The 2018 MLB Draft is taking place from June 4-6.
In the meantime, we’re going to look at all 30 franchises and see who they should draft this year for their respective organizations. We continue our series by looking at teams in the American League Central.
According to MiLB.com’s farm system rankings before the season started, the White Sox ranked third overall. A big reason for that is because they have six players (outfielders Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Blake Rutherford, and pitchers Michael Kopech, Alex Hansen and Dylan Cease) who are now ranked in MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100 prospect list. The White Sox are in the middle of a rebuild and these guys are eventually going to be part of it, but the South Siders want to have great young talent that will help the club become a perennial championship contender for the next decade. Luckily this year, they should be able to add another blue-chip prospect because they have the fourth pick overall in the draft. In our first composite mock draft, the consensus pick for Chicago is second baseman Nick Madrigal from Oregon State, but third baseman Alec Bohm from Wichita State is also a name mentioned there as well. Because they have Yoan Moncada already manning second and current top third base prospect Jake Burger is out after re-tearing his Achilles, it would better for them to pick Bohm because they could either have him at the hot corner or move him to first base as a possible successor to Jose Abreu.
The Indians have had a nice run at the big-league level over the last few seasons, posting five winning seasons in a row, reaching the playoffs three times and advancing to the World Series in 2016. A big reason for their success was because they were able to have some homegrown talent get to the majors and deal some prospects in order to acquire key pieces (i.e. Andrew Miller). But now, the Indians’ farm system is getting weaker. Outside of MLBPipeline.com Top 100 prospects Francisco Mejia (No. 14 overall and No. 1 catcher) and Triston McKenzie (No. 21 overall and No. 8 right-handed pitcher) plus No. 4 first baseman prospect Bobby Bradley, they have little in terms of talent. Luckily, the Indians have three picks of the first 41 selections of the draft, as they have No. 29, No. 35 and No. 41. The 35th pick is a compensation pick that they earned after former first baseman Carlos Santana signed with the Phillies. As for the 41st selection, it is part of Competitive Balance Round A. where team that have either one of the 10 smallest markets or 10 smallest revenue pools receive an additional pick after the first round. With these three picks, the Indians should go after a starter, a second baseman and an outfielder because they have aging veterans in Corey Kluber, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley plus have had injuries to some of their outfielders. Names such as prep starter Grayson Rodriguez and college outfielder Trevor Larch have been mentioned at pick No. 29, but the Indians hope to land first-round talent with all three picks.
There is hardly any excitement in Detroit right now, but there should be plenty of fireworks on draft night because the Tigers have the No. 1 pick in their hands. The last time the Tigers had the top pick was in 1997, when they took Matt Anderson, a right-hander hurler who ended up only being a reliever for them for six years and had tons of arm problems. The Tigers have drafted a pitcher with their first pick in each of the last three seasons and there is no reason to buck that trend, especially because Auburn starter Casey Mize is the consensus No. 1 pick. By drafting Mize, the Tigers will add him to a farm that already includes pitchers Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows, all of whom are Top 100 prospects and can be the keys to their success as a franchise in the future.
In 2015, the Royals became the model franchise for having built a World Series championship team with mostly homegrown talent. Names like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Christian Colon and Luke Hochevar helped make their farm system regarded as one of the best in baseball. Now, the Royals’ farm is back at the bottom again when it comes to being a top-notch system. However, they can help boost that ranking because they have four picks in the first 40 selections. They hold the 18th, 33rd, 34th and 40th picks. The l 33rd and 34th selections are compensation picks because of Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain having signed with the Padres and Brewers, respectively. The 40th pick is part of Competitive Balance Round A. With these four selections, Kansas City should go after two starters, a third baseman and an outfielder. Prep players such as pitcher Logan Gilbert, pitcher Ethan Hankins, infielder/catcher Noah Naylor, third baseman Jordan Groshans and first baseman Triston Casas have been mentioned as possibilities at No. 18, but the Royals want to come away with first-round talent with all four picks.
The Twins’ farm is getting back to being one of their better ones in the majors. A big reason for that is because they sport three Top 100 prospects, including last year’s No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis, who is ranked 27th overall and fifth among shortstops. But, because there is such depth as far as pitchers in the draft this year, it would make sense for them to add a starter to build up their rotation, which already includes 23-year-old ace in Jose Berrios and former Top 100 prospect Fernando Romero. Right now, names such as Ryan Rolison (pitcher from Ole Miss), Gilbert and Cole Winn (pitcher from Orange Lutheran High School) have been mentioned as possible selections at No. 20. Our composite draft has Naylor as the pick, but it would be wise for the resurgent Twins to strengthen their rotation, considering Lance Lynn is only pitching on a one-year deal and both Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson are free agents after 2020.