Our breakdown of the 2018 draft began with a recap of the National League's most notable picks, so it's now time to examine -- you guessed it -- the American League.
The Orioles started their draft with a prep arm for the second year in a row, taking Grayson Rodriguez (1), a big right-hander from East Texas who has reached up to 97 mph and has the makings of two plus breaking balls. His changeup remains a work in progress, but he has been trying to throw it more. He's already starter size, but with some effort in the delivery there's at least a little risk he ends up in the bullpen. Cadyn Grenier (2) was one of the top college shortstops in the class, a fringe first-round talent out of high school who had a breakout year for Oregon State in the spring, hitting .335/.420/.477 and playing shortstop well enough to project to plus on defense. I'm probably being stubborn, but I think there's still more upside left in his bat as well, both to hit and to show average power. Arkansas starter Blaine Knight (3) will touch the mid-90s and throws strikes with four pitches but has been homer-prone, and the lack of a true plus pitch makes him more fourth/fifth starter material. He turns 22 later this month, and I would hope he's a fast mover given his control and age.
Prep lefty Drew Rom (4) came on at the end of the spring, sitting in the low 90s with a solid-average breaking ball and an athletic body with some projection and a delivery that works. Iowa outfielder Robert Neustrom (5) has a big, strong power bat, showing power even the other way. He's a below-average runner who'll start in right but could end up in left. Yeankarlos Lleras (6) is a smaller right-hander with a fast arm who bumped 96 mph at the end of the spring and flashed a real slider.
Central Florida right-hander J.J. Montgomery (7) was in and out of roles all spring but showed well against top bats like the two Day 1 Wichita State hitters. He's been up to 98 mph with a good slider and could move fast as a short reliever. Ryan Conroy (8) of Elon is an interesting pick for that late in the draft; he has plus life on his fastball, a slider up to 87 mph and even throws a splitter, but he didn't miss as many bats as you'd expect from that repertoire. The 6-foot-3 right-hander made 14 starts for Elon, but perhaps moving to relief will help him rack up more strikeouts.