2018 MLB Mock Draft: MLB Pipeline Release Edition
Back when I was packing up the virtual boxes and moving Minor League Madhouse from Wordpress to Medium, a move that I appreciate more and more each passing month, I had announced that I would be publishing my monthly mock drafts on a schedule, with an attempt at consistency. Needless to say, it did not work out last year because I ended up publishing 5 out of 8 mocks, missing out on the Spring Training and April mocks entirely. Blame it on a lack of excitement.
Anyway, with the publishing of the surprise Post-CB lottery edition mock draft, my schedule has once again gone down the shitter, but in a good way. Since December usually is Mock Draft 2.0, I’m going to actually commemorate this mock with a title in order to avoid giving an innacurate numerical identification. If you paid attention to Twitter on December 5th, MLB Pipeline announced their top 50 draft prospects. Thus the appropriate title of the MLB Pipeline Release edition.
As is the case with all mocks, the picks made here are based on organizational depth. In the case of certain offseason moves (the soon to be Giancarlo Stanton trade, Shohei Ohtani) hypothetical adjustments will be made based on where I feel both players will land. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or if you want to just say I’m a basement dwelling idiot, please comment below. Also, if you want to link my content to your own blog, be my guest, but be sure to let me know when you do. Props to Tim Huwe of TheZygote50 for responding to my mock, particularly my choice of UConn starter Tim Cate to the Cubs. I highly suggest you check out his blog when you’re done reading mine, especially if you’re a Cubs fan.
And we’re off.
- Detroit Tigers
Had Miguel Cabrera not become arguably one of the greatest hitters of this era, the December 5th, 2007 trade between the Marlins and Tigers would have largely been remembered as a wash. Cabrera represents one of the remnants of a now bygone era in Tiger baseball, and his 2017 season was largely reminiscent of Detroit’s decision to pack it in and embrace the tank that gave them their first first overall pick in 21 years.
In a class known for its marquee collegiate talent, the Tigers could bypass it entirely and go for one of the best high school bats of the summer. Arizona prepster Nolan Gorman showed off incredible power on the showcase circuit which led to him battling Noah Naylor in the high school home run derby at Marlins Park. Gorman has arguably the most developed power in the class, although his hitting mechanics do need some retooling in order to develop consistency. He’s no Joey Gallo, but he did strike out a lot over the summer. Gorman is an average-at-best third baseman who can stick at the hot corner, but it’s clear that his professional future is contingent on his developmental bat catching up with his power, which shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
With the Tigers likely in for the long haul rebuild, Gorman is the ideal person you want the team to draft. He’s got Cabrera-like potential, and it’s clear that he’ll be an outstanding professional run producer.
2. San Francisco Giants
There’s no sugarcoating it, the Giants absolutely crashed and burned last season, and while it’s clear the team still has some life in it before the core gets old, there’s a lot less time ahead than there is that’s passed. The Giants know it, and decided to partially gut their farm, that is top prospect Christian Arroyo, as well as lower level pitchers Matt Krook and Stephen Woods in order to get ten year veteran third baseman Evan Longoria from the Rays.
History has shown that when it comes to pitching prospects, the Giants have fared slightly better with prep arms than collegians as of late. Thus, in a debate between the consensus top college pitcher and the top prep pitcher, Ethan Hankins has a slight edge. Hankins has an impressive, zippy fastball that moves like a hummingbird. He’s got the build at 6'6" and 200 pounds, although a little more weight wouldn’t be a bad thing. Hankins has an impressive discipline when it comes to his mechanics, and can adjust his timing to fool hitters. What he lacks is a solid secondary pitch. While he does have the slider/curve/changeup arsenal to go with his fastball, none of those pitches stand out, and it would be ideal for him to develop at least one in order to be an ace.
The Giants may have shot themselves in the foot with the Longoria trade, as it seems like a short term fix for a long term problem. Hopefully they can use a strong draft class to build up their farm and reverse the trend before they get too desperate and trigger happy.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
If there’s any positives to be drawn from the Phillies not being able to take the next step, it’s the fact that there’s a lot of guys to be excited about in the future. Rhys Hoskins had a Gary Sanchez-like explosion between August and September, JP Crawford finally made his debut, although he still needs some work, and Jorge Alfaro could be the next stalwart behind the plate. The farm system has some impressive bats waiting in the wings in Scott Kingery and Dylan Cozens as well. Adding veteran help in Carlos Santana indicates this team feels ready to compete in 2018.
What’s missing in this equation is a lefthanded starter. In fact, if you look at the Phillies’ end of season rotation, all of the arms they had are righties. Thankfully, the Phillies are in a prime position at number 3 to grab a potential quick rising college lefty. One of the names that has stayed consistent in my mocks has been Shane McClanahan, the South Florida lefty. McClanahan came to South Florida a highly touted lefty draft pick of the Mets, and in the two seasons he has pitched for the Bulls, he’s put together very impressive All-American numbers. McClanahan can sling the ball in the low to mid 90's, although he does have the lefty sidearm delivery that scouts and teams find nightmarish. He has a solid changeup which complements his motion, and a developing slider. McClanahan could use a little work on his control, and should he get the full nuance of low-effort pitching, could be a decent high end starter professionally. McClanahan has had no work in summer ball however, so judging him against top competition is a bit tricky.
