MLB Draft Rankings: 2018, 2019, and 2020

To answer your first question: no, there isn’t a slam-dunk, generational talent among the prospects ranked below. We’ll have to wait a little longer, it seems, for the next Bryce Harper to emerge. Nevertheless, the 2018 draft class is generally seen as deep and strong, particularly in prep pitching. There isn’t a player yet on whom we’d currently put a 55 FV (that is, the lowest grade received by the first 42 prospects on the recently published top-100 list), but almost every draft class ends up with a couple of those, and obviously these names will shift around during the season.

For reference, last year’s draft ended up with one low 60 FV and five players with 55 FV grades by the time the offseason arrived. So expecting three to five of the following prospects to emerge in the top 50 of next year’s Top 100 seems reasonable. As you might guess, the top 10-15 prospects are pretty tightly packed. With most of the early-season action occurring in Arizona, Florida, and SoCal, we’ll both be out to get lots of early looks this spring to quickly start sorting more out.

It’s too early to do a mock draft that would amount to anything much greater than a collection of guesses (here’s the draft order, for reference), but something to monitor is the presence of those clubs that lean risk-averse/analytic/etc. in the top half of the first round. In light of certain trends within the game — and, in particular, what appears to be a greater interest in near-ready, low-end-regular types — this could push college players (and, specifically, college bats) up into the high first round. Both Oregon State and Missouri State have TrackMan units at their home parks, so clubs will have multiple years of data on Madrigal and Eierman to aid their evaluations. Hitters from Virginia have benefited in much the same way from strong, large-sample TrackMan data in recent drafts.

Just as the recent minor-league top-100 list prominently featured the sons of Dante Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero, and Fernando Tatis, the lists that follow also feature quite a bit in the way of bloodlines. We have the sons of Jeff Conine, Troy Percival, David Weathers, and Bobby Witt, along with the younger brothers of Pirates Triple-A RHP Nick Kingham, Rays Double-A 1B/LF Joe McCarthy, Padres Double-A 1B Josh Naylor, and Blue Jays Triple-A CF Dalton Pompey. Kumar Rocker’s father, meanwhile, is Tracy Rocker, a former NFL defensive tackle and current defensive line coach for Tennessee.

We could have ranked more players or included more names for each list (especially projectable high-school arms), but we chose to limit ourselves in this preseason installment. Things will obviously expand as we get more information. We’ll have a slightly different presentation of the list than in years past, to more closely resemble the sort of information at what clubs are looking in draft rooms. We’ll both be at games starting this week and will keep you guys updates with tweets and InstaGraphs posts (along with longer posts when warranted) and updated rankings a couple more times leading up to the draft.

The underclass tables are sortable. The unranked players are grouped by high school/college and pitchers/hitters, roughly in order of preference within those four groups.

