2017 MLB Mock Draft, Version 4.1

Jun 23, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores left fielder Jeren Kendall (3) dives back to first base but is tagged out during the second inning against the Virginia Cavaliers in game two of the College World Series Finals at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft less than a month away, a fourth look at the upcoming MLB draft is in order.

Before we get started with this MLB mock draft, a few things:
– These are the selections of the writer, based on discussions with scouts and team officials in the game. However, they are not to be viewed as a prediction, but an idea of the direction a team could go in the given scenario presented.
– Players moving up or down is not necessarily an indication of a player’s stock rising or falling. The player is assigned based on a fit, and sometimes that can mean a player moves 10 or more spots in the draft.

1. Minnesota Twins

1

Hunter Greene

RHP/SS, Notre Dame HS (CA)

Twins brass were big on Greene this week and had a number of interesting comments hinting that he is still very strongly in consideration for the #1 pick. Previous weeks had indicated the team was moving toward college picks McKay or Wright. Greene has the chance to be a generational talent on the mound, with a fastball that can reach 102 MPH and secondary pitches that many people are very positive can improve as he ages. Unlike a guy like Tyler Kolek, who was a pure flame thrower when he went #2 overall, Greene is athletic and has the ability to develop further.

2. Cincinnati Reds

2

Brendan McKay

1B/LHP, University of Louisville

The Reds and McKay have been tied together plenty, and it will be intriguing to see how things work for the Reds if McKay is chosen first. Will they go after the college arm route in Wright? Maybe jump a bit to Smith, Hasely, or Kendall as a college bat, hoping to get a deal of some degree? Or do they simply go with Greene (or another high school player), and bite the financial bullet and risk that comes along with that? In this case, they don’t need to worry about this as they have McKay there to select, and his ties to a regional school for the Reds would be very intriguing.

3. San Diego Padres

3

MacKenzie Gore

LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)

This would be the difficult situation for the Padres. Many would assume that if Greene is off the board (by far their preferred target), the Padres would target a high school player due to their focus on youth and upside in their rebuild. However, what some seem to miss is that the Padres, with all the same rebuild goals, picked college pitchers last season with two of their three first round selections, including #8 overall. It would not surprise to see the Padres consider Wright here or McKay if he feel or even surprise with someone like Kendall, but most likely, they will pursue the incredible athleticism of Gore here if Greene and McKay were off the board.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

4

Kyle Wright

RHP, Vanderbilt University

Tampa once did quite well with another highly drafted Vanderbilt starter. No one is directly comparing Wright to David Price, but like Price, he works without absolute elite stuff, using stuff just a shade below that with extremely high-end pitchability. His added work in the weight room over the winter has allowed him to put on just a tick more velocity on the top end, but even more so, allowed him to sustain his best velocity deep into games. Working in the mid-90s with his moving fastball, Wright’s excellent control and maturity on the mound should allow him to move quickly, even through Tampa’s typically step-by-step system.

5. Atlanta Braves

5

Royce Lewis

IF/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (CA)

For the Braves, they’re sitting in a spot where they’re going to be meeting with a host of players to find out what the number will be to sign them, preparing to spend heavy over the team’s first 2-4 picks after loading up in the 2016 international market and having a high number of the team’s 2016 picks sign, filling up the team’s rookie league teams, not leaving a ton of space for 2016 picks, meaning the team will likely go big after a few picks rather than spreading across their 11-40 picks. Lewis is among roughly 5-7 players the Braves will be working with to figure out financials on who wants a deal to weigh the finances with the talent, which the team has seemingly found to be fairly even after their first three assumed guys on the board (Greene, McKay, and Wright). You could see Beck, Adell, Gore, Baz, Carlson, or Pratto here depending on the route the team is looking to go financially.

6. Oakland Athletics

6

Alex Faedo

RHP, University of Florida

The Athletics seemed to find the University of Florida’s pitching staff to their liking in the 2016 draft, selecting two members of the Gators staff in their first three picks. Faedo was considered by many as the best pitcher on that 2016 Florida staff, and as the season has pushed on, Faedo has only gotten better, nearly securing his presence in the top 10 of the draft. The Athletics would love to get Faedo’s talent into their system to push along with their draftees from 2016.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks

7

Austin Beck

OF, North Davidson HS (NC)

The Diamondbacks want to get talent, and the best talent they can find at that. While Beck missed much of the summer showcase circuit due to an ACL tear, he chose to spend that time adding strength to his frame. That added strength showed up big time this spring when Beck returned to the field, taking his explosive athleticism to a new level and rocketing him up draft boards. Arizona will be pleased to choose among the top four outfielders available in the draft if the draft breaks out in this manner ahead of them.

