The Major League Baseball Draft is always an interesting subject to mull over because unlike the NBA or the NFL, MLB executives and scouts understand that the guys they’re selecting with their respective picks aren’t going to impact their clubs right away. Being selected among the top ten overall picks in the NBA and NFL Drafts pretty much guarantees that you’ll be playing, and hopefully making a significant impact, at the highest level that following season. When it comes to baseball that logic gets completely turned around, and even the most highly touted prospects are usually expected to complete at the very least one season in the Minor Leagues. The young men selected in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft are some of the best young baseball talents the world has to offer right now, but almost every single one of them won’t sniff a major league roster until the at least the turn of the decade. Not to mention many of these guys probably won’t be making their Major League debuts with the ballclubs that originally drafted them. Regardless, the men lucky enough to have their names called this week are considered the future of our great game and are thought to possess some of the highest ceilings the baseball world has to offer in terms of projected potential. They won’t have an immediate impact, and when many of these guys eventually make their debut most of us won’t remember off the top of our heads exactly what year they were actually drafted. Regardless, the time will come when these prospects will enter the spotlight and the very essence of our beloved pastime will lie directly with them and their rise to superstardom. Let’s go over the top ten overall picks of this year’s MLB Draft as we try and get a gauge on how baseball’s most exciting young talent might pan out in The Bigs.
1. Detroit Tigers – RHP Casey Mize – Auburn University
Thrilled to share this moment with you, @caseymize04! https://t.co/ZBmopWRgaI
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) June 4, 2018
Unlike year’s past, this draft didn’t have a Hunter Greene or Dansby Swanson type player that was clearly above the rest of the crop. That being said, Auburn’s Casey Mize was as easy of a pick as any at No. 1 overall. Undrafted out of high school, Mize committed to Auburn with a chip on his shoulder. He very literally could not have done any more to prove himself in his time at Auburn, as he went 20-12 with a 2.81 ERA over the course of three collegiate seasons. The big right-hander clocks out in the mid-90s and has mastered the art of what is widely considered the most unhittable pitch in the draft, his devastating splitter. While many scouts believe Casey’s splitter can get Major League hitters out right now, it’s his impeccable control that put him over the edge in terms of potential. In 262.1 innings on the bump for Auburn, Mize walked just 39 batters. This guy potentially has Yu Darvish stuff mixed with Greg Maddux control, which could very easily translate to him being the future ace in Detroit and possibly one of the best arms in the game.
2. San Francisco Giants – C Joey Bart – Georgia Tech
— Georgia Tech Baseball (@GTBaseball) June 5, 2018
Easily the best overall catcher in the draft, Joey Bart is widely regarded as the complete package when it comes to what teams are looking for in a backstop. At the plate, Bart has well above average power which is no surprise given his 6’3″, 225 lbs. hulk-like frame. What really has scouts drooling over the young catcher, though, is his ability to call his own games and in turn, take the entire pitching staff under his wing. Most college programs refrain from letting their catchers call their own pitches. By giving Bart the freedom to develop that skill before going pro, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall has seemingly made Joey Bart’s path to the Bay Area much, much easier. With guys like Matt Wieters and Jason Varitek coming out of Georgia Tech, the program has become a breeding ground for MLB-ready catchers, and in Joey Bart’s case, this narrative should remain consistent.
3. Philadelphia Phillies – 3B Alec Bohm – Wichita State University
Looking good. ???? pic.twitter.com/WraSdfe4My
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) June 4, 2018
On top of practicing the most lethal lettuce game among his fellow draftees, Alec Bohm’s right-handed bat also packs an undeniable punch. Bohm has been labeled as the most complete hitter in the draft when it comes to his ability to hit for average and power. In other words, he’s got a can’t-miss power stroke but won’t sell out for a higher home run total because of it. While it’s almost impossible to find a weakness in Bohm’s offensive game, it’s the uncertainty in his defensive game that will likely have the biggest impact on his big league arrival time. Most scouts graded Bohm’s skills at third base as below-average, so with this pick, the Phillies are surely taking into account the time it could take Bohm to make the transition over to first base or the outfield.
