MLB Mock Draft 2019: Adley Rutschman remains favorite to go No. 1 to Orioles; Bobby Witt Jr. goes to Royals at No. 2
Switch-hitting backstop Adley Rutschman is the top prospect in the 2019 draft class
Two weeks from Monday, Major League Baseball will hold its annual three-day amateur draft. The draft covers 40 full rounds plus five shorter rounds for compensation picks and competitive balance lottery picks. All told, there will be 1,217 selections made in the 2019 draft.
Here are the broadcast details for Day 1 of the 2019 MLB draft:
- Date: Monday, June 3
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: MLB Network
- Streaming: MLB.com
- Picks: 1-78 (Rounds: 1st, Supplemental 1st, Competitive Balance A, 2nd, Competitive Balance B, Supplemental 2nd)
The draft continues with Rounds 3-10 on Tuesday, June 4, and concludes with Rounds 11-40 on Wednesday, June 5. Days 2 and 3 will be streamed live on MLB.com. There will be four minutes between picks in Round 1, and one minute between picks from the supplemental first round through the 10th round. Day 3 is a rapid fire conference call with one pick after another.
Unlike the NBA and NHL amateur drafts, there is no lottery in the MLB draft. The draft order is set at the reverse order of the previous year's standings, so the Orioles hold the No. 1 pick in 2019 after losing 115 games in 2018. This is the second time the O's have held the top overall pick. They selected LSU righty Ben McDonald with the No. 1 pick in 1989. The Diamondbacks lead the way with seven selections on Day 1. They have five extra picks this year:
- 26th overall: Compensation for failing to sign 2018 first rounder Matt McLain.
- 33rd overall: Compensation for losing Patrick Corbin to free agency.
- 34th overall: Compensation for losing A.J. Pollock to free agency.
- 74th overall: Their own Competitive Balance Round B pick.
- 75th overall: The Cardinals' Competitive Balance Round B Pick (acquired in Paul Goldschmidt trade).
The current collective bargaining agreement changed free-agent compensation rules, and now all first-round picks are protected. Teams give up later draft picks (and international bonus money) to sign qualified free agents instead. Despite that, the Red Sox do not have a first-round pick this year. Their top selection was pushed back 10 spots (33rd overall to 43rd overall) as part of the penalties for excessive luxury tax spending last year.
As a reminder, each team is given a set bonus pool for the draft each summer. The penalties for excessive spending are harsh enough (forfeiting a future first rounder, etc.) that the bonus pool effectively acts as a hard cap. The D-Backs, thanks to all those extra picks, have the largest bonus pool at $16,093,700. The bonus pools cover the top 10 rounds (there is a $125,000 slot value for all picks thereafter) and if you fail to sign a player, you lose the pool money associated with that pick.
. That was two weeks ago. Plenty has changed since then, though, thankfully, there have been no major injuries. Usually a high-profile pitcher or two goes down with Tommy John surgery in the weeks leading up to the draft. It stinks, but it's part of baseball. Here is our latest 2019 mock draft. Our final mock draft will be released on Monday, June 3.
Pick: C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
Rutschman, a switch-hitting catcher with power and strong defensive chops,Previous pick: Rutschman . The best prospect doesn't always go first overall though, and the Orioles have not yet given any indications they are set on selecting Rutschman, but he is the odds-on favorite to go first overall. The alternative would be cutting an underslot deal with another prospect (Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn is a possibility) and using the bonus pool savings on other players later. I'm sticking with Rutschman.
