Prep Baseball Report

2018 Experts' Draft

Shooter Hunt, Nathan Rode and David Seifert

The 2018 MLB Draft starts Monday, June 4, and the collaboration between D1 Baseball and Prep Baseball Report continues with the experts’ draft. Shooter Hunt, Nathan Rode and David Seifert will alternate taking picks in the first round, first compensation round and first competitive balance round, as if they were the scouting directors of the teams. This is not a mock draft, forecasting what teams will do based on intel. Rather, it’s what our experts would do if given the reigns of the respective organizations.


1. TIGERS (Rode): Coming into the spring, there were several names to consider here. Even now, you could still argue for getting someone at a discount since the Tigers’ have the third-largest bonus pool. But let’s not get too cute. RHP Casey Mize (Auburn) is being mentioned with names like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, as one of the best college pitchers in recent years. He’s the best prospect in the country. I’ll pay him. PICK: CASEY MIZE

2. GIANTS (Seifert): The top college bats of IF Jonathan India (Florida), 3B Alec Bohm (Wichita State), 2B Nick Madrigal (Oregon State) and C Joey Bart (Georgia Tech) would all make good picks here. Especially Bart when you consider all the future catchers that scouting director John Barr has drafted over the years—Buster Posey, Russell Martin and David Ross to name just a few. However, I will never forget all three of my looks at LHP Matt Liberatore (Mountain Ridge HS, AZ) last summer. He was real good then, and from reports I’ve heard, even better at times this spring. The arrow is pointing up on him. PICK: MATT LIBERATORE

3. PHILLIES (Shooter): The Phillies have taken outfielders with each of their last three first-round selections (Cornelius Randolph, Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley), and as much as I like OF Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West HS, WI), I’d rather grab a college prospect here. With only one pick in the top 100, there may be even more weight placed on this selection. RHP Brady Singer (Florida) might be a nice addition, as he shows similar feel for the fastball that current Phillies’ ace, RHP Aaron Nola (Louisiana State), exhibited coming out of college, but I’d like to go with one of the top bats in the class. Bart is an imposing presence at the dish, and has the potential to be a power-hitting backstop for many years. PICK: JOEY BART

4. WHITE SOX (Rode): The college bats are awfully tempting here. Madrigal is infectious in the way he plays and India’s all-around tools are hard to pass up. But I can’t let Singer get any farther than this. He has long been a candidate to go first overall and I’ve been a fan since the one inning I saw during his senior year of high school. His arsenal is electric and will fit in nicely with the stockpile of prospects Chicago has in the rebuilding effort. PICK: BRADY SINGER

5. REDS (Seifert): I never thought I would get the choice of India, Madrigal or Bohm with the fifth overall pick. I really, really like all of them. After straightforward thinking, and not venturing outside the box, the Reds selected the best position prospect available in 2016 with the No. 2 overall pick (Nick Senzel). They now have a chance to do it again. Bohm has improved every year in college, hit well with wood during the summer and has a good chance to hit for big power in the middle of a major league lineup. India is having a career year this spring after solid, but not spectacular, 2017 spring and summer seasons. I do feel the adjustments he has made are for real and his swing will now play with wood. College third basemen have shown a lot of major league success over the years, and I’m going to take the one with all five tools and better profiles in the middle of the diamond. PICK: JONATHAN INDIA

6. METS (Shooter): I’m sure the Mets would love it if India dropped to them here, but unfortunately he has not in this rendition. No need to dance on this one. Former Beaver, OF Michael Conforto, shot up through the Mets’ system quickly before being named an all-star last year, so why not roll with another one. The most exciting player in college baseball, Madigral, has been nothing short of sensational since he stepped on campus. With advanced feel for the barrel, athleticism, and the highest of baseball IQs, Madrigal could become the jolt of adrenaline that the Mets are missing. PICK: NICK MADRIGAL

