- Go West! – 2023 NFC West Preview - September 7, 2023
- Top Dogs – Five UConn Players Who You Could See Play On Sundays - August 28, 2023
- MLB Power Rankings – Parks And Wrecks - August 7, 2023
On Sunday July 11th, Major League Baseball will hold the first night of its annual draft. For young players, it starts their journey to try and make it to the show. For teams, it means potentially setting up for their future.
What makes the baseball draft different from that of the NBA and NFL is that once these players are drafted, they go to a minor league team rather than straight to the major leagues. Also different from most sports leagues is you can draft a player right out of high school. The only downside to this is that a high school player can choose to go to college instead of signing with the team that drafted him, then ultimately be drafted again after graduation.
With the draft weeks away, let’s take a look at who each team may fancy. Earlier in the year we had various NFL mock drafts and an NBA mock draft, now it’s baseball’s turn. Here is the 3 Point Conversion Mock Draft.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis – Catcher, Louisville
Pittsburgh has some intriguing prospects in their minor league system. With various pitchers and outfielders estimated to reach the majors between now and 2023, they could make things interesting. What they don’t have though, is a catcher.
With how crucial the catcher position has become in recent years, Pittsburgh may want to consider investing in one through the draft. Davis is considered the best hitter in this draft class, with power and quality hit ability. Add a strong arm behind the plate, and you have a prospect that may be too tempting to pass up.
2. Texas Rangers: Jordan Lawlar – Shortstop, Jesuit College Prep (Texas)
Lawlar has been on Texas’ radar seemingly for most of the draft season so far. A local kid from Dallas, he has all the tools to be a star. While they have a few shortstops in their minor league systems, this situation is similar to the Kansas City Royals with Bobby Witt Jr. in 2019: if a player has the potential to be a game changer, why wouldn’t you take him?
3. Detroit Tigers: Marcelo Mayer – Shortstop, Eastlake High School (California)
Right now Detroit has corner infielder Spencer Torkelson, outfielders Riley Greene and Daniel Cabrera and catcher Dillon Dingler all estimated to be up by 2023. Adding a potential star shortstop that can do-it-all would do wonders for Detroit.
By the time Mayer makes it to the majors, this team may be ready to move up in the American League Central. If all goes according to plan, this team could realistically be ready to compete for a title with this core of young players.
4. Boston Red Sox: Jack Leiter – Pitcher, Vanderbilt
The first of two Vanderbilt pitchers, Leiter at one point was seen as a potential top pick. However, having to skip a start because of workload reasons has had some teams concerned.
If Boston is fortunate to have either Vanderbilt pitcher fall to them, Leiter has more polish as a pitcher. Boston needs pitching help for the future. The way the American League East is shaping out, teams will need to stock up on arms, as the bats are getting better and better each year.
5. Baltimore Orioles: Brady House – Shortstop, Winder-Barrow High School (Georgia)
The problem with Baltimore is they always invest in talent, only to trade them once they hit their stride. That said, certain talent over the years were able to stay for long periods of time. Players like second baseman Brian Roberts and third baseman Manny Machado stuck with the team for longer than three years, which has seemed like the norm for talent they’ve brought up.
House has the opportunity to be the same. Like Roberts and Machado, he’s coming into the draft as a shortstop, with a strong bat, both in terms of quality and power. The big knock on the kid is that he’s had struggles against top competition at the high school level. His speed and power may be enough to persuade the O’s to look past that.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Kumar Rocker – Pitcher, Vanderbilt
Remember when we talked about “either Vanderbilt pitcher” with the Boston pick? Leiter was one name, and Rocker was the other. Both men were seen as top five picks, and realistically could still be. However, when questions about his velocity dipping arose, he started slipping.
Arizona has a plethora of talent coming in the next few years including at least three outfielders, three infielders and six pitchers. Despite all of those pitchers, if someone with Rocker’s potential comes along, you need to snag him. Fellow writer Courtlandt Griffin thinks this kid could be special as well, “If you want a one to one for Kumar (Rocker), he’s a young in-shape CC Sabathia with a bigger arm,” how do you pass on that?
7. Kansas City Royals: Sal Frelick – Outfielder, Boston College
Just missing out on Rocker, Kansas City may still be in good shape. With questions about their current outfield’s long-term future and prospects at the position like Erick Pena and Kyle Isbel estimated arrival being between 2022 and 2024, their best option may be the waiting game.
Frelick is an undersized talent, but he’s seen as being amongst the elite when hitting for contact, having a fast swing, and being one of the more athletic talents in this draft. If he can prove that he can handle center field, then KC may have gotten something very special.
8. Colorado Rockies: Colton Cowser – Outfielder, Sam Houston State
To keep it real, Colorado is a mess. With players like outfielder Charlie Blackmon and shortstop Trevor Story always being the subject of trade rumors, to say they’re heading towards another down period is an understatement. Even with top outfield prospects like Ryan Vilade and Brenton Doyle estimated as coming this year or next, there’s a good chance they could be dealt sooner rather than later.
