2017 MLB Draft Grades: Texas Rangers
Best Pure Hitter: SS Chris Seise (1) dominated the Arizona League for 27 games, to the tune of a .336/.395/.509 triple slash, earning a promotion to the Northwest League. He understandably struggled there but showed the ability to adjust, going 11-for-29 to finish the season.
Best Power Hitter: 1B/OF Tyreque Reed (8) dominated in the spring with Itawamba (Miss.) JC, slugging .943 and has 70-grade raw power that comes from a very short stroke out of a big, 6-foot-2, 260-pound frame. He's still learning to translate that power with wood but slugged .617 in his pro debut, impressing the Rangers with the average exit velocity of his contact.
Fastest Runner: At least a 60-grade runner when healthy, OF Bubba Thompson (1) dealt with some knee issues this summer, though anti-inflammatory drugs kept him in the lineup for 30 games. Texas never saw its top pick at full throttle, but when he's fully healthy has a chance to be a dangerous player on the bases and a talented defensive center fielder.
Best Defensive Player: C Matt Whatley (3) came as advertised as a polished defender behind the plate, throwing out 33 percent of base stealers during his pro debut. He’s an above-average receiver, thrower and game-caller. His competitiveness and high energy should allow him to quickly pickup the nuances of the pro job quickly.
Best Fastball: Used in two-inning stints in his pro debut, RHP Hans Crouse (2) pitched off of a fastball that was routinely in the 96-99 mph range. Even in longer stints, it's easily a plus-plus offering already.
Best Secondary Pitch: Crouse has above-average feel for his curveball and manipulates the pitch regularly, changing both its speed and shape, getting more 12-to-6 movement at times and more of a sweeping breaking ball shape as well.
Best Pro Debut: Crouse held opposing hitters to a .109 average while posting a 0.45 ERA and striking out 30 in 20 innings. His ultra-competitive mindset hasn't affected him in any negative way off-the-field, with coaches and teammates alike loving him. Reed hit .350/.455/.617 in just 120 at-bats with 20 extra-base hits.
Best Athlete: Crouse's athleticism probably gives him a decent argument here as well, but Thompson gets the nod for best athlete and was one of the most athletic players in the entire 2017 draft class.
Wes Benjamin Makes Surprise Major League Debut
The 27-year-old lefthander's hard work paid off with his big league debut in mid-August.
Most Intriguing Background: SS Myles McKisic (23) will probably never be faulted for lack of determination. The Florida prep product spent his free time coaching summer ball lessons to pay for his travel baseball expenses prior to getting drafted.
Closest To The Majors: Crouse has a unique blend of power pitching, strike throwing and finesse skills, and he could be fast-tracked if the Rangers decided they needed him out of the bullpen. At the moment, the team is committed to developing him as a starter.
Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Ricky Vanasco (15) struck out 16 of the 41 batters he faced in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Signed for $200,000, he gets excellent extension that helps his four pitches—fastball, curveball, slider, changeup, none of which is consistently average, play up.
The One Who Got Away: The Rangers knew they weren't going to sign Arkansas righthander Blaine Knight (29) but took him late in the draft anyways. Knight was rated as the No. 87 prospect prior to the 2017 draft and ranks No. 20 on BA’s 2018 Top 50 College Prospects list.