Pick: SS Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)
Bobby Sr. spent 16 years in the big leagues as an inning-eating starter. Bobby Jr. is a power-hitting shortstop with legitimate star potential. With the caveat things can change over the next two weeks, Witt to the Royals is the biggest lock in the 2019 draft at the moment. They'd have to think long and hard about Rutschman should Baltimore pass. My hunch is Kansas City would take Witt anyway. They love him.Previous pick: Witt
Pick: 1B Andrew Vaughn, California
The White Sox love their college performers and there's no way Rutschman gets beyond this pick (barring a late injury). Vaughn is the next best college prospect in the draft class -- the righty hitting/righty throwing first base profile is historically awful, but Vaughn has enough bat to make it work -- and he falls into Chicago's laps in our mock draft. Strange things can happen (and often do happen) on draft day. Right now Rutschman, Witt, and Vaughn going into the top three picks is very likely.Previous pick: Vaughn
Pick: OF J.J. Bleday, Vanderbilt
The latest scuttlebutt says there is a divide among the Marlins brass. Some want Bleday, a potential four-tool outfielder who is only missing the speed component. Others are said to want Georgia high school shortstop C.J. Abrams, a toolsy speed guy who projects to be an impact leadoff hitter. When in doubt, bet on the college bat. They are, historically, the most reliable and easiest to project demographic. (That doesn't mean they're all guaranteed to work out, of course.)Previous pick: Bleday
Pick: OF Riley Greene, Hagerty HS (Florida)
It is an open secret the Tigers love Greene -- they've had their head honchos in to see him several times this spring -- though Rutschman or Vaughn slipping here would force a change of plans. Since those two are off the board in this mock draft, Greene it is. The lefty swinger might be the best pure high school hitter in the draft class. His long-term position is a little more uncertain.Previous pick: Greene
Pick: SS C.J. Abrams, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Georgia)
The Padres do not mess around on draft day. Under GM A.J. Preller they've take the player with the biggest upside still on the board. In this mock draft, that's Abrams, one of the best athletes and most exciting players in the draft class. Rutschman, Witt, and Vaughn are the top three prospects in this draft class with Bleday, Greene, and Abrams representing the next tier. I don't know how San Diego has those six players ordered on their board, but they're likely to take whoever's left over with this pick.Previous pick: Abrams
Pick: LHP Nick Lodolo, TCU
In theory, the Reds have one of the easiest decisions in this year's draft. If one of the top six guys is still on the board here, Cincinnati will pounce. If not, they'll take Lodolo, the best pitcher in a draft unusually short on high-end college arms. Lodolo has the size, the stuff, and the control to remain a starter long-term and move through the system quickly.
As Baseball America's Matt Eddy notes, never before in draft history have six position players been taken with the first six picks. There's a very real chance the first pitcher won't come off the board until the seventh pick (or even later) this year.Previous pick: Lodolo
Pick: 3B Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
Over the past few weeks rumors have swirled that the Rangers are looking to cut an underslot deal here, and then use the savings on high upside players with the No. 41 pick (acquired from the Brewers in the Alex Claudio trade) and/or the No. 50 pick (Texas' second rounder). Baty has a wonderful baseball name and also some of the biggest power in the draft class. The downside is he will turn 20 in November and overage high schoolers have a poor track record in pro ball. Still, Baty is a candidate for an underslot deal, so we have him going to the Rangers.Previous pick: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
Pick: OF Hunter Bishop, Arizona State
Bishop, a power-hitting outfielder who went from 10 homers in 100 games as a freshman and sophomore to 22 homers through 49 games as a junior, has shot up draft boards this spring. The Braves have been extremely pitcher heavy in the first round in recent years, though there's enough smoke here than I'm comfortable giving them Bishop in the mock draft. Bishop is the younger brother of Mariners outfielder Braden Bishop. Atlanta received this pick as compensation for failing to sign 2018 first rounder Carter Stewart.Previous pick: C Shea Langeliers, Baylor
Pick: SS Bryson Stott, UNLV
As if often the case with a new front office, the Giants have been difficult to pin down this spring. They've been connected to, well, everything. College players, high upside high schoolers, you name it. Stott is the best college infielder in the draft class and he projects to be an impact hitter with enough defense to stick at short. Mock drafting is never easy after the first few selections. I am even less certain about this pick than I normally would be. The Giants are keeping things that close to the vest.Previous pick: RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
Pick: RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
The Blue Jays would take Stott here should he still be on the board. Since he's not in this mock draft, Manoah is the pick. He's the best righty in a draft class short on high-end college arms and he seems to be connected to every team from pick 7-18, or thereabouts. Physically huge (6-foot-6 and 260 lbs.) college pitchers with mid-90s gas and a promising slider usually don't last long on draft day.Previous pick: SS Bryson Stott, UNLV
Pick: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
Word on the street is the Mets, under agent-turned-GM Brodie Van Wagenen, are looking college more than high school. Manoah or Stott would be the ideal get here. The best four-year college player still on the board at this point is Thompson, a four-pitch southpaw who looks like a good bet to carve out a big league career as at least a back-end starter, which the pitch mix and aptitude to become much more.Previous pick: OF Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS (Washington)
Pick: RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
Chances are the Twins will pick from whichever one of the top college pitchers is still on the board here, and that's Rutledge in our mock draft. He's enormous (6-foot-8 and 240 lbs.) and has flirted with triple digits this spring. Rutledge stands a good chance of being the highest draft junior college pitcher since the Marlins took Aaron Akin with the 12th overall pick in 1997.Previous pick: LHP Zack Thompson, Kentucky
Pick: Gunnar Henderson, Morgan Academy (Alabama)
Henderson is the first player who did not appear in Phillies would likely jump on Manoah or Thompson here though.Previous pick: RHP Matthew Allan, Seminole HS (Florida) to climb into this update. He is shooting up draft boards this spring thanks to his smooth lefty swing and power potential, and defensive chops that at least give him a shot to remain at short long-term. The
