It's hard to believe, but the Major League Baseball draft is just a month away. Opening Day feels like it was just yesterday, doesn't it?
Of course, it's never too early to start mocking where some of the top prospects will be selected this year. While the MLB draft is often the hardest to project—the field of prospects is huge, and some players will end up foregoing the draft for college—the top of the board is starting to shake itself out.
Let's break down where the top prospects are likely to be drafted this year.
1. Houston Astros: Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma
Mark Appel is the top player in this draft, but seeing as he is represented by Scott Boras and couldn't come to terms with the Pittsburgh Pirates last year, returning to Stanford, the Astros may decide negotiating with him isn't worth breaking the draft budget.
Gray is certainly an appealing consolation prize. With a fastball that consistently hits 100, a nasty slider and a curveball and changeup thrown in the mix just for fun, he has the look of an ace for years to come.
A powerful, intimidating pitcher, Gray will give the Astros a top-of-the-rotation starter with the No. 1 pick to be truly excited about.
2. Chicago Cubs: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
Whereas the Astros may be tentative to pay Appel the big bucks, a Cubs team with a really strong minor league system and a desire build a contender in the next five years will jump at the chance to draft Appel.
The Stanford righty has a plus fastball that generates a lot of movement and also boasts an above-average slider and changeup. He's one of the most polished (if not the most polished) prospects available and could be ready for the big leagues after just a season of minor-league ball.
The Cubs will hope Appel can be the next Mark Prior, minus all of the career-crippling injuries of course.
3. Colorado Rockies: Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
The Rockies need to add some top-notch arms to the farm system, and 6'5" southpaws with a plus fastball and a quality slurve don't exactly grow on trees. He's more of a project than the top-two picks, but his upside is immense.
4. Minnesota Twins: Austin Meadows, OF/1B, Grayson HS (Georgia)
Meadows is not only the top position player and high school prospect in this class, he's also a legitimate five-tool athlete who can do it all and has a ton of upside to boot. The Twins need to take the top player available, and that is Meadows.
5. Cleveland Indians: Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville HS (Georgia)
Frazier is essentially a slightly smaller version of Meadows with slightly less upside but a bit more of a polished game right now. In other words, he's a stud.
6. Miami Marlins: Trey Ball, LHP/OF, New Castle HS (Indiana)
Ball is an intriguing prospect as he has the chops to either pitch or play in the outfield at the next level. It's hard to argue with selecting a prospect this high who can simply switch positions if he struggles early in his career.
7. Boston Red Sox: Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, San Diego
Bryant likely has the most power in this class, and for that reason, a team will find a place for him to play, be it at first, third or in the outfield. He has the sort of power from the right side of the plate built for Fenway Park.
8. Kansas City Royals: Kohl Stewart, RHP/OF/3B, St. Pius X HS (Texas)
Stewart is the most intriguing player in this draft if only because drafting him comes at such a high risk. He's one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation and has already committed to Texas A&M to play football and baseball, so convincing him to forgo college could be a challenge.
He projects as a pitcher at the next level, but he's such a talented athlete he might be able to make the adjustment to the outfield or third base if pitching doesn't work out. That certainly makes him all the more appealing.
Still, it's hard to see him giving up a shot to play football and baseball unless a team is willing to make baseball worth his while financially. Keep an eye on Stewart as the draft approaches.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates: Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina
Moran is a polished hitter with power potential and enough chops to handle third base defensively. That makes him worthy of a top-10 selection.
10. Toronto Blue Jays: Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford
Wilson is a big, powerful outfielder who could develop into a five-tool prospect. The Blue Jays won't hesitate to snatch him up.
11. New York Mets: Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno St.
Judge is huge, standing at 6'7", a rare size for position players in baseball. With a ton of power and a cannon for a right arm, he looks like your prototypical right fielder.
12. Seattle Mariners: Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
Stanek is a nice value for the Mariners here as he is one of an elite handful of college pitchers. With a plus fastball and three other pitches at his disposal, he has top-of-the-rotation written all over him.
