Who is at the top of the 2018 MLB Draft? Doug Gray April 14, 2018 40 Comments The 2018 Major League Baseball draft is still nearly two months away. But, teams are starting to draw closer to who they want to take, at least among the teams at the top. Once you get outside of the top 5-10, it’s tougher to know who is going to be there for the taking. The Cincinnati Reds are scheduled to draft 5th overall. At this point, they probably have a general list of a few guys that they are going to take, unless injuries pop up or someone takes a big step forward. Kiley McDaniel, Fangraphs lead amateur prospect writer and former MLB scout and front office-type, mentioned in his chat earlier this week that there were six guys could be argued for the top three draft prospects right now. At least for him. Kiley McDaniel: Mize, Bohm, Madrigal for me but you could argue Swaggerty or McClanahan or Stewart could be in there. Let’s look at each of these six guys. We will start off with Casey Mize. He’s moved from a Top 10 guy entering the year to someone expected to be the #1 pick in June. To say he’s performed well for Auburn would be an understatement. In nine games he’s posted a 2.00 ERA in 63.0 innings. He’s allowed just 37 hits and walked a total of FOUR batters this season. That’s a WHIP of 0.65 this year. He has also struck out 86 of the 235 batters he’s faced. That’s 37%. It’s not as if the right hander has just put up the numbers. He’s also got strong stuff. His fastball works in the 93-96 MPH range and he mixes in both a slider and splitter that are above-average. Alec Bohm is the third baseman at Wichita State. He’s a big guy, listed at 6′ 5″ and 240 lbs. He’s been crushing the ball this season, hitting .350/.463/.625 in 32 games. His power has led to nine doubles and eight home runs this season. That’s also come with nearly twice as many walks, 25, as strikeouts, 13. I would be surprised if he went down as the Reds pick, though. As a guy who profiles as a third baseman, or perhaps future first baseman, it’s tough to spend a high pick on someone where you have two guys locked up for 6+ years at the MLB level. Especially as a college player who will be 27 or 28 before a spot, in theory, would open up. Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal has been considered the top college hitter since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, he’s missed about the last two months with an injury. He only played six games before being injured. In that span he posted a ridiculous .560/.593/.880 line with two doubles and two home runs. In 2017 he hit .380/.449/.532 in 60 games with 20 doubles, two triples, and four home runs. He’s close to returning, but the exact date is still up in the air according to a report from Bob Lundeberg of The Gazette Times. Carter Stewart has jumped up the ranks since the start of the year. Viewed as a mid-to-late 1st rounder entering the season, he’s now at the top of some teams boards among all high school players. The right hander throws in the 92-96 MPH range with arguably the best breaking ball in the draft – a power curveball with elite-level spin rate. He also has a solid change up, though he doesn’t use it often at this point. Left handed pitcher Shane McClanahan had a rough start last night. East Carolina roughed him up for six runs in 3.0 innings where he walked five batters with just three strikeouts. It was easily the worst start of the season for the lefty. Control has been a problem for McClanahan throughout his career, and that’s remained the case this season. He has walked 29 batters in 50.1 innings. That has come along with tons of strikeouts, 84 of them, and a 3.22 ERA. But, despite elite level stuff with a fastball that can reach 98 MPH the control could be a big red warning sign for teams. South Alabama’s Travis Swaggerty is the final player to look at from the group that Kiley McDaniel mentioned. The outfielder is well rounded, with 5-tool potential. With that said, the only tool that looks to be potentially truly above-average is his speed. Through 33 games he’s hitting .310/.487/.595 with six doubles and nine home runs. As a center fielder, his 15 home run pop shouldn’t be an issue if he fully develops. For a small school player, personally, you’d like to see better than a .310 average at this point of the season out of a junior who is looking at being a potential Top 5 pick. 40 Responses Pat April 14, 2018 Is there a strategy? Best arm or best bat? Or just best available? The guy from Witchita is intriguing as is the guy from Oregon State since it’s the 5th pick. Next year could be top three so pitching. Although as I type Finnegan surrenders 2nd dinger and 74 pitches through 4. Doug Gray April 14, 2018 It seems that they tend to go with best player available, which is usually what I subscribe to. But it’s also a tough sell to take a 1B/3B type out of college with Votto and Suarez both locked up for the next 6-7 years. I-71_Exile April 14, 2018 I don’t mind the Reds picking a corner infielder at this