Draft | Story | 7/15/2019

2019 MLB Draft Impressions

Patrick Ebert         Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Corbin Carroll (Perfect Game)

Witt Jr. goes No. 2 in MLB Draft | 2019 MLB Draft Preview Content

With the completion of the 2019 MLB Draft, and the passing of Friday's signing deadline, we identify a handful of teams whose drafting efforts stood out.

Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks had a lot of pressure heading into the MLB Draft with the largest bonus pool and they collected almost exclusively upside picks, even in terms of college players. They grabbed one of the toolsiest players in the class in Corbin Carroll at No. 16 while also taking prep arms Blake Walston and Brennan Malone in the back-end of the first round. Drey Jameson has sky-high upside as one of the hardest throwers in the college class while “upside” could also describe Ryne Nelson of Oregon. After the first two rounds they had a good mix of college performers in College World Series hero Tommy Henry, Dominic Fletcher, Tristin English, Spencer Brickhouse and Dominic Canzone. The Dbacks went overslot to grab three high school guys in the toolsy Glenallen Hill Jr., lefthander Avery Short, who can spin a mean breaking ball, and Pacific Northwest lefthander Brock Jones, who has some of the better polish and spin in the class.

Baltimore Orioles
Even if the Orioles had just drafted Adley Rutschman at No. 1 they still would have been one of the biggest winners of the draft. Rutschman is a franchise type of player, one that is polished on all sides of the ball with a plus tool everywhere except the run tool, which at a 40 still isn’t half bad for a catcher. But the draft goes beyond Rutschman as they made a great pick in the beginning of the second round with Alabama prep shortstop Gunnar Henderson. Kyle Stowers overcame a slow start and has big lefthanded raw power, Zach Watson has a performance resume to compete with anyone and Joey Ortiz put up gaudy numbers with a smooth glove at New Mexico State. After round 10 the philosophy got interesting as they took players with big power or strikeout numbers such as Stanford slugger Andrew Daschbach (11th round). Morgan McSweeney (17), Jensen Elliot (19) and Garrett Farmer (25) all fit that mold as well and Mike Elias did a bang up job in his first draft in Baltimore.

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox stuck with their trend of taking college bats in the first round, grabbing Andrew Vaughn at No. 3 overall, a pick that many feel will give the White Sox a middle-of-the-order, impact bat for many years to come. Chicago then bucked the trend, going for prep upside in their next three picks, grabbing a pair of prep arms in Matthew Thompson (2ndround) and Andrew Dalquist (3), both of whom required substantial overslot bonuses. Fourth-rounder James Beard was arguably the fastest player in the whole class, loaded with twitch and upside, and while he’s understandably raw in most facets of the game, he represents the upside of a dynamic leadoff hitter and defensive center fielder. Dan Metzdorf (5), Cooper Bradford (13), Josh Rivera (19) and Justin Friedman (26) represent quality selections in terms of more under-the-radar players, though the ultimate success of this draft will likely hinge on how the two prep arms taken in rounds two and three develop.

Cleveland Indians 
The Indians grabbed perhaps the best high school pitcher in the draft with their selection of Daniel Espino in the first round. Espino has electric stuff with a fastball that will flirt with triple digits and two potentially plus breaking balls. They would keep the theme of prep prospects going as six of their first 10 picks were from high school. Yordis Valdes was one of the better defenders in the prep class, Joe Naranjo has excellent feel for the barrel and his hit tool mitigates size concerns. Christian Cairo is polished on both sides of the ball while Jordan Brown is an athletic, raw prospect and Will Bartlett has big righthanded raw power. Hunter Gaddis and Xzavion Curry are two solid Georgia college arms while Will Bartlett is a solid under-the-radar prospect. Cleveland spent on their early picks as both Naranjo and Cairo were well overslot, and they handed out six-figure bonsues to eight of the nine players they took with their 11th-19th round selections.

