Toolshed: Revisiting the 2018 Draft

How first-rounders are faring one year after hearing names called

Casey Mize has already climbed from the top of the Draft to Double-A. (Carlos Osorio/AP, Mark Olson/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | May 24, 2019 10:45 AM

Has it been a year already?

This time last year, the baseball world was wondering how the first round of the 2018 Draft would take shape and what all those young players would look like by the time they officially became professional hitters and pitchers. Now, some of those first-rounders are already close to becoming household names while others are finding it more difficult to get their development off the ground.

Here's a look at how each of last year's 30 first-round picks has done since hearing his name called in the 2018 Draft. (Note: Stats are through Wednesday's games.)

1. Tigers RHP Casey MizeThe top pick of the Draft has arguably been the Class of 2018's best performer. The Auburn product ranks sixth in the Minors with a 1.11 ERA over 56 2/3 innings between Class A Advanced Lakeland and Double-A Erie and is tops among 385 qualifiers with a 0.55 WHIP. He has struck out 54 and walked six. This shouldn't come as a huge surprise because of Mize's three plus pitches and impressive control, but it's noteworthy to see him dominate this quickly. He shouldn't be in the Minors long. 

2. Giants C Joey BartThe Georgia Tech backstop came flying out of the gate with 13 homers in 51 games last summer after the Draft and looked solid again with a .270/.341/.541 line in 10 games with Class A Advanced San Jose before suffering a hand fracture. He is expected to return next month. When healthy, Bart has become the game's top catching prospect, bringing an impressive defensive game to go with his plus power.

3. Phillies 3B Alec BohmThe Phils took the slow road by sending the Wichita State third baseman to Class A Lakewood to open the season, though Bohm did struggle with injuries and production in his first taste of the Minors in 2018. The move seems to have worked wonders as the right-handed slugger has produced a .335/.390/.545 line with six homers, one triple and 15 doubles over 43 games between Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater. His 169 wRC+ is the best among any Phillies Minor League hitter this season. The Florida State League should continue to challenge his power, so it'll be interesting to see how that tool plays as the season drags on. Another thing to keep an eye on is Bohm's defense; he's played 25 games at third and 10 at first to open the season, and many believe the latter is his future staying spot.

4. White Sox 2B Nick MadrigalChicago took Madrigal out of Oregon State because of his plus hit tool and his ability to make a lot of contact. He's at least shown the latter. Madrigal's 3.5% strikeout rate is the lowest among 875 qualified Minor League hitters. But it hasn't quite translated to hits; the former Beaver is batting just .265 with a .331 OBP for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. What's more, his power has been lacking, as expected, with a .361 slugging percentage. Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile.

5. Reds 3B Jonathan IndiaIndia has been a solid hitter in the pitcher-friendly FSL with a .266/.369/.448 line, six homers and 145 wRC+ over 43 games with Class A Advanced Daytona. He's also played exclusively at third base after getting some reps at shortstop last summer. Nothing may be eye-popping yet, but the former Florida Gator is picking up steam in the Sunshine State and his development continues apace at this point in his career.

6. Mets OF Jarred Kelenic (now with Mariners): Look away now, Mets fans. Kelenic was dealt from New York to Seattle as part of the offseason deal that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz the other way, and all he's done since has been making himself look like one of the game's next big five-tool prospects. Kelenic has hit .305/.393/.551 with eight homers and seven steals in 43 games at Class A West Virginia. His .944 OPS is third best in the South Atlantic League. Add in a strong arm that plays in center or right, and Kelenic is on his way to becoming the most exciting prospect in the Seattle system.

7. Padres LHP Ryan WeathersAs if the Padres needed another impressive young pitching prospect. Weathers' package of three above-average pitches and strong control has translated quite well to Class A Fort Wayne, where he has a 1.98 ERA with 34 strikeouts and only three walks in 27 1/3 innings. The southpaw, however, did miss about three weeks due to fatigue, so it'll be interesting to follow how he holds up in his first full season as San Diego continues to monitor his innings.

8. Braves RHP Carter Stewart (unsigned): This pick is back in the news this week. The Braves didn't sign Stewart after discovering a wrist issue after the Draft and offering a bonus well below the $4,980,700 value for the pick. He chose to go back to junior college instead, and now the right-hander is headed to Japan after signing a six-year, $7 million deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The Braves get the ninth overall pick as compensation for not signing Stewart, but the longer-range effects of this pick might be felt in how future disgruntled draftees (and Major League Baseball as a whole) deal with viewing foreign leagues as an option.

9. Athletics OF Kyler Murray: The A's signed Murray. He went back to the University of Oklahoma to play quarterback. He won the Heisman Trophy. He went first overall to the Cardinals in the NFL Draft. He won't play baseball in the foreseeable future. That about wraps it up.

