2019 MLB Mock Draft: B/R’s Final Round 1 Picks
The 2019 MLB draft is officially upon us.
Over the next three days, 1,217 amateur baseball players from the high school, junior college and college ranks of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico will hear their names called over 40 rounds.
The Baltimore Orioles hold the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft after finishing last season with the worst record in baseball. Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is widely regarded as the best player in this year's class, and there seems to be a consensus top five prospects behind him. After that, things get fun.
Let's get to it!
1. Baltimore Orioles: C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
The switch-hitting Rutschman might be the best all-around college catcher to come along since Buster Posey. He's a polished hitter with plus raw power, has strong receiving skills, controls the running game well and has the requisite leadership intangibles teams look for in a franchise backstop. No reason to overthink it.
2. Kansas City Royals: SS Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
On the off chance that someone besides Rutschman or Witt goes No. 1 overall, the Royals would "have to think long and hard about their choice" here at No. 2, according to Carlos Collazo of Baseball America. That's how much they like the young shortstop, who checks all the boxes to be a future five-tool star.
3. Chicago White Sox: 1B Andrew Vaughn, California
We went outside the box last mock draft and slotted Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday to the White Sox at No. 3 overall after he turned heads during the SEC tournament. The buzz still seems to be about slugging college first baseman Vaughn or Georgia prep shortstop CJ Abrams. With Jose Abreu headed for free agency and Vaughn expected to be MLB-ready in short order, this pick makes sense for a rebuilding team on the rise.
4. Miami Marlins: OF JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
The Marlins would likely grab Vaughn if he's still on the board here. Instead, they're left with their pick of Bleday, Abrams and Florida prep outfielder Riley Greene. The safer college bat looks like the right approach to bolster a thin farm system in the early stages of rebuilding. After hitting just six home runs during his first two seasons at Vandy, Bleday has launched 26 this spring.
5. Detroit Tigers: OF Riley Greene, Hagerty HS (Florida)
With the consensus top six whittled down to two, the Tigers are left to decide between Greene and Abrams. While Abrams is the more impressive athlete, Greene is a more polished offensive player with a 60-grade hit tool and budding raw power. This one really could go either way if the first four picks play out as predicted here.
6. San Diego Padres: SS CJ Abrams, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Georgia)
There have been no rumors of the Padres cutting a below-slot deal here, so all signs point to them sitting back and grabbing whoever is left from the top tier. Abrams has elite speed and more all-around offensive potential than the prototypical toolsy high schooler. A likely move to center field at some point won't hurt his future value.
7. Cincinnati Reds: LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU
The pick here seems to be whichever college arm the Reds like best. There's a good chance that is the 6'6" Lodolo, who has the plus stuff, clean mechanics and requisite durability to be a future top-of-the-rotation starter. Alek Manoah, Zack Thompson, George Kirby and JUCO right-hander Jackson Rutledge are also in the conversation.
8. Texas Rangers: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
The Rangers have been rumored to be exploring an under-slot deal here, according to Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs. Hard-throwing Jackson Rutledge might be the pick if they do. If they don't cut a deal, Bishop is the best player available after a breakout spring. He hit just .250 with five home runs as a sophomore but reworked his swing in the Cape Cod League to post a .344/.482/.757 line with 22 home runs this spring.
9. Atlanta Braves: RHP Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove HS (Illinois)
The Braves have the No. 9 pick after failing to sign Carter Stewart at No. 8 overall last year. If Bishop falls, he would likely be the pick here. Otherwise, don't be surprised if they target a high-ceiling prep arm and then offset that by taking a college bat at No. 21 overall. Priester might have the most upside of any high school pitcher in this class, and his arrow has been pointing straight up throughout the predraft process.
10. San Francisco Giants: SS Bryson Stott, UNLV
It's hard to see Bishop slipping this far, but if he does, this will be his floor. Otherwise, it still looks like the Giants will be picking between UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott and West Virginia right-hander Alek Manoah, and Stott looks like the perfect replacement for a declining Brandon Crawford. The dark horse here is JUCO right-hander Jackson Rutledge if they fall in love with his upside.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
This is where things could start to go in a lot of different directions. Stott could be the pick if he falls, while prep outfielder Corbin Carroll is also in the mix. If they go pitching, it might come down to Manoah or Rutledge. One of the best JUCO pitching prospects to come along in years, Rutledge has a 70-grade fastball, 60-grade slider and a towering 6'8" frame. With refined command, he has top-of-the-rotation upside.
