On Monday, June 3, Major League Baseball’s three-day amateur draft will begin at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. There will be 1,217 selections made this year when it is all said and done. A lot of lives are about to change.

Here are the broadcast details for Day 1 of the 2019 MLB draft:

  • Date: Monday, June 3
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: MLB Network
  • Streaming: MLB.com
  • Picks: 1-78 (Rounds: 1st, Supplemental 1st, Competitive Balance A, 2nd, Competitive Balance B, Supplemental 2nd)

The draft continues with Rounds 3-10 on Tuesday, June 4, and concludes with Rounds 11-40 on Wednesday, June 5. Days 2 and 3 will be streamed live on MLB.com. There will be four minutes between picks in Round 1, and one minute between picks from the supplemental first round through the 10th round. Day 3 is a rapid fire conference call with one pick after another.     

We have already pumped out not onebut two mock drafts, with another set to arrive before the draft. Since the draft is inching closer, this is a good time to look at some of the top prospects available this year. And because the information is available on MLB.com, we can use 20-80 scouting scale grades to compare 2019 draft prospects to similar prospects in previous years, which helps gives us an idea of what we can expect going forward.

What is the 20-80 scouting scale? It’s what MLB clubs use to evaluate players. 80 is excellent, 20 is horrible, and 50 is average. These are future grades, meaning they tell us what the player is projected to be down the road, not what they are right now. A player with a 70 hit tool would be expected to hit .300 or better on the regular in the big leagues. There isn’t a college or high school kid in the country who can do that right now. Down the line though? Sure. Some players project to be that type of hitter.

MLB.com has published 20-80 scouting scale grades for draft prospects since 2013, so we’ll use them to identify similar prospects to the players highlighted below. Just to be clear, we are comparing the players during their draft years. So, if we were to compare a player’s 20-80 grades to Mike Trout’s, we’re talking about 2009 Trout out of high school, not 2019 Trout. Got it? Good. Here are the top high school prospects at each position with some scouting grade comparables. 

Catcher: Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian HS (Alabama)

Background: This is not a particularly good draft for high school catchers, which is one of the most difficult to project demographics as it is. Hearn is the best the 2019 draft has to offer. He has two things going for him: power and arm. Hearn can hit the ball far and he throw with the best of them. Also, he’s a left-handed hitter, and the platoon advantage is not insignificant. More than anything, Hearn needs overall refinement. His approach and his defense need improvement, which is hardly uncommon for prep backstops.

Hearn is committed to Mississippi State but shouldn’t be a tough sign. In fact, he could sneak his way into the top 40 picks given the general dearth of catching (catchers are always drafted higher than the various rankings publications suggest). Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman and Baylor’s Shea Langeliers are far and away the best catchers in the 2019 draft. Hearn is the best of the rest and that will get him off the board fairly early.

Comparable prospects using MLB.com scouting grades: Throwing is Hearn’s only clearly above-average tool, but he is close enough to average at everything else to drawn some interesting scouting grade comparables:

Player Year Hit Power Run Arm Field

Nick Ciuffo, Lexington HS (SC)

2013

50

50

30

50

50

Tyler Stephenson, Kennesaw Mountain HS (TN)

2015

45

55

40

60

55

Noah Naylor, St. Joan of Arc HS (Ont.)

2018

50

55

40

55

45

Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian HS (AL)

2019

45

50

35

55

50

Ciuffo went 21st overall to the Rays and he reached big leagues last year. He looks like a defense-first backup long-term. Naylor, last year’s 29th pick,  is still early in his pro career with the Indians. Whoever takes Hearn will hope he turns into Stephenson, who is one of the game’s best catching prospects and should make his MLB debut within a calendar year. The Reds took him with the 11th overall pick in 2015. Hearn definitely won’t go that high, but the tools aren’t too dissimilar.

Honorable mentions: After Hearn, the two best high catchers are Hayden Dunhurst (Mississippi) and Jonathan French (Georgia). Both offer power — Dunhurst is a lefty hitter, French a righty — and enough defensive tools to stick behind the plate long-term. They could sneak into the second or third round given the perpetual demand for catching.


First baseman: Joe Naranjo, Ayala HS (California)

Background: Historically, high school first basemen don’t get a ton of attention on draft day. They need to show elite tools like Prince Fielder’s power or Eric Hosmer’s athleticism. Naranjo is one of the best pure high school hitters in the draft class, with a nice lefty swing that should allow him to hit for average and power down the road. The downside is he might be limited to first base long-term — there’s some thought he could play the corner outfield — which saps his value.