7. PADRES (Rode):
The Padres have a pension for taking high school prospects with upside, which is right up my alley. It would’ve been nice if Liberatore lasted this far—something that could happen in the real world—but alas, my top guy is off the board. While I like the college options like LHP Ryan Rolison (Mississippi), LHP Shane McClanahan (South Florida) and Bohm, I barely hesitated here. I’m going for the five-tool outfielder that plays with grit and energy. I think Kelenic will enjoy the San Diego weather far better than Wisconsin. PICK: JARRED KELENIC

8. BRAVES (Seifert): In reality, it will be a shocker if the Braves go the college route with this pick. On my board, I’m not getting fancy. I’ve consulted my analytics crew for their input and I’m simply picking the best player available who has ceiling. It is a Shocker. PICK: ALEC BOHM

9. A'S (Shooter):
Oakland followed up three selections of college pitchers in the first 50 picks in 2016 by selecting three position players (one high school) in the first 50 picks in 2017. There are a host of high school right-handers about to come off the board, and I’m going to get it started here with RHP Cole Winn (Orange Lutheran HS, CA). Winn has shown off frontline stuff for a while now, and his successful move from Colorado to Orange County helped his surge even more. PICK: COLE WINN

10. PIRATES (Rode):
I’m a big fan of Rolison and seriously considered him here, but Pittsburgh generally leans high school and I’m going to stick with that tendency. I could continue the high school right-hander trend, but the slot for this pick is just north of $4.5 million. I think that’s what it will take to get SS Brice Turang (Santiago HS, CA) to bypass Louisiana State. There are some questions around the impact of his bat, but I’ve seen him since he was a rising freshman and he’s an everyday big league shortstop for me. PICK: BRICE TURANG

11. ORIOLES (Seifert):
I too, am a big fan of Rolison despite his up and down spring season. I also know what I saw from him in the Cape last summer and early this spring against Tennessee. The breaking ball, wow, what a breaking ball! However, a few potential top-of-the-rotation high school righties are still on the board with Carter Stewart (Eau Gallie HS, FL), Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island HS, FL) and Kumar Rocker (North Oconee HS, GA). Stewart is most intriguing to me with his plus present curveball, but Denaburg is super athletic and ranks higher on my list. I like all of them and would be happy with any of them.  We know that spin wins, and with this pick I’m going with the left-handed spin master. PICK: RYAN ROLISON

12. BLUE JAYS (Shooter): One of the more impressive athletes in the draft, Denaburg doubled as a catcher for much of his high school career where he also had the potential of being a draft pick, as well as succeeding on the gridiron as a quarterback. Always showing off a quick arm, his velocity jumped up even higher this spring where he has been up as high as 97 mph with a sharp slider. He returned from some arm tenderness with good stuff to ease minds. I’m confident that the best lies ahead for Denaburg, and with the chance to concentrate solely on pitching at the professional level, he should continue his quick ascent. PICK: MASON DENABURG

13. MARLINS (Rode): Miami has rolled the dice on preps the last few years. We’ll see if any draft philosophy flows down from New York with some Yankee personnel in the front office now, but I’m going to take a gamble here. I like Stewart and his two plus pitches, but the Rocker I saw in early March would have no business making it this far. I saw two future 70 pitches that day with pitchability. He faltered in the second half with a hamstring issue that hindered his breaking ball, but I’m confident he’ll come back to what I saw. PICK: KUMAR ROCKER

14. MARINERS (Seifert): I anticipated selecting a high ceiling high school arm (high risk) like Stewart, Denaburg or Rocker with this pick, but two of them were just picked and the Mariners seem to be more college focused. Seattle has taken five college prospects in their last six first-round picks. Sticking with that philosophy, it’s between a power-armed lefty in McClanahan, who I saw touch 98 mph during my late March look against Tulane, and the potential five-tool talent of Travis Swaggerty. I’m heading to Mobile and taking the bat over the arm. PICK: TRAVIS SWAGGERTY

