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Last year’s MLB draft was wild. The player who was seen as the top overall pick (shortstop Marcelo Mayer) went fourth to the Boston Red Sox, the debated top pitcher (Kumar Rocker) slid to the New York Mets at No. 10 and didn’t even sign with the team and a consensus top five pick (shortstop Khalil Watson) fell to the 16th pick by the Miami Marlins. Needless to say, anything can happen and will happen.
With the calendar nearing this year’s draft on July 17-19, it’s time to do it all over again. It’s time to look at what may happen in the first round of this year’s event. Despite having to go through the minor league systems following their selection, the future of Major League Baseball will be on display if for just one night.
1. Baltimore Orioles: Druw Jones, Outfielder, Wesleyan School
Baltimore may have three outfielders amongst their top 10 prospects but they don’t have Druw Jones. The son of Atlanta Braves legend Andruw Jones offers exceptional defense, good power and solid bat control. Baltimore has their eyes on five potential draftees, and while the others all offer something unique, passing on Jones would be a hard pill to swallow.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks: Termarr Johnson, Second Baseman/Shortstop, Mays High School
Deemed the best pure hitter in this draft and the best high school hitter in years, Johnson has an extremely bright future wherever he goes. Arizona’s has three shortstops in their top 30 prospects that could move to second base, as well as 23-year old Buddy Kennedy up at the Major League level now but if they can get someone like Johnson that can hit all types of pitches, why wouldn’t they take a flier? A Jordan Lawlar/Termarr Johnson middle infield would be one heck of a bright future.
3. Texas Rangers: Elijah Green, Outfielder, IMG Academy
The phrase “a swing made for this stadium” is thrown around a lot but when it’s proven in a workout at your home stadium, then it’s hard to look away. Elijah Green may not be as polished as some of the other top prospects but with most of the team’s top prospects being infielders or pitchers, they can afford to take a risk on an outfielder. It’s definitely a bit of a reach, but as we’ve see in other sports, it sometimes works out better in the end.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jacob Berry, Third Baseman/Outfielder, Louisiana State
Pittsburgh is seeing a good return on investment in young shortstop Oneil Cruz and should have second baseman Nick Gonzales and catcher Henry Davis (first overall pick last year) coming up in the next couple years. Jacob Berry, with his exceptional hitting ability in terms of contact and power, would be the perfect bat for the lineup. While his defense is questionable, the team could ultimately develop him with the worst case scenario being he’s a designated hitter. Either way, it may be a win-win for Pittsburgh.
5. Washington Nationals: Kevin Parada, Catcher, Georgia Tech
The selection of Brady House at shortstop last year secured Washington’s future at the position, it’s time to do the same behind the plate. Parada has the bat to do significant damage and is solid enough on defense to develop further. Washington has a young catcher who at this point looks to be expendable in the future. With no real replacement down the line, it may be a good idea to take the bat now and develop the defense in the minors.
6. Miami Marlins: Jackson Holliday, Shortstop, Stillwater High School
This may sound odd; although Miami drafted shortstop Khalil Watson last year, Holliday may be too good to pass up. With rumors that Holliday could move to center field, Miami would be foolish not to take him if he’s still there. Holliday looks to be a stud in the making but transitioning to a new position could drop his stock slightly.
7. Chicago Cubs: Cam Collier, Third Baseman, Chipola
Passing up on Zach Neto is a hard task for the Chicago Cubs but if anyone does make them do it, it’s Collier. Chicago has a need at third base for the future and his bat will definitely alleviate the sting of passing out on Neto. Although 17 years old, the second they feel he’s developed, Collier should become a mainstay in Windy City for years to come.
8. Minnesota Twins: Brooks Lee, Shortstop, Cal Poly
Most people have Lee as a top five pick, and realistically, he should be. Great bat, switch-hitter, solid defense and he should be what a team wants. The issue is, shortstops have been coming out like crazy (third one taken in the top 10 alone so far). With Minnesota having two top shortstop prospects, it would mean Lee may be better off moving. There’s word he could move to third base, which would be a big win for the Twin City ball club.
