Friday, May 26, 2017

Baseball MTJAG's 2017 MLB Mock Draft 1.0
With the month of June coming just around the corner, so does the annual MLB Amateur Draft, where hundreds of young men will finally reach their pro ball dreams. As the top college and high school ballplayers prepare for the next chapter of their lives, here at Baseball MTJAG we will mock where these talents are projected to go in the first round.

1- Minnesota Twins: RHP Kyle Wright, Vanderbilt
Brendan McKay and Hunter Greene have grabbed headlines this spring, but Vanderbilt ace Kyle Wright has been steadily rising to the top. After a slow start, Wright has been dominant lately, befuddling hitters in the elite SEC with a mid 90’s fastball and 3 other average-to-plus offerings. McKay is safe but does not have quite the upside Wright does, and while Greene has unlimited upside, no prep righty has ever gone first overall. Wright is the perfect combo: a high-ceiling, polished college arm.

2- Cincinnati Reds: LHP Brendan McKay, Louisville
McKay’s bat has surprised many this spring, but his future is probably still on the mound. At his best, he sits in the low 90’s with a plus curve from the left side. His velo has dipped into the high 80’s lately, but being a two-way player has taken its physical toll. Still, McKay is arguably the safest pick this year, being a college-polished lefty with a long history of success. Cincinnati is locked in on McKay the way they were locked in on Senzel last year. There is almost no chance they pass on him.

3- San Diego Padres: RHP Hunter Greene, Notre Dame HS
No amateur ballplayer has come with this much hype since Bryce Harper, and Greene is a true phenom in every sense of the word. He’s a prodigal figure, with a 102 mph fastball on the mound and being a true humanitarian off it. He’s landed on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine, and has been dubbed the LeBron James of baseball. However, the baseball draft has bias against high school right handers, the most risky demographic there is. Greene, who has been shut down from the mound in preparation for the draft, is from Southern California. He would be the ideal pick for the Padres assuming Minnesota passes, a generational talent from their own backyard.

4- Tampa Bay Rays: OF Royce Lewis, Junipero Serra Catholic HS
The Rays love taking chances on toolsy prep bats, and Lewis is one of the best around. With 70-grade speed, plus bat speed, raw power, and a chance to be an elite defender in center field, Lewis epitomizes the Rays search for the next franchise talent. He hasn’t had the greatest of springs, but his track record is undeniable and his talent is game-changing.

5- Atlanta Braves: LHP Mackenzie Gore, Whiteville HS
Gore, unlike Lewis, has been electric all spring. He’s risen up from the pool of projectable prep arms to become the cream of the crop. A projectable lefty who has great pitchability for a high schooler, Gore mixes his low-to-mid 90’s fastball with a plus breaking ball that will carve up hitters. Atlanta has been loading up on young arms through the draft, and with Gore still on the board, don’t expect them to change their draft strategy.

6- Oakland A’s: RHP J.B. Bukauskas, North Carolina
Bukauskas has had the best spring of any college pitcher not named McKay, beating hitters with a fastball that reaches 98 and a plus slider to match. He’s cut down on the walks, and while the command will still waver at times, the elite stuff allows him to pitch through it. The only knock on him is that he stands in at just 5’11, hardly the ideal pitcher’s frame. Oakland, however, has been unafraid to take chances on Sonny Gray and Daulton Jefferies, both of whom are under 6 feet tall.

7- Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Alex Faedo, Florida
The University of Florida ace has had an up and down with season, with his stuff backing into the low 90’s rather than his usual 93-97. However, his track record is tough to argue with, and he’s continued to put up good numbers even with diminished stuff. Arizona needs more fast-moving talent in a system filled with raw guys at the low-levels, and Faedo fits the bill.

8- Philadelphia Phillies: OF Austin Beck, North Davidson HS
The position player with the most helium this season, Beck has risen from relative obscurity to a top-10 talent in the draft. A toolsy outfielder with plus speed, plus power, and a plus arm, Beck’s skillset is reminiscent of Clint Frazier. He’s drawn a bit of flak for being overaggressive at times, but that shouldn’t stop him from being nabbed in the top half of the first round. The Phillies took a hit-first outfielder in Moniak last year, and he could soon join the power-first Beck to form a dynamic duo for years to come.

