2019 MLB Draft Top 10 2.0: Rutschman, Witt, and Vaughn lead the way

What have we learned so far into the first month of college and prep baseball season?

The players we expected to be great have been. Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman has improved at the plate by demonstrating more home run power than last year. Last year’s Golden Spikes winner, Cal’s Andrew Vaughn is on pace to hit 30+ homers and established as the best power bat. Bobby Witt Jr. is putting up video game numbers raking against Texas prep pitching.

We are still waiting for a college pitcher to showcase top end potential and merit being a Top-10 pick. Early contenders for that title (Zack Thompson, Carter Stewart, Graeme Stinson) have faded and raise questions about their durability. Daniel Espino has a cannon of an arm lighting up radar guns hitting 98+ mph with his electric fastball, but does he have the make makeup to be a starting pitcher? Many are still unsure.

There’s still a long way to go and much work to be done for many prospects hoping to be selected in the Top 10. Here’s the second version of the 2019 MLB Draft Top 10 prospects.

#1 Adley Rutschman – Catcher – Oregon State (Last Rank: 1)
15 games: .413/.600/.826 – 6 HR, 16 RBI. 33.3% BB to 11.5% K.

If Adley Rutschman were drafted today, Fangraphs would rank him as the 16th best prospect in MLB. Defensively, Rutschman is solid against the run game, pitch framing, and moves well behind the plate blocking balls in the dirt. His best talent is the ability to mash from both sides of the plate which we’ve seen more of this season. After only hitting nine home runs in 2018, Rutschman is on pace to hit more than 20 in 2019.

#2 Bobby Witt Jr. – Shortstop – Colleyville Heritage HS (Last Rank: 2)
12 games: .619/.680/1.286 – 5 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI. 16% BB to 2% K.

After a great Summer circuit, Bobby Witt Jr. has been very unfair to Texas prep pitchers. Witt has only one game this season where he didn’t record a hit, and in his last game struck out for the first time all season. The drawback is his age in which Witt is already 19 years old, and some scouts will count that against him.

I don’t. When I saw Witt at the Under Armour showcase in Chicago, I came away impressed on his mature approach to the game. Very focused not only at the plate but in his defensive mechanics. Good arm, range, and keeps his feet under him making balanced throws. Witt already has developed a good understanding of which pitches he can handle and is patient for the opportunity to present itself. While there were some concerns about his contact ability, I think in the last eight months Witt has answered those concerns while showcasing plus power (55 grade).

Baltimore will have a tough time deciding between Rutschman and Witt for the number one pick.

#3 Andrew Vaughn – First Base – Cal (Last Rank: 4)
14 games: .426/.603/.894 – 7 HR, 19 RBI. 29.4% BB to 10.2% K.

It’s well established that Andrew Vaughn is the best bat in this draft. 60 contact/65 power is tough to come by, and Vaughn has showcased that ability in both the collegiate and wood bat seasons. Scouts have told Baseball America that Vaughn could be considered drafted number one overall, and Fangraphs would rank Vaughn 52nd on their Top 100 MLB Prospect list if the draft were today.

What I’ve seen from Vaughn is a hitter that is patient and feasts on fastballs. Lately, I’ve seen pitchers throw nothing but breaking pitches, or simply just walk Vaughn without challenging him. That may hurt Vaughn’s numbers overall when the season ends, but it speaks volumes on how opponents feel about facing him.

#4 Bryson Stott – Shortstop – UNLV (Last Rank: 7)
18 games: .379/.554/.758 – 6 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI. 28.9% BB to 18.0% K

When I watch Bryson Stott, he reminds me of San Francisco Giants shortstop, Brandon Crawford. Plus-plus defender with a 60-grade arm that makes all of the plays at shortstop and paired with average offensive skills with sneaky power. In 2018, Stott was known to be a gap hitter with 30 doubles to just four home runs. After the Summer circuit, it seems that Stott has found more power in his swing. Already with more home runs than last year (5 in 2019), Stott is on pace for 40+ extra base hits in 2019.

Before the year started, I would have said that Stott was a 45-grade hitter /55-grade defender, but speaking with other prospect writers and scouts, it’s more of a 50-grade hitter /60-grade defender now.

#5 CJ Abrams – Shortstop – Blessed Trinity HS (GA) (Last Rank: 3)
15 games: .377/.411/.584 – 7 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 17 SB. 3.5% BB to 7.1% K.