4. Chicago White Sox – 2B Nick Madrigal – Oregon State University
The selection. The celebration. The call.
Welcome to Chicago, Nick Madrigal! https://t.co/u8H8PTiLi2
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) June 5, 2018
Many scouts seem to believe that the 5’8″, 160 lbs. Madrigal is the best player in college baseball, as well as the best pure hitter available in the draft in terms of bat control. With guys like Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts – 5’6″ and 5’9″ respectively – taking the big leagues by storm, a smaller build is no longer a deal breaker for MLB scouts. The White Sox showed this ideological shift in the minds of MLB executives by selecting Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick. They expect his intangibles to be the X-factor when it comes to how fast they expect him to move through the farm system. Madrigal’s small but powerful swing eerily resembles a young Dustin Pedroia. That mixed with his already masterful skills at second base should be more than enough to propel him right into the top of a Major League lineup in no time.
5. Cincinnati Reds – 3B Jonathan India – University of Florida
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 4, 2018
A year ago Jonathan India was a virtual nobody and probably would’ve been a later round pick in the draft at best, but after breaking out in a big way this spring at the University of Florida he has clearly realized his full potential. India and just about everyone else has quickly noticed just how massive that potential actually is, and the Reds were the ones who finally gave into the temptation. The only legitimate competition for Nick Madrigal in terms of being college baseball’s most complete ballplayer was this young man, as through 54 games this spring he slashed .365/.506/.730. Jonathan India has basically turned himself into a much bigger, much more powerful Nick Madrigal, so it makes sense why the Reds couldn’t help themselves here at No. 5. Just in case that’s not enough, his über athleticism and arm strength on defense should allow the Reds to spread him all over the infield. These are all aspects of India’s game that are becoming clear after his first genuinely successful collegiate campaign, so imagine how much more a Major League farm system will be able to milk out of him over the next few seasons. As long as this kid doesn’t completely forget how to play baseball, we should see him near the top of MLB’s top prospect rankings in no time.
6. New York Mets – OF Jarred Kelenic – Waukesha West HS (Wisconsin)
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 5, 2018
FINALLY. The first high schooler off the board in the 2018 MLB Draft is Jarred Kelenic out of Wisconsin’s Waukesha West High School. For at least the last couple of years I’ve always been fascinated at watching these baby-faced teenagers’ lives change completely in a matter of seconds. When I was 18 the only thing I was worried about was how many 20-minute power naps I could possibly fit into my daily schedule, while these kids are currently worried about how many zeroes their signing bonuses will have in them. The 18-year old Kelenic surely looks his age, as the baby-faced outfielder comes into the draft at 6’1″, 196 lbs. Obviously after a few years developing his strength through the Mets Minor League ranks, the kid should be able to live up to the hype that comes with being drafted No. 6 overall. Jarred has registered an overall grade of 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale, which labels him as an above-average talent. His strengths lie with his plus bat (Hit Grade: 60) and his well above average throwing arm (Arm Grade: 60). His power is regarded as a work in progress, but like I mentioned before that’s almost exclusively because of his premature build at only 18 years of age. The young outfielder will most likely become an everyday right fielder at some point, with his stellar arm being the attribute he’s most known for on defense. While Kelenic is officially committed to the University of Louisville, he’s made it clear that skipping college ball is something he will seriously think about. As the No. 6 overall pick, there’s not much room for improvement in terms of his draft stock, so it’s hard for me to imagine him not signing on in Queens.