point. Votto is certainly blocking 1B for now, but I don’t really see him finishing his contract with the Reds. The last three years or so of his deal are likely dead money to me. Father Time always wins. That said, Votto has proven people wrong his whole career. Pat April 14, 2018 Agree – then a guy like Senzel in the wings too. All the metrics can’t predict a baseball player 3-4 years down the line from 18-22 or 22-25. If we had that formula we’d be rich and famous. Thanks for the reply. HavaKlu April 15, 2018 Don’t see Bohm being limited to 3B or 1B——if he’s playing 3B now, he should be able to handle LF. Norwood Nate April 15, 2018 If one believes that selecting best available is the best strategy then I don’t think you veer from that philosophy because a guy is a tough sell or because you are looking 6-7 years down the road. If Bohm is the best available the Reds should take him if their philosophy is to take best available regardless of fit, which should never be considered when drafting, IMO. If he has a Senzel like rise, you figure out a place to play him or you make a trade from excess to fill an area of need. Now, I don’t have a ton of faith based on recent history that this FO would be able to execute such a move, but there would be value to trade and to bring back if the proper deal emerges. Plus, Suarez and Senzel have positional flexibility if you need to play the guy at 3B. One could probably play SS and one 2B or corner OF. Seems like an easy enough sell to make rather than to just jettison your drafting philosophy as soon as a guy isn’t an obvious fit. kevinz April 14, 2018 some Position players like for reds are throughout draft just not for at 5. :HS OF: Connor Scott Plus Speed good feel to hitting could play CF being under valued OF-2nd base CJ Krowiak plus speed nice hit tool. OF Rutgers jawvan Harris plus tools along with skills Liberty OF:DJ Artis 4 tool type player low on Power Towson SS:Richard Palacios fast player has more power than frame shows. Arizona OF:Cal Stevenson good arm can Play CF Senior Sign OF: JJ Shimko overall good player lil speed lil hit good fielder rice SS: Ford Proctor solid player has Power Potential MikeD April 14, 2018 I know taking Stewart would indicate that the Reds are looking long term and I would be okay with him. Not sure I would take a second basemen out of college for the same reasons you mentioned about not taking a 3rd/1st basemen. If they can get another elite arm, I would go for it! Randy in Chatt April 14, 2018 Who is at the top of the 2019 draft? :( another bob in nc April 14, 2018 Just asking, not arguing. How does “it’s tough to spend a high pick on someone where you have two guys locked up for 6+ years at the MLB level” square with taking the best talent available? Norwood Nate April 15, 2018 It doesn’t. A April 14, 2018 Man, this season makes me queasy. There doesn’t seem to be urgency. At bat after at bat emotionless. It feels like a September game. kevinz April 14, 2018 feel the same way i think once Suarez and Senzel join the lineup more runs will follow. think Scooter should lead if Winker hurt hamilton struggles in leadoff better in 9th spot. Kap April 14, 2018 My take: If they draft a bat at #5, trade Iglesias for pitching prospects (cough cough…. braves….. cough cough…) If they draft a pitcher at #5, trade Iglesias for position players. A highly rated center fielder or shortstop. Wes April 14, 2018 Wow what a shake up to this list! Singer not an option in top 3-6 picks ? Most movement I remember on a list. How much of a risk is it to take a high schooler when top college guys move so much ? jordan salisbury April 14, 2018 So not even a chance Singer falls to 5 then? I had read that his stock was dropping. Casey Mize would be great though. He sort of reminds me of Kyle Wright in terms of being a solid pick and a college arm who would work his way up through the farm system quickly The Duke April 14, 2018 In Kiley McDaniel’s recent draft chat over at Fangraphs, he said Singer is likely a mid first round pick. Fastball is down, has been hittable in SEC play. DanD April 14, 2018 Read an interesting article on the Tigers thinking about Mize or a HS OF by the name of Jarred Kelenic. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.blessyouboys.com/platform/amp/2018/4/14/17237242/2018-mlb-draft-scouting-reports-detroit-tigers-casey-mize-jarred-kelenic-alec-bohm Could Kelenic be a player that the Reds could be interested in? The Duke April 14, 2018 I could see Kelenic or Connor Scott sneaking their way into the top 5 kevinz April 15, 2018 Wow nice to see only one so high on Scott thought get laughed at i am high on him like was for Trammell a HS OF will speed and nice feel and hands to hit. Bill April 14, 2018 During the Auburn-Mississippi State game last night, the announcers said that Detroit is focused on Mize and Kelenic. There appeared to be a good number of Detroit scouts/front office at the game last night. Top MSU prospect, LHP Konnor Pilkington, pitched well for the Bulldogs, too. RobL