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Top 40 Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the St. Louis Cardinals. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Cardinals Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Alex Reyes 24.2 MLB RHP 2019 55
2 Andrew Knizner 23.8 AAA C 2019 50
3 Nolan Gorman 18.5 A 3B 2021 50
4 Dylan Carlson 20.1 A+ RF 2020 45
5 Dakota Hudson 24.2 MLB RHP 2019 45
6 Jhon Torres 18.6 R RF 2023 40+
7 Elehuris Montero 20.2 A+ 3B 2021 40+
8 Ryan Helsley 24.3 AAA RHP 2019 40+
9 Edmundo Sosa 22.7 MLB SS 2019 40
10 Griffin Roberts 22.4 A+ RHP 2019 40
11 Adolis Garcia 25.7 MLB CF 2019 40
12 Andy Young 24.5 AA 2B 2020 40
13 Conner Capel 21.5 A+ CF 2021 40
14 Wadye Ynfante 21.2 A- CF 2021 40
15 Genesis Cabrera 22.1 AAA LHP 2019 40
16 Lane Thomas 23.2 AAA CF 2019 40
17 Junior Fernandez 21.7 AA RHP 2019 40
18 Connor Jones 24.1 AAA RHP 2019 40
19 Justin Williams 23.2 MLB LF 2019 40
20 Randy Arozarena 23.7 AAA OF 2019 40
21 Tommy Edman 23.5 AAA 2B 2020 40
22 Ramon Urias 24.4 AAA 2B 2019 40
23 Stephen Gingery 21.1 R LHP 2020 40
24 Nick Dunn 21.8 A 2B 2020 40
25 Luken Baker 21.7 A 1B 2021 40
26 Daniel Poncedeleon 26.8 MLB RHP 2018 40
27 Johan Oviedo 20.7 A RHP 2022 40
28 Malcom Nunez 17.7 R 1B 2024 40
29 Evan Kruczynski 23.6 AA LHP 2020 40
30 Delvin Perez 20.0 A- SS 2021 40
31 Conner Greene 23.6 AAA RHP 2019 40
32 Seth Elledge 22.5 AA RHP 2019 40
33 Ivan Herrera 18.5 AA C 2023 40
34 Juan Yepez 20.7 A+ 1B 2021 40
35 Evan Mendoza 22.4 AA 3B 2020 40
36 Giovanny Gallegos 27.2 MLB RHP 2019 40
37 Derian Gonzalez 23.8 AAA RHP 2019 40
38 Adanson Cruz 18.1 R RF 2023 35+
39 Joerlin De Los Santos 18.2 R CF 2024 35+
40 Mateo Gil 18.3 R SS 2023 35+

55 FV Prospects

1. Alex Reyes, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 45/50 60/70 55/60 40/50 93-97 / 101

We erroneously peeled Reyes off this list during the summer. When he departed his May 30 start after four innings, he had thrown exactly 50 career frames. The MLB rule for rookie eligibility states that it has been exceeded when a pitcher has thrown more than 50 innings, so he’s technically still eligible.

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The New FanGraphs Scouting Primer

It’s been a while since we posted anything comprehensive and transparent about how we draw our conclusions about prospects. Player evaluation and development are changing very quickly in the game, and those changes obviously influence how we think about prospects here at FanGraphs, enough to merit a refreshing primer before we start publishing this offseason’s organizational lists. In addition to teeing up the lists, this post is meant to act as a central hub that can serve to answer commonly asked questions about prospects and how they’re evaluated, specifically for those in the near future who want to start swimming in the deep end of the prospect pool. As we continue to augment our thinking and methodology, so too will we update this document, which will live in The Essentials section of the Prospects Coverage landing page. Feel free to direct any applicable correspondence to prospects@fangraphs.com. Common queries sent our way may find their way onto this webpage.

What information drives your opinions on prospects?

We see a lot of players ourselves. We talk to scouts from amateur, pro, and international departments about players they’ve seen. We talk to in-office analysts, front-office executives, and people in player development. We also use publicly available data we think is relevant. Some combination of these things fuels each player’s evaluation.

What are some of your shortcomings as far as information is concerned?

