- Minnesota has an excellent chance to speed up its rebuilding process, but there should also be plenty of talented players available in the rest of the top 10.
Everybody loves a mock draft, and with the real thing—Major League Baseball’s amateur draft—less than four weeks away, the experts attuned to analyzing hundreds of potential picks from the high school and college ranks have put forth theirs in recent weeks. They’ll continue to do so right up until June 12, when commissioner Rob Manfred steps to the microphone and announces who the Twins, owners of the overall number one pick, will tab.
The smart folks at Baseball America, ESPN, Hero Sports, MLB Pipeline and Perfect Game have released some useful mock drafts based on years of knowledge in the field and myriad discussions with scouts and front office executives about the talent at hand as well as organizational philosophies. This mock draft, on the other hand, is merely an attempt to summarize the consensus from those sources. As draft day draws closer, I’ll circle back with another mock, hopefully without making a mockery of the process.
The general consensus within the industry is that the Twins will tab a two-way player, but that it won't be recent SI cover subject Hunter Greene. Instead, they're apparently leaning towards McKay, who is considered the safer bet. Some scouts consider the 6'2”, 214 lb lefty swinger the best pure hitter in the draft class thanks to his smooth swing and all-fields approach. Others like his 89-93 mph fastball, plus curveball and average changeup and see someone with a quick pathway to being a No. 3 starter, particularly given the expectation that he'll gain velocity once he focuses on pitching full time. Even if Minnesota takes him here, it's not clear which path the team will have him take.
Cincinnati is said to prefer McKay to Greene but Greene to everyone else, and the general consensus is that the 17-year-old, 6'4" 210 lb prep star's future is more likely on the mound than in the infield. Green has reached 102 mph with his fastball and generally works in the 95-98 range and boasts a slider that projects to be at least above average; he can throw all four of his pitches, which also include a curve and changeup, for strikes. He'd prefer to remain closer to home with the Padres, who have the No. 3 pick, but he may not fall that far.
Despite an inconsistent senior season at the plate, Lewis' plus-plus speed, athleticism and ability to play an up-the-middle position make for a tantalizing combination. There's some concern that his arm might not be strong enough to play shortstop, and there is a lack of consensus about about his power potential, but evaluators agree that he has a good feel for hitting and a consistent ability to barrel the ball up.
The Rays' lack of success in drafting prep bats suggests they could be looking to select a pitcher, and Wright is likely to be the first college pitcher taken. The 6'4”, 220-pounder has come on strong lately and is considered to have the best arm action and physical projection of the group. He offers a 91-94 mph fastball that can touch 97, throws both a curve and a slider (scouts prefer the former) and is developing a changeup.
The Braves could pounce on any player above who slips to them, but even with their wealth of pitching prospects they could still tab another hurler. This athletic 6'2", 180-pound lefty has already impressed scouts thanks to his combination of stuff, projection and polish, but his stock is on the rise thanks to some newfound velocity that's pushed his fastball into the low-to-mid 90s. He backs that fastball with a curveball, slider and changeup that are all at least above-average, with the curve a true plus pitch.
Though he's only 6-feet and 195 pounds, Bukauskas is viewed as having the best pure stuff among college pitchers, with a 94-97 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider that both grade out as plus or plus-plus, depending upon whom you ask. In addition, his changeup projects to be at least average. There's concern about the lack of plane on his fastball, however, as well as a high-effort delivery that doesn't make use of his lower body, so there's a chance he becomes a late-inning reliever.
Another two-way player, this 6’1”, 185-pound lefty is certain to follow the position path, but there’s a wide variance of viewpoints among experts. Some see significant upside with his advanced, whole-field approach once he focuses on playing every day, but others are skeptical of his power and his ability to stay in centerfield, though he has enough arm for rightfield.
The Phillies are said to prefer a polished college bat, and Smith, a 6'2" 210 lb lefty, fits the bill here. He makes hard contact, has at least above-average power and an advanced feel for hitting and is one of the toughest hitters in the collegiate ranks to strike out, with fewer whiffs (eight) than homers (10) in 193 at-bats through Monday.
There's a wide variance in where Beck could go, with some seeing him as a top-five pick and others expecting him to slip outside the top 10. The athletic, 5’11", 175-pounder has one of the best collections of tools in this draft, headlined by his arm and his speed rather than his bat. A torn ACL and meniscus, which prevented him from playing on the showcase circuit last summer, gives him a shorter history of success with wooden bats, which is why some teams might shy away.
Despite swing-and-miss concerns, Adell has a collection of tools that has drawn comparisons to Byron Buxton and Melvin Upton Jr.—perhaps the best of the entire draft class. The centerfielder's speed and power draw notice, as does his arm; he's been clocked at 97 mph from the outfield and is also considered a pitching prospect with a 92-94 mph fastball and a 12-to-6 curve.