The first round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft will take place on Monday, June 12th in Secaucus, New Jersey. Where will the nation’s top high school and college players land?
1. Minnesota Twins- Kyle Wright, RHP Vanderbilt
All signs point toward the Twins selecting Wright with the first overall pick in the draft. Wright is a power pitcher, something the Twins do not possess on their Major League roster beyond Jose Berrios. Wright stands at 6 feet 4 inches tall and has been described by some as a generational arm talent. His 113 strikeouts in 96.2 innings pitched demonstrates his swing and miss abilities. Wright’s 5-5 record is deceiving and at 21 years old, there is still room for growth. The right-handed pitcher has a presence on the mound that scouts rave about.
2. Cincinnati Reds- Hunter Greene, RHP/IF Notre Dame High (CA)
Greene’s potential is tantalizing. He grades as an elite prospect as a right-handed pitcher and shortstop, a rare package that makes him as intriguing a player as the draft has seen in years. His versatility makes him a perfect fit for an American League team where he could DH on the days he doesn’t pitch, but it’s hard to see the Reds taking a pass on him. At 17 years old, Greene throws upwards of 100 MPH and hit 13 home runs in an abbreviated senior season.
3. San Diego Padres- Brendan McKay, LHP/IF Louisville
McKay is as polished as they come and much like Greene, he is a legitimate two way player. As a pitcher, McKay posted a 2.31 ERA in 97.1 innings pitched for the Cardinals. He amassed 131 strikeouts in that time while maintaining a 0.97 WHIP. At the plate, he hit .356/.476/.683 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI’s. There have been rumblings of McKay going as high as number one overall and he should not slide below the third pick in the draft. It will be interesting to see if San Diego opts to develop McKay with a greater focus as a southpaw pitcher or a first baseman.
4. Tampa Bay Rays- MacKenzie Gore, LHP Whiteville High (NC)
As always, it’s difficult for teams within the top ten to pass up on left handed pitchers with a high upside. This makes Gore a likely selection for Tampa Bay, who has recent history developing high upside left handed pitchers like Blake Snell. Gore is viewed as a high-risk prospect who will need a good amount of time in the minor leagues before he is ready for the show. But still, Gore has ace potential with four plus pitches including a fastball that demonstrates great velocity and command.
5. Atlanta Braves- Royce Lewis, IF/OF JSerra Catholic High (CA)
Lewis is viewed as the most athletic player in the draft and could reach the Major Leagues as either a shortstop or center fielder. His quickness is shown both with his legs and hand speed, making him an elite hitting prospect. Lewis could go as high as third overall or low as seventh overall depending on how much teams take his disappointing spring season into consideration.
6. Oakland Athletics- Shane Baz, RHP Concordia Lutheran High (TX)
Baz is another high school pitcher that has been on the radar of scouts for a long time. His fastball sits between 90-93 MPH but has reached as high as 98 MPH, showing that he has room to grow. The fastball has above average life and his second best pitch is a put away slider that generates tons of swings and misses. His curveball has room for improvement, but as a high school pitcher there is a lot to love.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks- J.B. Bukauskas, RHP North Carolina
Bukauskas is a polished college pitcher that fits well into Arizona’s long term plan. He can move into the Big Leagues quickly and slot behind Zack Greinke as a legitimate 1-2 punch atop the Dback’s rotation. Bukauskas is actually having a better season than Wright or McKay on the hill, pitching to a 1.87 ERA in 82 innings pitched for the Tar Heels.
8. Philadelphia Phillies- Pavin Smith, IF Virginia
Smith is viewed by some as having the best pure bat in the draft. The first baseman slashed .342/.427/.570 with 13 home runs and 77 RBI’s for the Cavaliers. His contact rate has improved every year he’s been in college. Smith works well with the Phillies plans to compete starting around 2019 and could be the perfect complement to top shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford.
9. Milwaukee Brewers- Austin Beck, OF North Davidson High (NC)
Beck is a long term project that is seen as a high risk, high reward type of player. This should not scare the Brewers who are currently far ahead of schedule at the Big League level. Beck has a lot of raw power and speed that need to be harnessed properly. Scouts say that he will need to calm down his swing to be successful in the Major Leagues.
10. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- Adam Haseley, OF Virginia
It makes the most sense for the Angels to take college players in the draft that are ready to reach the Big Leagues as soon as possible. This way, they could attempt to put a competitive roster on the field while Mike Trout is still on the team, and possibly hope to retain him. Haseley is a power hitter that projects as a solid corner outfielder. Pairing him with Trout and Kole Calhoun could be intriguing.