With a few more days until the 2019 MLB draft, we’ve been busy here at Prospects Live, working like Santa’s elves in the days leading up to Christmas. Needless to say the maple syrup spaghetti has been flowing in the offices here. With the assistance of our team including Kyler Peterson, Matt Thompson, Anthony Franco, and Tom Mussa, we have combined our live looks over the last year to form a sort of scouting Voltron ready to… fight Decepticons?!? That doesn’t seem right… Oh, that’s right- MLB Draft! We’re ready to bring you notes on the MLB Draft. Our looks include the 2018 Cape Cod League, college games from the ACC to the Pac-12 and everything in between, as well as numerous high school showcases throughout the last year. We may not have seen them all but we’ve seen about 90%, and I’m confident these will not be your boiler plate, boring ranks. We have some spicy, spicy takes. Enjoy!
2019 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospects
1. Adley Rutschman, C Oregon State - It’s rare that the best catching prospect is also arguably the draft’s best hitter. The switch-hitter shows plus raw power from both sides of the dish while providing elite framing and defensive behind it. The best catching prospect since Posey.
2. Bobby Witt, Jr., SS Colleyville Heritage HS - Bat speed, athleticism, with the glove and arm to stick at the six. Hit tool concerns are the biggest knock on Witt, but his amateur track record speaks for itself. Potential franchise shortstop.
3. Andrew Vaughn, 1B California - Coming off one of the greatest careers in the history of college baseball, Vaughn is the rare right-handed hitting, right-throwing first baseman whose bat is strong enough to overcome the stigma.
4. Riley Greene, OF Hagerty HS (FL) - “Best pure hitter” is the phrase most associated with Greene’s game. Potential 70 hit tool with projection in both his body and raw power. The bat will have to carry the profile, as Greene is a below average runner, likely to move to a corner outfield spot long term.
5. J.J. Bleday, OF Vanderbilt - A high-floor college bat who added power to his game over the last year. Bleday slugged .500 with five home runs down the Cape, before slashing .357/.467/.752 while leading Division 1 in home runs with 26. Plus approach will allow Bleday to hit for average in addition to power. 48 walks-to-48 strikeouts in 2019.
6. C.J. Abrams, SS Blessed Trinity HS (GA) - Toolsy middle infielder with plus athleticism. Abrams’ long, slender frame leaves plenty of room for physical projection, while his smooth lefty swing and five tools make him a viable plus-hitting shortstop at peak.
7. Corbin Carroll, CF Lakeside HS (WA) - Strong all-around player with plus makeup and energetic approach to the game. Smaller frame but has a history of making hard contact to all areas of the field, tied for team lead in home runs for Team USA. Considered one of the best defenders in the draft, Carroll’s ceiling lies as a potential threat on both sides of the ball as a dangerous lead off hitter and elite defender.
8. Brett Baty, 3B Lake Travis HS (TX) - One of the top two-way players in the country, Baty has been a standout for Lake Travis as both a middle of the order thumper and the team’s closer. He’ll leave the mound behind, as teams covet the bat and potential to project as a middle-of-the-order power threat.
9. Josh Jung, 3B Texas Tech - A big-bodied infielder currently playing shortstop for the Red Raiders, Jung faces defensive questions at the next level. He’s not a pro shortstop, but scouts who think he’ll be fine at third base are all in. No one doubts that he can hit. Sporting plus raw power, bat control and bat speed, Jung’s a swing change away from hitting for contact and power in the middle of someone’s lineup.
10. Alek Manoah, RHP West Virginia - A mountain on the mound at 6’7”, 250+ lbs, Manoah broke out down the Cape over the summer of 2018 and it carried over to his 2019 campaign. High 90s heat, a wipeout slider, and an improving changeup round out his arsenal.
11. George Kirby, RHP Elon - A complete pitcher, Kirby’s got a really good chance to start. He holds a 92-95 MPH fastball with a pair of above-average to plus secondaries in his slider and changeup. College baseball’s leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio (107 K, 6 BB), Kirby’s a volume strike-thrower, too, although he’s more control than pinpoint command.