8. Philadelphia Phillies

8

J.B. Bukauskas

RHP, University of North Carolina

The Phillies want elite talent, and their early hot start in 2016 put them out of the top 5 in the draft, so they’re left watching the draft come to them rather than controlling their selection like they did in the 2016 draft. Philadelphia has tremendous depth at the lower levels with high-upside prospects and could be enticed by a selection that could move quicker. I’ve mocked a number of guys here, but the Phillies are known to be in on top college arms this season. Bukauskas very likely has the best individual pitch in the entire draft in his slider, but many teams have concerns in his stature and his delivery. Philadelphia could take the big swing here, knowing they’d have an elite closer at the least.

9. Milwaukee Brewers

9

Pavin Smith

1B, University of Virginia

Smith has widely been considered the “safest” bat in the draft, depending on how a team would view McKay – hitter or pitcher. He’s got tremendous strike zone judgement and good contact skills, though his power isn’t exactly anything to write home about. He does have the frame that he could add more power, but I see him as a Sean Casey type offensively. He’s worked out as an outfielder some for scouts and shown an ability to handle an outfield corner. The Brewers have been tallying significant depth in elite athletes, and this would be a departure from that, but some have considered his approach very similar to the approach that Brewers first baseman Eric Thames returned from Korea with this season.

10. Los Angeles Angels

10

Adam Haseley

OF, University of Virginia

Back to back selections from the same school would usually indicate an offensive firepower, and Virginia does have another hitter that will likely be a top 3-4 round pick. Haseley has very possibly had the best season of any of the loaded Cavelier lineup. The Angels are looking to get a guy who can impact the major league team in a hurry, and Haseley’s skill set should allow him to do just that. He may not have the upside of Kendall as the top collegiate outfielder, but he has a more stable skill set.

11. Chicago White Sox

11

Jordon Adell

OF, Ballard HS (KY)

The White Sox have always loved athletic outfielders, and they don’t come more athletic in this year’s class than Adell. An elite pitching prospect as well, Adell showed some increased swing and miss compared to previous showings this past summer, and suddenly reports were out about how he had “concerns” with his contact ability. His swing and miss over the summer amounted to a low K% for any pro player, and this spring has been evident of that as he’s struck out about as frequently as a Vegan orders off of the burger selection at a restaurant. Adell has legit power, speed, a big arm for the outfield, and receives big marks for his makeup as well.

12. Pittsburgh Pirates

12

Shane Baz

RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)

Baz has been a big riser this spring as he’s shown more development in his control and his ability to spot his secondary stuff. Baz’s selling point still will be his fastball, however, as it is one of the most electric heaters of the high school class. Baz has a good frame to project going forward along with 5 pitches. The separation between his curve and slider this year has been the biggest thing that brought him forward in the eyes of scouts. Baz’s pitch mix would be a great fit in the Pirates system.

13. Miami Marlins

13

DL Hall

LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)

There are many who feel Hall has better mechanics and even better pitches than fellow prep lefty MacKenzie Gore, who will almost certainly go within the top 5-7 picks. Hall is polished with very clean mechanics, but he also has elite-level stuff as well with a fastball that can touch mid-90s and sits in the low-90s along with a very good curve and an above-average change. The one knock on Hall could be his age, but at this point, the Marlins will gobble up the young lefty to add to their system.

14. Kansas City Royals

14

Jeren Kendall

OF, Vanderbilt University

In pure raw tools, there is not a single player in the collegiate hitting ranks that can sniff Kendall. However, a rough season with swing and miss has cooled off a number of teams. With the significant amount of free agents likely to leave Kansas City at the end of the 2017 season, the team will be looking to anchor to a player who can be the face of the franchise going forward, and Kendall has the raw tools to be that type of guy, while not many other guys available here have that profile.

15. Houston Astros

15

Sam Carlson

RHP, Burnsville HS (MN)

Carlson simply continues to improve his stock this spring, and there are teams in the top 5 with serious interest in Carlson, so he could certainly go before this selection, but his high impact offerings going here would be a coup for the Astros. Carlson has had very well-managed exposure on his arm in cold weather Minnesota high school seasons, which are shorter, allowing for less wear on the arm. Carlson has been a legit offensive prospect as well.

