The 2017 MLB Draft kicks off on Monday, June 12 and while it doesn’t get the same level of publicity as its counterparts in the NFL and NBA, baseball’s Rule 4 Draft is as important as any. This is where major league general managers build their farm systems and future teams.
This year, there is a ton of talent at the very top, with several two-way standouts garnering a lot of attention. The high school pitching ranks are also extremely strong, led by the now-famous Hunter Greene.
Here is our first shot at a baseball mock draft, let us know what you think and which picks you agree or disagree with in the comments.
1. Minnesota Twins
Pick: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Twins could go a number of ways here, but the winds seem to be blowing in the direction of Vanderbilt righty Kyle Wright. Wright has the highest ceiling of the college pitchers in the draft and has been on fire lately. That could give him the edge over two-way standouts Brendan McKay and Hunter Greene.
2. Cincinnati Reds
Pick: Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Louisville
There is a fascinating debate going on here. McKay has one of the best college bats, but also might have the highest floor of the college pitchers. He has ace upside if he commits to the mound. The Louisville lefty is also considered a safe pick. That said, Greene’s tantalizing tools on the mound could be too tough to pass up. They’ll take one of the two, and for some reason I think they’ll bet on the college guy.
3. San Diego Padres
Pick: Hunter Greene, SS/OF/RHP, Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks, CA)
This scenario would be perfect for the Padres and Greene. The Friars desperately want him and he has made it known he wants to remain in Southern California. He’ll be the pick if he’s on the board. If not, the Padres are also in on high school lefty MacKenzie Gore and toolsy local shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis. They could also opt to cut a below-slot deal with someone if Greene is gone and spend big in later rounds. But if the Sports Illustrated cover boy is still on the board, general manager A.J. Preller will snag him.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
Pick: Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic High School (San Juan Capistrano, CA)
Gore, Lewis and McKay are all possibilities if they’re still on the board. In this scenario they grab Lewis, the guy who might have the best tools of any position player in the draft. He’ll wind up in center field, though I’m sure the Rays will allow him to play himself out of shortstop.
5. Atlanta Braves
Pick: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville High School (Whiteville, N.C.)
The Braves are in on a number of guys, including everyone who is already off the board in this scenario, plus Texas prep righty Shane Baz. But if Gore is there, they’d be crazy not to take him. He’s by far the best prep lefty available and some think his upside matches or even surpasses Greene. He has ace potential and has improved tremendously over the past year.
6. Oakland A’s
Pick: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
The A’s apparently really like Gore, but he’s gone in this scenario. They could go with a toolsy high school outfielder like Austin Beck, or hard-throwing college righty J.B. Bukauskas, but Billy Beane loves polished college hitters. Virginia’s Pavin Smith is exactly that. He could be the first bat from this class to reach the big leagues.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
Pick: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
There’s a chance we see back-to-back Virginia guys here as center fielder Adam Haseley has to be under consideration. But the Diamondbacks have long been linked to Bukauskas, and despite some inconsistency, the North Carolina hurler has great natural stuff. At worst he becomes a high-leverage reliever.
8. Philadelphia Phillies
Pick: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
Baz or Beck could go here, but I have a feeling the Phillies pull a surprise and go with Florida righty Alex Faedo. Baz’s strong TCU commitment could scare a few teams off since they’ll have to shell out more cash to pry him away, and Faedo was seen as a potential No. 1 overall pick after a brilliant sophomore season. His junior season has been inconsistent but his stuff is phenomenal.
9. Milwaukee Brewers
Pick: Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard High School (Louisville, KY)
The Brewers love themselves some toolsy high school outfielders, which leads me to believe they’ll go with either Beck or Jordon Adell. In this scenario I have them taking Adell, a guy they’ve been linked to for weeks.
10. Los Angeles Angels
Pick: Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA
The Angels like Adell, Beck and a few college hitters, but I think they’ll wind up going safe and local. UCLA righty Griffin Canning has four solid pitches, sits in the low 90s and touches 95. Though he’s not a big guy (6’1″ and 170 pounds), Canning has the stuff to project as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
11. Chicago White Sox
Pick: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia
The White Sox would love things to unfold this way where they could pick between Jeren Kendall, Haseley and Beck. I think they take Haseley, the most advanced of the three.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates
Pick: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson High School (Lexington, N.C.)