15. RANGERS (Shooter): High upside with one of, if not the, top secondary pitches in the draft, Stewart ran his fastball up into the mid to high nineties while continuing to snap off a high-RPM, near-12/6 curveball all year. Long-limbed with a downhill plane, there is a lot of upside for Stewart, and the breaking ball is just too good to pass up here. PICK: CARTER STEWART

16. RAYS (Rode): Tampa Bay has the second-highest draft pool at just over $12.4 million and five picks on Day 1. Along with Kansas City, they’re in prime position to get creative. McClanahan is sliding in this draft, and I’m going to let him slide right on by. OF Connor Scott (Plant HS, FL) is across the bay from Tropicana Field and a legitimate consideration here, but I’m going to go a little further down the PBR Draft Board. I don’t know what OF Jordyn Adams’ (Green Hope HS, NC) number is, but the slot here is about $3.6 million. Worst-case scenario, he eats up most of that. Best case, I can get him for $1.5 to 2 million and allocate that leftover money toward my picks at 31, 32, 56 and 71 (though we’re only through 43 in this exercise). PICK: JORDYN ADAMS

17. ANGELS (Seifert): The next two prospects on the PBR Draft Board are No. 8 McClanahan and No.17 Scott. Even though I believe McClanahan is more likely to be a backend bullpen arm than a front-line starting pitcher, that left-handed arm is just too good to pass up and he could potentially help the big club with playoff aspirations in October. His slide stops here. PICK: SHANE MCCLANAHAN

18. ROYALS (Shooter): The Royals have the largest draft bonus pool with $12.78 million, and boast four picks in the top 40. There should be a host of excellent, exciting high school arms around for them to pick up at 33 and 34, so they may look to save some money here while also scooping up a position player. Scott has caught more helium than any other player throughout the spring, but I’m going to go with a college bat. The Royals farm system has a lot of younger prospects, and the big league roster may see some turnover in the next couple of years along with having seen star Eric Hosmer depart last offseason for San Diego, so to get a mature college hitter seems to fit here. OF Trevor Larnach (Oregon State) has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order bat in Kauffman Stadium for years to come. The youth movement in the Royals system will be greatly aided by the mature approach of Larnach, whose power continues to soar. PICK: TREVOR LARNACH

19. CARDINALS (Rode): There are plenty of great options here, including one of my favorite prospects in the draft in OF Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel HS, IL). But I’m keeping it simple and going with the best player available and on the PBR Draft Board, it’s Scott. PICK: CONNOR SCOTT

20. TWINS (Seifert): Under a new front office last June the Twins maintained their philosophy of simply selecting the best player available, preferring ceiling over safety by selecting Royce Lewis instead of Brendan McKay. A similar scenario should continue this season with pick No. 20. Minnesota native RHP Sean Hjelle (Kentucky) provides both ceiling and safety. At 6-foot-11 with control of a low-90s fastball that has serious downward plane and an above-average breaking pitch, Hjelle could move quickly through the minor leagues to a role as a mid-rotation starter. Another SEC arm, Jackson Kowar (Florida) could also move quickly with his above average command and plus changeup. Bat-wise, a great option that offers ceiling with a track record of college success is OF Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist). Physically, he looks very similar to former Twin Ben Revere and tool-wise compares to Corey Ray, the fifth overall pick by the Brewers in 2016. On the high school side, some of the top prospects remaining are Thomas, LHP Ryan Weathers (Loretto HS, TN), RHP Grayson Rodriguez (Central Heights HS, TX) and RHP Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central HS, GA). Weathers is talented and polished, yet may not have the ceiling the Twins prefer while Thomas is relatively similar to Hannah, but comes with more risk. As much as I like Hannah and the high ceiling high school arms, I’m staying in the SEC for this pick. After consultation with the analytics crew it’s the Wildcat over the Gator. PICK: SEAN HJELLE

21. BREWERS (Shooter): This seems like a good spot to snag the best available college arm. The Brewers have opted for collegiate bats in the first round the past two years (Ray, Keston Hiura), and it seems, to me, that steady, lower risk college starters tend to come off the board around this time each year. The ability to pick up a potential fast-riser like Kowar is too good to pass up here. He’s battle-tested, and could slide into the Brewers’ rotation quickly, making him a bargain here. PICK: JACKSON KOWAR