Increasingly, teams are using proprietary data as part of the player-evaluation process. TrackMan and Yakkertech aid evaluations on many different components of pitching and hitting, high-speed video of players from Edgertronic cameras allows clubs to better understand and alter hitting and pitching mechanics, and Motus sleeves and Rapsodo are used in pitch engineering. The mere existence and demonstrable efficacy of this stuff has altered the way we’re projecting players, but we don’t have access to the data generated by these devices across the entire population or prospects.

What is FV?

FV stands for Future Value, and it’s the way we distill each player’s scouting evaluation into a single expression. Broadly stated, Future Value is a grade on the 20-80 scale that maps to anticipated annual WAR production during the player’s first six years of service. But there’s also quite a bit of nuance underlying that definition, so let’s break down its components.

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Scouting the Mesa Brothers

On Monday, the Marlins officially signed Cuban OFs Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. for approximately $5 million and $1 million, respectively, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Below is a post published earlier this month featuring scouting information on each of them — plus pitcher Sandy Gaston — sourced from clubs who attended their lone stateside workout.

Marlins Park hosted three Cuban prospects — CF Victor Victor Mesa (our No. 1 international free agent on THE BOARD), RHP Sandy Gaston (No. 20), and OF Victor Mesa, Jr. (not ranked) — for a workout on Friday. The media was not allowed at this scouts-only event, but we’ve collected thoughts from some evaluators who attended the showcase, which featured a standard array of activities for a baseball workout, including a 60-yard dash, outfield drills, and some reps against live, Marlins instructional league pitching. We’ve compiled some thoughts from people who attended the workout below, as well as some of our own thoughts on what kind of bonuses talents like this typically command on the pool-capped, international-free-agent market.

Cuban prospects have sometimes undergone drastic physical transformations between the point at which they’ve last been observed in Cuba and their workouts for teams. Sometimes these changes are positive (as with Luis Robert, who looked like an Ancient Greek sculpture when he worked out for teams in the Dominican Republic in 2017) and sometimes they are not (Yasiel Puig’s living conditions made it impossible for him to remain in baseball shape for his eventual workout in Mexico), but this was not the case on Friday. Victor Victor Mesa, 22, looks to have retained the sort of physicality he possessed the last several years in Cuba. He ran his 60-yard dash in about 6.5 seconds (give or take a few hundredths of a second, depending on the stopwatch), which is in the 65-70 range on the 20-80 scale, and he’s a 60 runner in games as he was in the past, while his arm remains above average.

Mesa hit some balls out to his pull side during batting practice, showing 50-grade raw power, but he has a linear, contact-oriented swing that we think will lead to below-average power output in games. There’s no question he can hit, defend, and add value on the bases, but there’s real doubt about the game application of his power. In aggregate, it looks like an average to slightly below-average offensive profile on an above-average defender at a premium position. Scouts think Mesa is a low-risk, moderate impact prospect who should be ready for the big leagues relatively soon. He garners frequent comparisons to Cubs CF Albert Almora. There’s a chance Mesa has a three-win season or two at peak, but expectations are more of a solid 1.5- to 2.0-win type player. He’s a 45+ FV on our July 2nd version of THE BOARD, which would be somewhere in the 130 to 175 range overall in the minors.

Mesa’s talent would typically be valued between $5 million and $10 million (depending on market conditions when he became a free agent) in the prior, non-pooled international environment, and that would come with a matching tax for exceeding pool limitations, so call it about $15 million in a total outlay. That kind of money isn’t available on the July 2 market anymore. The lack of comparable talents still available at this point, however, could help Mesa earn a larger bonus than Shohei Ohtani ($2.3 mil) did last year, even though Mesa isn’t nearly as talented, because everyone with money left wants to land him. We consider the Marlins the favorites to do so.

Cuban righty Sandy Gaston, just 16, ranked 20th on our July 2nd board as the lowest 40 FV, and he was the clear second-most interesting prospect at the event. Kiley saw him in February when he topped out at 97 mph and flashed an average curve and change, but Gaston also sent four balls to the backstop in a one-inning showcase against other 16-year-olds. Last Friday, Gaston worked 94-97 with similar secondary stuff, but with better feel, particularly in his first inning. There’s still a reliever look to him due to his delivery and mature physicality, but at age 16, so much will change that you can’t project that with certainty at this point, and Gaston has one of the most talented pure arms in the world at his age.

