No. 19 – Pirates – Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman
Newman is never going to offer much power, and he lacks the range to be a plus defensive shortstop, though he might prove adequate there or above average at second base. His calling card is his ability to hit for average, and he could be a No. 2-hitting second baseman for the Pirates down the line.
No. 20 – Athletics – Florida shortstop Richie Martin
Another college shortstop off the board. Of the four taken so far, Martin offers the most defensively, but he has the biggest questions about his bat. He hit just one homer in his first two seasons at Florida before coming through with five this season. Overall, he hit .292/.404/.424 with 20 steals. He’d seem to have a really good chance of becoming a major league regular someday, but it might be as a bottom-of-the-order guy.
No. 21 – Royals – high school right-hander Ashe Russell
This is the first time the Royals have used their first pick on a high school pitcher since they got Zack Greinke sixth overall in 2002. Russell has a moving 92-94 mph fastball and a quality slider, and he has one of the highest ceilings available. He will need to come up with a better changeup.
No. 22 – Tigers – high school right-hander Beau Burrows
Burrows throws in the mid-90s and offers one of the best curveballs in the draft, but control is an issue for him and he probably won’t move very quickly. Both he and Russell are committed to Texas A&M, but they should prove signable.
No. 23 – Cardinals – high school outfielder Nick Plummer
The Cardinals often seem to hit with these picks, so Plummer will get the benefit of the doubt. His stock was higher last year, but he didn’t meet expectations in his senior season. He might prove to be one of the best bats in the draft if he cleans up his swing. Plummer is listed at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, but he might last in center field anyway.
No. 24 – Dodgers – Vanderbilt right-hander Walker Buehler
The third Commodore selected, Buehler had a 2.97 ERA and an 81/25 K/BB ratio in 78 2/3 innings as the team’s No. 2 starter. He missed some time early in the year with elbow soreness, but he came back strong enough to remain a first-round option.
No. 25 – Orioles – Florida St. outfielder D.J. Stewart
Stewart is a left-handed-hitting left fielder with on-base ability and power. It’ll be interesting to see if the Orioles alter his exaggerated batting stance in an effort to make him a more consistent power threat. His bat will have to carry him since he’s not going to offer much defensive value.
No. 26 – Angels – Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward
A second catcher went in the first round after all. Aside from maybe 12th pick Josh Naylor, this rates as the biggest surprise of the draft so far. Ward is a quality defensive catcher, but most experts don’t think he’ll hit enough to become a major league regular. The Angels clearly targeted him, so they believe they know something others don’t.