With the 2018 MLB Draft a little over three weeks away, time is running out for teams to make final decisions on which prospects to focus on with their first round selections that will be made on Monday, June 4.
Unlike other major professional sports, the MLB draft is unique in the sense that there is a rarely a consensus on who the top prospects are and where they will be drafted, with much more depending on projection, as many of the players taken in early in the draft are seniors in high school and have yet to fully develop physically.
It’s not uncommon for all 30 teams to have a different ranking for a single player, making it that much harder, even for experts, to predict where the player may ultimately end up being drafted. Nevertheless, it’s fun to try.
MORE: Everything you need to know about the 2018 MLB Draft
MLB Mock Draft 2018
No. 1 Detroit Tigers — Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
Mize is as close to a consensus top pick as there has been in recent memory. Not only has the right hander dominated competition in the SEC, but he also performed well on the international stage with Team USA last summer before being shut down with arm fatigue.
Mize can run his fastball into the upper-90s and complements it well with an advanced splitter. He has great size at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. He looks the part of a future front-end starter in the big leagues.
The thing scouts love about him: he rarely walks batters, as he’s issued only eight free-passes this season in 89 innings, while striking out 124.
No. 2 San Francisco Giants — Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge (AZ) HS
Since 2010, the Giants have taken only two high school players with their first-round pick instead opting to draft more polished players from the college ranks. The last time they took a high-school lefty in Round 1 was 2007, selecting a 6-5 18-year-old from North Carolina named Madison Bumgarner.
Liberatore doesn’t throw quite as hard as Bumgarner, occasionally running his fastball into the mid-90s, but with a 6-5, 200-pound frame he should be able to pack on a few pounds and add some zip to his heater as he develops. He has an advanced feel for pitching and has displayed some of the best command in the draft, making him that much more appealing to San Francisco at No. 2.
No. 3 Philadelphia Phillies — Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
The Phillies have opened some eyes through the first month and a half of the MLB season, as they’re currently battling the equally surprising Atlanta Braves for control of the NL East. They’ll perhaps gain some immediate help on the mound in that endeavor by drafting Singer, who has a chance to make it to the big leagues by the end of this season, like Brandon Finnegan did with Kansas City in 2014.
Singer comes from a Florida program that has been stacked with power pitchers over the last four seasons and produced multiple first rounders, but he may be the best yet. His fastball sits in the upper-90s and he features a good slider, giving him the opportunity to move quickly through the minors, especially if he begins his career in the bullpen.
No. 4 Chicago White Sox — Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State
Standing only 5-8 and 160 pounds, Madrigal may not look the part of a top-five pick in the draft — but he hits like one.
Though he missed roughly half of this season with a broken wrist, Madrigal is hitting .438 for the Beavers in 21 games and has returned, fully healthy, in time for their postseason push. Scouts love the way he plays the game and his overall baseball IQ, comparing him to a young Dustin Pedroia.
He may not hit for as much power as the Red Sox star, but he gets on base a lot thanks to a developed approach at the plate that has allowed him to walk more than he has struck out in all three of his collegiate seasons. Look for Madrigal to be the first hitter off the board in June.
No. 5 Cincinnati Reds — Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie (FL) HS
A year ago, the Reds took flamethrower Hunter Greene with the second overall pick and will look to add another this year at No. 5 with Stewart. Like Greene, Stewart is a big-bodied, hard-throwing right-hander, but with more developed secondary pitches that his counterpart, namely a sharp 12-6 curveball that he throws in the mid-80s. Though he has the tools in place to be a front of the rotation starter, Cincinnati will likely give Stewart time to develop in the minors before calling him up.
No. 6 New York Mets — Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
Widely considered the best catcher in this year’s draft, the Mets could add Bart as their backstop of the future with the sixth overall pick. He’s done nothing but mash while attending Georgia Tech and should give Mets fans flashbacks to Mike Piazza with his 6-3, 225-pound frame.
Though being compared to a Hall of Famer may be a stretch, Bart has consistently displayed an above-average approach at the plate, upping his walks and on-base percentage each year in college while continuing to hit for power.
