This year's draft is all about shortstops, big college arms, and the Houston Astros. What else is new?
The Astros, picking second and fifth, hold the highest two selections for any team since 2011, while the Arizona Diamondbacks will kickstart the draft for the first time since making Justin Upton the top overall player in 2005.
The Atlanta Braves also select twice in the first round (14, 28) and will do so a league-high 13 times through the first 315 picks of the draft.
Our mock, which features the first 26 picks and 10 compensation slots, is a product of industry buzz, prospect analysis, and general consensus from three of the most prominent talent evaluators in the country: ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball America's John Manuel, and FanGraphs' Kiley McDaniel.
Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft (Monday, June 8, 7 p.m. ET) is an especially tough one to predict, with signing bonuses and slot value allotment playing a critical role in determining player selection. Those figures, courtesy of Baseball America, are listed below for each slot, with the club's spending cap for the first 315 picks included in parenthesis.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks - Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
Slot Value: $8,616,900 ($12,816,100)
Swanson's the safe pick and the top position player in the college class. He projects as an above-average shortstop in the majors with 80-grade makeup.
2. Houston Astros - Alex Bregman, SS, LSU (Compensation for Brady Aiken)
Slot Value: $7,420,100 ($17,289,200)
Bregman's bat is his meal ticket, though he's not a lock to stay at short. His signability should appeal to the Astros, who would be happy to put the Aiken fiasco behind them.
3. Colorado Rockies - Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (Fla.)
Slot Value: $6,223,300 ($13,989,800)
A potential No. 1 pick, Rodgers might have the highest ceiling of any player in the draft. It would be a surprise if he fell to the Texas Rangers.
4. Texas Rangers - Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Slot Value: $5,026,500 ($9,099,900)
Top college lefty in the class and potentially this year's Brandon Finnegan.
5. Houston Astros - Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant High School (Tampa)
Slot Value: $4,188,700 ($17,289,200)
It's fair to assume the Astros will take at least one prep player with one of their top picks, and who better at five than Preston's younger – and scouts say better – brother, Kyle.
6. Minnesota Twins - Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
Slot Value: $3,889,500 ($7,388,700)
The hard-throwing junior out of Santa Barbara gets high grades for his big-time fastball and above-average slider.
Two-way player with the potential to stick in center field. Benintendi led the SEC in OBP, slugging, and home runs in 2014.
8. Chicago White Sox - Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
Slot Value: $3,470,600 ($5,347,500)
The White Sox are said to be keen on drafting another college pitcher early and word is Vanderbilt teammates Fulmer and Walker Buehler are among the most likely candidates.
The son of former major leaguer Mike Cameron isn't as physically impressive as his father, but Daz's all-around skill set would be a great match for the high-octane Cubs.
Huge power with a hulking 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame. Stephenson's the best catcher in the draft, leading some to speculate he'll go as high as No. 1 overall.
11. Cincinnati Reds - Garrett Whitley, OF, Niskayuna HS (N.Y.)
Slot Value: $3,141,600 ($7,234,200)
The Reds already have one toolsy center fielder with plus speed and above-average defense, so why not make it two? Whitley's power upside makes him an especially intriguing option at the position.
12. Miami Marlins - Trenton Clark, OF, Richland HS (Texas)
Slot Value: $3,051,800 ($6,766,400)
Clark doesn't project as strongly as Whitley does in center, but his bat makes for a solid second option once the former's off the board.
13. Tampa Bay Rays - Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati
Slot Value: $2,962,100 ($6,591,300)
A switch-hitting infielder with pop and speed, scouts believe Happ could eventually end up in the outfield, and he's got the bat to do it.
14. Atlanta Braves - Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
Slot Value: $2,842,400 ($10,684,100)
There are concerns over Buehler's lanky frame, but not his stuff. The right-hander features a mid-90s fastball with an arsenal four pitches deep.
