2017 MLB Draft Grades: Minnesota Twins
Best Pure Hitter: No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis (1) had his doubters about his bat this spring, but he led USA Baseball’s 18U national team in the 2016 Pan Am championships, hitting .500, then hit a robust .279/.381/.407 in his pro debut. He has the swing, approach, athleticism and makeup to hit for continue his upward trajectory.
Best Power: 1B/OF Brent Rooker (1s) has double-plus power and hit 18 homers between two levels in his debut, after hitting 23 to lead the Southeastern Conference in the spring. He slugged .552 in the high Class A Florida State League in 40 games; the league as a whole slugged .360.
Fastest Runner: Lewis is a twitchy athlete who turns in some burner times but should settle in as a plus runner when he reaches the majors.
Best Defensive Player: Lewis made his greatest strides in 2017 as a shortstop. Many scouts saw him as a future center fielder entering the spring, but added reps in the spring prior to the draft and over the summer since signing have helped him improve significantly. Club officials now see him as a potentially plus defender at short, with range, arm strength and dynamic playmaking ability, once he hones his fielding mechanics and tightens his arm action.
Best Athlete: Lewis ranked second on BA’s Best Tools list for the draft among high school athletes, behind only Angels first-rounder Jo Adell. He’s both fast-twitch and has body control and has room to gain strength without becoming stiff.
Best Fastball: The highest-drafted player out of Canada in 2017, RHP Landon Leach (2) was the Twins’ third pick. His fastball isn’t just hard, at 93-95 mph with a peak of 97, but it’s heavy, with late sink.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Blayne Enlow (3) signed for $2 million, with his lean frame and curveball the primary attractions. It’s a plus pitch he can command, throwing it for strikes or as a chase pitch, and manipulates the shape of it as well. LHP Charlie Barnes (4) thrives with a plus changeup and command of his slider, curve and upper-80s fastball.
Best Pro Debut: Lewis’ .381 OBP impressed, but Rooker hit .281/.364/.566 with 18 homers overall between Rookie-level Elizabethton and Fort Myers in the FSL.
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Team USA will face Mexico in the bronze medal game of Premier12 with an Olympic bid on the line.
Most Intriguing Background: RHP Derek Molina (14) worked out for first-year area scout Michael Quesada as a pitcher after hitting .356 with a team-best five homers in the spring for Merced (Calif.) JC. He pitched 28.1 innings in the spring as a reliever but impressed the Twins with his feel for spinning a breaking ball and 6-foot-3, 195-pound pitcher’s body.
Closest To The Majors: Rooker needs to find a defensive home, either in left field or his better spot, first base, but his bat looks ready to move quickly.
Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Bailey Ober (12) had an injury-plagued college career but is a tall (6-foot-8) command-oriented starter who posted a 35-3 strikeout-walk rate in 28 innings of his debut.
The One Who Got Away: Toolsy OF Gabriel Rodriguez (11) wanted more than the Twins had left in their bonus pool. He’s attending Miami-Dade JC.