12. New York Mets: RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
The Mets are focused on college pitching. If Lodolo slips, he would likely be the pick. Otherwise, it will come down to whom they like best from the trio of Manoah, Thompson and Kirby. The solidly built 6'6", 260-pound Manoah possesses a rare combination of present stuff and future upside for a college arm, and the Mets have some experience developing big right-handers.
13. Minnesota Twins: C Shea Langeliers, Baylor
The Twins are lacking in young catching talent, and the opportunity to bolster the position lines up with one of the best available prospects in this scenario. Langeliers is the best defensive catcher in the draft, and he has at least shown the potential to be an above-average offensive player as well. The last time the Twins chose a catcher in the first round, it was a Minnesota prep by the name of Joe Mauer. That worked out pretty well.
14. Philadelphia Phillies: RHP George Kirby, Elon
Tulane slugger Kody Hoese has been mentioned here as a possible under-slot target, and this could also be where prep shortstop Gunnar Henderson comes into play. A high-floor starter like Kirby with middle-of-the-rotation upside might be too good to pass up, though. The 6'3" right-hander has a polished four-pitch repertoire, he pitched well in the Cape Cod League last summer, and he spun a ridiculous 107-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 88 innings this spring.
15. Los Angeles Angels: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
The Angels figure to go with whichever top-tier college arm is left on the board unless they are enamored with prep right-hander Matthew Allan. There are some medical red flags with Thompson that include failing his post-draft physical as an 11th-round pick in 2016 and an elbow injury that cost him time as a sophomore. None of that required surgery, though. He has stayed healthy this spring while consistently pitching deep into games.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: OF Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS (Washington)
The D-backs have the largest bonus pool of any team and hold seven picks inside the first 77. That gives them a ton of flexibility in terms of their draft approach. Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung could be a fit here. However, if Carroll is still on the board, expect the D-backs to pounce. The prep outfielder is one of the best pure hitters in the draft, and he packs some pop into an undersized 5'11", 161-pound frame. He could conceivably go as high as No. 9 overall to Atlanta.
17. Washington Nationals: 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
This is the floor for Langeliers. The Nationals could also be one of the teams that makes a run at signing Allan, who is reportedly seeking a $4 million bonus. The ultra-productive Jung is the best college bat on the board and one of the most MLB-ready hitters in the class. He has been more contact than power during his time at Texas Tech, but there is 25-homer potential in his strong 6'2", 215-pound frame.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Brennan Malone, IMG Academy (Florida)
The Pirates would love for Illinois high schooler Priester to fall to them. Assuming he's off the board, they could target a college arm who slides or the best available high school pitcher, which in this case looks like Malone. The 6'3" right-hander was inconsistent on the showcase circuit last summer, but when he's on, he flashes a dynamic four-pitch repertoire, smooth mechanics and standout athleticism.
19. St. Louis Cardinals: 3B Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
Baty offers some of the same tantalizing raw power that the Cardinals saw in Nolan Gorman, whom they chose in this same No. 19 overall spot last June. He is also one of the better pure hitters in the class, with MLB.com noting "he makes repeated hard contact, isn't fooled by breaking pitches and doesn't get caught selling out for power" despite possessing plenty of it. While he could go as high as No. 8 to Texas, some teams are put off by the fact he will already be turning 20 in November.
20. Seattle Mariners: SS Anthony Volpe, Delbarton HS (New Jersey)
The FanGraphs team reported there is "an awful lot of smoke" linking the Mariners to Volpe, who has seen his stock steadily climb during the predraft process. This scenario could come down to a choice between him and pop-up third baseman Keoni Cavaco. If the Mariners are confident they can sign Volpe, who has a firm commitment to Vanderbilt, he would bring a strong hit tool, standout glove and off-the-charts intangibles to a thin farm system.
21. Atlanta Braves: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
A college bat makes sense here for the Braves if they go with a prep arm at No. 9 overall. Hoese is a strapping 6'4", 200-pound third baseman with a prototypical run-producing corner-infielder profile. He exploded for a .392/.487/.789 line with 23 home runs this spring after hitting just five long balls as a sophomore.
22. Tampa Bay Rays: 3B Keoni Cavaco, Eastlake HS (California)
No prospect in the 2019 draft class has more helium than Cavaco, who was unranked when Baseball America released its first top-200 draft prospects list at the start of the spring. Aside from his tremendous raw power, he also runs well and profiles as a standout defender at the hot corner. He was not invited to many of the top showcase events last summer, so he has a limited track record against high-level competition. The Rays have rolled the dice on high-ceiling prep bats before with Garrett Whitley (2015) and Josh Lowe (2016), and Cavaco's upside could make him an absolute steal at No. 22 overall.
