Dynasty: Redrafting the 2018 MLB Draft
I hope you didn’t think I was going to redo all 1,214 picks of the 2018 MLB Draft. If that is the case, I am happy to disappoint.
Is it too early to redraft? Maybe. There is a strong case for it considering almost a third of the picks either haven’t debuted yet, didn’t sign, or Kyler Murray’d.
By the way, I’m convinced we’re going to come up with a new form of ghosting, called Murray’d. It’s not that you just break off and fade away exactly; it’s more like you make harsh demands — which are met — and then you fade away. But I digress. I’m not here to second-guess the decisions of teenagers and twentysomethings. I’m here to second-guess the decisions of Major League Baseball general managers.
What surprised me is how many picks have already made a good impression. I filled this redraft of the first round with almost all the players who made a good impression from the first, second, and compensation rounds, but I still had players left over. There weren’t enough to do another round, but I …
(You just got Murray’d.)
No. 1: Detroit Tigers — Casey Mize, SP
Sixth months after the Tigers made Casey Mize the first pick in the draft, he is still the top talent (whew). Mize may not have had the best debut to the minors (3.95 ERA/1.17 WHIP) with a questionable 4.63 ERA in Lakeland High-A, but the stuff hasn’t gone anywhere. He already pitched 115 innings before going pro so we won’t begrudge him on a lackluster start. Even though Mize was cut from spring training after facing just one batter, it is still possible he comes up at the end of 2019. More likely, though, is he gets a real chance this time next year to fight for a rotation spot.
Tigers picked: Mize.
No. 2: San Francisco Giants — Joey Bart, C
The Giants picked a successor to Buster Posey with the No. 2 pick in the draft. This past June, I was skeptical because his profile looked nothing like Posey’s and yet they picked him three spots higher. So far, though, Joey Bart did just about everything he could to be the top name on this list, slashing .293/.364/.588 with 13 home runs between Rookie-A and Low-A. It should get interesting when he starts facing slightly better pitching in the next level or two up, but right now, Bart is trending up.
Giants picked: Bart.
No. 3: Philadelphia Phillies — Nolan Gorman, 3B
And the draft takes its first deviation — and it’s a big one. If the Phillies wanted a third baseman, they probably could have picked any of the others picked in the 2018 first round and came out better. Nolan Gorman is one such third baseman. In fact, he was the last one picked in the first round, originally picked by the Cardinals at No. 19. All he did after that was slash .291/.380/.570 with 17 bombs and a 12.4% walk rate. Not bad for an 18-year-old in Single-A. Really not bad considering their actual pick played 40 games in Low-A and didn’t hit a single home run.
Phillies picked: Alec Bohm.
No. 4: Chicago White Sox — Nick Madrigal, 2B
Nick Madrigal did everything he needed to do to maintain his No. 4 spot. Despite recovering from a wrist injury that knocked him out of half the college season, Madrigal still slashed .303/.353/.348. No home runs, but he did swipe eight bases and did not strike out in his first 72 plate appearances. In fact, he only struck out five times in 155 appearances (2.9% strikeout rate) through three minor league levels in his debut year. While that sinks in, remember that wrist injuries often zap power for the next six months. Madrigal is not expected to have much power, but it is possible we see some now that his wrist is healed.
White Sox picked: Madrigal.
No. 5: Cincinnati Reds — Jordan Groshans, 3B
Let’s continue to play Magical Bases (Hot Corner Edition) and repick for the Reds, who take Jordan Groshans. Unlike the player they did pick, Groshans is shining at the plate. As an 18-year-old, Groshans hit .296/.353/.446 in two Rookie-A stints. He blasted five homers in 48 games and showed a positive walk rate (7.3%) for a teenager. Now, the Reds probably made their real-life pick based on proximity to the majors, but if he doesn’t hit, you might as well pick a teenager.
Reds picked: Jonathan India.
No. 6: New York Mets — Jerred Kelenic, OF
The Mets made a great pick in Jarred Kelenic — it’s just too bad he’s no longer in their system. As an 18-year-old in Rookie ball, Kelenic slashed .286/371/.468 with 22 extra-base hits in 56 games, including six dingers. He also stole 15 bases in 16 attempts. The promising youngster has shown a willingness to strike out at a 20% rate, but that can develop over time in Seattle.
