This week we take a break from the O’s and their offensive struggles to bring a Mock Draft Special. The Draft is less than a week away on Sunday, July 9th. I’ve not provided any content from the minor league/Draft side this year, so today is making up for it.
Before we begin, I have to set up some ground rules.
- This is based on MY evaluations. I don’t care what MLB Pipeline or Baseball America says about a player; I do my work and research, so this Mock will be different.
- The MLB Draft is a money game more than talent evaluation. Teams will purposely take lesser talent to spread money around their board, so this doesn’t reflect how I feel about these players. It is more of a reflection of the team’s plans.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Max Clark, OF Franklin, (IN)
We are starting this Mock Draft off with a flaming hot take. This is based on one thing: the Pirates want to spread their money for the rest of the Draft. Respected people around the league have stated that the Pirates are trying to go under slot, and Crews isn’t having it, so this is how we get Clark. To be fair, Clark is one of the five best players in this Draft. He has great bat control and is a tremendous athlete who will have to put on more weight to get to his power. Still, Clark is a great player, and it makes sense for the Pirates to spread some money around.
- Washington Nationals: Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
With the Pirates going under-slot the Nats end up with the best talent available and take Crews. If you know anything about the Draft, you understand who Crews is. He is viewed as a generational prospect with amazing strength and power with the ability to play Center Field and get on base enough to supplement all that power. While Crews might have to move to a corner, He has improved his athleticism, has gotten faster at LSU, and showed he can stick in Center for now. Crews has superstar written all over him, and the Nats must pay for him.
- Detroit Tigers: Wyatt Langford, OF, Florida
Langford is the other superstar college outfielder from the SEC in this Draft. Langford has a ton of power, and he showed it off in the College World Series, hitting multiple home runs over 400 ft. Langford is also patient as a hitter, and he will draw walks while making a ton of contact. Langford’s drawback is that he can’t play Center field and looks like a Left Fielder due to his lack of arm strength. If he could handle Center Field, he would be on Crews’ level, but he will have to settle for going three instead of one. Langford might be the pick if he was open to going under slot at one.
- Texas Rangers: Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU
It might seem like a shocker to have as big a name as Paul Skenes going four, but I have my reasons. Skenes has an unbelievable triple-digit fastball with some heavy ride that devastates hitters. He also commands a good breaking pitch in his slider and a powerful change-up. SEC hitters didn’t understand how to attack him, and he raked up the strikeouts this year, breaking our good friend Ben McDonald’s school and SEC record for strikeouts at 209.
So why is he going much lower than? While Skenes has that fastball, its shape is kind of poor. While it has movement, it almost works as a cutter, and it is flat. SEC Hitters couldn’t time up his fastball, but if it is flat, hitters in the minors and the majors will have no issues squaring that pitch up. Any pitching coach worth his money can fix that, though, so the real issue is the innings. He has tossed over 300 innings in his last three starts for the Tigers, which must be a concern. LSU did not do Skenes any favors for his future, instead focusing on getting the easy win for today. That has to scare you a little, mainly because Skenes throws so hard. Skenes is still too talented to fall past this point, though, and the Rangers seemingly don’t care about injuries to their pitchers in the Draft process.
- Minnesota Twins: Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick (NC)
The last of the big five in this Draft is Walker Jenkins. Jenkins’s offensive profile is the thing carrying him into the top five. He has a beautiful left-handed swing and generates a ton of power with it. Jenkins got hurt last year when he injured his hamate, and injured his hamstring this summer. That injury has played a big part in Jenkins’s profile as he lost the speed he used to have. If he can regain that speed, he might go higher than this, but for now, Jenkins is a great hitter with solid speed with the potential to regain it later.
- Oakland Athletics: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forrest
The A’s are a mess right now, so they have a simple solution to their problems: draft the best player available. This year, Rhett Lowder made a ton of noise in the college playoffs as the workhouse Ace for the Deacons. His best pitch is his change-up that disappears when he throws it. He has a fastball with great movement but only throws 93-95 mph. If Lowder threw harder, he would be in the class with the other players, but due to his low velocity, he settles for being a top-6 pick instead, a good compromise.
