MLB 2018 Draft: Who are the first picks?

by Clayton Richer | Posted on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
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Though much can change between now and the June 3rd MLB draft, there are some things we do know. Both the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers went into last season with playoff hopes only to finish bottom of the National League West and American League Central respectively. Their consolation prize? An early slot in this year’s draft and the chance to grab the pick of the college and high school talent.

Both teams finished last season tied with 64-98 records, but the Tigers had the poorer percentage in 2016, which was enough to earn them their first Number One draft pick since 1997. The Giants will pick second for the third time in their history, followed by the Phillies, the White Sox, and the Reds.

Of those five, the Giants are under the most pressure. While the others have become accustomed to life in the MLB basement, having an early pick in the draft is an unusual experience for the Giants. Having reached the postseason in 2016, their decline last year was spectacular and getting their draft pick right will be an important part of their recovery.

Who will be top of the list for the Giants and the others, and who will have the honor of being the first player chosen in the 2018 draft?

Brady Singer

Four months out, anything can happen, but if the Tigers were making their pick right now, it’s a good bet that they’d go for Brady Singer. A right-handed pitcher from the University of Florida, he led his team to a College World Series title last year and has the all-around game to thrive in the Majors, with a tricky fastball in the mid-90s, a solid slider, and enough control to make the most of his weapons. Singer has huge potential, and it isn’t too fanciful to imagine him being the spearhead of a resurgent Detroit challenge for seasons to come.

Nander De Sedas

The Giants don’t hesitate to go for high school bats when a good one comes along, and Nander De Sedas could follow in the footsteps of Heliot Ramos and Christian Arroyo. A switch-hitting shortstop, he came from the same high school as Francisco Lindor and has some serious power, an area of weakness that the Giants will want to address if they are to improve their position as division outsiders in most of the sports betting markets.

Ethan Hankins

For two years in a row, the Phillies have taken an outfielder, and they are likely to go in a different direction this time around, with pitcher Ethan Hankins of Forsyth Central High School a live candidate. Hankins has the best fastball in high school, reaching 98mph, and that figure could move upwards as he develops. That blistering speed is allied to control and a decent change-up, and if he can develop a serviceable breaking pitch, he’ll have a bright future.

Brice Turang

With the fourth pick this time around, there isn’t too much mystery about what the White Sox will be looking for. There is a desperate weakness at shortstop throughout the organization, and this means that the White Sox will probably be in for De Sedas or, more likely, Brice Turang. Once considered the top overall high school prospect, he has since slipped down the reckoning slightly, which could bring him into range for the White Sox. A promising bat who is blessed with speed and a Major League pedigree – his father Brian featured for the Seattle Mariners – he has the potential to solve the White Sox shortstop problem.

Nick Madrigal

For the Reds, picking fifth this time around is a sign of a slight upturn in their fortunes, and they are being heavily linked with University of Florida’s left-handed starting pitcher Shane McClanahan, but may consider opting for the top hitter in the draft, Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal. As a freshman, Madrigal started 49 games, scoring 29 RBI, and was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year as well as becoming the first team All-Pac-12 selection. His lack of power may deter the Giants from taking him, but he can offer the Reds some solid defensive play and a reliable ability to get on base, which will add depth to their line-up.

Of course, draft predictions, particularly this far out, can be a tricky business, and teams can sometimes follow strategic imperatives that are not obvious. Last season, the Twins had first pick and pulled out a minor surprise, opting for high school shortstop Royce Lewis, who they signed for $6.725 million. One thing that we can say for certain is that this year’s draft looks stronger than it has been for years, and some, if not all, of the names mentioned above, could be around as stars of the MLB for many seasons to come.

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Clayton Richer
About the Author

Clayton Richer is an MLB scribe from north of the border with a slight bias for the Toronto Blue Jays. Clayton has also been the shop-keeper at Baseball Hot Corner since the sites inception in 2012. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @ClaytonRicher

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