12. Brennan Malone, RHP IMG Academy (FL) - The elusive mix of a workhouse body and supreme athleticism. Armed with a fastball that can creep into the upper 90s and the makings of two potential plus offspeed offerings, Malone shows the makings of a potential ace.
13. Bryson Stott, SS UNLV - A well rounded player with the ability to stick on the left side of the infield. Tinkering with his swing throughout the season has led to hot and cold streaks, but there’s a baseline of approach and above average raw pop.
14. Jackson Rutledge, RHP San Jacinto JC (TX) - Former Arkansas arm has a large frame and the fastball to match. He’s added two swing-and-miss breaking balls to pair with his upper-90s fastball and average changeup. Needs to tighten up command to reach number two ceiling.
15. Zack Thompson, LHP Kentucky - After an injury plagued 2018, Thompson returned to Kentucky and had one of the strongest showings among draft-eligible pitchers in the SEC. Thompson’s got a four-pitch mix consisting of a fastball, two breaking balls, and a changeup. He saw an uptick in his fastball velocity, and his high-spin slider took a step forward in 2019. Thompson has an innings eater’s body, and gets swings and misses in bunches. In the conversation with Kirby, Manoah, and Lodolo for best college starter in the draft.
16. Hunter Bishop, OF Arizona State - An adjustment to Bishop’s setup allowed him to shorten his approach to the ball and tap into his double-plus raw power. A premium athlete in a tall, strong frame, Bishop can play center, but would excel in a corner outfield spot. A darling of the leaderboards in the early spring, Bishop came back down to earth, hitting just .256/.387/.530 in conference.
17. Matthew Allan, RHP Seminole HS (FL) - Many view Allan as the top prep arm in the draft. Unfortunately, he is one player who eluded our team of analysts. Works mostly off his fastball-curveball combination, which can be a lethal one-two punch. Big frame of a prototypical innings eater with simple and easy mechanics. Slight pause in his front leg between leg lift and planting.
18. Jack Leiter, RHP Delbarton HS (NJ) - Although Leiter could be a tough sign away from Vanderbilt, he is the most advanced prep arm in the class, thriving in pitchability. Although usually sitting in the low 90s, he had a considerable velo bump late in the season, reportedly touching 98 along with his sharp 12-6 curve.
19. Shea Langeliers, C Baylor - A well rounded backstop with plus defensive skills, Langeliers is a first-round talent despite a broken hamate bone that cost him nearly two months. He’s currently a below-average hitter with above-average power projection but his plus plate skills point to some offensive upside.
20. Nick Lodolo, LHP TCU - Our own Jason Pennini described Lodolo in our West Coast looks post earlier this spring. “High waisted, long-limbed frame. Body reminds of Forrest Whitley. Works from a low three-quarters slot and has some crossfire in his delivery… Fastball has natural cut to the glove side at times. Sat low-90’s and touched 95... His slider was consistently plus with huge horizontal movement/tilt...Exciting player, legitimate chance to be a mid-rotation MLB starter”
21. Michael Busch, 1B UNC - Busch faces defensive questions, but he rakes. A well-built but short college first baseman, Busch has all-fields power and plus bat control. If he can hold his own in left field at the next level, he’s got a chance to be an All-Star.
22. Tyler Callihan, 3B Providence HS (FL) - Callihan is in the same discussion as Greene in terms of pure hitting and even ahead of him in raw power. However, there are several glaring question marks around his future position, with some believing his future home is at first base.
23. Logan Davidson, SS Clemson - Davidson’s a toolsy college shortstop. A switch-hitter with plus speed, above-average raw power and a plus-plus arm, Davidson’s got great plate discipline but fringe bat control, leading to some swing-and-miss. He’s performed well in one of the nation’s best conferences for years, though.
24. Will Wilson, SS NC State - Wilson can hit, run and has the actions to stay on the infield. His arm is stretched at shortstop, so he’s probably a second baseman at the next level, but he might hit enough to play everyday at the keystone.