2018 MLB Draft Rankings
Player Pos School State Commitment
1 Brady Singer RHP Florida FL
Singer was an unsigned Blue Jays second-rounder out of high school and has performed well in the SEC, attacking hitters from a lower, Aaron Nola-type slot with above average stuff and good feel for his craft.
2 Nolan Gorman 3B O’Connor HS AZ Arizona
Gorman has 65 or 70 raw power from the left side, he hit well all summer, posted huge exit velos, has an in-the-box safety frame, and has the surprising quickness to stick at third base. He’s a safe bet to go in the top 10. His bat is so polished that the risk profile more closely resembles a college hitter’s than the typical high schooler’s.
3 Ethan Hankins RHP Forsyth Central HS GA Vanderbilt
A fidgety, loose, 6-foot-6 righty, Hankins constantly varies his delivery’s cadence to disrupt hitters’ timing, which, when he’s locating, allows his already plus stuff to play up. He sits 92-95 and touches 97 with life and will show you a plus curveball.
4 Matthew Liberatore LHP Mountain Ridge HS AZ Arizona
Liberatore is the prototypical high-school pitching prospect. He’s an athletic, projectable 6-foot-5 with a low-90s fastball, plus curveball, and promising changeup feel. You can go nuts projecting on his stuff, and he already has somewhat advanced feel to pitch.
5 Shane McClanahan LHP USF FL
The power lefty missed 2016 with TJ surgery after a big velo jump, but he’s back and the fastball taken another step forward, working 94-97 and hitting 99 mph. McClanahan also has an above-average slider and changeup, but fringy command.
6 Nick Madrigal 2B Oregon State OR
The 5-foot-7, 160-pound second baseman is an outlier in almost every way: 70 bat control, 70 speed, aggressive offensive approach, above-average defense at second base with great feel for the game and performance track record.
7 Logan Gilbert RHP Stetson FL
Gilbert had a coming-out party on the Cape and has improved this fall/winter, showing four average-or-better pitches to go with a 92-96 mph heater, and the delivery and feel to remain a starter.
8 Ryan Rolison LHP Ole Miss MS
Rolison reportedly turned down seven figures out of high school but appears to have made the right call. He has developed feel for pitching and an average breaking ball to go with a 90-93 mph heater and above-average changeup.
9 Brice Turang SS Santiago HS CA LSU
While Turang has been as the top player in his prep class for years, some scouts saw regression this summer, while others think he’s bored. He has 50 raw power, 60 speed, can be plus at shortstop ,and had a long track record of hitting that came to an abrupt end last June.
10 Jarred Kelenic CF Waukesha West HS WI Louisville
Kelenic makes so much look easy that you forget how tooled-up he is. He’s a 60 runner with a 70 arm, but Kelenic’s advanced feel for loud, all-fields contact is what has him up here. He could hit, hit for power, and stay in center field. He’s rumored to be playing for a travel team this spring to allow scouts more looks than the short high-school season would allow.
11 Greyson Jenista RF Wichita State KS
Jenista is a deceptively good athlete for his size (listed at 6-foot-4, 240) with average speed and a carrying tool in his easy plus raw power from the left side.
12 Griffin Conine RF Duke NC
Conine slashed .298/.425/.546 as a sophomore and has already performed in front of many decision-making eyes after hitting well late last year against heavily scouted teams and again on the Cape. He’s a corner-outfield prospect but has enough bat to profile there.
13 Jeremy Eierman SS Missouri State MO
Eierman had trouble finding a role this summer for Team USA but was seen a lot last spring alongside White Sox first-rounder Jake Burger. Eierman will stick in the infield, possibly at shortstop, and has a chance for average hit and power tools.
14 Nander De Sedas SS Montverde Academy HS FL Florida State
The switch-hitter doesn’t blow scouts away but has a wide base of average to above-average tools and feel for the game, though some question if he can stick at shortstop.
15 Jackson Kowar RHP Florida FL
Kowar has been a steady college arm, locating a running 92-95 mph fastball before putting hitters away with his plus changeup. Scouts have 45s and 50s on his curveball.
16 Mike Vasil RHP Boston College HS MA Virginia
Vasil was 90-93 at Area Codes then 92-95 mph later in the fall and already has impressive command of an above-average curveball for a northeastern high schooler. Some think he could rocket into the top 10 and rival Rick Porcello, Matt Harvey, and Jay Groome as the next premium northeast prep pitching prospect.
17 Travis Swaggerty CF South Alabama AL
Swaggerty and Madrigal were the spark plugs this summer for Team USA, but Swaggerty was the newest one to most of the scouting world. He’s a plus runner with sneaky gap power who can play center, exhibiting both good bat control and feel for the game.
18 Casey Mize RHP Auburn AL
Mize’s delivery is a little funky but it works for him, and he walked just nine hitters in 83.2 innings last year. He sits 92-96 mph with a solid-average slider and above-average changeup, though some scouts are worried about his durability.
19 Matt Mercer RHP Oregon OR
A Driveline guy with good angle up in the zone on a low-90s fastball, Mercer is deceptive and mechanically efficient. Both his breaking ball and changeup are effective beneath the strike zone and he really knows how to attack hitters.
20 Xavier Edwards SS North Broward Prep HS FL Vanderbilt
