It’s a big week if you’re a fan of the draft, but we’re not focused on the NFL draft. It’s the MLB Draft which is just a few months away. Teams have been sending high-level evaluators all over the country as opinions begin to solidify on which players could be available in certain ranges. The spring seasons for the warm weather states are ending, so expect to hear more buzz as scouting supervisors, crosscheckers, directors, and higher flock to the colder weather and see players from Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Colorado, and the northeast. Let’s dive into the draft.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Dylan Crews – OF, LSU
Previous 1st round selections: Quinn Priester- RHP, Nick Gonzales- 2B, Henry Davis- C, Termarr Johnson- 2B
Bonus Slot: $9,721,000
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 2.0: Since Mock 1.0, we’ve seen Dylan Crews go supernova. He’s not a perfect player, but the strides he’s made regarding contact rate have been impressive. The last time we had a true consensus 1.1 selection was Adley Rutschman in 2019. It feels like we’re in that territory now where even teams like Pittsburgh that would love to play with slot bonus would be hesitant to pass Crews up. It’s superstar potential.
- Washington Nationals – Paul Skenes – RHP, LSU
Previous 1st round selections: Jackson Rutledge- RHP, Cade Cavalli- RHP, Brady House- 3B, Elijah Green, OF
Bonus Slot: $8,998,500
How the Nationals draft: Not afraid to go for upside despite risk. Ultimate ceiling appears to drive decision-making.
Mock 2.0: Similar to the first pick above, we’re treading into rare waters here with Paul Skenes (no hyperbole here) positioning himself as the best college arm since Stephen Strasburg. He’s received pro-level instruction from LSU pitching coach, Wes Johnson, formerly of the Twins and while I think he’s an ideal candidate to add a cutter, the rest of the repertoire is pro-ready. Not every team likes to risk a top selection on an arm, but the Nationals who made the investment in Strasburg over a decade ago would provide symmetry if they select Skenes.
- Detroit Tigers – Wyatt Langford – OF, Florida
Previous 1st round selections: Riley Greene- OF, Spencer Torkelson- 1B, Jackson Jobe- RHP, Jace Jung- 2B
Bonus Slot: $8,341,700
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 2.0: Langford suffered a lower body injury that would make about half the population wince, but he’s back and still producing. Scouts don’t believe it will affect him negatively this July. Langford boasts amazing batted ball numbers and should be a relatively quick riser. Detroit has been doing some homework on prep shortstop options, but I’m not sure this is the draft to pull the trigger on that demographic at 1.3.
- Texas Rangers – Max Clark – OF Franklin HS, IN
Previous 1st round selections: Josh Jung- 3B, Justin Foscue- 2B, Jack Leiter- RHP, Kumar Rocker- RHP
Bonus Slot: $7,698,000
How the Rangers draft: Target college performers and ones from large conferences (mostly SEC).
Mock 2.0: Max Clark entered the year as my preseason 1.1 overall talent and 1.1 in Mock 1.0. Him landing here at four might seem like a disappointment. It’s not. He’s been exactly the player I projected. Clark shows all five tools with now added loft to his swing incorporating in the power I discussed this winter. Clark is a future all-star centerfielder and Texas is a team that could have a hard time passing up the profile.
- Minnesota Twins – Jacob Gonzalez – SS, Ole Miss
Previous 1st round selections: Keoni Cavaco- SS, Aaron Sabato- 1B, Chase Petty- RHP, Brooks Lee- SS
Bonus Slot: $7,139,700
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 2.0: Gonzalez doesn’t receive as much fanfare as some of the college talent up top, but he’s a steady safe player who should be a first division starter in the infield. Similar to Brooks Lee last year, Gonzalez just does everything well. I go back and forth on whether Gonzalez is a future all-star (some feel he is), but seeing Jacob Gonzalez line up at 2B in Minnesota for 10 years feels absolutely reasonable. That may not sound exciting, but to many organizations it absolutely is. Gonzalez is a really excellent player.
- Oakland A’s – Hurston Waldrep – RHP, Florida
Previous 1st round selections: Logan Davidson- SS, Tyler Soderstrom- C, Maxwell Muncy- SS, Daniel Susac- C
Bonus Slot: $6,634,000
How the A’s draft: Up the middle contributors. They’ve balanced between prep and college talents.
