Risers, fallers, missed signings. The 2018 draft had it all.
The 2018 MLB Draft was one that left us with many story-lines and much intrigue. Major decisions, players falling, players not signing, and the like. We left the first day of the draft coming out with something we did not expect, like many drafts in the past. Draft day leaves players, executives, and fans with many surprises. It has happened in the past and it will continue to happen. The 2018 draft was a good representation of this.
Heading into draft day, there was little to no questioning on who the Tigers would take with their first pick. In the weeks leading up to the draft, the choice became clear. It was star Auburn right-hander Casey Mize. After an abbreviated professional debut last year, Mize has burst onto the scene in 2019. Through 10 starts between High-A and Double-A, he has 0.97 ERA in 64 2⁄3 innings, striking out 60 and walking only eight.
With the second overall pick, the Giants took what was to be believed the best available player in Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart. Through 269 career plate appearances in the minors, he is slashing .290/.361/.581. Since his debut, only one catcher with as many plate appearances as him has a higher wRC+ than him in the minors. Bart is widely regarded as one of the best catching prospects in the game.
Filling out the rest of the top five was three college infielders: Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm taken by the Phillies, Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal taken by the White Sox, Florida third baseman Jonathan India taken by the Reds. The consensus has all three of them as top 100 prospects.
One of the main story-lines of the draft was the A’s selection at pick number nine, with their selection of start Oklahoma quarterback and outfielder Kyler Murray. After signing a contract with the A’s and coming to agreement on a reported $4.66 million signing bonus, he ultimately came to the decision of focusing solely on football. Murray was recently taken number one overall in the NFL Draft.
Taking a fall from his expected draft position was Arizona high school lefty Matthew Liberatore. But after a successful debut season in which he posted a 1.38 ERA across nine starts with 37 strikeouts in 32 2⁄3 innings, he appeared in both the top 100’s for both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America.
Another falling prospect on draft day was Florida right-hander Brady Singer. After putting up a storied career in the SEC, his draft position took a tumble due to large signing bonus demands. But with a large bonus pool, the Royals were able to snatch him up with their first pick at 18. MLB Pipeline currently has him as the Royals number one prospect.
With the 38th overall pick, the Padres selected prep shortstop Xavier Edwards. Currently rated as the number eleven prospect in a deep Padres system, he has made quite the mark in professional baseball, slashing .357/.440/.417 with 36 stolen bases 86 games.
Helping round out the first round with the second-to-last pick was the Rockies, who with the 42nd selection took New Hampshire prep first baseman Grant Lavigne. He tore up Pioneer League competition last year to the tune of a 160 wRC+, which ranked second among qualified hitters (not to mention at only 18 years old). He has found himself struggling a bit more this season, only managing to put up a 105 wRC+. FanGraphs currently rates him as the Rockies number 10 prospect.
The 2018 MLB Draft should be taken as a lesson to never expect the expected in the early rounds. With that, it would be fair to say that 2019 draft should bring us plenty of surprises.