McClanahan strikes me as a player that either could run through the minors quickly, much like his major league comparison, Chris Sale, or could be a project. If he can adjust his mechanics and get a better pitching feel, there’s a good chance he’ll be in the former category, and joining Aaron Nola and company by 2019.
4. Chicago White Sox
If the Giants are running on borrowed time, the White Sox have all the time in the world. Trading away their existing core for a king’s ransom of prospects that will put them in an enviable position in the AL Central. Additionally, their recent draft history shows that they can build on their own.
Since the White Sox have a lot of major league ready talent, and only so many spots to fill for the future, it makes sense here for them to break their 4 year college streak and look at the prep class. Matt Liberatore is this year’s top lefthanded pitcher. He may not have the speed of an ace, but he makes up for it with outstanding pitching discipline and mechanics that throws off hitters. Much like Ethan Hankins, Liberatore is built to be a pitcher, but a few more pounds would help. Much like Shane McClanahan, his best secondary pitch, actually his best pitch is his changeup. He’s also a workhorse, rarely losing velocity late in the game.
Liberatore could be part of a second wave of top White Sox prospects, and if he can build his velocity up, could potentially become a second starter in the organization.
5. Cincinnati Reds
It stands to reason that if your team’s leader in innings pitched decides to ink a deal to play in Korea, your pitching clearly is in dire need of help. Such is the state of affairs in Cincinnati, who while they improved from the second worst team in baseball to the fifth worst, they are still a ways away from competing with the Cubs.
Hunter Greene has a few years to go before he can be looked at as a franchise savior, so why not go for the top college pitcher and consensus top talent in the draft, Brady Singer? The best pitcher on the 2017 National Champion, Singer was a second round pick by the Blue Jays, but a questionable physical forced him to go to Florida. Singer has one of the better fastballs of the class that stays in the mid 90’s and moves well. His slider is just as deadly. It helps that he does have above average control as well. Singer is built like a beanpole at 6'5" and 180 pounds, and yet pitches like he’s 220 pounds. The one concern that scouts may have is Florida’s injury history with their ace pitchers, and although Singer did shut himself down after the College World Series, it would be better to see if he can hold up in the spring.
Singer is expected to rise quickly in the minors, and would provide the Reds with some fresh blood to get them started on the road to contention again. He and Greene would be a dangerous 1–2 punch in the Reds rotation down the road.
6. New York Mets
For the past few seasons, the Mets have taken a huge gamble on defensive liability and a lack of speed. While they made due in 2015 and 2016 thanks to their pitching and reliance on power, the 2017 implosion of the staff and injury bug which bit many exposed many issues that needed to be addressed. Because the Mets are either unable or unwilling to invest in big ticket free agents to address current issues, like third base, and with the mind boggling addition of former GM Omar Minaya to the front office, it’s a wonder what this team is planning on doing in the future, and whether or not they really are focused on competing with Washington.
The Mets went to Oregon State in 2014 to grab a young masher named Michael Conforto, so it makes some sense for them to make a return trip in 2018 to get another Beaver in Nick Madrigal. Madrigal is arguably the best college hitter in the class, and at a diminutive 5'7", he does have some Jose Altuve in him. He may not be homer happy, but he can change the game by making consistent loud contact, and being a speed threat on the basepaths. He is defensively talented enough to play shortstop, although he does have a professional future at second base.
The Mets’ had the opportunity to get a glimpse of Amed Rosario and Dom Smith at the end of their lost season. While they still have a little ways to go before we can consider them fulltime big league contributors, having a quick riser like Madrigal would make for a very strong double play group, and Madrigal would be a nice addition to the leadoff spot. Mets fans had better hope the team invests in pro ready collegians, because it’s clear that in a big market, the team is acting a lot like Oakland or Tampa Bay, as opposed to their crosstown counterparts.
7. San Diego Padres
Long expected to be the worst team in baseball, the Padres surprised many by sucking, but not enough to be the worst team in baseball. Yes, miraculously, seven teams were worse than this talent bereft squad, but there is hope for the future. Cal Quantrill has progressed quite nicely since recovering from Tommy John surgery. Eric Lauer has the makings to be a solid rotation piece. Mackenzie Gore has the potentential to be something truly special, and Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias have the makings to be a solid professional double play combo.
What the Padres do not have, however, is a dynamic young outfield prospect, and while this year’s draft isn’t super flush on outfield talent, the players that are here have really special qualities. Jarred Kelenic may come from a state more renowned for their prowess in hockey, basketball, and football, but the Wisconsin prepster has been viewed as one of the more complete lefthanded hitters in this year’s class. His power may not be as great as his contact, but he can still show his presence at the plate. He’s also got plus speed, which makes him a decent threat on the basepaths. Kelenic also has a cannon for an arm which scouts consider professionally suited for right field.
Kelenic would be an ideal fit for the Padres because he’d come up right around the time that Mackenzie Gore makes his big league debut and Quantrill, Lauer, Tatis, and Urias are establised Major Leaguers. His professional comparison is also to a former Padre, Mark Kotsay, would would bring back some positive memories for the Padres fanbase.
