The 2018 MLB Draft kicks off on Monday evening, and after selecting first last year, the Minnesota Twins are going to have to wait a while before making their first pick of the night at No. 20.
Very few places correctly predicted the Twins would nab Royce Lewis first overall this year, so guessing pick 20 is immensely more guesswork. That dynamic is clearly at play across the mock draft scene, as very few places have duplicate choices for the Twins’ first pick.
Here’s what everyone is saying most recenty:
MLB.com — Florida RHP Jackson Kowar (Jim Callis); South Florida LHP Shane McClanahan (Jonathan Mayo)
This one is interesting, as the St. Louis Cardinals pick 19th — one spot ahead of the Twins — and Callis and Mayo have the opposite happening for them (Kowar to Twins, etc.). Mayo says McClanahan has a plus-plus fastball with command issues from the left side, while Callis calls Kowar the “last college pitcher before they’re all gone.”
Kowar, No. 17 on the BA top-500 list, is one of three Florida pitchers with first-round potential — he’s 9-4 with a 3.21 ERA and 91-37 K/BB ratio in 92.2 innings this season — and was a 40th-round selection of the Tigers in 2015. McClanahan is eighth on BA’s list and was a 26th-round pick of the Mets that year. He is 5-6 with a 3.42 ERA and 120-48 K/BB ratio in 76 innings for the Bulls this season.
Baseball America ($) — Forsyth Central HS RHP Ethan Hankins
This is BA’s fifth mock, and it has the Twins dipping into the prep ranks for a righty from Cummings, Ga. The 6-foot-6 Hankins apparently has the best fastball in this year’s class, which reportedly hits 92-96 mph and can touch 98. He topped out at 96 mph in last year’s Perfect Game event, and is a Vanderbilt commit. In BA’s first mock back in April, they had Hankins going eighth to the Atlanta Braves and McClanahan going fourth to the White Sox. He’s No. 18 on their top-500 list. DraftSite also has the Twins taking Hankins.
Fangraphs — Santiago HS SS Brice Turang
Turang, an LSU commit, has had some 1-1 steam at times, though that has quieted quite a bit of late. He’s No. 14 on BA’s top-500 list, and is a four-year starter for his high school. He’s fast with a sweet left-handed swing and was on USA’s 18U team with Lewis in 2016 and ‘17. Turang’s father Brian played in the major leagues from 1993-94 with the Seattle Mariners and was a 52nd round pick in the 1989 draft. The previous mock for Fangraphs had the Twins taking Turang as well.
Bleacher Report — St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School C Noah Naylor
Naylor is No. 20 on BA’s list, and is the younger brother of Padres 1B/OF prospect Josh Naylor — the only other pro player in the school’s history. Teams really don’t/shouldn’t draft for need, but it’d be hard to argue the positional fit here without much depth in the organization at catcher. He’s more of a hit-tool guy than power, though some see his work behind the plate as in need of improvement with a possible future at the hot corner. Naylor’s been a bit of a riser in the process, however, as he’s up from No. 34 on the previous edition of the BA top-500 list. He’s committed to Texas A&M.
The Athletic ($) — Plant HS OF Connor Scott
Scott, a Florida commit, is No. 23 on BA’s top-500 list. The 6-foot-4 outfielder bats and throws left-handed, and not only has plenty of power in his bat, but can throw 92-93 mph as well. Multiple places have compared him to Houston Astros outfield prospect Kyle Tucker — a consensus top-20 prospect in the game — as the total package with room to grow. He had his appendix out and thus missed out on some summer events, so he’s a bit of a wild card in that respect. CBS Sports also has the Twins taking Scott, noting his “high-end tools and athleticism” that the team has targeted in recent drafts.
The Big Lead — McClanahan
They have McClanahan as “reaching 100 mph consistently” though he’s struggled lately. The numbers certainly back that up, as he allowed six earned runs against Wichita State in just three innings on May 11 and also on April 13 against East Carolina. McClanahan was better the next time against the Shockers, as his next outing 12 days later against them was five innings of one-run ball. He did walk five batters, however, and command has been a bit of an issue (5.7 BB/9).
Keith Law (ESPN Insider) ($) — Ole Miss LHP Ryan Rolison
Law has McClanahan, Rolison and Kowar going three picks in a row with the Twins splitting the middle. Rolison has gone 9-4 for the Rebels with a 107-42 K/BB ratio in 90 innings. He’s No. 21 on the BA top-500 list, and was a round-37 pick of the Padres in 2016. The Twins already have one Ole Miss pitcher on the team (Lance Lynn) and could look to add another. There are some questions about Rolison’s delivery — some think he throws across his body too much — but he should be a high pick regardless.