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 National League Central.
The Cubs have had a great stretch over the last three years, reaching at least the NLCS in all three seasons and winning the World Series in 2016. They were able to accomplish all these things because they had built a great farm system in which they were able to promote guys like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Albert Almora, Carl Edwards Jr. and Kyle Schwarber to the big leagues and trade away top prospects Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres and Dylan Cease for quality players like Aroldis Chapman and Jose Quintana. Now, the Cubs have to try to reload their farm and will try to add a quality player with the 24th pick in the draft. In our first composite mock draft, the Cubs are selecting right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, but other pitchers such as Sean Hjelle and Logan Gilbert have also been mentioned in that slot. Regardless, they should take a pitcher because they need to eventually get a top arm to eventual join Quintana, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood as they get older.
The Reds have been at the bottom of this tough division for the last three years and are on pace to finish dead last for a fourth consecutive season. But, they are hoping the years of losing will pay off shortly, as they have built a top 10 farm system that features three MLBPipeline.com Top 100 prospects (Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene and Taylor Trammell) and two others, second baseman Shed Long and catcher Tyler Stephenson, who are in the top 10 among their positions. They want to add a future star to this group this year, as they hold the No. 5 pick. The consensus selection right now at No. 5 is right-hander Brady Singer from Florida. The Reds should select another starter anyway because their staff has been at the bottom of the majors in every major statistical category during this stretch of bad play.
The Brewers are in the middle of a resurgence after coming within two games of making the playoffs last year and are now leading this division with a 35-20 record. They have reached this point because they have been able to use some prospects they have drafted to acquire players like Christian Yelich, Josh Hader, Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana. They still have two Top 100 prospects, but would like to add another one with the 21st pick. The Brew Crew should go after a pitcher, considering 17 of their top 30 prospects are position players. Right now, Ethan Hankins is the pitcher currently predicted to be their pick, but Ryan Weathers and Cole Wilcox are other names that have been mentioned.
The Pirates are in the middle of a rebuild after dealing their top two homegrown talents in recent memory in Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. They have already brought up Top 100 prospect Austin Meadows and have two others — pitchers Mitch Keller and Shane Baz — waiting in the wings, but they eventually want a great core that resembles the 2013 team that brought them back to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Luckily, the Pirates have three picks among the draft’s first 51 selections, including the 10th pick overall. The Pirates do need more position players, but they should take the best overall player at No. 10, even if that player is a pitcher. Right now, outfielder Jarred Kelenic is slotted to go there, but pitchers such as Grayson Rodriguez, Weathers, Carter Stewart and Cole Winn have also been mentioned as possible 10th picks.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have always had a winning tradition, and that has been attributed to their organization as a whole. Recently, the Cards have missed the postseason in each of the last two years and have not had the most consistent of lineups. However, they have promoted top prospects Carson Kelly, Jack Flaherty and Harrison Bader and possibly have the next wave of core players coming, as Alex Reyes, Tyler O’Neill, Dakota Hudson, Ryan Helsey and Andrew Knizer are all in Triple-A Memphis. With so many possible departures, it is fortunate that they have three picks in the top 75 of the draft, including the No. 19 pick. They should try to add an impactful bat with their first pick. First baseman Triston Casas seems to be the pick, but pitchers Jackson Kowar and Gilbert have been mentioned plus shortstop Brice Turang.