April 14, 2018 I saw Pilkington pitch against LSU last year, and was really impressed. Not really sure why he isn’t more highly rated. The Duke April 15, 2018 If I recall correctly, Pilkington’s fastball sits 89-91, and that’s why he isn’t that highly rated despite being an SEC performer. RobL April 14, 2018 It is weird that nobody has anything negative to say about Connor Scott, yet he is not considered a top 5 prospect. I would love for the Reds to cut a deal with him at 5. For me, McClanahan is out at 5. The Reds have enough pitchers with control issues. Bohm is probably out, and so is Madrigal. Suarez and Senzel make them tough to take. Swaggerty is tough to take because of all the center fielders we already have in A ball. Mize will be gone. I would still consider taking Singer, and could maybe even get him at a discount. If you look at his numbers, he is still very good. I feel the same way Kiley McDaniel summed it up with him, that in three years he will be doing very well and everyone will be wondering how he lasted so long in the draft. I also wouldn’t mind any of Liberatore, Stewart, Hankins, or Rocker. Add Kelenic and Scott and you have quite a stable to chose from. Whoever agrees to sign for 5 million goes to the top of the list. kevinz April 15, 2018 I’m betting Scott Jump at that price since Rated lower else where but i want him at 5. reminds me of Kyle Tucker hit tool a tad below Tucker’s, but a better arm and speed with chance to stick in center. Then 2nd rd Pitcher 3rd rd a hitter then Mostly Pitching after that. The Duke April 15, 2018 Incidentally, Scott and Tucker used to be on the same HS team. kevinz April 15, 2018 yup sure were they great friends too scott models his game after Tucker’s Greenfield Red April 14, 2018 Does Bryan Price get fired if they get blown out again tomorrow? I think maybe so. The Rage April 14, 2018 Yes. Homer is pitching for Price’s job MK April 14, 2018 Alf Rod pulled from Blue Wahoos game replaced by Alberti Chavez. kevinz April 15, 2018 College Pitchers i like not sure be there in 2nd rd are Kentucky -Sean Hjelle : Huge 6;”11 good getting on top of ball has feel for a change up throws strike with 3 pitches. Arkasas – Blaine Knight – Skinny but has easy repeatable delivery was cared for by his coaches can throw 3 pitches for strikes think can add on fb if gain some weight. icehole3 April 15, 2018 I would like to see the Reds draft 5 pitchers with their first 5 picks in the draft, that’s just my opinion. Tom April 15, 2018 Some things never change :) Norwood Nate April 15, 2018 Mize is at the top of my draft board, followed by Madrigal. Don’t have enough of an opinion formed yet after that, other than I would stay far, far away from McClanahan. It would upset me if the Reds went in that direction, we don’t need guys with control issues who have already had 1 Tommy John surgery. The Duke April 15, 2018 My ever changing top 5 at the moment would be: Casey Mize (elite command and control) Nick Madrigal (elite hit tool) Carter Stewart (elite curveball) Connor Scott (Jesse Winker with 70 speed and more arm) Matt Liberatore (elite command and control prep lefty & projectable still) Kindell April 15, 2018 At the start of this season I wasn’t really interested in Madrigal because we are already having issues finding a spot for Senzel in the infield. Watching this team the last few weeks has really changed my mind. I think Madrigal should be at the top of the Reds board and if he somehow falls to us. He has an elite feel for hitting and is a very difficult out. He has also won a quite a bit in college. AirborneJayJay April 15, 2018 Mize had a terrific start Friday night. Complete game 2-1 win. He went 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 13 GO, 5 FO, Mize is taking a stranglehold on the top spot, 1-1. Hoyce April 15, 2018 What happened to Jon Hankins? Think he was hurt early and projected as the top HS pitcher. But haven’t heard much about him lately I hope the reds go best available pitcher. But I think they draft Madrigal. Seems like a player the reds would love. A pedroia type. AirborneJayJay April 15, 2018 Florida had 4 games last week with 1 vs. Fl. St. and 3 with Missouri. Quality opponents. Singer on Friday went 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Kowar on Sat. went 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, and 9 K.. Jonathon India went 6-12, 5 R, 6 H, 0 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K. . Florida C JJ Schwartz is getting hot. Things are heating up on the college scene. Kindell April 15, 2018 I just don’t think the value is there on the pitching side of things unless they take a HS arm. Outside of Mize, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of college arms. I would like to see them grab the best bat available and load up on high end position talent. I said above that I really have started to come around to the idea of Madrigal. All this guys does is hit and hit some more. Maybe the injury will push him down a few spots to us.