While it’s always draft season here at North Side Bound, things really get cooking at the start of the NCAA DI college baseball season. IN this mock I explore what the draft may look like this July, not necessarily where things stand right now. It features players that I’ve identified as possible risers so there will be players mocked to teams below who are currently ranked in the 30-60 range by respected outlets. After all, Jackson Holliday was appropriately ranked 36th overall by Pipeline in December 2021. While that might deviate from other mocks, I believe it’s a fun way to evaluate players this early in the draft cycle. You’ll also find verbiage about how certain teams prioritize higher picks. These are broad generalizations and we don’t want to take any to the bank, but they can be interesting as we look at how organizational tendencies can impact future selections. So with that said, let’s get to the mock.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Max Clark – OF Franklin HS, IN
Previous 1st round selections: Quinn Priester- RHP, Nick Gonzales- 2B, Henry Davis- C, Termarr Johnson- 2B
How the Pirates draft: Pittsburgh has leaned towards safe future projections the past three seasons. Gonzales, Davis, and Johnson all look like solid bets to progress through the system and be MLB-performers. They’ve prioritized strong contact rates (hit tools). In 2021 they also had the number 1 overall pick and took the player that provided the best combination of talent and savings. While that’s not a guarantee they’ll do that in 2023, it’s worth considering.
Mock 1.0:I have Max Clark as my top overall player in the class. He offers the best combination (in my opinion) of tools led by a strong hit tool and athleticism. I won’t speculate on signability. Rather, here I just feel like Pittsburgh takes the best player for their model and calls it a day. Could Dylan Crews, Case Dollander, and more make sense? Absolutely they could. Even Jacob Wilson hitting for power could be a dark horse 1:1 discussion. Point is, Pittsburgh has options. Max Clark is one of the best ones available.
- Washington Nationals – Chase Dollander – RHP, Tennessee
Previous 1st round selections: Jackson Rutledge- RHP, Cade Cavalli- RHP, Brady House- 3B, Elijah Green, OF
How the Nationals draft: Not afraid to go for upside despite risk. Ultimate ceiling appears to drive decision-making.
Mock 1.0:It’s important to not get too attached to pitchers as health is a concern, but Chase Dollander showcases all the skills you could want. He’ll average 96 mph on the fastball and show well above-average ride up in the zone (touching induced vertical breaks over 20). His slider averages over 10 inches of sweep. He’s gone toe-to-toe with advanced SEC hitters. Asking around, some teams have him 1:1 overall and the best pitcher in several years. It’s all a matter of health.
- Detroit Tigers – Dylan Crews – OF, LSU
Previous 1st round selections: Riley Greene- OF, Spencer Torkelson- 1B, Jackson Jobe- RHP, Jace Jung- 2B
How the Tigers draft: This is a bit of a copout because the Tigers have a new scouting director. Mark Conner was with the Padres for over a decade before Scott Harris brought him to Detroit. Let’s copy a snippet of what I list for the Padres below, “The Padres are a club that puts a premium on batted ball data…”. I could see that factoring in for Detroit’s draft selections.
Mock 1.0:It is hard to find a player with more exciting batted-ball data than Dylan Crews. He barrels his patent-pending (not really, but should with new NIL rules) “Crews Missiles” all over the ballpark. I have some reservations about his ability to handle spin, but it’s clear this is an elite player. He could soar through the Tigers system and pair with several impact players leading a resurgent Detroit club.
- Texas Rangers – Wyatt Langford- OF Florida
Previous 1st round selections: Josh Jung- 3B, Justin Foscue- 2B, Jack Leiter- RHP, Kumar Rocker- RHP
How the Rangers draft: Target college performers and ones from large conferences (mostly SEC).
Mock 1.0: Langford is going to get a run in CF for the Gators though my view prior to the season is he’s more of a corner OF. Batted ball data is strong and he’s handled SEC pitching. Everything the Rangers have done in the past two years is to supplement the current core players at the major leagues and in the upper minors. I’d expect another college performer and it’s hard to argue that Langford couldn’t move quickly through the system.
- Minnesota Twins – Colt Emerson – SS, John Glenn HS, OH
Previous 1st round selections: Keoni Cavaco- SS, Aaron Sabato- 1B, Chase Petty- RHP, Brooks Lee- SS
How the Twins draft: The Twins balance prep and college, but players fall into safer demographics. Chase Petty is the exception, but they traded him before the end of the year.
Mock 1.0:We didn’t consider Jackson Holliday a top 5 prospect entering last season. Every year there are players who ascend draft boards and Emerson has that ability. He already boasts one of the better bat-to-ball skill sets in the prep class, but the only factor holding him back is the ability to drive the ball over the fence.