10. Pirates OF Travis SwaggertyThe Bucs grabbed Swaggerty because of his potential to be solid across the board, and that's what he's been. He's hitting .253/.345/.370 with three homers and seven steals in 39 games at Class A Advanced Brandenton while playing center field only. That's above-average in the FSL (116 wRC+), but Swaggerty should hope to find some growth over the summer months, particularly when it comes to the power department. 

11. Orioles RHP Grayson RodriguezIf not for Mize, Rodriguez would be the standout pitcher of the first round. The 19-year-old right-hander has posted a 1.50 ERA and 0.92 WHIP while fanning 53 and walking 11 in 36 innings for Class A Delmarva. His 38.1% strikeout rate is fifth best among all qualified Minor League pitchers, thanks to a four-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball and slider and above-average curve. Rodriguez popped up a bit as a senior in Texas and has carried that momentum forward into the pros.

12. Blue Jays INF Jordan GroshansLike Bart, Groshans was showing a lot of promise with a .337/.427/.482 line over his first 23 games at Class A Lansing, showing off the above-average bat that made him a high pick out of Texas. However, he is currently on the shelf with a foot injury and isn't expected to return soon. When he does head back to the Midwest League, he'll continue to try follow the line of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette as impressive infielders in the Toronto system.

13. Marlins OF Connor ScottIt's been slow-going for the Tampa native in his first full season. Scott is hitting just .205/.277/.325 with two homers and nine steals in 38 games at Class A Clinton. The good news is, his .252 BABIP should turn around as he gains more experience at the level, especially given his plus speed. He's also decreased his strikeout rate from 26.9% to 20.5%. Still, Scott's start doesn't look great compared to his peers around this part of the Draft.

14. Mariners RHP Logan GilbertGilbert is the pitching version of Bohm in that the Mariners started him out at Class A, only to see him dominate there and following a promotion to Class A Advanced Modesto. The 22-year-old right-hander out of Stetson has a 1.75 ERA and 0.81 WHIP with 53 K's and nine walks in 36 innings over both stops early this season. With a plus fastball and above-average offerings in his slider and change, Gilbert should be getting swings and misses at the lower levels, and that's just what happening.

15. Rangers RHP Cole WinnThe Rangers have taken it easy with the 19-year-old right-hander so far, moving him to Class A Hickory last week after holding him out for all of 2018 as well. It's been a bumpy start so far in the South Atlantic League; Winn has allowed six earned runs and walked five over 4 1/3 innings in his first two outings. He's been capped at 58 pitches thus far, as well. The teenager is still plenty raw and has the plus fastball and curveball and above-average slider to make things work eventually. As with all high-school pitchers, patience is key.

16. Rays LHP Matthew LiberatoreThe Rays employed a similar strategy to the Rangers by holding Liberatore back until unleashing him on the Midwest League this month, and he's enjoyed much better results in this still-early sample. The 6-foot-5 southpaw has allowed one earned run and struck out 12 over 10 innings in his first two starts for Class A Bowling Green. Liberatore has a chance to be one of the best left-handed prospects in the game with four above-average offerings, and he's on his way to backing up the stuff with results.

17. Angels OF Jordyn AdamsThe Angels rolled the dice by taking Adams here, hoping to talk him out of a two-sport scholarship to the University of North Carolina. They succeeded with a $4.1 million deal, adding the outfielder to a farm system that has been on the up-and-up. Adams stands out most for his top-level speed, but the bat remains very much a work in progress. He's hitting .196 with two homers while striking out in 27.6% of his plate appearances with Class A Burlington.

18. Royals RHP Brady SingerSinger was MLB.com's No. 2 Draft prospect coming off a stellar career at Florida, on the strength of his plus fastball, plus slider and good control. Nonetheless, he fell to the Royals, who possessed the largest bonus pool, and Kansas City ended up signing him for $4,247,500, almost $1 million above slot. He's taken off with Class A Advanced Wilmington, where he has a 2.13 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings. Singer completed seven innings for the first time Tuesday and is looking less challenged by the Carolina League with each passing outing. 

19. Cardinals 3B Nolan GormanThe hype train kicked into gear quite quickly with Gorman, who many expected to show plus power in the Minors. The left-handed-hitting slugger went deep 17 times in 63 games between Rookie Advanced Johnson City and Class A Peoria last season. Back with the Chiefs for 2019, he's still been quite good with the bat, hitting .263/.376/.513 through 44 games. His nine homers are third most in the Midwest League. His 25.4% strikeout rate is a bit on the high side, but the Cardinals will take the tradeoff if Gorman continues to flash prodigious power early in his career.

