Editor’s Note: Below is a review of every team’s first day in the MLB Draft. This list is ordered by when teams made their final pick of the night (earliest to latest), not by which team fared best or worst, so teams with picks late in the second round are at the end of this list.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox only have one pick because of the signings they made in free agency. Their pick – Arkansas OF Andrew Benintendi – was a slight over-draft for me, but one I have no issue with. He is my fourth-best bat and a top-10 talent. The Red Sox wanted a safe college bat and I get why they made this pick. Benintendi could have above-average hit and power tools along with plus power. He is a solid addition and has All-Star potential in my eyes.
Chicago White Sox
The only other team with one pick today got the player they were targeting: Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer. Fulmer’s negatives are the lack of height along with a lot of effort to his delivery which some think will cause him to move to the bullpen. The concerns of a high effort delivery reminds me a lot of what was said about Chris Sale and that worked out. There are few teams better at pitcher development than the White Sox. If they trust their ability to develop Fulmer, who am I to say they can’t?
They went with a super safe approach with their top two picks. Number one pick Dansby Swanson was number two on my board and I have no issue with them taking him. He is going to be a guy who hits at the top of the lineup, gets on-base and provides some pop. I think he is a sure bet to stay at short and even has above-average speed. He is a future All-Star to me.
TCU pitcher Alex Young, Arizona’s second pick, is a safe, quick-moving lefty with four pitches. He should move very quickly. He is your typical well-rounded college lefty. After all the prep rumors the Diamondbacks went very safe, although they should have saved a lot of cash to spend on later picks.
I am not even sure what to say about the Rockies. They had four high picks this year and took nothing but prep players.
Their first pick, Brendan Rodgers, is a rare shortstop that projects to have plus right-handed power, which we have not seen since Troy Tulowitzki came up. Their second pick, Mike Nikorak, was a guy they considered at pick three early in the process. He is a big, right-handed pitcher with velocity. The Rockies’ third pick, Tyler Nevin, has big right-handed power but I think he ends up at first base. Nevin is the only Rockies pick that I thought was a bit of an overdraft. Their last pick, RHP Peter Lambert, was the safest pick they made. He has nice secondary stuff combined with good command.
It is a bit surprising to see a team draft two right-handers early and no college players at all. I still like the Rockies’ draft overall, as it has four players who made my top 75.
This was a very Texas draft. They had two early picks and went with big upside with both. First pick RHP Dillon Tate is the headliner who is a plus athlete with plus velocity. The big question is his command and that could end up causing him to be a reliever long term. He could also be a frontline starter. Tate was the fifth guy on my board, so it was a solid pick but I would have preferred Illinois lefty Tyler Jay. Tate is more of a Rangers pick, however.
Second pick Eric Jenkins was tied to the Blue Jays during the whole process. The Rangers had been tied to Chad Smith at this pick, but went with Jenkins instead. Jenkins is a very good quick-twitch athlete. He projects to be a lead-off guy who plays centerfield.
Neither of the Rangers picks are the guys I would taken at those spots and Jenkins didn’t make my top 75, but I understand why they made these picks and they fit in line with what the Rangers do and do well.
Few teams made more of a splash on draft night than the Astros. Second overall pick Alex Bregman was third on my board and was the SEC shortstop of the year over Dansby Swanson who went number one. Bregman should be a future two or three hitter. Houston’s second pick, Kyle Tucker, was a top-five talent in this draft to many with one of the prettiest swings and potential plus power. A lot of teams wanted him to fall to them on draft day. Third pick Daz Cameron has huge salary demands and the Astros got a player they considered at five at pick 37.
Those three picks alone might eat $14 million of the $17 million of pool money the Astros have. They won’t have much to spend later on, so we will see how that impacts their overall draft class.
With their last pick of the day, the Astros came back and grabbed a personal favorite in Thomas Eshelman, a guy with one of the best tools in this draft. His command is a true 70-grade tool to me.
I really loved the Cubs draft. They got a pair of players I really liked, two of my top 40 talents. First pick Ian Happ was seventh on my board and a player who I am extremely high on. I think the bat can play anywhere. OF Donnie Dewees, the Cubs’ second pick, is a small school guy but the hit tool is legit and he excelled on the Cape against top-level competition.