9- Milwaukee Brewers: 1B Pavin Smith, Virginia
The Brewers have shown an affinity for toolsy outfielders, taking Corey Ray, Trent Clark, Monte Harrison, and Demi Orimoloye in recent drafts. They could use a safer bat to go with the high-upside talents, and the Smith is the most polished college bat this season. With more homers than strikeouts (not a typo!!) this season, Milwaukee could fast-track Smith to the big league.

10- Los Angeles Angels: OF Adam Haseley, Virginia
Having taken a bat-first college hitter from Virginia last year in Matt Thaiss, the Angels could double-dip by nabbing Haseley come June. The biggest breakout star in college baseball, Haseley has maintained a near .400 batting average all year. Add in his above-average speed and plus arm (he also pitches), the Angels could look to this high-floor player to replenish their barren farm system.

11- Chicago White Sox: OF Jeren Kendall, Vanderbilt
Coming into the season, Kendall was in the conversation for being the #1 overall pick and best overall college bat. He has tremendous tools, with a rare power-speed combination from the left side that makes him a truly dynamic ballplayer. The catch: his sky-high strikeout rate. His tendencies to whiff have dropped him lower and lower on boards, but it's hard to imagine the White Sox passing on him, given their fondness for high-upside outfielders.

12- Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Griffin Canning, UCLA
Given that their ace, Gerrit Cole, is a UCLA alum, the Pirates should be quite familiar with the pitching-rich Bruins. UCLA seems to generate early round pitchers year after year, and Canning is the latest to follow that tradition. With his 90-95 mph fastball and quality offspeed pitches, as well as plus pitchability, Canning checks all the boxes that the Pirates seem to look for in their pitchers.

13- Miami Marlins: OF Jordon Adell, Ballard HS
There is no player in this draft class that can match Adell’s pure athleticism. With 80-grade speed and plus raw power and pure arm strength, Adell has been compared to the baseball version of Bo Jackson in his prime. While that might be a quite lofty expectation, he certainly has the tools to unlock that upside under proper coaching. The Marlins could certainly use a jolt to their system, and Adell could be the guy that jumpstarts a struggling franchise.

14- Kansas City Royals: RHP Shane Baz, Concordia Lutheran HS
The Royals love prep arms, shown by them taking Ashe Russell and Nolan Watson in 2015. Baz is much more accomplished than those two in their respective high school careers, and more polished as well. With 4 pitches that he mixes with regularity, along with a fastball that hovers around 93, the Royals will have a hard time passing him on.

15- Houston Astros: LHP D.L. Hall, Valdosta HS
The analytically-minded Astros have been unafraid to take high schoolers in the draft, and Hall is one of the best high school arms left available. Up to 95 mph with perhaps the best curve in the draft class, Hall also fits the organizational need for left handed pitchers.

16- New York Yankees: 2B Keston Hiura, UC Irvine
While Hiura has been limited to DH duties due to his bad elbow, he has demonstrated this season to be one of the best college hitters in the nation. With a blend of pure hitting ability and in-game power, the only question is if his elbow will be healthy enough to play defense in pro ball. Even if he needs surgery, however, the Yankees are in a good position to take this chance, and if anything, at least come away with a well-rounded offensive threat.

17- Seattle Mariners: 1B Nick Pratto, Huntington Beach HS
A longtime prep standout, Pratto has been a winner all throughout his amateur career, from the Little League World Series to taking home gold with Team USA’s 18U team. He’s got a pretty swing from the left side and is a plus defender at first base. The Mariners like drafting bats, and Pratto will fit nicely in their system.

18- Detroit Tigers: 3B Jake Burger, Missouri State
Something about Jake Burger just screams future Tiger. Maybe it’s his power bat, or his accomplished college career, both things that the Detroit system values. Their farm system is light on impact bats, but Burger could change that if they take him here.

19- San Francisco Giants: SS Logan Warmoth, North Carolina
If Burger screams future Tiger, then there’s nothing more Giant in this draft then UNC shortstop Logan Warmoth. A polished middle infielder whose package is more than the sum of the parts? Sounds familiar. Whether it’s Christian Arroyo, Joe Panik, or Brandon Crawford, the Giants seem to like these types. Warmoth fits that description to a T.