No. 7 San Diego Padres — Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central (GA) HS
In a draft that features several hard-throwing right-handers at the top, Hankins’ fastball stands out. The wiry, 6-6 Georgia native’s fastball has been clocked at 98 mph and figures to add more velocity as his body fills out. His heater also has late life, making him a nightmare for right-handed batters.
Coming into the spring, Hankins was in the running to be the No. 1-overall pick, but an early injury coupled with up-and-down results since returning have caused him to slip in most projections. The Padres would get a steal with Hankins at No. 7.
No. 8 Atlanta Braves — Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
Since 2009, Atlanta has taken only one position player in the first round, outfielder Braxton Davidson in 2014. The Braves will break that trend this season and take India at No. 8.
He’s a solid player at Florida, and has broken out this season hitting .383 with 16 home runs and counting. He’s an above-average defender at third and should be able to stick there as a pro. With India, the Braves would get a solid prospect who should move through the minors quickly and pair nicely with Dansby Swanson on the left side of their infield in a few years’ time.
No. 9 Oakland A’s — Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
Throwing hard will get a prospect noticed, but throwing hard from the left side will get a prospect paid.
That’s exactly what McClanahan will be early in the first round of this year’s draft, as the redshirt sophomore from USF has one of the liveliest arms in the draft, generally sitting in the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball, while complementing his velocity with an above average changeup. He strikes out a ton of opposing batters, but also walks his fair share.
Some scouts also question his durability, as he’s already undergone Tommy John surgery in his career, leading many to think he starts professionally in the bullpen, not only to save his arm, but also because it will allow him to get to the big leagues quickly.
No. 10 Pittsburgh Pirates — Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran (CA) HS
One of the more complete high school arms in the 2018 draft, Winn displays three above-average pitches with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. He has an athletic frame at 6-2 and 195 pounds and has worked this spring to sharpen his slider into a true out pitch. The risk-adverse Pirates could gladly scoop up Winn at No. 10 and give him the time he needs to further develop in the minors.
No. 11 Baltimore Orioles — Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi
A draft-eligible sophomore, Rolison won’t light up radar guns like many of his first-round companions, as his fastball sits in the low-90s. But he features the best curveball in the draft and is comfortable locating it to both sides of the plate, in any count.
Baltimore will likely have to pay slightly over slot value for Rolison, who would still have two years of eligibility remaining should he not sign, but they’ll be happy to have the polished lefty still available at No. 11.
No. 12 Toronto Blue Jays — Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State
Josh Donaldson is 32 years old and is beginning to transition from third base to designated hitter. Enter Bohm, a 6-5, 220-pound behemoth who has hit for average and plenty of power in his three seasons at Wichita State. He was a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer, finishing in the top five in batting average, RBIs and doubles, while also ending tenth in home runs. He’ll fit nicely in Toronto where the fans love some power.
No. 13 Miami Marlins — Mason Denaburg, RHP, Merritt Island (FL) HS
Derek Jeter and Co. will make this the fifth-straight year in which the Marlins have taken a high schooler with their first-round pick should they take Denaburg at No. 13. Though he was hampered by injury much of this spring, when healthy, he ran his fastball into the upper-90s and showed the makings of above-average secondary pitches.
If he can manage to stay out of the trainer’s room as a pro, he could be a solid front-of-the-rotation starter in a few years’ time and a player that Jeter can build around moving forward.
No. 14 Seattle Mariners — Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (TN) HS
The Mariners have not taken a left handed pitcher in the first round since 2011, when they nabbed Danny Hultzen out of Virginia with the second overall pick. Weathers, considered one of the more polished high school arms in the draft, has similar stuff to Hultzen, with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and a power curve, but features a more refined delivery and natural arm action that should help him avoid some of the injuries that cut into Hultzen’s career.
Weathers also has major-league blood lines, as his father David pitched nearly 20 years in the big leagues.
