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National League 2019 Draft Class Review

A closer look at the draft classes of the National League.

NCAA BASEBALL: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
JJ Bleday
George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft being over and some time to see what players are signing and who may not, it’s easier to do a quick draft review of every team in the National League.

This will cover the entire league and highlight the best picks, most questionable picks, and how promising each class looks. The American League will be out in another article.

Arizona Diamondbacks

With four of the first 34 picks in the draft, the Dbacks really cleaned up in terms of the talent in this draft. While it may not have been as talented a draft as most years, they got top prep bat Corbin Carroll, and high upside prep right hander Brennan Malone to drop a bit. Malone is a bit of a boom or bust, but the upside is high, while Carroll just takes great at bats and makes hard contact like a much more mature player. They also added talented helium prep lefty Blake Walston, and a pair of hard throwing college arms in Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson- with Nelson being an especially interesting relief arm. They had another pair of Day 1 picks in top college lefty Tommy Henry and very productive Arkansas outfielder Dom Fletcher.

Arizona went with more interesting Day 2 picks, starting with Georgia Tech power bat Tristin English, and following it with high upside(and high risk) bloodline pick Glenallen Hill Jr. East Carolina power bat Spencer Brickhouse is another chance at a big bat, while Dominic Canzone was a very good player at Ohio State. They landed some additional college power arms, Xavier righty Conor Grammes and Indiana lefty Andrew Saalfrank, who could be good relief options. Day 3 was quiet, but they should be able to add Indiana prep lefty Avery Short, and may be able to sign Washington prep lefty Brock Jones.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves went cheaper on the first two days of the draft to go with a bunch of high upside overslot guys on Day 3. They may have overdrafted a bit on their two first rounders, Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers and Texas A&M infielder Braden Shewmake, but they are high floor future big leaguers. Langeliers is an elite defender at catcher with some pop in the bat, while Shewmake is a productive contact hitter from the SEC with some defensive versatility. The Beau Philip second round pick seemed like a real overdraft, but he came in well under slot- a move that helped the depleted lower levels of the Braves system add some talent and depth. The highlights of that Day 3 group are pitchers Tyler Owens, Jared Johnson, and Joey Estes, while they added bats like Vaughn Grissom, Mahki Backstrom, and Kadon Morton. These Braves picks are covered in greater detail over on Talking Chop.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs don’t have any problem drafting guys the media isn’t quite as high on as the team is. They took Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, and Nico Hoerner all a little higher than the industry expected. This year they did the same, but unlike all of those guys- who are hitters, they went with hard throwing Fresno State right hander Ryan Jensen. The other first day pick was UCLA second baseman Chase Strumpf, the type of college hitter that the Cubs have done well with.

Day 2 saw the Cubs take more chances, grabbing Louisville power arm Michael McAvene in the third round, hoping the Tommy John surgery survivor can stay in the rotation. Adding talented Alabama prep catcher Ethan Hearn and North Carolina prep lefty Davidjohn Herz- a pitcher who was rising draft boards in the days before the draft is similar to adding Brennen Davis and Cole Roederer last year. The Cubs also added some West Coast power pitchers in USC’s Chris Clarke and Washington’s Josh Burgmann.

Day 3 saw bloodline picks Ryan Reynolds(Shane) and Grayson Byrd(Paul), but was led by Duke lefty Adam Laskey, a guy who could have gone on Day 1 if he was healthy and pitching at the top of his game. Seniors like West Virginia’s Darius Hill and Florida’s Nelson Maldonado are solid, cheap additions and guys who actually have some chance to be valuable pros.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds grabbed the top pitcher in the draft according to almost everyone, TCU lefty Nick Lodolo- making this the second time he was taken in the first round after not signing with the Pirates out of high school. The projectable arm with promising stuff finally saw his results match his stuff this year, and still has room to add to his stuff. The Reds took Florida prep bat Rece Hinds in the second round, a guy who is a bit of a positional question, but also one who possesses 80 grade power.

On Day 2 the Reds started with Florida prep bat Tyler Callihan, another guy with some positional questions, but a very promising bat. Callihan doesn’t have quite the same power as Hinds, but he’s also a potential plus hitter while Hinds is prone to striking out often. The next pick was JUCO middle infielder Ivan Johnson, a quality athlete with potential to be an asset with the bat. UAB lefty Graham Ashcroft has very big stuff, but issues throwing strikes. College outfield bats like UC Santa Barbara’s Eric Yang, Grand Canyon’s Quin Cotton, and South Carolina senior TJ Hopkins all have potential to hit. Getting Puerto Rican high school stars shortstop Yan Contreras and outfielder Wendell Marrero with the top two picks on Day 3 was a nice win for the Reds. One interesting Day 3 bat is Texas Tech senior first baseman Cameron Warren. Warren is a very productive college star, but based on his age and lack of other tools slid in the draft because he really needs to produce with the bat to have value.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies didn’t just go college heavy, they ignored high school players as they didn’t grab their first one until the 31st round. The Rockies went with one of the Top pure college bats in the draft in UCLA’s Michael Toglia, a player with a chance to hit for average and power, but also one possibly limited to first base if he can’t handle the corner outfield. Georgia’s Aaron Schunk was a two way college star, but should be a power hitting third baseman as a pro. They finished the first day with Michigan pitcher Karl Kauffmann, a pitcher who saw his stuff make a bit of a jump this year after being on the radar for years.