22. ROCKIES (Rode): When Shooter notified me that he had made his pick and I was on the clock, he said he would bet a lot of money that I would take Thomas here. He knows me well, but he needs to pay up. As much as I like Thomas, it’s difficult to get free agent arms to come to Denver and Colorado has used the draft to try and stock up on arms. I’ll take Tennessee’s Mr. Baseball. PICK: RYAN WEATHERS

23. YANKEES (Seifert): Following recent tradition, a college prospect here makes a lot of sense for the Yankees, especially a pitcher. New York has selected college arms in two of the past three drafts with RHPs James Kaprielian in 2015 and Clarke Schmidt last June. Very involved in analytics and their model, the Yanks can check a lot of boxes with RHP Logan Gilbert (Stetson). Starter delivery and arm action—check. Fastball velocity—check. Control—check. Statistical analytics—check. High spin rate—check. PICK: LOGAN GILBERT

24. CUBS (Shooter): The Cubs really pushed in on college arms last year, utilizing their first five picks on them (Brendon Little, Alex Lange, Cory Abbott, Keegan Thompson, Erich Uelmen). As much as I would have liked to get Weathers here, Rode saw through my ploy and selected him at No. 22. Thomas would be a fan-favorite pick here as he is a Chicago kid, but I’ve liked the potential impact bat of 1B Triston Casas (American Heritage HS, FL) for too long, and don’t want to pass it up here. PICK: TRISTON CASAS

25. DIAMONDBACKS (Rode): Again, Thomas is tempting here, but Arizona has leaned heavily on college prospects recently so that’s the direction I’m going. The next three college guys on our board are Hannah, SS Nico Hoerner (Stanford) and SS Jeremy Eierman (Missouri State). Like Thomas, Hannah’s defense and hit tool are tempting, but getting a college shortstop in the back of the first round is too good to pass up. Hoerner will be nice addition after having traded away the first overall pick in 2015, SS Dansby Swanson. PICK: NICO HOERNER

26. RED SOX (Seifert): The Red Sox have hit the SEC hard in two of the past three years (Tanner Houck, Andrew Benintendi) and the super competitive RHP Blaine Knight (Arkansas) makes some sense here. They haven’t selected a position player from the high school ranks in the first round since 2014 with Michael Chavis. In that same year, with their second first-round pick, they selected a high school arm from from Texas (Michael Kopech). It’s 2018 and time to go back south for another power-armed Texan, and one of the youngest prospects in this year’s draft—RHP Adam Kloffenstein (Magnolia HS, TX). PICK: ADAM KLOFFENSTEIN

27. NATIONALS (Shooter): With the toolsy Hannah still on the board, it is very hard to look past him. He has shown elite body control, and should continue developing as a future big league center fielder. His pitch recognition and ability to drive the ball to all fields are already strong, and he has the potential to steal even more bags at the professional level. I’m staying strong up the middle in D.C. PICK: JAMESON HANNAH

28. ASTROS (Rode): Only the Dodgers have a smaller bonus pool than the Astros, so I’m not working with whole lot of wiggle room here. No need to try and get fancy. I’m just going to grab the best player available and pay him. If Tal’s Hill were still in place, I know Thomas would have it covered. PICK: ALEK THOMAS

29. INDIANS (Seifert): This is the area of the draft where a team can select a low-to mid-ceiling college prospect or shoot for the moon with a high-ceiling high school prospect. Recently, Cleveland has chosen the latter with Will Benson in 2016 and Quentin Holmes as their first pick in 2017 (second round). Sticking with this philosophy, they could consider Rodriguez, Hankins or 3B Nolan Gorman (O’Connor HS, AZ). As much as I like the power bat of Gorman, I like the power arm better. PICK: GRAYSON RODRIGUEZ