Some argue the 5-foot-9 shortstop is better than Turang, but only his size is making scouts hesitate. Either way, the tools are real: an 80 runner with a 60 arm, tools for shortstop, and lots of contact from both sides of the plate.
21 Jordan Groshans 3B Magnolia HS TX Kansas
A bat-speed/power developmental project, Groshans has enough athleticism and arm strength to play somewhere on the infield. He has the bat speed and looseness to remind some scouts of Carter Kieboom, maybe even Josh Donaldson if you really project.
22 Kumar Rocker RHP North Oconee HS GA Vanderbilt
Rocker has a mature but deceptively athletic frame. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he bears some physical resemblance to his father, a former NFL defensive tackle. He features high-octane stuff that’s been up to 98 mph and an above-average slider, but some scouts question his changeup and command, citing some reliever risk. Nevertheless, the arm talent is rare.
23 Connor Scott CF Plant HS FL Florida
Compared since his freshman year to prep teammate Kyle Tucker, Scott still has a very similar swing and mannerisms but also is a top-five-round prospect on the mound and a 70 runner at 6-foot-4. Some scouts think he could come out of the chute red hot and be this year’s Austin Beck.
24 Joey Bart C Georgia Tech GA
Bart was a solid prospect out of high school and has developed well in college, with solid performances and four average or better tools — with the ability to stick behind the plate at a position that’s always at a premium.
25 Triston Casas 1B American Heritage HS FL Miami
Another player who’s performed well this summer with batting-practice shows and big exit velos, Casas has been a standout for a while and may have 80 raw power. He’s also likely a first baseman, so any contact concerns have a bigger impact on his stock.
26 Carter Stewart RHP Eau Gallie HS FL Miss. State
Yet another TrackMan superstar, Stewart has posted regular 3000-plus rpm readings on a curveball that projects as a 70. Scouts like the chances his lanky frame will send his 88-92 mph fastball into the mid-90s this spring, which would shoot him up the board.
27 Ryan Weathers LHP Loretto HS TN Vanderbilt
Weathers’ frame is maxed out (and probably a little beyond that), but he’s deceptively athletic and could be 55s across the board (fastball, curve, change, command) at peak along with impressive bloodlines (father MLB reliever David).
28 Alec Bohm 3B Wichita State KS
A long-levered, power-hitting corner guy with plus raw power, Bohm has enough bat control to get to much of that pop and the athleticism to play third base. He and Jenista will get seen a lot this year by high-level evaluators.
29 Trevor Larnach RF Oregon State OR
Larnach will also get seen a lot playing alongside Madrigal this spring and fits the right-field prototype, with a powerful frame, 60 raw power, and an above-average arm. He has enough bat control to make lots of contact but needs to lift the ball more in-game.
30  Tristan Pompey CF Kentucky KY
The younger brother of Dalton is tooled-up with plus raw power and a chance to play center field, with some questions about his consistency and the instincts behind the tools. He has the raw ability to get into the top-15 picks with a good spring.
Luken Baker 1B TCU TX
Nico Hoerner SS Stanford CA
Alex McKenna CF Cal Poly CA
Jake McCarthy CF Virginia VA
Kyle Isbel CF UNLV NV
Tanner Dodson RF/RHP Cal CA
Lars Nootbaar 1B USC CA
Seth Beer 1B Clemson SC
Cal Raleigh C Florida State FL
John Cresto 3B Santa Clara CA
Steele Walker RF Oklahoma OK
Grant Koch C Arkansas AR
Clay Fisher SS UC Santa Barbara CA
Kyler Murray CF Oklahoma OK
Carlos Cortes LF South Carolina SC
D.J. Artis CF Liberty VA
Josh Breaux 1B/RHR McLennan JC TX Arkansas
Nolan Kingham RHP Texas TX
Austin Bergner RHP North Carolina NC
Tristan Beck RHP Stanford CA
Kris Bubic LHP Stanford CA
Jason Bilous RHP Coastal Carolina SC
Tim Cate LHP Connecticut CT
Zach Haake RHP Kentucky KY
Sean Hjelle RHP Kentucky KY
Konnor Pilkington LHP Mississippi State MS
Stephen Gingery LHP Texas Tech TX
Nick Sprengel LHP San Diego CA
Mitchell Kilkenny RHP Texas A&M TX
Noah Davis RHP UC Santa Barbara CA
Blaine Knight RHP Arkansas AR
Tarik Skubal LHP Seattle WA
Zach Hess RHP LSU LA
Colton Eastman RHP Fullerton CA
Jake Wong RHP Grand Canyon AZ
Will Banfield C Brookwood HS GA Vanderbilt
Alek Thomas CF Mount Carmel HS IL TCU
Mike Siani CF William Penn Charter HS PA Virginia
J.T. Schwartz 3B Corona Del Mar HS CA UCLA
Ryder Green RF Karns HS TN Vanderbilt
Joe Gray, Jr. RF Hattiesburg HS MS Ole Miss
Jeremiah Jackson 3B St. Luke’s HS AL Miss. State
Kendall Simmons SS Tattnall Square HS GA Georgia Tech
Jonathan Ornelas SS Kelis HS AZ Tennessee
Nick Decker RF Seneca HS NJ Maryland
Anthony Seigler C Cartersville HS GA Florida
Noah Naylor C St. Joan of Arc HS CAN Texas A&M
Kam Ojeda C St. John Bosco HS CA Fullerton
Cole Winn RHP Orange Lutheran HS CA Miss. State
Mason Denaburg RHP/C Merritt Island HS FL Florida
Cole Wilcox RHP Heritage HS GA Georgia
Slade Cecconi RHP Trinity Prep HS FL Miami
Lineras Torres RHP Beacon HS NY St. John’s
Erik Tolman LHP El Toro HS CA Cal Poly
Dominic Pipkin RHP Pinole Valley HS CA Cal
Jack Perkins RHP Kokomo HS IN Louisville
Simeon Woods-Richardson RHP Kempner HS TX Texas
Jack Neely RHP Churchill HS TX Texas
Owen Sharts RHP Simi Valley HS CA Nevada
Seth Halvorsen RHP Heritage Christian HS MN Missouri
Victor Vodnik RHP Rialto HS CA Cal Northridge
Chandler Champlain RHP Santa Margarita Catholic HS CA USC

