The 2018 MLB Draft starts tomorrow with the Diamondbacks picking 25th. Given the unpredictability of the MLB Draft, there hasn't been as much draft coverage as there was last year when they had the 7th pick or 3 years ago when they had the first pick. The Diamondbacks have gone college bat with their top pick in the past 3 drafts with Dansby Swanson, Anfernee Grier, and Pavin Smith. If I were a gambling man, I'd expect a college bat from the outfield as the pick.
Going with the most recent mock drafts, this is who the pundits project will go to Arizona with the 25th pick.
CBS Sports (Mike Axisa) Jake McCarthy, OF Virginia: “Given the available players at this point, a college bat seems most likely for the Diamondbacks, and McCarthy is one of the better college hitters in the draft class. He has a great track record at a top program and also showed well against elite competition in wood-bat summer leagues. McCarthy or a similar college bat here could give the D-Backs some draft pool savings to use later.”
Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel) Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma: “The D-Backs had their GM and VP at the Big 12 tourney to see Walker, who was scratched late with a reported injury. They’re also on Denaburg and Thomas and probably one of the Stanford prospects. Our guess is Hoerner.”
MLB Pipeline (Jonathan Mayo) Jordan Groshans, 3B, Magnolia HS (TX): “While there a lot of college hitters mentioned in this spot, the D-backs do like Groshans, one of the better all-around high school hitters in the class. Oklahoma’s Steele Walker remains a solid college performer option.”
MLB Pipeline (Jim Callis) Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma: “A year after taking an accomplished college bat in Pavin Smith at No. 7, Arizona could go the same route with Walker. Other college position player options include Clemson first baseman Seth Beer, Duke outfielder Griffin Conine, Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman, Larnach and Virginia outfielder Jake McCarthy. It’s no secret that the D-backs love prep shortstop Matt McLain, but No. 25 is rich for him.”
Minor League Ball Community Mock Ryan Rolison, LHP, Ole Miss: It was a community effort with SB Nation user Penny Parker representing the Diamondbacks in this mock. No explanation given, but you can check the comment thread out on the page.
AZCentral (Richard Morin) Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma: “The Diamondbacks would give Turang a look if he got here, and they are interested in Texas prep infielder Jordan Groshans, but college players are most often cited with this pick. The Diamondbacks have been out to see Walker and will do their due diligence with him here.”
ESPN (Keith Law) Matt McLain, SS, Beckman HS (CA): I’ve mentioned a few times that other teams believe they’re the top club on McLain, but Arizona could try to float him to their pick at 39 and take a different prep bat here, or even try to cut a deal with McCarthy.” (also thank you r/MLBDraft for posting the picks)
Baseball America Jake McCarthy, OF, Virginia: “McCarthy was seen by many teams at the ACC Tournament last week and has hit .355 in his first seven games back from an injury that kept him out for most of his junior season. These late looks are critical for McCarthy, though he has an extremely impressive track record in the ACC and wood bat leagues to fall back on.” *No link due to the mock draft being stuck behind a paywall. makattack71 was kind enough to share the information behind said paywall for our benefit.
So of the names from the big websites, Steele Walker comes up the most with the pick. Jake McCarthy, Matt McLain, and Jordan Groshans could also be in play with the 25th pick. Last year, the team took 3 college bats (1B Pavin Smith, 3B Drew Ellis, C Daulton Varsho) and signed each of them for the full slot value for their respective picks. Walker and McCarthy fit the theme of players who the team has selected with their top pick since Deric Ladnier took over the scouting director role in 2015. The two first round picks he’s had, the first signed for $2M under the $8.5M slot value, although the highest bonus for the draft at $6.5M and you’d have to be a generational talent to command full slot at #1, and the other at full slot value of $5M with the #7 pick. My gut feeling says it will either be McCarthy + McLain if they want to go under slot at 25 and try to pick up a 1st round talent at 39 that slipped due to concerns about signing or they take Walker at 25 for full slot value of $2,636,400.
The 2018 MLB Draft starts 7 PM EST/4 PM AZ time.