Colorado Rockies
It may not have been an especially splashy draft effort, but the Colorado Rockies loaded up on proven and productive college players. In fact, they didn’t take a high school player until the 31st round, and not surprisingly that player (Michael Curialle) didn’t sign. Everyone else before that pick did, led by a trio of postseason stars in UCLA slugging first baseman Michael Toglia, hard-hitting Georgia third baseman Aaron Schunk and Michigan star starter Karl Kauffmann. Third rounder Jacob Wallace brought serious heat as UConn’s closer this spring, fifth rounder Will Ethridge pounded the strike zone with his sinker-slider mix for Ole Miss and Cal starter Jared Horn took down some big teams down the stretch. There’s some intriguing later picks as well including UCF righthander Jordan Spicer (24th round), Mississippi State hurler Keegan James (25) and Oklahoma State slugger Colin Simpson (29).

Detroit Tigers
After two consecutive drafts of taking some risks and shooting for upside in a lot of spots, the Tigers made a concerted effort in 2019 to restock the farm system with college bats, which they did successfully in terms of value. However, first they got the best prep hitter in the class in Riley Greene, who could end up with tremendous offensive impact at the major leagues, before going college-heavy the rest of the way. Nick Quintana in the second round gives them a potential everyday regular at third base, and the selection of Bryant Packard in the fifth round especially stands out for its value as he has a good chance to hit at the highest level. Both Zack Hess (7th round) and Austin Bergner (9) at the very least offer some kind of major league upside as relievers while Andrew Magno (15) gives them a Day 3 selection with MLB potential out of the bullpen as well.

Kansas City Royals
Any time you get the best prep player in the class you have to call the draft a success, and the Royals did just that in grabbing Bobby Witt, Jr. in the first round at No. 2 overall. Witt represents the upside of a franchise player, with five-tool talent and perennial all-star potential. Getting Brady McConnell at No. 44 overall could be viewed as a steal as the uber-athletic shortstop from Florida showed up offensively in a huge way in 2019 and is loaded with tools. Alec Marsh has mid-rotation upside, Michael Massey was a near-unanimous favorite among scouts in the Midwest this spring and Dante Biasi could be dynamic out of the bullpen in the future. Adam Lukas (12th round) was valued higher on several boards, including our own, as he was into the triple digits several times this spring, while Justin Hooper (14) once had some of the best pure stuff in the country from the left side.

Miami Marlins
The Marlins targeted bats early and often in the 2019 MLB Draft, starting things off with the SEC Player of the Year, Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday. Bleday entered the season as a strong candidate to significantly improve his draft stock and he did just that, leading the nation in home runs (27) for the national champion Commodores. The Marlins next pick, Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner, also has significant power potential from the left side. The team’s third- and fourth-round picks, Peyton Burdick and Evan Edwards, both enjoyed loud, productive seasons, and sandwiched in between those college sluggers is prep shortstop Nasim Nunez, who possessed arguably the slickest middle infield glove in the draft. Signing California prep hurler Evan Fitterer for $1.5 million out of the fifth round points to his pro upside, and just how much the Marlins did their homework to get him in the fold. Fitterer was one of four players that signed for seven figures.

Minnesota Twins
In the midst of an incredibly successful, fun-to-watch 2019 campaign, the Twins also continued to bolster their farm system with another strong draft effort. While they took college players predominantly, their first pick was high school infielder Keoni Cavaco, who they took with the 13th overall selection and signed for just over $4 million. Cavaco has the potential to be a star, a player that soared up draft boards during the spring after making remarkable improvements. Their next pick, Southern Miss outfielder Matt Wallner, is from nearby Lake Forest and he posted big, big numbers in three years in college. Rice ace Matt Canterino did the same on the mound and the Twins continued to target productive college infielders with their selections of Spencer Steer (3rd round), Seth Gray (4), Will Holland (5) and Anthony Prato (7). After that their attention shifted to mid-major upside arms including Casey Legumina, Brent Headrick, Tanner Brubaker and Sean Mooney.

New York Mets
The Mets had perhaps the most fascinating draft given how they had to approach divvying up their pool allotment following their first three picks being high-upside prep players. Matt Allan was considered by many to be the best prep arm in the draft overall, and the Mets pounced on him when he slipped to the third round, signing him for $2.5 million, roughly $1.8 million above slot. They got Brett Baty, a polished prep bat with monstrous lefthanded raw power, in the first and also took a high-upside prep arm in the second round in Josh Wolf. Those three selections represent a ton of legitimate upside, though it also ate up the vast majority of their pool allotment. Jake Mangum, who seems like a probable big leaguer, was taken in the fourth round, the first of many college seniors that were selected in rounds 4-10 signing for a combined $62,000 worth of bonus money.