The underclass lists are tricky to research, as most scouts have seen the top players from their area but haven’t played close attention to them yet or seen enough of the whole class to compare players. College recruiters, travel coaches, and agents (ahem, advisors) almost always know more about this group. In light of the uncertainty at this time, we’ll rank fewer of them here. Suffice to say, however, that multiple players in the ranked portions of both lists are the subject of intense battles between the top agencies in baseball right now — and even with at least one high-school player for the 2020 draft.

Note, please, that ranks here don’t correspond to projected draft pick. Someone appearing 10th overall here won’t necessarily go 10th in 2019 or 2020. Scouts haven’t borne down on most of these players, nor have the players themselves typically faced elite summer competition yet. So there’s a lot of evaluation to be done. Also, high schoolers are obviously less mature at this point than the 2018 prep prospects, and the college players remain somewhat similar in terms of talent to who they were as high-school seniors, when the industry let them go to college.

We also have very little performance data to help separate the players, but by this time next year it will be much easier for elite prospects to stand out. If every domestic amateur player were eligible right now, the top four to 10 in the 2019 list would make the 2018 Top 30 and maybe just one player from the 2020 list would make it. So use these more as guides for the top players in a general order rather than a mock draft per se.

It’s also worth noting that the further into the future we’re projecting, the more the lists weigh tools over production. There simply isn’t meaningful performance data for 2020 draft prospects and only limited data on most members of the 2019 class. There are also a number of older college freshmen who are eligible for the 2019 draft but who also haven’t yet played for their university teams. Kyle Hurt, Greg Jones, and Brady McConnell all fit this criteria, as do a number of prospects not listed here, such Philip Clarke, Pat DeMarco, and Kyle Jacobsen.

Prep RF Austin Hendrick of the 2020 class is known for having recorded triple-digit exit velos at a very young age, and obviously some of the incoming college freshman here attended multiple big high-school showcases just 18 months ago. Such players, though, either had sufficient flaws or such big bonus demands that they weren’t scouted as much in the spring. This lack of information will be evident when someone who’s likely on our long list (but not listed below) jumps to a prominent spot on the list after a huge freshman season and/or a greater development of his tools. Trea Turner is a great example of this.