The Cubs added two more really good bats to add to that system. The arms weren’t there so they didn’t force the board and instead added the top talent.
The Phillies’ top pick, Cornelius Randolph, is a guy who doesn’t possess a future plus tool to me. I think he will be a good player but the 10th pick felt a little rich for me. His bat will work best at third base but some fear he might have to move to the outfield.
Second pick Scott Kingery, on the other hand, was one of the best picks of the night. He has two potential plus tools with his hit tool and speed. He is a guy I fully expect to stay at second base and should be a top of the order bat. He is a hard man to strikeout which is often a good sign statistically, as well.
It would be silly to give draft grades, but if I did, the Marlins would not grade well. I heard theif first pick, Josh Naylor, was rising but I really didn’t expect him to go that high. He is an all-offense guy whose best position is DH. He could turn into something special with his power potential but this was the first head scratcher of the night.
Second pick Brent Lilek was a guy I wanted to like as a polished left-hander but he always struck me as more a back-end lefty who might end up in the bullpen. He didn’t make my top-75 and I was a bit surprised to see him go this early. His walks were very high (44 in 78 innings) with only 66 strikeouts.
Like I stated just a head scratching draft for me, as both players were reaches with some serious flaws.
San Diego Padres
The Padres only had one pick late and RHP Austin Smith is a pick that makes a lot of sense for the Padres. San Diego GM A.J. Preller comes from Texas, and the Rangers are a team that likes to go prep and upside early. They look for easy high velocity. Those things all apply here with Smith. He is a big kid with big velocity. His command and secondary stuff need a lot of work, but the upside is why he went here.
I had him going in the first round, so a solid value here for the Padres in the second. He will be one of their top prospects until he is traded.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays were a team that surprised me. They had been very clear that they wanted to add a shortstop and then they passed on all of the shortstops in this very deep shortstop class. Their top pick, Garrett Whitley, could be a five-tool guy, but despite the constant lazy comps, he is not Mike Trout. His hit tool is more than likely going to be average at best but the athleticism and power could still make him a special player in center.
Second pick Chris Betts was an excellent pick in the second round. He had some arm trouble and was not able to show he could play catcher, which hurt him. Yet he had been considered a top-30 talent by most. I think he ends up at first base myself. The bat is plenty good to play there.
This was an upside draft for the Rays who played it safe a year ago. I think they did very well.
New York Mets
This was a draft that surprised me, as the Mets had been pretty conservative in the past. They spent their first pick on a very raw talent. Desmond Lindsay is another great prep player from the state of Florida. He was a surprising pick here but I do know some teams were fans of the raw potential plus power he has.
I have to wonder if this is a pick were he might sign underslot. It seems like a reach pick, but if they save some money here to use later, it makes it a lot better.
I was not a fan at all of their draft a year ago. They have a new guy running the draft and boy what difference a year makes. I would give them some of the best marks of any team on the first day of the draft.
With their top pick, the Brewers took a sliding Trenton Clark who earlier in the day was rumored to be in play as high as fourth to the Rangers. His hit tool is what excites most teams and some claimed could be the best of any prep player. The Brewers took the top player on most boards at 15.
In the compensation round they grabbed Virginia lefty Nathan Kirby, who was once viewed as a potential top-five pick. He has some flaws and he is hurt but getting a potential top-five talent at 40 is a coup. Then in the second round they added Cody Ponce, who I had projected to go in the top-20 and was in my top-40 players. He is a D2 player and that might have hurt him. There is also a chance he might end up in the bullpen as his third pitch needs work.
It was a really good job by the front office in Milwaukee who had to be surprised by the talent still on the board.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays had one of my favorite picks in the first round taking Jon Harris at 29. He was 13th on my board and a guy I would not have been shocked to see go in the top-10 picks. He is a four-pitch guy whose best pitch is his sinking fastball. He pitched very well all year for Missouri State. I see a guy who safely projects as a mid- to back-end starter.
Brady Singer is a talented right-handed prep pitcher who slid a bit because of the depth of the right-handed prep class. He is a big kid at 6’5” whose delivery has caused some debate. Yet his stuff has improved and he is hitting 96 MPH, which makes him an intriguing guy. The only question is will the Blue Jays try to change his delivery.
