MLB Draft: Analyzing Each Team's First-Round Picks

Adley Rutschman was selected first overall by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2019 MLB Draft.
Publish date:

The 2019 MLB Draft is here and has you covered with live updates and analysis for each team's first-round picks. This year's class featured the best catching prospect since Buster Posey and a potential five-tool shortstop, though the crop of pitching prospects is considered weakest it's been in years. 

Below are the results of the first round, which will be updated as each player is selected:

No. 1 Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State

Rutschman is as much of a sure thing as they come at what’s become the most difficult position to project future success. A switch-hitting catcher whose glove is as good, if not better, than his bat, Rutschman completely revamped his swing after his freshman season at Oregon State to improve his timing. It took months before he saw results, but once everything clicked the results were striking—he slashed .408/.505/.628 with nine home runs as a sophomore and that summer led USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. As a junior with the Beavers, Rutschman hit nearly double as many home runs as he did in 2018 and improved his plate discipline with twice as many walks as strikeouts. A natural lefthanded hitter, opposing teams used to prefer making him bat righthanded, then considered his weaker side. However, this season, Rutschman improved his power from the right side, making him a complete switch hitter. Simply put, he’s the best catching draft prospect since either Buster Posey in 2008 or Matt Wieters in 2007.

No. 2 Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Heritage High (Texas)

How could any team not be excited about a potential five-tool high school shortstop? Bobby Witt Jr. has incredible power for a high schooler—he won the high school home run derby last summer during All-Star Weekend—but his swing-and-miss frequency was a bit concerning. He seemed to address that issue this spring, as both his plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills have both improved during his senior year. He’s no longer as pull happy and is showing he can hit with authority to all fields. Along with his power, his defense and athleticism project well enough to warrant a top pick, and if he continues to develop as a complete hitter, he’s got franchise-shortstop written all over him. The one possible wrinkle in this is Witt has committed to play at Oklahoma, though the monetary value for his No. 2 overall selection should be enough to persuade him to sign with the Royals.

No. 3 Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, University of California

Vaughn is widely considered the best hitter in the draft; his lack of another tool is what made him fall to No. 3. But conversely, it shows just how advanced he is as a hitter that teams were willing to take him so early without knowing what value they can get from him defensively. He’s a 5’ 11”, righthanded first baseman, but he’s a decent enough athlete that he shouldn’t be a liability in the field. And again, he’s such a complete offensive player that he should be more than capable of making up for his defense with his bat.

No. 4 Miami Marlins: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt

Bleday has always been a strong hitter at Vanderbilt with a ton of potential, but his power surge this season has established him as one of the premier bats in the draft. He’s mashed 26 home runs in 59 games this season, the most of any college player. He has a strong command of the strike zone, evidenced by his solid strikeout and walk rates.

No. 5 Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty High School (Florida)

Greene is considered the best pure high school hitter on this class, per Baseball America, with tremendous bat speed. A lefthanded hitter with strong plate discipline, the 6’ 2”, 190-pound outfielder has a ton of upside. Greene will probably move from centerfield to one of the corner spots in the minors, due to his below-average speed, but his offensive upside is promising enough to warrant his No. 5 selection.

No. 6 San Diego Padres: C.J. Abrams Jr., SS, Blessed Trinity High School (Georgia)

The No. 2 high school shortstop in this class, Abrams is the opposite of Witt when it comes to offensive strengths. The 6’ 2”, 185-pound Abrams has elite bat-to-ball skills for a high school prospect, and he’s an 80-grade runner, which is the highest on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. He is not a power hitter and some scouts question how much power he can develop. However, he has a knack for finding the barrel and should still make solid contact to make up for whatever he lacks in the power department.

No. 7 Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, TCU

Lodolo is a tall, lanky lefthander who projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. He’s the best college arm in an unusually weak class for pitchers. He throws a low-90s fastball with the potential to hit 94-95, though he could increase that as he grows into his frame.

No. 8 Texas Rangers: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech

Jung has been among the best college hitters over the past three years, with his most impressive campaign coming as a sophomore when he approached a .400 average. His advanced approach at the plate makes him more of a hitter with power rather than a power hitter.

No. 9 Atlanta Braves: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor

If not for Rutschman, Langeliers would be the top-rated college catcher, as an elite defensive backstop. His bat has improved each college season, though he’s not as polished offensively as Rutschman. Still glove skills are most important for a big-league catcher.

