2019 MLB Mock Draft

Teams spend months and months – if not years – scouting players to prepare for the annual amateur draft. And I don’t believe for even a second that I’m smarter than those scouts, scouting directors, and other front office personnel. The below piece is meant as a fun exercise and to help introduce fantasy managers to some names they’re going to need to know within the next two to three years, if not sooner.

I’ve set eyes on all these players (via video), combed over various scouting reports and reviewed statistical results, so I’m going to take a stab at drafting the first round for each of the clubs. I’m not selecting players based on where I think they’ll be taken (There are a lot of great publications already doing that – FanGraphs, Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, etc); I’m selecting based on where I’d taken them based on the various factors listed above.

I’ve actually been doing this exercise for more than 10 years and have gotten a little bit better each year. Here’s hoping this is the best (mock) draft yet.

1. Orioles —> Andrew Vaughn, 1B

Yes, Vaughn is a first baseman but I like his swing and his track record of success in college. As well, he’s had success in the Cape Cod League, albeit just 52 at-bats. He’s also been a pitcher at the college ranks and he’s athletic enough to hold down a position in left field since he doesn’t have the ideal size or handedness for first base. He’s the impact type of prospect the Orioles can rebuild around; even better, they can probably get him for cheaper than Rutschman or Witt and spread the remaining money around to acquire some better prospects and help rebuild a very barren farm system.

2. Royals —> Adley Rutschman, C

This was a late switch for me, bumping Rutschman down to the second slot. Yes, he’s been the best college hitter but catcher’s offensive abilities almost always take a hit when the rigors of catching every day wear them down. There’s also some injury history for the young catcher, which again becomes magnified by his position. He’d help take some of the strain off of Sal Perez, too.

3. White Sox —> Bobby Witt Jr., SS

Witt Jr. could go first or second overall, and he has a solid pedigree as the son of former pitcher Bobby Witt. Still, I’m not as sold on the hit tool as some but there is good power potential here. He gets down on his front foot too quickly at times and struggles with off-speed stuff so I see the potential for big strikeout numbers. Mechanical issues can be fixed and pitch recognition can be improved. There are also questions over his ability to stick at shortstop long term, and I have him projected as a future third baseman.

4. Marlins —> C.J. Abrams, SS

Abrams’ ultra athleticism impresses me. He also has plus-plus speed and he should have no issues sticking at shortstop but I prefer him as a center-fielder. The speed and defensive skills help lessen the bust risk if his offense is slower to develop (I worry he’s too aggressive at the plate). The Marlins organization is drawn to toolsy, athletic players and Abrams could help rebuild a pretty empty farm system although patience will be needed.

5. Tigers —> J.J. Bleday, OF

I like Josh Jung’s bat a little better than Bleday’s but the college outfielder has additional defensive skills. He looks like a solid-hitting right-fielder with 20+ homer potential. He’d be a great addition to the Tigers’ youth movement; the club has a lot of pitching coming down the prospect pipeline but few, if any, impact hitters.

6. Padres —> Matthew Allan, RHP

My favorite prep arm, Allan also comes with a big price tag, which shouldn’t be an issue with the money assigned to the sixth slot. He has excellent stuff and a nice delivery. Imagine Allan paired with Mackenzie Gore in a few years.

7. Reds —> Josh Jung, 3B

After Vaughn, Rutschman and Bleday, Jung looks like the next best college hitter although I don’t see him as a third baseman. I’m still OK with the pick with the assumption that he’s moving across to first base where he could eventually replace Joey Votto. I prefer his bat to Jonathan India’s, whom the Reds took fifth overall last year.

8. Rangers —> Riley Greene, OF

I like – but don’t love – Greene. He’s had some amateur success but in the looks I’ve had he’s been very pull-conscious for someone with modest power right now. I like his balanced swing but he’s maybe a little too spread out, which impacts his raw power potential.