Last year, they drafted outfielder Zac Veen as a future piece to their puzzle, this year they add Cowser. With good instincts, contact ability and a quick bat, he should be able to make a home somewhere in Colorado’s outfield. With the right work, he could surpass the comparisons to New York Mets’ outfielder Brandon Nimmo and pave out his own legacy.
9. Los Angeles Angels: Jackson Jobe – Pitcher, Heritage Hall High School (Oklahoma)
When it comes to the Angels pitching future, they really don’t have one. Granted, they have Reid Detmers, Josh Kochanowicz and Hector Yon but they’ll still need more. With new general manager Perry Minasian in place, he’s going to have to go against scouting director Matt Swanson’s preference of athletes with loud tools here.
There’s always a risk with high pitchers, but when some scouts think that he could be better than both Leiter and Rocker, then he may be worth looking into. If he can develop well, most scouts see him as comparable to Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Corbin Burnes with an extreme upside of New York Mets’ pitcher Jacob deGrom. The only question: is the risk worth the draft pick?
10. New York Mets: Ty Madden – Pitcher, Texas
The New York Mets’ have Jacob deGromm and Marcus Strowman at the front of their rotation. After that, there’s some question marks. While owner Steve Cohen doesn’t mind spending money, investing in young pitching in the draft may be the better move. That way they can focus their funds on position players and bullpen if need be.
Madden projects as a future front-end starter, something that New York could use as deGromm potentially hits the twilight of his career. He can hit 99 miles per hour on the radar gun and has been one of college baseball’s most productive pitchers. If all goes to plan, he could solidify the starting rotation for years to come.
11. Washington Nationals: Sam Bachman – Pitcher, Miami (Ohio)
There are two players that Washington is keeping their eyes on: Jackson Jobe (taken by the Los Angeles Angels) and Bachman. Now that questions are rising with pitchers Stephen Strasburg (injuries) and Max Scherzer (longevity), it may be a good idea to reinforce the rotation. Scouts believe Bachman could be a quick riser in the minor leagues and should make the major league roster very quickly as starter, with the idea that he could be a reliever worst case scenario.
12. Seattle Mariners: Benny Montgomery – Outfielder, Red Land High School (Pennsylvania)
Seattle has a couple of outfielders developing right now…the problem is they’re going to need more. The current outfielders on the main roster, other than Mitch Haniger, may not be long term solutions. Montgomery can provide that: he’s fast, he’s got a good arm and he’s good in the field. His bat needs some work but most scouting reports always sing the praises of his work ethic, so this should be a good transition from high school to minor leagues, if given the right coaching.
13. Philadelphia Phillies: Harry Ford, Catcher – North Cobb High School (Georgia)
Philadelphia is in a very weird position: they’ve spent quite a bit of money on unique talent like catcher J.T. Realmuto and outfielder Bryce Harper, and yet they still find themselves underperforming. It may be time to start looking towards the future.
Ford has real promise behind the plate. He’s very balanced when catching, has a good arm and a good bat. He also possesses athleticism that could see him moved to second base or outfield, which prompts some scouts to compare him to Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio.
14. San Francisco Giants: Gunnar Hoglund – Pitcher, Mississippi
Hoglund was a top ten pick going into May before an elbow injury that needed Tommy John Surgery. While the surgery will hurt his draft stock, his potential should be more than enough for San Francisco to consider him. What it will ultimately come down to is if he can regain form: if San Francisco isn’t comfortable with it, expect best player available.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: Jordan Wicks – Pitcher, Kansas State
It seems the consensus pick for Milwaukee is Wicks and it’s hard to disagree. Wicks is the best left handed pitcher in the draft. Given that Milwaukee is stocking up lefties, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them grab another.
16. Miami Marlins: Khalil Watson – Shortstop, Wake Forest High School (North Carolina)
This may be one of the biggest steals of the draft: Watson is a top ten player, who could fall due to some kinks in his swing. He can play almost anywhere on the field: he’s got speed and good arm strength.
If he can work on his approach, he’ll go way before sixteenth. However, as is, he’s a perfect fit for a Miami team that could use a shortstop in case Jose Devers doesn’t work out. If he doesn’t fit there, he can move just about anywhere and fill a need. He’s that good.
17. Cincinnati Reds: Andrew Painter – Pitcher, Calvary Christian (Florida)
Cincinnati needs pitchers and Painter may be one that tickles their fancy. A rare combination of raw potential and advanced feel for pitching, at 18 years old, this kid has the chance to be very special. His fastball sits in the 93-95 miles per hour range, his curveball is in the high 70, even his slider hits mid-80s, in addition to a changeup.
With how young he is, there’s still room to grow but if this is the base, there’s nowhere to go but up.
18. St. Louis Cardinals: Matt McLain – Shortstop, UCLA
An athletic player, McLain played a lot of time all over the diamond. With a strong arm and some good speed though, it seems like he’ll most likely stick at shortstop. St. Louis could use a shortstop: Paul DeJong’s contract will be expiring in 2023 (provided they don’t pick up his 2024 or 2025 options) when he’ll be entering his 30’s and their top shortstop prospect, Masyn Winn is also considered a pitcher, so he could easily change positions.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: Anthony Solometo – Pitcher, Bishop Eustace High School (New Jersey)
Most scouts agree that Toronto is going to go pitcher with their pick, and the one name that has popped up often is Solometo. Despite a weird delivery, his fastball hits around 90-94 MPH and is often paired with a slider. His biggest issue may be his third pitch, his changeup, which is just about average.