Mock 2.0: It’s been a few years since the A’s took a pitcher in the first round, but it’s also a deep college pitching class. Waldrep shows off a mid 90s+ cut-ride fastball, sweepy slider, and a lethal split-change. It’s a profile that should move quickly and not need much adjustment. The A’s have targeted inefficient (not in a negative light, but just describing spin characteristics) fastballs in recent trades. My personal concern is that the Oakland A’s infrastructure is not yet ready to tailor those to specific game planning, but I’m diving too deep. Waldrep is pitching like a bona fide top 10 overall prospect in the class.
- Cincinnati Reds – Chase Dollander – RHP, Tennessee
Previous 1st round selections: Nick Lodolo- LHP, Austin Hendrick- OF, Matt McLain- SS, Cam Collier- 3B
Bonus Slot: $6,275,200
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 2.0: This is a perfect scenario for Cincinnati to find themselves in with a top talent like Dollander falling. He still has one of the highest (if not the highest) pitching ceiling in the class but is showing inconsistencies. An organization that built up both Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo can take a chance on developing Dollander who could rise quickly with a few modifications.
- Kansas City Royals – Walker Jenkins – OF, South Brunswick HS, NC
Previous 1st round selections: Bobby Witt- SS, Asa Lacy- LHP, Frank Mozzicato- LHP, Gavin Cross – OF
Bonus Slot: $5,980,100
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 2.0: Some have Jenkins over Max Clark and I understand the premise, but I’m still wary about taking a high school outfielder who likely lines up in the corner that early. I may undersell the total package. Kansas City has shown the willingness to target many demographics, but still looks to upside, especially early. And not to put too much of this on 2022 selection Gavin Cross, but he’s a similar player that shows off offensively and might be a CF at the next level.
- Colorado Rockies – Enrique Bradfield Jr. – CF, Vanderbilt
Previous 1st round selections: Michael Toglia- 1B, Zac Veen- OF, Benny Montgomery- OF, Gabriel Hughes- RHP
Bonus Slot: $5,716,900
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 2.0: Bradfield Jr. is showing off a greater ability to drive the ball while retaining contact, swing decisions, fielding, and speed. It’s an impressive package that won’t excite every single team, but some will love it. The follow-up pick, Jacob Wilson also wouldn’t surprise here. I think this may be the high range for Parkview SS Colin Houck, but there is a lot of time left.
Mock 1.0: Enrique Bradfield Jr.
- Miami Marlins – Jacob Wilson – SS, Grand Canyon
Previous 1st round selections: J.J. Bleday- OF, Max Meyer- RHP, Khalil Watson- SS, Jacob Berry- 3B
Bonus Slot: $5,475,300
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 2.0: Production over metrics from the hitting side feels like it helps zero in on Jacob Wilson who certain scouts love for his overall game. The son of Jack Wilson plays like someone who grew up around the game and while there are concerns about overall power, his contact inspires some around the game. I’m not sure if he’s a shortstop at the next level, but it’s not a universal consensus.
- Anaheim Angels – Rhett Lowder – RHP, Wake Forest
Previous 1st round selections: Will Wilson- SS, Reid Detmers- LHP, Sam Bachman- RHP, Zach Neto- SS
Bonus Slot: $5,253,000
How the Angels draft: College performers and pitchers are the primary first-round targets by the Angels.
Mock 2.0: Rhett Lowder has a bit of Jordan Wicks in his profile where it’s a repertoire lead by a superb changeup, not overpowering but solid fastball, and a sneaky good slider. If Lowder was stacked up against last year’s draft class he would go much higher, but it’s a deep group this season.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – Arjun Nimmala – SS, Strawberry Crest 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 2.0: There is a lot of “Jordan Lawler” to Arjun Nimmala’s profile as a high school shortstop that some question if he will remain at the position, quick bat speed, and questions about contact rate. The difference is that Lawler was over a year older than Nimmala will be at the time of the draft and addressed swing and miss his senior year. Nimmala still hasn’t answered those questions yet. Nimmala will appeal to teams that overlook whiffs (similar to Lawler) and focus on ceiling. Arizona may look at a completely different high school shortstop here and bring in Colin Houck (see next pick).