- Oakland A’s – Jacob Gonzalez – SS, Ole Miss
Previous 1st round selections: Logan Davidson- SS, Tyler Soderstrom- C, Maxwell Muncy- SS, Daniel Susac- C
How the A’s draft: Up the middle contributors. They’ve balanced between prep and college talents.
Mock 1.0: The projections are too good for Jacob Gonzalez to fall far in the draft. Even if he has to move off SS, Gonzalez boasts strong contact, barrel rates (80th percentile), and hard hit data. He also had an average exit velocity of approximately 89 mph. It’s a strong recipe that combines both a high floor with some upside.
- Cincinnati Reds – Walker Jenkins – OF, South Brunswick HS, NC
Previous 1st round selections: Nick Lodolo- LHP, Austin Hendrick- OF, Matt McLain- SS, Cam Collier- 3B
How the Reds draft: It’s a mixed bag for Cincinnati, but they’ve been an organization that’s been willing to pay up for talents that fall.
Mock 1.0: Jenkins receives Austin Hendrick comparisons already, so this feels like a solid fit here. Jenkins has some scouting fans and he may shift to a corner long-term, but if he comes back healthy this spring, the Reds and several other clubs up top will be in position to take a player with an all-star upside.
- Kansas City Royals – Arjun Nimmala – SS, Strawberry Crest HS, FL
Previous 1st round selections: Bobby Witt- SS, Asa Lacy- LHP, Frank Mozzicato- LHP, Gavin Cross – OF
How the Royals draft: The Royals have used multiple strategies to bring in top selections. They’ve subslotted heavily (Mozzicato) and stuck to slot with Witt, Lacy, and Cross. The Royals also are one of the few teams to have all four major demographics (HS hitter, college hitter, prep pitcher, prep hitter) in their last four
Mock 1.0: From all the reports I have, it’s hard not to be impressed with Arjun Nimmala. He has the profile of a player who will soar up draft boards. The Royals are equal opportunity players in targeting different player demographics. I don’t have a sense for which teams would fall in love with Nimmala, but I’m guessing the list will be long.
- Colorado Rockies – Enrique Bradfield Jr. – CF, Vanderbilt
Previous 1st round selections: Michael Toglia- 1B, Zac Veen- OF, Benny Montgomery- OF, Gabriel Hughes- RHP
How the Rockies draft: It’s hard to track any sort of discernible traits the Rockies prioritize early. They’ve targeted multiple bats in the first and raw toosly outfielders.
Mock 1.0: The Rockies are a tricky club to ID, but Enrique Bradfield Jr. would be an excellent option at this stage in the draft. The thought of Bradfield Jr roaming Coors Field while bringing his excellent swing decisions, good contact, and speed to Colorado. The worry when you evaluate Bradfield Jr is that he’s just a slasher, but that’s not true. He hits the ball hard (above-average Avg exit velocity, hard hit rate 36% above average) with a an average launch angle. Watching EBJ in the Corvallis Regional, it was amazing the impact he could have in the game. A team is going to to snag Bradfield Jr early and watch him rise through the ranks with an advanced skill set.
- Miami Marlins – Brayden Taylor – 3B, TCU
Previous 1st round selections: J.J. Bleday- OF, Max Meyer- RHP, Khalil Watson- SS, Jacob Berry- 3B
How the Marlins draft: The Jacob Berry selection was definitely safe play and Watson was seen as a value move with him falling in the draft.
Mock 1.0: Brayden Taylor has some of the same characteristics as Brooks Lee and Jacob Berry last year. He’s a bit of a combo between the two players and we saw the Marlins connected to both. Taylor doesn’t hit the ball incredibly hard (87 mph average exit velocity), but has a great eye at the plate featuring above-average contact rates. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have power, but it profiles similarly to Jacob Berry, albeit one who can stay at 3B. He’s a safe college performer who could be a quick rising player in the organization.
- Anaheim Angels – Paul Skenes – RHP/RHH, LSU
Previous 1st round selections: Will Wilson- SS, Reid Detmers- LHP, Sam Bachman- RHP, Zach Neto- SS
How the Angels draft: College performers and pitchers are the primary first-round targets by the Angels.
Mock 1.0: Skenes has legitimate two-way upside though evaluators do lean pitcher. Is there a better organization to woo Skenes if he’d prefer to try out his major league career as a two-way guy? While I’m a bit tentative on Skenes in prospect rankings, i’ve heard some really see him as a high-level prospect in the class (even higher than this).