2019 MLB Draft Rankings
Player Pos School State Commitment
1 Bobby Witt, Jr. SS Coleyville Heritage HS TX Oklahoma
2 Zack Thompson LHP Kentucky KY
3 Hunter Barco LHP Bolles HS FL Virginia
4 Shea Langeliers C Baylor TX
5 Drew Mendoza 3B Florida State FL
6 Matt Wallner RF Southern Mississippi MS
7 Adley Rutschman C Oregon State OR
8 C.J. Abrams SS Blessed Trinity HS GA Alabama
9 Bryson Stott 3B UNLV NV
10 Nick Lodolo LHP TCU TX
11 Tyler Dyson RHP Florida FL
12 Andre Nnebe RF Santa Clara CA
13 Ryan Kriedler SS UCLA CA
14 Greg Jones SS UNC Wilmington NC
15 Logan Davidson SS Clemson SC
Brad Debo C North Carolina State NC
Josh Jung 3B Texas Tech TX
Nick Quintana 2B Arizona AZ
Brady McConnell SS Florida FL
Chase Strumpf 2B UCLA CA
Hunter Bishop RF Arizona State AZ
Braden Shewmake 2B Texas A&M TX
Michael Toglia RF UCLA CA
Korey Lee C Cal CA
Josh Smith SS LSU LA
Tyler Fitzgerald SS Louisville KY
Thomas Dillard 1B Ole Miss MS
Austin Langworthy RF Florida FL
Carter Bins C Fresno State CA
Andrew Vaughn 1B Cal CA
Dominic Fletcher RF Arkansas AR
Will Wilson SS North Carolina State NC
Michael Amditis C Miami FL
Tyler Baum RHP North Carolina NC
Gianluca Dalatri RHP North Carolina NC
George Kirby RHP Elon NC
Erik Miller LHP Stanford CA
Will Ethridge RHP Ole Miss MS
Kyle Hurt RHP USC CA
Grant Gambrell RHP Oregon State OR
Jeff Belge LHP St. John’s NY
John McMillion RHP/RF Texas Tech TX
Adam Laskey LHP Duke NC
Graeme Stinson LHP Duke NC
Davis Daniel RHP Auburn AL
Ryan Garcia RHP UCLA CA
Garrett Milchin RHP Florida FL
Ryan Zeferjahn RHP Kansas KS
Charles King RHP TCU TX
Rece Hinds 3B Niceville HS FL LSU
Michael Dixon CF Berkeley HS CA San Diego
Brennan Malone RHP Porter Ridge HS NC North Carolina
Jerrion Ealy CF Jackson Prep HS MS Ole Miss
Riley Greene RF Hagerty HS FL Florida
Matthew Thompson RHP Cypress Ranch HS TX Texas A&M
Logan Britt RF All Saints Episcopal HS TX Texas A&M
Quinn Priester RHP Cary-Grove HS IL TCU
Wesley Scott RHP Woodcrest Christian HS CA Vanderbilt
D.J. Jefferson RHP Desert Oasis HS NV USC

 

2020 MLB Draft Rankings
Player Pos School State Commitment
1 Garrett Mitchell CF UCLA CA
2 Tanner Burns RHP Auburn AL
3 Cade Cavalli RHP Oklahoma OK
4 Joe Boyle RHP Notre Dame IN
5 Austin Hendrick RF West Allegheny HS PA Mississippi State
6 Dax Fulton LHP Mustang HS OK Vanderbilt
7 Mick Abel RHP Jesuit HS OR Oregon State
8 Adam Oviedo SS TCU TX
9 Tommy Mace RHP Florida FL
10 Alejandro Toral 1B Miami FL
Bryce Bonnin RHP Arkansas AR
Chris McMahon RHP Miami FL
Logan Allen LHP Florida International FL
Cole Turney RF Arkansas AR
Ben Ramirez 3B USC CA
Jake Eder LHP Vanderbilt TN
Shane Drohan LHP Florida State FL
Daniel Cabrera CF LSU LA
Reid Detmers LHP Louisville KY
C.J. Van Eyk RHP Florida State FL
Riley Lamb RHP USC CA
Cole Percival RHP UC Riverside CA
Asa Lacy LHP Texas A&M TX
Jordan Butler LHP Florida FL
Heston Kjerstad RF Arkansas AR
Dylan Crews LF Lake Mary HS FL LSU
Mac Horvath SS Century HS MN North Carolina
Victor Mederos RHP Monsignor Pace HS FL Miami
Armari Paula LHP St. Joseph’s Regional HS NJ Virgina

We hoped you liked reading MLB Draft Rankings: 2018, 2019, and 2020 by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel!

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(my main take-away) Tyson Dyson, please make it to the majors. Please.