8. Atlanta Braves
I don’t know which is more embarrassing for the Braves, the fact that a trade they thought they were going to win handily against Arizona has looked even at best, or the fact that John Coppollela decided that the rules no longer applied to him and got caught and banned from baseball. Either way, the Braves lost a year from their supposed face of the future in Dansby Swanson, they lost their general manager, and they lost their entire 2016 international free agent class.
The Braves can recoup the loss of one Kevin Maitan, because this year’s prep infield class is stacked with talent. One name that stands out comes from Francisco Lindor’s old stomping grounds. Yes, Nander de Sedas is the new face in town, and while he and Lindor are two completely different people, you can bet that the comparisons are going to make themselves. de Sedas is similar in many ways to Lindor, but he has pop, which is going to compensate for his lack of speed.
Assuming Swanson manages to figure out what went wrong last season and is still with the Braves when de Sedas is ready, you can bet that the Braves would consider putting the two in the same infield. de Sedas has been mentioned as a third baseman, and if that’s the case, then the Braves would have a strong left side of the infield.
9. Oakland A’s
The A’s ended last season in both a good and a bad place. On the one hand, they were being phased out of revenue sharing and their ownership group pledged to spend money, all while exploring alternative sites for a new stadium. On the other, the team had traded major assets including Sonny Gray and had lost their proposed ballpark site. What happens next?
The A’s could look at potentially developing another Gray-like ace in this year’s draft. One particular standout is Auburn ace Casey Mize. Mize has been regarded as one of the more developed pitchers in the class, and would likely be the best college righty if it weren’t for Brady Singer. While Mize’s mechanics are arguably great, he has dealt with fatigue and arm issues the past two seasons. Mize still has some excellent stuff in his arsenal; his fastball/splitter are major league ready, and it’s clear he has the presence to be an intimidating starter because of his composure.
The future will be interesting for the A’s, and one hopes that the new ownership group will start running this team like their rivals across the bay. With a young core potentially led by Mize, the possibilities are limitless.
10. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are another “Will they or Won’t They” team, and it’s clear that they’re leaning towards the will rebuild option, considering how much of a hard push they are making to trade Gerrit Cole to the Yankees. Without Cole, the team could use another major league ready hurler to build up the rotation, and considering Steven Brault is the only lefty in the rotation, in a strong pitching class like this one, the Pirates have near carte blanche.
This past summer in the Cape, Ryan Rolison was especially impressive, and drew considerable draft hype. His curveball has been rated as one of the best in the class, and will get him out of innings. He also has a very controllable fastball that he can push to the mid 90’s, but operates best at a lower tick. Rolison has a toolbox of pitches, all of which rate from major league average to plus, and his frame ensures that he can handle being a starter. Rolison will command considerable money as a draft eligible sophomore, and so long as he can capitalize on his freshman year, you can expect him to go high.
Pittsburgh has shown that they can get the most out of their young arms, and Rolison would be an interesting get. Put him under Ray Searage’s tutelage, and the Pirates could have a solid ace lefty in the making.
11. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles find themselves on a similar path that the Detroit Tigers took in 2016, where everyone expected them to push the reset button, and they did not. With Zach Britton and Manny Machado’s names being constantly mentioned throughout the Winter Meetings, surely there would be something, right? Well, once again, Peter Angelos has put the kibosh on a rebuild, potentially setting the team back a year, with Britton now sidelined for 6–8 months, and Machado very likely to leave via free agency.
Assuming the Orioles don’t end up moving their golden goose, the team could easily come up with a nice consolation prize during the draft. Brice Turang is probably the most well known prep player in the draft, mainly because of his commitment to LSU as a freshman. Turang hasn’t performed well during the summer, which explains his lower ranking in MLB Pipeline’s list, as well as his mostly above average tools, save for his speed. Still. he can hit, although his approach needs to be tuned a bit. He’s considered a professional shortstop, although scouts said the same thing about Machado, and he moved to third base. Still, he has the opportunity to improve this spring and potentially bring his stock back up.
Turang is probably the best bet to be fast tracked to the majors, and as a HAPS prospect, much like Nander de Sedas, he will definitely warrant a lot of attention as he plays out his senior year at Santiago High School.
12. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays may have had arguably the worst season they could have possibly imagined with their core group of players, but their farm system showed a lot of promise, especially their two young future stars and sons of former big leaguers in Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The Blue Jays would likely be solid candidates for a rebuild, and should they do it, they would have the opportunity to make a strong farm system even stronger.
Continuing with the pedigree angle, the Blue Jays could tab the son of former MLB reliever David Weathers in Loretto (TN) lefty Ryan Weathers. Ryan, who is expected to be a starter, may not have a plus pitch in his arsenal, but his stuff is very evenly matched, and it’s clear he can get batters out, as evidenced by his performance in the state tournament where he struck out 28. Weathers has great form for a starter, and his delivery is repeatable. He’s one of the few prep athletes who has a professional grade changeup.