15. Milwaukee Brewers - Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State
Slot Value: $2,692,700 ($7,743,800)
Harris is another big right-handed college arm with solid secondary stuff and plenty of room still to fill out (6-foot-4, 190 pounds).
16. New York Yankees - Chris Betts, C, Wilson HS (Calif.)
Slot Value: $2,543,300 ($7,885,000)
Power-first catcher with a more advanced hit tool than Stephenson. Some evaluators compare him to current Yankees catcher Brian McCann.
17. Cleveland Indians - Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
Slot Value: $2,393,600 ($7,234,200)
Among the more polarizing prospects in the draft, Law ranks him his second-best prospect while MLB.com lists him just inside their top 30. There's debate regarding whether he'll stay at short, but there's no disagreeing on his ability to hit.
18. San Francisco Giants - Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg HS (Pa.)
Slot Value: $2,333,800 ($7,515,500)
The former all-conference quarterback throws an effortless mid- to high-90s fastball and is among the more projectable arms in the class.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates - Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente HS (Calif.)
Slot Value: $2,273,800 ($7,392,200)
Allard's considered by many to be this year's top lefty prep pitcher, and could emerge as a value pick if a recent stress fracture in his back causes his stock to tumble on draft day.
20. Oakland Athletics - Phil Bickford, RHP, Southern Nevada
Slot Value: $2,214,000 ($5,444,100)
Explosive fastball and a major league ready frame. Good fit for an Athletics club trying to rebuild its farm system quickly.
21. Kansas City Royals - Cornelius Randolph, SS, Griffin HS (Ga.)
Slot Value: $2,184,200 ($7,206,700)
Randolph shows great power for a left-handed hitting middle infielder, though he'll likely wind up a third baseman in the majors.
22. Detroit Tigers - Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
Slot Value: $2,154,200 ($7,114,300)
Funkhouser offers good value as a late first-round pick given his experience, durability, and big-league ready body.
23. St. Louis Cardinals - James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA
Slot Value: $2,124,400 ($7,387,600)
Projects as a mid-rotation arm with a very good changeup. Scouts like his "pitchability."
24. Los Angeles Dodgers - Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy (Fla.)
Slot Value: $2,094,400 ($7,781,700)
The Dodgers have the resources and patience to gamble on Aiken, who became just the third No. 1 pick to not sign when he turned down a $5-million bonus to play for the Astros. Whoever drafts him won't see him pitch again until next summer, at the earliest, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March.
25. Baltimore Orioles - D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State
Slot Value: $2,064,500 ($6,850,400)
The burly 6-foot, 230-pound junior was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2014 after posting a robust .351/.472/.557 slash line.
26. Los Angeles Angels - Blake Trahan, SS, Louisiana-Lafayette
Slot Value: $2,034,500 ($5,050,100)
Trahan's a popular pick to go to the Angels, who are believed to covet his range at short and plus speed on the basepaths.
Compensation picks: The following 10 teams will receive first-round compensation as a result of extending qualifying offers to 2014 free agents who signed with another club. Table includes the projected pick and respective slot value.
|27||COL||$2.00M||Michael Matuella (Duke)||RHP||Michael Cuddyer|
|28||ATL||$1.97M||Ashe Russell (HS)||RHP||Ervin Santana|
|29||TOR||$1.94M||Richie Martin (Florida)||SS||Melky Cabrera|
|30||NYY||$1.91M||Donnie Dewees (North Florida)||OF||David Robertson|
|31||SF||$1.88M||Nolan Watson (HS)||RHP||Pablo Sandoval|
|32||PIT||$1.85M||Donny Everett (HS)||RHP||Russell Martin|
|33||KC||$1.82M||Nate Kirby (Virginia)||LHP||James Shields|
|34||DET||$1.79M||Nick Plummer (HS)||OF||Max Scherzer|
|35||LAD||$1.76M||Cody Ponce (Cal Poly-Pomona)||RHP||Hanley Ramirez|
|36||BAL||$1.71M||Jacob Nix (IMG Academy)||RHP||Nelson Cruz|