There generally is not a market for $2-plus million bonuses for 16-year-old pitchers, as teams tend to spend more on hitters. The track record of flame-throwing teenagers is not good. We consider Gaston to be a seven-figure talent but think many teams probably have him valued a bit lower than that because of the risk associated with his demographic. New Phillies RHP Starlyn Castillo is pretty similar to Gaston (we ranked Castillo 18th in the most recent July 2nd class) and he got $1.5 million, which is close to where we think Gaston’s bonus will be if teams engage in a bidding war for him after Mesa signs. Gaston was rumored to have a deal for that much or more with the Marlins around July 2nd, but it never materialized.

Victor Mesa, Jr. ran his 60-yard dash in the 6.9 second, which is average. He also showed a 55 arm and a linear swing geared more for contact. He’s 17, so there’s still room to project improvement based on maturing physicality, but he’s currently a tweener with hit and throw being his only above-average tools — and some scouts lower than that on the hit tool. On talent, we think he fits in the low, six-figure range.

Reading the Market

So what teams are best positioned to sign these guys? A glance at the market reveals that the Orioles have the biggest hard-capped pool amount remaining at about $6.7 million. That’s the most anyone can offer a single player, making any price that a team pays for Victor Victor a bargain compared to what he’d get in an open market. The Orioles ($6.7 mil) and Marlins — who just traded fringe pitching prospect Ryan Lillie to Cincinnati and reliever Kyle Barraclough to Washington in exchange for pool money — can offer the most at this point.

For reference, Jon Jay is a past-his-prime version of Mesa, and he garnered $4.4 million in 2018 ($3 mil plus what he earned in attained incentives) for his age-33 season. Victor Victor will likely get close to that amount, but represents six years of similar production instead of one and, at age 22, also possesses the possibility of turning into a better player than we’re projecting, He’d also be very marketable in Miami.

The Marlins, as noted, have made some moves to increase their pool size, and buzz among scouts and executives is that they’re looking to add all three players (the Mesa’s are likely to sign with the same team), which would cost at least $5 million, possibly over $6 million. The Orioles are obviously already in position to offer something like that, but that organization is currently in a state of flux due to the recent departures of the manager and GM, and you’d understand if the three Cubans would prefer a comparable offer from the Marlins. Thus, it seems reasonable that they’ll wait and see how much the Marlins can add to their pool.

As for what will be left over for the clubs that don’t land these Cubans, there’s some chatter among scouts that some clubs have deals with Mexican prospects who aren’t eligible to sign at the moment, as MLB has shut down the country to clubs for an unspecified period. If it doesn’t open before next July 2nd, then those clubs would have to find somewhere else to spend their pool money. We think they’d try to spread it around across several six-figure talents and that prospects in Asia may be targets.

There’s more intrigue surrounding this process due to the recent Sports Illustrated report regarding the U.S. Department of Justice investigation of MLB affairs in foreign countries. All three of these Cuban players are represented by Scott Shapiro and Barry Praver of Magnus Sports Agency. Praver and Shapiro once employed Bart Hernandez who in 2017 was convicted of illegally smuggling Cuban ballplayers to the U.S. via other countries.


Fall Equinox Draft Board Update

The summer, rich with relevant amateur baseball, has ended. With it ends an important stretch on the player-evaluation calendar, one that is being weighed more heavily with each passing draft. We consider this checkpoint to be a sensible time to revisit our draft prospect rankings and make a sweeping update to the amateur wing of THE BOARD. A link to the 2019 draft board is here, but it can also be accessed through our brand new prospect landing page, which encompasses all of our content (shout-out to Sean Dolinar!) here.

Below we’ve attempted to anticipate some questions readers might have and to answer them as well as possible.

Q. Why is the summer so important for draft evaluation?

A. The high concentration of talent in collegiate wood-bat leagues and in scout-run high-school showcase events (which are designed to be evaluation-friendly) more closely approximates the talent environment of pro baseball. It’s hard to know if a high-school hitter facing a lot of suburban varsity, upper-70s fastballs is actually any good, but watch a prep hitter face Division I breaking balls and 90-plus mph fastballs for eight weeks, and you’re going to learn a lot about him.