Naranjo is committed to Cal State Fullerton and might be best served going to school for three years and developing his game. He could come out as a first or second-round pick in a few years in that case. For now, it’s unlikely Naranjo will hear his name called on Day 1 of the draft. Early on Day 2 (rounds 3-5 or so) is the more likely scenario.

Comparable prospects using MLB.com scouting grades: Only 15 high school first basemen have been drafted in the top five rounds in the last 10 years, so we’re a little short on scouting grade comparables for Naranjo. Here are the few that apply:

Player Year Hit Power Run Arm Field

Bobby Bradley, Harrison Central HS (Missi.)

2014

55

55

20

50

40

Josh Naylor, St. Joan of Arc HS (Ont.)

2015

50

65

20

50

40

Grant Lavigne, Bedford HS (N.H.)

2018

50

55

45

45

50

Joe Naranjo, Ayala HS (CA)

2019

55

50

40

50

50

Naranjo lags in power behind those three, especially Naylor, who the Marlins selected 12th overall and later traded to the Padres for Andrew Cashner and Tayron Guerrero. Naylor has already hit his way to the big leagues. Bradley’s climb up the minor league ladder with the Indians has been a little more deliberate. He was a third-round pick and could debut later this year. Lavigne went 42nd overall to the Rockies last year and is just now getting his pro career started. Bradley is probably the best scouting grade comparable for Naranjo, though even then Naranjo is half-a-grade behind in power.

Honorable mentions: Southern California prepster Spencer Jones was one of the most fascinating prospects in the draft. He’s a two-way player with big power and great athleticism, as well as a strong fastball/curveball combination from the left side. Jones fractured his elbow earlier this year and has not played this spring, and is now likely to follow through on his commitment to Vanderbilt. Before the injury, he was a possible first-round pick. With Jones down, Naranjo is the only notable high school first baseman in the 2019 draft.


Infielder: Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas)

Background: Witt has pretty much everything you want in a top high school shortstop, including big league bloodlines. His father, Bobby Sr., played for seven teams in 16 big league seasons and won 142 games. Bobby Jr. is an all-around shortstop with power and comfortably above-average defense. The ball jumps off his bat and he’s a graceful defender. The potential for 30 homers, 20 steals, and 10 runs saved defensively is there. The only knock on Witt is that he occasionally struggled against elite competition during showcase events, though that’s not a dealbreaker.

Witt is all but certain to be the first high school player selected on Monday and he has been most connected to the Royals and the No. 2 pick. Kansas City is said to love him. It’s not out of the question that the Orioles take Witt with the No. 1 pick, though that would be a surprise. It would be a stunner if he falls outside the top five picks. Witt is committed to Oklahoma but there is close to zero chance he winds up on campus. He’s in line for at least a $5 million bonus and will likely receive more.

Comparable prospects using MLB.com scouting grades: Most of baseball’s top shortstops (Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, etc.) were drafted before MLB.com started publishing scouting grades. That hamstrings us a little bit because there have been few high school infielders as talented as Witt in recent years. Here’s what the scouting grades turn up:

Player Year Hit Power Run Arm Field

Brendan Rodgers, Lake Mary HS (FL)

2015

55

60

55

60

55

Gavin Lux, Indian Trail Academy (WI)

2016

50

45

55

55

55

Nolan Gorman, O’Connor HS (AZ)

2018

50

60

40

50

50

Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville Heritage HS (TX)

2019

50

55

60

60

60

Witt sits half-a-grade behind Rodgers offensively, though the two are similar. They both possessed the tools to be strong hitters and impact defenders on draft day. Rodgers, who went No. 3 overall to the Rockies, lived up the billing throughout the minors and was called up to the big leagues for the first time last month. Lux was underscouted as a Wisconsin high schooler and he’s proven to be a much better hitter than expected with the Dodgers. Gorman quickly broke out as one of the top power hitters in the minors after the Cardinals made him the 19th pick last year. We’ve yet to see what Lux and Gorman can do at the MLB level (the same is true for Rodgers, really), but high schoolers with skill sets similar to Witt tend to become top prospects.