Mets picked: Kelenic.
No. 7: San Diego Padres — Matthew Liberatore, SP
The Padres, owners of maybe the best minor league system in the league, didn’t make a bad pick by going for the first pitcher taken; they just did not make a great one. Enter Matthew Liberatore. All the 6-5 high school product has done since being drafted is impress scouts by working on mechanical issues and pitch depth issues in just a few months, dominating Rookie ball to the tune of a 1.38 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 65 innings. Reports are already coming out that his command is better than it was in 2018 and that his curveball has even more depth.
Padres picked: Ryan Weathers.
No. 8: Atlanta Braves — Trevor Larnach, OF
Generally, I do not want to fault a player in a list like this just because he didn’t play, but the real Braves’ pick is different. Carter Stewart chose not to sign in order to play junior college ball in Florida and hope for a bigger payday in 2019. So far, that decision has backfired, as he’s reported much slower straight stuff and less movement on his breaking stuff. It’s early, but the Braves could have gone for a more guaranteed bat such as Trevor Larnach out of Oregon State University. He has a great approach that yielded a .303/.390/500 triple slash in his debut through Single-A. A much better use of a pick, wouldn’t you say?
Braves picked: Stewart.
No. 9: Oakland A’s — Jordyn Adams, OF
We go from a pick who didn’t sign to a pick who did and then chose to play football. The A’s wanted an uber-talented outfielder, so they picked Kyler Murray. Murray then picked the NFL. Why not go for the next best athlete: Jordyn Adams. Another two-sport kid, Adams could have been an All-American wide receiver at some point. He would look pretty good patrolling the vast OF in Oakland in a couple of years, hitting .275 with 20 home runs.
A’s picked: Murray.
No. 10: Pittsburgh Pirates — Travis Swaggerty, OF
The Pirates have nothing to be alarmed about yet. Travis Swaggerty’s struggles in Single-A are likely nothing but a small sample size (.129/.225/.226). After all, he showed an ability to dominate college pitching with power and speed. For as bad as he was in Single-A, he debuted in Low-A with a .288/.365/.453 triple slash with 14 extra-base hits in 36 games and nine stolen bases. That alone is worth keeping his spot at pick 10.
Pirates picked: Swaggerty.
No. 11: Baltimore Orioles — Lenny Torres, Jr., SP
Like the Padres four picks earlier, there is nothing wrong with their first pick; Lenny Torres, Jr. is just better. Originally a supplemental pick by the Indians, Torres flat out cut up Rookie-A as a 17-year-old. In 15 innings, he posted a 1.76 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 22 strikeouts without surrendering a home run. So far, the kid has shown a measure of control, with a 2.35/9 walk rate. At 6-1, he’s a little small for a top-10 pick, but he is so young, he could still grow an inch or two.
Orioles picked: Grayson Rodriguez.
No. 12: Toronto Blue Jays — Grant Lavigne, 1B
We’ve reached the first real pick sniped by my fake redraft. With an empty spot where Groshans used to be, the Blue Jays go for Grant Lavigne. The teenager absolutely raked in Rookie ball to the tune of .350/.477/.519 with six homers and 12 stolen bases in 59 games. There are some projectability concerns, meaning some fear his body has maxed out. Even if that is the case, he’s 6-2, 220 lbs., and from the looks of it, the kid has an eye (45:40 BB:K).
Blue Jays picked: Groshens.
No. 13: Miami Marlins — Nico Hoerner, SS
I confess to not ever knowing what the Marlins are doing. Don’t get me wrong: This whole post is an exercise in Monday morning quarterbacking, but even on draft day, I was skeptical of Marlins pick Connor Scott. Best-case scenario, he looked like Billy Hamilton. Worst-case scenario, he hit .211 in A-Ball with a 30.3% strikeout rate. Because Miami needs everything, I suggest a shortstop, Nico Hoerner. He might have to play second base in the majors, but I wouldn’t care. After all, coming from Stanford he slashed .327/.450/.571 with two home runs and six stolen bases in a small sample of 14 games. Who would you rather have?
Marlins picked: Scott.
No. 14: Seattle Mariners — Logan Gilbert, RHP
Like I said earlier, I’m not going to fault players for not debuting in the weeks after being drafted, especially pitchers. The lanky Logan Gilbert is no exception. In 2018, he threw 112 innings with a 2.72 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP and 163 strikeouts. Even though it was for Stetson, I’ll reserve judgement until the end of this summer.