No. 10 San Francisco Giants: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State

Bishop is a bonafide power-hitting prospect, with a 70-power grade according to Baseball America. There are concerns that Bishop is too prone to striking out, though he has improved his strikeout rate this season. His 6’5”, 210-pound frame will likely play better as a corner outfielder than in centerfield, his position with Arizona State.

No. 11 Toronto Blue Jays: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia

Manoah has collegiate experience both as a starter and a reliever, but he was a standout starter in the Cape Code League last summer—in 33 1/3 innings, he had a 2.70 ERA with 48 strikeouts. He is mainly a two-pitch righthander and he’s had some control problems, which might push him to the bullpen. Manoah is also a large man, at 6’6” and 260 pounds, but he’s got good stuff that should play well moving forward.

No. 12 New York Mets: Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Texas)

Baty has power to both the pull side and opposite field, and he has advanced plate discipline for a high schooler. Considered one of the best offensive players in the draft, Baty’s glove is not as far along, with some scouts questioning whether he’ll stay at third base or move to first.

No. 13 Minnesota Twins: Keoni Cavaco, SS, Eastlake HS (California)

Cavaco boasts impressive tools, though he was late to register on many scout’s radars. He’s an above-average runner and defender at third base, where he’s expected to end up in the future. He has plenty of power potential at the plate. The concerns surrounding Cavaco are mainly due to how late he burst on the scene as a legitimate first-round contender.

No. 14 Philadelphia Phillies: Bryson Stott, SS, Nevada-Las Vegas

Stott’s bat developed earlier than his glove, when he put up strong numbers during his first two seasons at UNLV. Last summer, he displayed greater body control and glove skills at shortstop while playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, showing he can play the position at the professional level.

No. 15 Los Angeles Angels: Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State

Wilson is considered one of the safest picks in the draft because he’s been such a consistent player in his three years at NC State. He’s improved at the dish each season, with his power still developing. He’s a solid defender, though he will probably end up at second base in the minors. He has some swing-and-miss issues and will need to control the strike zone better moving forward, but there’s little doubt he’ll be a productive big-leaguer.

No. 16 Arizona Diamondbacks: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Seattle)

Don’t let Caroll’s small frame—5’10” and 170 pounds—deceive you. He’s one of the more advanced high school hitters in the draft. And he isn’t just a singles guy. Carroll has a tremendous understanding of the strike zone and is a patient hitter. As he matures, he could develop average power for a major-leaguer. Plus, Carroll is one of the best defensive centerfielders in the class who can flat-out fly on the bases.

No. 17 Washington Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto Junior College (Texas)

Few pitchers are more daunting than Rutledge, with his 6’6”, 260-pound frame. He regularly reaches the upper 90s with his fastball, and his slider and curveball both project as plus secondary pitches moving forward. He’s improved upon the control problems he’s exhibited in the past, though his command could be an issue moving forward.

No. 18 Pittsburgh Pirates: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove HS (Illinois)

Priester has a ton of potential for a high school pitcher, with a fastball hitting 95-97 mph and plus curveball. His twoseamer has a lot of movement and sits in the low-90s. He was also standout wide receiver in high school, and he uses that athleticism to his advantage on the mound.

No. 19 St. Louis Cardinals: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky

Thompson was one of the best pitchers in the SEC this season, pitching for Kentucky on Friday nights. He has a four-pitch mix, with a low- to mid-90s fastball and a slider with a high-spin rate. If he can develop his curveball and changeup, he could be a solid addition to a major-league rotation.

No. 20 Seattle Mariners: George Kirby, RHP, Elon

Kirby has great command of all four of his pitches, with his strike-throwing prowess being his most impressive trait. He had 107 strikeouts and just six walks this season, which is absolutely absurd. He has a solid fastball that consistently hits 94-95 mph, with his changeup being his best secondary pitch. Kirby’s curveball and slider are inconsistent but have potential, and he projects as a quality middle of the rotation starter.

No. 21 Atlanta Braves: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M

Shewmake is one of the best pure hitters in the draft. A tall, lanky lefthanded hitter, he has said he modeled his swing after Joe Mauer. Shewmake has strong bat-to-ball skills and could hit for more power as he fills into his frame.