Honorable mentions: Georgia prepster C.J. Abrams is a dynamic leadoff type with game-changing speed and sneaky power. He is currently a shortstop but could move to center field in pro ball to take advantage of his speed. Abrams could go as high as No. 3 to the White Sox and should come off the board within the first 10 picks. Sluggers Brett Baty (Texas) and Tyler Callihan (Florida) are older high school prospects getting first round buzz, especially Baty. Nevada’s Gunnar Henderson and California’s Keoni Cavaco have rocketed up draft boards this spring and are likely to go in the back half of the first round. Henderson is a do-it-all shortstop and Cavaco is a very tooled up third baseman. Shortstops Matthew Lugo (Puerto Rico) and Nasim Nunez (Georgia), and third baseman Rece Hinds (Florida) are first round candidates, but more likely high second-round picks. The crop of high school infielders is quite good this year, and Witt stands out from the pack.


Outfielder: Riley Greene, Hagerty HS (Florida)

Background: Over the last 12 months or so Greene has established himself as the top high school outfielder in the draft and maybe the top pure hitter in the prep ranks overall. He has a very smooth and very compact lefty swing that sprays line drives all over the field. The expectation is he will grow into power and be an all-around hitter who hits for average, hits for power, and draws walks. What position will be play? Likely left field. Greene is not adept defensively and will need his bat to carry him.

A commitment to Florida is not going to scare clubs away from Greene, who could go as high as No. 4 to the Marlins and will go somewhere in the top 10 picks. The Tigers hold the No. 5 pick and are known to be heavy on Greene. They’ve had many of their top scouting personnel watch him this spring. Surprises with picks 1-4 could change things, but, right now, Greene to Detroit is a decent bet leading up to the draft.

Comparable prospects using MLB.com scouting grades: The “he can hit but we’re not sure where he’ll play defensively” profile is common for high school outfielders. There have been lots of them drafted in the first round the last few years. Here are some scouting grade comparables for Greene:

Player Year Hit Power Run Arm Field

Clint Frazier, Loganville HS (GA)

2013

60

60

50

50

50

Billy McKinney, Plano West HS (TX)

2013

60

50

30

40

50

Kyle Tucker, Plant HS (FL)

2015

60

55

50

55

50

Riley Greene, Hagerty HS (FL)

2019

60

55

45

45

50

Frazier, who was originally selected No. 5 overall by the Indians, is establishing himself as an above-average contributor with the Yankees this year. New York got him in the Andrew Miller trade. Tucker is an elite prospect who is a bit blocked with the Astros right now. They’ll make room for him soon enough. Tucker was also the No. 5 pick. McKinney was selected later in the first round (24th) and has been involved in three notable trades (Jeff Samardzija to the Athletics, Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, J.A. Happ to the Yankees). He shows the risk of this profile. McKinney’s power hasn’t blossomed as projected and he’s now an middling bat/poor defense corner outfielder. Still, he hit enough to get to the big leagues. Betting on the bat is not a bad strategy.

Honorable mentions: There is a significant gap between Greene and the other top high school outfielders in the 2019 draft class. Washington’s Corbin Carroll has clear first round tools but may price himself into the supplemental first round or second round with exorbitant bonus demands. Tennessee’s Maurice Hampton is a late riser this spring and could go in the first round. He is slated to play baseball and football at LSU and won’t sign cheap. Sammy Siani’s brother, Mike, was a fourth-round pick last year and Sammy should hear his name called sooner than that. Siani has a nice lefty swing and may have some hidden upside as a cold weather state kid (Pennsylvania) who didn’t get much time to showcase his talent this spring.


Right-hander: Matthew Allan, Seminole HS (Florida)

Background: Their a very real bias against high school right-handers. They are rarely picked early in the first round — a high school righty has never been drafted No. 1 overall, in fact — because they carry so much risk. I think a lot of that is selection bias though. Pitchers are inherently risky given injury rates, high schoolers are so far away from MLB that they carry even more risk, and there are more righties than lefties, so there you go. Anatomy of a bias against prep righties.

Anyway, Allan is the best prep righty this year and he is awfully good, with an excellent fastball/curveball combination and a changeup that is among the best in the high school ranks. His delivery can fall in and out of sync, but it’s not a major concern. Experience and pro instruction can help that. Allan is committed to Florida and has reportedly has a $4 million asking price. That’s middle of the first round money. He seems likely come off the board in the 11-20 pick range and get his $4 million.