Day 2 saw some upside picks in Division II star outfielder Brenton Doyle, a high upside former JUCO player who came to Shepherd University this year. Cal pitcher Jared Horn has the size and stuff to be a first day pick, but hasn’t been able to consistently perform on the college level. Ole Miss pitcher Will Ethridge is a high floor arm that should be a big leaguer in some role, while UConn reliever Jacob Wallace is one of the more interesting relievers in the draft and Arkansas reliever Jacob Kostyshock is another solid arm. The top Day 3 picks are UC Irvine star defensive shortstop Christian Koss and Illinois State’s productive outfielder Joe Aeilts.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers landed a pair of guys who slipped in the first round, Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese, a potential Top 10 pick leading up to the draft, and North Carolina first baseman/outfielder Michael Busch. Both of these guys can hit, both for average and for power. If either of these guys was taken 15 picks higher, no one would have batted an eye. The finished the first day with Texas prep right hander Jimmy Lewis, a promising and projectable arm to pair with their two big college bats.

On Day 2 the Dodgers started with Butler right hander Ryan Pepiot, a pitcher who really has swing and miss stuff. They followed with UC Irvine third base slugger Brandon Lewis, Stanford closer Jack Little, Bryant outfielder Ryan Ward, and Eastern Kentucky senior sign arm Aaron Ochsenbein- one of the Top senior sign arms in this draft. If Lewis can keep the strikeouts under control or Little can make the transition to starter, the Dodgers may have landed a pair of steals.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins grabbed Vanderbilt star JJ Bleday with their top pick, hoping he can not only be a middle of the order bat but also help change the culture with a winning pedigree. Competitive Balance round pick Kameron Misner is a prototypical right fielder if it all comes together. Misner would have been a potential Top 10 pick if he hit this spring, but he was very uneven this year. Georgia prep shortstop Nasim Nunez finished off the first day, and he is the type of athlete the Marlins love.

The Marlins started Day 2 with Wright State outfielder Peyton Burdick and the top senior sign bat in the draft, NC State first baseman Evan Edwards. That helped them afford high upside California prep arm Evan Fitterer. Grabbing another top senior sign in Dallas Baptist right hander MD Johnson and another Wright State outfielder in JD Orr, plus Louisville reliever Bryan Hoeing should also help afford Fitterer and a Day 3 pick like Michigan prep arm Chris Mokma. JUCO outfielder Javeon Cody is the athletic and toolsy type that the team loves to build with.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers used their top pick on Ethan Small, the Mississippi State lefty with great college results and a very high floor. Small isn’t likely to have the stuff to be a middle of the rotation guy, but he has enough stuff and pitchability to be close to a sure thing to be a solid #4 big league starter. That’s really all the Brewers need with their offense. They finished the first day with high upside JUCO lefty Antoine Kelly, a large and projectable arm with a chance to reach triple digits. Kelly has major upside, but his mechanics and command need some work and he may end up in the pen.

Day 2 was interesting. With no third rounder, they grabbed Washington catcher Nick Kahle in the fourth to start on the day, and it was a solid addition. Ole Miss hitter Thomas Dillard can really hit, but he’s not a catcher and isn’t expected to be much of an asset defensively, putting real pressure on the bat. Louisville lefty Nick Bennett is the third college lefty for the Brewers, but he’s another arm who has potential to help in some role. Grabbing Texas Tech leadoff hitter Gabe Holt, and Texas shortstop David Hamilton should really add some speed assuming Hamilton is recovered from his Achilles injury as the same guy that was a Top 100 prospect heading into the year. Day 3 was a bit quiet, but if they can sign 20th round Georgia prep shortstop Myles Austin then they really did well to add talent that should help supplement the team even though they didn’t chase upside.

New York Mets

The Mets chased upside with one of the most interesting drafts in the league. Top pick Brett Baty is a promising hitter with real power- but he’s also a prep player closer to his 20th birthday than his 19th, and older prep players have historically performed poorly as pros. They then grabbed a second Texas prep in right hander Josh Wolf, a very promising potential middle of the rotation arm who will likely be overslot.

