The 2019 MLB Draft is only a few weeks away, as the event will kick off on June 3rd in Secaucus, New Jersey. Here’s a look at our initial full first-round projection as the big day approaches.
1. Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Adley Rutschman is the consensus top player in the draft. A catcher who can hit is a rare commodity and he can rake. A switch-hitting backstop with power and leadership skills, who helped the Beavers win a College World Series as a sophomore and was named College World Series Most Outstanding Player. He’s worthy of the top pick.
The Orioles are in on the top college bats, and could also look at Andrew Vaughn and Hunter Bishop. If someone gives them a discount, maybe they move off Rutschman.
2. Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville HS (TX)
By most accounts, Bobby Witt Jr. is the top player on Kansas City’s board, which fits perfectly here. A potential five-tool shortstop with range, a big arm, power, speed and a really nice hit tool, he’s also a baseball junkie. He was the MVP of the 2018 Under Armour All-America Game, and his dad was a 16-year big leaguer. If you want pedigree, Witt has it.
The only drawback here is Witt’s age. He’ll turn 19 right after the draft, making him old for this prep class. But only a worry if you’re picking nits. He’s worthy of a top pick. Witt is committed to Oklahoma but it’s doubtful he ever ends up a Sooner.
3. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal
The White Sox are looking at bats and Andrew Vaughn is the best available at this point. The reigning Golden Spikes Award winner probably won’t last past this point.
A sweet-swinging righty, Vaughn is a below-average runner and just a decent fielder, but man can he hit. He’s got excellent power and hit .402 with 23 home runs in 2018. He’s continued to mash this year and might be the best all-around hitter in the draft. He’s got power to spare, makes great, consistent contact and has a great approach at the plate. He should should move quickly through whichever organization lands him.
4. Miami Marlins: C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (GA)
Abrams has incredible speed, and is one of the better hitters in this high school crop. He makes good contact from the left side and has some power in his bat as well. His speed is elite and will make every routine grounder into a bang-bang play at first. He may not stick at short long-term though. Abrams has a solid arm but isn’t the most natural fit at the position. He could wind up at second or in center field, and would still have a ton of value at both spots.
Wherever he winds up defensively, Abrams profiles as a leadoff hitter with some pop and game-changing speed.
5. Detroit Tigers: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
Bleday exploded this season to lead Division I with 21 home runs after being Vanderbilt’s best hitter as a sophomore. He will almost certainly be the first college outfielder taken. He has a short lefty stroke, great knowledge of the strike zone and can hit the ball all over the park. He’s got a good arm and profiles as a corner outfielder despite average speed.
The Tigers would take Abrams if he fell here (and he might), but it would be hard to pass up Bleday’s power at this spot. They’ve also been linked to prep outfielder Riley Greene and West Virginia righty Alek Manoah.