Happy Draft Day, everyone. It’s a happy day and week for many, as over 600 kids will have their names called and be given the chance to sign and become professional baseball players. It’ll be a bit of a somber day on my end, which I will explain briefly.
If you haven’t already seen my little note on the socials, I will not be following and covering the draft live this year – the first time since I started covering the draft in 2013. Around this time last year, I planned a vacation to head North, and it just so happened to land exactly on the dates of the draft.
The TBW Draft Headquarters™ will move from Lake Arrowhead to West Lake Tahoe, where I don’t think there will be a whole lot of mobile cellular service, and I will be with six members of my family, all of whom would not understand why I would leave for a few hours every day to do something for free (shoutout to HomePlateView.com for being free and created by yours truly, yippy). In all seriousness, I’m stoked to go on vacation with my family and I wouldn’t put them in a position to hold off on anything so I could cover baseball unless there was a check coming with it, so it’s somber, but it’s also going to be fun to not be worrying about baseball.
Usually, I would be located square in the middle of the TBW Draft Headquarters™, and to give you an idea of what that looks like, it’s my couch in the living room with the television on MLB Network and my phone and laptop right in front of me with about 30 open tabs, and a mix of word documents with roughly a few hundred reports I’d already received from scouts across the nation. I would text my contacts in the industry, including executives who may or may not text back (another shoutout to the GM who texted me three years straight in the middle of the draft to check on my mental status), scouts who are a bit better at texting unless they’re in the war room, and agents who are a bit manipulative (not all, but some) with their texts.
It’s an absolute blast to cover the draft, and I’m going to miss it, but I’ll have plenty of information when I get back from vacation and share all of it here with draft recaps and the likes. Over my nine years of covering the MLB Draft, this year was actually the one I had the most confidence in when it comes to my coverage. I felt I had more detailed information than ever before which I assume comes with experience and the a wider array of sources within the sport. I don’t plan on putting that to waste as post-draft information is much more important than pre-draft information.
There will be no draft report cards because that’s outrageous in my mind to assess something that takes a half decade to actually get a hard understanding of how one team’s single draft went. You are always welcome to ask me if I “liked” your specific teams draft, and the answer will likely come off a bit political unless you’re the Baltimore Orioles in 2020.
Thanks as always to those who shared valuable information that pertain to the draft, whether it be scouts, agents, or executives.
Let’s dive into it. Here’s the final mock draft through the comp round on my end – unless I magically find cell service in the middle of nowhere and can put together a name’s only mock just prior to the draft’s start. Enjoy the week, everyone!
- FIRST ROUND
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (CA)
As is the case with most years where this isn’t a consensus guy who is the clear top talent in the draft, it comes down to valuation based on assets preserved for later picks that set you up for a better overall draft that allow for optimal talent intake. Pittsburgh isn’t in a rare position and seem aware of this. Industry consensus leans to the conclusion that Mayer is the front runner with Henry Davis as the secondary option, but there’s still two or three names beyond that duo floating around. This pick may not be known until Sunday morning, or evening, or until five minutes prior to the Pirates being on the clock.
- Texas Rangers – Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
The only consensus with Texas is that if Pittsburgh passes on Mayer, the Rangers will likely land him. A lot of this pick will be dictated by what Pittsburgh does and how much influence teams behind Texas have on the bonus demands of specific players from a verbal standpoint. The handful of players mentioned with the Rangers are the prep shortstops of Mayer, Khalil Watson, and Jordan Lawlar, as well as the Vanderbilt pitching duo. Lawlar was an early favorite for Texas, and it doesn’t seem like they’ve soured on him but may have a new preference.
- Detroit Tigers – Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (OK)
The worst kept secret since probably February is that Mayer is (has been) Detroit’s preferred player, and this is his absolute floor. I’ve split this pick multiple times over between Jobe and Brady House, particularly due to the Tigers’ desire to acquire a bat, but it sounds like Jobe is still the preferred player of the two.
