The College World Series is in full swing and teams are scouting those games more than ever now that the Draft has been moved to July. It’s difficult to move the needle much this late in the calendar, but there have been several pitching performances of note.
Jack Leiter reinforced his status as the best college arm available by striking out 15 in eight innings in a 1-0 loss to North Carolina State, but fellow Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker created some uncertainty by topping out at 94 mph and getting just three swings and misses with his fastball in the Commodores’ opener against Arizona. Mississippi State righty Will Bednar (15 whiffs in six scoreless innings versus Texas) and Virginia left-hander Andrew Abbott (10 strikeouts in six shutout innings against Tennessee) bolstered their cases for possibly going in the first round. Texas righty Ty Madden solidified his place as the third-best college arm behind the Vanderbilt duo, losing to Bednar but working seven strong innings while hitting 97 mph five times and showing an effective three-pitch mix.
For my third straight first-round projection, I have the Pirates taking California high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer at No. 1 and the Rangers grabbing Leiter at No. 2. Neither of those picks is locked in, however, and don’t read too much into the fact that my prognostications for picks 11-20 exactly match my mock draft from two weeks ago. Those are more reflections of most teams not setting up their boards nor drilling deep on signability yet.
Wake Forest’s Ryan Cusick and UC Santa Barbara’s Michael McGreevy are two college right-handers with first-round buzz who didn’t find a home in the projection below. There are a number of high schoolers with plenty of interest — such as outfielder Joshua Baez (Dexter Southfield HS, Brookline, Mass.), righty Chase Petty (Mainland Regional HS, Linwood, N.J.), left-hander Frank Mozzicato (East Catholic HS, Manchester, Conn.), shortstop Carson Williams (Torrey Pines HS, San Diego), second baseman Cooper Kinney (Baylor School, Chattanooga, Tenn.) — who may get first-round money but won’t get picked quite that high.
Detailed scouting reports and grades are available for all players discussed on MLB Pipeline’s Draft Top 250. The only team without a first-round pick is the Astros, who lost their top two selections in both 2020 and 2021 as a punishment for sign stealing.
1. Pirates: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, Calif.)
The consensus remains that the Pirates will take a hitter with the top choice while trying to save a significant amount off the assigned pick value ($8,415,300) to spend on later selections. Mayer is the favorite, Louisville catcher Henry Davis appears to be Plan B and two more high school shortstops (Jordan Lawlar, Kahlil Watson) are possibilities.
2. Rangers: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Rangers look like they’re zeroing in on three players: Mayer, Leiter and Watson. Though Davis fits the college bat/performer mold of their last two first-rounders and Lawlar is a local Dallas product, they both are on the back burner.
3. Tigers: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Oklahoma City)
The Tigers openly covet Mayer. He’s unlikely to get to No. 3, however, so they’ll probably choose between Jobe (who comes with the risk inherent with high school arms but has a better combination of stuff and command than the more heralded Vanderbilt righties), Georgia prep shortstop Brady House, Leiter and Watson.
4. Red Sox: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (Dallas)
Leiter may be the Red Sox preferred target and he should get here unless the Rangers take him. Otherwise, Boston likely will pick between Lawlar and Davis.
5. Orioles: Henry Davis, C, Louisville
A lot of teams believe the Orioles will cut a discount, probably with a college position player, to save bonus pool cash for subsequent picks. But they couldn’t pass up Davis, the top college bat available, and they’re also interested in the four premier high school shortstops.
6. D-backs: Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
MLB Pipeline’s No. 1-rated prospect before the season, Rocker won’t go higher than this and could slip further. The D-backs also have interest in Davis, Lawlar and Watson. If Davis is gone and upper management wants a college bat, they could cut a deal with outfielders Sal Frelick (Boston College) or Colton Cowser (Sam Houston) or shortstop Matt McLain (UCLA), their first-round pick as a high schooler in 2018.
7. Royals: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (N.C.) HS
The Royals will just wait and see who gets to No. 7, probably choosing whomever of Rocker or Watson that the D-backs pass on. House would be the other obvious consideration.
8. Rockies: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS (Winder, Ga.)
House is somewhat reminiscent of Trevor Story, who might not be long for Colorado. In this scenario, the eight players considered on the top tier of this year’s talent pool would go in the first eight picks, though that’s not necessarily the default for the Rockies, who are less likely to take Jobe or Rocker. They might prefer to do a deal with a college arm (Texas right-hander Ty Madden, Kansas State left-hander Jordan Wicks), college bat (Frelick, Cowser) or prep position player (Pennsylvania outfielder Benny Montgomery, Indiana third baseman Colson Montgomery).
9. Angels: Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
The Angels hope that one of the top eight slides to them, and the most obvious candidates are Rocker, Jobe and House. Barring that, they’ll probably turn to a college arm (Madden or Miami, Ohio right-hander Sam Bachman). A pair of Georgia high schoolers, right-hander/shortstop Bubba Chandler and catcher Harry Ford, are longshot options.
10. Mets: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
The Mets would pounce on Jobe or Rocker if given the chance. Otherwise, they’ll probably take a second-tier college guy and Frelick and Madden would top their preferences. They’re closely linked with Colson Montgomery, but that’s more likely to be an over-slot bonus in the second round than an under-slot deal in the first.