The Harris pick was one of the best in the first day, as the Jays got one of the top players in the sandwich round. The Singer pick is an intriguing upside pick for a team that has done an excellent job developing prep arms.
New York Yankees
All of the rumors leading up to the draft were that the Yankees were all-in on prep guys this year. I noted last year they drafted one prep guy in the top-10 rounds. This year they started out with three straight college players.
Top pick James Kaprielian is a guy whose name I have to consistently look up more than anyone else in this draft. Part of the reason is I am a horrible speller; the other reason is I have had to talk about him so much. He is a rising college arm with one of the best changeups in the draft. Kaprielian is a polished player who should move quickly.
Kyle Holder is a big-time athlete who was also the best defensive shortstop in this draft. The bat has a lot of question marks but I would be shocked if he didn’t make the majors thanks to his speed and defensive skills. If he can develop even a slightly below average bat, the defense will make him regular starter.
Third pick Jeff Degano was a favorite sleeper of mine in the draft. I even wrote an entire capsule on him. He is an older Canadian kid whose stuff really flashed this year. It is not often you can find a 6’4” lefty who hits 95. He is rawer than your typical college arm after losing two years to Tommy John surgery.
I love the Kaprielian pick but the other two felt like slight reaches to me. They weren’t bad picks at all. The Yankees went for college players but ones with more upside than typical who might take a little longer to develop.
It was a bit of a Twitter lovefest for the Indians draft on Day 1.
Cleveland’s top pick, Brady Aiken, is a risky pick but since no one has seen his medicals among us we don’t know how big a risk. The Indians have had success in recent years with Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar coming back from surgery and turning into frontline starters. The track record for them is quite good to roll the dice on the top talent in the draft.
Second pick Triston McKenzie didn’t make my top 75 but that is because he is all projection right now. His velocity isn’t great and he looks like a skeleton but as he fills out there is a chance he could end up with frontline ability. He is 6’5” and 160 with a clean delivery. The sky is the limit for him. I would recommend he starts eating like seven Big Macs a day to try and add a little weight though.
Third pick Juan Hillman is a favorite of mine. He is a skinny lefty who hit 95 MPH this year. His guardian is former big leaguer Tom Gordon and Hillman has had the chance to pick his brain for the past few years. I thought Hillman was a lock to go in round one. Big lefties who have a chance at mid-90’s velocity and are very good athletes with good feel for pitching typically aren’t there this late.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants took the college route for all of their Day One picks.
I jokingly had Phil Bickford to the Giants in my first two mocks using the logic last year they drafted a former Blue Jays first rounder who refused to sign. It turns out I should have stuck to my guns. There is some upside but I think Bickford could end up in the bullpen long-term. It should be noted I wasn’t the biggest Tyler Beede guy either last year. Bickford could actually help the Giants late in the season as a bullpen arm.
Second pick Chris Shaw, a first baseman/outfielder, looked like a top-30 player before he broke the hamate bone in his hand. He tried to play right field this year and it didn’t go well. The Giants did employ Michael Morse in the outfield last year, so maybe they will let Shaw play some there. Shaw did very well on the Cape a year ago and had some of the best power potential of any college bat.
LHP Andrew Suarez was a second rounder a year ago who would not sign with the Nationals because he wanted full slot. I assume a deal is in place with the Giants this year and he will sign. He has good potential as a lefty back-end starter. Suarez has struggled with inconsistency this year but this is a guy who is well known who has been drafted for the third time.
This was not the typical Giants draft. It was the first time I have gotten through the top two rounds and knew all of their picks well. They went with players who should be quick to help them.
Newman is a sure shortstop who doesn’t strikeout, has good speed and just hits. He is the only two-time winner of the batting title on the Cape. He lacks power but that is not a necessity out of a shortstop and Newman strikes me as an ideal two-hitter.
Hayes had some top-10 talk early in the day. He is an excellent defender at third and he reminds me a lot of his father, Charlie. He can hit. I’m not sure if he will have a ton of power but the bat projects out as above-average to me.
Kramer is a personal favorite of mine who I ranked in my top-75. He just hits. I thought his best position was second base, and since it appears that he and Newman will be teamed together, I assume so do the Pirates. In many respects, he was the poor man’s version of Newman in the Pac-12.
