This year marks the third year in a row the Astros have held the No. 1 overall pick, and while their target groups have been known each of the last two years, no one knew for sure who they were taking until the actual call was made at the podium. The same is true this year, as while Brady Aiken seems to be the obvious choice, we won't know for sure until his name is actually called.
Apparently there is a split between the Marlins' ownership and baseball operations, with one side wanting Carlos Rodon given his Cuban-American heritage and the other wanting Alex Jackson. We know who usually wins these disagreements.
The White Sox have been connected to Kolek for several weeks now, and nothing has changed leading up to draft day.
In an ideal world the Cubs would have a chance to take either Aiken or Rodon, and they may have a chance at Rodon should the Marlins select Alex Jackson. Recent word indicates that they've focused their attention on Nick Gordon, which may indicate they know how the top of the draft is going to shake out.
Another selection that will depend on the players taken directly ahead of them, as the Twins have been connected to Nick Gordon for over a month. If the Marlins take Rodon, and the Cubs take Gordon look for the Twins to take Aaron Nola. Hartford lefthander Sean Newcomb would be Plan B in this scenario.
This selection is also directly tied to who the Marlins take at No. 2, as the Mariners have been linked to Jackson for longer than the Twins have been connected to Gordon. In this scenario, the Mariners get their man. If the Marlins go with Jackson, the Mariners also reportedly have Sean Newcomb as a Plan B.
Newcomb won't be too many team's fall-back option. If Nola is available, he's likely the pick, otherwise the Phillies have also been linked to Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto and Clovis (Calif.) High School shortstop Jacob Gatewood.
Rockies have their fingers crossed that Aaron Nola somehow falls to them, but that's unlikely, no matter how many variables are at play among the teams picking ahead of them. Freeland seems to be the player they have comfortably settled on assuming they can't get their No. 1 target.
There are three names most prominently associated to the Blue Jays: Trea Turner, Jeff Hoffman and Touki Toussaint. It appears they're poised to get two of those three, but they may not get Turner if they don't take him here.
Turner could very well be the pick at this spot should be be available, but if not they'll gladly take Conforto, one of the safer bets in the draft to enjoy a productive professional career.
It makes so much sense on so many different levels for the Blue Jays to be interested in Hoffman here, and he is apparently who they've targeted with this selection. Touki Toussaint, as noted above, is also one of the more frequently mentioned names in connection with the Blue Jays.
The Brewers are the first team that are associated with just about every player that could conceivably be selected at this pick based on value. From Toussaint to Tyler Beede, Max Pentecost and Kyle Schwarber, they're looking at arms and bats alike. However, the impressive pre-draft showings of Grant Holmes and Kodi Medeiros at their home park will help make up their minds for them.
Toussaint could easily go several picks higher than this based on his raw talent and how much he's improved this spring, not to mention how many teams ahead of the Padres are reportedly doing their due diligence on the electric young righthander.
Outside of Jeff Hoffman, there may not be any bigger wild card among the early picks of the draft. The Giants could be the beneficiary of that uncertainty, as no teams cultivates pitching as well as they do, and Beede has the pieces to be an ace if the parts come together for him.
Although the Angels are believed to have a list of the top five college arms that they would like to take should one of them fall to them, that doesn't appear likely. They are also linked to numerous college sluggers, none of which are more prolific than Schwarber, who continued to raise his stock with an impressive performance in college baseball postseason action.
Similar to the Brewers in the number of players they are believed to be actively pursuing, the Diamondbacks' due diligence could reward them when a well-rounded player with an advanced bat at a premium position, such as Pentecost, falls to their laps.
The Royals know that if they don't take Medeiros, a pitcher they have long coveted, with this pick it's very unlikely that he lasts until their next one 11 spots later, especially considering Medeiros may very well not even make it this far.
Zimmer is just one of several big college bats the Nationals are linked to, including first basemen Kyle Schwarber and Casey Gillaspie, and could very well have their pick among the three. They also are keeping their eyes on the status of righthanders Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde.
The Reds have quietly done a nice job developing arms of all shapes and sizes from within, which won't deter them from selecting the hard throwing 5-foot-11 southpaw Brandon Finnegan, who re-asserted himself for the draft with a 12-strikeout performance in Regional play.