11. Nationals: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)
Like the Mets, the Nationals also want a shot at Jobe or Rocker. They’re tied to several other strong-armed right-handers as well: Madden, Bachman and Bednar.
12. Mariners: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
The Mariners are pursuing mostly college players, with a bat (McLain, Frelick, Cowser) more likely than an arm (Madden, Mississippi right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, Wicks, McGreevy). Hoglund wouldn’t have lasted this long if he hadn’t blown out his elbow in May and required Tommy John surgery, and he has suitors all over the teens.
13. Phillies: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Lewisberry, Pa.)
If the Phillies pass on Montgomery, almost every team behind them would consider him strongly. They might be the first team that would take Cusick, and they’ve also been associated with Madden and the second-tier college bats. There’s talk that Madden could slip to the late teens, but there seems to be too much interest in him for that to happen.
14. Giants: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston
Assuming Benny Montgomery is off the board, the Giants will be sorting through the second-tier college position players and pitchers, which could come down to Cowser versus Wicks if the Draft plays out like this. Colton Montgomery could be the best option among high schoolers.
15. Brewers: Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
Like the clubs ahead of them, the Brewers are concentrating on the second tier of college talent. If all of those players are gone, they could look to Hoglund or Ford.
16. Marlins: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (Kennesaw, Ga.)
The Marlins have been tied to several of the best high school athletes, including Benny Montgomery, Ford, Chandler and Taylor. They also could be in play for any of the second-tier collegians who might be available.
17. Reds: Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS (Bogart, Ga.)
In a perfect world for the Reds, someone like Frelick, McLain, Bachman or Madden sneaks through to No. 17. In reality, they’re going to be looking at high school right-handers Chandler (whom some of their scouts prefer as a shortstop) and Andrew Painter and prep catchers Ford and Joe Mack.
18. Cardinals: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi
Hoglund could be a steal here because he looked destined for the top 10 before his elbow gave out. The Cardinals could go with other college arms, such as Wicks, Bednar or McGreevy. They’re also on two of the better two-way prospects in this Draft (Chandler, Nebraska right-hander/shortstop Spencer Schwellenbach) after taking one of the best (Masyn Winn) a year ago.
19. Blue Jays: Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep (Pennsauken Township, N.J.)
Some teams consider Solometo the best left-hander available. The Blue Jays could be the first team to take Eastern Illinois shortstop Trey Sweeney and Florida prep outfielder Jay Allen, both of whom have helium, as well as the first on New York high school catcher Joe Mack. Bednar may be the top college pitching option.
20. Yankees: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Most of the names linked with the Yankees are pitchers: Chandler, Painter, Wicks, Hoglund and East Carolina right-hander Gavin Williams, who acquitted himself well in a NCAA super-regional matchup with Rocker. Boston College shortstop Cody Morissette may be the best available college bat in their mix.
21. Cubs: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
The Cubs are mulling all four demographics: college position players (Fabian) and pitchers (McGreevy) along with high school bats (Taylor, Colson Montgomery) and arms (Solometo, Painter, Petty).
22. White Sox: Colson Montgomery, 3B, Southridge HS (Huntingburg, Ind.)
The White Sox are targeting several high school bats, including Montgomery, Mack, Arizona third baseman Wes Kath, California shortstop Max Muncy and Louisiana second baseman Peyton Stovall.
23. Indians: Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (East Amherst, N.Y.)
The Indians have an affinity for prep hitters (Ford, Mack, Stovall) but also could opt for an arm (McGreevy, Gavin Williams, Petty). Mack’s season started late and his performance slipped early when he dropped his hands too much at the plate, but his hands and stock are both on the rise now.
24. Braves: Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
The same pitcher names keep coming up with the Braves: Chandler, Bednar, McGreevy, Schwellenbach and Saint Mary’s left-hander Ky Bush. Atlanta may prefer Schwellenbach as a shortstop.
25. Athletics: Izaac Pacheco, 3B, Friendswood (Texas) HS
The A’s are yet another team in this range hunting for high school bats. Colson Montgomery may be the best-case scenario, with Pacheco, Nevada outfielder Tyler Whitaker, Taylor, Kath and Michigan shortstop Alex Mooney additional options.
26. Twins: Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois
Sweeney’s season ended a month ago, but he’s on the rise because he’s a polished college hitter with power potential in a Draft that doesn’t have many of them. South Alabama outfielder Ethan Wilson and Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo are two more college bats who might entice the Twins, as could Taylor, Petty, Gavin Williams, Mozzicato and Kinney.
27. Padres: Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork HS (Irmo, S.C.)
Teams may get more clarity on Taylor’s desires on Friday, when he’s due to report to Clemson’s summer football camp as a wide receiver. If he does participate, it won’t affect his Draft eligibility, but it wouldn’t bode well for his signability. The Padres are linked to several other prep hitters such as Mack, Baez, Stovall, Carson Williams and Kinney.
28. Rays: Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
Options for the Rays include college power pitchers (Williams, Cusick) and position player performers (Sweeney, Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson), as well as athletic high school outfielders (Taylor, Allen, Baez, Florida’s James Wood, Pennsylvania’s Lonnie White).
29. Dodgers: Peyton Stovall, 2B, Haughton (La.) HS
The Dodgers get mentioned with a slew of hitters such as Stovall, Sweeney, Del Castillo, Nelson and Morissette. If they go for a pitcher, it could be Cusick or Fordham left-hander Matt Mikulski.