More than any other major sport, MLB's amateur draft offers no guarantees at the top. This year's finest prospects, however, challenge that distinction with organization-altering upside.
As long as money doesn't get in the way, two position players are virtual locks to open Monday's selection process as the first two picks. A third is just as good, if not better at the plate, but he could fall due to a skill set some squads may deem easier to replicate elsewhere.
Let's take a closer look at the 2019 crop's premier prospects. MLB fans will want to remember these names, as they're each capable of ascending into superstars.
Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
How awesome is Adley Rutschman? In Friday night's regional contest, Cincinnati intentionally walked him...with the bases loaded.
It's hard to blame the Bearcats, who prevailed with a 7-6 victory. The Oregon State catcher is batting an eye-popping .418/.580/.764 with 17 home runs in 56 games.
Barring any signing concerns, the Baltimore Orioles should make him the future face of their franchise with the first pick. He'd become the first catcher picked No. 1 since Joe Mauer in 2001.
According to MLB.com's Jim Callis, some scouts believe Rutschman is a better prospect than the former Minnesota Twins great. One also positioned him favorably to an MVP selected with the fifth pick 11 years ago.
"Rutschman is at the top for me," a scouting executive with a National League team said. "The only college catcher who compares to him is Buster Posey, and Rutschman has more power than we thought Buster had, and I think this kid is a better catcher than Buster."
Callis also ranked him the best draft prospect at any position since Bryce Harper took the sport by storm in 2010.
MLB Pipeline assigns the 21-year-old a 60 (considered above-average) on the 80-grade scale in every category except running. Per its scouting report, the switch-hitter is "the complete package at and behind the plate." The sky is the limit for Rutschman, who could follow Posey and Mauer's footsteps as a rare catcher with excellent contact ability, superb gap power and a plus presence behind the plate.
Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage (Texas) HS
In a typical year without a transcendent talent like Rutschman, Witt would be an easy No. 1 pick. The hype continues to expand for the 18-year-old shortstop, whose father went third in the 1985 draft.
Junior should go one spot higher. According to The Athletic's Saad Yousuf, the Kansas City Royals are "infatuated" with the Gatorade High School Player of the Year. He's a five-tool player at a premium position who obliterated his overmatched competition:
Let's bring in Callis to again set the bar high enough to strain everyone's neck looking up. By his eye, Witt is the best shortstop prospect since Alex Rodriguez came out of high school as the opening pick in 1993.
"Bobby is so talented that he can do what he wants," an NL scout told Callis. "And in my two decades of scouting, he may love baseball more than any kid I've ever seen."
MLB Pipeline grades him at 50 or higher across the board. If he lands with the Royals, who comfortably lead the majors in stolen bases, it'd be especially easy to envision Witt swiping 30-plus bags with a strong average and 20 homers on a yearly basis.
High school prospects typically come with more risk, but Witt is advanced beyond his years and more than capable of blossoming into a perennial All-Star.
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
Because he's a right-handed first baseman without the same athleticism or upside as Rutschman or Witt, Vaughn shouldn't go any higher than No. 3. The fact that he could reasonably get snagged there by the Chicago White Sox speaks to his incredible ability inside the batter's box.
As noted by The Ringer's Zach Kram, no first baseman has gone inside the top five since Eric Hosmer in 2008. The least valued position is often seen as a fallback for good hitters who can't handle a more demanding spot rather than a place to foster elite talent. Per Kram, FanGraphs' Eric Longenhagen explained Vaughn's tougher path that generally leads to players of his ilk slipping down draft boards.
"He's not just fighting the rest of the first base/DH population for one of those 45 spots," Longenhagen told Kram. "He's fighting with every elite hitter at every other position who's aging their way toward first base."
At 6'0" and 214 pounds, Vaughn is also relatively undersized. However, none of these deterrents may matter to a team who craves a refined middle-of-the-order masher.
The 21-year-old may eclipse Rutschman and Witt as this draft class' top hitter, drawing 60-grade contact and power from MLB.com. While the California slugger's 1.277 OPS is actually a step down from his sophomore year's 1.350 clip, he has upped his on-base percentage to .549 with 58 walks (and just 32 strikeouts) in 232 plate appearances.
Given the success of Paul Goldschmidt, Rhys Hoskins and Pete Alonso, one would hope MLB organizations no longer dismiss right-handed first basemen. Vaughn has the upside to obtain membership to the exclusive .300/.400/.500 club and is far from a liability on the field.