16. New York Yankees

16

Nick Pratto

1B, Huntington Beach HS (CA)

Pratto entered the season as a legit two-way threat to be drafted as either a pitcher or hitter, but as his pitching didn’t really take the expected senior step forward in velocity, Pratto’s elite hitting ability has been the skill that will be the key to his selection. Pratto has arguably the best contact skills in the high school class. A legit draft talent on the mound as a lefty pitcher, Pratto has worked in power to his already present contact skills this season to really push his offensive profile forward. Defensively, he’s not had experience in an outfield corner, but one scout told me that he’d look at Pratto like a Cody Bellinger-lite in that he has elite defense at first base but has enough athleticism to cover an outfield position with his plus arm. This is as low as you’ll likely see Pratto go as the Yankees won’t let his premier bat get by them.

17. Seattle Mariners

17

David Peterson

LHP, University of Oregon

Peterson was a rangy 6’6″ high school senior ranked highly that chose to go to college instead after breaking his leg his senior year and missing time, causing his draft slot to fall. He’s had a good career with Oregon, but most importantly, he’s filled out that frame to a 240-ish pound monster that has been dominating college hitters this season, including multiple 17+ strikeout games. At his size, he has a remarkably repeatable delivery with a heavy low-90s fastball, a plus slider, a curve that rates average, and a change that some grade as his best overall pitch. Peterson should make it to the majors quickly, and the Mariners will be more than happy to keep the Oregon product in the Northwest.

18. Detroit Tigers

18

Trevor Rogers

LHP, Carlsbad HS (NM)

Interestingly, right in front of Rogers is a prototype of what Rogers projects to fill into. Rogers does have more present velocity than Peterson ever had, but he’s got the work to do filling in his frame that Peterson did coming out of high school that turned him into an elite starter now. Rogers will be a guy who has a good chance to be a front-line starter or a dynamite reliever with his present fastball and slider, and if he can further develop his change as he fills in his frame. Rogers has solid mechanics, especially for a taller lefty, but he does have a habit of losing the feel of his slider and especially his change up.

19. San Francisco Giants

19

Griffin Canning

RHP, University of California at Los Angeles

Few have established themselves as well as Canning has this spring, but there comes a point where collegiate performance doesn’t outweigh raw skills when it comes to the draft. A number of readers have asked why Canning wouldn’t go higher with the tremendous season he’s putting up for UCLA, and it’s not anything he’s doing wrong on the field by any means. It’s really a matter of the fact that he’s a guy who lives on excellent location and sequencing more than raw stuff at this point. He has excellent spin on his fastball and gets hitters to bury the ball into the ground, and he could move quickly to a mid-rotation role, but that could also be his ceiling.

20. New York Mets

20

Tanner Houck

RHP, University of Missouri

Houck opened 2017 considered a probably top 10-15 pick in the draft after dominating the SEC from the time he arrived at Missouri. He’s got a great frame at 6’5″ and 220 pounds, though many worry that even with his sturdy frame, his unusual delivery could lead to injury concerns unless his mechanics are overhauled, and whether he’d maintain his effectivness after that overhaul are anyone’s guess. Houck works primarily off of the movement that he has on his pitches, sitting in the low-90s with his fastball with tremendous sink and late movement along with a slider and change that rate as average to above-average but play up to the effectiveness of his sinker. While Houck may not have the elite ceiling of some, he is a guy who should move quickly to the Mets rotation and eat a ton of innings right away in the middle or back of the rotation as a sinker specialist.

21. Baltimore Orioles

21

Jake Burger

3B, Missouri State University

I’m not sure if this is the absolute floor for Burger, but it’s probably close. He’d certainly be gobbled up by the Nationals if he were there at 25, so that’s probably the absolute floor for him, but he could come off the board as high as 11-12 as well. College power seems to always climb the ranks, but at the same time, college power without a defined position often struggles to find a home. The Orioles have a history of working with guys with some pedigree on the infield/outfield corners and letting them play just to get the bat in the lineup, and Burger would certainly fit that.

22. Toronto Blue Jays

22

Logan Warmoth

SS, University of North Carolina

Warmoth was known as a high school player, but he was committed to his college time at North Carolina, and that has been a wise decision on his part as he’s shown to be the top shortstop in a weak college middle infield class. Warmoth profiles strongly in the mold of J.J. Hardy as a very steady guy defensively that has the ability to handle staying at short but could be elite if he moved over to second or third base. Warmoth has very solid offensive skills that fit a sabermetric darling that could be an all contact and patience guy, but he does have some raw power and instincts on the bases that could lead to fantasy stats as well.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers

23

Bubba Thompson

OF, McGill-Thoolen Catholic HS (AL)

The Dodgers are not shy about pursuing who they believe to be the best player on the board and paying what is needed to sign him. Most figure it will be a highly athletic player, and there are few more athletic than Thompson, a two-sport star that had D-1 offers to play both football and baseball at the collegiate level. His focus on another sport can be an attraction for some teams certainly, but it does exhibit the extreme athletiticsm that Thompson possesses. He will fit well in the Dodgers development system.

