According to the calendar in the bottom right corner of my laptop, it’s June, which means we’re officially in draft month. I’m excited enough for both of us.
One of the questions I get asked on Twitter quite a bit is “where will [insert player here] rank on the [insert team name here]?” This is a perfectly harmless and rational question, even if it’s hard to answer. Which got me to thinking about something we (probably) can answer: Which teams will have a new number one prospect after the draft? Rather than just ponder it in my mind, I decided to turn it into something you can all read. Enjoy.
Teams that will assuredly have a new number one:
Los Angeles Angels: With all due respect to Joe Gatto and Jahmai Jones, they Angels are going to have to actively try avoid having their first-round pick become the best prospect in the system. Yes, it is that bad.
Miami Marlins: Josh Naylor has shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s a first baseman. Tyler Kolek showed flashes of brilliance…in high school. Assuming they don’t go way off the board (and they kinda did with Naylor, so keep that in mind I guess?) this guy will be the new Marlins best prospect. Have fun.
Seattle Mariners: Tyler O’Neill is having an outstanding season, and it’s great to see that Alex Jackson is back in full-season ball. All that being said, it’s hard to imagine whatever college bat—or maybe college arm if things don’t go as planned—isn’t going to be the new top dog in Seattle.
Cincinnati Reds: Amazingly, this is probably (more on that in a sec) the only team picking in the top five that will have a new number one prospect. Does that speak more to the quality of this draft, or the quality of the prospects of the clubs picking 1-5? I lean the latter. As good/fun as the top four for Cincy are, I can’t see the player they take at two not being their top prospect.
Teams that might have a new number one not based on promotions:
Baltimore Orioles: Because Baltimore picks so late, it’s tough to imagine they’ll get a player more talented than Hunter Harvey in the system. That being said, we haven’t seen Harvey throw a pitch in an organized game since July 25, 2014. If one of these high-upside prep bats falls to Baltimore and they’re willing to take a chance on him, you could see that guy land at the top of the rankings. The odds are less than 50/50, but it’s possible.
Chicago White Sox: Alright, hear me out. Tim Anderson has been tearing the cover off the ball in May, and there’s a lot to like. Carson Fulmer has electric stuff, and the movements on his pitches gives me the tingles. That being said, I don’t think Anderson is going to get on base enough to justify hitting at the top of the order, and Fulmer’s command scares the hell out of me. So, if someone like Riley Pint or Blake Rutherford or Mickey Moniak fell to them? I think you could argue that those guys would rank at the top of their prospect chart. There’s also rumors that the White Sox could possibly be looking to move Anderson, so there’s that, too.
Toronto Blue Jays: There’s two reasons that the Blue Jays make the might list. Reason number one: Anthony Alford is super talented, and has all the tools you want from a leadoff hitter. He also has one year of showing those tools on a consistent basis, so there’s a lot of risk here (Note: You could also argue that Jon Harris has usurped Alford, but it’s too early to say that for certain). Reason two: The Blue Jays don’t pick until 23, and some of the names I’ve heard attached don’t exactly scream “new number one prospect!” Keep in mind that the Blue Jays are as creative as any team in baseball with the draft, so any player that slips is fair game. I’d put this in the longshot category, but it’s possible.
Teams that might have a new number one based on promotions:
Milwaukee Brewers: Like most things in life, it comes down to whether or not Orlando Arcia is a prospect. If he is, it doesn’t matter who they get at pick five. If he isn’t, there’s a really good chance the new guy will be be at the top of the charts, with apologies to Brett Phillips, Trenton Clark, etc.
San Diego Padres: It’s going to take Manuel Margot getting promoted/finishing the year in San Diego, and you could argue that even if he is, Javier Guerra belongs in that number one spot. The Padres are attached to pretty much every high-profile player at pick eight, however, so if those names I mention fall to the Padres, a very strong argument can be made.
Detroit Tigers: They maybe should be in the lock section, but if for some reason Michael Fulmer still qualifies in 2017, he’s going to be their top prospect no matter what they do with the ninth pick next week. Beau Burrows has also gotten quality reviews, but assuming they don’t take a reliever at nine, that prospect is probably going to usurp Burrows. Not Fulmer, though.
Atlanta Braves: Again, hear me out. I don’t think they’re going to promote Dansby Swanson, and even if they do, I don’t think it’ll be enough to take away his prospect status in 2017. Maybe the Braves decide to give their fans a glimpse of the future, sign him to a long-term extension, and he doesn’t qualify for ‘17 lists. If he’s not there, and they get one of the top three players in this draft—and they should, since they pick third—then this is not entirely out of the question, with apologies to Sean Newcomb and Ozzie Albies.
Team that has the number one pick but won’t have a new best prospect:
Philadelphia Phillies: I suppose it’s possible that J.P. Crawford will get the call to the show this summer and he won’t qualify. Assuming he doesn’t, however, there’s just no chance that A.J. Puk, Kyle Lewis, or Mickey Moniak will rank ahead of Crawford. Heck, those guys may not rank above Nick Williams or Jake Thompson, anyway. I suppose it’s just as likely that they have a new top guy as the Braves, but I felt like the Phillies deserved their own spot, just because it’s rare that the first-overall pick doesn’t rank at the top of a system.