4. Boston Red Sox – Henry Davis, C, Louisville
Credence is that if Leiter is available, he goes here, possibly with a pre-committed verbal agreement. In the off chance that both Leiter and Davis are already off the board, Boston may go the prep shortstop route or gander at fellow Vanderbilt arm, Kumar Rocker. There are some underslot rumors, but it comes with industry pessimism due to Boston’s potential verbal bonuses with their second pick.
- Baltimore Orioles – Matt McClain, SS, UCLA
No pick seems as scenario based as this one. If, per se, Lawlar went one, Watson went two, and Mayer went three, they would explore House, Leiter, or Davis, but could also see an opportunity to cut a deal with teams behind them coveting players that may not have originally been expected to land in their laps leading to a potential big splash with their second pick. There are teams picking inside the top ten who believe Baltimore’s most likely underslot attempt would be with Harry Ford, or even Sam Bachman (this has altered in the past few weeks), while others deeper in the draft feel Colton Cowser could be the guy. Late on Saturday night, I heard some hype that McClain has become that guy and will be the pick. I personally don’t see a scenario where they pass on one of the prep shortstops or Davis if available, but the Orioles seem to have already mapped out some differing plans pending what occurs ahead of them to alter what could happen behind them, so, whatever. Of note, watch for Lonnie White with their second pick if they opt not to go underslot.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – Khalil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS (NC)
The same could be said for the remaining teams in the top 11 or so, but I’m not sure any team would prefer Baltimore go underslot more than Arizona. That could free up either Watson or Davis who seem to be closer to the top of Arizona’s board than other potential players who could land near this spot – including Lawlar. It doesn’t seem likely they’d pass on Jobe who they seem to really like, but there are murmurs of them going towards a college hitter which leads to the reminder that Mike Hazen loved McClain as a prep.
- Kansas City Royals – Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit HS (TX)
I’ve heard since March that Kumar Rocker would never make it past Kansas City, and it seemed laughable at the time since he was expected to not get out of the top four. Recently though I’ve heard the Royals want a bat and are eyeing the shortstop crop. In this scenario, two are available, and one has been seen as the supreme option all Spring. That doesn’t mean I’d rule out House.
- Colorado Rockies – Brady House, SS, Window-Barrow HS (GA)
This draft class, by an industry perspective, has eight players in the “top tier” and belief is that if any of the eight land here it would be House, Jobe, or Rocker: with the shortstops being Colorado’s preference. With a lot of potential outcomes in the first seven picks, I think one of the prep infielders gets here. Teams behind Colorado believe Ty Madden and Cowser would be their preferred college route, with Benny Montgomery being in play as a prep option.
- Los Angeles Angels – Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
If any of the teams ahead of the Angels go underslot or pass on the previously mentioned “top eight” the Angels would likely take one with Rocker and Jobe seemingly as favorites due to Perry Minasian’s not-so-discrete track record and openness about acquiring arms in the draft. If not, there are a lot of rumors about their direction that blend every demographic including prep catcher Harry Ford, and particularly, a college arm like Ty Madden. Among the college crop, McClain is the most mentioned name attached to this pick, with Ford and Will Taylor leading the charge among prep options. Keep Carson Williams, a Southern California prep two-way player (who is said to have no interest in pitching) stowed away for later if he slips past the late first-round.
- New York Mets – Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
Similar to the Angels, if any of the top eight fall, this could be a final landing spot (I won’t write the same for Washington up next, but it’s the same). The Mets have been mentioned mostly with college hitters such as Frelick, McClain, and Cowser, as well as a potential underslot deal with Colson Montgomery. The common belief is that with college bats being the general weakness of the draft, there is a chance they’ll go off the board early and in relative succession.
- Washington Nationals – Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
It seems Washington will take an arm here and would prefer it be Rocker or Jobe. If not, they could have their pick between Madden and Bachman. Gunnar Hoglund – who was seen as a likely top-ten pick until having Tommy John surgery – is a dark horse and is in play throughout the rest of the first round.
- Seattle Mariners – Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
Seattle should have their pick of the one or some of the top college players between McClain, Cowser, Frelick, Madden, and Bachman. Bachman is someone I see the M’s quietly taking a longer look at when things get closer to their pick.