30. DODGERS (Shooter): There are a couple collegiate arms in RHP Tristan Beck (Stanford) and Knight who could be strongly considered here, but I’m ready to go on a guy who came out of last summer as a potential top-10 pick. Eierman had a slower start to the college season, which may have hurt his top-10 chances, but the ability to pick him up this late in the first round is just too good to pass up. He’s an elite athlete with a chance to really hit.  PICK: JEREMY EIERMAN


31. RAYS (Rode): The Rays have back-to-back picks here so Seifert and I conferred on what we wanted to do. I took Adams in the first round, who will cost some coin and comes with some risk as well. Tampa Bay has five picks on the first day so it makes sense to try to find some balance. I was eyeing righties Beck, Knight and Griffin Roberts (Wake Forest), as well as OF Steele Walker (Oklahoma), and settled on Big Game Blaine. He has solid stuff, but has been a giant killer this spring so he brings some competitive edge too. PICK: BLAINE KNIGHT

32: RAYS (Seifert): With the second pick we decided to take some risk, but not to the extent of the highest risk category of a high school arm, so as much as we like Owen White (Jesse C Carson HS, NC) and Hankins, they are not options here for us. OF Mike Siani (William Penn Charter HS, PA) and Gorman are still available. Either would make a good pick. But there’s just something about an ambidextrous, switch-hitting catcher—and switch-pitcher—with excellent baseball instincts and skills. Independently, both Rode and I have always had a gut feel for C Anthony Seigler (Cartersville HS, GA). PICK: ANTHONY SEIGLER

33. ROYALS (Shooter): The Royals are about to have three of the next eight picks, so for this pick (and the next), I’d want to go after the biggest upside guys, especially after taking an established college hitter like Larnach earlier on. However, getting back-to-back college right-handed pitchers like Beck and Roberts might be too appealing to pass up. The arms would immediately bolster the farm system with the always-coveted pitching, so my mind is made up. PICK: TRISTAN BECK

34. ROYALS (Rode): Roberts would move quickly through a farm system as a reliever with his plus fastball and slider. He does have a third pitch in his changeup so starting isn’t out of the question. PICK: GRIFFIN ROBERTS

35. INDIANS (Seifert): The Indians do a great job of balancing upside with risk and typically draft with the philosophy of taking the best prospect available. For me, multi-positional athletes who can hit make great picks, especially when one of the positions is catcher. And, at this point, that same guy will likely be the best prospect available in C/3B Noah Naylor (St. Joan of Arc SS, ON). PICK: NOAH NAYLOR


36. PIRATES (Shooter): After going high school heavy a year ago with three players selected in the first fifty picks (Shane Baz, Steven Jennings, Calvin Mitchell) before trading away ace right-hander, Gerrit Cole, the Pirates appear to be rebuilding. They took Turang with their first pick, and have plenty of options here. They could go after high-upside, high school arms like White, Hankins or RHP Lyon Richardson (Jensen Beach HS, FL). Each provides some electricity on the bump. However, the chance to snag a big time left-handed bat is too good to pass up. 1B/OF Seth Beer (Clemson) may have some question marks on where he will play in the field, but there is no question where he will fit in the lineup. He is a middle-of-the-order bat with power, and may yield massive dividends down the road. PICK: SETH BEER

37. ORIOLES (Rode): Baltimore’s first pick in this exercise was Rolison, who should come in under the No. 11 slot value of $4,375,100. So I’m going to try to lure someone away from their college commitment here. Siani would be a fine choice with his plus defense in center field and chance to be an impact left-handed bat, but I’m staring down an arm. White is a three-sport athlete and made the jump we expected after he stopped playing football. He showed command of three future average or better pitches this spring. I’m confident that his athleticism will help him reach is ceiling of being a No. 3 starter in the big leagues. PICK: OWEN WHITE