The Mets started Day 2 with a pick that blew up the rest of their draft pool, grabbing Florida high school right hander Matthew Allan in the third round. Allan was a one time possible Top 10 pick and most expected him gone in the 10-25 range. He’s got as high upside as any arm in the class, but will need to improve on his command. The only drawback is the massive price tag on him, which means the Mets had to punt on the rest of Day 2. The rest of the day was nothing but senior signs, though Mississippi State outfielder Jake Mangum was one of the best available. The all time SEC hits leader was a legitimate prospect in each of the past two drafts, but wanted to finish his career with the Bulldogs. Fresno State outfielder Zach Ashford, LSU outfielder Antoine Duplantis, Duke outfielder Kennie Taylor, South Florida first baseman Joe Genord, Kent State lefty Connor Wollersheim, and Dallas Baptist lefty Jordan Martinson highlight the best of the Mets senior picks.

Should the Mets not be able to get something done with Allan, they landed some backup plans. Florida preps lefty Hunter Barco and righty Joseph Charles plus Mississippi JUCO lefty Dalton Fowler would all be candidates if the Mets had some extra money.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies had only one first day pick after signing Bryce Harper, but made it count when UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott dropped to them. Stott is a player with legit Top 10 ability, and has a chance to become an All Star shortstop with a well rounded tool set. Stott can hit, has power, is a capable defender, and a guy with some speed.

The Phillies grabbed Virginia prep shortstop Jamari Baylor to start Day 2, and he’s a high upside athlete with power potential that may move to third base longterm. Stanford’s Erik Miller is a promising power lefty, but he has some command issues which caused him to drop into the mid fourth round. He would be an excellent reliever if he wasn’t able to make it as a starter. Speaking of relievers, a pair of right handers in Tennessee’s Andrew Schultz and Minnesota’s Brett Schulze are very nice additions as slightly underslot guys. Despite not having a second round pick, the Phillies made the second day of the draft count.

Day 3 was filled with outfielders, a pair of prep guys started out the day with Marcus Lee Sang from Maryland and Jadiel Sanchez out of Puerto Rico. Georgia centerfielder Tucker Maxwell is another solid outfielder in the 22nd round. Central Oklahoma lefty Spencer Van Scoyoc has huge stuff, but has dealt with command issues his entire college career- but he’s got real upside.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates got a great top pick with Illinois prep right hander Quinn Priester. The self taught pitcher was the top prep arm on many boards, and just an interesting talent when you think about what he can do with pro coaching to help him develop. Competitive Balance pick Sammy Siani is the younger brother of last year’s Reds pick Mike Siani. Sammy doesn’t have his brothers all around tool set, but the young outfielder is the better hitter of the two. Indiana outfielder Matt Gorski adds an interesting mix of power and speed despite being a slight overdraft. The final Day 1 pick was Houston third baseman Jared Triolo, a promising hitter with plenty of extra base power in his bat.

Day 2 was interesting despite it all being college picks. Arizona outfielder Matt Fraizer is an interesting bat, while Florida State right hander/outfielder JC Flowers is a big time raw talent to work with despite needing refinement. USC outfielder Blake Sabol is a solid bat, while Vanderbilt senior second baseman Ethan Paul brings some hitting ability and the ability to run into some homers. Sacramento State righty Austin Roberts, Nevada’s Grant Ford, and Notre Dame’s Cameron Junker highlight the arms.

Day 3 was started with toolsy Ohio prep outfielder Jase Bowen, then followed with more college guys. Clemson catcher Kyle Wilkie is a high floor potential backup, while Minnesota’s Eli Wilson is a guy with a little more upside. Georgia Tech outfielder Chase Murray is a solid college bat early on Day 3, as is Coastal Carolina second baseman Cory Wood. If they can sign 23rd rounder Jasiah Dixon, a California high school outfielder, then this draft gets even better.

San Diego Padres

As usual the Padres loaded up with upside. Georgia athlete CJ Abrams was the top pick, and whether he sticks at short or moves to the outfield he can really hit and really, really run. He’s got a little more power than he’s given credit for, and would be an excellent leadoff hitter. Second rounder Joshua Mears, out of a Washington high school, is a big slugger who ideally fits in right field even though he was slightly overdrafted this high. George Mason catcher Logan Driscoll is a very solid hitter as a catcher, and as an underslot guy is a nice addition.