- Philadelphia Phillies – Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (PA)
It may be smoke but there’s too much buzz around Montgomery and the Phillies to ignore it. I’m buying the smoke. If not Benny Montgomery (must specify as there are three Montgomery’s who should be taken on the first day), I could see one of the college hitters being near the top of their board.
- San Francisco Giants – Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami-Ohio
A flurry of prep athletes are mentioned with the Giants, including Montgomery and Bubba Chandler, though the latter seems more like an early rumor than recent. It seems like Montgomery or one of the remaining college talents, like Bachman.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
Hearing college pitchers like Bachman, Madden, Hoglund, Jordan Wicks, and Will Bednar; or prep athletes like Ford and Taylor. Gage Jump, a Southern California prep arm, has been mentioned with their second pick, though he has other suitors between the picks.
- Miami Marlins – Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA)
Another spot where the college hitters could land if they continue down into the teens, but more than likely, it’s a prep hitter in the likes of Ford or Taylor.
- Cincinnati Reds – Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork HS (SC)
Cincinnati is said to have mapped out some different scenarios with their large bonus pool (fourth largest due to three picks inside first 35), which leaves a lot of questions as to how they’ll maneuver their money. Common belief is that they’ll either go big on a falling talent here or try and get some verbal overslot deals done in the comp rounds. There’s also a not-so-secret rumor that Taylor has a verbal agreement somewhere in the teens and he fits what Cincinnati has done in the past.
- St. Louis Cardinals – Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
If it ain’t broke, don’t tamper with it. The Cardinals’ net has been cast on the usual suspects of SEC pitchers and preps from California and Georgia. Despite going under the knife, Hoglund is still seen as one of the top talents in this draft.
- Toronto Blue Jays – Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois
A bit of an open door who may see a falling talent land in their lap. If not, I expect the third tier of college bats starting with the idea that it’s the weak point of the draft. A few preps are mentioned with Toronto, but there’s some late pessimism to those rumors.
- New York Yankees – Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
Value pick with the best player available that has had some connections to New York. The industry says the Yankees are all over which can be said for almost everyone at this point. Bednar’s arrow is up after a strong postseason – and regular season – supported by strong evaluations on his arsenal from the raw scouting eye and the advanced pitch data. Bednar has intrigue all over the teens to Pittsburgh at the start of the second round where it’s unlikely he’ll make it.
- Chicago Cubs – Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace HS (NJ)
Everything points to upside preps with the Cubs who would probably like to see someone already mentioned fall to them. Though his arrow is pointing down towards the back end of the first, Michael McGreevy has been connected to the Cubs for some time from California sources.
- Chicago White Sox – Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge HS (IN)
Montgomery’s name started getting traction higher than this slightly before a strong showing at the MLB Draft Combine and the obvious Corey Seager comparisons were made. Chicago is mentioned with a lot of prep infielders, which is unique as Rick Hahn has never selected a prep player with his first pick as General Manager, but new Scouting Director Mike Shirley could be changing the tides.
- Cleveland Indians – Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC-Santa Barbara
Basing this on some information from my Cleveland expert (if you’ve followed my work long enough you know who I’m talking about), I’m hearing Cleveland is relying solely on their draft model which focuses on age relative to class, strike-throwing ability, a well-developed secondary pitch and coachability from a school who isn’t superior at developing arms (though Santa Barbara has done well in the past). Prep arms Chase Petty and Frank Mozzicato make sense based on that information as well. Look for a potential match with one of the multiple JSerra kids in Southern California for later picks (not Cody Schrier who has withdrawn himself from the draft).
- Atlanta Braves – Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
There is a lot of noise around Atlanta from teams picking in this range and at this point it’s a lot of who is available and who isn’t, as opposed to expecting some names deeper in the class to emerge. I’m holding tight to information from earlier in the Spring that it’s going to be a pitcher, or in laymen’s terms, the Anthopoulos special. Look for some potential overslot Southern California preps after the second round.