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The Final Pro-Side Update to THE BOARD

Over the last several weeks, we have seen and/or sourced opinions on a handful of pro prospects whom we felt should move up our pref list, some of them into the 50 FV tier. Rather than wait until this winter’s full-scale update of each team’s farm system to reflect updated opinions on these players, we’ve moved them now to more accurately reflect our present evaluations (we have thoughts on each of them below) and also because we consider several of them perfect touchstones for discussion this offseason.

We have also shuffled a handful of players on the top 100. Most of the players we’ve moved up haven’t experienced tool change per se but have outperformed similarly evaluated talents; those who’ve moved down thanks, meanwhile, did so largely due to injuries. This isn’t a comprehensive update, just what we consider to be a more accurate snapshot, grabbing the low-hanging fruit. There’s also a handful of players whom we debated moving but decided to leave alone for the moment because Eric will be seeing them a lot in the Arizona Fall League, allowing us to provide a more well informed judgment in the near future. In his AFL preview, Eric names most of these players.

A reminder: THE BOARD is here. We’ll also be updating our 2019 MLB Draft rankings in the coming days.

Moving Up into the 50+ FV Tier

Vidal Brujan, 2B, TBR – Brujan’s speed, bat control, size, and feel for the game are all comparable to the sort exhibited by Ozzie Albies, Nick Madrigal, Luis Urias, and other pint-sized dynamos who seem to be multiplying lately. We had an aggressive 45 FV on him preseason in anticipation of a solid full-season debut, but he blew even us away, stealing 55 bases with 63 walks and 68 strikeouts.

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Ranking the Prospects Traded at the Deadline

The 2018 trade deadline has passed and, with it, dozens of prospects have begun a new journey toward the major league with a different organization. We have the prospects traded since the Manny Machado deal ranked below, with brief scouting snippets for each of them. Players highlighted in blue are not technically prospects, having exhausted rookie eligibility, but we felt they fell under our umbrella of evaluation anyway as they’ve spent a lot of time up and down in the minors this year. Plus, it’s just interesting to think about where they fit. Scouting info comes from both in-person looks and also a combination of scouts and front-office personnel to whom we are eternally grateful.

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Good Scouting Was Behind the Hand/Mejia Trade

The Indians traded blocked top prospect Francisco Mejia to the Padres for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber today. It’s worth noting that the Dodgers, Indians, and Padres have all swung important deals within the past 24 hours and all have one thing in common: each has created depth by turning low-risk investments into real trade assets, via multiple avenues.

The Dodgers filled out the Machado deal with four prospects who weren’t touted until the last year or so. The Padres got Brad Hand on a waiver claim, while Cimber was completely off the radar until this year. The Indians, for their part, could afford to trade Mejia with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez representing superior options behind the plate. These aren’t the only instances of these clubs turning nothing into something, but a couple instances ended up driving these big deals.

The Orioles have announced they will create better infrastructure to do this sort of thing more often going forward. There’s also been buzz in scouting circles today that at least one of the clubs that attempted to land Machado believes their package ultimately fell short because of substandard scouting and/or development.

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2018 International Prospect Board

We present the July 2, 2018 Board. It features scouting reports on players we have evaluated as a 40 FV prospect or better at the current moment (and we might add more reports over the weekend) as well as tool grades and some video. Specifics on the players in the class are reserved for the board itself, so head there if that’s all you’re looking for.

This is the second year of international amateur free agency under the current CBA, the rules of which were discussed here after they were first implemented. In short, teams now have a finite amount of money to spend on players. Here is each club’s cap for the period. The total pool space across baseball is about $159,000,000, or roughly $6 million above last year’s total.

Click here to see THE BOARD.

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The Updated Top 131 Prospect Rankings

With two months of the minor-league season now complete and the draft also finished, it’s an appropriate time to publish a revised version of our preseason top-100 list. The list is below. Notes about methodology and specific players appear below that.

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National League Draft Recap

Click here for American League recap.

Below is a collection of notes on each National League team’s draft class. We’ve tried to touch briefly on the players each club selected through the first five rounds or so, with observations on players selected after that at our discretion. Generally, these are the prospects we think both (a) have a chance to appear on a team prospect list sometime in the near future and also (b) are likely to sign. The number in parentheses after each player’s name is the round in which he was drafted.

