MLB West Coast draft selectionsDate: June 8, 2019
By: Justin Morris
The beginning of June marks a turning point in the MLB season that represents big change for the league’s teams, change in the form of the mid-season swing leading up to the All-Star game.
When early spring competition transitions to a grueling summer grind that perhaps contain the most important games leading up to the heart of the league schedule. It also represents change though, in the form of bright-eyed new potential additions to MLB rosters.
The Major League Baseball draft was held this past week from June 3-5, and all 30 teams had 40 rounds worth of hope and optimism as they made their selections of players, they felt would bring the most impact to their organizations. It is June, and as the season kicks into high gear, business at the top of the totem pole in the big leagues is undoubtedly the number one priority for owners, managers, and general managers.
Building a foundation throughout their farm systems (and hopefully for eventually in the majors) was their focus last week though, and while present affairs remain at the top of the list of priorities the future successes of each weighed heavily in their minds as the league’s annual amateur player selection commenced.
Team personnel put a year’s worth of scouting, notes, drafting boards, and whole lot of conversation together into what would ultimately result in a singular decision: a name on an index card. Each club was hopeful though, that that name would be a central piece, a cornerstone in their franchise for years to come.
The first name that went off the board this year was Adley Rutschman, Oregon State’s switch-hitting catcher who led the Beavers to a College World Series title in 2018. In the World series he posted a record 17 hits to guide his squad to a national championship.
Rutschman, this year’s Pac-12 Player of the Year has garnered comparisons to great catchers like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey because of his gaudy numbers this season, hitting .411 with 17 homers. The catcher will don the same black and orange he did at Oregon State with the Orioles.
Bobby Witt Jr. was the second selection, a star prep high school shortstop whose name is widely known in the baseball community. Witt’s father a former number three overall selection in 1985. Witt though, just 18 but making up for with the presence and leadership of a savvy veteran, is one of the best shortstop prospects scouts have seen in years. He has done enough already to make a name for himself in the sport, with projections to do much more than that.
Cal’s Andrew Vaughn, Vandy outfielder JJ Bleday, and Floridan high school star Riley Greene rounded out the top five, and surprisingly, pitching was much lower on teams’ radars than it had been in years.
This was exactly the trend we saw out west, a bit of a surprise to some scouts who projected pitching being a high priority, especially with teams who had showcased immense offensive firepower with little to show on the mound. Position players however, seemed to be the mantra for most, who just could not pass on the projected talent and potential some of their favorite targets showed, not to mention the numbers they posted.
CJ Abrams, a shortstop from Blessed Trinity High school in Georgia went sixth to San Diego. Abrams is a stellar athlete, one of the fastest runners in the draft, and a multiple-tool player with a high IQ and instincts to boot. The shortstop is a young talent the Padres just could not pass on, even with Manny Machado manning the position.
Continuing in the AL West, the Rangers stayed in Texas with their selection, taking Texas Tech product Josh Jung. Jung had proven to be one of the best college bats in the draft prior to his selction, checking all the boxes in terms of contact, power, and discipline at the plate that made himself a top-10 selection.
San Francisco boosted their outfield play in the NL, taking Arizona State’s plus-hitting Hunter Bishop. Shortly after, the Angels took USA Baseball shortstop Will Wilson, who they’ll likely train behind their gold glover Andrelton Simmons. Corbin Carroll went 16th to the Diamondbacks, an outfielder who, according to Keith Law, could have been a number one overall pick if he weren’t 5 feet 10 inches tall.
The Rockies looked to bolster their first baseman play with UCLA’s Michael Toglia, who was consistent at the position for the number one team in the nation. Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson went 29th to the A’s, and arguably the two best offenses in baseball took two more position players. Houston, with Cal catcher Korey Lee at 31, and the Los Angeles Dodgers with UNC first basemen Michael Bush after selecting Tulane power hitting third baseman Kody Hoese just six picks earlier.
As for pitching, Arizona had seven day-one picks, and they took three players. Those players included high school phenom Blake Walston, a lefty out of North Carolina, and IMG’s Brennan Malone, followed by Drey Jamison from Ball State with their two compensation picks at 33 and 34. Seattle was the only other western squad to dip their fortunes into the mound, taking 6 foot 3 inch fireballer Greg Jones from Elon.
Justin Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.