20. New York Yankees: Bubba Chandler – Shortstop/Pitcher, North Oconee High School (Georgia)
Even though he’s committed to Clemson, even though he committed as a quarterback for their football team, this could be what gets Chandler to ultimately choose baseball over football. New York has been looking for their next great shortstop for a few years now, and while Gleyber Torres hasn’t been bad, he hasn’t lived up to some of the hype he once had. Even if he becomes a pitcher, New York is still looking for a starter behind Gerrit Cole, and developing a kid with a good four-pitch arsenal could be just what the doctor ordered.
21. Chicago Cubs: Chase Petty – Pitcher, Mainland High School (New Jersey)
Simply put, Chicago’s pitchers are getting up there in age, and their minor league clubs don’t offer much relief. Enter Petty, who has one of the nicer fastballs in the draft, in addition to a slider and a changeup that can hit 90 MPH. The only issues surrounding him are his size and delivery, but if some mechanical work can be done, this kid could be in for a good career.
22. Chicago White Sox: Joe Mack – Catcher, Williamsville East High School (East Amherst, New York)
Chicago is heading in the right direction in terms of young talent. The one thing they’re missing though, is a catcher. Mack has a good arm and impeccable awareness behind the plate. There’s sloppiness in other facets of his defense but at age 18, that’s to be expected.
For a catcher, awareness is one of the most important traits one can have. The fact that he’s an above-average hitter and that he can run well for a catcher are definitely pluses. As long as they allow him to fully develop, he’ll fit into what Chicago is trying to do.
23. Cleveland Indians: Ryan Cusick – Pitcher, Wake Forest
The Cleveland starting rotation has taken some huge hits over the last couple of seasons, losing Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger since their 2016 World Series appearance. Even with their young rotation, some reinforcements are needed. His fastball is top notch, his breaking ball is a plus as well.
Cusick needs to work on consistency in terms of strikes, but some time in the minors should help. Cleveland has an uncertain future in more ways than one. With most of their top prospects being position players, going pitcher here to balance it out should help long term.
24. Atlanta Braves: Joshua Baez – Outfielder, Dexter Southfield High School (Massachusetts)
Atlanta can go in a lot of different directions here: infield help is always appreciated, and pitching is always a go-to. In this situation, why not grab a heavy hitter like Baez? While he swings and misses a lot (mainly because he swings through pitches trying to drive it) his defense and power make up for it. If Atlanta can get him to work on his swing and help him develop a contact stroke, this could easily be a steal for them.
25. Oakland Athletics: Izaac Pacheco – Third Baseman, Friendswood High School (Texas)
A lot of talk surrounding Oakland’s pick has been about Pacheco. His athleticism, raw power, soft hands and good arm are just some of the traits that Oakland seems to like. His biggest flaw is he tries to pull too much which ultimately leads to more strikeouts.
Oakland’s track record with third baseman (Eric Chavez, Josh Donaldson, Matt Chapman, etc.) shows that Pacheco would be in good hands. His potential is there, he just needs to hone it.
26. Minnesota Twins: Jud Fabian – Outfielder, Florida
When some scouts see you in the same light as Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Mookie Betts, you’re probably doing something right. While he needs work on hitting breaking balls, the tools are there at the plate and in the field. Minnesota has done well with outfielders in the past, but to add one more with power could lead to good things for them.
27. San Diego Padres: Will Taylor – Outfielder, Dutch Fork High School (South Carolina)
What do you get for the team that has it all, including the brightest future? How about a really fast outfielder who’s a three-sport athlete? He committed to Clemson as a slot wide receiver (speed and hands), he’s also a wrestler (some power).
There’s a lot of untapped potential in this kid, but should San Diego persuade him to play baseball instead of go to college, they should have no problem doing it. San Diego has always had good luck with risk picks and this should be no exception.
28. Tampa Bay Rays: Gavin Williams – Pitcher, East Carolina
Back in 2017, Tampa Bay took Williams in the 30th round but he chose not to sign with them and go to college. Four years later, they’ll have a chance to draft him again, this time in the first round. The main differences between now and then: Williams has looked like an ace for ECU and Tampa Bay could use some starting pitching help.
His fastball is still dominant, maybe even more so than before. His other pitches are solid as well, with his one weakness being consistency in terms of throwing strikes. Still, Tampa is using rental names like Rich Hill and Michael Wacha, so it may be time to restock the pantry.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Colton Montgomery – Third Baseman, Southridge High School (Indiana)
One of the more physical players from the high school class, Los Angeles could use a third baseman like him. Justin Turner is 36 years old and could be nearing her end of the road, and while Kody Hoese is down in the minors, Montgomery could turn out to be a better option.
When comparing, Montgomery and Hoese are evenly matched. Where Montgomery stands out is a slightly better arm and slightly better speed. Worst case scenario, one could make the switch to shortstop.