Good morning, Tigers fans. This week, we are debuting what will hopefully be a regular feature here at Bless You Boys leading up to the MLB draft in June. We will continue to highlight mock drafts, write player profiles, and produce the regular draft content you have come to expect from us, but this gives us a chance to keep an eye on the week-to-week progression of some of the top prospects in this year’s class.
Heading into the 2019 draft cycle, there are two players that currently stand above the rest of their class. Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is the consensus top prospect in the draft, a player that has drawn comparisons to Matt Wieters (and not just because the Baltimore Orioles are on the clock).
The other is Bobby Witt Jr., a prep shortstop from Texas with five-tool potential. There are some concerns about his hit tool at the next level — MLB Pipeline currently has it graded slightly below average, at 45 — but if he continues to produce like he did this past weekend, that won’t be an issue.
The No. 1 Player in TX had quite the weekend in Lubbock. Here are the numbers for @OU_Baseball commit 2019 SS @BwittJr @CHHS_baseballs #MLBDraft @prepbaseball— PBR Texas (@PBR_Texas) March 10, 2019
16-19, 2 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 17 R,
I... wow. Those are video game numbers with cheat codes on. As one anonymous BYB staff member put it, “I couldn’t hit that well in batting practice.” We shouldn’t expect anyone to put up an .842 average going forward, but Witt will certainly produce some gaudy numbers throughout the prep season.
Unfortunately, he probably won’t even fall to the Tigers on draft day. Witt is a plus runner with plus raw power, giving him 20 homer and 20 steal (if not more) potential at the MLB level. He draws plus grades for his arm and glove as well, and will likely stick at shortstop moving forward.
Speaking of Rutschman, he had a solid weekend for Oregon State at the Seattle Baseball Showcase.
Adley Rutschman Seattle Classic:— Josh Nelson (@soxmachine_josh) March 10, 2019
4-for-6, 4 BB, 0 K, HR, 2 RBI
Andrew Vaughn series vs LSU: 1-for-10, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K.
Bryson Stott series vs. Bradley:
2-for-6, 6 BB, 2 K
New @SoxMachine Top 10 will come out next Friday, but these three are the best college players
He is batting .390 with six home runs in 13 games this year for the Beavers. A switch-hitter, Rutschman draws rave reviews on both sides of the ball. He has “current all-fields doubles power and tremendous feel for contact,” according to FanGraphs, and MLB Pipeline gives his hit tool a potential plus (60) grade. He has also received plus grades for his arm and glove, and will very likely be the No. 1 overall pick in June.
Who else is worth watching?
CJ Abrams is another prospect that pops up in almost everyone’s top five, and he seems to be the early favorite to go second overall to the Kansas City Royals.
Running out of superlatives for @BT_Baseball’s CJ Abrams (GA) but he roped this 87 mph FB to the oppo gap for a 3B. First AB went 7 pitch oppo 1B, then SB, balk, WP. Elite tools; firmly in top 5 play. #mlbdraft pic.twitter.com/6OWvNyrqmy— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) March 8, 2019
Abrams is a speedster, drawing 70 grades (or better!) across the board for how well he runs. He will almost certainly play somewhere up the middle, either at shortstop or in center field. He has the arm to play in either spot, but there are questions about how much power he will have at his peak. He has room to grow, with a relatively slender 6’1 frame, and FanGraphs (the highest publication on him) has him with above-average raw power right now. Baseball America says that raw power is below-average, though, which could limit his ceiling as he enters the pro ranks.
Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung missed his team’s game on Saturday due to a quad strain suffered the night before. He is batting .333 on the year with a .439 on-base percentage, but has not hit a home run yet. Jung’s calling card is his bat, with above-average hit and power, according to MLB Pipeline. He is their No. 6 prospect right now, and has risen to No. 10 on FanGraphs’ board recently. His defense might be a concern going forward, though, and he might be destined for first base in the pros.
Speaking of first basemen, Cal’s Andrew Vaughn is a really good one. Baseball America thinks he could ultimately be the highest drafted first baseman of all-time, which would only happen if he gets taken first overall. He’s a poor runner, but is a plus hitter with plus power, and a solid fielder to boot. He is third on both MLB Pipeline’s and FanGraphs’ draft rankings, and fourth on Baseball America’s top 200 list. Through 13 games this year, he is hitting .432 with a 1.535 OPS. He has seven home runs in 44 at-bats, and is getting on base at a .603 clip, though he struggled in game action last weekend against LSU.
And here’s some video of Riley Greene, a prep outfielder from Florida that sits in the top eight of all three lists mentioned in this article.