Comparable prospects using MLB.com scouting grades: Allan has three grade 55 pitches per MLB.com and that is awfully rare for a high schooler, largely because high schoolers offer have underdeveloped changeups. They rarely need them to have success. Here are some recent scouting grade comparables for Allan:

Player Year Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Control

Michael Kopech, Mt. Pleasant HS (TX)

2014

65

N/A

60

45

45

Mike Nikorak, Stroudsburg HS (PA)

2015

65

N/A

60

55

55

Triston McKenzie, Royal Palm Beach HS (FL)

2015     

60

N/A

55

50

50

Matthew Allan, Seminole HS (FL)

2019

60

N/A

60

55

55

The Red Sox took Kopech with the 33rd pick in 2014 and flipped him to the White Sox for Chris Sale. He had a little more on his fastball on draft day than Allan, but his changeup lagged. Eventually he improved that pitch and became the best pitching prospect in the game. Nikorak graded out better than Allan when he was drafted, though he fell apart mechanically soon after the Rockies made him the 27th pick, and injuries set in as well. McKenzie has been much more hittable than expected in the Indians’ system. As Nikorak and McKenzie show, there’s a lot of risk here, but Kopech is a reminder of the upside.

Honorable mentions: Allan is the No.1 high school righty in the draft class and New Jersey’s Jack Leiter is No. 1A. Jack is the son of longtime big leaguer Al Leiter and he pitches like the son of the big leaguer. Very advanced with a deep arsenal and a knowledge of how to set hitters up. Leiter is a few ticks short on the fastball and may be all but unsignable given his strong commitment to Vanderbilt. He’s a potential No. 1 pick candidate after three yeas in school. Quinn Priester (Illinois) and Brendan Malone (Florida) are getting lots of first round buzz thanks to their power repertoires. Daniel Espino (Georgia) and J.J. Goss (Texas) are on the first round bubble and have a chance to develop into top tier pitching prospects in pro ball.


Left-hander: Hunter Barco, The Bolles School (Florida)

Background: The high school pitching crop for the 2019 draft is decidedly right-handed. There is no lefty equivalent to Allan or Leiter or even Espino or Goss. Barco is the best from the left side as a three-pitch (fastball, curveball, changeup) southpaw with a workhorse frame (6-foot-4 and 212 lbs.). He has a lower arm slot (think Madison Bumgarner) and that occasionally creates some mechanical and control headaches.

Another Florida commit, Barco missed time with a shoulder issue this spring and that could cause him to slip down draft boards. A team that signs off on the medicals and believes there’s more velocity in the tank as he matures could grab Barco in the late first round or, more likely, the second round. High school pitchers in his situation (recent injury, first round bubble when healthy, committed to a strong program) have a way of winding up in college.

Comparable prospects using MLB.com scouting grades: Like Allan, Barco grades out with three above-average pitches, and not many high schoolers can say that. Here are three comparables using the scouting grades:

Player Year Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Control

Justus Sheffield, Tullahoma HS (TN)

2013

60

N/A

55

50

50

Braxton Garrett, Florence (AL)

2016

55

N/A

60

55

55

Joey Wentz, Shawnee Mission East HS (KS)

2016

60

N/A

55

55

50

Nick Barco, The Bolles School (Flo.)

2019

55

55

N/A

55

50

Those three players give us a wide range of outcomes. There’s the obligatory Tommy John surgery (Garrett), the guy who developed into a top prospect (Sheffield), and the guy who’s stumbled a little bit in the minors (Wentz). Garrett, the No. 7 pick in 2016, has looked good with his new elbow ligament with the Marlins this year, so that’s promising. Wentz, the 40th overall pick in 2016, performed well in the Braves‘ system prior to this year and of course deserves more time to shake off the rough start in Double-A. Sheffield as been traded twice (for Andrew Miller and then James Paxton) and is on the cusp of being a full-time big leaguer. Barco’s fastball is a little short compared to Sheffield and Wentz, and his breaking ball lags behind Garrett’s, but the grades match up pretty well.

Honorable mentions: There’s a gap between Barco and the other high school lefties in this year’s draft class. Blake Walston (North Carolina) stands out for his curveball and his projectable frame (6-foot-4 and 172 lbs.), and should come off the board in the second round. Barco and Walston may be the only high school southpaws to go in the top five rounds this year.

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