- Chicago Cubs – Colin Houck – SS, Parkview HS, GA
Previous 1st round selections: Ryan Jensen- RHP (under Jason McLeod), Ed Howard- SS, Jordan Wicks- LHP, Cade Horton- RHP
Bonus Slot: $4,848,500
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 2.0: Colin Houck was a two sport star whose future has him destined for baseball. Despite Houck’s quarterbacking excellence, he only pursued baseball in college. Scouts are flocking to Georgia in droves. and he’s expected to be drafted in the first round. Houck has shown agility at SS and while he may move to 3B down the line, Houck both (a) deserves the chance to try it out as SS in pro ball and (b) has the arm to handle 3B. I like his chances of being a shortstop at the next level.
Offensively, Houck shines with the ability to battle against tough competition. He generates power but also shows above-average hit. He currently drives the ball gap to gap, but projects for future above-average hit and power, which combined with his defensive positioning, make him an exciting middle of the first round target.
What if it wasn’t Colin Houck, however? I evaluated several players for this pick and compared my projecting along with reaching out to folks around the game. There were a few more common names that I considered. They include (not in any specific order) Bryce Eldridge, Arjun Nimmala, Blake Mitchell, Colt Emerson, Walker Martin, Tommy Troy, Hurston Waldrep (believed to not be available), Cam Johnson, and Noble Meyer. That’s a wide net to cast, and it’s a friendly reminder that it’s not even May yet, however those players exhibit a good deal of upside. After several drafts of mixed success targeting safe demographics, we’ve seen the Cubs bet on more upside in recent years.
“The Cubs have prospects ready to debut in late 2023 and early 2024. Why aren’t they only looking at quick-moving college bats?”. I’m a firm believer in taking the best-player available and I’m sure the Cubs are too. Arizona has an emerging core and took Druw Jones last year because he was the best available player despite Gavin Cross, Kevin Parada, and Brooks Lee all projecting to be up before Jones. So even in this mock with Ledbetter, Teel, Troy all available, I don’t believe that means the Cubs should take one of those players because of their quicker timeline. And that’s not a reflection about how the Cubs internally feel about their system or readiness to compete. The right player could absolutely be a college bat. All demographics should be on the table come July and any of those names or even ones not listed could be the future projection.
Other names considered: Bryce Eldridge, Arjun Nimmala, Matt Shaw, Colt Emerson
- Boston Red Sox – Tommy Troy – SS, Stanford
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 2.0: Troy really shouldn’t be available here, but there are always players that slide a few picks as teams line up their deals on draft day. Troy fits the profile very well in Boston and would immediately provide an upside play in the middle infield. The power is very real.
- 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 2.0: The middle of the first round is about the time we see the first prep arm off the board and Meyer fits that category. Other names like Cam Johnson, Charlee Soto, and Thomas White could easily slide in here, but Meyer’s blazingly impressive summer showcases have been backed up by spring performances. He’s pitching like the top arm in the class though it’s a solid group and not everyone agrees on the order.
- San Francisco Giants – Blake Mitchell – C, Sinton HS, TX
Previous 1st round selections: Hunter Bishop- OF, Patrick Bailey- C, Will Bednar- RHP, Reggie Crawford- LHP
Bonus slot: $4,326,600
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 2.0: Blake Mitchell was one of my top options for a pick two selections higher with the Cubs. He’s a favorite of many scouts and profiles as a true catcher at the next level. High school catchers are a risky demographic high in the draft so if you’re going to pick one you want to be sure it’s also because of the bat in case that player moves out from behind the plate. Mitchell matches that and does you one better as there are some that believe he could pitch in professional ball.
