2019 MLB Draft Breakdown

We’re less than a month away from the 2019 MLB First Year Player’s Draft and I feel somewhat obligated to introduce to the casual fan the next crop of stars, busts, and roll players that could go top 5 in the coming draft.

MLB Draft Day is one of my very favorite days of the year.  It’s kinda odd as 99% of the players selected won’t see time in The Show either at all or at least for a few years. It ‘s obviously way different than the NFL or NBA where players are drafted and are instant stars in their respective sports.

With the White Sox in a state of a perpetual rebuild (this is a joke, they’re not and I’ll explain why later) I’ve done more YouTube scouting of college and high school kids over the last 3-4 years than I ever have in my entire life.  So I want to go over who we want, who we don’t want, and who could go top 5.

Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State:

He’s the one player in this draft that I would label “future superstar”.  Switch hitting, athletic catchers who pair great contact skills with great power don’t come around hardly ever.   By all accounts he’s a great defender as well.  Right now he’s the odds on favorite to go 1-1, though a little birdie tells me that might not be the case as of the last few weeks.  The Orioles have the 1st pick and have the worst big league roster on earth, a dog shit Latin American scouting infrastructure and a pretty mediocre farm system to boot.  He should fly through any system and might not fall in line with Baltimore’s timetable for when they’re going to be competitive again.  Their slot value for the 1st pick is $8,415,300, and as a junior, he has a lot of leverage to command more than that slot value.  He could legit command ~$9MM or so, which would be about 70% of their total bonus pool.  Though they could very well take him as he’s absolutely the best player in the draft, the O’s could select someone like Bobby Witt Jr., a HS SS with ++ tools across the board for around $8MM, or go with someone like CF Hunter Bishop of ASU for WAY less at like $6MM.  This allows them to load up on organizational depth, which they are in dire need of, and maybe overpay for a HS kid in round 2 or a comp round that’s deemed a “tough sign” because of a hard college commitment.  As a White Sox fan, we hope this is the case because…

Bobby Witt, Jr., SS, HS

…apparently the Royals LOVE Bobby Witt, Jr.  Witt is the son of Bobby Witt (shocker) who was the 3rd overall pick in the 1985 draft and racked up 142 career wins on the mound for the Texas Rangers, among others.  This kid is a stuuuuuuuddddd.  He’s has the perfect frame for a 17-18 year old kid that you want to get into your organization, introduce him to a professional weight and nutrition regimen, and let him blossom into someone like… Carlos Correa.  He’s an OU commit, but there’s not a shot in hell he signs with them as he’s could very well go 1-1 and will drop no farther than 1-5.  As a HS kid, he definitely fits the Orioles timeline more as he’ll need bare minimum 3-4 years to fill out and more likely around 4-5.  With Rutschman seemingly ready as early as 2020 (probably 2021) the Oriole’s will be forced to start his clock way earlier than they’d need to with Witt, Jr.  That and Witt, Jr. will probably take a slot value deal and as I said before Rutschman probably will command more than slot value.  The rub here as a Sox fan is that if Witt goes 1-1, I don’t see KC passing on Rutschman.  So we have to pray that someone like Andrew Vaughan of Cal or the aforementioned Hunter Bishop of ASU goes 1-1.  It could just be a race to see who will sign for the least amount of money for Baltimore.

Andrew Vaughan, 1B, Cal

He’s been said to be the best “pure hitter”  in this draft classand was the 2018 Golden Spikes winner (equivalent as the Heisman Trophy) but I’ll be honest, I’m not COMPLETELY sold on him.  He didn’t perform crazy good with wood in the Cape Cod league last summer and that can often be a better barometer of a player’s future performance than raking with a 33-30 Demarini.  That said, I do love his swing…

Very contact oriented with a slight upper cut.  Kinda reminds me of Jake Burgers, as in he won’t hit 500 foot moon shots but will square a ton of balls and use his hips/leg drive to pound balls 110MPH over the fence.