The Blue Jays have a very strong pitching crop, and adding a younger guy like Weathers would make it even scarier. Expect Weathers to be a big league contributor by 2021, and potentially make a young and interesting Blue Jays squad even better.
13. Miami Marlins
Between the Rays trading Evan Longoria and the Marlins entering their fourth fire sale in team history, probably the most enjoyable form of Florida baseball will likely be in Gainesville, Tallahassee, or Coral Gables, or otherwise in the minor leagues. Derek Jeter’s committment to a full on reset has alienated everyone, players, fans, even alumnae. I feel truly sorry for that team.
One thing Jeter could do to bring back some goodwill is to embrace the team’s history once again and draft the son of a Marlins icon. Even though Jeff Conine was thrown out the door unmercifully, his son Griffin Conine should be courted aggressively by the organization. Griffin is probably better than his father in many ways. His power is evident, as he torched both the ACC and the Cape Cod League as a sophomore. Conine’s one drawback is that he does have a bit of an all or nothing approach, and his plate discipline could use some work. He’s otherwise a balanced player who profiles best in Giancarlo Stanton’s old office.
Even though the Marlins are going to be a terrible team this upcoming year, drafting Conine, and the potential for the team to lead the pack in the Bobby Witt Jr. sweepstakes in 2019 should get some of the prospect enthusiastics salivating for what could be a faint glimmer of hope for this team.
14. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners are getting closer and closer to becoming a playoff team, but something always seems to get in the way. It’s clear that they need to start picking up the pace, because they may soon own the Big Four sports league’s longest playoff drought if the Buffalo Bills somehow make it to the NFL playoffs. Hopefully the farm system that they have so painstakingly pieced together in the wake of the Jack Z nightmare will be able to bear some fruit and maximize the use of the current team.
There is one big question mark, I believe, and that’s at catcher. Even though Mike Zunino did break out this year, you have to wonder if he can a. sustain those numbers while remaining a Mariner, and b. stay a Mariner. If not, the team is in a decent enough spot to draft a catching prospect without reaching too much. Will Banfield may be a high schooler, but he’s got the mind and ability of a seasoned pro. He’s an excellent defender with a Yadier Molina-like hose for an arm, and he has the frame to stay a professional catcher. The only thing that scouts have been wary about are his offensive skills, especially since his statistical output has not been impressive. Still he does have the ability to be a nice 6 hitter in a lineup.
Banfield is going to be an interesting case study in regards to whether or not prep catchers really can succeed in the minors. One can hope that he can improve on the past couple years of prep catchers drafted in the first round.
15. Texas Rangers
With in-state rival Houston winning the first World Series in Texas history and clearly on a path to at least be a threat for the foreseeable future, there should be a sense of urgency up north in Arlington with the Rangers. As those large contracts are starting to become unpalatable, it’s clear that new blood will once again be needed for the team to return to being a threat.
Adrian Beltre may be a future Hall of Famer, but Father Time is starting to call his name, and it’s clear that someone should be coming in to replace him in the future. Missouri State shortstop/third baseman Jeremy Eierman is probably the best fit in this scenario. Much like his predecessor, Jake Burger, Eierman doesn’t play pretty, but scouts love his work ethic and his hands, although he stands to be a better hot corner than shortstop. Rooker has that intriguing power/speed combo, having hit 20 home runs and 15 steals last season. He has above average to plus tools across the board, and would be a quick riser, in my opinion.
Eierman seems like the perfect candidate to replace the beloved Beltre. His blue collar nature will definitely endear him to the Rangers faithful, and his ability as an infielder will only serve to make the Rangers a better team in the not too distant future.
16. Tampa Bay Rays
As my former Rays fan friend told me angrily after the team traded away Evan Longoria, the team has no star, no hope, and play in a stadium in a horrible location outside of downtown. Even with the addition of uber prospect Christian Arroyo, it’s clear that the next few years of Rays baseball will be pretty hard to swallow. Arroyo, Brendan McKay, Willy Adames and Brent Honeywell cannot get here soon enough.
Because Arroyo is the main piece in the Longoria deal, and as a result, the Rays probably don’t need a future star at third base, the focus has been shifted to behind the dish. Wilson Ramos may be a solid catcher, but he is far from a long term option. Therefore, the Rays should end the Nick Ciuffo experiment and go after college baseball’s consensus best catcher in Joey Bart. Bart, who incidentally was a Rays pick out of high school, was a nominee for the Johnny Bench Award after blossoming as both a producer and defender in his sophomore year at Georgia Tech. Bart has the ability to be a power hitting catcher, although his approach at the plate could use a bit more discipline, as he can look silly at times. Still, Bart has the presence behind the plate that commands respect, and with a young Rays staff waiting in the wings, he’d be the perfect person to get the most out of it.
Bart is far from the superstar that Longoria was, but if he can get the pitching in good order, then this team has the potential to challenge the buyers in the AL East with homegrowns.
17. Los Angeles Angels
Before the 2017 draft, the Angels were slowly but surely making baby steps to improve their gack farm system. Then Jordon Adell and Griffin Canning fell into their laps, Michael Hermosillo played like a man possessed, and finally, the Angels signed Shohei Ohtani at the expense of trading prospects for bonus money. They compensated for that easily by signing former Braves prospects Kevin Maitan and Livan Soto. For the first time since 2011, the Angels have the top prospect in all of baseball, and a lot of optimism as they go in to the 2018 season.