- Baltimore Orioles – Colton Ledbetter – OF, Mississippi State
Previous 1st round selections: Adley Rutschman- C, Heston Kjerstad- OF, Colton Cowser- OF, Jackson Holliday- SS
Bonus Slot: $4,169,700
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 2.0: Based solely on offensive production and metrics, Ledbetter shouldn’t last to pick 17 in this mock, but I still get the sense that he’ll go lower than he should because of his future defensive home. He’s playing centerfield, but might profile better in left. The Orioles reap the rewards here and take a player that should zoom through the system to pair with several talented players at AA, AAA, or already in Baltimore.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Kyle Teel – C, Virginia
Previous 1st round selections: Ethan Small- LHP, Garrett Mitchell- OF, Sal Frelick- OF, Eric Brown Jr.- SS
Bonus Slot: $4,021,400
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. They’ve been the beneficiaries of players who have fallen in the first round several times.
Mock 2.0: Full disclosure, I ran an iteration of this mock with Kyle Teel going for a significant subslot to Texas at pick 4. I think highly of Teel and I’m not alone. He should go higher and for an organization who shines with modifying catcher framing, Milwaukee would be a great landing spot for Teel. Others have described as a unicorn and already succeeds both offensively and defensively at the position.
- Tampa Bay Rays – Bryce Eldridge – 1B/RHP, Madison HS, VA
Previous 1st round selections: Greg Jones- SS, Nick Bitsko- RHP, Carson Williams- SS, Xavier Isaac- 1B
Bonus slot: $3,880,100
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 2.0: Two-way players aren’t an overly common demographic though there are more now than in recent memory. Eldridge is the best example of a player who could be a true first round talent at the plate and on the mound. It is a demographic that Tamba Bay addressed high with Brendan McKay at 2nd overall in 2017. That strategy didn’t work out for them, but Eldridge is a different player with a higher ceiling. That the Rays let McKay be a true two-way player might attract Eldridge as well if he’s interested in doing both in professional ball.
- Toronto Blue Jays – Aidan Miller – 3B, JW Mitchell HS, FL
Previous 1st round selections: Alek Manoah- RHP, Austin Martin- SS, Gunnar Hoglund- RHP, Brandon Barriera- LHP
Bonus slot: $3,746,000
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 2.0: Toronto is a popular spot for falling talents. They seem ready to scoop up players that are projected higher and bypassed for whatever reason. Aidan Miller had hamate surgery and will likely drop a few spots just out of a loss of draft inertia. This feels low for Miller, but Toronto would be thrilled to scoop him up in this scenario.
- St. Louis Cardinals – Brayden Taylor – 3B, TCU
Previous 1st round selections: Zack Thompson- LHP, Jordan Walker- 3B, Michael McGreevy- RHP, Cooper Hjerpe- LHP
Bonus slot: $3,618,200
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 – Colt Emerson – SS, John Glenn HS, OH
Previous 1st round selections: George Kirby- RHP, Emerson Hancock- RHP, Harry Ford- C, Cole Young- SS
Bonus slot: $3,496,600
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 2.0: I ranked Colt Emerson in my preseason top 10 and I feel good with that decision. Like many cold weather players (he plays in Ohio), we haven’t heard as much heat on Emerson as others. Ohio high school baseball runs through the first week of June so expect to hear more buzz on him in the coming weeks, especially after the California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia baseball seasons wrap up. Seattle has a bunch of money to play with and they can easily buy a player down to their selections without sacrificing the rest of their draft.
- Cleveland Guardians – Tanner Witt – RHP, Texas
Previous 1st round selections: Daniel Espino- RHP, Carson Tucker- SS, Gavin Williams- RHP, Chase DeLauter- OF
Bonus slot: $3,380,900
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.”
Mock 2.0: Tanner Witt is a total wildcard in the draft. I thought about mocking him to Toronto, but he could even go much higher. Witt is already on the comeback trail after Tommy John surgery last year. He showed true frontline potential and him landing in a strong pitching organization that can handle a slow ramp up and development timeline like Cleveland… yikes. That’d be fun to watch. Prior to the injury, Witt showcased many of the pitching attributes Willie identified above.
Mock 1.0: Kyle Teel – C, Virginia
- Atlanta Braves – Cade Kuehler – RHP, Campbell
Previous 1st round selections: Shea Langeliers- C, Jared Shuster- LHP, Ryan Cusick- RHP, Owen Murphy- RHP
Bonus slot: $3,270,500
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 2.0: Cade Kuehler shows off impressive stuff for Campbell and looks like he’s setting himself up to be a back half of the first round arm. Atlanta will go in many directions come draft day, but taking another exciting college arm isn’t a bad step.
