The MLB draft is a whole different monster when compared to other major sporting events.

Expecting the unexpected is the best approach to Major League Baseball’s yearly 40-round selection process. Not only will teams throw curveballs, they will do some pretty questionable things when picking from the top available talent in the world.

Beyond the first round, it’s truly anyone’s guess what direction teams will go with their selections.

But in that first round, teams are most likely to pick the best available player. That is clearly the best approach as most of these prospects will take some time to develop.

By the time they end up cracking a major league lineup, there could be any number of needs on the team’s big-league roster.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a full first-round mock before the June 6 to 8 event.


1. Houston Astros: RHP Jonathan Gray, Oklahoma

Jonathan Gray, Oklahoma’s 6’4″, 240-pound ace-in-the-making, is as MLB-ready as prospects come. He has the tools needed to be an effective rotation leader and can likely achieve that projection soon after being selected.

Houston has an immediate need for several positions but would benefit most by finding a leader for its starting pitching staff. Gray could eventually become a key component of its rotation by the time the Astros are ready to turn things around. 

2. Chicago Cubs: RHP Mark Appel, Stanford

Stanford’s Mark Appel could potentially be the Astros’ pick with the No. 1 overall pick. He looks as close to a “sure thing” as a team can find in this or any draft. His fastball is the key. The 6’5″, 215-pound right-hander consistently deals in the mid-90s and tops out around 99 mph.

Chicago would definitely be glad if Houston passes up Appel. He could step in quickly and help accelerate Theo Epstein’s turnaround.


3. Colorado Rockies: 3B/OF Kris Bryant, San Diego

Passing up a player like Kris Bryant, if he falls, would be lunacy for the talent-starved Colorado Rockies. Bryant is a great athlete who presents some flexibility where he will play at the next level.

At the plate, Bryant can be a monster, but he may struggle with his share of strikeouts while adjusting to professional pitchers.


4. Minnesota Twins: RHP Kohl Stewart, St. Pieux X HS (Texas)

Kohl Stewart is a great athlete who has a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Texas A&M. He already has an impressive arsenal of pitches at his disposal.

Getting Stewart here is a consolation prize for the Twins, who will have to develop the youngster for a number of years before he is ready to take the rubber in the bigs.

5. Cleveland Indians: 3B Colin Moran, North Carolina

Lonnie Chisenhall is coming along slower than anticipated, increasing the possibility the Cleveland Indians looking to add another body to their system with this pick. Hitting has been Chisenhall‘s downfall, but it appears to be Moran’s strength.

He won’t hit for power like current Indians third baseman Mark Reynolds, but he can get on base and eventually make a difference in the middle-to-end of the lineup.

6. Miami Marlins: OF Austin Meadows, Grayson High (Ga.)

The Miami Marlins are in disarray. They could go in any direction with this pick and it would be a welcome addition for the struggling franchise.

Austin Meadows has the potential to be an impact player at the next level. His numbers are down this year, but he has the natural ability to be a well-rounded star.

7. Boston Red Sox: OF Clint Frazier, Loganville High (Ga.)

The Boston Red Sox have the luxury of picking their favorite target due to an exceptionally strong farm system. Adding outfielder Clint Frazier will give the Sox another top-end outfielder with a very fast bat.

8. Kansas City Royals: LHP/OF Trey Ball, New Castle High (Ind.)

Trey Ball makes perfect sense here for the Kansas City Royals. The tall (6’6″) left-hander projects well as a solid starting pitcher at the next level should the Royals choose to employ him as such.

If not, he is athletic and naturally gifted enough to be a solid player in the outfield and at the plate for the Royals.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates: C Reese McGuire, Kentwood High (Wash.) 

The Pittsburgh Pirates need a long-term solution behind Russell Martin and the draft’s best catcher could be their primary target to be that guy.

Reese McGuire is a solid defender with an amazing arm who would eventually be a heavy-use catcher for the Pirates if his bat catches up with the rest of his game.

10. Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Braden Shipley, Nevada

Braden Shipley falling to the Toronto Blue Jays would be a coup for an already talented rotation. Shipley can hit 99 mph on the gun and consistently throws mid-90s with little effort. He has just two years on the rubber but will catch on eventually atop Toronto’s rotation. 

11. New York Mets: SS J.P. Crawford, Lakewood High (Calif.)

J.P. Crawford is the best option for a team looking to add shortstop help in this draft. He’s an athletic prospect who is very well-rounded in all aspects of the game. New York could definitely benefit from adding a top middle infielder prospect who can do it all.

12. Seattle Mariners: 1B D.J. Peterson, New Mexico

New Mexico’s D.J. Peterson is an established plate presence who projects well as a first baseman at the next level. He could eventually make the transition to third base in the bigs, but he’ll likely find his niche early on at the opposite corner of the diamond.

13. San Diego Padres: RHP Ryne Stanek, Arkansas

Pitchers excel in the San Diego Padres system and Ryne Stanek would be no different. The pitcher-friendly Petco Park will allow him to seamlessly come into his own in SoCal.

His command is coming along, and he could be a solid bullpen arm until he develops further skills to take the rubber as a starter.

14. Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State

Hunter Renfroe‘s production is down as of late, but there is no denying the tools he brings to the table. He’s a legitimate athletic prospect who wields the bat as efficiently as he covers ground in the outfield.

Renfroe could be ready sooner rather than later to fill any hole the Pirates ask of him.  

15. Arizona Diamondbacks: 1B Dominic Smith, Serra High (Calif.)

With the top pitching talent already picked through, the Arizona Diamondbacks could add youngster Dominic Smith. Smith would give the club a solid prospect with good plate presence and Gold Glove-capable skills at first base.

16. Philadelphia Phillies: RHP Alex Gonzalez, Oral Roberts

Alex Gonzalez could end up being a good professional pitcher but he might end up flopping just as easily. He’s a pretty risky pick here, but he definitely fills a need and could potentially become a strong starter for the Phils.

17. Chicago White Sox: LHP Ian Clarkin, Madison High (Calif.)

Left-hander Ian Clarkin is a potentially dominant left-hander who employs a variety of different pitches successfully. His deceptive delivery helps guide his fastball, which tops out in the low 90s.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers: SS Tim Anderson, East Central CC (Mississippi)

Tim Anderson is a speedster who makes solid contact to get in position to make plays on the bases. After playing both basketball and baseball at East Central, Anderson focused solely on baseball in 2013. It paid off; he hit .495 with 10 home runs, 45 RBI and a .568 on-base percentage. 

19. St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian High (Calif.)

Phil Bickford is a prep pitcher with a solid 93-mph fastball and excellent curveball. St. Louis’ cupboards are full with talent, so it can afford to take a risk here on a right-hander it will have to develop. 

20. Detroit Tigers: OF Billy McKinney, Plano West High (Texas)

Billy McKinney isn’t the most athletic or prototypical outfielder in this class, but he has the bat teams crave. His beautiful swing will attract the Detroit Tigers, who could use a more prominent bat in left field.

21. Tampa Bay Rays: C Nick Cuiffo, Lexington High (S.C.)

Nick Cuiffo is a top catcher prospect in this class, making him very desirable to the Tampa Bay Rays with pick No. 21. He’s strong in every area catchers have to be and would eventually be a primary backstop for the St. Petersburg-based Rays (for now).

22. Baltimore Orioles: LHP Marco Gonzalez, Gonzaga

Marco Gonzalez isn’t a hard thrower who is going to blow past hitters, but he comes nearly ready to play at the next level. His command and arsenal of pitches will allow him to beat batters instead of trying to blow them away.

He has a high probability of panning out and is a safe pick at a position of need for Baltimore.

23. Texas Rangers: RHP Chris Anderson, Jacksonville

Chris Anderson could drop out of the first round after struggling thanks to a heavy workload this season. He has excellent command and a solid delivery that screams potential starter at the next level.

The Texas Rangers could potentially get a steal here for a player who struggled after being overworked this year.

24. Oakland Athletics: OF Aaron Judge, Fresno State

Consistency at the plate was a problem for senior Aaron Judge prior to this season. He seems to have ironed that out and just in time. However, his inconsistency has led to a big gap in teams’ perception of the slugger.

ESPN’s Keith Law said Judge “elicits the widest range of opinions” in this class. Oakland would be taking a risk with this selection, but the potential to land a 30-homer and solid outfielder is too much to pass up at this point in the draft.

25. San Francisco Giants: RHP Jonathon Crawford, Florida

Jonathon Crawford is a raw talent with all of the natural ability needed to be an effective starting pitcher in the bigs. His command has issues and he will need time to improve his mechanics, but the San Francisco Giants can afford to groom and develop him.

26. New York Yankees: 3B Eric Jagielo, Notre Dame

Eric Jagielo quickly shot up boards due to an excellent presence at the plate. His solid combination of attributes has helped turn him into a well-rounded hitter with decent power.

He is a third baseman but could end up making the switch to first for the New York Yankees due to some concerns about his throwing arm.

27. Cincinnati Reds: RHP Andrew Thurman, UC-Irvine

Andrew Thurman has second-round grades in many places but could be a surprise late first-round selection. The Cincinnati Reds have plenty of arms but could add another by selecting Thurman here. He has had his ups and downs but pitches well over time.

28. St. Louis Cardinals: OF Philip Ervin, Samford

Philip Ervin exploded last summer in Cape Cod and turned that performance into a first-round selection by a top-tier ball club. The Cards are talent-rich and can afford to take a chance here on a good athlete with excellent bat speed.

29. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Ryan Eades, LSU

The Tampa Bay Rays are notorious for finding top pitching talent in the MLB draft. LSU’s Ryan Eades could be the next addition to a plentiful cupboard full of talent at the position for the Rays.

Eades pitched extremely well for the Tigers this season, especially during the team’s elimination game against Alabama in the early running.

30. Texas Rangers: OF Austin Wilson, Stanford

Having already addressed pitcher in the first round, Texas looks to add another high-ceiling player in Stanford’s Austin Wilson. The outfielder has tremendous upside with a strong arm and bat but may not be ready to leave school right away to make the leap to the next level.

31. Atlanta Braves: LHP Hunter Green, Warren East High (Kent.)

The Atlanta Braves love left-handers in the early rounds and will get another potential good one with Hunter Green. He is ranked as the 31st-best prospect of this class, so the value and need matches well here for the Braves.

32. New York Yankees: OF Michael Lorenzen, Cal-State Fullerton

Michael Lorenzen was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010 but opted to play college ball at Cal-State Fullerton. He is a bit of a risk at the plate but is a potential five-tool guy and has solid bullpen experience in the event he doesn’t pan out at the plate.

The Yanks will get a top-tier prospect, but his 15.6 percent career strikeout rate is alarming.

33. New York Yankees: LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana State

Injuries and inconsistency with his fastball have pushed Sean Manaea from being a Top 10 pick to barely being selected in the first round at all. The New York Yankees won’t complain as they add a potentially dominant left-hander to their system with this selection.

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