23. Colorado Rockies: OF Kameron Misner, Missouri
The Rockies have zeroed in on college bats. Middle infielders Will Wilson (NC State), Logan Davidson (Clemson), Braden Shewmake (Texas A&M) and Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington) and first baseman Michael Busch (North Carolina) are all in the mix, as well as Hoese if he makes it this far. However, the tools and upside of Misner could make him a more appealing pick despite a rough showing in conference play this year that has sent his stock sliding a bit.
24. Cleveland Indians: 1B/OF Michael Busch, North Carolina
Prep shortstop Kyren Paris, one of the youngest players in the draft, has been talked about as a possibility here. They could also go with one of the several remaining college middle infielders, but the best fit is Busch. Few players in this class have his combination of floor and ceiling. He already has a plus hit tool and an ultra-patient approach with a walk rate north of 20 percent. If he starts tapping into more of his 55-grade raw power more consistently, he could be a star. A 2020 debut is also not out of the question.
25. Los Angeles Dodgers: SS Gunnar Henderson, John T. Morgan Academy (Alabama)
The Dodgers hold the Nos. 25 and 31 picks, so they look like a prime candidate to scoop up high school talent that has fallen further than expected. Henderson could go as high as No. 14 to the Phillies, and the Pirates could also be a fit at No. 18 overall, so this might wind up being his floor. With a 55-grade hit tool and plenty of room to add strength to his 6'3", 195-pound frame, Henderson would fit fine at third base if he eventually grows out of the shortstop position.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Matthew Allan, Seminole HS (Florida)
What better team to meet Allan's lofty bonus demands than the one with the highest bonus pool? If the D-backs target below-slot college players with the Nos. 33 and 34 picks, they should be able to make a combination of Carroll and Allan work in the first round. The 6'3" right-hander has the highest floor of the top-tier high school pitchers with a solid three-pitch mix, durable frame and a strong track record.
27. Chicago Cubs: SS Will Wilson, NC State
Unless the Cubs are enamored with someone like Campbell right-hander Seth Johnson, it seems reasonable to assume they will once again be targeting college bats. Wilson is a three-year starter at NC State, and he hit .335/.425/.661 with 20 doubles and 16 home runs this spring. A lack of quick-twitch athleticism could eventually mean a move to second base. His bat is among the best of the college crop, though, as he makes consistent hard contact and is willing to draw a walk.
28. Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Hunter Barco, The Bolles School (Florida)
The Brewers have not used their first pick on a pitcher since taking prep left-hander Kodi Medeiros at No. 12 overall in 2014. That said, they appear to be in a prime position to select a high-ceiling arm with this pick. With a projectable 6'4" frame and the potential for three plus pitches, Barco has a ton of upside. There's work to do smoothing out his mechanics, but he could wind up being the best high school arm in this class if the pieces fall into place.
29. Oakland Athletics: SS Greg Jones, UNC Wilmington
With true 80-grade speed and a strong finish to the season, Jones has climbed into the first-round conversation, and he could go as high as No. 23 to Colorado. If he makes it this far, the Athletics are "locked in" on the UNC Wilmington shortstop, who could eventually wind up in center field, where his wheels would allow him to cover serious ground. If he's off the board, a college bat seems to be the preference.
30. New York Yankees: 3B Rece Hinds, IMG Academy (Florida)
The Yankees like to target loud tools at the end of the first round. With a strong 6'4", 210-pound frame and a smooth right-handed swing, Hinds has true top-of-the-scale raw power. There's a considerable amount of swing-and-miss to his game, though. The gap between his floor and ceiling is as wide as any prospect in the class, but the payoff could be huge.
31. Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy (Georgia)
Teams are already weary of selecting high school right-handers, and when you throw in an undersized frame and some mechanical questions, it's easy to see why Espino is one of the most polarizing prospects in the class. That said, there's no ignoring his stuff. His fastball touches triple-digits, and his 60-grade slider is already a putaway pitch. The Dodgers have a long history of developing pitching talent and have a deep enough system to justify taking a high-risk roll of the dice.
32. Houston Astros: RHP Seth Johnson, Campbell
With a stacked MLB roster and a deep farm system, the Astros are well-positioned to swing for the fences with this pick. Johnson, who spent two seasons as a light-hitting JUCO shortstop before transferring to Campbell and moving to the mound this spring, fits the bill with considerable boom-or-bust potential. His fastball touches 98, he can spin a slider, and he has remarkably smooth mechanics considering his relative inexperience. If he can make the necessary adjustments to refine his command, his ceiling is as high as any of this year's college arms.