- San Diego Padres – Walker Martin – SS, Eaton HS, CO
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
Bonus slot: $3,165,400
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 2.0: It’s a deep high school shortstop class, but Walker Martin is positioning himself to be in the first round option, perhaps even the middle of the first round. San Diego pushes hard for prep options and batted ball data. Overall opinions on Martin are very strong this spring. Teams higher than this have been meeting with Martin as well
- New York Yankees – Nolan Schanuel – 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic University
Previous 1st round selections: Anthony Volpe- SS, Austin Wells- C, Trey Sweeney- SS, Spencer Jones- OF
Bonus slot: $3,065,000
How the Yankees draft: When you evaluate Yankees picks they almost always feature positive batted ball or pitching metrics.
Mock 2.0: The Yankees have cleaned up on hitters with batted ball metrics and Schanuel is another great late-first round pick who outperforms his draft slot. He makes contact, doesn’t chase, and hits the ball hard, just the trifecta for hitters. I’m not sure where Schaunel ultimately ends up, but he projects to be a very good hitter at the next level.
- Philadelphia Phillies – Cam Johnson – LHP, IMG Academy, FL
Previous 1st round selections: Bryson Stott- SS, Mick Abel- RHP, Andrew Painter- RHP, Justin Crawford- CF
Bonus Slot: $2,968,800
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 2.0: Cam Johnson is incredibly fun and could wind up being the best prep pitcher in the entire class. Philly isn’t complaining about taking big swings with Abel, Painter, and Crawford. Despite the risks with those demographics, we’ve seen the Phillies push upside. Why not when you’ve built up the major league roster with players who should hold down positions for another ten years (Harper and Turner)? Jonny Farmelo might be around this range as well.
- 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
Bonus Slot: $2,880,700
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 2.0: I had Houston with Lasko and I’m sticking with it. He fits the mold of a model-focused pick who might not jive with all the rankings but is just so good on the field.
- Seattle Mariners – Juaron Watts-Brown – RHP, Oklahoma State
Mock 2.0: This is pick two of three for Seattle in this mock and they can be aggressive in moving money around. “JWB” has looked strong of late though there are some questions about control. His BB-rate has increased in recent weeks. It’s something to monitor. Prior to that, he fit systems like Cleveland who identify pitchers who can control the ball and take them to the next level. Seattle has a track record of harnessing wild stuff (JWB doesn’t quite fit that model either).
Mock 1.0: Charlee Soto
- Seattle Mariners – Grant Gray – 2B/OF, Norco HS, CA
Bonus Slot: $2,800,700
Mock 2.0: Gray is a name that hasn’t gotten a ton of buzz in the common rankings. He’s not ranked on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 and he’s at 251 in Baseball America’s latest. That doesn’t feel like it lines up with consensus where Gray is a real strong first round option. The toolsy hitter is also an impressive wide receiver, but he may receive an offer from a major league team he can’t turn down.
Mock 1.0: Rhett Lowder
31. Rays – Thomas White – LHP, Phillips Academy, MA
Bonus slot: $2,670,600
Mock 2.0: The Rays aren’t shy about taking northeastern arms. White happens to be one of the best prep arms in the class and would immediately find himself in one of the best pro-pitching development systems.
32. Mets – Dillon Head – OF, Homewood Flossmore HS, IL
Previous 1st round selections: Pete Crow-Armstrong – OF, Kumar Rocker – RHP (Did not sign), Kevin Parada -C, Jett Williams- SS
Bonus slot: $2,607,500
How the Mets draft: The Mets since Cohen took over have made big swings in the draft. The aggressive spending dropped their first draft selection this year and I’d expect that to continue in subsequent drafts.