CJ Abrams might have the highest ceiling in this draft class. Possessing elite athleticism that can stick up the middle either at shortstop, second base, or center field. Speed on the basepaths that would give opposing teams nightmares.

The issue early on is that Abrams is not posting the best results. Lack of walks has been a bit surprising, and Abrams wasn’t stealing many bases to start the season. Lately, it seems Abrams is starting to get into a rhythm at the plate (Since 3/1, 15-for-28 with 14 stolen bases) and I look forward to seeing if this continues at the National High School Invitational in April.

#6 Riley Greene – Right Field – Hagerty High School (FL) (Last Rank: 6)

Andrew Vaughn has the best power bat in this draft class, but Riley Greene has a sweet left-handed stroke that impresses. Certainly got my attention at the Under Armour showcase at Wrigley when Greene put a breaking pitch into the right-field bleachers. Showed a strong arm from right field but I don’t think Greene can play in center.

Just like Abrams, Greene’s school will also participate in the National High School Invitational in April.

#7 Corbin Carroll – Center Field – Lakeside HS (WA) (Last Rank: 8)

Lately, we’ve seen toolsy prep center fielders find their way to the Top 10 with Austin Beck in 2017 and Jarred Kelenic in 2018. This year’s version is Corbin Carroll from Seattle. Minimal action this Spring as Lakeside High has only played three games, but Carroll was terrific for Team USA during the Summer. Hitting 15-for-30 with three home runs, four doubles, and lead the team in steals with nine.

#8 Kameron Misner – Center Field – Missouri (Last Rank: NR)
16 games: .393/.558/.696 – 5 HR, 14 RBI. 25.9% BB, 12.9% K

In 2018, Kameron Misner missed the last six weeks of the season due to a foot injury. Now healthy, Misner has bounced back showcasing his ability to hit for power, steal bases (10-for-10 in stolen base attempts), and play center field well. With conference play beginning it’ll be a real test for Misner to see how he stacks up against SEC pitching. If Misner can continue the pace he’s on that will help solidify a Top 10 ranking.

#9 JJ Bleday – Right Field – Vanderbilt (Last Rank: NR)
17 games: .397/.471/.735 – 6 HR, 21 RBI. 14.8% BB, 12.0% K

Vanderbilt looks like a juggernaut early in 2019, and that’s in part of JJ Bleday’s play. Bleday’s left-handed power has been on display with six home runs before conference play which matches his combined total from his Freshman and Sophomore seasons. Difference between Bleday and Misner is athletic ability. Bleday just doesn’t ‘possess the range, and speed like Misner does which limits him to right field. If the Commodores keep rolling, there will be more eyes on Bleday, so it’s worth to keep on his draft stock in the upcoming months.

#10 Michael Busch – 1B/LF – North Carolina (Last Rank: NR)
18 games: .278/.519/.481 – 3 HR, 12 RBI. 29.6% BB, 12.3% K

Another power-hitting first baseman, Michael Busch before the 2019 season was regarded a half grade lower than Andrew Vaughn in hitting ability. After the first month, it appears to be a more significant gap between the two as Busch has been slow out of the gate. Opponents have been doing a good job staying away from Busch limiting his opportunities to drive the ball as he’s almost walking 30% of the time. Scouts still really like his swing and approach. Hopefully, in ACC play we get to see some better results from Busch.

Just missed the cut:

  • Josh Jung, Third Base, Texas Tech: It hasn’t been a good start for Jung who still hasn’t homered in 2019, and has just four doubles in the Red Raiders first 12 games.
  • George Kirby, Starting Pitcher, Elon: The right-hander from Elon is putting up some Casey Mize numbers to start 2019 striking out 38 batters to just one walk in 26.1 innings. 94-95 mph fastball paired with a slider and changeup.
  • Nick Lodolo, Starting Pitcher, TCU: With just a 1.73 ERA, the strikeouts are now coming for Lodolo as he has 33 strikeouts to only three walks over 26 innings pitched.
  • Daniel Espino, Pitcher, Georgia Premier Academy (HS): The biggest question for this draft class is what do scouts think Daniel Espino’s long-term future is? I saw Espino hit 99 mph at Wrigley Field, which was a first for me coming from an 18-year old. Long term, I think Espino is a reliever as I doubt his mechanics will work well trying to grind out five-plus innings per appearance. However, the arm is legit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if an MLB draft room has Espino towards the top of their board.
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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Rule changes were the in the news yesterday…will it ever come to be that MLB teams will be able to trade future draft picks as the other major sports are allowed to do? And does that ever come up in Basic Agreement negotiations? (Daydreaming of W Sox packaging #3 with a current prospect or two to get Rutschman).