Mariners picked: Gilbert.
No. 15: Texas Rangers — Cole Winn, SP
Like Gilbert, I’m not going to change the Rangers’ pick based on Cole Winn not pitching in July/August. With his kind of talent, he should be able to dominate in Low-A right away, and if he doesn’t, he’s dead to me.
Rangers picked: Winn.
No. 16: Tampa Bay Rays — Mason Denaburg, SP
While I won’t change a pick to penalize a player who hasn’t made his pro debut, I will bump a player up based on expectations. Many evaluators projected Denaburg as a top-10 pick if he didn’t have a bout of bicep tendonitis. So far, he has a plus fastball and curveball. How quickly he rises in the minors will be determined by the development of his shaky changeup and the ability to control all his pitches.
Rays picked: Liberatore.
No. 17: Los Angeles Angels — Xavier Edwards, SS
When the A’s picked away Adams from the Angels, that left an athletic hole in their draft. So we bring in Xavier Edwards to save the day. He’s not a big guy, but he’s very athletic and has one of the better approaches in this draft. As an 18-year-old in Rookie-A and Low-A, Edwards hit .346/.453./409 with 22 stolen bases and a BB:K ratio of 31:25. There might not be much power here, but there is a lot of speed, good defense, and a high OBP.
Angels picked: Adams.
No. 18: Kansas City Royals — Brady Singer, SP
While I’m not as high on Brady Singer as the Royals obviously are, I see no reason to change this pick because Singer has not yet debuted. He’s healthy, and he dominated the SEC for two years, including a senior season in which he posted a 2.55 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and 114 strikeouts in 113 innings. My only concern about him, other than lack of elite velocity, is he gave up nine home runs in his senior season. That is a lot for a college ace.
Royals picked: Singer.
No. 19: St. Louis Cardinals — Brice Turang, SS
Concerns about Brice Turang’s bat were not eliminated by his 2018 post-draft performance, but the flames weren’t fanned either. Turang hit reasonably well in Rookie ball, with a slash of .283/.396/.352. There wasn’t much power, just eight extra-base hits in 42 games, but he did walk 16.1%, strike out just 17.7%, and swipe 14 bases. I’m not a big fan of his, but I also expected less than what he produced. That’s a good sign.
Cardinals picked: Gorman.
No. 20: Minnesota Twins — Seth Beer, 1B/DH
Let’s talk about Seth Beer, shall we? First of all, he has to go to an AL team because he’s a designated hitter. Secondly, he produced better than a lot of scouts said he would in his debut, hitting .304/.348/.496 between all three levels of A-ball with 12 homers. His plate patience wore off in High-A, when he lost nearly eight points on his walk rate and gained six on his strikeout rate. That isn’t what we are looking for. Nevertheless, he showed the ability to hit for power with wood bats, which was a concern, and at just 22, he’ll re-enter High-A with a chance at moving right through if he finds the approach that netted him a career NCAA OBP of .489.
Twins picked: Larnach.
No. 21: Milwaukee Brewers — Ryan Weathers, SP
Originally picked in the top-10 of the draft, Weathers was a victim of being just OK in his debut. Between Rookie-A and Single-A, Weathers had a 3.44 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in as many innings. That’s the kind of stat line you’re happy about if you’re picking anywhere in the 20s, not really if you are picking in the single digits. Something could click for Weathers in the future, but right now, he’s viewed as a guy who is really a step away from being talked about.
Brewers picked: Turang.
No. 22: Colorado Rockies — Ryan Rolison, SP
The Rockies get to keep their pick in Ryan Rolison. He impressed in nine starts in the Rookie league, posting a 1.86 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched. Rolison’s ability to go longer into games will be his determining factor in how successful he ultimately is. He’s not a big guy, but he does have three pitches that could be above average, one of them being a plus curveball.
Rockies picked: Rolison.
No. 23: New York Yankees — Anthony Seigler, C/P
This is me scratching my head with what to do with Anthony Seigler. A switch-hitter and switch-pitcher, Seigler will not be used on the mound, as was to be expected. Instead, he will take his athleticism behind the plate, where he hopes to hit. That is something he did well in 12 games with Gulf Coast Yankees West at the Rookie level and something he did not do well in the following 12 games at the Pulaski Yankees in the Rookie level. There is a long way to go here — he’s just 19 — but Seigler has shown that he can work the count and his defense is better than most.
