There are about 70 days until the 2019 MLB draft begins and some players are beginning to separate themselves as potential top-20 picks. College players, especially hitters, will continue to move up draft boards, as that demographic typically is popular earlier in the first round.
It is still March and there will be plenty of movement until the draft occurs. I also will continue to release feature stories on top prospects as the draft approaches. Here’s a glimpse of how the first round may occur:
1. Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Rutschman quickly has solidified himself as the top prospect in the 2019 MLB draft class. He’s an advanced player offensively and defensively. He is hitting .456 with eight home runs in 18 games. He also has drawn 26 walks compared to 10 strikeouts.
2. Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr, SS, Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
Witt has five-tool potential and comes from strong bloodlines, as his father is a former major-league pitcher who went No. 3 overall in the 1985 draft.
He consistently squares up pitches and has surprising power for his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. He uses all parts of the field and has the speed to make an impact on the bases. Defensively, he covers a lot of ground and has above-average arm strength.
3. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
Vaughn was college baseball’s top hitter and likely would be the top pick if he wasn’t a first baseman. He’s an elite hitter and will move through the minor leagues quickly. Read more about the Cal first baseman here.
4. Miami Marlins: C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS (Ga.)
Abrams is an elite runner with the potential to hit a high amount of triples and steal double-digit bases in the professional ranks. He bats from the left side and is more of a gap-to-gap hitter. He has the skills and intangibles to stick at shortstop.
5. Detroit Tigers: Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
Stott has had another impressive season this year and likely will go in the first 10 picks this June. He’s a left-handed hitter who’s used more of his lower half in his swing this season to generate more power. He will stick at shortstop and could even go higher than fifth overall.
6. San Diego Padres: Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy
Espino is an intriguing pitcher, possessing an advanced four-pitch repertoire. He overpowers hitters with his fastball, which occasionally reaches triple digits. It is the best fastball in the draft class. Read more about the right-handed pitcher here.
7. Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, TCU
Lodolo has developed into the top college pitcher this spring. He’s not an overpowering pitcher but generates high strikeout rates each time he takes the mound. Read more about the left-handed pitcher here.
8. Texas Rangers: Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS (Fla.)
Allan and Espino are the top two prep pitchers in this year’s class, as scouts are split on who’s the better prospect right now. Allan throws a mid-90s fastball and mixes in a solid 12-to-6 curveball.
9. Atlanta Braves: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
Jung hasn’t displayed his power this spring, but his track record as a power-hitting third baseman will help his draft stock. He’s a high-floor player who will move quickly through a minor-league system.
10. San Francisco Giants: Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
Misner is an intriguing college bat. He recently has struggled with consistency but has the talent, especially his above-average raw power, to go earlier than the 10th overall pick.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Fla.)
Greene is a left-handed hitter with a smooth swing that generates power. He hits for average and has impressive plate discipline for a prep batter. He profiles as a corner outfielder in the professional ranks.
12. New York Mets: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Wash.)
An advanced high school hitter who hits for average and has above-average speed.
13. Minnesota Twins: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
Bishop has made a significant jump up draft boards this spring. He has displayed power and better plate discipline this spring. He has five-tool potential.
14. Philadelphia Phillies: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky
Thompson has a solid four-pitch mix and generates a lot of strike outs. Although he might not be a top-of-the-rotation arm, he will move quickly through a system and should impact a major-league rotation. Read more about the lefty here.
15. Los Angeles Angels: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia
Manoah has been a reliable No. 1 starter for West Virginia this spring. He has a big frame and throws a high-90s fastball. Read more about Manoah here.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State
Wilson’s top trait is his hitting ability. He’s struggled at times defensively through his college career but has displayed glimpses of improvement this season. Read more about Wilson here.
17. Washington Nationals: Carter Stewart, RHP, Eastern Florida State Junior College
Stewart hasn’t dominated junior college hitters as much as scouts hoped. His injury history also might worry teams. The Nationals aren’t afraid to take players with question marks.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto Junior College
Rutledge isn’t shy about the draft. After spending his freshman season at Arkansas, the big-time hurler transferred to the junior college ranks to be eligible for June’s draft. Read about Rutledge here.
19. St. Louis Cardinals: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
Langeliers was a potential top-five pick entering this spring. A broken hamate caused him to miss significant time. He could rise up draft boards with a strong finish to the season. Read about the elite catching prospect here.
20. Seattle Mariners: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M
Shewmake has produced throughout his college career. Scouts wonder if he can stick at shortstop in pro ball, but Shewmake believes his work in the offseason and attributes make him ideal for the position. Read about Shewmake here.
21. Atlanta Braves: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Fla.)
I have the Braves taking a college hitter with their first pick. Don’t be surprised if they take a prep arm with this selection. They love to draft high-upside prep arms and Malone fits that. Read more about Malone here.
22. Tampa Bay Rays: Michael Busch, 1B/OF, North Carolina
Busch is a solid college hitter with question marks surrounding his future defensive position. He was a shortstop in high school before moving to first base in college. He played second base in the Cape Cod League during the summer and left field in fall baseball. Read more about Busch here.
23. Colorado Rockies: George Kirby, RHP, Elon
Kirby is another college player who’s had a strong spring. He has a quality three-pitch mix and leans on his fastball and curveball. Read more about Kirby here.
24. Cleveland Indians: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
Davidson has the talent to be the first college shortstop drafted. But the biggest concern remains his hitting ability. Otherwise, he’s an athletic and solid defensive shortstop. Read about Davidson here.
25. Los Angeles Dodgers: Seth Johnson, RHP, Campbell
Seth Johnson is the biggest surprise on this list. He was struggling as a shortstop at the junior college level the last two years but received an opportunity to pitch at Campbell. He’s had a lot of success this spring and is an intriguing draft prospect. Read about his transformation into a top draft prospect here.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Logan Wyatt, 1B, Louisville
Wyatt hits for a high average but hasn’t displayed a lot of power potential throughout his college career. He also is a solid defensive first baseman. Read more about Wyatt here.
27. Chicago Cubs: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
He profiles as a corner outfielder in the professional ranks but consistently has hit at Vanderbilt.
28. Milwaukee Brewers: Will Holland, SS, Auburn
The Brewers prefer selecting position players rather than pitchers early in the draft. Holland has struggle to hit at times this season, otherwise he potentially would be a top-15 pick. Read more about Holland here.
29. Oakland Athletics: Tyler Callihan, 3B, Providence HS (Fla.)
Callihan is one of the better prep hitters in this year’s draft class. His biggest problem is defensively and where he profiles. Some believe he could be an offensive-minded catcher.
30. New York Yankees: Matt Canterino, RHP, Rice
Canterino has shown growth with his secondary pitches to improve his draft stock. Read more about Canterino here.
31. Los Angeles Dodgers: Rece Hinds, 3B, IMG Academy (Fla.)
Hinds has above-average raw power but also is a high-risk, high-reward prospect. He needs to show a consistent feel for hitting.
32. Houston Astros: Jack Leiter, RHP, Delbarton HS (N.J.)
Leiter’s father Al Leiter played in the major leagues. He also is an advanced high school arm, who could move up draft boards with a strong spring.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.