9. Kansas City Royals: Jace Jung, Second baseman, Texas Tech
Let’s be honest, Whit Merrifield’s time in Kansas City may be drawing to a close soon, whether it’s free agency or trade. At 33 years old, they need to have a solution for the future of this position (they seemingly do not). Kansas City may need to extend Merrifield slightly longer just so Jung could work his way up the system. At this juncture, it may be better to draft someone and develop them with a bandaid in place, rather than sign a free agent long term.
10. Colorado Rockies: Brock Porter, Pitcher, St. Mary’s Prep
The Colorado Rockies are in an odd spot. They have quite a few players projected to come up in the next year or two, while many of their upcoming contracts are for players near the age 30. Colorado is going to see a wave of youth coming up soon in the field but they’ll need pitching. Porter has been linked to Colorado since the spring and with the team being known for their pitching over the last few years, this could be a great match for each other.
11. New York Mets (compensatory pick for not signing their first-round pick last year): Brandon Barriera, Pitcher, American Heritage
While the top 10 saw a hefty amount of shortstops get drafted, this is the part of the draft where several pitchers should go. After striking out on Kumar Rocker last year, the New York Mets should rebound with Brandon Barriera (who reminds some scouts of New York Yankees legend Ron Guidry). New York will be back in a couple picks but this is where they start.
12. Detroit Tigers: Gavin Cross, Outfielder, Virginia Tech
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; the Detroit Tigers have a good future. If you’re waiting for the but, there is none. Cross is a very good hitter and a skilled base runner. He may need some work in the field but if he learns well, he could be an excellent pickup for the cats of the Motor City.
13. Los Angeles Angels: Gabriel Hughes, Pitcher, Gonzaga
Los Angeles has indicated they’re most likely going pitcher in the first round, and the two most linked names have been Brandon Barriera (taken by the Mets in this mock) and Gabriel Hughes. Hughes gives Los Angeles a solid starter with a hot fastball, nasty slider and a good changeup.
14. New York Mets: Chase DeLauter, Outfielder, James Madison
They got the big arm with their supplemental pick, now they get that big bat. DeLauter is already projected as a middle-of-the-order type hitter, with good power and solid contact. It would benefit him to move from center field to one of the corners but his bat alone would be more then welcomed at Citi Field.
15. San Diego Padres: Dylan Lesko, Pitcher, Buford High School
The San Diego Padres have proven themselves to be a very patient team over the last couple years. Taking Lesko would make a lot of sense as he was on track to be a top five to top ten player before he underwent Tommy John surgery. At 18-years old, this would be a great-value pick but potentially, the steal of the draft.
16. Cleveland Guardians: Jett Williams, Shortstop, Rockwall-Heath
Cleveland loves young infielders with great swings, and that’s exactly what Williams is. Don’t let his size fool you, he’s a contact machine with good speed and a knack for putting the ball in play. His solid defense also should be attractive to the eyes of this front office.
17. Philadelphia Phillies: Robby Snelling, Pitcher, McQueen
Over the last few years, Philadelphia has spent plenty of picks on pitching and this year shouldn’t be any different. Improving this pitching staff both in the rotation and the bullpen are becoming more of a must in this league. Snelling is a good young pitcher that could be a difference maker for this team in the future.
18. Cincinnati Reds: Zach Neto, Shortstop, Campbell
Depending on who you ask, Zach Neto should either go much earlier or is just about right here. Most of Cincinnati’s shortstops in the minor leagues are guys that will change positions. Neto is the guy who will and really could be a difference maker for this franchise going forward.
19. Oakland A’s: Dylan Beavers, Outfield, California
Oakland should be looking “outfield” here, as only one of their top 10 prospects is an outfielder. When scouts say something like “Dylan Beavers reminds them of a left-handed Christian Yelich,” you listen and take him. He could be the missing piece to the future of the franchise, whether it’s in Oakland, Las Vegas or somewhere else.