One thing the Angels do need is better pitching, and since they can only rely on Ohtani on every fifth day, and also still need to accomodate his desire to play the field, they could use this draft to get a quick rising arm. Konnor Pilkington could be the next Mississippi State arm to be drafted in the first round, and as evidenced by his trajectory at Starkville, he could be the quick riser this team needs. Pilkington doesn’t have a true dominating pitch, but he can get batters out. His fastball ranges from high 80’s to mid 90’s, and can really drop in the zone, and his changeup is a solid secondary offering. He does have a slider, but it does need some work. The main concern is that Pilkington can lose his control at times, but not to the point where he’s a risk to start.
Pilkington may be a mid rotation starter at best, but he’d represent an improvement over incumbent lefties Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney. He’s a work in progress, but will definitely reward the patience an organization invests in him if he repeats his sophomore year at Starkville.
18. Kansas City Royals
Between losing Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas to free agency, and getting surpassed by the Angels to become the worst farm system in baseball, the Royals are going to have a long offseason to try and build themselves up from 2015. Considering their refusal to sell and repopulate a system decimated by trades and graduation, that rebuild will be long and painful.
Thankfully, the team does have two picks in the top 40, and could use those picks to rebuild at key positions. While last year they picked Hosmer’s eventual successor in Nick Pratto, this year, they could take less time and go after the most intriguing bat in the draft in Travis Swaggerty. From the little known Division one power known as South Alabama, Swaggerty quietly put together an impressive sophomore season to become 2017’s small school darling, following in the footsteps of Keston Hiura, Kyle Lewis, Dillon Tate, and Sean Newcomb. Swaggerty comes off as a contact hitter with occasional power, although he does get fooled on breaking pitches. He has the profile to play center field, as his speed makes him a magnet for fly balls and a threat on the basepaths.
Swaggerty could represent an improvement at center over Cain, though he is a work in progress. If he can improve his tendencies against breaking balls, he stands a good chance to be a contributor by 2020.
19. St. Louis Cardinals
Between the hacking scandal, Alex Reyes undergoing Tommy John surgery, and the Cardinals supposedly abandoning The Cardinal Way, nothing outside of Paul deJong really clicked for the team, and they watched as their bitter rival Cubs won the NL Central and their former rival Astros won the title.
The Cardinals have a very strong system, trades and graduations aside, so the most sensible thing for them to do would be to grab the consensus best prospect. I think Kumar Rocker is underrated by a lot of sites. At one point, he was rated higher than Ethan Hankins, but for some reason, he’s slumped a bit. Rocker has a great build for a pitcher, he owes that to his NFL lineman father Tracy. His fastball is arguably one of the best of the class as it can range from low to high 90’s with occasional movement. One issue is that it can straighten out, and ultimately lead to him getting tagged hard. Rocker does have some idiosyncrasies in his delivery that could make him easy to figure out, but he can adjust enough to overcome them. It’s just a matter of staying consistent.
The Cardinals and Rocker would be a great match, and though he may take some time, his eventual growth into a major leaguer would coincide with many Cardinal prospects either stepping in or developing into big league regulars.
20. Minnesota Twins
We can only hope that 2016 was an aberration for the Twins, as the 2015 potential of that team carried over into 2017 and ultimately led into a wild card appearance. Even though the Indians hold control of the AL Central right now, Minnesota could at the very least fight for a wild card for a few seasons until their vaunted prospect group graduates.
One player that certainly won’t be around when the next generation of Twins comes in is Joe Mauer, as he will be 37 by the time 2020 rolls around. The Twins however can get someone to replicate Mauer’s offensive production if they grab Clemson slugger Seth Beer. Beer may have taken a bit of a stock tumble after a dropoff in production his sophomore year coupled with an underwhelming summer with the national team, but it’s clear that his bat, regardless of where he plays, will carry him far. He has the patience and the power to be a middle of the order threat, but defensively and on the base paths, he is less than impressive. Beer’s certainly a controversial prospect, but if he can finally adapt his game to wood, there’s a chance he could end up being an Alec Hansen-like sleeper.
The Twins could use Beer to solve their problem at DH, or they could put him at first in order to prolong Mauer’s career. Either way, he’d be a nice power complement to Miguel Sano, and would add a lot of plate discipline to the Twins.
21. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers put up a solid effort this season, only to falter at the end. With a solid combination of homegrown pitching, reclamation talent, and a true player’s manager in Craig Counsell, there is no doubt the Brewers will be a consistent threat in the NL Central for the next couple seasons.
What the Brewers could use is another lefty, and thanks to UConn, who has produced some quality arms as of late, they could get an intriguing option. Tim Cate came to Storrs relatively unheralded as a freshman, and would have pitched his entire summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, but he surprised many by taking the reins and earning an invite to pitch in relief for Team USA. Cate has done so for the past two seasons, and it’s clear that he’s got a a lot more than his small frame would suggest. Cate’s best offering is his curveball, which drops like a stone in the zone. He also uses similar mechanics with his fastball, generating a lot of swing and miss. Cate’s biggest concern though is UConn potentially using him way too much, a problem that affected former UConn first rounders Matt Barnes and Anthony Kay. Ideally if a team were to draft him, they would be sure to use him lightly in his first season.