20- New York Mets: LHP David Peterson, Oregon
Yes, their major league rotation is loaded, but the Mets system is now light of high-upside arms. Peterson broke out on the scene in a big way this spring, included his masterful 20-K game against juggernaut Arizona State. He’s polished and can get some whiffs, and will likely move fast through the system.

21- Baltimore Orioles: RHP Clarke Schmidt, South Carolina
Schmidt was in the midst of a breakout season when his elbow required Tommy John. He won’t be ready to pitch until late 2018 at best, but he has shown flashes of mid-rotation potential. He has a 90-95 mph fastball with a good slider, and shouldn’t slip out of the first round even with the injury. Assuming the Orioles aren’t scared off because of Hunter Harvey’s injury problems, they could give Schmidt a shot.

22- Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Sam Carlson, Burnsville HS
Cold weather prep arm out of Minnesota, Carlson was a late riser due to a strong spring. He’s raw and probably won’t be pitching in full season ball until late 2018 or 2019, but with two first round picks relatively close to each other, the Jays can take a shot at Carlson’s lofty ceiling.

23- Dodgers: OF Heliot Ramos, Leadership Christian Academy, PR
The Dodgers have been a tad unorthodox the last couple years when it comes to the early rounds of the draft, and Ramos is a late riser with raw tools coming out of Puerto Rico. Very good athlete with above-average speed and a good arm, he will be a project but one the Dodgers can take on given the depth of their system.

24- Boston Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck, Missouri
Houck was one of the best performers on Team USA’s collegiate team, and headed into this season with high expectations. While he has underwhelmed a bit, he has heated up as of late and still shows strikeout stuff. With a fastball that reaches 97 and a slider that flashes plus, Houck shouldn’t fall out of the first round. The Red Sox capitalized on Jason Groome falling last year, and could do the same with Houck.

25- Washington Nationals: LHP Brendon Little, State JC of Florida
Little, who transferred to junior college after a year at UNC, may be the best college lefty not named Seth Romero, who has fallen out of the first round due to makeup concerns. His fastball reaches 97, with a 12-6 curve and changeup that both flash above-average at times. Consistency is key for him, but if the Nats take him here his decision to transfer will look wise.

26- Texas Rangers: 1B Evan White, Kentucky
Similar to Pavin Smith of Virginia, White is a hit-over-power first baseman, except White swings from the right side. White is easily a plus defender at first, and has above average speed as well, making outfield a possibility down the line. He’ll hit plenty of doubles and have a high average, but how much over-the-fence power he will have is still a question. With two first rounders, the Rangers could take the safer White to offset a riskier pick later.

27- Chicago Cubs: RHP Alex Lange, LSU
A tall righty with the plus curveball, Lange was supposed to head a dominant LSU squad primed for contention in Omaha. Lange and the rest of the Tigers have not lived up to expectations, but the squad as a whole has heated up as of late and Lange is beginning to pick up steam. His curveball is comfortably plus and pairs well with the low-to-mid 90’s fastball. The Cubs also have two first round picks, and taking Lange could free them up to take a prep player later.

28- Toronto Blue Jays: 1B Brent Rooker, Mississippi State
Having taken the prep arm Carlson at 1-22, the Blue Jays could look to save money by drafting redshirt junior Rooker at this slot. Rooker was projected as a 3rd to 5th round pick preseason, but his breakout campaign merits him first round consideration. Rooker currently leads the SEC in almost every offensive category possible, and has undoubtedly been the top college performer all year. Taking Rooker would give the Blue Jays an impact bat and some flexibility with their bonus pool.

29- Texas Rangers: RHP Blayne Enlow, St. Amant HS
Taking the college bat White at 1-26 gives the Rangers room to shoot for some upside, and Blayne Enlow brings just that. The polished yet projectable right hander sits in the low 90’s with a plus breaking ball, and while the changeup is still developing, his package is one of tremendous upside. He could be quite the steal for Texas this late in the first round.

30- Chicago Cubs: SS Nick Allen, Francis W. Parker HS
Rumor has it that Chicago is enamored with San Diego-based shortstop Nick Allen. While he stands in at just 5’8’’, he has Gold Glove potential given his plus arm, foot speed, and baseball instincts. He doesn’t have much power yet, but he can go gap-to-gap utilizing his speed, and his defense is so good that it almost doesn’t matter.

Want to read more draft coverage by me? Click here to read more.

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