No. 22 Tampa Bay Rays: Greg Jones, SS, UNC-Wilmington

Jones is one of the fastest prospects in the draft, and his bat developed nicely in 2019, his sophomore season. He has a strong arm and good range at shortstop, making him a quality defender there. But because of his elite speed, some scouts believe Jones could end up in the outfield.

No. 23 Colorado Rockies: Michael Toglia, 1B/OF, UCLA

Toglia is a switch-hitter with elite power, especially from the left side of the dish. He’s a plus defender at first base and could be an above-average corner outfielder.

No. 24 Cleveland Indians: Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Georgia)

Many scouts and draft analysts believe Espino has the best pure stuff in the draft, and he has the most upside of any pitcher in the draft—high school or college. Espino already has reached triple digits with his fastball and it has a lot of life and nice cutting action to his glove side. Originally from Panama, Espino moved to Georgia before high school. He has two dynamic breaking balls, a slider and curveball, with sharp, late break. He projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter and potential ace.

No. 25 Los Angeles Dodgers: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane

Hoese batted .391 and ripped 23 home runs during his breakout junior season, which comes after he combined for just five homers in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He has a compact swing and can hit with power to all fields.

No. 26 Arizona Diamondbacks: Blake Walston, LHP, New Hanover High School (North Carolina)

Walston has a ton of potential, with an ideal frame (6'4", 174 pounds) for a high school lefthander. He's an impressive athlete with a strong arm who could easily put on 30-40 pounds that will add some more life to his fastball, which currently sits between 86-91 mph.

No. 27 Chicago Cubs: Ryan Jensen, RHP, Fresno State

Jensen was ranked No. 99 on MLB Pipeline's prospect list and No. 109 in Baseball America's rankings. But Jensen does have a live arm, reaching 98 mph with his fastball that has natural sinking action to his arm side. He projects more as a reliever than a starter.

No. 28 Milwaukee Brewers: Ethan Small, LHP, Mississippi State

Small has great command with his fastball, which is a strong swing-and-miss pitch despite its lack of velocity (89-92 mph). The lefthander is deceptive and he hides the ball well. He also has a plus changeup.

No. 29 Oakland Athletics: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson

Davidson has always been a plus defender, with his bat developing throughout his time at Clemson. He posted at least 10 homers and stolen bases in each of his three collegiate seasons, though he never hit above .300. There are some concerns about his hitting after having poor offensive numbers in his two summers in the Cape Cod League, where they use wood bats.

No. 30 New York Yankees: Anthony Volpe, SS, Delbarton HS (N.J.)

Volpe doesn’t have one standout trait, but he does a lot of things well and he has great baseball instincts. He has quick hands and a short, line-drive swing, and he has solid bat contol. His defense is despite not having the strongest arm because he has quick hands and great footwork. He’s simply a ballplayer.

No. 31 Los Angeles Dodgers: Michael Busch, OF/1B/2B, North Carolina

Busch is an outstanding college hitter and has an advanced approach at the plate. He commands the strike zone well and can hit for both average and power. Interestingly, Busch is a strong defensive first baseman who played mostly leftfield in 2019, but the Dodgers drafted him as a second baseman. Either way, he's an elite hitter who can play multiple positions.

No. 32 Houston Astros: Korey Lee, C, University of California

Lee batted behind No. 3 overall draft pick Andrew Vaughn at Cal, and he had a much better offensive season than in his first two collegiate seasons. Lee was ranked No. 173 on Baseball America's draft rankings list, mostly because he lacks the track record to back up what he did in 2019. Still, if the Astros are getting the Korey Lee that Cal got this year, they will have a solid catcher. He slashed .338/.419/.626 with 15 home runs this season and he has the potential to be a strong defensive catcher, too.

No. 33 Arizona Diamondbacks: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Florida) — Compensation Pick

Malone is an impressive high school pitcher with one of the best upsides of any pitcher in the draft class. He boasts a four-pitch mix with a fastball that has touched 97 mph, though it sits in the low- to mid-90s. His slider has developed nicely this spring, while his curveball remains inconsistent. His changeup has some potential due to the difference in velocity between it and his heater.

No. 34 Arizona Diamondbacks: Drey Jameson, RHP, Ball State — Compensation Pick

A draft-eligible sophomore, Jameson has a live arm with a fastball that touches 97 mph and sits between 93-95. He’s had some control issues and has an average slider and inconsistent changeup, but the potential is there.