As the Atlanta Braves begin a series with the division rival Washington Nationals, all eyes will be on the MLB draft as the Braves hold the 5th pick tonight. With four teams picking before the Braves, there will be many scenarios that could play out for them at pick five. There are as many as nine true prospects that could be selected before the Braves, but let’s take a look at what the most likely scenario could be:
1. Minnesota Twins- Brendan McKay (LHP/1B), Louisville
The number one overall pick could go a couple of different ways, but I ultimately see the Twins taking the versatile Brendan McKay out of Louisville. The Twins have expressed high interest in McKay and view him as a potential top rotation pitcher. Though Hunter Greene out of Notre Dame HS came for a visit last week, it’s hard to see his visit being a more impressive one than McKay. McKay has outstanding command, and will surely become a better and even more consistent pitcher once it becomes his full-time job.
2. Cincinnati Reds- Hunter Greene (LHP/SS), Notre Dame High School (CA)
This may be one of the easiest picks to project. The Reds have made it known that McKay and Greene were their top choices. With McKay off the board, the Reds won’t mind one bit to take the two-way player in Greene. With his 100-mph fastball and his ceiling as a pitcher, the Reds will more than likely be drafting that way. But, they could move him to the outfield, where he prefers if he’s not drafted as a pitcher. Though Greene is coming in at pick two, he arguably has the highest ceiling and potential of any in the draft.
3. San Diego Padres- Mackenzie Gore
(LHP), Whiteville High School (NC)
Though the Padres would absolutely love the local product in Greene, he unfortunately won’t be available for them. The Padres will then look at a couple scenarios, including possibly making a deal to move out of the pick. Ultimately, I see the Padres picking MacKenzie Gore over Royce Lewis. They fell in love with his quality arm and the potential. His mid-90’s fastball, superb off-speed pitches making batters look foolish, and his ability to pitch late into games were just some of the reasons that Gore flew up draft boards in the last couple of weeks. He will find himself as a top-five pick, and could be a future plug in the Padres rotation.
4. Tampa Bay Rays- Royce Lewis (SS/OF),
JSerra Catholic High School (CA)
This pick could be a very interesting one if the Rays take a risk. It’s been rumored that the Rays have discussed drafting Bubba Thompson, a high-school OF out of Alabama, with the fourth pick. Though he is pegged around 20th on most draft boards, the Rays could sign Thompson to a big under-slot deal that would allow more to be spent with their other two picks in the top 40. I ultimately see them backing off the risk and taking Royce Lewis. Lewis carries immense athleticism, and may possess the most all-around talent in the draft, possibly becoming a five-tool player.
5. Atlanta Braves- Kyle Wright (RHP),
I think this would have to be considered a dream scenario for the Braves, and I see it being a very plausible one. Greene and McKay are the two most likely to be gone by the time the Braves pick. I fully expect Gore or Wright to be the pick here. Wright is a 6-4, 220 pound southerner who carries top of the rotation potential. His mid-90’s fastball paired with an impressive curve make his absolute floor a high-leverage reliever, but his projection is much higher than that. The Braves would have to fork over some money to sign Wright, but it would be well worth it if he, in fact, did slip to them at five. Not many times does a team get this chance at five, and I’m sure John Coppolella and company will not hesitate to jump all over this dream pick.