20. Atlanta Braves: Justin Crawford, Outfield, Bishop Gorman High School
Excellent speed and a great glove, the son of former Tampa Bay Rays star Carl Crawford would provide Atlanta with a strong lead-off option. Atlanta has a multitude of batting choices but adding a speed option at the top is always a plus. He won’t give you much power but he more than makes up you for it in his ability to get on base.
21. Seattle Mariners: Jordan Beck, Outfield, Tennessee
Seattle has a good young outfield core brewing with rookie Julio Rodriguez playing well in centerfield and Kyle Lewis and Jesse Winker manning the corners. However, Seattle has been attracted to the college bats according to rumors. If that’s the case, Beck’s bat as well as his frame and arm should make him their right fielder of the future.
22. St. Louis Cardinals: Daniel Susac, Catcher, Arizona
As the end nears for current St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, you have to believe they’ll be looking for a long term future at the position. Ivan Herrera has been projected to be up this year but still doesn’t look the part fully. Susac shouldn’t fall this low, but with how raw he is batting, teams may not want to take a chance on him if there’s extra work with his bat. His defense is out of the box ready but there’s power and contact that has gone untapped.
23. Toronto Blue Jays: Jackson Ferris, Pitcher, IMG Academy
The Toronto Blue Jays have a great line up but they need pitching. Jackson Ferris is seen as a potential No. 2 or three starter and could be the first piece of the puzzle to this rotation. A good fastball, a nice 12-to-6 curveball and a mid-80s changeup make this an intriguing pickup.
24. Boston Red Sox: Kumar Rocker, Pitcher, Tri-City ValleyCats
Last year, Boston was heavily invested in Rocker, however once Marcelo Mayer dropped to them, Boston had to take him. Given what happened with the Mets, Boston dodged a bullet but this time, they get him here. Given Boston’s issues with the rotation, they could use all the arms they can gather. The a questions just surround his medical issues.
25. New York Yankees: Peyton Graham, Shortstop, Oklahoma
The New York Yankees have quite a few shortstops in their system and they’ll undoubtedly be set at the position for years to come. If they grab Peyton Graham, expect him to be moved to second base. Their future at this position could be bolstered and may need to be prioritized, depending on what they project in the next year or two.
26. Chicago White Sox: Connor Prielipp, Pitcher, Alabama
With a strong fastball and a must have slider, Prielipp would be the ultimate left-handed pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. His changeup is “just” ok and could be what drops him down the draft a bit but depending on what Chicago’s future at the coaching positions are, he could get it working. Chicago could use some strong arms and if Prielipp comes back healthy, he could do very well for himself.
27. Milwaukee Brewers: Cooper Hjerpe, Pitcher, Oregon State
Milwaukee has seemingly been very analytical as of late and it’s paid off with another good start. Cooper Hjerpe may not look like anything more than solid if you look at his pitch grades but his consistency is what makes him attractive. Milwaukee has always been a team based on consistency and this move should prove just that.
28. Houston Astros: Brock Jones, Outfield, Stanford
The last time the Houston Astros had a first-round pick in the draft, they took catcher Korey Lee (who recently made his first start with the team). Houston could use a solid outfielder in their future. Brock Jones’ speed, power and glove should intrigue Houston. Though he could use some polish with other facets of his bat, he should be able to climb the ranks and make it, the way their outfield is going.
29. Tampa Bay Rays: Cole Young, Shortstop, North Allegheny
The Rays love young kids with high upside and that’s what Young is (no pun intended). A balanced player that has received comparisons to former Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew and Seattle Mariners second baseman Adam Frazier, Young could be a solid player for Tampa Bay should he fall to them.
30. San Francisco Giants: Sterlin Thompson, Outfield, Florida
The San Francisco Giants have had their eyes on college kids this year from the tea leaves, and if that’s the case, Florida’s Sterling Thompson may be the most intriguing guy. A solid outfield prospect, he could draw some attention quickly if his power pans out. He shouldn’t be seen as the second coming of Barry Bonds or Moises Alou but could very well carve out his own legacy.