It seemed the Pirates rule of the day was only to draft guys whose names start Ke. All three of the picks were on my top-75. The Pirates targeted guys with hit tools and really eschewed power in every way shape or form.
This was another interesting draft that reminded me a bit of the Pirates draft, as well.
The first pick was Florida SS Richie Martin, a player who is 20 years old and won’t be 21 until December. For almost half of the year, he will be just a year older than Brendan Rodgers even though he is a college junior at one of the top programs in the country and Rodgers is coming out of high school. Martin should be a plus defender with plus speed. The bat will need some work. He was surging as the draft approached.
Second pick Mikey White, a shortstop from Alabama, was projected by most to move to second and it seems natural he will move there to pair with Martin as they move through the A’s system. White is the king of grit in this year’s class but it is his 55-grade potential hit tool that got him drafted. A hard worker, he reminds me a little bit of current A’s prospect Joey Wendle.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals were apparently very heavy on the state of Indiana this year. The state has really improved in terms of the draft talent and that has been helped by the emerging college programs in the state.
Royals’ top pick Ashe Russell was a player who at points was considered a top-10 talent in this draft. He projects to have potentially two future plus pitches. His command needs some work but the upside that of a frontline starter.
Second pick Nolan Watson was an arm that got a lot of late heat in the state of Indiana. I know more than a few places that listed him, and not Russell, as the top arm in the state.
Third selection Josh Staumont is a very intriguing arm. He has big natural velocity hitting 101 MPH but I would put a 30-grade on his command. I am not sure if he really has a chance, as the command is such a mess, but if you can get it right he could be an elite back-end guy.
The Royals went with arms and that is not a surprise for a system that needed pitching depth and has had to rely on free agency to help their major league rotation.
This was another draft that I found surprising; not bad, but surprising.
I did not expect that Detroit’s first pick, RHP Beau Burrows, would be the second prep right hander off the board. He is maxed out physically but the stuff is solid. He has hit 96 and the secondary stuff is good. He is undersized which is why I was surprised to see him go this high.
The Tigers then took Tennessee LF Christin Stewart, another undersized player. This is an intriguing development because both the Indians and the Royals had targeted undersized talent the past few years and Detroit is now doing this as well it seems. I like Stewart, who showed good power with a lower strikeout rate than you would expect in a power hitter. He didn’t have much around him in the Vols line-up, but he put up big numbers in the top conference in college baseball. His defense is an issue but his bat will play.
The Tyler Alexander pick was one of the most surprising to me. I had heard literally nothing on him. I didn’t even know he was draft-eligible. Mitchell Tarver was the draft-eligible sophomore for TCU. Alexander is a big lefty with excellent command. He walked only eight guys this year, which is almost Thomas Eshelman-level. I am intrigued to see what he can do, as the command appears to be a plus trait but I really can’t tell you anything more about him.
I like this draft. The Tigers went for talented players and Alexander is a pitcher with some interesting numbers at TCU.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have traditionally been one of the most conservative teams when it comes to the draft, so this year’s draft shocked me.
The Cardinals had not taken a high school bat in the first round since Pete Kozma in 2007. Now the interesting thing with top pick Nick Plummer is this marks the third time the Cardinals have grabbed one of the players I am significantly higher on than the rest of the draft analysis community. The other two times it happened were when the Cardinals picked Stephen Piscotty and Rob Kaminsky. Now this makes me feel good as a talent evaluator because again few do it better than the Cardinals and yet again we agree on talent. Plummer was a top-15 talent to me with the ability for plus power and hit tool.
Second pick Jacob Woodford was a name with a lot of late helium who was at one point most well known for being Kyle Tucker’s teammate. He is a big kid who saw his velocity getting up to the mid 90’s. The talk was a lot of teams were on him early in round two but the Cardinals pulled the trigger first.
Third pick Bryce Denton is a guy who might have the best bat speed in this class. The profile presents pulls right-handed power for a corner outfield position. He is undersized like Plummer but Vandy’s loss is the Cardinals gain as a system that was weak on impact bats added two potential ones early in the draft.
I like what the Cardinals did on Day One. They went for upside which is rare for them but they got two of my favorite players.
