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MLB Draft 2018: A trip through the top 10

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MLB Draft 2018: A trip through the top 10 (All photos courtesy AP)

By the time you read this, the 2018 Major League Baseball draft will likely be in the books. The latest wave of players from the high school and college ranks will have been selected, from the blue-chip stars-in-the-making to the bench-riding organizational depth.

Next week, we’ll be doing a look at the entirety of the Boston Red Sox draft class, but for now, it seemed like it might be fun to introduce you to some of the guys from the very tip-top of this year’s crop. These first-rounders will be expected to make an impact at the big-league level.

Of course, that might not be for a few years. MLB is unique among North America’s big four pro sports leagues in that its massive minor league infrastructure (not to mention its service time rules) encourages extended development of players. In the NFL, NBA and to a lesser extent the NHL, top picks are expected to perform at the highest level immediately. Meanwhile, it might be a while before we see any of 2018’s baseball draftees in the bigs.

So there isn’t the urgency accompanying these guys that there is in other sports. So why not learn a little bit more about the players who made the top-10? For instance, it’s the first time in over a decade that the first five players selected all came from the collegiate ranks. Seven of the 10 are position players, with just three pitchers. And one of them is going to be playing football on Saturdays this fall.

Let’s check it out.

1) Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

Mize was pretty much the consensus choice for first overall selection. He’s got an impressive array of pitches – a mid-90s fastball, a decent cutter and curve and a wipeout splitter. His ratios are off the charts in a competitive collegiate environment and he’s shown good control. However, his mechanics have some wondering if he’ll be able to stay healthy.

2) San Francisco Giants – Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech

Most agree that Bart is the best catcher in a draft that doesn’t have a ton to offer at that position. He’s proven to be a capable defender, showing good instincts and a strong arm. And his hitting stats have improved steadily over the course of his college career. If his hitting prowess can translate at least somewhat to pro ball, he’s got a good shot at success.

3) Philadelphia Phillies – Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State

Big shocker – a Shocker selected early. Bohm is the latest high-level prospect from Wichita State, a strong slugger who has also shown a propensity for taking a walk. That combination of power and plate discipline looks to play up nicely, which more than compensates for his less-than-stellar glovework at third; he projects as a 1B/DH type, but a good one.

4) Chicago White Sox – Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State

Madrigal is just a little guy – 5’7”, 165 – but he’s big on talent. Some think his glove is big-league ready right now; his defensive prowess is exceptional. He’s been a capable hitter at the college level – he batted .400 and only struck out five times all season. He’s got good speed and is strong for his size. He won’t slug a ton of homers, but he’s got a little pop.

5) Cincinnati Reds – Jonathan India, 3B, Florida

India had a breakout season in the SEC, putting up eye-popping numbers (18 homers, a 1.225 OPS) and displaying some defensive ability. He’s a good enough third baseman that some think he could hang in at shortstop. That combination – a great bat and some defensive versatility – could mean that India makes it to the bigs sooner rather than later.

6) New York Mets – Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha West HS (Wis.)

The first high school player selected is this toolsy outfielder from Wisconsin of all places. Most reports have Kelenic among the highest upside selections in the draft; scouts love his hitting mechanics and anticipate growth in both power and speed as he matures. He hasn’t played a ton of games due to his northern location, but the fundamentals are there.

7) San Diego Padres – Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS (Tenn.)

The first high school pitcher selected is a baseball legacy; his father David pitched in the majors for nearly two decades. But Weathers is here on his merits; he’s got great mechanics to go with a mid-90s fastball with some hard, late movement and a couple of secondary pitches – particularly a slow curve – that are considered to be inconsistent but promising.

8) Atlanta Braves – Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (Fla.)

Stewart is a big kid – 6’6”, 200 – who is only going to get bigger as he matures. His stuff is big, too; his fastball has been clocked in the high 90s and reports are that he’s got the draft’s best curveball as well. He’s dominated with those two, but he’ll need another pitch in pro ball; word is he’s working on a change. Still, in terms of pure stuff, he’s top-shelf.

9) Oakland A’s – Kyler Murray, OF, Oklahoma

Now this one is fun. Murray has been splitting his time between baseball and football at Oklahoma; he’s currently set to start at QB for the Sooners. He’s a phenomenal athlete who’s a bit raw skills-wise; his bat’s lagging a bit, but he’s got great speed and solid defensive instincts. The pan is for him to be under center this fall before concentrating on baseball full-time.

10) Pittsburgh Pirates – Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama

Plenty of folks see Swaggerty as the best center field prospect in the draft, though there are some who question picking him this high. He projects to have average-or-better tools across the board; his speed and arm elevate his defensive capability, while he’s shown a solid batting eye and flashes of decent power. No one part of his game dazzles, but the sum total is impressive.

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