25. Keoni Cavaco, 3B Eastlake HS (CA) - A late riser in the prep ranks, the San Diego commit has 70-grade raw power and enough athleticism and arm to stick at third. There are some concerns with the hit tool, but there’s enough bat speed and physical projection to dream on.
26. Kody Hoese, 3B Tulane - His draft stock has soared with a big season at Tulane, but there are some questions about his defense and ability to hit with wood. Plus raw power with more walks than strikeouts is worth a look, though.
27. Quinn Priester, RHP Cary-Grove HS (IL) - The TCU commit has a 96-mph fastball that explodes out of his hand due to an easy, athletic delivery. His big 12-6 breaking ball has flashed plus at times, and he also throws a changeup. Lacks refinement and is extremely raw, unsurprising for a cold-weather prep arm.
28. Kameron Misner, OF Missouri - The 6-foot-4 specimen has been a bit of an enigma this draft season. His stock rose to the point that he was in many Top 10-15s early in the spring, but significant struggles in conference play exposed weaknesses in Misner’s plate profile. Few players possess more upside, as Misner brings double-plus raw power, plus speed, and a strong defensive profile, but questions will linger about his ability to hit quality pitching.
29. Greg Jones, SS UNC Wilmington - An athletic switch-hitter who has been a steady performer during his two years on campus. Has really come on down the stretch and showed tremendous overall improvements from his freshman to sophomore seasons, walking more than he struck out while stealing 35 bases and slugging .526 in 53 contests.
30. Daniel Espino, RHP Georgia Premier Academy (GA) - Possibly the highest ceiling out of the prep arms. Fastball has reached upper-90’s but was more 92-95 this spring. Shows a plus slider and flashes glimpses of a plus curve as well. However, there are questions about the overall command of his repertoire.
31. Logan Wyatt, 1B Louisville - An on-base machine during his time at Louisville, the questions of in-game power continue to plague Wyatt. With just 13 home runs over the last two seasons, Wyatt will need to tap into his 6-foot-4, 230 lbs frame in order to be a star at the big league level.
32. Anthony Volpe, SS Delbarton HS (NJ) - Out of the same high school as the aforementioned Leiter, Volpe is one of the more polished high school bats. Although there aren’t necessarily loud tools, he shows an all-around tool set with good instincts, a short, quick cut, and good actions in the field.
33. J.J. Goss, RHP Cypress Ranch HS (TX) - Teammate Matthew Thompson was more highly regarded coming into the spring, but Goss has outpitched all prep arms in the state of Texas this season. Flashing low-mid 90s on his heat, touching 96 at peak. Goss mixes a low-80s slider that garners plus grades, and a changeup that’s already an effective offering. Lighter frame and a high effort motion lead to some durability concerns. He does get the most of his lower half, showing excellent extension.
34. Seth Johnson, RHP Campbell - Converted infielder that’s taken off on the mound in 2019. Mixes four pitches led by a low-mid-90s fastball, a slider, curveball, and changeup. Still developing feel for his repertoire, but there’s a ton of untapped potential that the right organization can help cultivate.
35. Drey Jameson, RHP Ball State - A pop-up prospect this spring, Jameson touches the high-90s with a plus curveball and advanced changeup feel. He’s got big effort at release leading to wildness, so he might just be a reliever, but he’s only a sophomore and had limited pitching reps as an Indiana high schooler, so there might be more upside with reps.
36. Kyren Paris, SS Freedom HS (CA) - A slick-fielding shortstop with plus foot speed and a polished approach at the plate. It’s a defense-first profile at the moment, and there’s little raw power to speak of, but his feel to hit should not be understated. Might make an intriguing underslot sign at the end of the first round.
37. Kendall Williams, RHP IMG (FL) - A tall, lanky righty who is easy to dream on. Listed at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, Williams currently sits in the low-90s and has gotten it up to 95 with downhill plane. He also possesses an effective, slurvy breaking ball with depth.