There’s no way Beck should be on the board this late, the Pirates should race to turn this pick in if he is. The North Carolina kid has some of the best pure tools in the draft but he doesn’t have a track record of hitting with wood bats, unlike some other top prospects. That shouldn’t matter though, his power should translate. If he can make contact consistently he should move quickly and have All-Star upside.
13. Miami Marlins
Pick: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran High School (Tomball, Texas)
If Baz lasts this long he should be the pick. At 6’3″ and 190 pounds, the Texas prep righty has good size with some projection left. He throws hard, touching 98 mph this spring and sitting in the 92-96 range. The TCU commit is a great athlete who also has a really nice cutter and a good curveball, with a developing changeup. He has ace upside.
14. Kansas City Royals
Pick: Trevor Rogers, Carlsbad High School (Carlsbad, New Mexico)
The Royals apparently love this crop of high school arms, so I’m not bucking the trend, they’ll go with one here. Trevor Rogers has as high a ceiling as any lefty in the draft (including Gore), but he has a lot of growing to do. He’s 6’6″ and 188 pounds, but already throws in the mid-90s, has a slider, a curve and a changeup that’s getting better. He can already command both sides of the plate as well.
15. Houston Astros
Pick: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
Baseball’s best team may get the steal of the draft if things play out this way. Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall was once in the mix at No. 1, but there have been uneven results on the field this year. Still, he’s a potential five-tooler with 70-grade (on the 20-80 scale) speed and defense. He’s too good to get past the Astros.
16. New York Yankees
Pick: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta High School (Valdosta, GA)
The Yankees have been closely linked to California prep first baseman Nick Pratto and Georgia prep lefty D.L. Hall. I think they’ll go with Hall, who can hit the mid-90s with his fastball, has a really nice curve and the mechanics to continue his development. He’s not a big kid at 6’0″ and 190 pounds, but there’s still a bit of room for growth.
17. Seattle Mariners
Pick: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
The Mariners are all over college bats, and while they’ll likely consider Pratto, Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger is the pick here. Burger is a big-time power prospect who hit 21 home runs in 2016 and followed that up with 22 home runs and a .341 batting average before the NCAA Tournament began. He should be able to stick at third and can read pitches well. Burger might be the best power bat in the college ranks this year.
18. Detroit Tigers
Pick: Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach High School, (Huntington Beach, CA)
If Pratto or Hall get here, the Tigers will take one of them. In this case it’s Pratto, who won the 2011 Little League World Series with an RBI single in the bottom of the final inning (check it out). Pratto’s sweet swing has elevated him to first-round status. At 6’1″ and 193 pounds he already has a solid build, with good range at first base that should make him a plus defender. Pratto pitches in high school too, but his bat is what’s getting him to the majors.
19. San Francisco Giants
Pick: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
The Giants have been linked to college bats all spring, and in this scenario they land one. Evan White is a Gold Glove-caliber defender at first base and the University of Kentucky kid could even move to the outfield if needed. At 6’3″ and 175 pounds he needs to add some muscle to his frame and better power could come once he does. Right now he’s a righty bat that controls the zone and sprays the ball all over the field.
20. New York Mets
Pick: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina
The Mets could go in a number of ways here, but I think they continue to stack their organizational depth up the middle with North Carolina’s Logan Warmoth. Warmoth plays shortstop for the Tar Heels and could stick there long-term, but has the athleticism to move around the diamond. He had a great showing in the Cape Cod league last summer and has solidified himself as the top college middle infielder on the board. Warmoth doesn’t have big power, a huge arm or top speed, but he does everything well with almost no real weaknesses.
21. Baltimore Orioles
Pick: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
The Orioles will almost certainly take a pitcher and Missouri righty Tanner Houck is the guy they’ve been linked to most often. I’ll jump on that bandwagon, as they need an arm that can come quickly. Houck throws hard, with a fastball that touches 98 mph with sink. His slider could wind up being an out pitch but it needs refinement. At 6’5″ and 215 pounds he’s built to start, and while his three-quarter delivery could frighten some teams, he’s a guy who should move fast.
22. Toronto Blue Jays
Pick: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
The Blue Jays are all over the map and it’s really going to depend on who manages to fall to them. At this point in the draft I can’t see them passing on Oregon lefty David Peterson, who has been excellent this season. Peterson has hit double-digits in strikeouts in four of his last six starts and K’d 20 two weeks ago in a masterful performance against Arizona State. At 6’6″ and 240 pounds, he’s a massive guy with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and an excellent slider.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers
Pick: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen High School (Mobile, AL)
The Dodgers have never been afraid to roll the dice in the draft and they do so here, taking Alabama prep star Bubba Thompson. Thompson is a two-sport athlete, committed to Alabama for baseball, but he was a star quarterback as well. He’s fast, has a great arm and is destined to be an excellent center fielder. He’ll be worth the risk if he makes consistent contact and is willing to head to the professional ranks.
24. Boston Red Sox
Pick: Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC Irvine
Keston Hiura is a college bat with an extremely high floor. The problem is where he’ll play at the next level. He’s not a great fielder and doesn’t have much of an arm, but man can this kid hit. The UC Irvine second baseman/outfielder has fantastic bat speed and some pop, with decent speed on the bases. He could wind up in left field because he certainly doesn’t have the arm for right. An elbow injury could require major surgery, but the Red Sox have a deep system and can afford to wait for Hiura’s bat to arrive. It should be worth the patience when it does.
25. Washington Nationals
Pick: Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville High School (Burnsville, MN)
The Nationals are looking at arms and prep righty Sam Carlson has been outstanding this spring. At 6’4″ and 195 pounds, the Minnesota hurler has great size and projection and he’s already sitting between 92 and 97 mph this year. His fastball has late life and sink, and he can also throw his slider for strikes. Carlson needs to use his changeup more but it looks like it could turn into a solid offering.
26. Texas Rangers
Pick: Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida Junior College
Nate Pearson has been shooting up draft boards after he was consistently over triple digits during a bullpen session for scouts in May. The junior college standout is enormous (6’6″ and 240 pounds) and throws really hard. He was between 95 and 97 mph all spring, but there’s clearly more there. Pearson struck out 118 batters while walking just 23 in 81 innings this season, while posting a 1.56 ERA and allowing just 60 hits. His secondary stuff is raw, but man is his ceiling high.
27. Chicago Cubs
Pick: Nick Allen, SS, Francis Parker School (San Diego, CA)
The Cubs have been linked to Nick Allen for a long time despite the fact the diminutive shortstop doesn’t fit the typical first-round profile. Allen stands in at just 5’8″ and 155 pounds, but man can he go get the ball at short. He’s one of the best fielding high school shortstops I’ve ever seen. Allen is a solid hitter and a fast runner, but he doesn’t have much pop. That said, his defense alone is worth drafting him this high. He’s that good out there.
28. Toronto Blue Jays*
Pick: Alex Lange, RHP, LSU
Alex Lange was dominant as a freshman, as he went 12-0 with a 1.97 ERA while leading the Tigers to the 2015 College World Series title. His sophomore season didn’t live up to those highs, but he’s regained his prospect status this year, with a solid campaign. He has an outstanding curveball and a fastball that sits in the 92-96 mph range. At 6’4″ and 200 pounds he has the size to stick as a starter as long as his changeup develops.
29. Texas Rangers**
Pick: Tristen Lutz, OF, Martin High School (Arlington, TX)
Tristen Lutz is a local prep star the Rangers can feel good about taking. He’s a toolsy outfielder who can hit, has prodigious power and experience with wood bats. At 6’3″ and 210 pounds without plus-speed, Lutz looks like a true right fielder thanks to a great arm.
30. Chicago Cubs***
Pick: Matt Sauer, RHP, Righetti High School (Santa Maria, CA)
Matt Sauer is a big righty at 6’4″ and 195 pounds with incredible upside. He already hits 97 mph regularly and sits between 91 and 95, while unleashing a wicked slider. His changeup is a below-average offering right now and he struggles with his command at times, but if he can harness both Sauer could be a star.
*Compensation for Edwin Encarnacion signing with Cleveland Indians
**Compensation for Ian Desmond signing with Colorado Rockies
***Compensation for Dexter Fowler signing with St. Louis Cardinals