We continue our dive into the different divisions and who they should look at draft come June, we take a peek at the NL East with the Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Marlins, and Mets.
The Braves have done well for themselves in recent drafts and they have focused on pitching since 2015. They have loaded up on pitching prospects in the last three drafts including Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller, Joey Wentz, and Kyle Wright. It is hard to predict if there will be a drastic change in direction under new GM Alex Anthopoulos, but they are being connected to more hitters this year. Nolan Gorman is a popular pick with prep hitter Jarred Kelenic. However, if they decide to go with a pitcher again, Carter Stewart seems like a very real possibility at the 8th pick with his Looney Tunes curveball.
The Nationals are another team that has done well for themselves in the draft, although it certainly helps to have the #1 pick in years where Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were eligible. Seth Romero is not working out at all, though, so they will need to get some real value with their first round pick this year especially with Bryce and others potentially leaving town after the season. It seems like the industry consensus is that they are looking at a lot of pitchers which makes a certain amount of sense. Mason Denaburg is a good choice here although he may not last to the 27th pick and the same goes for Cole Winn. Grayson Rodriguez and Mike Vasil, the former has a lot of helium on draft boards and the latter had an injury scare that kept him from going significantly higher in the draft, are other guys to keep an eye on.
The Phillies have a ton of really good young players and a deep farm system, but they also seemingly whiffed on their 2016 first overall pick Mickey Moniak who has struggled mightily down in the minors. However, Aaron Nola was their first round pick back in 2014 and he has been lights out for them. The Phillies have been connected almost solely to college bat Alec Bohm and it is hard to argue with the choice as he has real power at third base to go along with some feel for hitting and Maikel Franco doesn’t seem like the long term answer for the Phillies at the hot corner. Bohm could move quickly through the minors and make the Phillies very scary for a while in the NL East.
So...the Marlins are not very good and they don’t have a ton of help down in the minors although it has certainly gotten a lot better on that front over the last year. If they can, going overslot to grab a player they really like with their 2nd round pick seems like a viable strategy as they need to fill a lot of holes in future rosters and need high-end talent. The Marlins have been looking at a bunch of prep players and if Jarred Kelenic is there at 13th overall, he would be a good fit although it is far from a certainty that he will be. Triston Casas and Cole Winn have been mentioned by Fangraphs and others as options as well. Basically, the Marlins don’t need to even look at position in this draft. They need to pick the best player available on their board and grab them.
New York Mets
Finally, we have the Mets who own the the sixth pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. The Mets are in a weird place because they have a stable of young, very talented pitchers who seem to struggle to stay healthy. They have a window of contention, but their lineup is a flawed one. As a result, rumor has it that they have been looking strictly in the college ranks for players who could move quickly and help the team soon. Jonathan India, the third baseman from the University of Florida, has been mocked to them as has Travis Swaggerty, the outfielder from South Alabama. Both make sense as guys with varied toolsets and can help the team in the next year or two. They could look at college arms as well like Brady Singer from Florida if he is available and Logan Gilbert from Stetson, but the position player route seems to be the one that makes the most sense.