MLB Draft 2019: Ranking the Biggest Steals of Day 1June 4, 2019
MLB Draft 2019: Ranking the Biggest Steals of Day 1
There's 78 picks down and a few hundred more to go.
The first day of the 2019 MLB draft is in the books, and there are a few surprises are worth discussing. Specifically, we're going to look at the biggest steals of Day 1.
This is speculative, of course, as the best picks of this year's draft won't truly be revealed for another five—or even 10—years. But from looking at players' pre-draft rankings, present talent levels and projectability, we can at least offer a sense of which teams lucked out with their picks.
Note: For consistent reference, we used MLB.com's draft prospect rankings.
8. Hunter Bishop, OF, San Francisco Giants
MLB.com Rank: No. 7
Draft Position: No. 10
As a general rule, teams don't draft to fill needs. Yet the San Francisco Giants must have been thrilled Hunter Bishop was still available when they were on the clock with the No. 10 pick.
The Giants have one of the worst outfields in the majors right now, and their difficulties developing such talent are well-documented. A team in this position needs as many promising outfielders as it can get.
Enter Bishop, who's already likened himself to Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich.
The 20-year-old has put up a .344/.478/.758 slash line and 22 home runs as a junior for Arizona State. And while his 6'5" frame will invariably lead to some swing-and-miss issues in the pros, the plus speed that accompanies his huge power should make him more than just a dangerous slugger.
7. Matt Canterino, RHP, Minnesota Twins
MLB.com Rank: No. 46
Draft Position: No. 54
There's some effort in Matt Canterino's delivery, which raises the possibility he may be ticketed for a relief role as a professional.
But at No. 54 in the second round, the Minnesota Twins had the right idea to pounce on him.
That's especially true if one takes it from Baseball America, which had Canterino ranked as the draft's No. 34 talent. That ranking represents a mindset that the 21-year-old repeats his funky delivery well enough to get by with it. Beyond that, his low-to-mid-90s fastball is just one of four workable pitches, and he commands the ball well.
Canterino's approach certainly worked in his junior year at Rice, which has yielded a 2.81 ERA and nearly 100 more strikeouts (121) than walks (23) in 99.1 innings. He'll move quickly if it works in the pros, too.
6. Logan Davidson, SS, Oakland Athletics
MLB.com Rank: No. 22
Draft Position: No. 29
The big concern with Logan Davidson is whether his hit tool will develop. He's never hit above .300 with an aluminum bat at the collegiate level, and he hasn't had the easiest time with wood in the Cape Cod League.
Even still, the Oakland Athletics landed a potential star with the No. 29 pick.
Hit-tool questions aside, the 21-year-old comes with pretty solid power now. He's hit 30 homers over his last two seasons at Clemson, and he has room for more power as he fills out his 6'3" frame.
Moreover, Davidson is athletic enough—see his 27 stolen bases over the last two seasons—to potentially stick at shortstop even if he does put weight on his frame.
5. Michael Busch, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
MLB.com Rank: No. 26
Draft Position: No. 31
Michael Busch went into the draft listed as an outfielder/first baseman, yet the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him as a second baseman.
If that sounds like a guy who doesn't have a true position, well, that's Busch.
On the plus side, the 21-year-old can definitely hit. He's only batted over .300 once in three seasons at North Carolina, but his last two have featured an on-base percentage well above .400 and a slugging percentage well above .500. Accordingly, his patience and power are legit.
With offensive tools like those, Busch joins the Dodgers with a profile that could put him in the majors in no time.
4. Zack Thompson, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
MLB.com Rank: No. 14
Draft Position: No. 19
At a time when the St. Louis Cardinals' starting rotation features all sorts of questions, along comes a left-hander who could be ready for it in short order.
Zack Thompson's sophomore season at Kentucky was sidetracked a bit by an elbow injury, but he's returned to post a 2.40 ERA with 130 strikeouts and only 34 walks as a junior.
Although the 21-year-old may not have the goods of a future ace, his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup are all average or better—and the same goes for his control.
Health permitting, Thompson should move quickly through the minors to join the Cardinals as a potential mid-rotation starter.
3. Brennan Malone, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
MLB.com Rank: No. 20
Draft Position: No. 33
Brennan Malone has tended to look better than he's performed as a teenager, which could explain how he fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks at No. 33 in the first compensation round.
There is little question, however, that Malone's upside is through the roof.
He's a good athlete with a solid pitcher's build at 6'3", 203 pounds, and he can already sit in the mid-90s with his fastball. He also features a plus slider with a curveball and changeup that have at least average potential.
It'll be a while before the 18-year-old Malone is ready for the majors. But once he is, his appearances could become appointment viewing.
2. Bryson Stott, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
MLB.com Rank: No. 9
Draft Position: No. 14
The Philadelphia Phillies have a pretty good lineup right now, but Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery are the only core hitters locked up beyond 2021.
They'll be glad to be joined by Bryson Stott, whose bat should carve a quick path through the minor leagues. He's an outstanding pure hitter who hit .365 for UNLV as a sophomore, and he's hit .356 with a .486 on-base percentage as a junior. He's also stolen 30 bases over the last two seasons.
There are questions about the 21-year-old's power. For that matter, there isn't a consensus about whether he'll stick at shortstop. But with his bat, he doesn't need to be Ozzie Smith to star at the position.
"We have a polished young player here with outstanding makeup. I was very, very happy to get him at 14," Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz told Kyle Glaser of Baseball America.
1. Gunnar Henderson, SS, Baltimore Orioles
MLB.com Rank: No. 27
Draft Position: No. 42
There's some uncertainty as to whether Gunnar Henderson will stick at shortstop. That may be why he went from being an apparently surefire first-rounder to a second-rounder.
The Baltimore Orioles aren't about to complain, however, as they landed a 17-year-old worth dreaming about all the way down at No. 42.
Henderson is an advanced hitter for his age and, like Davidson, should grow into more power as he adds to his 6'3", 195-pound frame. If he does have to move off shortstop, he should have enough bat even for third base.
Then we have to consider the possibility that Henderson will stick at shortstop, in which case he'll have All-Star upside. If that's what the Orioles are thinking, they only need to offer him enough to turn him away from his commitment to Auburn.
College stats courtesy of D1Baseball.com.