Vaughan is another player that could theoretically go 1-1 as he could be a MUCH cheaper sign than Rutschman or even Witt.  That said, college 1B historically underperform once drafted.  There aren’t many that have gone top 3, let alone gone top 3 and dominated.  He’s a 1B/DH profile and the Sox are loaded with similar players in their system. But he’s a “safe” pick as he’s got a really high floor at the very least.  Assuming Baltimore and KC go the safe routes and take  Rutschman and Witt 1-1 and 1-2, the Sox could very well go Vaughan at 3-3 and see him in Chicago as early as 2021.  But I do know for a fact that they also love…

CJ Abrams, SS, HS

CJ Abrams, SS out of a GA HS.  Now this would be a complete and total boom or bust pick.  In my opinion, Abrams is the kind of player you look to sign out of Latin America as a 16 year old for like $300K.  He’s long, wiry, can put on a LOT of “good” weight, can absolutely fly and has great defensive tools to have a shot at sticking at SS.  Kid can fly, but I fucking hate his swing.  He doesn’t engage his hips or legs at all and just kind of waves at the ball.  Whoever takes Abrams has a lot of work to do with him.  He might make decent contact, but it’ll be weak contact.  I don’t see any power potential at all in his swing and the Sox need a superstar at 3 this year, as it’s the last year they will be picking this high for a long time, assuming they don’t get pummeled with more injuries this year.

I asked a scout last night what he thought of Abrams:

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Now it’s obviously just one man’s opinion but I don’t want Dee Gordon at 3.  I want someone who can be molded into a superstar.  Not to say that Abrams can’t, but there are other players that won’t take as much work that should command about the same bonus at 3.

Someone like….

Hunter Bishop, CF, ASU

I’ve been writing a lot about ASU this year for two reasons:

1. I lost a bet to their head coach in a home run derby and
2. Barstool may be doing a sizable ad deal with them.

I can’t speak on number 2 at all in any detail, but that’s why.  I want the people to know that ASU has two players who could very well be the 1st overall picks in the next two drafts.  One is Spencer Torkelson, who isn’t draft eligible until 2020 but is maybe the best hitter in the entire country as we speak and the other is Hunter Bishop.

Bishop is a toolsy collegiate player that need a LOT of grooming.  But, and shout out to Tracy Smith and the ASU player development staff, he’s blossomed into a player who could arguably be the 2019 Golden Spikes winner.  He’s a ++ runner, will stick in CF, has INSANE power to all fields, and has walked almost as much as he’s struck out this year.

Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 10.21.30 AM

He’s an atypical top 5 collegiate player as he still needs to tap into a lot of his ceiling, which is 5 tools across the board.  Typically college picks are more polished, high floor/low-ish ceiling guys.  Not Bishop. He more than likely needs 2-3 years of MiLB experience at least before he’s ready for The Show.  That said if he does reach that ceiling, we’re legit looking at a Christian Yelich type talent.  Even their swings are scary similar:

Bishop is one of the more polarizing players in the draft, as he could go 1-1 and take like $6MM to sign by Baltimore or he could go 1-10ish.  I’d personally LOVE the Sox to take him at 3.  He’s a better version of Jeren Kendall of Vanderbilt that went 20ish to Los Angeles a few years ago.  Some bust factor, but a LOT of boom factor.

There are other players in play in the top 5 as well:

Nick Lodolo, P, TCU – would fly through any system as he’s got pretty good command of 3 pitches but his fastball only sits 89-91, T93.  Nasty change though.

Riley Greene, OF, HS – said to be the best pure hitter of the HS crop

JJ Bleday, OF, Vandy – tapped into his power this year to a tune of 21 dingers at Vandy.  Great bat to ball skills as well.  Good OF.  Really high floor, decent enough ceiling.

Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor – GREAT defensive catcher.  Eh stick.  High floor because teams are desperate for good defensive catching, so he could stick on a big league roster forever assuming his stick is at least close to average, which is what it projects.  Could be a big time underslot signing for a team like Detroit maybe.

Other than that, everything is a complete and total crap shoot.  Nevertheless, the draft is only about 3 weeks away and the teams at the top are going to be hell bent on finding both future stars in the early rounds and diamonds in the roughs in later rounds.  That said, as Sox fans, we have to PRAY the Orioles draft someone who will take the last money so we at least have *some* shot at Rutschman.  He is the one player in the draft I would say is a future all star if you held a gun to my head.

And with that said, I don’t want to hear a THING about the White Sox “cheaping out” if they take a guy they deem will be an underslot signee at 3.  Each team is only allotted X amount of dollars to sign all 50+ draft picks or whatever they have and if they take a player for say… $6MM instead of the $7.2 they’re allotted for the 1st pick, that will allow them to overpay a player in the 2nd round that is supposedly a hard college commit.   There is a lot of strategy involved; it’s not just paying every player the most amount of money.  Can’t do that anymore.