13. San Diego Padres: J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood HS (California)
Solid shortstops are hard to come by. Crawford is a fluid fielder with solid speed who is a pretty safe selection for any team that feels he'll grow as a hitter.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates: Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS (Washington)
The catcher position is deep at the top of this draft, but McGuire has the upside that makes him worth a top-15 pick. Catchers that hit from the left side of the plate and hit for power are rare, and McGuire has a gun behind the plate to go along with it. A solid selection for the Pirates.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks: D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B, New Mexico
Peterson not only could have a short stint in the minors, he may just be the best hitter right now in this entire class. That's two reasons right there why he makes a ton of sense for Arizona.
16. Philadelphia Phillies: Jon Denney, C, Yukon HS (Oklahoma)
The Phillies are old and have thinned out the farm system. In other words, the top player on the board is who they should take. Denney doesn't really have a weakness at catcher and could be the catcher of the future once Carlos Ruiz hangs it up.
17. Chicago White Sox: Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada
It's no secret that the White Sox like to bring in college arms, and Shipley is the top one available. With a plus fastball and a solid curve and changeup, Shipley falls just outside the group of elite college pitching prospects.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville
With a fastball that reaches the upper-90s, a four-pitch repertoire and solid control, Anderson could end up being one of the best pitchers from this draft class.
19. St. Louis Cardinals: Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida
The Cardinals always seem to have a healthy stable of young, talented arms, but replenishing those ranks each year is vital. Crawford is a hard thrower with a nasty fastball and slider that can make him unhittable at times. Literally—he threw a no-hitter for Florida last year.
20. Detroit Tigers: Billy McKinney, OF/1B, Plano West HS (Texas)
McKinney is one of the best pure hitters coming out of high school and a hard-nosed competitor. His bat will ensure he's taken early in this draft.
21. Tampa Bay Rays: Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga
With a plus changeup and excellent command, Gonzales is a crafty pitcher who should have a quick turnaround to the big leagues. On a team that always seems to be oozing talented pitching prospects, Gonzales will fit right in.
22. Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU
Eades has some durability issues but also has the experience and raw stuff to reach the big leagues rather quickly. With a plus fastball and solid control, Eades should fill a need for talented young pitchers in Baltimore's farm system.
23. Texas Rangers: Ian Clarkin, LHP/1B/OF, James Madison HS
He's a three-pitch lefty with a ton of upside. In other words, he likely won't make it out of the first round, and the Rangers would surely love to add him to their ranks.
24. Oakland Athletics: Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss
With two plus pitches (fastball and slider) and the look of a player who would settle nicely into a relief role if starting isn't in the cards, Wahl would be a nice selection for the Athletics.
25. San Francisco Giants: Dominic Smith, 1B, LHP, OF, Sierra HS (California)
Smith has time to grow into his power, and he's a pure hitter who will find the gaps and drive in runs. While he isn't the biggest first base prospect around (6'0"), he fields the position well.
26. New York Yankees: Andrew Thurman, RHP, UC Irvine
With four solid pitches at his disposal, Thurman can keep hitters guessing. As you'll see, he'll be the first pick in the Yankees effort to solidify their pitching in this first round.
27. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State
If he doesn't become a strikeout machine at the next level, Renfroe has the potential to be a five-tool asset in right field. There's some boom-or-bust here, but his tools will be too hard to ignore.
28. St. Louis Cardinals: Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford
If you're looking for a solid player defensively in center field who should get on base and swipe plenty of bases when he does, look no further than Ervin. He's a future leadoff hitter.
29. Tampa Bay Rays: Tim Anderson, SS/OF, East Central CC
The Rays love players with a ton of upside who play premium positions. Guess what? Anderson is a four-tool prospect (not a ton of power) with a lot of upside who should be able to field the shortstop position at the next level.
30. Texas Rangers: Ryan Boldt, OF, Red Wing HS (Minnesota)
Boldt looks like a complete outfielder and has room to grow as a prospect. The Rangers will love his potential.
31. Atlanta Braves: Oscar Mercado, SS, Gaither HS (Florida)
Mercado can flat-out field his position and adds solid speed to boot. If he can improve at the plate, look out.
32. New York Yankees: Phil Bickford, RHP/1B, Oaks Christian HS (California)
With good size and three trusty pitches, Bickford is a project but one worth taking the time to develop. He's a nice value for the Yankees here.
33. New York Yankees: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys HS (North Carolina)
You could basically just repeat the previous entry here. The Yankees will come away with three very solid pitchers from this draft.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!