I look forward to the Sox taking up the Bulls’ mantle and repeatedly trading second round picks for lotto tickets or veterans with short time left on their contracts.


Or just selling them for small amounts of cash.


Ken Williams would have absolutely loved this.


He would have pulled a Ditka, except he’d have traded all the picks for a 35-year old Ken Griffey, Jr.


I’d also like for MLB to drop the silly rule that you can’t draft college players after their freshman and sophomore seasons. I understand it’s a huge leverage tool for teams to sign prospects, but as a fan it’s annoying.

Jim Margalus

For a college-heavy team like the Sox, they also seem to like colleges doing the bulk of the lifting with player development.


Well, we aren’t going to do it, so…


haha right

Lurker Laura

I actually think the NBA should follow MLB: sign them after high school, or not until after junior year. Gets rid of the farce that is “one-and-one.”


This would be my preference as well, but mainly because I’m a big college sports fan.

Lurker Laura

I think it’s the most fair to everyone: those athletes who are clearly ready to be a professional athlete at 18 can do that, those for whom the term “student-athlete” has meaning can do that.

lil jimmy

So the big news is Stott putting himself in the picture. BA had been lower on him, but that seems to have changed. His home park is hitter friendly, but he has been doing just as well when not in town.
Not noted by Slyder, he is very smart on the bases. High baseball IQ. So for the Sox, 5 to choose from. Then a big drop off.


Still highest on Rutschman, Vaughn and Abrams. Don’t like Witt’s swing, and don’t trust the Sox to fix it.
I see Abrams with Ender Enciarte floor and s higher ceiling than Trea Turner.

Biggest draft fear is Rutscman and Vaughn picked 1,2 and Sox go with future lefty utility bench bat Bryson Stott because they’re afraid of high schoolers.

Lurker Laura

Maybe Bryce Bush’s early success will help them be less afraid.

lil jimmy

The fact that Stott can play every position on the field is not a negative.


For me it’s a negative because I want a high ceiling guy and don’t believe he’s a first division regular at any of them.

lil jimmy

and yet people smarter than you and I have him as the 5th best player in the draft.

Trooper Galactus

Picking Leury Garcia with the third pick would probably be a bit of a letdown, though.


I think if Leury Garcia was a plus plus defender at shortstop he’d be a valuable frontline starter.

Trooper Galactus

Well, he was before he started getting moved all over the diamond. Truth be told, he’s arguably the best infielder on the team aside from maybe Yolmer, but he just never plays it any longer.


I think Abrams has more swing changes in his future than Witt if he is going to be more than Juan Pierre

Greg Nix

Is there any somewhat realistic scenario in which Rutschman falls to the Sox? I.e. Baltimore falls in love with Witt and KC decides to spread out their bonus pool.


In this off-season of unmet expectations, this is one of a few last-ditch hopes I cling to. That AR falls to #3.

Trooper Galactus

Well, they also love having a reliable backstop for a long time.

lil jimmy

Well, He might be OK, but he’ll never be as good as Tyler Flowers.


Vaughn to the White Sox seems so in keeping with Hostetler’s habits that I imagine Rob Manfred will rule that no other team will be allowed to pick him.


at least he’ll be the #1 firstbaseman in their growing list of first-base-bound prospects


Longenhagen just gave Abrams a Royce Lewis comp. But he’s left handed.

Trooper Galactus

Maybe he meant former White Sox first round pick Royce Ring.


Part of an amazing stretch of first/supp round picks between Rowand and Sale. Stumm, Ginter, West, Purvis, Borchard, Honel, Allen, Ring, Anderson, Fields, Lumsden, ***Gio***, Broadway, McCulloch, Poreda, Beckham, Mitchell, Phegley.

lil jimmy

I think you are correct Ring was Left handed.


Royce kept his weight back and drove the ball. I get the fast infielder that may move to center part


Fangraphs’ initial 2019 Playoff Odds give the Sox a 0.9% chance of making the playoffs. — insert Dumb and Dumber meme —


Josh: What’s your take on Carter Stewart who’s pitching at Eastern Florida State College this spring, I have him in my Top 10 for sure…He’s dominating just as he should be at the Juco level with 36.1 IP, 59 K’s, 1.98 Era & a .90 Whip.


Stuff has backed up a bit. Inconsistent delivery, and control. Law had a post about him a couple days ago.