- Cincinnati Reds: Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit (OR)
The Reds have done a great job developing their pitching, so they get a projectable arm to work on. Meyer has a fastball that touches triple digits and a wipeout slider. He is still working on consistency and throwing more strikes, but he is very projectible, and the Reds have shown they can develop pitching. Meyer would be a great pick for the Reds.
- Kansas City Royals: Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
The Royals are another team that is a mess right now, and they need to take the best player available. Kyle Teel is a great athlete with a cannon of an arm. Teel will probably stick at Catcher while being able to hit for both average and power. His best tool offensively is his plate discipline, as he has walked more than struck out in College. Teel has the potential to be a plus-defensive catcher while being a solid hitter.
- Colorado Rockies: Aidan Miller, 3B, Mitchell (FL)
Aidan Miller might have gone higher had it not been for an injury that kept him out of play for most of the year. Miller has effortless power from his vicious right-handed swing. He can easily get balls into the air and has also shown a good hit tool. Miller is a big strong kid, so he has had to move to third, but he has a plus-plus arm and has good hands and glove work at third. Miller is a fun prospect to watch and would be a great pick for the Rockies.
- Miami Marlins: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest (FL)
Nimmala is an athletic freak. He has a long wiry swing that can produce a ton of hard contact. He can get on base and hit for average as well. He has the glove work to stick at Short and has shown above-average speed. Nimmala needs to play baseball more as he is incredibly young at only seventeen. Nimmala has one of the highest upsides in this class.
- Los Angeles Angels: Brayden Taylor, 3B, TCU
Brayden Taylor’s value comes from consistency. You know what you are getting from him every day. He has a good left-handed swing and has been generating a lot more power this year, raising his stock. Taylor has played third for the Frogs this year and shows good enough tools to stick there. Taylor is a fine player and younger than most college players, so he has more time to tap into that power and make more contact.
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
If you followed the Draft early in the year, you would remember that Dollander was seen as the best pitcher in his class. He had an awesome year as a sophomore with the Vols but struggled this year. Dollander has a fastball that can reach up to 99 with some carry and a slider that is a true wipeout pitch. His issue is his wildness on the mound. He walks many batters and doesn’t have a third pitch right now. He can flash a change-up, but it is nowhere near consistent enough. Dollander will need a good pitching development organization to reach his prime, and he finds it here with the Diamondbacks.
- Chicago Cubs: Collin Houck, SS, Parkview,(GA)
Collin Houck is a super athlete. He has played football and baseball for his hometown team in Georgia but is committed to baseball. Houck has plus raw power with quick hands and great strength. He has a rocket of an arm, and while he is at short now, he will have to move once he fills out. There are some concerns as he doesn’t have the best plate discipline, but Houck is still young enough to learn that.
- Boston Red Sox: Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton, (TX)
Blake Mitchell is a solid catching prospect. He has plate discipline, power, and contact ability from the left side while having a cannon of an arm and solid defense behind the plate. While there are some questions about whether or not he will be able to stick due to his slow running speed, he has the tools to stick behind the plate.
- Chicago White Sox: Chase Davis, OF, Arizona
Chase Davis is an analytical darling. He has exit velocities that rival only Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford. He has a smooth left-handed swing that looks like he copied Carlos Gonzales, the former Rockies All-Star. While he has a plus arm, he isn’t the best defensively, looking more like a Right Fielder, and he does come with swing-and-miss concerns. However, if the right org gets him, he could become something special.
- San Francisco Giants: Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland
Matt Shaw has had a great career playing for the Terps. He has a compact swing with which he makes a ton of contact, and he also has power. He is probably a second baseman long-term and doesn’t have a good throwing arm, but he does have great speed and will fit nicely at Second base. Matt Shaw is just a ballplayer.
- Baltimore Orioles: Bryce Eldridge: 1B/RHP, Madison,(VA)
This is the pick you are probably reading this for. Bryce Eldridge is an interesting case study because he is a two-way player. Offensively he has short and powerful swing from the left side that launch baseballs. On the mound, he has a mid-90s fastball and some solid offerings with his breaking stuff. This is a developmental pick for the O’s as they still have the best Farm in baseball, allowing them to take some risk, and this is the type of profile they could like. They tried to get a two-way player last year, so this could make up for it.
