The 2019 Major League Baseball draft featured a couple of brilliant prospects at the top of the board who could have a chance to be All-Stars for several seasons when they are deemed ready for the big show.
There was no surprise this year as Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman was selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the No. 1 pick, followed by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., first baseman Andrew Vaughn and outfield J.J. Bleday.
Nick Lodolo of Texas Christian was the first pitcher selected in a draft that is not known for its strength on the mound. The left-hander was picked by the Cincinnati Reds.
2019 MLB Draft: Round 1 Results and Grades
1. Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State, Grade: A+
2. Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS, Grade: A+
3. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California, Grade: A
4. Miami Marlins: J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt, Grade: A
5. Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla., Grade: B+
6. San Diego Padres: C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS, Roswell, Ga., Grade: A-
7. Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian, Grade: B+
8. Texas Rangers: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech, Grade: B
9. Atlanta Braves: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor, Grade: B+
10. San Francisco Giants: Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State, Grade: A-
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia, Grade: B+
12. New York Mets: Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS, Austin, Grade: B+
13. Minnesota Twins: Keoni Cavaco, SS, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif, Grade: B
14. Philadelphia Phillies: Bryson Stott, SS, Nevada-Las Vegas, Grade: A-
15. Los Angeles Angels: Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State, Grade: B
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS, Seattle, Grade: B
17. Washington Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP, San Jacinto (Texas) JC, Grade: B+
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: Quinn Priester, RHP, Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill, Grade: B
19. St. Louis Cardinals: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky, Grade: A-
20. Seattle Mariners: George Kirby, RHP, Elon, Grade: B-
21. Atlanta Braves: Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M, Grade: B+
23. Colorado Rockies: Michael Toglia, 1B, UCLA, Grade: B
24. Cleveland Indians: Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy, Statesboro, Ga, Grade: B-
25. Los Angeles Dodgers: Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane, Grade: A-
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Blake Walston, LHP, New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C., Grade: C+
27. Chicago Cubs: Ryan Jensen, RHP, Fresno State, Grade: B-
28. Milwaukee Brewers: Ethan Small, LHP, Mississippi State, Grade: C+
29. Oakland Athletics: Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson, Grade: B
30. New York Yankees: Anthony Volpe, SS, Delbarton HS, Morristown, N.J., Grade: B-
1. Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Baltimore Orioles @Orioles
Welcome to #Birdland, Adley Rutschman! https://t.co/vNbhYbuRVW
Rutschman was the consensus top prospect in this class, and the Baltimore Orioles selected the catcher to help turn around the franchise.
The 21-year-old has 17 home runs in 55 games and is a brilliant defensive catcher who possesses a powerful arm and blocks pitches with excellent instincts.
Rutschman’s status as the top pick in the draft was expected, after several observers called him the best draft-eligible prospect since Bryce Harper was selected in 2010.
His numbers with the Beavers include a slash line of .427/.584/.772, and it’s his power that separates him from many of the other candidates. He is a switch-hitter who has a mature eye, as he walks more than he strikes out.
“This is everything I’ve always dreamed of and I couldn’t ask for more,” Rutschman said on the MLB Network after he was drafted. “I tried not thinking about my draft status. I just kept thinking about the team and what I could do for my team to get better.”
There was some talk in the 24 hours before the draft that the Orioles might go in a different direction, but it turned out the team was convinced Rutschman was their No. 1 pick. However, if there had been any hesitancy, it might have been about selecting a catcher with the No. 1 pick.
Previous catchers taken with the top pick include Joe Mauer selected by the Minnesota Twins in 2001, Danny Goodwin selected by the California Angels in 1975 (also selected by the Chicago White Sox with the No. 1 pick in 1971), Mike Ivie chosen by the San Diego Padres in 1970 and Steve Chilcott, taken by the New York Mets in 1966.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
With the first pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Orioles select C Adley Rutschman from 2018 CWS champion Oregon State. He finished his junior season with a .411 batting average and a .751 slugging pct. Rutschman is the first catcher selected 1st overall since Joe Mauer in 2001. https://t.co/WmeElO6A0s
While there’s no doubt that Mauer was a worthy No. 1 pick, the other selections never lived up to theat status. Chilcott is particularly notable, because he was the top pick in the initial draft, and he was taken one pick before the Kansas City Athletics selected a power-hitting outfielder from Arizona State named Reggie Jackson.
Chilcott never played in Major League Baseball.
ESPN draft analyst Keith Law said Rutschman’s floor was that he would be a solid major league for many years, while his ceiling is that he will become a multiple-year All-Star.
2. Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage (Texas) HS
Jeff Rosen @jeff_rosen88
Royals GM Dayton Moore on Bobby Witt Jr.: “It’s been a joy to scout him. It’s been an absolute honor and privilege to follow him and his career.” Via @LWorthySports. https://t.co/a2jLr7FSrG
Witt is considered the best high school player in the country, and he has excelled in national competitions against other top stars.
He won the High School Home Run Derby at the 2018 All-Star Game and claimed the MVP award at the Under Armour All-America Game, the States Play Series and the 18-and-under Pan American Championships in Panama.
Those are strong credentials, and the son of former 16-year major-league pitcher Bobby Witt is a shortstop who covers a ton of ground, has an excellent arm and the instincts to make plays that others in his position are not going to make.
Witt was named the Gatorade Player of the Year, and Baseball America‘s Carlos Collazo explained what has made him such an exceptional player, per MarketWatch:
“One of the most dynamic and exciting players in the country, Bobby Witt Jr. is certainly deserving of the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. From a scouting perspective, he has all the tools you could ask for, with a solid understanding of the strike zone, standout baserunning ability, power and defensive skills up the middle along with a strong and accurate arm.” 7. Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian University
MLB Network @MLBNetwork
The @Reds take the 1st pitcher of the 2019 #MLBDraft – lefty Nick Lodolo! https://t.co/yI1BU3eu3o
Baseball analysts have made a point of saying the 2019 draft is short of high-end pitching prospects. That may be so from a numbers point of view, but Lodolo has the kind of fastball and slider to miss bats consistently, something he has done regularly for the Horned Frogs.
The 6’6″, 180-pound Lodolo had a 2.48 earned-run average in the 15 games he started this season. He struck out 125 batters and walked just 21 in 98.0 innings.
ESPN’s Keith Law said the 21-year-old’s angle of delivery was somewhat lower that most tall left-handers, and his style was similar to that of Andrew Miller.
His fastball is in the 90-94 miles per hour range, and he can deliver at 96 mph when he throws his peak pitch.
Lodolo has the kind of frame that should allow him to put on more weight and strength, and the Cincinnati Reds clearly believe he has a chance to be a special talent.