- Arizona Diamondbacks – Aidan Miller – 3B, JW Mitchell HS, FL
Previous 1st round selections: Corbin Carroll- CF, Bryce Jarvis- RHP, Jordan Lawler- SS, Druw Jones- CF
How the Diamondbacks draft: Outside of 2020, we generally see the Diamondbacks target higher ceiling prep talent early.
Mock 1.0: The big-league Diamondbacks are a team who appears on the cusp of wild-card contention and you could argue a quick-moving college performer would make the most sense from an organizational perspective.
- Chicago Cubs – Jonny Farmelo, OF, Westfield HS, VA
Previous 1st round selections: Ryan Jensen- RHP (under Jason McLeod), Ed Howard- SS, Jordan Wicks- LHP, Cade Horton- RHP
How the Cubs draft: we saw the Cubs prioritize players who the organization viewed as falling to them in Howard and Wicks, but it was clear that unless something really crazy happened last year they were very into the profile of Horton. This is an organization that has been willing to target upside with their top few selections the past few years.
Mock 1.0: This isn’t a name that is going to ring a lot of bells for Cubs fans and if you go check out where Farmelo is ranked right now by publications like MLB Pipeline or even Prospects Live he won’t be sitting in the teens. However Farmelo fits the profile of a player who can make significant movement this spring/summer as someone who switched positions (SS to CF) and immediately showed above-average tendencies. He has pop and feel for barrel. What stood out to me on top of those skills was that everyone I talked to in the Virginia baseball area could not stop talking about Jonny Farmelo the player AND the person. He has outstanding makeup which only increases the chance he can reach his full potential.
It’s possible we get to July and find this is too high for him and he fits more into the low first overslot second-round pick tier of talent. There may just be too much talent sitting on the board at 13 overall for the Cubs to pass up. But I do want it out there that people are impressed with Jonny Farmelo.
Other names considered: Bryce Eldridge, Arjun Nimmala, Matt Shaw, Colt Emerson
- Boston Red Sox – Matt Shaw – SS, Maryland
Previous 1st round selections: Nick Yorke- 2B, Marcelo Meyer- SS, Mikey Romero- SS
How the Red Sox draft: Athletic middle infielders has been a heavy focus. It’s a great demographic to pull from.
Mock 1.0: While it feels almost impossible to go back-to-back-to-back-to-back with SS, the positional flexibility in taking middle of the diamond players gives an organization incredible flexibility. Matt Shaw is a player that folks really dig. He may have to move over to 2B, but it is hard to find college middle infielders who combine average hit while hitting ball hard.
- Chicago White Sox – Noble Meyer- RHP Jesuit HS, OR
Previous 1st round selections: Andrew Vaughn- 1B, Garrett Crochet- LHP, Colson Montgomery- SS, Noah Schultz- LHP
How the White Sox draft: White Sox have been willing to bet on upside despite risk. It’s paid off with Montgomery and Schultz is one of my favorite 2022 selections.
Mock 1.0: Meyer (like fellow Jesuit HS alum, Mick Abel) enters the season on the shortlist of being this year’s premier prep pitcher. Meyer features a nasty slider, projection, and velocity.
- San Francisco Giants – Hurston Waldrep – RHP, Florida
Previous 1st round selections: Hunter Bishop- OF, Patrick Bailey- C, Will Bednar- RHP, Reggie Crawford- LHP
How the Giants draft: The Giants are hard to pin down so I reached out to one of my favorite draft analysts, Brian Recca, who writes for Prospects Live and is cued into the Giants. According to Brian, “[The Giants] definitely like low VAA arms and up the middle defenders in the 1st round”.
Mock 1.0:Waldrep could go higher than this come July. He likely will, but pitching can be volatile and small data points can have meaningful differences. The Giants have targeted pitchers with impressive data. Waldrep has plenty with a fastball that averages 95 mph and touches 99 with upper-tier ride in the zone (flashes elite induced vertical breaks over 21 inches). We could describe the fastball as a cut-ride pitch with “relative cut” on it. The breaking stuff generates whiffs as well. Waldrep sparingly used his changeup and it lacks velocity separation (only about 5 mph difference off his fastball), but it killed spin. It’s at this point in my review that I’m now questioning how, if healthy, Waldrep could pass the Cubs who would love his cut-ride fastball characteristics. Oh well, in this mock, the Giants are the beneficiaries. Chalk this up to a January mock draft.