- Milwaukee Brewers: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
Hurston Waldrep is another star from the College World Series. Waldrep has a fastball that can reach up to 99 and a devastating splitter to go with a slider. The issue with him is his control which is a work in progress right now. He has some reliever risk, but the Brewers have developed pitching, so they could easily work out his control. Waldrep isn’t as safe as everyone says, but the Brewers have the power to help him find the zone more often.
- Tampa Bay Rays: Jacob Gonzales, SS, Ole Miss
Jacob Gonzales is another player who had a ton of hype around him. This year he was a bit disappointing and showed more flaws than his sophomore year. Gonzales can make a ton of contact, but the power is a question mark. He isn’t fast but plays a good shortstop and can stick there. Gonzales needs to show more power because it is my biggest issue with him.
- Toronto Blue Jays: Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon University
Jacob Wilson is ranked very high on some lists and honestly, I don’t get it. He makes contact but doesn’t hit for much power and will probably move off of third. The advanced data does not do him any favors, either. He better makes a lot of contact, or he might feel out. Still, he is worth a first round pick.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford
Tommy Troy is such a consistent hitter. He has good bat control and makes a ton of hard contact. His improving approach at the plate raised his stock this year as he drew more walks and got on base more this year. While listed at short, he seems destined to play second base with above-average speed.
- Seattle Mariners: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forrest
Brock Wilken has two stand-out tools that get him into the first round, big-time power and throwing arm. Wilken has a huge swing that crushes baseballs, and he has been a mainstay for the Deacons in the middle of their lineup, driving in runs. While he did show some strikeout problems, his power more than makes up for it. The problem is that Wilken has no speed and can’t play third, but he has a cannon of an arm, so Left Field is probably where he fits long-term. No matter where he plays, that power will play, and it is the thing that pushes him into the First.
- Cleveland Guardians: Thomas White, LHP, Phillips Academy, (MA)
Thomas White is a project pitcher for one of baseball’s premier pitching development orgs. He hasn’t had many eyes on him because he hasn’t attended many showcases and is from a cold weather state. White does have a good fastball and curveball but is begging for a third pitch. This is why he needs to go to a great pitching development team that can help him. White finds that with the guardians.
- Atlanta Braves: Yohandy Morales, 3B, University of Miami
Morales is like Wilken; he has one dominant tool getting him into the First Round, his power. Morales has a long right-handed swing that he does damage with. This year, He has shown he can be more patient while still hitting for power and can handle third after outgrowing short. This is why he is a first round-pick to me; I love when players improve and keep the same tools they already have, and Morales deserves to go in the first.
- San Diego Padres: Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, FAU
Nolan Shanuel just hits. He has a big left-handed swing that makes a lot of contact and hits the ball hard. He has played mainly first base and isn’t the best athlete in the world, yet his bat will carry him. I am a bit higher on him because I think he has untapped potential, and he could hit for more power. Schanuel already hits for power, but if you make a few swing tweaks, he could hit for much more power.
- New York Yankees: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt
Enrique Bradfeild Jr. has two dominant tools Speed and Feilding; everything else is a question mark. His swing is just bad, and it might need a complete re-tool. He can make contact with it, but he hits for no power and doesn’t hit the ball hard at all, focusing on hitting ground balls through the hole and doing damage by turning singles into doubles with his speed. He is also an animal on the base paths as well. There are things to like about him, but honestly he shouldn’t go any higher than this because you have to develop his bat unless you want him turning into a Christian Pache type of player.
- Philadelphia Phillies: Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian, (FL)
Charlee Soto is another project Pitcher type. He is big and tall with a Fastball that can consistently touch 99 with run. While his other offerings are solid, he will need a lot of help to smooth out his edges as a Pitcher. While Philly hasn’t been the best spot for that, they have succeeded with Andrew Painter and Mick Abel, so Soto could be the next big pitcher they develop.
- Houston Astros: Dilon Heed, Homeward – Flossmoor, (IL)
We have a developmental guy for the Astros for the last pick of this mock draft. Head is fast and twitchy, and he has plus defense in Center Field. He doesn’t hit for much power, but he is young and makes contact with his swing. He will have to learn to hit for power, but everything else is pretty good; he just needs to get stronger. Which a Major League staff can help Heed with.
The Draft starts on Sunday, July 9th; even though the O’s aren’t picking high, there isn’t anything else going on, so please tune in and watch how Elias and his staff work their magic.