If you’re just realizing that tonight is the MLB Draft, you’ll need to catch up quickly. Baseball’s Rule 4 amateur draft will never have the drama (real or concocted) of the NFL version of the event, but it’s still a major moment for the sport. This year, new Orioles GM Mike Elias will make a franchise-defining pick to kick off the festivities … in just about half an hour, at 7pm eastern.
It’s often said that teams increasingly share common player assessments in baseball’s information age. And unlike football, where fit matters quite a bit, it’s generally believed that baseball teams ought to take the best player available since so few are able to make it to the majors in the short term.
So, does that mean the MLB draft is predictable? No … but maybe also yes, at least in some respects.
There’s still plenty of room for disagreement on amateur players; statistics are obviously less useful when they are logged against disparate competition of varying ability. The draft isn’t just a rank ordering of true talent, anyway. It involves considerations of overall draft bonus pools and off-the-books negotiations with unofficial player advisers. (For more on that side of the proceedings, read this great piece from Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper.)
That said, those behind-the-scenes factors can also leave some nuggets of information that allow other teams, agents, and draft observers to gauge the likely outcome of the draft’s earliest stages. It’s typically still difficult to know in advance how things will shake out, but this year there’s an unusual degree of consensus in the draft analysis community.
The final mock drafts all share a common top-five, predicting:
- Orioles to select Adley Rutschman
- Royals to select Bobby Witt, Jr.
- White Sox to select Andrew Vaughn
- Marlins to select J.J. Bleday
- Tigers to select Riley Greene
Baseball America, Fangraphs, MLB.com, and ESPN.com all have quite a few differences in their predicted boards, of course. But all except Fangraphs also agree on the next two picks (CJ Abrams to Padres and Nick Lodolo to Reds).
Whether anything will occur to shake things up remains to be seen. There’s still some rumblings of intrigue with the 1-1 selection; Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs tweets that it may not be settled even at this point. Keith Law of ESPN.com also tweeted about some top-five possibilities that fall outside of the consensus expectation.
Beyond the final mock drafts, here are some other draft resources to check out or reference as the draft unfolds.