20. Twins OF Trevor LarnachLarnach pushed his OPS at Oregon State from .850 as a sophomore to 1.115 as a junior to force his way into the first round. The bat's been fine, though not eye-popping just yet at Class A Advanced Fort Myers, where he has a .281/.355/.413 line. The biggest disappointment has been the drop in power; Larnach has hit only two homers in 42 games after going deep 19 times in his final spring with the Beavers. He'll have to heat up with the weather if he's going to move as quickly as many thought possible on Draft Day.

21. Brewers SS Brice TurangNegotiations went almost all the way down to the wire before the Brewers talked Turang out of going to LSU with a $3,411,100 bonus. Milwaukee was banking on Turang's hit tool, speed and above-average ability at shortstop, and the California native's skills are translating early. He's hitting .320 with a .428 OBP and even 30/30 K/BB ratio through 42 games at Class A Wisconsin. He has also swiped 12 bases, tied for fifth most in the MWL. He'll still have to show at some point that power can be part of his game, but this is a solid foundation on which to build.

22. Rockies LHP Ryan RolisonNot every pitcher survives calling Class A Asheville and Class A Advanced Lancaster home, but Rolison has done so to this point. The 21-year-old left-hander out of Ole Miss sports a 1.22 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 45 strikeouts and eight walks in 44 1/3 innings this season. Five of his eight starts have come at the higher level, and he'll likely be challenged with more outings in the hitter-friendly California League. But for now, Rolison has climbed into the Top-100 rankings because he's been able to show an above-average fastball, plus curve and good control.

23. Yankees C Anthony SeiglerSeigler made headlines in the Draft for his switch-throwing abilities, but he'll be a catcher in the Yankees system. He handled himself fairly well, especially when it came to plate discipline, with a .266/.379/.342 line and 12/14 K/BB ratio in 24 games between the Gulf Coast League and Rookie Advanced Pulaski. He dealt with a quad injury in the spring and has yet to feature with a Minor League affiliate in 2019, though he has participated in games in extended spring camp.

24. Cubs SS Nico HoernerIt's been a young career of fits and starts for the Stanford product. Hoerner played only 14 games in the regular season last year due to an elbow injury but came back for the Arizona Fall League, where he stood out with a .337 average and .867 OPS in 21 games. The Cubs saw enough from the 22-year-old to send him straight to Double-A Tennessee, and he opened with a .300/.391/.500 line in his first 18 games with the Smokies. However, he's back on the injured list with a hairline fracture in his left wrist and will be out at least a month, according to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

25. D-backs INF Matt McLain (unsigned): The D-backs weren't able to talk McLain into signing for the slot bonus of $2,636,400. He is just wrapping up his freshman season at UCLA, where he hit .204 with four homers and six steals in 52 games.

26. Red Sox 1B/3B Triston CasasCasas possessed some of the best high-school power in the Draft -- a tool he showed many times playing for Team USA -- and that pushed him into the first round to the Sox. He played two games in the GCL before a thumb injury ended his first season prematurely. Now with Class a Greenville, he's been a solid hitter with a .262/.335/.476 line and six homers in 41 games. After much debate about his future position, he has made 31 of his 34 defensive starts this season at first base, so there will be some added pressure to hit going forward, given the position change.

27. Nationals RHP Mason DenaburgThe Nats remain high on the 19-year-old right-hander's potential, given his plus fastball and plus curveball, but have yet to throw him in the Minor League waters just yet. Denaburg's stock dropped a little because of biceps tendinitis last year, but the Nationals claim those worries are behind him. He seems like a candidate to open at Class A Short Season Auburn next month.

28. Astros OF Seth BeerBeer was one of the most dominant college hitters in recent memory at Clemson, finishing his NCAA career with a .321/.489/.648 line and 56 homers spread across three springs. The left-handed-hitting slugger has had no issue carrying that to the Minor League ranks and is already up at Double-A Corpus Christi with a .336/.430/.597 line and 10 homers in 41 games between there and Class A Advanced Fayetteville. Defensive questions -- along with worries that he couldn't hit with a wood bat -- moved Beer into the lower half of the first round, but he's shown enough stick to bring value no matter where he plays. He's made 21 starts at first base this season compared to 15 in left field.

29. Indians C Bo NaylorThere were a few that believed Naylor would be a better prospect than brother Josh. That still might be the case in time, but it's been slow sailing in his start to his career at Class A Lake County. Naylor has hit .214/.313/.321 with one homer and a 27.5% strikeout rate in 32 games. His arm is his best asset though, and he's thrown out 34.9% of attempted basestealers, a little above the Midwest League average of 31.1%. Catching prospects can take a while to develop, though, and the Tribe knew that when they took Naylor in this spot.

30. Dodgers RHP J.T. Ginn (unsigned): Ginn chose to head to Mississippi State instead of taking the reported final offer of $2.4 million from the Dodgers. He has a 3.12 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 16 walks in 75 innings with the Bulldogs with more important starts likely to come with the NCAA regionals around the corner.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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