9. Braves —> Jackson Rutledge, RHP

Rutledge has a relatively low-effort delivery for someone who throws as hard as he does. With that said, I don’t love the short-arm action and it could hinder his command and keep him from dominating as much as he should. But deliveries can also be altered – hopefully without losing the power and life that he creates on his offerings. He has a strong frame and two potentially plus breaking balls so I like him here in a weak pitching class.

10. Giants —> Corbin Carroll, OF

I really like the athleticism, the defensive skills, and the swing but Carroll also lacks the size to comfortable project even average power at this point – but there are signs he could actually develop better-than-expected power. The Giants’ outfield is abysmal and this pick gives San Francisco fans hope, even if it takes three to four years.

11. Blue Jays —> George Kirby, RHP

The Jays need advanced pitching and Kirby fits the mold, plus he’s my favorite college arm. He has outstanding control as well as the ability to miss bats, even if he doesn’t have a blazing fastball. The velocity is solid enough in the 92-94 mph range and he has an above-average changeup. The breaking balls have the potential to be average or better and I’d probably encourage him to focus on just one in hopes of pushing it up to a plus offering. Kirby is going to surprise a lot of people when he gets to pro ball.

12. Mets —> Brett Baty, 3B

Baty is expected to hit for both power and average but there are defensive questions regarding his ability to stick at third base. I don’t love his throwing and feel he’ll either end up in left field or first base. Baty is also older than a lot of his competition and is already 19 (turning 20 later this year). Still, he’s great value at 12 and could probably go higher.

13. Twins —> Hunter Bishop, OF

I’m not a huge fan of Bishop and see lots of strikeouts and a low batting average in his future. But there could also be 25+ home runs and lots of walks, which helps offset the negative aspects of his game. He also has some defensive skill and could stick in center field. He’s the brother of Braden Bishop.

14. Phillies —> Brennan Malone, RHP

Malone is a couple of steps down from Allan for me but I like his athleticism and he has the potential for two plus pitches and a four-pitch mix overall.

15. Angels —> Anthony Volpe, SS

I like Volpe a lot more than the consensus and would take him even higher than this in some scenarios. He has a low-maintenance swing and is quick to the ball. He’s not a big home run guy but I like the gap pop and see more to come. He also has quick actions in the field. He shoots up the list because of the plus makeup.

16. Diamondbacks —> Daniel Espino, RHP

Drafting for the D-Backs, I know I have four picks to sign in the first 34 selections. I really like Espino’s work on the mound but he’s definitely of the high-risk, high-reward category. He can fire it up into the upper-90s but doesn’t have a huge frame and he can lose control of the ball at times.

17. Nationals —> Kyren Paris, SS

This is significantly higher than he’s projected to go but I really like what see from the wiry, athletic Paris. I think he has a chance to be a plus defender and perhaps has a chance to be an average hitter. He doesn’t turn 18 until November and has room to add muscle/weight to his frame. Combine that growth with the good bat speed and you could eventually see double-digit home runs.

18. Pirates —> Nick Lodolo, LHP

Lodolo is a solid-but-unspectacular college hurler who is a safe-ish pick here. He probably has a No. 4 starter ceiling and nothing about him really excites me.

19. Cardinals —> Spencer Jones, OF/LHP

A difficult sign as a Vanderbilt commit, I prefer the two-way player in the field although he shows a nice curveball and decent fastball velo from the left side. He stands 6-7 and has a lot of room to add muscle as he matures. I like the line-drive swing and can eventually see him becoming a 20+ home run guy.

20. Mariners —> Kody Hoese, 3B

I’m probably in the minority by preferring Hoese over the next best third base prospect in Keoni Cavaco. He has impressive power potential thanks to a quick bat, a nice, low-maintenance swing and I think he sticks at third base due to his strong arm. This is another guy that’s being underrated.

21. Braves —> Shea Langeliers, C

Langeliers is a tough player to rank because he was impacted by a broken hamate bone this year. He’s likely to play in the Majors based on his defense alone. He’s a good leader with solid makeup.

22. Rays —> Quinn Priester, RHP

Priester looks good on the mound and has room to add muscle/weight to his frame which could eventually help him throw harder (He’s already up to 97 mph). He also has a very good curveball and impressive athleticism on the mound.