7. San Diego Padres – LHP Ryan Weathers – Loretto HS (Tennessee)
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) June 5, 2018
Obviously drafted as a pitcher, Ryan Weathers is actually a force to be reckoned with at the plate as well. In fact, if he decides to pass up on this professional opportunity with the Padres he would be heading to Vanderbilt University as a two-way player. Regardless of whether or not he decides to head to Nashville, Weathers’ professional career inevitably lies with his abilities on the bump. Right now, the young left-hander has three plus pitches in his fastball, curveball, and changeup. I would assume that the Padres prefer he develop the fourth grip while he continues to develop in their system. Unless Ryan eventually ends up in the bullpen, you just simply don’t see many successful starting pitchers these days who only have three pitches in their repertoire. Other than that what’s not to love about the kid. There’s no denying he’s a HORSE on the mound as he registered a 0.12 ERA through 58.1 innings on the mound for his high school this season. Yes, I know it’s high school, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen an ERA that close to zilch at ANY level. Look for this kid to resemble a young CC Sabathia or Jon Lester when he eventually catches his big break
8. Atlanta Braves – RHP Carter Stewart – Eau Gallie HS (Florida)
At 6’6″, 200 lbs., Stewart’s arm surely lives up to the strength you would assume a kid of his size would have. The big right-hander sits easily in the mid-90s with his all-star caliber fastball and has hit as high as 97-98 on the radar gun. It’s his curveball, though, that has really gotten the attention of Major League scouts. If you judge strictly by spin rate, Carter Stewart’s curveball is not just the best breaking ball in his draft class, but his hammer’s 3,000 RPM is well-above average among pitchers in the big leagues right now. Much like the young man picked before him in Ryan Weathers, the knock on Stewart is that he can really only throw two pitches effectively. The problem with drafting a pitcher out of high school is that if he’s good enough with just two pitches he can easily dominate high school level batters without having to worry about the development of a third grip. Carter has been working on a changeup on the side recently, which I’m sure is something the Braves are going to want him to build on if they plan on using him as the ace-caliber starter he’s projected to be. If he decides to pivot into a reliever at the next level, his time in the Minor Leagues would probably shrink significantly.
9. Oakland Athletics – OF Kyler Murray – University of Oklahoma
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) June 5, 2018
Yes. You read that right. Baker Mayfield’s successor and a favorite for next year’s Heisman trophy, the Oklahoma quarterback is actually a baseball player at heart. He is obviously one of, if not the most exciting overall athletes this draft has to offer, and the A’s decided to pull the trigger on the young stud just inside the top 10. Murray has made it clear in the past that baseball trumps football in terms of his love for the game, and after locking himself in as a single-digit pick in this year’s draft it’s now conceivable to believe that the diamond beats out the gridiron when it comes to his talent on the field as well. The stud outfielder plans on starting at quarterback in the fall for his Oklahoma Sooners. After officially signing on with the A’s, the club’s executives seem to have given Murray the green light in that regard as well. This is obviously an extremely risky business both parties are engaging in, with injuries in football always being a strong possibility and especially so with the run first/pass second style of play Murray possesses. This kid is as raw and as genuine of a talent as they come, as due to his football commitments he hadn’t played much baseball for the Sooners before this season. This pick surprised everyone, including Murray I assume, but apparently, he’s just too freakish as an athlete to pass up. Because of this, there’s really no flaw whatsoever in his defensive game manning center field. He’s as fast and as strong as they come and plays the game exactly like you would imagine a football player would – balls to the God damn wall.
10. Pittsburgh Pirates – OF Travis Swaggerty – University of S. Alabama
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 5, 2018
What better way to round out the top ten overall picks of this year’s MLB June Amateur Draft than with one of the sweetest names I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading out loud. Having an awesome name like Travis Swaggerty means nothing, though, if you don’t have the ability on the field to live up to said name. Lucky for Travis he does, and as a speedy left-handed centerfielder who lives up the middle he’s the most prototypical big league leadoff man this draft has to offer. Swaggerty is as sure-fire of a five-tool talent as they come, and his sneaky power from the left side is definitely something to keep an eye on as he inevitably gets stronger over the next few years. In 52 games this season with South Alabama, the young outfielder slashed .295/.450/.540 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI. He was 9-14 on stolen base attempts and showed MLB-caliber plate discipline registering a ridiculous 54 walks. Many scouts liken him to the pinstriped veteran Brett Gardner, who is widely regarded as one of the last of a dying breed in terms of traditional leadoff men with sneaky pop. I for one hope to God we never see that lovable breed leave the game for good, and a guy like Travis Swaggerty squeezing into the top ten of this year’s draft gives me hope in that regard.