- Baltimore Orioles – Travis Honeyman – OF, Wake Forest
Previous 1st round selections: Adley Rutschman- C, Heston Kjerstad- OF, Colton Cowser- OF, Jackson Holliday- SS
How the Orioles draft: Upper-tier batted ball numbers and hitters early. They aren’t afraid of whiffs and are an organization that appears to improve swing and miss from hitters during development. This is an organization that shows a willingness to subslot players early especially if they can get a similar tier of player.
Mock 1.0:Honeyman comes with impressive batted-ball numbers, but injuries have held him back. A healthy full season in 2023 solidifies him as a first-rounder come July.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Jacob Wilson – SS, Grand Canyon
Previous 1st round selections: Ethan Small- LHP, Garrett Mitchell- OF, Sal Frelick- OF, Eric Brown Jr.- SS
How the Brewers draft: The Brewers have put an emphasis on contact skills early. All of Mitchell, Frelick, and Brown Jr. boasted strong bat-to-ball skills.
Mock 1.0:In 2021 Sal Frelick put up impressive contact, but power projection held him back resulting in a relative tumble down draft boards before Milwaukee picked him at 15th overall. In 2020, Garrett Mitchell experienced a similar situation before Milwaukee napped him with the 20th selection. Evaluators and scouts I talk with believe Jacob Wilson will develop power, but it’s entirely possible that the power doesn’t fully arrive this spring leaving some teams to question what the ultimate future power tool looks like. I that situation, Milwaukee could be the beneficiaries once again adding Jacob Wilson to an emerging group of position players in teh system.
- Tampa Bay Rays – Thomas White – LHP, Phillips Academy, MA
Previous 1st round selections: Greg Jones- SS, Nick Bitsko- RHP, Carson Williams- SS, Xavier Isaac- 1B
How the Rays draft: Can we say to the beat of their own drum? Bitsko, Williams. And Isaac were gambles that not every team was comfortable with (though Bitsko was a hot name in 2020). Look, you doubt the Rays at your own risk, but it’ll be fascinating to see what they do in 2023.
Mock 1.0: The Rays have historically been a team in on cold weather (especially northeastern state) prep arms. And Thomas White had a claim for top overall high school pitcher. White could be a tough sign but we won’t delve too deep into that yet. White has upper mid-rotation potential (think 2-3 starter, AKA Top 35-40 overall).
- Toronto Blue Jays – Tanner Witt – RHP, Texas
Previous 1st round selections: Alek Manoah- RHP, Austin Martin- SS, Gunnar Hoglund- RHP, Brandon Barriera- LHP
How the Blue Jays draft: You have to respect the Blue Jays for just taking the guys that fall to them. They’ve been one of the few organizations willing to take an arm who had Tommy John surgery and didn’t come back yet.
Mock 1.0: The Blue Jays are willing to gamble on TJS rehab and guys that “fall”. It feels like Tanner Witt who might have been an overall Top 10 draft prospect prior to injury fits so well.
- St. Louis Cardinals- Bryce Eldridge – 1B/RHP, Madison HS, VA
Previous 1st round selections: Zack Thompson- LHP, Jordan Walker- 3B, Michael McGreevy- RHP, Cooper Hjerpe- LHP
How the Cardinals draft: Not mentioned above, but the Cardinals have identified two-way players and developed them well. They aren’t afraid to take risky selections either. The Cardinals place a premium on height early in the draft. Every single pitcher drafted in the first five rounds in 2021 and 2022 were 6’2” or taller.
Mock 1.0: Eldridge has crazy potential, though he’s risky as a prep player and a two-way player at that. Eldridge has evaluators and scouts split about whether his future is on the mound or in the field. I lean towards him being a pitcher with immense potential. The stuff coming from an already 6’7” frame is immense. But I’ll admit that then I see Bryce Eldridge unleash at the dish and it makes me question whether he’d be even better as a hitter. Some team is going to take a chance on the potential early. A team that has succeeded with two-way players before is the Cardinals who can put Eldridge on the Maysn Winn development plan until it becomes clear what path he should choose.
- Seattle Mariners – Zion Rose – C, IMG Academy
Previous 1st round selections: George Kirby- RHP, Emerson Hancock- RHP, Harry Ford- C, Cole Young- SS
How the Mariners draft: The past few seasons, Seattle has focused on high school talent and with three selections in the top 30 the Mariners have a lot of juice to move money around in the draft. Seattle is in a unique position.
Mock 1.0: In 2021, the Mariners took an athletic high school catcher in Harry Ford. That’s looked like a fantastic selection. Zion Rose is another catcher in the same mold.
