Monday marked the start of the 2019 MLB draft, which — let’s be real — probably wasn’t on your calendar with a bunch of reminders set. You probably didn’t even know the draft was this week before you read this headline.
Well, you’re welcome.
While we’re being real, let’s also admit this: The MLB draft isn’t anywhere near as exciting as the NBA draft or the NFL draft. Your annual fantasy baseball draft might even come with a little more anticipation than the MLB Draft. Unless there’s a Kyler Murray in this year’s draft (there’s not), there’s generally not a huge story waiting to engulf all of sports.
That’s not necessarily a diss on baseball. It’s just a part of how baseball development works. These players aren’t making an impact at the big league level right away. Heck, some won’t be in the big leagues for four or five years. There isn’t that “How does this affect my favorite team RIGHT NOW?” payoff like in football or basketball.
Unless you’re a baseball scout, a would-be baseball scout or the hardestcore baseball fan there is, that means you often need to find entertainment in other places of the draft.
So we’re here to entertain you (hopefully) with 10 names you need to know in this years’ MLB draft. People can make the list for a few reasons: They’re really good. They’re related to someone who was really good. Or they’ve got a name that is just plain awesome.
A few particulars before we get into the names: The MLB draft started at 7 p.m. ET, televised on MLB Network. The first 78 picks are Monday night, with 38 more rounds to go Tuesday and Wednesday. Those will be covered on MILB.com.
The top 10 draft order: Orioles, Royals, White Sox, Marlins, Tigers, Padres, Reds, Rangers, Braves and Giants.
In baseball, it’s less common for there to be a consensus No. 1 pick like there is in other sports. But Rutschman, a junior catcher out of Oregon State, was about the closest thing this year. And the Baltimore Orioles did indeed make him the top pick Monday night. His OPS was 1.344 this season, with 17 homers and 58 RBIs in 56 games. For context: Cody Bellinger’s MLB-best OPS through 56 games is 1.195. Not only is Rutschman earning comparisons to Buster Posey, some people are saying he could be better than Posey. He even got the Barry Bonds treatment over the weekend with a bases-loaded intentional walk.
BOBBY WITT JR.
He’s the son of ex-MLB pitcher Bobby Witt, and checks off a few boxes here: He’s a name you know and he’s talented enough that he may end up being the best player in the draft. The Kansas City Royals selected him with the No. 2 overall pick. A shortstop, Witt was the 2019 Gatorade National Player of the Year for high schoolers, he won the High School Home Run Derby at last year’s MLB All-Star Game and was the MVP of the Under Armour All-America Game.
Listen, preppy, if you’re looking for a 6-foot-3 lefty high-school pitcher from Arkansas, Morris is your man. We still think A.C. Slater has more upside, but he’s reportedly more into wrestling and football.
The youngest manager in MLB, Rocco Baldelli with the Minnesota Twins, is so young that his younger brother is draft eligible this year. That’s Dante Baldelli, who is 16 years younger than Rocco, and has most recently played baseball at Boston College. Don’t expect him to be a high-round pick, but it would be interesting if the Twins drafted their manager’s little brother, wouldn’t it? That’s not one you hear too often.
He’s a Puerto Rican shortstop out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy whose famous MLB connection is his uncle — wait for it — Carlos Beltran. It’s just not name recognition, though, Lugo is ranked as the No. 38 draft prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He’s got a good bat and is committed to the University of Miami if he chooses to play college ball instead.
You know the Leiter name well, and Jack looks to be the next generation of it. Jack Leiter, is a right-handed high school pitcher out of New Jersey who is the son of ex-MLB pitcher and current MLB Network analyst Al Leiter. He’s the nephew of Mark Leiter. He’s also ranked No. 33 overall by MLB Pipeline, which means he could get called on Day 1.
See that kid down there standing next to Roy Halladay? The taller one? He could get drafted this year. That’s Braden Halladay, who you’ve seen a lot of in recent years. He pitched with the Canadian National Team last spring against the Blue Jays in a spring training game. He’s committed to Penn State for college, but is draft eligible now that he’s graduated high school. Even if it’s a late-round pick, don’t be surprised if someone — potentially the Blue Jays or Phillies — calls his name.
More kids of Hall of Famers? Yep. Quinn Hoffman is the son of Trevor Hoffman, aka one of the greatest closers ever. You won’t see Quinn on the mound, however. He’s a second baseman at Harvard.
We may finally be able to answer the question about whether Jerry Dipoto, the wheelin’ and dealin’ GM of the Seattle Mariners, would even trade his own children. Because Jonah Dipoto, a pitcher out of UC San Diego, is in the draft this year. So there remains a distinct possibility that Dipoto could draft his own son and then trade his own son, which would be the most Jerry Dipoto thing ever.
As noted above, the MLB draft is a packed with interesting names, and our favorite this year is Jax Cash, which is what you would name a baseball player who moonlights as a super hero. He’s also a sturdy prep catcher (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) in South Carolina, who is committed to the University of South Carolina. But the name is so great. Just say it out loud. You’ll smile.
Runners up for Best Name in the Draft — via Michael Clair’s thorough list at Cut4 — include Bruce Steel, Evan Justice, Dax Dathe, Major Posey, Farmer Abendroth and Spencer Brickhouse.
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