Yankees picked: Seigler.
No. 24: Chicago Cubs — Grayson Rodriguez, SP
Like Weathers a couple of picks above, Grayson Rodriguez is a victim of “meh.” Originally picked 11th by Baltimore, he flashed some good and some bad in his brief, 19-inning pro debut. The first thing that caught our eye is the ERA at a great 1.40, but a 1.24 WHIP is high even for an 18-year-old in Rookie ball. It’s because he walked seven batters in just 19 innings while striking out 19. Those numbers suggest he is not dominating but also wild. A perfect fit for the mid-20s.
Cubs picked: Hoerner.
No. 25: Arizona Diamondbacks — Luken Baker, 1B
There is an appeal to Luken Baker — a large, power-hitting first base prospect. He’s no athlete. He can’t play in the outfield, but the power potential behind a 6-3, 240-pound 21-year-old is undeniable. Now, that power did not manifest itself quite yet in his pro debut. Baker hit just four homers and 11 doubles in 45 games between Rookie-A and Single-A. Still, there’s potential to be somewhere between a Kyle Schwarber and a Dan Vogelbach. Where exactly that is will be sorted out soon, when he begins 2018 in High-A.
Diamondbacks picked: Matt McLain.
No. 26: Boston Red Sox — Triston Casas, 1B
Speaking of power, are you interested in 80-grade power? Triston Casas is your man. The Red Sox nabbed him with the 26th overall pick, which some thought was a reach given the swing-and-miss issues he has. Casas has not really debuted yet, so this pick stands. Yes, he did play two games in the Gold Coast League, but that doesn’t really count. He should start in Rookie ball as he just turned 19. There is a chance he moves through the lower levels a bit quicker given he is a little older than most who start down there.
Red Sox picked: Casas.
No. 27: Washington Nationals — Shane McClanahan, SP
With Denaburg off the board, the Nationals went with one of the next best pitchers: Shane McClanahan. After having Tommy John in his freshman year at Univesity of South Florida, McClanahan came back throwing fireballs and making hitters corkscrew into the ground. He has a plus fastball (topping out at 99 mph), a good curveball, and a decent changeup. That being said, he’s small and thin, standing 6-1 and 165 pounds. Still, he struck out 224 batters in 152.1 innings innings of college ball. Those strikeouts continued in his debut, inducing 26 punch outs in 14 innings of Rookie ball.
Nationals picked: Denaburg.
No. 28: Houston Astros — Cal Stevenson, OF
The Astros already showed that they were willing to pick someone out of the box by going with Beer in real life. With Beer gone, their next pick could be someone equally as abstract: Cal Stevenson. To put it mildly, we do not know how good Stevenson is. All we know is that he’s an on-base machine both in college and in the minor leagues. Picked in the 10th round (296th) in the real-life draft, it’s safe to say Stevenson turned heads when he .369/.511/.523 with two home runs, 21 stolen bases and an insane 64 walks in 62 games. It’s possible he just took advantage of really bad rookie-level pitching, but nobody walks that much without an exceptional eye.
Astros picked: Beer.
No. 29: Cleveland Indians — Noah Naylor, C/3B
We’re going chalk with this pick because Noah Naylor did enough to warrant the pick in the first round. He fits the bill for No. 29, hitting .279/.381/.402 with two home runs in Rookie-A. I’m skeptical of his ability to stay at third, but the bat seems like there has a future somewhere.
Indians picked: Naylor.
No. 30: Los Angeles Dodgers — Daniel Lynch, SP
The Dodgers are always looking for arms because the Dodgers are always breaking arms. With that said, they should go with a pitcher who might be closer to the majors than most: Daniel Lynch. Although Lynch wasn’t lights out at the University of Virginia, he did show a knack for striking out hitters. That trend continued in the minor leagues. In fact, he seemed to get a little better in his 12 starts in Rookie ball and Single-A. He threw 51 innings, striking out 61 guys to the tune of a 1.58 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. Lynch may not be better than the Dodgers’ real pick, but the Dodgers’ real pick also didn’t sign.
Dodgers picked: J.T. Ginn.
(Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire)