With June coming up fast and the regular seasons at both the high school and college level coming to an end, we will all start seeing more fully formed opinions on the players eligible for the the 2018 MLB Draft. Sure, we will all end up being wrong about a bunch of them because trying to project amateur baseball players is an exercise in disappointment, but at the very least we have a good amount of information to draw from to try.
Below are some (but not all) of the biggest bats available in next month’s draft. These are all players that are in consideration at the very least to be selected in the first round and could be impact players at the plate for the teams that select them.
Joey Bart - C, Georgia Tech
Bart was already considered a likely first rounder coming into this season due to the positional scarcity at catcher league-wide and he had a pretty decent track record at the plate in college. Well, Bart has broken out in a way this season for Georgia Tech with a .364/.473/.621 with 13 homers in 50 games while cutting his strikeout rate and increasing his walk rate over last year. More importantly, there are few doubts that he can stay behind the plate and his arm is an asset in the run game.
At this point, there is little doubt that Bart will go in the top 5 picks right now and he has been heavily connected to the Giants in recent mock drafts at #2 and there have been a few whispers lately that while Casey Mize is still the heavy favorite to go #1 overall to the Tigers, Bart is in consideration there as well.
Nick Madrigal - 2B/SS, Oregon State
Not many people would look at a 5’7 infielder from Oregon State and think “that is an impact bat”, but those people would be very wrong about Nick Madrigal. Despite breaking his wrist early this season, his production both before and after the injury has been among the best of all the college bats and he passes the eye test at the plate and in the field. He has posted an astonishing .458/.514/.635 line in 23 games with 10 extra-base hits over that period of time. He has played a lot of second base in college, but there are plenty of folks that think he could slide over to shortstop at the next level. His hit tool from the right side is among the very best in this year’s draft with more pop than you would expect from a smallish middle infielder.
Madrigal’s name has been in heavy consideration near the top of the draft and it seems highly unlikely that he gets past the Mets at #6. The White Sox have been in on him for a while and that seems to be a likely landing spot for him, although it isn’t out of the question for him to potentially go higher than that.
Alec Bohm - 3B, Wichita State
Bohm is another guy that has increased his draft stock in a big way this spring. College bats with a track record of performance almost always do well for themselves on draft day and Bohm has that and at a valuable defensive position. Alec has posted a .333/.435/.611 line with 14 home runs in 51 games while having an exceptional strikeout rate less than 10%. He also has a strong performance with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League going for him as well. He might not win a gold glove at third base, but there are far more folks that think he can stay at third than there were to start the season.
Bohm is another guy that is being targeted heavily in the top 5 picks and the favorites to land him are currently the Phillies at #3. They have scouted him heavily and if they don’t grab him, it highly unlikely he makes it out of the top 6-7 picks in the draft.
Trevor Larnach - OF, Oregon State
Trevor Larnach is a name that has a bit of buzz going for him, especially given the plethora of data available on him thanks to the attention his teammate, Madrigal, has received from scouts. While his defensive position will strictly be a corner spot with left field being the most likely, his bat should definitely play there. He has real power from the left side and is particularly adept at going the opposite way (which certainly has value in the age of the shift). He also carried Oregon State in Madrigal’s absence in posting a .346/.469/.698 line with 17 homers in 49 games.
Larnach has been connected to teams in the top 10 including the Athletics, but at this moment in time it looks like he will get selected in the teens somewhere. Some recent mocks have the Mariners grabbing him with the 14th overall pick which would make sense given their proximity to OSU and their need for some real upside in their farm system.
Nolan Gorman - 3B, Sandra Day O’Connor HS
Prep bats are always a risky proposition just because of the level of competition they often face, but Nolan Gorman has a number of people excited with his power potential. He is strong as an ox and has real bat speed which should help him make up for the inevitable deficits he could face early on going against more elite pitching. Sticking at third base is somewhat of a concern and he will have to stay in good shape and work hard to be an asset over there, but if his power can consistently show up in games...his bat will play anywhere on the field.
A lot of mocks had Gorman going as high as the Braves at #8, although some recently have him dropping a bit to the mid-teens to teams like the Rangers at #15. Gorman’s raw power is among the best in the draft and if a team in the top 10 was convinced the hit tool was going to play and he should stick at third base, it would not be surprising to see him picked in the first 10 or so picks in the draft.
Jarred Kelenic - OF, Waukesha West HS
If prep hitters are already risky, cold weather prep hitters are even more so due to the lack of competition concerns compounded by the inability to scout them consistently due to games getting wiped out by bad weather. That said, Jarred Kelenic from Wisconsin is still generating a lot of buzz in draft circles despite those concerns. In addition to having a real chance at sticking in center field, he has bat speed and the ability to run the bases well even if he doesn’t have the raw power than some other prep prospects due at this point in time. Kelenic has some great feel for hitting for his age and has some apparent intangibles that make some scouts feel like he should take to coaching well and improve quickly as a result.
Kelenic is another guy that is in play in the top 10 including to teams like the Braves at #8. He could go lower than that due to teams in the top 10 traditionally gravitating towards prep pitchers with upside and college bats, but he should be gone by the middle teens with one recent mock having the Rays grabbing him at the 16th pick.
Triston Casas - 1B, American Heritage HS
Continuing this run of prep hitters, Triston Casas is another guy that has some very real power, although his ultimate defensive position and questions about his hit tool have suppressed his draft stock a bit over some of the other bats in the draft. There are more than a few folks that think that while he has a strong arm, he won’t be able to stay at third base in the pros and will have to play first. His big raw power will play there so long as he can make consistent contact. His approach at the plate isn’t bat, but he isn’t going to be a guy that doesn’t have periods where he doesn’t struggle and there will be some strikeouts. However, when he is on, he is among the more impressive high school hitters in the draft class.
If a team in the latter half of the first round sees some potential for him at third base and is sold on his ability to make consistent contact, he could go there, but most mock drafts right now have him going in the comp pick rounds or at the top of the second round. Fangraphs’ most recent mock has the Pirates nabbing him with the 36th overall pick in comp round A.
Jonathan India - 3B, Florida
One college bat that has seen his draft stock skyrocket after a strong season is Florida’s third baseman Jonathan India. Showcasing a strong hit tool and significantly more game power than he did last season, India posted a .376/.520/.759 line in the SEC with 16 home runs in 2018 for UF. He is happy to draw walks, too which is certainly a plus as it will allow him to stay productive as he learns the pro game. He should be able to stick at third base, but he has the athleticism to play anywhere in the infield if the team that picks him is feeling creative.
India went from a guy that would likely go in the middle of the 1st round somewhere to being a likely a top 10 pick in the draft after a strong spring. Some mock drafts have connected him to the Mets at #6 and that seems like a pretty good guess. If he falls a bit on draft day, the Orioles are another distinct possibility at the 11th pick according to some mocks as well.
Travis Swaggerty - OF, South Alabama
Another strong college bat, Swaggerty is a guy who should be able to stick in center field and has a wide range of things he does well. He can run, gets on base at a great clip, and has some pop to go with it. He has a good hit tool, although there are some who are less bullish there after seeing his batting average drop off a bit this season...although that is just as likely to be due to the fact that he is seeing far fewer pitches to hit as a highly touted draft prospect and his willingness to wait for a pitch to drive. Swaggerty has posted a .299/456/.560 line in 49 games in 2018 while walking more than he struck out by a significant margin (46 vs. 34).
Swaggerty’s name is all over the place in the with his name being mentioned as backup plans as high as the Giants at #2, but he is more likely to go later in the top 10 right now with the Mets at #6 and the Athletics at #9 being very real possibilities as we wait for the top 10 to shake out.
South Alabama folk hero Travis Swaggerty goes top 10 in our latest mock draft https://t.co/GkmP7gMkgi— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 5, 2018
There's a lot to like with the Jaguars outfielder, as shown in this video pic.twitter.com/tuwRAtNLjC
Jordan Groshans - 3B, Magnolia HS
Groshans is another bat with a well-rounded skill set where he does everything pretty well although he doesn’t have a tool that jumps off the page at you. He runs well, he has a strong line drive approach at the plate, and he should hit for some more power as a professional organization helps him get on the launch angle bandwagon. He also should be able to add some strength to his 6’4, 190 frame without impacting his other tools too much. It doesn’t hurt that while he is currently listed as a third baseman, he could shift to any of the infield spots to maximize his value if need be.
Groshans isn’t in the top 10 conversation, but he is in heavily consideration in the top 20 with the Royals a very real possibility at 18. However, being a prep bat without a standout tool could also push him to the later parts of the first round. Pipeline’s most recent mock draft has that happening with the Astros snatching him up at 28 while noting that there are definitely some teams before that that are looking at him closely.