Day 2 started with Texas prep outfielder Hudson Head, who got the largest third round bonus in MLB Draft history. Head is a very toolsy guy with five tool potential, but his lack of a track record against top competition dropped him into Day 2. With the Head pick, it meant college guys in rounds 4-6, then senior signs in rounds 7-10. The college right handers in rounds 4-6 were all solid picks, led by Niagara’s Matt Brash, UC Santa Barbara’s Chris Lincoln, and Vanderbilt star Drake Fellows. Fellows is the highest upside of the three arms, but he saw his command waiver a bit this year. He’s still a potential big league starter, and could do well as a guy who relies on grounders.

Day 3 was mostly quiet after spending so much in the first two days, but UConn lefty Mason Feole would have gone much higher if there were no health concerns and Georgia prep outfielder Andre Tarver shows some real potential with the bat. I’m also a fan of Texas prep lefty Bodi Rascon.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants used their top pick on a boom or bust prospect in Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop. For a team without a ton of impact bats, taking a chance on Bishop’s power and speed combo was the right play. Bishop will need to cut down the strikeouts and will be limited to left field by his arm, but he’s got 40 homer potential and the ability to steal at least 20 bags. Logan Wyatt, the Louisville first baseman, is an interesting second round pick as he doesn’t have typical first base power. Wyatt does get on base a ton and has plenty of extra base power, fitting more into a Brandon Belt mold.

Day 2 saw some additional upside picks with Florida prep outfielder Grant McCray as the top pick. McCray is a toolsy athlete and the son of a former minor leaguer. Louisville shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald is a solid all around player who can make good contact. California prep first baseman Garrett Frechette was one of the top high school first basemen in the draft, and can really hit for both average and power. Puerto Rican prep shortstop Dilan Rosario is a very high upside prospect if he’s able to add just a little more power to go with his glove and athleticism. Grabbing UC Santa Barbara outfielder Armani Smith and Texas Tech right hander Caleb Killian were also solid picks.

On Day 3 the Giants led with Mississippi prep right hander Trevor McDonald, one of the interesting sleepers in the draft. They also got interesting college guys in Butler outfielder Harrison Freed, Arizona State infielder Carter Aldrete, North Carolina catcher Brandon Martorano, and Georgetown right hander Nick Morreale. This is the best Giants draft on paper in a few years.

St. Louis Cardinals

When Kentucky lefty Zack Thompson fell down the board, the Cardinals were quick to jump on the talented college lefty, arguably the top college lefty in the class. They then grabbed a true five tool talent in Maine high school outfielder Trejyn Fletcher, a player who reclassified into the class during this spring. The Fletcher pick is a pure upside play, and he’s got as much of that as anyone in this draft with power, speed, athleticism, defense, and a big arm. He just needs to show that he can hit.

On Day 2 the Cardinals loaded up on college arms, taking Georgia right hander Tony Locey, Georgia Tech lefty Connor Thomas, and sandwiching UC Irvine right hander Andre Pallante between the two rivals. Locey and Pallante are power arms who could start, but would also do well out of the pen, while Thomas is a pitchability lefty. They then followed up the arm with a college catcher, Florida Atlantic’s Pedro Pages, a solid defender with real power, before going back for more college arms like UCLA lefty Jack Ralston and Oklahoma State right hander Logan Gragg.

Getting college outfielders like UL Lafayette’s Todd Lott late on Day 2, then UC Santa Barbara’s Tommy Jew on Day 3 were solid picks. They also landed some prep talent in 6’6” Illinois prep right hander Tyler Statler and IMG Academy outfielder Patrick Romeri. This is yet another Cardinals draft, where they let things come to them and grabbed talent early, then took college players that will likely once again exceed expectations.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals only had one first day pick, but it was a huge one- literally. The Nats ended the slide of top college arm Jackson Rutledge, a Top 10 talent, and a 6’8”, 250 right hander. Rutledge has not just a massive frame, but massive stuff. He’s going to need to work on his changeup and command, and prove that a past labrum injury is just history, but his upside is as big as the frame.

The Nats had no second rounder after signing Patrick Corbin, so they started out Day 3 with Florida State slugging third baseman Drew Mendoza and his plus plus power. In the fourth they took one of the best relievers in the draft, Arkansas star Matt Cronin. Then in the fifth they took Florida right hander Tyler Dyson, a one time potential Top 10 pick who struggled this year because of a lack of a third pitch and not enough life on his fastball along with a lesser version of his once plus slider. Getting LSU power reliever Todd Peterson and injured, but talented UCLA outfielder Jeremy Ydens were also strong pickups on Day 2.

Day 3 had more upside picks with Florida JUCO right hander Orlando Ribalta, Arizona JUCO lefty Lucas Knowles, and Florida JUCO outfielder Jake Randa- son of former big leaguer Joe Randa. Tennessee State star Kevin Strohschein is a strong senior pick, though he may not be able to stick in the outfield.