Mock 2.0: The Mets may not be able to spend as much as other clubs but they’ve shown a willingness to target upside and try to buy talents down. Dillon Head is a name that excites scouts, even more recently. The Mets may have to be creative but they could buy Dillion Head down with first round bonus.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Brice Matthews – 2B, Nebraska
Bonus Slot: $2,543,800
Mock 2.0: The chatter is that Matthews may be positioned as an ideal later round one/Comp A options for several teams. He showcases impressive power and has answered concerns about his projection this spring. Milwaukee took Kyle Teel above. Adding both Matthews and Teel to Sal Frelick and Eric Brown Jr. would be an impressive collection of MiLB hitters
- Minnesota Twins – Yohandy Morales – 3B, Miami
Bonus Slot: $2,481,400
Mock 2.0: “Yo-Yo” has been on a surge recently. If he keeps it up he likely won’t be available past the first round. What is exciting is that Morales’ whiff rate has dropped significantly. For a player with alarming issues with contact, that’s a critical development. Despite those steps forward, he likely never settles in with a plus hit tool. A club that values power over hit like Minnesota is a great landing spot for him.
- Miami Marlins – Raffaele Velazquez – C/OF, Huntington Beach HS, CA
Bonus Slot: $2,420,900
Mock 2.0: “Ralphy” just keeps hitting. I’m not sure where he slots in defensively, but I’m not sure how much to care about that at this stage in the draft. He could and probably should get a solid chance at catcher in professional ball.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – Roch Cholowsky – SS, Hamilton HS, AZ
Bonus Slot: $2,362,700
Previous 1st round selections: JT Ginn – RHP (did not sign), Michael Busch – 2B, Kody Hoese – 3B, Bobby Miller RHP, Maddux Bruns – LHP
How the Dodgers draft: The Dodgers receive a huge benefit of the doubt for their drafting base don their track record for player development. Sometimes that means taking a player higher than expected. They will also take players where the power tool is the one lagging in their development and improve that.
Mock 2.0: The Dodgers have made a history of taking players who need assistance in the power department, but might be minor adjustments away from unlocking it. Roch Cholowosky is one of the surest bets to stay shortstop among the high school class. He’s just starting to show power and this would fit a classic Dodgers archetype.
- Tigers – George Lombard Jr. – SS, Gulliver Prep Baseball, FL
Bonus Slot: $2,309,500
Mock 2.0: The Vanderbilt commit and son of former player George Lombard has been a hot name in recent weeks. It’s hard to imagine him falling too far past the Comp A round. The Tigers have been doing their homework with prep shortstops
- Cincinnati Reds – Chase Davis – OF, Arizona
Bonus Slot: $2,255,100
Mock 2.0: Davis profiles best in RF and he’s improved his overall whiffs. It’s still very much an upside player At this stage of the draft Davis likely isn’t an overslot so you could see CIN repurpose some of the slot to cover a later overslot or even part of Dollander’s bonus.
- Oakland Athletics – Eric Bitonti – SS, Aquinas HS, CA
Bonus Slot: $2,202,500
Mock 2.0: One of my favorite prep players from the class. Bitonti had a solid showing at the Boras Classic. It’s a big power potential with some work left to be done addressing hit. Bitonti is also young for his class and has shown some feel for hit. He has a similar offensive profile to Wes Kath who the A’s were heavily connected with in 2021.
WHERE IS THAT GUY?
Matt Shaw has been hitting like a first rounder. Questions have popped about his future positioning. I considered him with Milwaukee, Cleveland, Atlanta, New York (Yankees), and Minnesota (pick 34). Ultimately he didn’t make the cut, but he’s also a player I’d be relatively surprised to not see in the first 40 picks in July. Charlee Soto is one of the top prep arms. Every year consensus first round prep arms get taken later and sign for first round bonuses. He could go in the first or also in one of the first 12 picks of the second round (Washington, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cincinnati). Adrian Santana and Kevin McGonigle show first-round caliber talents, but similar to players in this section, we’ll often see players settle into the second round with first-round bonuses. Last year we saw four players (Ferris, Misiorowski, Anthony, and Porter) picked after the Comp A round and still land a bonus of $2,250,000 or more. The 2021 draft saw six players do the same. So if you see a first-round caliber player not in this mock, it doesn’t mean they aren’t viewed that way. It likely means they’re viewed as an overslot player which is becoming increasingly common in baseball drafting strategy.
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