- Cleveland Guardians – Kyle Teel – C, Virginia
Previous 1st round selections: Daniel Espino- RHP, Carson Tucker- SS, Gavin Williams- RHP, Chase DeLauter- OF
How the Guardians draft: “Cleveland is a model-driven club- they look for specific traits in hitting and pitching prospects. Age, athleticism, ‘famous’ (PG, Team USA, Cape Cod League, etc) game exposure, and cold weather/underdeveloped talent are traits that crossover both demographics. In hitters, the club targets middle-of-the-diamond talent with above-average or better speed, clean hitting mechanics, advanced contact skills, and advanced zone awareness. With pitchers, it is a similar approach: advanced pitch-ability; pitch sequencing, command, ease of delivery/clean mechanics, multiple pitches (more is better), high spin rates, above-average extension, and unique release points.”
- Atlanta Braves – Colin Houck – SS, Parkview HS, GA
Previous 1st round selections: Shea Langeliers- C, Jared Shuster- LHP, Ryan Cusick- RHP, Owen Murphy- RHP
How the Braves draft: mix of college and prep and while they’ve leaned pitchers the last several years I’m not sure that’s an organizational preference.
Mock 1.0: Colin Houck is a Georgia prep and part of a deep high school shortstop class. Houck had a strong summer on the showcase circuit but will need to keep it up entering the spring in a deep group of high school shortstops.
- San Diego Padres – Raffaele Velazquez – C/OF, Huntington Beach HS, CA
Previous 1st round selections: C.J. Abrams- SS, Robert Hassell- OF, Jackson Merrill- SS, (not a first rounder, but James Wood received a $3 million bonus), Dylan Lesko- RHP
How the Padres draft: The Padres are a club that puts a premium on batted ball data, prep upside, and are not afraid of late-rising players
Mock 1.0: Ralphy Velázquez boasts impressive batted ball metrics but maybe no player had worse luck last summer on the showcase circuit. Joe Doyle of Over Slot, an MLB Draft Podcast and Prospects Live sims it up best, “In 58 PAs, Valazquez slashed .160/.310/.229 w/a 5% K-rate, an 84% Contact%, and a 15.5% BB%.”. Ralphy has looked great leading into this winter and he could be a spring surger who flies up draft boards this season.
- New York Yankees – Jack Hurley – OF, Virginia Tech
Previous 1st round selections: Anthony Volpe- SS, Austin Wells- C, Trey Sweeney- SS, Spencer Jones- OF
How the Yankees draft: When you evaluate Yankees picks they almost always feature positive batted ball or pitching metrics.
Mock 1.0: Hurley impacts the ball amongst the best in the class with strong hard hit rates, barrel %, and exit velocities. He’ll also get a crack at CF at Virginia Tech. If he looks like he can man CF at the pro level and up his contact rate closer to average he may end up drafted closer to where previous Hokie CF, Gavin Cross, went in 2022 (9th overall).
- Philadelphia Phillies – Blake Mitchell – C, Sinton HS, TX
Previous 1st round selections: Bryson Stott- SS, Mick Abel- RHP, Andrew Painter- RHP, Justin Crawford- CF
How the Phillies draft: Recent seasons have seen the Phillies put a heavy focus on prep talent from risky demographics (prep pitchers and center fielders waiting on projection).
Mock 1.0: It’s hard not to go prep here and we’ll say the Phillies dip into the high school pool again with another risky demographic – HS catcher. Mitchell is one of the best in the class and scouts dig the profile. He could take a bit to develop, but has above average starting catcher upside.
- Houston Astros – Ryan Lasko – OF, Rutgers
Previous 1st round selections: Korey Lee- C, (No 1st round picks in 2020 and 2021 because of cheating scandal punishments), Drew Gilbert- CF
How the Astros draft: The Astros have leaned very model-heavy with an emphasis on batted-ball and pitching metrics. It’s hard to know if they may lighten up on that with a regime change.
Mock 1.0: I really like what Ryan Lasko brings with a strong batter ball approach (average contact, above average hard hit rate, exit velocities, barrel%, and avg launch angle. It’s a first round profile to me.
- Seattle Mariners – Charlie Soto – RHP, Reborn Christian HS, FL
Mock 1.0: Similar to Mariners’ pick in 2022, Walter Ford, Charlee Soto is one of the youngest prep right handers in the class. Also like Ford, Soto features premier velocity, a strong breaking ball in the slider, and some issues commanding the ball. This is an upside play.
- Seattle Mariners – Rhett Lowder – RHP, Wake Forest
Mock 1.0: So Lowder probably goes much higher than this but if someone like Lowder slips it would help to be an organization with a lot of money to move around to buy him down to them.