The Orioles gave me some issues as they took guys I had not been expecting to go as early as they did.
Top pick D.J. Stewart had been rumored for a week to go to the Yankees at 30. We all knew the Orioles were looking at college bats early but I did not expect Stewart to go to Baltimore. He was my highest-rated college bat, though. He is built like Carlos Santana and brings some similar skills. He knows the strike zone and is a walk machine. Stewart has some surprising power in his smaller frame. Defense is an issue but he seems like a safe bet as a future left fielder.
Ryan Mountcastle is a big kid who will move off shortstop. His bat speed, size, and strength project for a chance for above-average to plus right-handed power. He was already playing third at points this year. Mountcastle was not a guy in my mock but his right-handed power potential is what got him drafted.
Third selection Jonathon Hughes was a guy with more heat before the season began. His velocity has stayed the same during the year and that has hurt him. It is better to start pitching 96 as a senior than to do it as a junior and not improve. He is your typical high school right-hander with nice velocity and everything else needs work.
The Orioles draft is one I have a tough time judging. I don’t know the guys they drafted super well but it is a knock for me when you spend two picks on guys well outside of most people’s top 100.
It doesn’t help my correct count total for my mock draft, but I actually had Andrew Stevenson to the Nationals as the second of their two second-round picks. Instead, they took him with their first pick. He is the best defensive centerfielder in this class and can fly. He has been highly productive at LSU and it would shock me if he does not make it to the majors based on speed and defense alone.
Second pick Blake Perkins is a very toolsy high school kid whose best tool is his speed but some have thought he could project out as a possible five-tool guy. He is a bit undersized but his bat speed should allow for average power out of his smaller frame.
The Nationals were looking for athletes and they certainly found some. Stevenson is a guy I thought might end up with them and Perkins is a guy who has enticing potential.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels had an interesting night.
First pick Taylor Ward was the top college catcher in this year’s class. I had him late in the second round so I found it surprising when he went in the top-30 picks (pick 26). Catchers, like shortstops, rise on draft day. Ward is a safe, solid defender and I would be surprised if he, at least the very least, was not a solid backup in the majors. He has hit well at Fresno State and should a little pop but the best tools are behind the plate.
The Angels’ next pick was from the prep ranks and they took Jahmai Jones, an athletic prep second baseman from Georgia. I had Jones in my top-20 back on my first board in October. He is from a family of footballers and was a very good one himself before he switched over to baseball full-time. I think he could surprise people; he is a natural athlete and plays the game so smoothly it seems easy.
I like Ward but the pick was a slight reach to me. Jones is another player I was very high on so that balances things out a bit to me.
The Reds swung for the fences with every single pick they made on the first day.
There is no riskier position in the draft than a prep catcher. As a matter of fact, few of them work out. Last year 23 catchers in baseball had 400 at-bats or more and only six were from the high school rank. One of those six was Devin Mesoraco of the Reds, however. Cincinnati top pick Tyler Stephenson popped up late in the draft process but the right-handed power potential in the big catcher’s frame is worth the risk in this case.
Second pick RHP Antonio Santillian has big velocity in his 6’3”, 240-pound frame. His mechanics are a mess and his command has issues at points. He might end up a closer but the Reds will try their best to make him a starter.
It would not be a Reds draft if they did not add a closer who they will try to make a starter. This year it appears to be Tanner Rainey, one of the older draft prospects in this class. He had a lot of helium when he started hitting 98 MPH and really only has a slider as a secondary pitch. He could be a good reliever but I would bet on him being tried as a starter first.
The Reds’ draft is maybe the riskiest on paper. They took a lot of guys with issues who also have high upside. In a few years, they will look like geniuses or something not so nice.
Since 1998 the Mariners had taken exactly one pitcher in the second round, so, of course, this year they took two pitchers in that round.
First pick Nick Neidert is an undersized right-hander from the Georgia prep ranks. He was in the cluster of second-to-third round righties who, frankly, were all eye of the beholder types. I could have easily extended my top-75 to 100 just by including a few bats and the rest being right-handed prep arms. Niedert is a good athlete with advanced secondary stuff, and he is a safer prep arm than most.
