The 2019 MLB Draft is only a few days away, as the event will kick off on June 3rd in Secaucus, New Jersey. Here’s a look at our latest 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. This season he’s slashing .419/.580/.765 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI.
The Orioles aren’t locked in on Rutschman and could be waiting for one of the other top prospects to offer to take a below-slot deal. They’re in on all the top college bats and Andrew Vaughn could also wind up being the pick here.
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 Royals are focused on Witt, but if Rutschman drops to this spot they could have some discussions.
3. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal
A sweet-swinging righty, Cal first baseman Andrew 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 consistent contact and has a great approach at the plate. So far this season he’s slashing .387/.549/.728 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI.
This is where the draft could pivot. Vaughn is likely the top player available, but the White Sox like prep shortstop C.J. Abrams as well.
4. Miami Marlins: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
J.J. Bleday exploded this season after being Vanderbilt’s best hitter as a sophomore. So far this year he’s slashing .357/.467/.752 with 26 home runs and 67 RBI. 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 Marlins appear to be leaning towards Bleday after a ton of internal debate. College outfielder Hunter Bishop and prep shortstop C.J. Abrams are also under consideration.
5. Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (FL)
Riley Greene is the consensus best prep hitter and proved that on the showcase circuit over the summer. He’s got a really nice approach at the plate, is patient and can drive the ball all over the park. There’s power in his swing, but he’s more of a line-drive hitter at the moment. He’ll play a corner at the next level and an average arm will likely force him to left field, but he’ll hit — and likely hit a ton — so teams are going to overlook his defensive limitations.
The Tigers are looking to see who falls here. They have been connected to Greene for a while, but there are six top players in this year’s draft and they’ll have to choose from whoever drops. Vaughn, Bleday, and college lefty Nick Lodolo are all possibilities depending on how things play out.