For more details on many of these players, consult THE BOARD, which has tool grades, links to video, and various information about the players.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Link to Draft Selections

SoCal prep 2B Matt McLain (1) is a smaller guy with a plus hit tool and the speed/hands to play somewhere up the middle… Virginia CF Jake McCarthy (CBA) missed most of the spring with a broken wrist but has average raw power, plus speed, and feel to hit, though he’ll need a swing adjustment in pro ball… Illinois prep CF Alek Thomas (2) has a long track record of hitting and has good feel for the game but slipped because of concerns about a lack of physicality. That won’t matter if he hits like proponents think he will… Kansas RHP Jackson Goddard (3) is a power arm who flashes electric stuff and likely lands in relief… Wright State RHP Ryan Weiss (4) shows solid-average stuff, has a back-end-starter profile… Oregon RHP Matt Mercer (5) is a Driveline guy who throws with high effort up to 97 mph. He has four pitches, but the changeup is way ahead of the breaking balls and he may end up in relief… Florida prep RHP Levi Kelly (8) is maxed out and is a fringe athlete, but he’s up to 96 mph and flashes a plus slider at times… Florida State LHP Tyler Holton (9) had Tommy John surgery this spring but flashed solid-average stuff and feel when healthy… Florida prep SS Blaze Alexander (11) has power, a 70 arm, and a chance to play shortstop but has had swing-and-miss issues against good pitching… Kentucky RHP Justin Lewis (12) is ultra lanky, sitting 89-93 mph with an above-average changeup and enough breaking ball to stick as a starter.

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American League Draft Recap

Click here for National League recap.

Below is a collection of notes on each American League team’s draft class. We’ve tried to touch briefly on the players each club selected through the first five rounds or so, with observations on players selected after that at our discretion. Generally, these are the prospects we think both (a) have a chance to appear on a team prospect list sometime in the near future and also (b) are likely to sign. The number in parentheses after each player’s name is the round in which he was drafted.

For more details on many of these players, consult THE BOARD, which has tool grades, links to video, and various information about the players.

Baltimore Orioles
Link to Draft Selections

Every year, a few of the high-school pitchers sitting in the 88-92 range the summer before their draft year have a huge uptick in stuff over the winter. This year, Baltimore first-rounder Grayson Rodriguez (1) was one of them, and he can really spin a breaking ball… Teams offered Oregon State SS Cadyn Grenier (2) seven figures coming out of high school but couldn’t quite cut a deal. His bat hasn’t developed as hoped in college, but he does have at least average raw power, is a plus-plus runner, and can play short… Arkansas righty Blaine Knight (3) was draft-eligible last year. He sits 91-93, will flash a plus slider, and could be a No. 4/5 starter… Prep lefty Drew Rom (4) has feel for three pitches and will touch 93… Iowa OF Rob Neustrom (5) is a corner-only guy with great control of the strike zone and above-average raw power… UCF RHP J.J. Montgomery (7) worked 92-96 this spring with an average changeup and fringey slider… UNC C Cody Roberts (11) is just an okay hitter but has a howitzer and is solid behind the plate… UCSB SS Clay Fisher (12) looked like a second-round pick last spring before multiple injuries sidetracked him and sapped his athleticism, hopefully just temporarily.

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Day One Draft Recap

Below are brief recaps of each team’s selections on day one of the draft. Remember, there’s more information concerning each of these players on THE BOARD, including video, tool grades, and other ephemera, like top-100 ranking for the elite players. We have some thoughts on each club’s first-day picks, some more than others, as well as our best available players at the end of the post.

We ranked 130 players in order, then ranked them just within their demographic groups for the next tier; those players are denoted as “3-5,” while the only player we didn’t rank at all yesterday, Michael Grove, is an NR (not ranked). You can also look at the FV of each prospect and approximate where he will go on their organization’s prospect list by clicking over to the minor-league side of our rankings here.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Pick Rank FV First Last Pos Age Ht Wt School Strengths
25 63 40 Matt McLain 2B 18.8 5’10 175 Beckman HS Plus hit, run, MIF
39 49 40+ Jake McCarthy CF 20.8 6’2 195 Virginia CF type, hit over power
63 35 45 Alek Thomas CF 18.1 5’11 175 Mt Carmel HS Polished CF. Bat-to-ball.
Two-high school bats with advanced hit tools and a buy-low on McCarthy, who was hurt for much of 2018 and could be considered a comfortable first round talent when healthy. McLain was a potential signability risk (UCLA) and ranked 40 spots beneath where he was selected; we heard he wouldn’t have made it to their next pick.

