The first round of the 2018 MLB Draft is in the books. The Detroit Tigers got things going by taking Auburn University pitcher Casey Mize first overall.
Like any draft, it’s going to take time to play out. Even with that in mind, some things certainly stood out. These are the most notable among them.
We know that Detroit took Mize. Now, we have to figure out how he projects. Right after Mize, the San Francisco Giants selected Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart. That certainly means something for Buster Posey, San Francisco’s current future Hall of Fame backstop.
While the trend of the 2017 MLB Draft had teams favoring high school players, 2018 had the opposite feeling. In each case, it worked out swimmingly for the Tampa Bay Rays. The impact of the Oakland Athletics pick, meanwhile, could be felt in a different sport, entirely.
These are the main takeaways from the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Tigers land an absolute stud at No. 1
How impressive is Mize? Well, let’s look at it this way. In his junior season at Auburn, he’s posted a 2.95 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and a 12.4 K/9. But none of those numbers are what really jumps out. What really catches the eye here is a BB/9 rate that checks in at just a shade under 1.0. That’s excellent control for a pitcher who struggles to hit 90 on the radar gun. Mize has a fastball that approaches 100. We’re expecting to see this kid make a huge impact in Detroit for a long time.
Giants looking to move Buster Posey away from catching
The selection of Bart is a clear sign that the organization is looking to move Posey away from the strain of catching. While Posey continues to hit for a high average, his power has dipped in recent seasons. Catching certainly doesn’t help matters. With Bart on board, look for San Francisco to eventually go to a lineup with Bart behind the plate, Posey at first, and Brandon Belt in the outfield. That will give Posey the chance to rediscover the power that he had in his younger days.
Royals have Brady Singer fall into their laps
The University of Florida right-hander seemed like a slam dunk to go somewhere in the top-10. He may not have the high ceiling of other prospects, but he was a safe pick. And with a 2.27 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and a 9.3 K/9 rate with the Gators, his ceiling isn’t exactly low. But Singer fell out of the top-10 and continued to fall, all the way to the Kansas City Royals at No. 18. There’s a good chance that at least some of the first 17 teams to pick will look back at this day with some regret in a number of years.
Teams looking for quicker fixes
Singer’s fall was especially surprising, as teams were not bashful about taking college players. Only two high school players were taken in the top 10. None went in the top five. For comparison’s sake, the top 10 of the 2017 MLB Draft featured five high school players taken, including each of the top-three. High school kids are usually moved through the Minors at a fairly slow pace. College players, on the other hand, are usually expected to make an impact within two years. That’s clearly what a lot of front offices were looking for in 2018.
Trends of draft again work in Tampa’s favor
In 2017, the Rays used the fourth overall pick on Brendan McKay. The two-way star out of Louisville was the first college player taken. This year, with the trends favoring the college players, Tampa selected high school lefty Matthew Liberatore. Both players have a long way to go. McKay is still in High-A ball, while Liberatore isn’t even signed. But in consecutive years, the apparent trends of the draft allowed the Rays to take a player below where his talent said he should have gone. That’s the precise kind of luck that a small-market team needs.
Rebuilding Marlins make a curious pick
Both Singer and Liberatore were on the board when the Miami Marlins were picking at No. 13. This seemed like a gift for a rebuilding team. Either of those stud prospects (one of whom is from Florida) would have, if nothing else, done a lot to revitalize a fan base that needs a spark. Instead, the Marlins took Connor Scott, the high school outfielder. Of course, we don’t know how Scott, Singer, or Liberatore will pan out. But on draft day, it was certainly a curious pick.
Orioles pick a sign of pending rebuild?
Picking No. 11 overall, the Baltimore Orioles selected Grayson Rodriguez, a high school pitcher from Texas. Singer and Liberatore were both available, as were college pitchers like Logan Gilbert and Ryan Rolison. Chances are, any of those guys could have made a quicker impact in Baltimore than Rodriguez. But the Orioles opted for the project pick. It’s hard to say what that means. But if Baltimore was thinking about getting back into contention in the near future, a more immediate impact player likely would have been taken. That also makes it even easier to see the Orioles going into full rebuilding mode.
Kyler Murray now has a huge decision to make
With the ninth overall pick, the A’s selected outfielder Kyler Murray, who’s committed to playing quarterback for Oklahoma in the fall. The Sooners are expecting Murray to play, but who knows if that’ll cost him any money? Even if Murray does play for Oklahoma in 2018, the 2019 season and beyond is still very much in question. Murray projects much better in baseball than football. If he had gone somewhere in the second-half of the first round, playing football would have been an easier decision. But at No. 9, Murray definitely has some difficult decisions ahead of him.