Pick: RHP Matthew Allan, Seminole HS (Florida)
The Angels have emphasized upside in recent years and few 2019 draft prospects offer as much of it as Allan. The size (6-foot-3 and 210 lbs.) and stuff (mid-90s fastball, curveball, changeup) point to top of the rotation ability. Allan is said to want a significant bonus to pass on his commitment to Florida (reportedly $4 million) and slot money for the No. 15 pick is $3,885,800. The Halos can skimp in the later rounds to make the money work.Previous pick: RHP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
Pick: RHP Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove HS (Illinois)
Thanks to their extra picks and large bonus pool, the D-Backs are in position to do big things on draft day. Going underslot here and spending big on players other teams can't afford with picks 26, 33, and 34 is a distinct possibility. As such, I'm giving them Priester, a legitimate middle of the first round talent who might be more willing to sign below slot than other players still on the board. This is the first pick in what will be a very busy draft day for Arizona.Previous pick: Priester
Pick: C Shea Langeliers, Baylor
A match made in mock draft heaven. The Nationals rarely pick near the top of the draft, so they've been willing to take risks with injured players (Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde, etc.) to maximize upside. Langeliers would be the No. 1 catcher in a draft class in most non-Rutschman years and he came into the spring as a potential top 10 pick. Then he broke the hamate bone in his left hand and missed a chunk of time. Washington and a top prospect whose stocked has slipped due to injury is a natural fit.Previous pick: OF Kameron Misner, Missouri
Pick: SS Logan Davidson, Clemson
A high schooler like Priester or Henderson is probably Plan A here, but both are already off the board in this mock draft. Davidson is arguably the best second tier college middle infielder behind Stott, and I could see him going before NC State's Will Wilson because he switch-hits and does things a bit more easily at short.Previous pick: Davidson
Pick: RHP George Kirby, Elon
I feel like I have Kirby going too late in this mock draft, though I don't see an obvious spot for him prior to this pick. He is an extreme strike-thrower -- Kirby went into the weekend with 105 strikeouts and only six walks in 82 2/3 innings this spring -- with the makings of a quality four-pitch mix. Kirby looks like the perfect candidate for the Cardinals' pitcher development lab.Previous pick: Kirby
Pick: 3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
Jung is the best college bat still on the board at this point and, after coming into the spring as a possible top 10 pick, he has a chance to go much higher than this. He's a candidate for a underslot deal earlier in the first round. Moving from third base to shortstop a few weeks ago likely helped his cause -- teams now know it's at least possible Jung can play short, whereas before they were in the dark -- and I can't see the rebuilding Mariners passing on a player who started the spring this highly regarded this late in the first round.Previous pick: Jung
Pick: RHP Brennan Malone, IMG Academy (Florida)
Grabbing a (possible) underslot college bat in Bishop with their extra pick at No. 9 gives the Braves the ability to spend big at No. 21. Malone has good velocity and four distinct pitches, and he's made strides transitioning away from "throwing" to "pitching" this spring, to use an old cliche. The extra pick allows Atlanta to get creative and flex their bonus pool muscles a bit. Bishop and Malone would be a good way to do it.Previous pick: Malone
Pick: 3B Keoni Cavaco, Eastlake HS (California)
Cavaco is a late riser who is climbing draft boards this spring after not being invited to showcase events in previous years. The track record is short but the tools are loud. Cavaco has huge raw power and speed, plus the tools to be a well-above-average defender at third base. The Rays are not afraid of drafting projects and whichever team selects Cavaco will be betting on their ability to increase his contact rate. I should note Tampa also holds the No. 36 pick (their own competitive balance pick) and the No. 40 pick (acquired from the A's in the Jurickson Profar three-team trade), so they could do something creative with their bonus pool. They might go for an underslot college bat here instead.Previous pick: 3B Brett Baty, Lake Travis HS (Texas)
Pick: OF Kameron Misner, Missouri
The Rockies have been all over the place with their recent first-round picks -- to be clear, that's not a bad thing, it just makes it difficult to figure out which way they might be leaning -- and Misner would be the first college position player they've selected with their top pick since former Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker in 2010. Misner has outstanding tools and athletic ability, but his performance track record (.226/.349/.321 during SEC play) and swing-and-miss issues (22.0 percent strikeout rate) create questions about how he'll handle upper level pitching.Previous pick: 1B/OF Michael Busch, UNC
Pick: SS Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M
Depending what the Braves and Rays do with their extra picks, there could be a run on college position players at this point of the draft. Shewmake is easy to love because he does a little of everything and plays very hard. He is gritty and I mean that in a non-sarcastic way. Even if Shewmake has to move to second base long-term, getting a well-rounded infielder with a history of performance is a nice get near the back of the first round.Previous pick: Shewmake
Pick: RHP Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy
The Dodgers have an extra pick (No. 31 for failing to sign last year's first rounder J.T. Ginn) which gives them a chance to manipulate their bonus pool. The guess here is they will play it straight late in the first round. Espino has gotten better and better in recent years, going from the mid-80s when he first arrived in the United States from Panama three years ago to flirting with 100 mph this spring. Add in two promising high-spin breaking balls and you have the makings of a very good modern pitching prospect. Right up the Dodgers' alley.Previous pick: Espino
Pick: OF Corbin Carroll, Lakeside HS (Washington)
We've reached the "go bonkers" portion of the draft for the D-Backs. They have all those extra picks and all that bonus pool money to spend. Amateur scouting director Deric Ladnier must be champing at the bit for draft day. On talent, Carroll could go into the top 10-15 picks somewhere as an incredibly advanced prep hitter with speed and top notch center field defense. It might take a top 10 bonus ($5 million or so) to buy him away from UCLA though, and the D-Backs are one of the few teams that can pay him that bonus at this point in the draft.