Second pick Andrew Moore was a surprise for me. They took the regional kid who is yet another undersized right-hander. He showed excellent command this year but the stuff is average at best and he projects out as a back-end starter best case to me. This pick sure seems like an underslot way to save some money.
The Mariners are yet another team that went after undersized talent. Neidert was a solid pick and Moore, well, I can’t judge until I see what he signs for.
The Twins rather infamously last year spent picks in rounds 2-5 on relief arms. This year they drafted a pair of starters who could conceivably help their squad in a relief role towards the end of the year.
If you followed my coverage you know I am high on the Twins’ first pick, LHP Tyler Jay. He was number four on my board and he has a chance for three plus pitches. That, coupled with his command, could make him a frontline starter. He worked out of the bullpen this year at Illinois. If he had been a starter, I think he would have been the top pick.
Kentucky RHP Kyle Cody pitched well in the Cape last summer and started out the year strong then had some struggles and end up in the bullpen before returning to the starting role. The big right-hander is a two-pitch guy who I think will end up in the bullpen long-term and I think that he will find success there.
After drafting four relief arms last year, the Twins drafted two to the start this year. These two have a chance to start but if needed they might be able to help the surprising Twins this year if they can continue to win.
Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s basically not fair. The Dodgers have more money than anyone. They sign top players from international leagues and then get top talent to fall to them on draft day.
First pick Walker Buehler is a slight right-hander who opened the year on the top-five of my draft boards. He has a mid-90’s fastball and okay secondary offerings. He was the MVP of the Cape last year. I thought he was a top-10 talent who slid and the Dodgers snapped him up.
Second pick Kyle Funkhouser was another player who was once ranked a top-10 prospect; some thought he might even go number one. He struggled during the month of May and his velocity dropped. This led teams to ask for his medicals, which his advisor Scott Boras refused to do. Funkhouser pitched great in the Super Regional on Friday but it was not enough to save his draft stock and he slid down to the sandwich round.
Third pick Mitchell Hansen was not in my mock draft because he had a hard commitment to Stanford. I was unsure what his cost would be or if he was signable. No worries Dodgers fans, he is a high pick and he will sign. Hansen was second to Garrett Whitley when it comes to athletic kids with five-tool packages. He is another great value for the Dodgers to grab here.
Fourth pick Josh Sborz was a starter for Virginia a year ago but really excelled when moved to the bullpen this year. He is a guy who should move quickly and has hit 98 MPH this year. I bet he signs underslot and gives them extra money to help get the three players above him signed.
The Dodgers win again, no way around it. It is going to be hard to compete if they not only have more money but spent it extremely well.
No one had more picks on day one than the Braves. They went for arms and that should not be a surprise with GM John Hart at the helm.
Top pick Kolby Allard was a player, if healthy, would have never made it to pick 14. There are some concerns about his health because he was expected to come back after a back injury earlier this year and pitch, but was unable. The left-hander showed an advanced approach and was hitting 98 before the injury. He was the top prep pitcher in this class and ended up being the first one drafted.
Second pick Mike Soroka was one of the three Canadians to be drafted on Day One. He is yet another of the grouping of right-handers where it was all eye of the beholder. He is a big kid who was hitting 94 this year. He is the first Canadian prep pitcher to go in the top rounds since 2009.
Third selection Austin Riley was a surprising pick. He was the first two-way high school player of note this year. He was drafted as a bat where his large frame and bat speed should project for above-average right-handed power.
Fourth selection Lucas Herbert was the premier defensive catcher in this year’s draft. He gets to continue to be Kolby Allard’s teammate after catching him throughout high school. Herbert has some pop in his bat but what got him drafted earlier was his defensive potential. I am sure his history with Allard didn’t hurt either.
Fifth pick A.J. Minter worked mostly out of the bullpen at Texas A&M. This year he appeared in only four games pitching a total 21 innings because he needed Tommy John surgery. He pitched out of the bullpen the first two years because of issues with Thoracic outlet syndrome. He has had a lot of injury issues and has pitched only 58 innings total during his college career. He has hit 97 but this pick is a big leap of faith.
After all of the talk connecting the Braves to every player in the state of Georgia, they didn’t end up drafting a single one. The Minter pick, in particular, I find puzzling. Allard and Herbert are the picks I liked the best here and the rest are at least interesting talents.