1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State University
In my heart of hearts, I feel like this pick could come down to Skenes or Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford with LSU outfielder Dylan Crews and prep outfielder Max Clark certainly still in play. I also wouldn’t rule out high school outfielder Walker Jenkins just yet either.
If reports are true that Crews wants $10M to sign, I don’t see him being the pick because the Pirates will want to use more of the bonus pool for their later selections. If the Pirates could convince him to sign for around the slot value ($9.721M) then he very well might be their choice.
I went with Skenes over Langford in this scenario simply because of the upside Skenes offers on the mound, and that’s no slight to Langford who is still a very, very good prospect.
The Pirates are lacking an upper-echelon starting pitcher in their minor league system and while MLB teams aren’t looking to draft for need, it would surely fill a big void. Seems like a win-win.
2. Washington Nationals: Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State University
I’m fairly confident in saying that the Nats will draft one of the two LSU players and with Skenes off the board to Pittsburgh in this mock, I have them snatching Crews.
Crews’ upside makes him arguably the top prospect available in this years draft. If the Pirates opt for Langford or Clark, it makes this decision tougher. If it came down to Crews and Skenes, I might lean Skenes with Crews then falling in Detroit’s lap.
3. Detroit Tigers: Wyatt Langford, OF, University of Florida
The thinking seems to be that the top three college prospects will be the top three picks. With how the first two picks unfolded, the Tigers would happily take Langford.
4. Texas Rangers: Max Clark, OF, Indiana (H.S.)
With the top three off the board, Clark finds a home in the heart of Texas. Arguably the top prep player available in this year’s draft, he seems like a lock to be a top five pick.
5. Minnesota Twins: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, University of Mississippi
This is where things get interesting for me. I probably should have the Twins taking prep outfielder Walker Jenkins with this pick, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they could look to cut a deal with a college bat here. Other possibilities include Kyle Teel (UVA), Brayden Taylor (TCU) and Jacob Wilson (GCU)
6. Oakland A’s: Kyle Teel, C, University of Virginia
Speaking of Teel, I have Oakland too passing on Jenkins to take the top backstop available in this year’s class.
7. Cincinnati Reds: Walker Jenkins, OF, North Carolina (H.S.)
Jenkins’ mini-slide comes to a halt with the Reds racing to turn in their draft card to select him with this pick. I can’t see Jenkins falling much further past this pick, and I could see him going as high as fourth to Texas.
8. Kansas City Royals: Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian University
I was really tempted to put Noble Meyer, the top prep arm available here, but instead I went with the college bat of Taylor.
9. Colorado Rockies: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest University
The Rockies are always in search of arms and with Skenes long gone, Lowder is probably the next college pitcher to hear his name called — at least he’s the second-best college pitcher on my board.
10. Miami Marlins: Colin Houck, SS, Georgia (H.S.)
I think if Taylor gets this far, the Marlins would grab him up. With him gone, I have them going with Houck, one of the top prep hitters available. The Marlins haven’t shied away from going with prep hitters in the past.
11. Los Angeles Angels: Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon University
If that J. Wilson looks familiar, then it should. Wilson is the son of long-time Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson — feel old yet? In 697 career collegiate plate appearances, Wilson only struck out only 31 times including just five times in 217 plate appearances last season.
12. Arizona D-backs: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Florida (H.S.)
With Houck off the board, I went with the next-best prep shortstop to the Snakes. Nimmala has seen his stock rise of late.
13. Chicago Cubs: Chase Dollander, RHP, University of Tennessee
At the beginning of the college season, Dollander was in the mix top be a top three pick. He had a bit of an up and down season with the Volunteers, but still has a lot of upside — upside the Cubs will gladly take.
14. Boston Red Sox: Hurtson Waldrep, LHP, University of Florida
I wouldn’t be shocked if Waldrep went higher than this as he seems to have some helium as we get closer to the draft. With him still on the board, I like him in this spot.
15. Chicago White Sox: Matt Shaw, SS, University of Maryland
I originally had Houck landing here, but with him getting picked by the Marlins, I have the Sox pivoting to a college shortstop instead. Shaw and Tommy Troy (Stanford) were two I considered.
16. San Francisco Giants: Noble Meyer, RHP, Oregon (H.S.)
Meyer should probably go higher than this, but sometimes we see prep arms slide further than we would think. If that’s the case again, the Giants make sense. I think Toronto at No. 20 is Meyer’s floor.
17. Baltimore Orioles: Chase Davis, OF, University of Arizona
It feels like Baltimore is leaning hitter, and I think Davis makes some sense for them. They’ve gone college outfielder in the past.
18. Milwaukee Brewers: Nolan Schanuel, 1B/OF, Florida Atlantic University
The Brewers love themselves some college bats (Garrett Mitchell, Sal Frelick, etc.), so why not give them one here?
19. Tampa Bay Rays: Aidan Miller, 3B, Florida (H.S.)
It’s always tough to predict what the Rays will do in the draft. I think Miller will be in consideration here, though.
20. Toronto Blue Jays: Yohandy Morales, 3B, University of Miami
Like I said, if Meyer is here, I think Toronto races to turn in their card with his name on it. With him gone, I’m leaning college bat and Morales could be the guy.
21. St. Louis Cardinals: Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford University
There’s a lot to like about Troy’s game and I’m sure St. Louis is thinking the same thing. He very well could be gone before this, but the Cardinals land him with how this has shaken out so far.
22. Seattle Mariners: Colt Emerson, 3B/SS, Ohio (H.S.)
Make it back-to-back prep bats selected in the first round by Seattle after they took Pittsburgh-native Cole Young (North Allegheny) in the first round in 2022.
23. Cleveland Guardians: Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest University
Wilken becomes the second Wake Forest player (Lowder) to be taken in the first round this year. He has some serious pop.
24. Atlanta Braves: Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP, Virginia (H.S.)
Every team is in search of the next Shohei Ohtani, and Eldridge is an intriguing two-way player in this year’s draft. He’s probably more bat over pitch at this point.
25. San Diego Padres: Thomas White, LHP, Massachusetts (H.S.)
The Padres have never backed down from going for a prospect who comes with some risk and prep arms always have higher risk attached to them.
26. New York Yankees: George Lombard Jr., 3B/SS, Florida (H.S.)
I’m having a pretty serious run of prep players in the back-end of the first round, which scares me. Lombard is the son of Tigers’ bench coach and ex-MLB player George Lombard and is a good prospect in his own right.
27. Philadelphia Phillies: Charlee Soto, RHP, Florida (H.S.)
The Phillies have had success taking prep arms lately and with Meyer and White off the board, they land Soto.
28. Houston Astros: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt University
Bradfield is one of the fastest players available in this year’s draft and he could go higher than this. Instead, he rounds out the first round.