The premise of this article is explained entirely in its title.
- CLEVELAND INDIANS: Alex Reyes, RHP
Ronald Acuna may be the no. 1 player in the draft, but you just can’t take an outfielder this high—the value isn’t there. Cleveland hasn’t had a talented thrower in forever—they need to go with the best arm available. That’s Alex Reyes, although there are rumors they prefer the flashier, riskier Michael Kopech.
- NEW YORK YANKEES: Ronald Acuna, OF
This would be a wild pick based on league trends over the past decade, but more and more we’re seeing teams willing to draft skill position players high—even if the positional value isn’t there. Acuna is the best prospect we’ve graded since Adrian Peterson. He’ll make a difference right away.
- NEW YORK METS: Michael Kopech, RHP
The Mets are thrilled to see Kopech slide here—they considered making a godfather offer to get him at no. 1. Kopech can sit and learn behind Jason Vargas for a year, but he should take over in 2019. He has the arm strength to play in the Northeast, which is key.
- CLEVELAND INDIANS: Francisco Mejia, C
After getting their next leader in Reyes, the Indians decide to bolster their defense by going with Mejia, who’s one of the safer players in this class. Look for them to try and trade out if another team loves one of the remaining arms.
- COLORADO ROCKIES: Sixto Sanchez, RHP
Does Sanchez really love the sport? Rumors are he routinely expresses his own opinions and thinks for himself—that’s sure to rub many coaches the wrong way. Still, you can’t deny the arm talent, and the Rockies only have a short-term fix at the position in Tyler Anderson.
- CHICAGO WHITE SOX: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B
A dream scenario for the White Sox, who stay put and land one of the two or three best players in this class. There are a ton of holes on this roster, but Guerrero can help immediately and has great bloodlines—his father was a CFL champion.
- TAMPA BAY RAYS: Victor Robles, OF
The Rays are going nowhere fast and simply need to select the best athletes available as they rebuild their roster. Robles is rangy and has great instincts—he’s a bit of a project, but he has Pro Bowl potential and is a dynamic runner.
- CHICAGO CUBS: Nick Senzel, 3B
People will slam this pick based on positional value, but Senzel is arguably the safest player available this year. Don’t overthink it, Chicago.
- SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Gleyber Torres, INF
The Giants don’t need to reach for an arm here thanks to some savvy moves they made last season. Instead, they can pop Torres, a toolsy prospect who takes some plays off but who has outstanding instincts and fills a position of need.
- OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Jorge Mateo, SS/OF
A classic Raiders pick that Al Davis would love. The Athletics get the fastest player in the draft, though scouts have major questions about his hands and overall approach to the game. He lands here because of his 40 time.
- MIAMI MARLINS: Forrest Whitley, RHP
Can Whitley play under the bright lights in Miami? There are some character concerns here, and he rubs some the wrong way. But given the right coach and some time to develop, Whitley could enjoy a 10-year career. He’s a total gamer, and someone might move up to grab him earlier than this.
- TORONTO BLUE JAYS: Ryan McMahon, INF
An absolutely brutal turn of events for the Jays, who gave up quite a bit to draft here but who see all the top arms come off the board before them. The best thing to do is not to panic and to take McMahon, who fans will find boring but who can be a five-year starter. A disappointing outcome, admittedly.
- WASHINGTON: Eloy Jimenez, OF
It’s best player available for Washington, who avoided needing to reach for an arm here by signing Jeremy Hellickson this offseason.
- MILWAUKEE BREWERS: Carson Kelly, C
When are the Brewers going to get Jimmy Nelson some help? Every year he bails them out of poor roster construction, but he can’t do it all alone. Enter Kelly, who some will think is a massive reach here, but who should help Nelson extend his career. Just a smart pick.
- ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: Hunter Greene, RHP
One of the most divisive prospects in the class, Greene has enormous upside but not all scouts are convinced his athleticism will translate to on-field success. Still, the D-Backs will give him a shot on the mound and not at wide receiver.
- BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Chance Sisco, C
Honestly, they just need anybody who can catch the ball, and there are no Alabama players available here.
- LOS ANGELES ANGELS: Lewis Brinson, OF
Smart for the Angels to bolster their defense by going with Brinson, who some scouts think can occupy the Earl Thomas “center fielder” position. Brinson can fly, and he’s not afraid to hit over the middle.
- SEATTLE MARINERS: Estevan Florial, OF
Years of poor drafts have led Seattle to rebuild—they need to get younger and better all around. Enter Florial, who at least one anonymous scout has compared to Kam Chancellor.
- TEXAS RANGERS: Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B
Rodgers was once viewed as one of the best players in this class, but a difficult year sees him fall to no. 19. The Rangers are always attracted to star potential, so they grab him despite the low floor. A classic Jerry Jones move.
- DETROIT TIGERS: Kyle Tucker, OF
Maybe this is the year the Tigers finally solve their outfielder problem. Michael Fulmer can’t do it alone, and this team’s defense is better than you might think. They could sneak up on some people.
- CINCINNATI REDS: Seth Romero, LHP
Character concerns have never stopped Cincinnati before, and there’s no reason to think they’ll stop them now. Romero has more red flags than a Swiss slalom course, but scouts were reportedly impressed by the answers he gave in the interviews he actually showed up to. A major wild card.
- TORONTO BLUE JAYS: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
Jays fans will be bummed they missed out on all the top arms yet again. But after playing it safe earlier with McMahon, they swing for the fences (baseball metaphor) with Tatis Jr., who many believe has better hands than Sammy Watkins.
- BOSTON RED SOX: J.P. Crawford, SS/3B
People will want the Sox to reach for an arm here, but that’s just not how this organization does business. Instead, they’ll either look to trade down or nab Crawford, a plug-and-play prospect who’s versatile and who’s at least been to Rutgers’ campus.
- KANSAS CITY ROYALS [TRADE]: Alex Verdugo, OF
We don’t usually mock trades, but here the Royals jump back into the first round to nab Verdugo, who fills an immediate need. #theanalytics and PECOTA will hate this.
- ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: Scott Kingery, 2B
A real high-motor grinder who lives, sleeps, and breathes this spot. Scouts love Kingery, who frequently elicits Cooper Kupp comps, because, well …
- ATLANTA BRAVES: Luis Robert, OF
I know, I know—it’s not the biggest need. But the Braves have had tremendous success taking the best player available approach, and getting the fifth-year option on Robert is huge. Scouts don’t have a ton of tape on him yet, but he was one of the combine’s biggest stars.
- NEW ORLEANS BABY CAKES: Jo Adell, OF
The Baby Cakes get an explosive athlete who can help New Orleans make some real noise in the PCL. Adell really helped his value at the combine as well, where he posted the best vertical among his position mates.
- PITTSBURGH PIRATES: Jahmai Jones, 2B/OF
They need a middle-of-the-field defender now that Andrew McCutchen is gone, and Jones is a classic Pirate in that he’s tooled up and versatile. Guys like this fall to Pittsburgh every year, it seems.
- LET’S GO WITH THE RAYS AGAIN, I GUESS?: Delvin Perez, SS
Once again, it’s pretty clear this team has no idea what it’s doing.
- MINNESOTA TWINS: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B
A tough, no-nonsense player for the Twins, who’ll need cold weather warriors after inexplicably building an open-air stadium in the Arctic.
- BOSTON RED SOX: A.J. Puk, LHP
The rumors that Chris Sale is retiring soon just won’t go away—here the Sox grab his potential replacement.
- PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: Nick Gordon, SS/2B
They’re likely to trade out of this pick, but if the Phillies stay put, look for them to add another player whose nickname could conceivably be Nick Foals.
We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
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