No. 15 Texas Rangers — Nolan Gorman, 3B, Sandra Day O’Connor (AZ) HS
Everything is bigger in Texas. That being the case, Gorman’s bat should fit in just fine in Arlington, as the high school senior possesses some of the best power in this year’s draft. At 6-1 and 210 pounds, Gorman features an easy swing from the left side that generates tremendous bat speed. The major question mark surrounding Gorman, however, is whether he can stay at third base as a pro. If he can’t, his power profiles well for a corner outfield spot.
No. 16 Tampa Bay Rays — Jerred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha West (WI) HS
Though some consider Kelenic to be a top-five talent in the draft, as he has an advanced approach at the plate and above average power, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to stay in center field, dropping his overall value and causing him to slide to Tampa Bay at No. 16.
The Rays will be ecstatic to pick him up in the middle of the first round, as his pitch selection and ability to take pitches to all fields should help him succeed early and often as a professional.
No. 17 Los Angeles Angels — Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee (GA) HS
At 6-5 and 250 pounds, Rocker stands out in this year’s draft. His sheer size allows for easy velocity, as the right hander routinely runs his fastball into the upper-90s with late movement. Beyond his fastball, Rocker also features a power slider that, while inconsistent at times, could develop into a very effective second pitch.
No. 18 Kansas City Royals — Brice Turang, SS, Santiago (CA) HS
The big question holding Turang back from perhaps entering the top-15 picks of the first round is whether he’ll be able to hit for power as a professional. Weighing only 165 pounds, scouts love his approach at the plate and his defense but question if he’ll be able to add any pop to his bat. Beyond that, Turang is considered one of the better all-around players in the draft and features smooth hands and good footwork at shortstop.
No. 19 St. Louis Cardinals — Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida
Like his classmate Brady Singer, Kowar comes from a program at Florida that is known for producing talent on the mound. Kowar is no exception, as the 6-5 righty improved his draft stock this spring, showing power stuff on the mound, pairing a mid-to-upper-90s fastball with an above-average changeup that has kept SEC hitters off balance all season. Another reason scouts like Kowar is, despite his height, he currently weighs only 185 pounds and could see and uptick in velocity with added weight.
No. 20 Minnesota Twins — Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
Once considered a lock to be a top-10 pick, a down junior season has caused Swaggerty to slide on many draft boards. Though he may not go in the first half of the first round, whoever he does fall to will be getting one heck of a player.
Swaggerty combines top-end speed with raw power, meaning he’ll likely be able to stay in center field as a professional. If the Twins get him at No. 20, they’ll be gaining a true center fielder and leadoff hitter for years to come.
No. 21 Milwaukee Brewers — Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State
Larnach, though often overshadowed by classmate Nick Madrigal, has really come on strong in 2018 and played his way into becoming a first-round pick in June. Having hit only three career home runs coming into this season, Larnach dialed up the power in 2018 and has launched 15 so far in 2018. However, he’s not just a boom-or-bust hitter, as he’s also drawn 35 walks on the season and has hit for average as well.
His average speed means he’ll likely be relegated to a corner outfield spot, but, regardless, the Brewers would be getting a very good player at No. 21.
No. 22 Colorado Rockies — Triston Casas, 1B, American Heritage (FL) HS
Casas is one of the riskier picks in the first round, but not because he’s isn’t talented. Quite the contrary, actually, as he possesses some serious power. There are a couple factors that may turn teams off on taking him with their first pick.
One such factor is his feast-or-famine track record at the plate. While he has first-round power, he does not have first-round contact, leading scouts to question whether he’ll be able to hit consistently as a professional. The second is his commitment to the University of Miami and how large of a signing bonus it will take to pry him from Coral Gables.
Regardless, if a team takes him in the first round, and is able to sign him, they’ll be gaining a serious power-hitting first baseman who would benefit from a slow progression through the minors before being called up to the big leagues.
No. 23 New York Yankees — Mike Vasil, RHP, Boston College (MA) HS
Much like Casas, Vasil has the talent to be a first-round pick, but uncertainty surrounds whether or not a team will make him one. A 6-4 right hander from Boston, Vasil can run his fastball into the mid-90s with relative ease and has shown an above average changeup. However, an injury this spring and his commitment to Virginia, a program that loses few recruits to the draft, may turn off some clubs. However, a team like the Yankees could swoop in and make Vasil an offer he can’t refuse.