The Brewers have a special team coming into 2018, and if they continue to generate homegrown talent at the level that they do, there’s a good chance that they will be able to sustain that success.
22. Colorado Rockies
Colorado may have finally cracked their postseason formula by hiring Bud Black as a manager, but they still have a long way to go before Rocktober becomes a thing again. Even though the team has invested a lot of money in their outfield, it’s clear that Gerardo Parra and Ian Desmond have looked less and less like the guys to be paired with Charlie Blackmon.
Thankfully, the Rockies finished in such a spot that they’d be able to grab one outfielder. Greyson Jenista comes from the appropriately named Wichita State Shockers, who have at times produced big league talent. Jenista is the latest in a long line of Cape Cod Leaguers that impressed enough to warrant first round consideration, thanks in part to winning league MVP. Jenista has the build for power, but is a better spread hitter, and will do as much damage on base as with his sneaky power. Jenista’s biggest flaw is his defense, although it’s more or less a tick below everything else. He’s best suited for an outfield corner professionally.
Jenista would be a nice homegrown option that would pair well with uber talented shortstop prospect Brendan Rodgers. He comes off as a quick riser that would greatly benefit from playing in an environment like Coors Field.
23. New York Yankees
Between a freakishly scary good farm system and a freakishly scary good 40 man roster, figuring out the Yankees mock draft pick is like trying to add an extra ingredient to an already perfect sandwich. It’s almost not necessary. However, given the fact that the Yankees are bound to make THAT trade again and could conceivably drop some of their prospect haul, there is a good chance that things will get easier as the offseason progresses.
The Yankees may have a crowded first base situation which got slightly better when Mike Ford was Rule 5'd and Garrett Cooper was traded, but it doesn’t mean the team would turn down one of the more intriguing high school bats of the crop. Triston Casas has the type of power that translates to Yankee Stadium’s bandbox dimensions, and he has the quickness and instincts to hold down a corner infield spot. He’s played third base at American Heritage, but his foot speed most likely would necessitate a transition to the other side of the diamond. He’s proven he can hit, but he does need to cut down on the strikeouts in order to avoid the three true outcomes hitter designation.
Whether or not Casas would actually make it to the Yankees is another question entirely, but it’s clear that he’d be a very important piece in their future plans.
24. Chicago Cubs
After the Cubs magical run in 2016, expectations for them in 2017 were at an all-time high. However, the team ran into the brick wall known as the Los Angeles Dodgers, and saw former division rival Houston win their first World Series. It’s clear that the Cubs do have a strong, cost controlled lineup for the future, but the question remains, who stays and who goes, and who replaces whom?
A name that has been constantly dropped in trade rumors has been Kyle Schwarber, mainly because of his down 2017 season and the question of what his future position will be. If that’s the case, then the Cubs could grab the University of Kentucky’s Tristan Pompey. Pompey, brother of Blue Jays outfielder Dalton, is a very toolsy player. His best asset is his speed, making him an ideal top of the lineup hitter, although he does need to work on utilizing it better. Pompey is capable of being a run producer, so if his speed doesn’t translate to the pro level, he’d make a decent 2 hitter in a lineup thanks to his power potential. Pompey is capable of playing a corner, although as of now, he looks more suited to play left field.
Pompey is definitely one of the more intriguing follows in this year’s draft, and one wonders if he could surpass his brother as a better player. The Cubs have been known to get a lot out of their hitting prospects as of late, so he’d be a solid contributor in their organization.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks
Have the Arizona Diamondbacks found the recipe for success after going all in and whiffing in 2016? It all depends on how long they can keep their core together until it gets expensive, plus how much longer can Zack Greinke be an effective staff ace for the team. With plenty of pleasant surprises like Chris Owings, Jake Lamb, Robbie Ray and Archie Bradley hopefully part of this club for a long time, there’s a good chance that the Diamondbacks can keep the magic going for a few more years.
One weakness that Arizona has is their catching situation, and while they have in a way played themselves out of some of the better catching prospects, they could look at an intriguing two-way athlete. Mason Denaburg comes from the same high school as 2017 draftee Brady McConnell, but has higher upside in the fact that he pitches and catches, much like second rounder Hagen Danner did before the Blue Jays made him catch full time. Denaburg is already up to the high 90’s as a pitcher, but his secondary stuff needs development. He has a presence behind the plate, and the arm strength is there. As mentioned, Denaburg is a two-sport player, with football as his second sport. His ability as a kicker and punter also translates well to his baseball game.
The Diamondbacks would only have to designate where they want him to develop, which makes it all the more intriguing to see what he will do this spring. Hopefully, the two-sport commitment to the Gators won’t make him too expensive a sign.
26. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox find themselves behind the 8 ball two years after they splurged to get ahead of their division rivals. Even if they have one of the strongest staffs in the game, as well as a young controllable offense, the rumor mill has it that the team is willing to give up some of their current core in order to make a last push to compete with the Yankees.
Assuming one of Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. is dealt this offseason, the Red Sox would probably want to find a young outfielder with comparable skills to compensate down the road. While the outfield situation is jammed now. a prep option like Joe Gray Jr. wouldn’t hurt. Gray is a raw prospect, but what he already has makes him an intriguing buy in. His arm strength and speed make him a future corner outfielder fielder, although he could use a little work on his accuracy. His bat is arguably his most raw tool, but he does have power that makes him a middle of the order threat, possibly in the number 5 spot of the lineup. Gray is committed to the University of Mississippi, making him an easier sign than most of the prep outfield crop.
Gray would easily slide in right as the Red Sox outfield starts to get expensive, and his skillset is fairly close to those in Boston. The Red Sox should keep a close eye on the Hattiesburg product and see what he can do.
27. Washington Nationals
For as good as the Washington Nationals claim to be, they sure have a problem with showing it. With more one and dones in the playoffs than a University of Kentucky basketball team, it’s clear something is clearly not clicking, and with Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy apparently on the way out, most likely to Chicago and lord knows where, the Nats are clearly looking for a Hail Mary in order to try and keep their uberstars happy.
While the Nats may not be able to find a more major league ready prospect than Ryan Zimmerman was in 2005, they may be able to find someone who can replicate Zimmerman’s production in his prime. Luken Baker was at one point the top prospect in the 2018 draft and was turning heads as a two way player, but the emergence of Seth Beer, then Brady Singer, among others as well as a broken forearm in his sophomore year dampened his stock considerably. The former Gatorade Player of the Year, Baker is probably most comparable to Lucas Duda in his size, patience at the plate, and power potential. But with the strengths that he has, he does have his flaws, his defense does need improvement, and he is not a mobile player. Still, if Baker can recapture the wow factor that came with his freshman year at Fort Worth, the liabilities he has can be overlooked.
Baker is clearly a better player than he is rated, and it will be interesting to see how he can recover from his injury and fulfill his potential as a star in the making.
28. Houston Astros
If you thought the 2016 World Series was a classic, the 2017 one certainly was just as good, if not better World Series. Buoyed by both a strong homegrown core and outside additions, the Astros embodied the same roster construction that has helped teams for the past 4 years. The Astros definitely enter 2018 as one of the favorites to win the title. Hopefully, they can capitalize on their title and continue to hold back the AL as it gets collectively stronger.
The one position the Astros could stand to build on is behind the plate, and Noah Naylor would be an ideal option for them. Naylor, the brother of former first rounder and Padres first baseman Josh, is regarded as a better hitter than his brother, particularly in the power department. The fact that he was able to beat out Nolan Gorman in the 2017 high school home run derby shows that he can be a dangerous lineup presence. Usually, the issue is that high school catchers bats are behind their defense, but it’s actually the other way around for Naylor. It’s not to say that Naylor would have to be moved to a less challenging position as a professional, but he does need to improve his technique if he wants to stay a catcher long term. Worst case scenario, he moves to first base and becomes the heir to Yuli Gurriel.
Naylor’s power is ideal for park like Minute Maid, and having him buoy the already potent Astros lineup would allow them to continue to dictate the pace of the AL West.
29. Cleveland Indians
A year after making it to the World Series, the Indians found themselves unmercifully bounced by the surprising Yankees, leading to questions as to whether or not they could maintain the success they have developed. Thankfully, the Indians stand to gain a lot this draft as they have three selections in the top 40, two of which come are at 29 and 31.
The first selection they should make, especially if he happens to be around this long, is Stetson’s Logan Gilbert. Having already seen what Hatters pitchers can do with Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom, Gilbert stands to continue that trend and make them into a pitching factory. Gilbert has deGrom’s backstory in that he was converted from being a position player, but unlike deGrom, it was done early enough that Gilbert has shown potential with a solid mid to high 90’s fastball and three above average secondary offerings. Gilbert is a bit lower in my mock because he was limited in the fall, but don’t expect that to be a consistent thing. If he can capitalize on his sophomore year, there’s a good chance he could be top ten by June.
The Indians may not have their pitcher whisperer in Mickey Callaway anymore, but their pitching is strong enough, and Gilbert is certainly more advanced than his contemporaries, enough for him to make a case to be an early big league call up.
30. Los Angeles Dodgers
Had the Dodgers not given the ball to Yu Darvish, there would have been a possibility they would have won the World Series. Darvish, while a great pitcher, has a history of being very hittable the first time around, and the fact that the Astros had had every opportunity to feast on him earlier in the year made it that much more questionable of a decision. Still, credit where credit goes, they made it far this year, and with the way their roster is constructed, expect much more from them in the future.
Justin Turner will be at the twilight of his career when his contract is up, so it made sense for them to look at a potential heir. Jordan Groshans comes from a Texas high school that has a history of Day 3 draft picks, so he will most likely be the highest player selected in their history. He’s a jack of all trades player with average to above average tools across the board. Groshans could see his hitting ability improve if he bulks up. Groshans is a prep shortstop, but like 2017’s Mark Vientos, his professional future is at third base. He looks to be a 5 hitter at best, but if the power does consistently show, he may move to a 3 spot.