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 3.1

Our previous mock went two full rounds and you can see that here. Remember, you can learn about the players we talk about here on our 2018 Draft Board.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

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2018 MLB Draft Chat

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6:49

Eric A Longenhagen: Hello and welcome to the FanGraphs 2018 MLB Draft chat.

6:51

Eric A Longenhagen: Here is our last mock. Fingers crossed. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2018-mlb-mock-draft-v-3-1/

6:52

Eric A Longenhagen: And here is our draft board: https://www.fangraphs.com/scoutboard.aspx?draft=2018mlb&type=0&pos=all…

6:52

Eric A Longenhagen: Things still sounded unsettled as of a few hours ago, so there’s still a chance things totally blow up at the top of the draft, but we’d say it’s unlikely.

6:53

Eric A Longenhagen: We’ll be answering your questions throughout the evening and providing live analysis as things unfold.

6:57

Kiley McDaniel: Hearing it will go Mize-Bart-Bohm at the top, as expected

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 3.0

Below is what will probably be our final full-text mock draft for 2018. Unless, over the weekend, something happens that necessitates longer explanation, a final mock on Monday will probably just have names and skeleton text. We think Casey Mize remains the favorite to go first, with the only potential pitfalls being a Mize injury at regionals or that Detroit reaches a breaking point with Mize’s bonus demands. We don’t think that scenario is likely, but that it has something like a 5-10% chance to happen at this point, so we’ve included the way we think the dominoes fall if it does happen, which ends up being only four picks changing. Remember, you can learn about the players we talk about here on our 2018 Draft Board.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

Less likely alternate scenario: Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech

If something happens with Mize, then we think the pick is Joey Bart, but ultimately we think Detroit will pick Mize and sign him for a bonus between $7.4 million (slot at 2) and $8.1 million (slot at 1), likely toward the lower end of that range. The Tigers have been tied to Georgia prep center fielder Parker Meadows, Pennsylvania prep center fielder Mike Siani, and Mississippi prep righty J.T. Ginn for their second pick. Wisconsin OF Jarred Kelenic has been mentioned as a name they’d like to move back there as well, but we don’t think that’s feasible as he seems signable and has too many suitors between here and Detroit’s next pick.

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Introducing the 2018 MLB Draft Board

Today we’ve rolled out the 2018 MLB Draft version of THE BOARD, but rather than just point you to an article explaining how the minor-league version works, we’ll take a second to go over the differences between the draft and minor-league versions.

Obviously, the amount of information we have for these players is different than what we have on minor leaguers, so we think the presentation of our information should reflect that reality. While you can look at a pro prospect’s stat line and get a quick idea of how advanced they are, amateur stats (particularly outside of the top couple college conferences) often don’t tell a coherent story. This, along with the varying types of prospects in the draft, means that we need to be more specific about the indicators of projection rather than just our median tool grades. We capture that, in the minor leagues, with ‘variance’; for amateur players, however, we felt we needed more detail so that it’s not necessary to memorize every report to quickly compare players.

This is manifested in the columns marked Athleticism, Frame, Performance, and Delivery. All four apply to pitchers and the first three apply to hitters. Every player is graded on a five-point scale of either —, -, +, ++ or neutral (blank). In addition to age and some other factors not captured here, these factors are influential for us when attempting to craft the rankings. It should help better establish, at a reader’s glance, the relative strengths and weaknesses of each player. Sometimes that’s necessary, as the tool grades often end up so close to 50 that it’s hard to differentiate these players without breaking down mechanics on video or memorizing all the small separators in our reports. This also more closely mirrors how big league draft rooms work, with selective categories (like 95+ mph fastball, scoring well on a mental skills test, etc.) getting their own stickers put on specific draft magnets so that separating qualities beyond tools can be identified more quickly after the first few rounds.