38. Brady McConnell, SS Florida - A former highly regarded prospect out of high school, McConnell is back on the board as a draft-eligible sophomore. Has some swing-and-miss concerns, but the other tools are electric.
39. Sammy Siani, OF Penn Charter (PA) - Younger brother of 2018 fourth-rounder Mike, Sammy should end up going even earlier. Being from Pennsylvania, Siani was more difficult to get an eye on than others. But every scout with whom he has crossed paths drools over his smooth left-handed stroke.
40. Gunnar Henderson, SS Morgan Academy HS (AL) - A bat-first shortstop prospect with present raw power and an average hit tool. Henderson may eventually move off short, but his bat and athleticism will play at the hot corner.
41. Matthew Lugo, SS Beltran Academy HS (PR) - The top prospect from Puerto Rico in the class, Lugo is one of the highest-upside talents. A raw but athletic defender, Lugo’s arm and quick first step make him a strong candidate to stick at short. His offensive game is all about projection at the moment, with some flashes of pop, but inconsistent swing mechanics and a smaller frame leave a lot of room for development.
42. Michael Toglia, 1B UCLA - A slugging first baseman with a track record of performing against high-level competition. Has enough athleticism to man a corner outfield spot, but will likely end up a power-hitting first baseman with strong defense. Swing and miss concerns will likely always plague Toglia, but he should hit for enough power to negate some of those concerns.
43. Braden Shewmake, 2B Texas A&M - A proven college performer who was all-SEC as a freshman, Shewmake has hit .322 over his college career. A tall, lanky frame leaves room for Shewmake to add strength to his frame, something he’ll need to do in order to add the power needed to fit an impact profile. Toolsy but with questionable hands, Shewmake might move off the shortstop position at some point.
44. Ethan Small, LHP Mississippi State - Small doesn’t have huge velocity or a knockout secondary. His fastball has tons of life at the top of the zone, though, and he’s striking out over 15 per nine in the nation’s best conference. An analytically-inclined organization should be all over Small at the end of Day One.
45. Maurice Hampton, OF Memphis University HS (TN) - Few players in the class can match Hampton’s athleticism (Jerrion Ealy?), but his rawness at the plate makes him a bit of a project. A plus-plus runner, Hampton has all the necessary tools to develop into a strong defensive centerfielder. His bat is the question mark. He can get overly aggressive at times and has trouble channeling the strength in his frame into raw power. A strong two-sport commitment to LSU (he’s also a four-star recruit as a cornerback) might make him a difficult sign.
46. Ryan Pepiot, RHP Butler - Pepiot has starter’s physicality and repertoire depth, and he says he’s made strides with his changeup over the past few years. He’s battled strike-throwing issues his whole career, but perhaps a strong player development pipeline can coax a few more strikes out of him.
47. Nasim Nunez, SS Collins Hill HS (GA) - Ultra-twitchy Georgia prepster who is a sure bet to stick at short. Nunez is a highlight reel in the field with good footwork along with plus range and arm. There are some questions about the hit tool, specifically from the left side. Although he likely won’t offer much in the power department, Nunez is also an easy plus runner.
48. Chase Strumpf, 2B UCLA - Lance Brozdowski caught Strumpf earlier this season and remarked about his ability to hit, lauding his “innate barrel control and pitch recognition, has no problem with breaking balls. Keeps weight centered enough to fight off spin away.” Limited defensive profile but the bat plays enough to carry the profile at second base.
49. T.J. Sikkema, LHP Missouri - Former reliever turned starter who lacks physical projection, he has a four-pitch mix that lacks a true put away pitch. He’s a strike thrower who could move quickly and has excelled in every situation while at Mizzou. Could be first pitcher from draft class to reach the big leagues.
50. Rece Hinds, 3B IMG (FL) - Elite bat speed combined with his 6-foot-4 frame is a mouth-watering combination. He has the best prep power in the class. There are some concerns with the hit tool, but always bet on the athlete. Hinds is the ultimate risk/reward play in the 2019 draft.