24. Boston Red Sox

24

Keston Hiura

IF/OF, University of California at Irvine

When the Red Sox grabbed Jason Groome last season, many thought that Boston had grabbed the best high school arm in the 2016 MLB draft class. Getting Hiura here would be a similar move in getting possibly the best pure hitter in the collegiate class. Hiura has been compared to Willie Calhoun and Ian Happ offensively as guys who just know how to hit, and much like both players, he projects to add power to his already present contact skills as a pro. In fact, Hiura’s contact ability has been labeled as double-plus by some. Where he also fits the comparison with those two players is that while he has the ability to handle second base, his future defensive position is still in flux as he currently needs Tommy John surgery, and how he recovers from the procedure could define his future position.

25. Washington Nationals

25

Clarke Schmidt

RHP, University of South Carolina

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: there is a very talented pitcher with elite stuff that suffered an elbow injury in the spring of his draft year and required Tommy John surgery, and Washington is heavily interested. Really? Still with me? Then you understand why more and more it seems like the Nationals and Schmidt seem to be a perfect fit. Schmidt was a guy rising to top-10 consideration with his dominant spring for South Carolina before his surgery. The Nationals seem to be heavy on fast-moving talent this spring after spending heavy talent for Adam Eaton this winter, and they seem especially interested in fast-moving pitching talent if not for their bread-and-butter choice of a TJS pitcher.

26. Texas Rangers

26

Blayne Enlow

RHP, St. Amant HS (LA)

The Rangers love to grab upside whenever they can in early draft slots, whether it be in hitting or pitching. Enlow has the type of pitches that can project to a front-of-the-rotation ace. He’s got a lot of projection left to his body at this point that still needs to be filled in, but the present feel for a change and a curve that some have already rated as a double-plus make Enlow a very intriguing prospect. He may be a guy that requires above slot to sign away from LSU, but his talent in a Rangers system without a lot of upside on the pitching end of the system will be enough to entice the Rangers to open up the check book.

27. Chicago Cubs

27

Nate Pearson

RHP, Central Florida Junior College

The Cubs are almost certain to come out of their two first round picks with at least one arm, if not two, and it’s been highly rumored that the team is very interested in JuCo arms. Pearson did not get a ton of interest out of high school in spite of a low-90s fastball, so he went the college route, and he transferred to JuCo after one year at Florida International, looking to re-classify for the 2017 draft after adding velocity and size up to 6’6″ and 230-250 pounds (depending on who you trust). He has flashed triple digits out of the bullpen but is sitting 93-96 as a starter this spring and touching 97-98 in the 6th of starts. In the JuCo ranks, he’s not had to rely a ton on his secondary stuff beyond his plus change, but his curve and slider are both solid pitches, with the slider the more developed pitch now and with the higher ceiling. He should fit the Cubs very well, moving through their system quickly.

28. Toronto Blue Jays

28

Alex Lange

RHP, Louisiana State University

Lange blew away the SEC his freshman year to put himself onto the map, and he’s been seemingly shuffling ever since, though that’s still a very good pitcher. Lange sits low 90s with the fastball, touching 96-97 with excellent late life, and his hard curve may be the best hard curve in the draft. Lange has struggled some this spring with command, which has dropped him from a top 15 pick to more of the back of the first round, but a team getting him this late will be excited for their value.

29. Texas Rangers

29

Matt Sauer

RHP, Ernest Righetti HS (CA)

Sauer is a guy who showed excellent stuff over the summer, but a jump in velocity entering his senior year has pushed his name into the first round. Sauer has an impressive four-pitch mix that does hide some concerns in his delivery, but he does repeat the delivery well, even if it isn’t the prettiest. His raw, projectable stuff is exactly the profile that fits well in the Rangers system.