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 2.0

It’s been almost a month since our last (partial) mock draft, so it’s probably time to collect all of our notes and take another try at this. Updated, expanded, and sortable draft rankings will be coming soon, but you can get an idea of the industry consensus rankings from all the clues and team connections below as a teaser. As we’ve mentioned many times before, this draft stands out most for the unusually prep-heavy concentration of talent in the picks 20 to 50 area. For reference, here’s the full draft order.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
Mize is still the heavy favorite here, with the backup options appearing to be Georgia Tech C Joey Bart and Florida RHP Brady Singer, while Wisconsin prep CF Jarred Kelenic has faded from contention. Teams outside the top five picks don’t expect to get Mize’s MRI (he missed time last spring with an arm issue and some clubs were worried about his health as far back as high school), and it’s possible no one other than Detroit will get it. GM Al Avila saw the Mize/Singer matchup three weekends ago; saw Bart, Georgia prep CF Parker Meadows, and Wichita State 3B Alec Bohm two weekends ago; and Oregon State 2B Nick Madrigal last week. Mississippi prep RHP J.T. Ginn is a target in the second round, as are any of the leftover prep outfielders, like Pennsylvania prep CF Mike Siani.

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Eric Longenhagen & Kiley McDaniel Chat – 5/10/18

2:01

Eric A Longenhagen: Howdy from a Morristown, NJ Starbucks where I’ve stopped on the way to see Lenny Torres (which I’m growing worried is going to be rained out).

2:02

Eric A Longenhagen: Kiley will be joining momentarily, but I’m gonna get rolling now as I will probably hve to bounce sooner than Kiley to get to the game.

2:02

Paul: Wasn’t there a new mock promised at some point soon?!

2:03

Eric A Longenhagen: Early next week after I’ve seen who’s at the games I’m seeing this weekend and we make some more cals.

2:03

Kiley McDaniel: And I just got home to Orlando where I’m scrambling to run errands and settle in for some serious content putout (and also UCF/Oklahoma this weekend)

2:03

Dave: Any chance the Braves go with Kelenic at 8?

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 1.0

With the event itself still over a month and a half away, it’s still too early to say with any type of certainty which clubs will select which players in June’s draft. That said, we’ve become familiar enough with industry consensus and player buzz in recent weeks to take a stab at projecting the first 10 picks.

As mentioned yesterday in our updated draft rankings, signability is everything in a hard-capped draft, and most prospects haven’t even met with their advisors yet to set a number, though there have been indications in many cases.

The depth of the class is found in high-school talent in the 20-50 overall range. With the top of the draft unsettled — and with a couple teams featuring lots of extra picks and pool money (draft order) — there will likely be a pick or two among the top 15 signed for well below slot to set up some overslot bonuses at later picks. With the specific dope on every pick getting spottier around the 10th pick, we cut things off there, but there’s plenty of buzz on that 20-50 range as clubs line up contingency options should the board blow up for their first pick.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

All of our intel suggests that Mize will be the pick here, provided he doesn’t get hurt and his medical comes back fine. It’s not a 100% slam dunk, but that scenario seems well over 50% likely. In the event things go sideways with Mize, Wisconsin prep CF Jarred Kelenic is the second option and would be signable for a lower bonus, but the weather and competition he’s facing this spring has made him tougher to scout than some other similarly ranked prospects. Wichita State 3B Alec Bohm is another player who has been mentioned here, but he seems like a longshot at this point.

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Updated 2018 MLB Draft Rankings

It’s still a little early in the process to reach any firm conclusions, but with the field beginning to take shape, now seems like an appropriate time to update our preseason draft rankings. This list came together after speaking with dozens of scouts over the last few months and seeing most of the players ourselves either last summer or this spring. We went as deep as we felt was appropriate given the information on hand. In this case, that ended up being 55 players — or, most of the draft’s top two rounds. We’ve noted the prep players whom we’ve heard will be a challenge to sign (Adams, Banfield, Denaburg, Hoglund, Kloffenstein, Rocker, Thomas, and Wilcox), although typically, with players ranked this high, all but one or two of will end up reaching an agreement with a club.

We will publish an early mock draft later this week with some player/team connections we’ve been hearing, but it won’t be the whole first round since most teams in the top 10 are still unsure of who will be on the board or what their asking prices will be. In a hard-slotted, bonus-dependent world, these prices dictate most of the first round and almost all of the picks outside of the top ten.

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