Groshans would be big league ready by the time that Turner is ready to hang them up, so the transition wouldn’t be difficult. Because he’s committed to play for Kansas, expect him to be an easier sign than most.
31. Cleveland Indians (Compensation for Carlos Santana)
The Indians have shown that they aren’t afraid of looking at schools that ordinarily wouldn’t be talent hotbeds. In 2016, they nabbed Nolan Jones out of Holy Ghost Prep in Pennsylvania. In 2017, they took Quentin Holmes out of Monsignor McClancy High School in New York. Could the Indians do the same thing a third year in a row?
Even though he is pitching in this picture, Mike Siani is regarded as a professional outfielder. Siani, from William Penn Charter School in Pennsylvania, is admittedly raw on the offensive side of the ball, but he has the speed, arm, and defense that scouts only dream about from prep outfielders. The gold glove potential is intriguing, but in order for Siani to be considered a true big league contributor, and not just another Juan Lagares type defender is if he can grow and build his bat up to where his other tools are. His ceiling is probably a leadoff hitter, but he does have power potential.
If the Indians continue to see results like they have from plucking northeastern talent, expect them to make return trips, especially if that talent really starts to show up.
32. Tampa Bay Rays (Compensation for Drew Rasmussen)
The Rays tabbed a talented corner outfielder in 2015 from UVA in 2015 named Joe McCarthy, they may reach back into that pool in 2018 with his more talented brother Jake McCarthy. McCarthy has the speed and the glove to play centerfield. He makes consistent contact as well. McCarthy is a strong leadoff hitter, and will likely be another addition to the long line of Virginia hitters whose game translates to the next level.
33. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have a very strong farm system that stands to get stronger once Gerrit Cole is traded, so in this scenario, they go for the best player on the board. Jackson Kowar was the third member of the Gators championship rotation, and while he had a limited fall, as is tradition for Gators starters, his stuff is certainly there. If Kowar can repeat his 2017 season, he’ll jump back into the first round, but usually when it comes to draft eligible Gators starters, they tend to fall in the draft.
34. Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore has been known to take risks when it comes to high school talent, and grabbing a New England prep pitcher like Mike Vasil wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. Vasil can throw in the low to mid 90’s, and has average to above average secondary stuff. He has the body to be a pitcher, but his control needs work. Hopefully the Orioles can grab him before he makes it to Virginia, who has a less than stellar track record with developing starters.
35. San Diego Padres
The Padres double dip on offense and grab another Wichita State Shocker. Alec Bohm may not have won Cape League MVP, but he did have the numbers to suggest that he would be a solid future slugger. Bohm’s biggest liability is his defense, which has led scouts to think he’ll move across the diamond, but if he can show that his bat can overcome his shortcomings at defense, perhaps the Padres can get an encouraging read on him there.
36. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks grab arguably the best college hitter and the best name in the draft in Steele Walker. Walker has shown that he can handle the transition from composite to wood thanks in part to outstanding summer league seasons. Walker does hit and hit and hit, but his plate patience needs work, as his walk rate is shockingly low. Walker will thrive as a hitter, but defensively, he’s weaker. He’d make a decent professional left fielder, likely ready to take over when David Peralta is done.
37. Kansas City Royals
The Royals grab one of the biggest names to watch in Xavier Edwards and further continue their tried and true method of winning games through small ball. Edwards is one of the fastest players in the draft and will certainly scare teams on the basepaths. He’s got the technique down at shortstop, ensuring that he will be a professional one. Edwards will be a tough sign because of his commitment to Vanderbilt, but with Swaggerty in round one, some bonus money could be diverted to him.
There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a mid rotation starter in the draft, and there is perhaps no better option than Steven Gingery. The National Pitcher of the Year in 2017, Gingery may not be a tier 1 starter but he can still be a workhorse that stabilizes the back of a rotation. He has the best changeup of the 2018 class, and complements it with a low 90’s fastball that stays consistent late in games. Gingery is a gamer, and will do what it takes to win, but he is arguably one of the safer bets in the draft.
The Rockies save some money with the Jenista pick and go after Georgia prepster Luke Bartnicki. Bartnicki has a mid 90’s fastball that has life, and complements it with a biting slider. He has the frame to be a starter in the future. His commitment is to Georgia Tech, so he should be an easy sign.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals save a bit of money for Kumar Rocker by going after potential TCU swingman Sean Wymer. Wymer, much like 2014 first rounder Brandon Finnegan was exclusively a bullpen arm for the Horned Frogs this year, but could be a rotation guy in 2018. He’s undersized, but compensates with an even keel delivery operating in the high 80-low 90’s range. He has a toolbox of above average offerings with his best being his curve-slider combo. Wymer may have a professional future as a starter, but don’t be surprised if the Cardinals like him as a potential closer.
And that’s all for the 2017 mocks. Stay tuned for February 2018 when in response to MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospects by team, I will release my newest mock. Until then, have a happy Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Festivus, or what have you. See you next year!