30. Chicago Cubs

30

Nick Allen

SS, Francis Parker School (CA)

As a fan of good defense, Allen is one of my favorite prospects in this year’s class to watch. If he were even 3-4″ taller, he would be a top-10 pick without question. Because he’s listed at 5’8″ tall and around 155 pounds (and many scouts consider both numbers generous), Allen has slipped down many boards that believe his lack of size will inhibit him being an impact big leaguer. However, he should have a high floor as a defender, and his double-plus run tool along with excellent bat-to-ball ability should allow him to produce on the offensive end as well as seeing his body fill out to produce some natural power on top of his bat speed. Many teams have discussed that Allen would be a target as a 2nd pick in the draft, not their first pick, and this would be an excellent fit with the Cubs’ emphasis on defense across their entire system.

31. Tampa Bay Rays

31

Drew Waters

OF, Etowah HS (GA)

Usually, the Georgia high school hitting crop dots the first round, but this season is a thinner group than normal. Waters, however, is not simply known due to being the best of a weak class as he has legit skills in his own right. Waters is a solid switch-hitter with a good approach and power from both sides of the plate and projection on the power to play even further as he ages, having some scouts grade him as a future 65-70 power guy, a rarity amoung switch hitters. What is even more rare is the plus level speed and solid defensive ability that could pass in center but should be very good in a corner. He’d be a coup for the Rays in this spot.

32. Cincinnati Reds

32

Heliot Ramos

OF, Leadership Christian Academy HS (PR)

Ramos may be one of the most high variable players in this season’s draft among evaluators. Ramos has elite tools, specifically plus-plus run and and arm tools, along with raw double-plus power. However, Ramos has shown very wide variance in the performance in his hit tool, and that will be the driving force in the player he can become. One of the younger players in the draft, typical maturity issues of pitch/zone recognition and proper routes in the outfield are still an issue that Ramos has, but his ceiling could be as high as any player in the draft. The Reds enjoyed pairing a high-end college bat with a toolsy outfielder last season when they picked Nick Senzel and Taylor Trammell, and combining McKay and Ramos would be a similar combination.

33. Oakland Athletics

33

Evan White

1B, University of Kentucky

White is a fast-rising player that has been able to exhibit to teams that he’s more than just a first baseman this spring, and that has allowed him to move up draft boards. White has the ideal right field profile with a plus arm and excellent athleticism. The switch-hitter has shown very well with his bat his entire collegiate career, though some do believe he will be a hit-over-power type of guy. One scout told me that the offensive profile reminds him strongly of peak Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval was never considered a 70 defender at any position like White is considered presently at first with potential as a plus right fielder as well.

34. Milwaukee Brewers

34

Brendon Little

LHP, State Junior College of Florida

After grabbing the more “safe” pick with their first selection, Little would qualify as going for the more upside pick with the Brewers second selection. Coming out of high school, he was a well known player from Pennsylvania, but he struggled with command and ended up at North Carolina instead of being drafted. He transferred after his freshman year to JuCo and took monstrous strides forward with his mid-90s fastball and tight curve that are a wicked arsenal on their own, let alone when he can get the feel of his change in a start. He may take a bit longer than a typical JuCo guy, but the upside is significant in Little’s left arm.

35. Minnesota Twins

35

Daniel Tillo

LHP, Iowa Western Junior College

While Little and Pearson have been the talk of the JuCo class this season, Tillo has been getting a ton of helium the closer to the MLB draft that the year gets. Tillo was a Twins selection out of high school in 2015, but he chose to go to college at Kentucky instead of signing. Many thought his transferring to JuCo was to allow Tillo to pursue his other love, basketball. The 6’5″ lefty was an elite basketball player in high school, winning the Iowa Mr. Basketball award. He chose Kentucky to be in the SEC, but after a coaching change, he transferred near home to JuCo, and the results have been tremendous as he’s been able to focus on his body and his craft, throwing into upper mid-90s with his fastball and spinning a hard slider with even more velocity. His change has come along nicely as well. While this would seemingly give the Twins two pitchers early, it would be two very high upside guys, including one local guy, a very productive first round.

36. Miami Marlins

36

Tristen Lutz

OF, Martin HS (TX)

Looking more like a linebacker getting off the team bus than an outfielder, it’s no surprise that the calling card for Lutz is big power from the right side. He’s got a typical right field profile with a plus arm and present above-average power that projects as possible double-plus. Lutz showed well in the showcase circuit, but an adjustment between the summer circuits and the fall ball events allowed scouts to see Lutz spraying the ball to all fields with his elite bat speed. Lutz has advanced pitch recognition for a high school player as well, allowing him to wait on his pitch to drive as well. With a system in need of any impact talent it can get, Lutz would be a big bat the Marlins could really promote to their fan base.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Drop a note in the comments!

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