With college baseball's Division I schedule starting up on Friday night, here's a preseason look at the top 50 prospects for this year's Rule 4 draft, a class that is as loaded as any I can remember. It shows great strength in college and high school pitching and has some depth in college outfielders, with athleticism on display all over the place.
It's also the last draft under the current CBA, and with MLB threatening to implement hard slotting, players are expected to sign more readily while teams focused on acquiring amateur talent are expected to blow out their draft budgets.
After the top 50, I've listed a few more names of players who could end up Day 1 picks, potentially high ones, depending on how their seasons go. I'll have more thoughts tomorrow in the MLB Draft Blog on the candidates to go No. 1 overall.
Analysis: The presumptive No. 1 overall pick, but by no means a lock. Rendon has an outstanding approach at the plate with great bat speed, and he's a plus defender at third. He's recovering from his second major ankle injury and will have to show he hasn't lost any agility.
Analysis: An athletic outfielder with an above-average arm who projects to hit and hit for power and just needs to refine his approach, especially with two strikes.
Analysis: Huge arm strength combined with results and some small signs of increasing maturity since high school.
Analysis: The Golden Child with the name to match, Starling is committed to play baseball and football at Nebraska, but an entire industry is hoping he chooses baseball. He's got five tools at the plate and is very projectable on the mound, with a higher ceiling as a hitter.
Analysis: Some teams will shy away from right-handers under 6 feet, but Gray is a fierce competitor who will reach 96 with good run and a hard breaking ball that would miss bats in pro ball right away.