With the current trend of fast tracking top prospects through the minor leagues we could see a handful of prospects from this draft in the majors sooner rather than later. As we saw with Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger last year prospects can have an immediate impact. The decisions that teams make on 4th June could accelerate a rebuild or extend a window for a contending team.
So who has the potential to change the course of a franchise? Here are a few candidates.
Mize has had injury problems in the past. This normally affects a pitcher’s draft ranking but despite this Mize is still the overwhelming favourite to be taken first by the Tigers. This is because he already has three plus pitches. His fastball can reach the upper 90s and he has a mid 80s slider but his best pitch is a splitter that has a 70 rating from MLB Pipeline. His control of these three pitches is shown by his stellar 14 K/BB rate during his last season at Auburn University.
If the Tigers decide to take him first they will hope that he can take over where Justin Verlander left off and anchor the rotation for the next decade.
Swaggerty has the profile of a leadoff hitter with good speed and an on base percentage of .455 in 2018 for South Alabama. He is also a decent centre fielder with a good arm. Some scouts think he could develop 20 homer power which would make him a five tool talent and exactly the kind of player that can transform a franchise.
He could go in the top 10 due to being a college hitter. The one downside is that he whiffs quite a bit for a leadoff-type hitter but maybe the surname makes up for that.
As a high school pitcher Liberatore may be more of a gamble for potential drafting teams. Despite this he is still in the top ten of most draft boards. He does not have the best fastball in the class but he already has both a curveball and a slider. He should go early in the first round due to his advanced feel for pitching at a young age.
Scouts believe that by adding a changeup he could end up with four above average pitches. Along with his above average command this would put him among the elite starting pitchers in baseball but there will be a long road to get there as he has not pitched at the college level.
India is in the top tier of college bats in this draft. With a reputation as a good defender at third base he is in a similar mold to Alex Bregman and like Bregman should be taken early in the first round.
The question is whether India’s power surge in 2018 will translate to the minor leagues. MLB Pipeline have only given him a power rating of 50, meaning average. If his 17 homeruns for Florida State prove to be more than a blip he could prove to be one of the shrewdest picks in the draft.
Madrigal is set to follow Jose Altuve and Ozzie Albies as the next diminutive middle infielder in the majors. He is the best pure hitter in the class shown by MLB pipeline’s hit rating of 65 his ability to get bat on ball has meant that he has posted a K% of under 6% for his whole college career. With a 60 run tool he is a legitimate extra base threat despite his lack of power. This is one that we will be seeing in the major leagues soon enough whoever takes him.
McClanahan is a LHP like Liberatore but that is where the similarities end. Mclanahan has an electric fastball that can reach 100 mph and a good changeup but struggles with command. He may end up as a bullpen arm but with a similar profile to Josh Hader maybe that is not such a bad thing for either side.
He has an average slider that he may not need to use as much if he becomes a relief pitcher at the major league level. If his new organisation decides to send him to the pen he could fly through the minor leagues with his strikeout stuff.
As the top catcher in the draft Bart is expected to go in the top five picks. He has overcome previous doubts about his defense behind the plate and should now be able to play catcher professionally.
His power is the main reason that he is rated so highly with 29 homers in the last two years at Georgia Tech. However, he is now considered a complete hitter after his walk numbers exploded in 2018. The Giants are the favourites to take Bart with the number two overall pick which seems bizarre given that Buster Posey is signed through 2022.
Bart is in the top tier of college hitters this year but his position gives him more value meaning that there is a good chance he goes before the other top college bats.
Gorman is one of the best power hitters in the draft although he is inconsistent when it comes to making contact. However, as he is only 18 he has plenty of time to sort out the other aspects of hitting and someone will take a chance on his raw power in the first round. He is likely a firstbaseman long term despite playing at third in high school. Gorman effectively has one good tool at the moment but it is a very useful one. He may become an all or nothing type of hitter but there is certainly a place for that in modern baseball.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are a number of prospects such as Jared Kelenic, Alec Bohm and Brady Singer. This is just a taste of some of the most exciting prospects in the draft for a more comprehensive list you can check out MLB Pipeline.