The Major League Baseball draft is a different kind of event than those player drafts conducted by the NFL, NBA and NHL.
Those three sports all expect many of the top picks, along with several others, to step in and contribute right away. Even the best MLB draftees take at least a year or two to develop, while those in the NFL and NBA can play as rookies and make major contributions. The same holds for the most elite players drafted into the NHL, but many more of them need seasoning.
However, that does not mean the MLB draft is a hit-or-miss affair. Drafting has become a strong science over the decades, and the top scouts in the game find the most talented players, and the best teams often find a way to develop that talent.
Major League Baseball will conduct its annual draft June 3-5. The first round will get underway at 7 p.m. Monday, while rounds three through 10 will be held the following day. Rounds 11 through 40 are scheduled for Wednesday.
1. Baltimore Orioles: C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
2. Kansas City Royals: OF JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
3. Chicago White Sox: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
4. Miami Marlins: 1B Andrew Vaughn, California
5. Detroit Tigers: SS CJ Abrams, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Ga.)
6. San Diego Padres: OF Riley Greene, Hagerty HS (Fla.)
7. Cincinnati Reds: SS Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
8. Texas Rangers: RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
9. Atlanta Braves: RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
10. San Francisco Giants: SS Bryson Stott, UNLV
11. Toronto Blue Jays: OF Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS (Wash.)
12. New York Mets: 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
13. Minnesota Twins: C Shea Langeliers, Baylor
14. Philadelphia Phillies: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
15. Los Angeles Angels: RHP Matthew Allan, Seminole HS (Fla.)
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: 3B Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
17. Washington Nationals: LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Brennan Malone, IMG Academy (Fla.)
19. St. Louis Cardinals: RHP George Kirby, Elon
20. Seattle Mariners: 1B/OF Michael Busch, North Carolina
21. Atlanta Braves: SS Logan Davidson, Clemson
22. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy (Ga.)
23. Colorado Rockies: SS Will Wilson, NC State
24. Cleveland Indians: 3B Keoni Cavaco, Eastlake HS (Calif.)
25. Los Angeles Dodgers: SS Gunnar Henderson, John T. Morgan Academy (Ala.)
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove HS (Ill.)
27. Chicago Cubs: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
28. Milwaukee Brewers: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M
29. Oakland Athletics: RHP JJ Goss, Cypress Ranch HS (Texas)
30. New York Yankees: 3B Tyler Callihan, Providence HS (Fla.)
31. Los Angeles Dodgers: Ryan Jensen, RHP, Fresno State
32. Houston Astros: RHP Carter Stewart, RHP, Eastern Florida JC
1. Baltimore Orioles, C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
Adley Rutschman has had a sensational season for the Beavers, and he looks a sure thing as the No. 1 draft pick this year for the Baltimore Orioles.
While catchers are often difficult to project, the 21-year-old is hitting .419 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI, and he also leads the team in slugging percentage and walks.
In addition to his offensive prowess, Rutschman shared the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award with catcher Maverick Handley of Stanford.
Rutschman may be at the top of his game as the draft approaches, but it has been anything but easy. He struggled with his hitting as a freshman, and he has overhauled his swing in the past two seasons.
"My philosophy, hitting-wise, is that a hitter needs to be as on time as much as possible," he said, per Teddy Cahill of Baseball America. "If you're not in a balanced position on time, it's very hard to hit. I was trying to find a way to get into a good position on time. There are so many different loads, setups, that finding what works for me was crucial ... I was working on that load and then the bat path."
In addition to his all-around ability, Rutschman appears to be the kind of player who will uplift any clubhouse. He has an outgoing personality and will talk to teammates, coaches, umpires and fans.
He appears to be the full package, and if the Orioles select him, they are getting a relentless and talented backstop.
2. Kansas City Royals, OF JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
JJ Bleday does not have the same kind of cookie-cutter approach at the plate that many players have today. He has a huge swing, which prompted Keith Law of ESPN to note that it looked like he was swinging an ax uphill.
The 21-year-old wants to launch the ball in the air, and he has powered 26 home runs this year. He is also a strong-armed right fielder who can make all the throws needed to keep opponents from taking an extra base.
Bleday is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, and that honor goes to the best college baseball player in the nation. In addition to the homers, he is hitting .357 with 67 RBI, and he was recently named MVP in the SEC Conference tournament.
The Vanderbilt product served notice of his potential to become a dominant hitter when he showed off his skills in the Cape Cod League last summer by hitting .311 with five home runs in a 36-game season
"The Cape was great," Bleday said, per Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press. "You are facing the best competition, day in and day out. It's a lot like pro ball, where you are playing every day. It's a cool experience. I think that's what helped me boost my confidence."
3. Chicago White Sox, OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
The White Sox have been in a rebuilding mode for several seasons, and the drafting of Hunter Bishop could help them accelerate that process.
There is something of a risk in drafting the 6'5", 210-pound Bishop because he was not an impressive player in 2017 or 2018. However, he has been explosive in 2019, and he has shown quite a bit of growth as a power hitter.
The 20-year-old is an excellent runner, fielder and thrower, but it is his hitting approach that has changed his status. He has become more aggressive at the plate and is not taking pitches as he was in either of his first two years with the Sun Devils.
He couples that more aggressive approach with quiet hands. He maintains his position in the batter's box until the last possible instant, and then he turns with a viciousness on the baseball.
Bishop has a .347/.473/.765 slash line with 22 home runs, 61 RBI and 11 stolen bases.
Look for Rutschman to go first to the Orioles, Bleday to go second to the Royals, and the White Sox will select Bishop with the third pick.