With the draft less than a month away now, the top tier of hitters in the draft has been established. There are six hitters who have a chance at being the first hitter drafted depending on which team selects the first hitter and how they feel about floor, upside, and positional value.
Like the pitchers in the draft that I broke down earlier, there is an interesting mix of college and high school players in both the outfield and infield that will allow a team to pick exactly what they want in a player. Even though there is no obvious top talent like a Bryce Harper in this draft, the depth of the top tier of prospects will probably favor a team like the Rockies who aren't drafting first overall.
This list is based on talent and isn't a mock draft, though we did do our first mock draft earlier this month and will be doing another, larger, one next week. Also if you're looking for mock drafts, be sure to check out our database of mock drafts.
1. Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (California)
Moniak has been one of the big risers this spring as he's jumped from the second tier of high school prospects all the way to the top of this list. Of the five tools often mentioned in scouting reports, Moniak is only lacking in the power department. That usually is the last to develop though, and should come with physical maturity since he has already demonstrated some gap power. Moniak also has the best chance to stay in center field of all the outfielders in this list.
2. Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
Lewis has been absolutely destroying the competition this season at Mercer. He's hit 17 home runs already, matching last year's total, and also has an on-base percentage over .500. The biggest knock on him right now is that the level of competition he's faced is less than he would have at an SEC school or one of the other baseball powerhouse conferences. However, part of that is alleviated by the performance he had this past summer in the Cape Cod League. While staying in center field is still a possibility, there is a chance that Lewis has to shift to one of the corner spots. However, his power and arm will make that a palatable move.
3. Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
Ray might have the highest floor of any prospect in the draft. However, he also might have the lowest ceiling of any of the six prospect in this top tier of hitting prospects. Ray will probably be a quick mover through the minors and be able to play in a MLB outfield within the next two years similar to a Michael Conforto. Most likely though, that will be in left field and he'll top out as a reliable above-average outfielder.
4. Delvin Pérez, SS, International Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico)
Pérez might be the biggest risk in this top tier, but with that risk could come great reward. Pérez's hitting approach is very raw and and by the most unpolished of any in this group. However, he appears to have all the tools necessary to be able to stay at SS and be a plus defender there which carries a lot of value on it's own. Pérez also has plus speed and won't turn 18 till November so there is a lot to like. The downside would be if he continue to physically mature and grows out of shortstop, at 17 he's already 6'3, while not picking up the hitting tools necessary to play third base at the majors. The comp that gets thrown around a lot in Carlos Correa, though that may have more to do with the fact that they are both from Puerto Rico than anything else.
5. Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep (West Hills, California)
Before the amateur season began, Rutherford was the top high school hitting prospect in the draft. Since then, he hasn't really done anything to dim that potential so much as he has been bypassed by others who have taken steps forward this season. At 19 years old already, Rutherford is definitely an old prospect though there is some discussion as to whether or not that is a negative a positive or not meaningful at all. As is often the case at this point in the draft cycle, Rutherford may simply be suffering from prospect fatigue because he's been at the top of the prospect chart for a while. Most likely ending up in right field, though there have been some questions about his arm, Rutherford will definitely need to show some more power to be a valuable contributor at the major league level.
6. Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
Senzel's value really depends on where one sees him ending up defensively. He's mainly a third baseman right now, though he has played second and even shortstop in a pinch. But there are questions as to whether he'll be able to stay at third and end up in left field or even worse at DH. His hitting approach is good, and he's shown some doubles power. Those who are high on Senzel see his power continuing to develop and him being able to stay at third. On the other side are those who see him as a position-less hitter and designated hitters are rarely first round picks.
Dark Horse: Zack Collins, C, Miami
Collins may sneak into the draft above any some of the guys listed here as an underslot signing. Currently a catcher that can hit, the best comp for him may be the Cubs Kyle Schwarber. Chances are he won't stay at catcher, but the ability to draw a walk and hit for power will play at first base or a corner outfield spot. If a team wants to take some chances with some overslot deals later in the draft, Collins may be the target to save some cap room.