possessing a low-effort delivery, Rocker has a three-pitch mix, featuring a 98 mph fastball, a sharp breaking mid-80s slider and an improving changeup.
A Vanderbilt commit, there’s questions regarding Rocker’s signability. The Royals have the biggest bonus allotment at $12,781,900 and hold four picks in the top 40.
19. St. Louis Cardinals: Brice Turang, SS, Santiago (Calif.) HS
Brice Turang is a well-rounded player on both sides of the ball. He makes hard, consistent contact from the left side of the plate and is a quick defender with a strong arm at shortstop.
Committed to LSU, Turang has had a pedestrian spring, which has hurt his draft stock.
20. Minnesota Twins: Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
Steele Walker is known for his ability at the plate. He has a strong wood bat track record, performing well in the Northwoods League and with Team USA the last two summers.
21. Milwaukee Brewers: Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
Stetson has produced two of the top pitchers in baseball in right-handers Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber in the last 10 years. Logan Gilbert is the program’s latest well-regarded draft prospect, as he has four-pitch mix, featuring a mid-90s fastball.
Read an in-depth feature on the Stetson right-hander here.
22. Colorado Rockies: Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS
A 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty, Ryan Weathers has a smooth delivery and throws strikes with ease, while possessing top-of-the-rotation potential. He’s the son of former major leaguer David Weathers.
Read an in-depth feature on the highly-regarded prep left-hander here.
23. New York Yankees: Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
Tristan Beck could’ve been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, but a stress fracture in his back kept him off the mound the entire spring. Even though he was destined to return to Stanford, the Yankees selected him in the 28th round.
Beck has pitched well this spring and will likely go in the late first round.
24. Chicago Cubs: Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State
Although the Cubs have targeted college arms in the last couple years, Trevor Larnach has been Oregon State’s best hitter this spring, especially when Nick Madrigal was out with an injury.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks: Triston Casas, 1B/3B American Heritage (Fla.)
Triston Casas has tons of upside and possesses tons of raw power. He has room to grow with consistency at the plate and in the field.
26. Boston Red Sox: Seth Beer, 1B, Clemson
Baseball fans have had their sights set on Seth Beer for the last three years. He hits for power and gets on base at a high clip, but a lack of a future defensive position has hurt his value.
Read an in-depth feature story on the Clemson star here.
27. Washington Nationals: Connor Scott, OF, Plant (Fla.) HS
Connor Scott has five-tool potential, already possessing elite speed and solid ability defensively. He’s more of a gap-to-gap hitter, as he has below-average power.
28. Houston Astros: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Central Heights (Tex.) HS
Grayson Rodriguez is soaring up MLB Draft boards this spring. One reason the 6-foot-5, 240-pound hurler is generating an increased buzz from professional scouts is because of the uptick in his fastball velocity.
Read an in-depth feature on the well-regarded prep right-hander here.
29. Cleveland Indians: Mason Denaburg, RHP, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS
Mason Denaburg would’ve been a top-15 pick, but a biceps issue has hurt his draft stock this spring.
30. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jordan Groshans, 3B, Magnolia (Tex.) HS
Jordan Groshans is a shortstop for his high school team, but some scouts believe he’s destined for a move to third base due to his size.
Read an in-depth story on the Texas prep third baseman here.