38. PADRES (Seifert): In reality, on June 4, a big arm like Hankins or a power bat like Gorman will not be available at this point in the draft. The risk is high, but the reward is just too much to pass up. And, if a club doesn’t hit on the pick, it’s only money (it’s a $10 billion industry folks). If either is available, and both are in our draft, it’s a slam dunk. The Padres would take one of them since they love high ceiling prospects and are not deterred by the risk. PICK: NOLAN GORMAN

39. DIAMONDBACKS (Shooter):  Having already taken a college bat in Hoerner along with a host of collegiate position players the past couple of years, this pick looks like a good time for the D-Backs to go after an arm. Hankins, Richardson, RHP J.T. Ginn (Brandon HS, MS), and RHP Cole Wilcox (Heritage HS, GA) are possibilities, though my guess would be that Hankins and Ginn’s signability may become an issue. There are also a trio of college southpaws in Tim Cate (Connecticut), Kris Bubic (Stanford), and Konnor Pilkington (Mississippi State) that are tempting. Regardless of signability issues, Ginn’s power arm and swing-and-miss stuff is too good for me to pass up here. PICK: J.T. GINN

40. ROYALS (Rode): With a college bat and two college arms already taken by Kansas City, it’s time to pluck a high school prospect and there are plenty to choose from. Siani and SS Nander De Sedas (Montverde Academy, FL) are at the top of the board, followed by arms like Hankins, Richardson and Wilcox. I was actually eyeing RHP Mike Vasil (Boston College HS, MA) before he announced his intent to honor his commitment to Virginia. Instead, I’m going with OF Nick Schnell (Roncalli HS, IN), who has an arrow pointing up next to his name thanks to a ridiculous spring. PICK: NICK SCHNELL

41. INDIANS (Seifert): Having previously picked higher risk high prospects Rodriguez and Naylor for the Indians, it’s time to hedge a bit and go the college route. I’m a firm believer in spreading the risk of a draft class. You can’t draft for big upside with all of your top picks and reasonably expect to have all superstars in five years. Draft history tells us this. Therefore, the lowest risk pick is a college hitter. As much as I like the bats in OF Kyle Isbel (UNLV), SS Tyler Frank (Florida Atlantic), OF/2B Grant Little (Texas Tech), OF Devlin Granberg (Dallas Baptist) SS Terrin Vavra (Minnesota), OF Grant Witherspoon (Tulane) and C Cal Raleigh (Florida State), I’m going to stick with a prospect who has hit everywhere and every year for every team he’s played on. He even hit a Ted Williams-esque .406/.479/.557 in the grueling Northwoods League after his freshman year in college. PICK: STEELE WALKER

42. ROCKIES (Shooter): Seif said it best when talking about college hitters holding the lowest risk, and after snagging Weathers with the pick at 22, I’m ready to commit to one. Though I watched increased power from 1B/OF Alfonso Rivas (Arizona) the last few weekends of the season, the numbers point to another outfielder. At first glance, OF Tristan Pompey (Kentucky) saw his numbers go down from last season. However, a (slightly) deeper look shows that his slugging percentage was 16 points higher as well as his extra base hit percentage being considerably higher (43.55 percent compared to 29.17 percent last year). Nearly 100 less at-bats stopped him from blowing guys away with old school numbers (does anybody even look at the RBI stat anymore?), but a quick look at D1Baseball’s Analytical Rankings: Top Hitters shows that Pompey is going to have a good chance to hit at the professional level, and given that thin air in Denver, he may find even more power. PICK: TRISTAN POMPEY

43. CARDINALS (Rode): After taking Scott with the 19th pick, I was thinking I’d pick something a little safer here, but the upside options at the top of the board are too enticing. Plus, if we were to continue beyond Competitive Balance Round A, St. Louis picks again at 75 and could always go for a college guy there. So, I’m keeping the focus on high school guys and was particularly eyeing Richardson, Wilcox and SS Xavier Edwards (North Broward Prep, FL). Richardson and Wilcox both have electric stuff, but Edwards is a dynamic player with quick-twitch athleticism and plus defense. He’s the kind of a guy a fan base can easily get behind with his ability and the way he plays. PICK: XAVIER EDWARDS

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