No. 24 Chicago Cubs — Connor Scott, OF, Plant (FL) HS
Scott’s calling cards are his speed and defense, as he is one of the few true center fielders in the 2018 draft. He has a strong arm and is instinctual in his reads in the outfield, however, he lacks pop at the plate. With a 6-4, 180-pound frame, some think that with added weight, power will come. Whether it does or not, Scott is definitely a prospect who will need a few seasons of refinement in the minors before being ready for the big leagues.
That’s something the Cubs, with their plethora of talented players, can afford.
No. 25 Arizona Diamondbacks — Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
Gilbert burst onto the scene last summer with an outstanding showing playing for the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod League, where he made the All-Star team. He’s another power arm that has had his fastball clocked as high as 97 mph, but does not feature as advanced secondary pitches as others in this class.
The Diamondbacks, with their bevy of young, talented pitching prospects, will have the time to let Gilbert develop in the minors before giving him the call.
No. 26 Boston Red Sox — Will Banfield, C, Brookwood (GA) HS
A shaky spring at the plate has pushed Banfield to the back of the first round, but his defensive prowess behind it will keep him from falling to the second. Though he does possess a decent approach at the plate, and slightly above-average power, Banfield’s real gift is his arm, which had many clubs drooling early in the draft process. The Red Sox would be wise to take Banfield at No. 26, and hope his bat develops, as they do not have a catcher in their system with his defensive tools.
No. 27 Washington Nationals — Seth Beer, OF/1B, Clemson
Two years ago as a freshman at Clemson, Beer won the Dick Howser Award, college baseball’s version of the Heisman Trophy, and became a living legend. Since that time, however, his gaudy stats have slowly come down to Earth and many of his peers have surpassed him, thanks in part to a rough junior season in which his average dipped below .300. Though some of the mystique surrounding him has worn off, he’ll still be a first rounder due to his sheer power from the left side.
Defensively, his speed limits him to either a corner outfield position or first base, both of which he played in college. The Nationals are a team toward the end of the first round that could take a chance on Beer, seeing as their power-hitting right fielder is likely to move on this offseason. It would be unfair and unrealistic to expect Beer to fill the shoes of Bryce Harper, especially considering he would likely not make it to the big leagues for a few seasons, but the profile of a home run-smashing former-prodigy, does invite the comparison.
No. 28 Houston Astros — Blaine Knight, RHP, Arkansas
Since arriving at the University of Arkansas, Blaine Knight has done nothing but get batters out. The 6-3, 170-pound junior compiled over 200 strikeouts in three years in Fayetteville and is 8-0 this spring. Knight has a relatively effortless delivery in which he generates a fair amount of velocity, usually running his fastball into to mid-90s. He also features an above-average cutter that he’ll use against both lefties and righties.
Whoever takes Knight will ask him to bulk up as a professional, in the hopes that weight gain will up his velocity and help with durability. The Astros have the pitching depth in their farm system to allow Knight time to develop.
No. 29 Cleveland Indians — Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
After missing his entire sophomore season with a back injury, Beck has returned to Palo Alto this spring and picked up where he left off in 2016, when he was named a Freshman All-American, by posting a 2.90 ERA to go along with a 7-3 record. With a fastball that sits in the low-90’s, Beck is not overpowering. Instead, he relies on superb command of his heater and a well above average changeup to keep hitters off balance. The Indians taking Beck at No. 29 would give them a highly polished starting pitcher who would likely move through their farm system at a relatively quick pace to join Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer in the rotation in the next three seasons.
30. Los Angeles Dodgers — Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
Though scouts are unsure if the power surge he’s experiencing in his junior season at Oklahoma will carry over to the professional ranks, they love Walker’s approach at the plate and his ability to spray line drives all over the field. He has a free and easy swing from the left side and gets good extension with his hands, giving the ball natural lift.
Because he’s not an outstanding runner, he’ll likely move out of centerf ield as a pro, but his ability to make consistent, solid contact and get on base should be appealing to the Dodgers with the final pick of the first round.