The Rays would love for Kyle Schwarber to fall one this spot, but that doesn't appear likely, and may be tempted to take a different college slugger that profiles at first base in Wichita State's Casey Gillaspie. However, they also are known to be interested in Derek Hill, whose athletic profile, highlighted by his speed and outfield defense, is pushing him up draft boards.
Another team seemingly prepared to let the pieces fall to them as they may, the Indians are connected to quite a few players and are ready to take who they feel is the best of that bunch. If it's not Gillaspie, it could be other college sluggers such as Derek Fisher or Mike Papi.
Gatewood is on nearly everyone's draft board picking in the 15-25 range, and is known to be a player the Phillies really like within the top 10 picks. The Pirates are targeting high-upside hitters with this selection, and Gatewood epitomizes upside.
Harrison's rare athleticism and risk/reward profile seem to go against the A's pre-conceived notions of drafting the perceived safer, college players, but they've been locked in on Harrison for some time.
Derek Fisher, Mike Papi and Blandino are the three names most frequently mentioned with this pick, wanting to pick up a college bat before turning their attention to the wealth of high school pitchers available in the 30-50 range.
With several extra, early selections, the Cardinals may look for a relatively safe pick. Although safe, Howard offers tremendous upside, and could be developed as a starter by the Cardinals who have had success with such transformations. If not, he could be fast-tracked as a short reliever.
The Royals are connected to numerous high school pitchers, including Medeiros, their projected first pick of the draft at No. 17, as well as Jacob Bukauskas, who may be lessening his initial lofty demands. Griffin offers great value at this spot and gives the organization two high potential lefthanders to look forward to.
is the area of the draft where we may very well see a run at the wealth of high school hurlers available, including Ortiz, and the Reds are one of several teams poised to be a part of that run.
Yet another team looking for a player with a lofty upside, like Adams, at this pick, the Rangers also appear to be prepared to continue the run on prep pitchers.
With three picks among the top 38 overall selections, the Indians appear to be a strong candidate to lock in on a player riddled with uncertainty, whether it be due to injury, like Fedde, or signability, like Jacob Bukauskas.
Although the Braves haven't been as focused on their own backyard like they used to be, taking Chavis here has a lot more to do with taking the best player on the board than appeasing their future Marietta-based fans.
Both Derek Fisher and Mike Papi, who the team also likes for their pick at No. 26, may very well continue to still be available. However, the Red Sox are fixed on the high school pitching depth at this spot, and Kopech continues to rise draft boards this spring.
After taking the relatively safe pick in Howard with their first pick, they select a player that has a higher risk/reward profile in Forbes, although he does blend his lofty potential with surprisingly polished hitting tools.
It's difficult to gauge where Fisher will go, as he entered the year with the reputation as one of the best bats available for this year's draft despite the fact that he didn't have the statistical track record to back it up. Throw in a hamate injury and questions continue to linger about just what kind of hitter he can become at the next level.
Wilson offers one of the more impressive collections of raw tools of any player available for this year's draft, and seems to be a lock to go somewhere in the 30-40 range.
If the Astros are keyed on a college bat with this pick, a team that has shown one of the stronger preferences toward college players the last 3-5 years, there still may be a few good ones to choose from between Reed and Mike Papi.
The Indians still feel pretty good about landing Clint Frazier with the No. 5 overall a year ago, and may be in a position to take a similar overall player, albeit minus the polish, in Gettys this year.
Injuries to both of Wall's shoulders the past two seasons would seem to limit his future positional versatility, but that may not matter given how consistently well he swings the bat from the lefthanded batter's box. A move to the outfield may be in his future to take better advantage of his foot speed.
Reports indicate that Bukauskas' initial letter informing teams not to draft him due to his desire to attend North Carolina may have been overplayed. Either way, if the Royals are able to get three pitchers the caliber of Medeiros, Griffin and Bukauskas into their system they should be pleased with that effort.
As the Brewers continue to do their homework on the top players in the draft, one of the top bats entering the spring in Braxton Davidson could very well fall to their laps and fill a huge hole in their system.