Taylor Trammell was given an early heads up he had made the Seattle Mariners Opening Day roster, but for a trio of top prospects they had to wait until the last few days before hand to learn their first big league experience would come on Opening Day.
For the Cincinnati Reds, they roll out an Opening Day lineup of three third basemen, with stud prospect Jonathan India hitting seventh and playing second base, a position he has all of five games of pro ball under his belt playing. The Florida Gator prospect has plenty of athleticism though and should be able to hold down the position just fine despite having significantly more arm strength than needed at the keystone position. He is a bat first guy with plenty of pop that will likely move up in an underrated lineup. He could be a guy that flirts with the ROY this season.
Also batting seventh in his MLB debut is Kyle Isbel in the regular season battle of Surprise Stadium, the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers spring complex. Isbel is debuting in right field despite having an average arm at best, but there is a shot he settles in as the center fielder given he has plus wheels and quality instincts that should be enough to stick up the middle. He was a third round pick in 2018 out of UNLV that saw the Royals add Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, and Daniel Lynch in the first round, but a scout with the Royals at the time told me there were people in the organization who felt it was Isbel who would turn out to be their best selection in that draft.
The Chicago White Sox get the late start on Opening Day, but the most anticipated debut will come in that game as Andrew Vaughn has made the roster and is expected to get the start at first base (although it could be DH with Jose Abreu at first). Vaughn was arguably the best player in the country in 2019 despite Adley Rutschman going first overall and Bobby Witt Jr. going second, but the White Sox were thrilled to get Vaughn with the third pick. There was no argument as to who was the best pure hitter that year, as Vaughn was far and away the top of that list, and he has incredible power to go with it. He is not the typical slugger of this generation that will be massive power and massive strikeouts, instead he is a guy that can hit over .300 and put the ball in play most his trips to the plate. Defensively he is not going to wow anyone, but the bat will more than make up for any defensive issues that arise.
This is my official mock draft, but this isn’t a list nor is it a prediction, but rather if I were in the given team’s front office, it is who I would pick. The MLB Draft is not one where you draft for need, although I like Andrew Vaughn as the number two player in this draft, he doesn’t go to the Royals as they just selected Nick Pratto, a first baseman, a couple years ago. There is some buzz the Orioles may go for somebody easier to get under slot but, this is the only time and place I will mention this as I hate breaking news, it isn’t my thing and there is too much that goes with it, it is my understanding Adley Rutschman will need shoulder surgery, likely immediately after signing, so he should be an easy sign. For me Rutschman, healthy or not, is in a tier all his own, followed by Bobby Witt Jr., Vaughn, and C.J. Abrams in a second tier. J.J. Bleday starts a third tier for me that ends after Nick Lodolo, my only pitcher in tier three, with Bryson Stott heading a massive fourth tier that extends somewhere into the second round for me as I don’t think there is a ton of difference between Stott at 11 and Brooks Lee at 38 or Nasim Nunez at 49. I think this draft is incredibly top heavy but lacks in its depth of star talent. I do think day two will be very interesting as there will likely be a lot more high school talent available than in typical years as the college class near the top is stronger than the HS class.
Quick Report: The eighth overall selection in last year’s draft, he and the Braves were unable to come to an agreement after the Braves discovered a wrist ailment. Stewart decided to go the JuCo route this season rather than Mississippi State, and he hopes to be a top 10 selection again this year. He obviously has all the talent to be in the top 10, now it just remains to see if he is healthy and how much the ugly negotiations, which saw him file and lose a grievance against the Braves, impact his stock this season.
Player: Graeme Stinson
School (ST): Duke
Weight: 260 lbs.
Quick Report: My top ranked pitcher at this point, Stinson has the body you want out of a workhorse starter, even though he spent a good amount of time pitching out of the bullpen for the Blue Devils thus far. He has a fastball, slider, change mix with the fastball sitting in the low 90s with run thanks to his low arm slot. If he can prove he can hold up to a full season in the rotation, Stinson should solidify himself as the top arm in the class.
Player: Corbin Carroll
School (ST): Lakeside (WA)
Grade: High School
Weight: 161 lbs.
Quick Report: While he is not physically imposing, Carroll is a real impact player. He can fly on the bases and while manning center field. At the plate, he has a massive leg kick but great balance making him one of the better contact hitters in the class. He doesn’t hit for much power, but some may come. He also lacks arm strength in the outfield, but he impacts the game in so many other ways that is not of much concern.
Player: Riley Greene
School (ST): Hagerty (FL)
Grade: High School
Quick Report: Greene has the best combination of hit and power of any high schooler this year. He went into the showcase circuit with that title, and routinely squared up the best pitchers in the circuit, solidifying his spot in the top 10. The concern on Greene is the fact he doesn’t have a real position. He doesn’t get the best jumps and lacks the speed to make up for it in the outfield, so left field or first will likely be his eventual position, capping his draft upside.
Player: Josh Jung
School (ST): Texas Tech
Weight: 215 lbs.
Quick Report: I love Josh Jung’s game. He doesn’t have much range at third, but he has quick enough reactions and plenty of arm to stick at the position. At the plate he does nothing but put the barrel to the ball. He will hit for solid average and will hit for plenty of power. He starts with a wide base and has a minimal stride, allowing his hands to get to the ball quickly and enough strength to drive the ball to all fields. To me, Jung has the highest floor of any position player in the draft this year.
Player: Andrew Vaughn
School (ST): California
Weight: 214 lbs.
Quick Report: The 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner put up a ridiculous .402 average while launching 23 home runs a season after winning the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year title. He also shows an excellent eye at the plate, walking nearly three times for every two strikeouts. He will likely be limited to firsts base, but he can be a very good defensive asset at the position. He may be the best hitter in the class this year and would probably be at the top of the list if he played almost any position but first.
Player: Shea Langeliers
School (ST): Baylor
Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: If there is something I am a total sucker for it is defensive catchers, and Langeliers is one who happens to be able to hit for some power. His bat path is a bit long, which does cost him in average, but he gets good leverage and will be able to hit for close to 20 home runs at the next level. His hands are a little busy pre-pitch but are very soft when receiving the ball. He has an absolute cannon of an arm and good feet, regularly putting up pop times around 1.80 and typically right on the money.
Player: CJ Abrams
School (ST): Blessed Trinity Catholic (GA)
Grade: High School
Weight: 178 lbs.
Quick Report: A true plus-plus runner, Abrams will be a future big-league lead-off hitter who will certainly stick at short. He has a strong arm and quick hips around the bag. He has a natural left-handed swing that is smooth and gets the bat on the ball with ease. There is plenty of room for him to fill out and add power, but he will have to do a better job of staying behind the ball for that to translate.
Player: Bobby Witt Jr.
School (ST): Colleyville Heritage (TX)
Grade: High School
Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: This year’s draft class is really the top two and everyone else. Bobby Witt Jr. has long been the top prep prospect and has the possibility of being a true five tool shortstop with a genuine love and feel for the game. His best tool is his arm, possessing a cannon that help him turn double plays that shouldn’t be, and the throws from the 5-6 hole. He has the power and speed to be a 20-20 guy annually with a chance to develop into a 30-30 player.
Player: Adley Rutschman
School (ST): Oregon State
Weight: 216 lbs.
Quick Report: For me, Rutschman is in a class of his own. Not only does he have easily the best leg in the draft class (he was the Beaver’s kickoff specialist his freshman year) he is the best switch hitter in the class, one of the top defensive catchers in the class, and a CWS Most Outstanding Player. He can hit for average from both sides of the plate and could easily develop into a 30 home run hitter.