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Draft | Story | 6/8/2018

2018 MLB Draft Impressions

Patrick Ebert         Vincent Cervino         Jheremy Brown         Nick Faleris        
Photo: Ethan Hankins (Perfect Game)

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Below the members of the Perfect Game writing staff, as well as two guest writers from our friends at 2080 Baseball, take turns at identifying some of the draft’s most intriguing players and overall team efforts in a variety of categories. For more analysis be sure to view their timeline and give them a follow on Twitter.

@B_Sakowski_PG | @vcervinoPG | @JBrownPG
@PGPatrickEbert | @NickJFaleris | @burkegranger

First Round Standout
These are the players that stood out not only for their talent, but their respective value and/or the team that selected them among the first 30 picks.

Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants, 1st round, 2nd overall
Just because it was rumored to happen for the past few weeks doesn’t negate any of the excitement of the pick. Bart was the best position player in this draft with a plus arm, glove and potential power. He raked all year through the ACC and is going to draw pretty grand expectations to the guy that he might be replacing in a few years over in the Bay Area. – VC

Jarred Kelenic, New York Mets, 1st round, 6th overall
Kelenic was the top prep position player on the PG draft board, and it was shocking in the weeks leading up to the draft to hear that he was seemingly dropping down the draft a bit. With outstanding athleticism to go with five-tool potential, Kelenic has the upside of a star Major Leaguer, and his ultra-competitive makeup gives him a better-than-most chance of reaching that upside. – BS

Carter Stewart, Atlanta Braves, 1st round, 8th overall
The Braves have arguably the top collection of minor league arms in the game and will be adding to that the top prep arm in this year’s class. The Florida prep product has the best curveball in the draft class, consistently registering over 3,300 RPM with hard bite and elite depth, and works in the low- to mid-90s, touching as high as 98 mph. – NF

Travis Swaggerty, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1st round, 10th overall
A standout talent for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer, Swaggerty didn’t barrel the ball as consistently this spring but he continued to demonstrate an appealing mix of on-base skills and pop. A good bet to stick in center, he gets excellent jumps off the bat and uses his plus speed to run down balls in the gaps. – BG

Matthew Liberatore, Tampa Bay Rays, 1st round, 16th overall
Even as Commissioner Manfred strode to the podium to open up the 2018 draft there was little doubt that Liberatore would make it out of the top 10 picks. There’s also a good chance that several teams who picked in front of the Rays regret not taking the projectable lefty who was up to 97 mph this spring and can land his big curveball for strikes. – JB

Ryan Rolison, Colorado Rockies, 1st round, 22nd overall
Rolison entered the year as a potential top 10 pick and even a very realistic contender for the No. 1 overall selection with a big season. While he didn’t necessarily have a “down” year he also didn’t live up to those expectations. However, his low- to mid-90s fastball and hammer curve give him a chance to move quickly to the big leagues. – PE

Day 1 Standout
Here are some of the players that stood out for where they were selected on the first day of the draft (top two rounds) after the first 30 picks.

Shane McClanahan, Tampa Rays, compensatory 1st round, 31st overall
This could be considered a stretch because the USF ace went one pick outside of the first 30 picks, but McClanahan opened the season as a potential top overall pick. When you can get an upper-90s lefthander who shows a pair of plus secondaries with your second pick it’s worth noting and the Rays did just that. – JB

Ethan Hankins, Cleveland Indians, compensatory 1st round, 35th overall
The wild card of the draft, and arguably the best pure talent, was selected with the Indians’ second pick as Ethan Hankins was about as good of value as you can get at 35. Hankins’ stock slid some following a shoulder injury, however, what he did to hitters last summer was borderline illegal and Cleveland’s player development has a chance to come away with the steal of the draft and a frontline ace. – VC

Xavier Edwards, San Diego Padres, Competitive Balance Round A, 38th overall
We had Edwards a solid 10-15 spots ahead of this pick, and while there are some concerns that he may end up at second base due to his arm strength, he’s still loaded with tools and athleticism. He’s an elite runner with outstanding contact skills from both sides of the plate to go along with non-insignificant power and tremendous defensive skills. He should be an impactful player for a long time. – BS

Greyson Jenista, Atlanta Braves, 2nd round, 49th overall
With a big-bodied build and surprising athleticism, Jenista’s versatility on the field shouldn’t be overlooked, especially given how more and more teams value a player’s ability to play multiple positions on the field. He opened the year as a potential mid-first round pick, and while his lefthanded bat is and will continue to be his ticket to the big leagues, he can run better than his stature may suggest and employs a very selective approach. – PE

Griffin Conine, Toronto Blue Jays, 2nd round, 52nd overall
After an outstanding performance on the Cape – where he slashed .329/.406/.537 and led the circuit in home runs (9) – Conine entered the spring as a potential top 10 overall pick. His stock took a nose-dive following an atrocious start, but he righted the ship in the second half and provides tremendous value for the Blue Jays this late on Day 1. – BG

Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks, 2nd round, 63rd overall
In play as high as the back half of the first round, Thomas was one of the best Day 1 values in the draft coming off the board some 30 picks later to Arizona. He looks the part of a future top-of-the-order hitter, capable of 35-plus doubles per year and table-setting on-base production, and shows impressive speed and instincts in center field. – NF

Day 2 Standout
After the top two rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft, this group of players stood out for the teams that selected them on the second day (rounds 3-10) of the 2018 MLB Draft.

Blaine Knight, Baltimore Orioles, 3rd round, 87th overall
The projectable Arkansas ace already works easily in the low-90s with his fastball and can reach back for 95 when he needs it. His best secondary offering is a mid-80s slider with good depth and bite, along with a shorter "cut" variation that plays a few ticks higher. He will mix in both a slow curve and changeup as change-of-pace offerings as well. – NF

Adam Kloffenstein, Toronto Blue Jays, 3rd round, 88th overall
There are plenty of things to like from the 6-foot-5, 243-pound Kloffenstein and the fact that he’s young for the grade and still has more in the tank is even more promising for the Jays. Everything suggests Kloffenstein should be able to start as a pro, from his ability to pound the lower third of the zone with a low-90s fastball while comfortably mixing in a full array of off-speed pitches. – JB

Durbin Feltman, Boston Red Sox, 3rd round, 100th overall
Feltman’s success this season was somewhat overlooked by an otherwise trying season for TCU, but he was dominant serving as his team’s closer with a mid- to upper-90s fastball and a hammer curve that was one of the best breaking pitches in the draft. He could be fast-tracked as a short reliever. – PE

Mike Siani, Cincinnati Reds, 4th round, 109th overall
Though it was rumored that it would be particularly difficult to lure Siani away from a Virginia commitment, it’s unlikely the Reds would use an early pick on the prep standout if they didn’t intend to make every effort to sign him. He’s an excellent defensive center fielder with plus speed and arm strength, but the bat is behind the glove at this point of his development. – BG

Trey Riley, Atlanta Braves, 5th round, 142nd overall
We had Riley in the 2-3 round range on our board, so this represents tremendous value for the Braves from that perspective alone. Riley has tremendous arm strength, running his fastball up to the 97-98 mph range at times this spring and pairing with it a hammer plus slider, a decent changeup and a usable curveball. His athleticism and mechanical profile also give him a chance to start. – BS

Jayce Easley, Texas Rangers, 5th round, 149th overall
Son of long-time Major Leaguer Damion Easley, scouts had a chance to see Jayce quite often this spring as he was playing just to the left of Cardinals first round pick Nolan Gorman. Many assumed Easley would go to Oregon State but the athleticism, defensive smoothness and pure hitting tools scream upside and the Rangers might have landed a very important piece for their future. – VC

Day 3 Standout
And finally the players that stood out the most that were select on the third day of the draft (rounds 11-40), any player taken after the 10th round.

Damon Casetta-Stubbs, Seattle Mariners, 11th round, 328th overall
Casetta-Stubbs is an interesting projection case with significant upside that could really blossom at the professional level if the Mariners are able to get the local product in the fold. He has good size with an athletic 6-foot-4 frame and the stuff to match, which includes a fastball he powers into the mid-90s and an improving slider. – PE

Blaze Alexander, Arizona Diamondbacks, 11th round, 339th overall
The 11th round of the draft is always one of the more intriguing ones, as teams realize just how much pool money they may have left after 1-10 and then make a run at some prep players who may have priced themselves out of mid-Day 2 picks. Alexander was valued in the 3-4 round range and would be a steal here if he signs. He has elite, 80-grade arm strength from shortstop and has very good athleticism and raw power to fill out his profile as well. – BS

Nick Northcut, Boston Red Sox, 11th round, 340th overall
Throughout last summer Northcut did nothing but find the barrel and impact the baseball, hitting for both average and power while playing a solid defense at third base. Coming off the board in the 11th round suggests the Sox will be able to pry Northcut away from his Vanderbilt commitment, a big coup to an already impressive haul which included fellow PG All-American sluggers Triston Casas and Nick Decker. – JB

Sean Guilbe, 12th round, 351st overall
Guilbe has major hitting tools with loud pop to all fields and tremendous bat speed. The upside and ceiling here are undeniable offensively, though everything is just a bit raw, and with some development and growth the Padres could unlock a truly special hitter. Guilbe is also a swiss army knife defensively, and if his transition behind the plate sticks, the Friars could have one added significant value with a 12th round selection. – VC

Michael Byrne, Cincinnati Reds, 14th Round, 409th overall
Though he’s Florida’s all-time career saves leader (32), Byrne could join Shaun Anderson and Dane Dunning as Gators to make the successful transition to the rotation as a professional. He commands three pitches, including a low-90s fastball, a two-plane slider and a changeup with deceptive arm speed. Additionally, the Reds have shown a penchant turning college relievers into professional starters. – BG

Nick Trogerlic-Iverson, Milwaukee Brewers, 15th round, 455th overall
The top arm on a talented Central Arizona squad, Iverson works primarily off of a low-90s fastballs that he locates well to all four quadrants, backing up the heater with a solid average 78-82 mph slider with good tilt and a low-80s changeup with arm-side fade. The Gonzaga commit lacks elite size on the mound but the arm works well with room for growth across his arsenal. – NF

Straight Up Team Standout
After identifying individual players, these total team efforts, without the aid of additional picks, stood out the most.

Detroit Tigers
It’s hard to mention standouts from the team perspective without mentioning the team who got the best player in the draft. The Tigers got that guy in Auburn righthander Casey Mize, the best player in the class on our board. They also got significant upside in Parker Meadows, Kingston Liniak and Eric De La Rosa in the top 10 rounds and sandwiched high-quality college performers with high floors in Kody Clemens, Adam Wolf and the ultimate wild card in Hugh Smith. – BS

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox may have taken the best overall player in the draft in Oregon State middle infielder Nick Madrigal, who could be a perfect fit at shortstop on the South Side of Chicago. Both Madrigal and their next pick, Oklahoma outfielder Steele Walker, could make it to the big leagues thanks to their polish at the plate. Konnor Pilkington, Jonathan Stiever and Cody Heuer provide the system with three similarly polished college arms, while fourth-rounder Lency Delgado and seventh-rounder Cabera Weaver have the upside the White Sox are known to covet. Three more college hurlers – Isaiah Carranza, Jason Bilous and Luke Shilling – provide very good value from rounds 12, 13 and 15. – PE

New York Mets
After taking the best high school bat in the class in Jarred Kelenic at No. 6 overall, the Mets followed it up with high upside Texas prep righty Simeon Woods-Richardson in the following round. Early on Day 2, they scooped up South Carolina teammates Carlos Cortes and Adam Hill before taking a pair of potentially quick moving bullpen arms in Ryley Gilliam and Bryce Montes de Oca. – BG

Atlanta Braves
The Braves night started out with a bang as Carter Stewart and his plus-plus curveball landed at No. 8 before going on to Greyson Jenista and his big lefthanded power and Stanford righthander Tristan Beck, who shows a full starter’s arsenal. The crop featured a little bit of everything overall, including a JUCO pick in hard-throwing Trey Riley and a quality senior selection in Brooks Wilson while making their post 10th round picks really count. – JB

Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins have the worst record in the National League and are coming off an offseason that saw Derek Jeter sell off everything that wasn’t bolted to the ground. Since that’s now out of the way, when you need to replenish the farm system you draft for upside and the Marlins picked a ton of it early. Connor Scott has some of the most projectable power in the class while Osiris Johnson is one of the youngest and most talented. Will Banfield can be a superstar if he adds some value with the bat, and if he signs, for the Fins. – VC

Boston Red Sox
Despite not selecting until the end of the first round the Red Sox were able to land some of the draft’s top talents. Triston Casas and Nick Decker represent two of the best prep power bats available, fireballer Durbin Feltman has closer upside and could reach Boston later this year, and Nick Northcut could be an impact bat and glove at third base. – NF

Support System Team Standout
The drafting efforts of these teams also stood out, although one could argue that they should considering the extra picks they had at their disposal.

San Diego Padres
The Padres pulled off one of the first shockers of the draft when they selected Ryan Weathers, whom they were rumored to have cut a deal with, at No. 7. This, along with a few other strategic picks, allowed them to possibly overpay high-end prep stars such as Xavier Edwards and Sean Guilbe, while it also gave them a bit extra to potentially lure away some college juniors such as Dwanya Williams-Sutton, Michael Curry and Nick Gatewood. – VC

Cleveland Indians
The Tribe made the most of its extra Day 1 picks, grabbing upside prep arms Ethan Hankins and Lenny Torres Jr. after selecting Noah Naylor – one of the draft’s loudest bats – 29th overall. Nick Sandlin should move quickly through the system on the bump and Raynel Delgado, Richie Palacios, Robert Broom, Brian Eichhorn and Korey Holland each represent great value where selected. – NF

Tampa Bay Rays
With five of the first 71 picks, the Rays were well positioned to capitalize on a deep draft class, and they didn’t squander the opportunity. Once considered top five overall talents, landing Matthew Liberatore and Shane McClanahan was a windfall. They followed with toosly prep outfielder Nick Schnell and a pair of high floor college players in Tyler Frank and Tanner Dodson. Tulane’s Grant Witherspoon was a strong Day 2 selection. – BG

Kansas City Royals
The Royals somehow seemed to grab most of the higher-end college arms, and in the process did a tremendous job of re-stocking a truly-depleted farm system. They took Florida teammates Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar, each roughly 10 picks later than where they were valued, and continued to grab excellent values in Kris Bubic and Austin Cox, while taking Daniel Lynch and Jonathan Bowlan in spots where they’ll likely save some money. They took quality college performers in Kyle Isbel and Eric Cole and grabbed a true wild card with upside in Zach Haake from Kentucky. – BS

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals essentially had only one extra pick, but they went for three big tools with their first three picks with the intriguing power potential of both Nolan Gorman and Luken Baker sandwiching their selection of slider-specialist Griffin Roberts. Third rounder Mateo Gil is athletic and versatile, with the talent to succeed both as a hitter and as a pitcher, while Steven Gingery would have been a first round pick had he not been injured in his first start of the season for Texas Tech. Nick Dunn was one of the more polished hitters in college and could advance quickly. – PE

Colorado Rockies
The Rockies selected a nice blend of both safe and upside picks, some which should be quick movers and others who could explode once in the system. After grabbing Ole Miss lefthander Ryan Rolison with their first round pick, the Rockies landed Grant Lavigne and his highly coveted lefthanded power, which is easy to envision playing in Coors one day. Mitchell Kilkenny shows starter upside with a full arsenal while Terrin Vavra and Nico Decolati are two intriguing bats to monitor moving forward. – JB

Fortuitous Recruits
To close our impressions from the 2018 draft, these colleges appear to have the initial, early fortune of having a strong recruiting class heading to campus in the fall.

Texas A&M
The Aggies lost two signees in the first round in Grayson Rodriguez and Noah Naylor, and another in fourth-rounder Mason Englert, but there will still be plenty of talent making it to campus this fall. Jonathan Childress and Joseph Menefee are a pair of lefthanders who could be potential rotation pieces and key figures for three seasons, as could Brandon Birdsell, who was drafted late. PG All-American Hunter Watson could very well become a middle-of-the-order impact bat while Miko Rodriguez shows intriguing athleticism, adding to highly talented rising sophomore and junior classes as well as a few junior pieces who went undrafted in 2018. – JB

Louisiana State
Head coach Paul Manieri and recruiting coordinator Nolan Cain have to be extraordinarily happy with how the draft process played out for the Tigers. After first round pick and PG All-American Brice Turang, only two signees (Levi Kelly and another PG All-American, Elijah Cabell) were selected in the top 20 rounds while only one current Tiger (Nick Bush) was selected in the top 10. There’s a chance they lose some of the Day 3 picks (including Zach Watson, Antoine Duplantis and Zack Hess), but the Tigers have to be pleased with the talent they have incoming. – VC

Virginia essentially won the recruiting race as it pertains to the draft when consensus first round talent Mike Vasil – a Perfect Game All-American – decided to pull his name out of the draft in order to honor his commitment to Virginia. Fellow All-American and high-end lefthanded pitcher Brandon Neeck also decided he would forgo the draft and head to Charlottesville, giving Virginia two of the highest-end talents in the class. Outfielder Mike Siani is a bit in limbo after being selected in the fourth round, but if he should also make it to campus this would be a near unheard of level of talent to arrive on a college campus in the modern draft era. – BS

Although the Cardinals presumably lost Jarred Kelenic and Nick Schnell they’re situated to get plenty of Midwest talent to campus. Louisville plundered a deep Indiana prep crop, as infielders Jared Poland and Tim Borden were late round fliers, as was righthander Jack Perkins. Hard-hitting corner infielder Alex Binelas could help create a formidable infield with Poland and Borden, while projectable Florida righty Kerry Wright is a top five round talent that slid to the 21st round, giving him a great shot to make it to school. – BG

The ‘Dores are the youngest team in the Super Regionals, routinely sporting five underclassmen (four freshman) in their starting lineup along with a slew of underclass arms, led by weekend starters Drake Fellows and Mason Hickman. In 2019 they should add to that PG All-American arms Kumar Rocker and Austin Becker, as well as impact lefty Brett Hansen and, perhaps, PG All-American third baseman Nick Northcut. – NF

Florida State
Florida State’s entire recruiting class should make it to campus, outside of a major surprise, and none of those newcomers will bring as much excitement as shortstop Nander De Sedas, who fell to the 29th round. The class is especially loaded with hitters, as Brandon Howlett, Matheu Nelson and Alec Sanchez all have considerable experience and success on the travel circuit. It should be noted that the Seminoles are going to need as many reinforcements as possible as they’re losing a significant amount of players from a largely successful season that ended in disappointment. – PE

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