23. Rockies —> Alek Manoah, RHP

I’m not on the Manoah bandwagon at all so he slips down to where I feel somewhat comfortable taking him. He’s a big-bodied hurler and there is a very, very small track record of pitchers succeeding as starts with the kind of weight that he carries. Still, he’s one of the better college arms and I’m hoping once he turns pro he will realize the importance of conditioning when it comes to realizing his full potential. He’ll likely do very well in the low minors but hit a wall in the Double-A/Triple-A range.

24. Indians —> Bryson Stott, SS

Stott is another player I’m not excited about at all. His fielding is OK but I don’t see anything more than an average defensive shortstop and I don’t really think he’s overly athletic or has a great body. The hit tool might be fine but I question why he’s being sought after in the first half of the draft.

25. Dodgers —> J.J. Goss, RHP

The quick-armed Goss isn’t as big as some top arms but he has a chance for three above-average offerings and he has room on his frame to add weight/muscle.

26. Diamondbacks —> Michael Busch, OF/2B

Busch has a strong, mature frame and if he can stick at second base rather than first base then I like him here. He’s also had a lot of success with wood bats.

27. Cubs —> Braden Shewmake, SS

Shewmake is fancy but he can play all over the diamond, will use the whole the field and has good makeup. He might end up as more of a Marwin Gonzalez type of player but he could add some additional pop if he can get some additional muscle/weight on his 6-4 frame.

28. Brewers —> Seth Johnson, RHP

Johnson was a poor-hitting college infielder before giving pitching a try and he took to it like a fish to water. He only has one year of pitching but he’s made huge strides and could end up with three average-or-better pitches. He would be worth the risk at the back end of the first round.

29. A’s —> Keoni Cavaco, 3B

I don’t see huge growth potential for Cavaco even though he doesn’t turn 18 until right before the draft. He has power but also swing-and-miss to his game. He’s fine, but nothing special, in the field.

30. Yankees —> Matthew Lugo, SS

Lugo has a nice, simple swing that has line-drive potential. He has smooth actions in the field and a strong arm, both of which should combine to allow him to stick at the position long term if he can become more consistent.

31.Dodgers —> Gunnar Henderson, SS

Henderson is a bit of a projection. The multi-sport prep player is still just 17 but he has a quick, short stroke at the plate which generates line drives and there is potential for more power as he fills outs.

32. Astros —> Jimmy Lewis, RHP

Standing 6-6, Lewis has a nice, easy delivery and has projection. He’s already throwing in the low-90s and could add more as he matures. Throw in two other potentially average-or-better offerings and I’m very intrigued.

33. Diamondbacks —> Glenallen Hill Jr., OF

I don’t have a great read on Hill Jr.’s signability but seen as more of a third round talent so grabbing him here could open up some cash to take a run at some other talented players later in the draft. If I can get Hill Jr. for $1 to $1.5 million here then I have another $700,000 to $1.2 million to use elsewhere.

34. Diamondbacks —> Zack Thompson, LHP

There are significant injury concerns with Thompson, but he’s also one of the better college arms available. I think it’s a worthwhile gamble here and a $2 million payday is likely enough to keep him from going to back to college for his senior year.

35. Marlins —> Kameron Misner, OF

I’m not sure Misner will hit for average but he has power and speed despite his strong frame. He’s also shown a willingness to take a walk so you have power, speed, and on-base skills to go along with a player that might be able to stick in center field for a few years.

36. Rays —> Will Wilson, SS

Wilson is a fine back-of-the-first-round, safe-ish pick without a huge ceiling. He might end up at second base but he takes some walks and has a little pop. I originally had Carter Stewart, who was one of my favorite prep pitchers in the 2018 draft, earmarked here for the Rays since they had the multiple picks early which made this risky pick a little less of a risk if Stewart ended up battling injuries. But he’s apparently going to Japan.

37. Pirates —> Matthew Thompson, RHP

If the Pirates can get Thompson to forego his college commitment here, I do it. The right-hander is very athletic on the mound with an easy delivery. His fastball and curveball are both inconsistent but they show great promise.

38. Yankees —> Maurice Hampton, OF

I’d have Hampton hire if I knew his signability (and price tag) but he’d be a great pick for the Yankees here if he can be bought away from playing football and baseball in college. He’s raw but the power/speed combo is enticing and he has a quick, short swing.

39. Twins —> Nasim Nunez, SS

Nunez is a gifted fielder and ultra-athletic. But he’s also small at 5-9 and needs to add a lot of strength to become an average hitter.

40. Rays —> Dasan Brown, OF

The Rays would be the perfect organization for Brown with an ultra-conservative prospect development team. A plus-plus runner, Brown is extremely raw as a hitter so he’ll need patience from his new organization to develop properly but I see potential in his quick, short swing. Brown will also be 17 for the entire 2019 season so he’s one of the younger players in the draft. He’s the top-rated Canadian and is committed to Texas A&M.

41. Rangers —> Erik Miller, LHP

Big, strong and left-handed, Miller has command issues and could end up in the bullpen but he throws up to 96-97 mph and has the chance for three better-than-average offerings. The reliever risk is worth it here with the 40th pick given the potential reward.

Players I Like More than the Consensus:
Kody Hoese
Kyren Paris
Anthony Volpe
Daniel Espino
George Kirby
Matthew Allan
Spencer Jones
Matthew Thompson
Jimmy Lewis
Mike Toglia
Isaiah Campbell
Erik Miller
T.J. Sikkema
Davis Wendzel
Bryant Packard

Players I like Less than the Consensus:
Bryson Stott
Alek Manoah
Hunter Bishop
Zack Thompson
Keoni Cavaco
Nick Lodolo
Logan Davidson
Brooks Lee
Brady McConnell
Rece Hinds

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Alex Trebek
3 years ago

I’m not sure I understand the point of this exercise, outside of clickbait. This is a “fun exercise” about where you would take them? At least put more of a fantasy angle on this… you have actual qualified people on this very site doing the same thing, but better.

3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Trebek

Actually, a draft-from-fantasy perspective would be wonderful. Most top-100 lists and draft articles are about the entire player. Let’s be honest, we readers of RotoGraphs tend not to care a whole lot about how amazing someone’s glove is. We only care to the point of it informing what position the guy ends up playing. Let’s have a Mock 2025 fantasy draft and try to guess where these guys drafted in the next few days will end in the world of fake baseball.

3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Trebek

Fair point, but I *think* maybe that’s what this is? Seems like this is how Marc would draft these players from a fantasy perspective, using tonight’s draft and order as a fun “dressing” to show those ranks.

3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

Right, but it seems like we’re always guessing. To put it another way, it’s kind of unfair to put Marc alone on an island like this. Either he’s a valued contributor to Fan Graphs – in which case it’s hard to understand why his stuff is so separate from the prospect team – or he’s not, in which case…?

3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Trebek

I’m sure you can ask for your money back

Alex Trebek
3 years ago
Reply to  Eminor3rd

Look, I get it… Fangraphs is a great free resource. I read a lot of it, and am very rarely critical. Just when you stack this up against to all the incredible work Eric and Kiley are doing on this (basically) same site, it falls a little flat. They have sourced it. They have scouted it. They have updated it relentlessly. This is just Marc trying to guess who goes where, to “introduce” us to these names.

3 years ago
Reply to  Eminor3rd

Even if Fangraphs gives away its product for free (which I greatly appreciate), I’m sure they’re happy to receive feedback about how they can make the that product better. A better product means more traffic for the site, more advertising revenue, and more people deciding to support the site by paying for memberships. Criticism, in short, *can* be constructive.

3 years ago
Reply to  Roger21

I’m not sure they appreciate feedback. Its one of the reasons that FG isn’t what it used to be.

3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Trebek

I viewed this article in a similar light as I would the “Bold Predictions” that so many Fangraphs writers write. .. and I enjoyed it. It’s interesting to see a different perspective than what order they will actually be drafted.