Arizona does not have another pick in our mock draft but I want to note that, even after paying Carroll a big bonus, they will have the wherewithal to pay New Jersey high school righty Jack Leiter with one of their two supplemental first-round picks. Jack is the son of longtime big leaguer Al Leiter and he's one of the best and most advanced prep pitchers in the draft class. It is expected to take a massive bonus to buy him away from Vanderbilt, however. The D-Backs have the picks and bonus pool to swing it.Previous pick: RHP Jack Leiter, Delbarton HS (New Jersey)
Pick: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
Unless a college pitcher like Kirby somehow slips here, the Cubs figure to go with a college bat here, their go-to demographic in recent years. Hoese made some swing changes in summer ball last year that unlocked his natural strength and turned him into a big time power threat. Add in third base caliber defense and you have a prospect shooting up draft boards this spring.Previous pick: RHP Seth Johnson, Campbell
Pick: RHP Seth Johnson, Campbell
Johnson spent his freshman and sophomore years as a junior college position player before making the transition to pitching full-time at Campbell this spring. He sports easy mid-90s gas and a quality slider, and, despite his lack of mound experience, his delivery is rather polished. Johnson is the rare college pitcher with projection and upside remaining and the Brewers love upside.Previous pick: 3B Tyler Callihan, Providence HS (Florida)
Pick: 1B/OF Michael Busch, UNC
Busch is one of the better college hitters in the draft class, with power and patience from the left side of the plate, though defensive limitations will push him down near the end of the first round (or later). He has outfield experience but is seen more as a first baseman long-term. Still, Busch's bat is very good and there's some thought he has untapped potential after splitting time between multiple sports in high school.Previous pick: SS Will Wilson, NC State
Pick: 3B Tyler Callihan, Providence HS (Florida)
The Yankees love big tools and they're not afraid to take older high schoolers (2016 first rounder Blake Rutherford and 2018 first rounder Anthony Seigler were old for their draft class). Callihan turns 19 three weeks after the draft and he has great bat-to-ball skills and power potential. His defense should allow him to remain at the hot corner as well. It should be noted the Yankees also hold the No. 38 (acquired from the Reds in the Sonny Gray trade) and have a big bonus pool. If I had to put money on a team taking New Jersey righty Jack Leiter in the first round, I'd put it on New York. They can make it work financially.Previous pick: 3B Kody Hoese, Tulane
Pick: OF Maurice Hampton, Memphis University HS (Tennessee)
Similar to Espino, Hampton has continually raised his draft stock in recent years. He's a great athlete with top notch bat speed who will require patience and refinement after splitting his high school career between baseball and football. Hampton has been getting first round buzz the last few weeks and, in Espino and Hampton, the Dodgers are landing two very high upside prospects with their two first-round picks in our mock draft.Previous pick: 3B Keoni Cavaco, Eastlake HS (California)
Pick: RHP J.J. Goss, Cypress Ranch HS (Texas)
It's easy to dream on Goss, who has the tools to go in the 10-15 overall pick range. He has the size (6-foot-3 and 185 lbs.), the velocity (low-to-mid-90s), the swing-and-miss breaking ball (slider), and the athleticism to make big gains as he matures. If he somehow winds up at Texas A&M, the pieces are there for Goss to come out as a top 2-3 pick in three years. Instead, the bet here is the Astros will take him here, pay him what it takes, and turn him over to their player development machine.Previous pick: Goss
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