New York Yankees
With two first round picks the Yankees picked up a pair of potential stars in 2018 PG All-American shortstop Anthony Volpe and Mizzou ace TJ Sikkema. Volpe has been praised for his intangible qualities as much as his tangible tools, all of which are quite impressive. Sikkema has a knack for missing bats with a strong three-pitch repertoire and success as both a starter and a reliever for the Tigers the past three years. Second rounder Josh Smith and third rounder Jake Sanford both enjoyed big, breakout seasons at the plate. College hurlers Jake Agnos, Ken Waldichuk and Hayden Wesneski all have upside as the team’s picks in rounds 4-6. After the 10th round the Yankees locked up eight players for $125,000 (and one for $137,500), spending more than a million dollars on their late-round picks that didn’t cut into their top 10-round bonus pool.

Philadelphia Phillies 
When it comes to value reflective to the PG draft board, the Phillies knocked their first selection out of the park when they nabbed Bryson Stott at No. 14 overall. The UNLV shortstop has the defensive traits to stick long term along with the potential to hit for average and power, giving him sky-high upside. With no second rounder, the Phillies went for prep upside in the third with Jamari Baylor followed by Erik Miller from Stanford in the fourth, who has tantalizing stuff from the left side. Gunner Mayer came on in a huge way this spring in NorCal at Delta College, a perennial powerhouse in California JC ball, and while Andrew Schultz is likely a reliever moving forward, he could be an overpowering one with a fastball up to 101 multiple times and a good slider. Starting with Stott, the Phillies played their cards well overall with numerous strong value picks.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals first two picks – Kentucky lefthander Zack Thompson and high school outifleder Trejyn Fletcher – both stand out for their overall talent and value relative to their slots. Thompson was considered by many to be one of, if not the best college pitcher heading into the draft, and yet the Cardinals were able to grab him with the 19th overall selection. Fletcher was somewhat of an enigma as a player who entered the spring as a member of the high school (and draft) class of 2020. Fletcher made it to 58th overall despite being the top-ranked player among all high school juniors before re-classifying. The team’s next three picks – Tony Locey, Andre Pallante and Connor Thomas – offer varying styles yet all three enjoyed success on the mound at the college level. The Cards used $700,000 to pry three high school players – Patrick Romeri, Tyler Statler and Thomas Hart – away from their college commitments among their picks in rounds 12, 14 and 16, respectively.

Tampa Bay Rays
Athleticism and upside fit the Rays’ philosophy as their first three picks in the draft have sky-high ceilings. Greg Jones was their first-round pick and the UNC-Wilmington shortstop was the best athlete in the class and a true 80 runner. Their two Competitive Balance Round A picks, JJ Goss and Seth Johnson, are both athletic righties who are just beginning to scratch the surface of their potential. Goss has excellent TrackMan numbers while Johnson threw just six innings in junior college in 2018 before being converted to Campbell’s ace. Taking Graeme Stinson in the fourth round might be the biggest lottery ticket of the draft as he was thought to be a top 10 talent overall heading into the year. Ninth-rounder Evan McKendry dealt with injuries but had the best changeup in the class when healthy. Joe Gobillot (16th round), Joe LaSorsa (18) and Christian Johnson (19) were all players on the PG draft board and are nice picks late in the draft that Tampa was able to sign.

Washington Nationals 
The Nationals’ modus operandi under Mike Rizzo has been to grab talent wherever it’s available. They made Jackson Rutledge the highest junior college pick in this year’s draft with their first pick and went about $200K overslot to take Florida State slugger Drew Mendoza in the third round. Rutledge has power stuff and Mendoza has 70 raw power and a feel to hit. Tyler Dyson had an up-and-down spring but has excellent stuff when he’s right and Matt Cronin was rated as the top reliever on the PG draft board. Todd Peterson was a reliever for LSU but could cut it as a starter in pro ball while eighth rounder Jeremy Ydens missed all but the final two weeks of the season. Some notable Day 3 picks include 6-foot-7 junior college righthander Orlando Ribalta (12th round), Georgia Tech swingman Amos Willingham (17), Florida junior college catcher Mason Doolittle (18) and one of the better performing seniors in Kevin Strohschein (21).

College Recruiting Impact

The players that end up signing from this year’s draft have a much greater impact on the respective recruiting classes. However, here’s a quick look at the top 5 recruiting classes as ranked by Perfect Game.

1. Vanderbilt
Only the sheer volume of talented players the Commodores originally locked up could overcome losing early round picks including Anthony Volpe, Kendall Williams and Trejyn Fletcher. Jack Leiter could take a spot in Vanderbilt's weekend rotation from Day 1 thanks to his stuff and polish while athletic position players such as infielders Tyler McKenzie and Carter Young as well as catcher Maxwell Romero Jr could also receive significant playing time as freshmen, particularly with the number of hitters Vanderbilt lost. Keep an eye on lefthanded pitcher and first baseman Spencer Jones who starred in the PG All-American Classic last summer before breaking a bone in his pitching elbow which caused him to mis most of his senior year.

2. Florida
A big part of Florida's recruiting class already made it to campus, last year, when Jud Fabian and Nolan Crisp enrolled early and received some valuable on-the-job training as they assumed integral roles with the team that snuck into the postseason. While the two highest-ranked players of the class – Riley Greene and Matthew Allan – won't be joining them in Gainesville the rest of the class is largely intact. That includes Hunter Barco, a talented lefthanded pitcher that can also swing the stick, so polished that he could make an immeidate impact as a freshman. Joshua Rivera could bring another talented bat, and glove, to an already crowded infield, Tyler Nesbit could see key innings out of the bullpen and Nathan Hickey may get extended looks behind the plate.

3. Louisiana State
When you lock into premium prep talent you have the potential to get burned from time to time, and not surprisingly LSU's two highest-ranked recruits, Daniel Espino and Rece Hinds, and two other top 100-ranked players from the 2019 class, Jimmy Lewis and Christian Cairo, have already begun their professional careers. Of those that did (or will) make it to campus, two-sport talent Maurice Hampton may remind LSU fans of Jared Mitchell for his physical build and supreme athleticism. Cade Doughty and Hayden Travinski should bolster an the Tigers' always-lethal everyday lineup while Connor Phillips adds another talented, high-octane arm to what is shaping up to be a promising young staff for the 2020 season.

4. Mississippi
Ole Miss' recruiting efforts look especially good considering none of their players ended up signing, and in fact, only four were drafted. Their top recruit, Jerrion Ealy, like Maurice Hampton at LSU, makes it to campus largely thanks to his two-sport talents. Ealy is built like an SEC running back and not surprisingly he's going to be one now too. Shortstop Connor Walsh, catcher Hayden Dunhurst and righthander Derek Diamond were all PG All-Americans last summer and all have some polish to go along with their lofty ceilings to make an instant impact for the Rebels. There's also a significant amount of depth something that is needed after losing eight key regulars from their Super Regional team.

5. Texas A&M
Heading into the draft the schools with the top five-ranked recruiting classes all hailed fro the SEC, and of those teams Texas A&M got hit the hardest by the draft. Each of their top three recruits – righthanders JJ Goss, Matthew Thompson and Josh Wolf – received a signing bonus in excess of $2 million. That's hard to compete with, and the Aggies also lost toolsy outfielder Dasan Brown to his hometown Blue Jays. Arriving on campus is big-bodied PG All-American outfielder Logan Britt who could post some loud numbers as a freshman. Righthanders Blake Mayfield, Evan Vanek and Mason Ornelas each have plenty of things to like and build off of making it easy to believe they could represent the next week of talented hurlers Texas A&M always seems to boast. 

To view the full recruiting class rankings for the 2019-20 school year, as well as the players that make up those classes, please visit this link.

 Give us your feedback
Copyright 1994-2019 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.