- Oakland Athletics – Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks HS (CA)
Oakland is all over prep bats. I think they’ll target the one they see with the most potential to stick up-the-middle in either Muncy or Jay Allen. I nearly placed Alex Mooney here as Oakland had executives in to see him somewhat regularly this Spring, but there is a chance he gets to their second pick.
- Minnesota Twins – Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (NY)
Consensus is that Sweeney and Joe Mack are the two favorites for this pick and Minnesota could be trying to get both holding this pick and one 10 spots later. Both will be attending the draft in person which makes me believe there is some form of a pre-draft agreement with someone, though that’s purely speculation.
- San Diego Padres – Frank Mozzicato, LHP, East Catholic HS (CT)
It’s no secret that A.J. Preller spent a large part of the Spring in the Northeast seeing Mozzicato – among others – and it just so happened to fall during the southpaws long-stretch of throwing consecutive no hitters. He’s been in for workouts, but so have plenty of other players. Ask around and you’ll hear I was overtly confident in this pick as recent as Wednesday but am now starting to lack as much conviction. It’s a crapshoot this deep in.
- Tampa Bay Rays – Wes Kath, 3B, Desert Mountain HS (AZ)
This pick could be the architect to the next six selections. Tampa picks again at 34, and they have a wide array of potential candidates for both selections that have a diverse demographic. Most of the five teams between here and 34 are primarily connected to prep players, which may lead Tampa in that direction to guarantee they get the guy they most want and best allows them to get one of their other top preferences not long after.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest
The Dodgers next pick comes at 101, so the question that comes from most teams around this pick is whether Los Angeles will make a big splash or if they’ll play a bit more conservative. The close to home sources indicate they feel it will be a pick based on power, whether on the mound or at the plate. If available, I think Max Muncy could be the pick here and we can all watch people who are clueless to the draft laugh at their own bad jokes.
- COMPENSATION PICKS (PICK)
- Cincinnati Reds – Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS (GA)
As noted, Cincinnati has picks which means they have money. I gave them one of the top dollar players with their first pick and have options to do the same here in Chandler and Painter, both of whom are attached to their first pick at 17. Whether the Reds would put near 60% of their large bonus pool towards two players does make me question my own mock, but the value is too much to deny, and they are rumored to have some interest in players with lower bonus demands to preserve their pool. Of note, both Taylor and Chandler are two-sport commits to Clemson and both as quarterbacks which could make Cincinnati public enemy numero uno in South Carolina. Hey Netflix, I have an idea you may want to check out: Red is the New Orange.
- COMPETITIVE BALANCE ROUND A
- Miami Marlins – Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian HS (FL)
I think Miami is in a similar scenario to Cincinnati where they could try and plunder someone with their second pick who is expected to go much higher in the first round. Chandler makes a lot of sense here as well, as does Painter. The biggest difference between Cincy and the 305 is about $2,000,000 in bonus pool allotment.
- Detroit Tigers – Jay Allen, OF, John Carroll Catholic HS (FL)
Just based on how the draft seems to be perceived, someone in the comp rounds is going to walk away happy with two expected first rounders. I think this mock has already started to go awry, but as the great Pam Beasley once declared: “pobodies nerfect.” I doubt Detroit would take two prep arms with their first two picks and are more likely to lean the college route here.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
Not many teams covet the hit tool like Milwaukee does. Wilson provides not only a solid hit tool, but other excess tools that could place him above the fellow third-tier college hitters in the class who are both second baseman in Tyler Black and Connor Norby who could make sense here. With college bats being seen as a bit more premium due to lack of depth, it could lead to another run which in turn would lead to…
- Tampa Bay Rays – Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State
… one of those second basemen going with the very next pick.
- Cincinnati Reds – Matt Mikulski, LHP, Fordham
The Reds will have to save money somewhere and likely early if they plan on getting the most of their big pool. Mikulski is a senior from a smaller program which gives him less leverage in the bonus demand department and everyone is aware of this making him a likely candidate for any team picking in this range.
- Minnesota Twins – Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
Just throwing darts. Minnesota likes power and Fabian has some of the best raw juice in the class. His reported bonus demands may not make him as desirable to middle-to-smaller bonus pool teams like the Twins, but this is his general range.