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 West.
Everything is going well right now for the Astros’ organization. They are reigning World Series champions and are still one of the best teams at the major-league level. They also boast a top-10 farm system, according to MiLB.com. Houston feels confident that their MLBPipeline.com Top 100 prospects Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley and J.B. Bukauskas will join homegrown talent Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel and George Springer plus quality veterans Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton at some point soon to make them an even stronger unit. But, the Astros want to make sure they keep their farm strong by getting a quality pick at No. 28. So far, our composite mock draft has the Astros picking prep pitcher J.T. Ginn, but other outlets have them taking position players such as outfielders Connor Scott, Steele Walker and Nick Schnell, and third baseman Jordan Groshans. Because they have so many talented pitchers, it would be wise for them to draft to go after a big bat (particularly at a corner infield or outfield spot).
Los Angeles Angels
Even with having arguably the best player in the game in Mike Trout, competing in the AL West has been quite difficult for the Angels over the last few seasons. A big reason for that has been that they haven’t had a great farm system, which has forced them to sign veteran free agents to try to compete on a year-to-year basis. But, the Angels landed the game’s biggest prospect last winter in two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who has been an immediate sensation in the majors. In addition, their top four prospects — all position players — they either drafted or signed since 2015 have now become Top 100 prospects. So, with the 17th overall pick, they should go after a pitcher, given their history of arm injuries at the major-league level that has prevented them from competing in the postseason for the last three years. Our composite mock has the Halos taking Ryan Weathers in that slot. Other pitchers such as Ryan Rolison and Jackson Kowar have also been mentioned here.
The Athletics are in another rebuilding phase at the major-league level and are trying to do it with a low payroll, which means that they are going to heavily rely on prospects over the next few years. They’ve already had to bring up some of their top guys on the farm in less than a year, mainly Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Dustin Fowler and Franklin Barreto. They still have four other Top 100 prospects in the fold, highly touted left-handers A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo plus catcher Sean Murphy and shortstop Jorge Mateo, who may be coming in the next year or two. They hope to add another key piece to their rebuild with the No. 9 pick overall. Our mock draft has Oakland choosing Travis Swaggerty and that should be their selection given his all-around tools.
The Mariners currently own the longest active playoff drought in the four major professional sports, as they have not been to the postseason since 2001. If there is one major reason to point to this, it is because they have fallen to the point that their farm system is the worst in the majors right now. Former general manager Jack Zduriencik and the organization had a series of regrettable drafts and poor player development, especially in his final years with the club, that ultimately led to current GM Jerry Dipoto taking over the organization. Since Dipoto took the reins, the Mariners have cleaned house from the Zduriencik era by trading off all of his remaining top prospects and signing key free agents to keep them competitive. They’ve also have two Top 100 prospects, but they want to add another one with the 14th pick. The ideal pick would be a pitcher because they need to figure out a long-term predecessor for Felix Hernandez, who has been struggling of late. Our mock draft has Rolison being the selection for Seattle, but they could go after an outfielder with a power bat to eventually replace Nelson Cruz.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Rangers were an annual playoff contender and went far in a couple of postseason trips, including back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. They only have one homegrown player left from those World Series teams in star shortstop Elvis Andrus, and want nothing more than to get back to that point with young blood. They have three Top 100 prospects, all oufielders, so they should go after a pitcher with the No. 15 pick. Kowar is the pick currently in our mock draft, and arms such as Cole Winn, Weathers and Ethan Hankins have also been mentioned. However, Rangers senior director of amateur scouting Kip Figg told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that their draft philosophy of picking the best available player is not going to change.