Top 50 2017 MLB Draft Prospects Scouting Reports
Scouting reports on the Top 50 from Baseball America’s Top 100 Draft Prospects were compiled from countless conversations with scouts, coaches and front office officials. Reports written by Hudson Belinsky, Kyle Glaser, J.J. Cooper, Michael Lananna and John Manuel.
|1||Hunter Greene||RHP/SS||Notre Dame HS, Sherman Oaks, Calif.||6/3||205||R/R||UCLA|
Greene is one of the most intriguing draft prospects of the past few decades. In a class loaded with legitimate two-way prospects, the UCLA recruit is the cream of the crop. He’s a smooth defender at shortstop with plus body control and glove actions to go with plus-plus arm strength. Greene is a below-average runner and possesses a physical 6-foot-4 frame, which lead to questions about his future position if he hits. Offensively, Greene’s calling card is his loud righthanded power; he was a regular home run derby participant and winner on the high school showcase circuit. His pure hitting ability is behind the rest of his tools, and he is still raw in terms of his timing and ability to barrel breaking pitches. Despite a first-round draft profile as a hitter, Greene is more likely to reach the majors as a righthanded pitcher. He has an exceptionally athletic delivery with an easy finish, and he pitched mostly at 95-99 throughout the spring of his senior season, with his fastball reaching as high as 102 mph for some scouts, while others had him topping out at 101. He was throwing both a slider and a curveball as a senior, with his slider figuring to be a bigger part of his future. Thrown in the low 80s, the pitch flashes slurvy tilt and earns above-average projections from scouts. He throws all four of his pitches for strikes. Greene has focused on pitching off his fastball and doesn’t have as many reps with his offspeed stuff as a result. He flashes feel for his changeup, which scouts feel comfortable projecting given Greene’s advanced command and athleticism. Greene has massive hands with thick fingers, elements that tend to predict quick changeup growth. Greene was a high-achieving student and scored a 31 on the ACT, a score that ranks among the top three percent of all students taking the test. In the winter prior to his senior spring, he organized a sock drive for the homeless, sending autographed cards of himself to fans who donated socks. Greene was a disciple of Alan Jaeger at seven years old and has specific training techniques that he’s reluctant to stray from at the next level. He long tosses prior to games and actively practices yoga to keep himself flexible and present. He also began training at MLB’s Urban Youth Academy when he was seven and learned from future Major Leaguers such as Aaron Hicks and Anthony Gose. Greene will be 17 at the time of the draft and won’t turn 18 until August. Greene stopped pitching roughly six weeks prior to the draft to protect his arm. He is a candidate to be the first ever high school righthanded pitcher to be selected with the first overall pick, and is unlikely to slip out of the top five on draft day.
|2||Brendan McKay||LHP/1B||Louisville||6/2||212||L/L||Padres '14 (34)|
McKay's amateur career goes down as one of the most decorated in the last 35 years. At Black Hawk High outside of Pittsburgh, McKay tossed 72.1 consecutive scoreless innings over his final two seasons, the second-longest streak in recorded U.S. high school history. A 34th-round pick of the Padres in 2014, he headed to Louisville and has been a two-time first-team All-American as the nation's top two-way player and the 2015 Freshman of the Year. This June he will likely become Baseball America's third three-time first-team All-American joining Greg Swindell and Robin Ventura. He dominated for two seasons on the mound and took his offensive game to a new level in 2017, including a four-homer game at Eastern Kentucky. In mid-May, McKay ranked in the top 10 nationally in OBP and slugging, and he was in the discussion for being the best pure hitter in the draft class. Scouts remain mixed on his overall power potential, but McKay is getting to his power more this season, and scouts believe his defense, baserunning and overall feel as a first baseman would improve if he gave up pitching. His best-case scenario as a position player is a career along the lines of that of Adrian Gonzalez, though McKay needs polish defensively to merit that overall comparison. His even-keeled demeanor and temperament means the game never speeds up on him and particularly comes into play on the mound. He excels at locating his 89-93 mph fastball to his glove side, pitching inside to righthanded hitters with aplomb and pitching on the black of the plate with angle consistently. His advanced fastball command—his best attribute as a pitcher—earns some comparisons to Cliff Lee, though he's thicker-bodied along the lines of Swindell. McKay's curveball, like his fastball, earns above-average grades. He commands it, lands it and buries it for strikeouts, and scouts believe both pitches could improve to true plusses if McKay gave up hitting and focused on pitching, particularly in terms of a consistent starter’s routine. His changeup is a third pitch that he uses rarely and will have to improve as a pro. He could be a middle-of-the-order hitter or No. 3 starter, the latter in short order. His baseball athleticism was evident in his quick pickup of a cut fastball in late April, which helped him add a fourth pitch to his repertoire. McKay is a true top 10 pick either way, a testament to his baseball athleticism and IQ and overall feel for the game.
|3||Kyle Wright||RHP||Vanderbilt||6/4||220||R/R||Never drafted|
A product of a northern Alabama high school just north of Huntsville, Wright could go from undrafted in 2014 to the top overall pick in 2017. Wright was Vanderbilt's go-to reliever as a freshman in its 2015 College World Series runner-up team, then as a sophomore he gave Vanderbilt a 1-2 punch with Dodgers first-rounder Jordan Sheffield. He entered the spring as Vanderbilt's Friday starter after a strong summer with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team. He got off to a slow start in 2017 despite a fastball that often sat 95-97 mph early on, but his fastball command improved to solid-average as he dialed it back a bit to 92-95 mph, and that opened the way for him to get to his plus secondary stuff. Wright's slider is a hard mid-80s pitch with late life and at times cutter shape that can be plus; his curveball, his preferred breaking ball, has plus shape and power at around 80 mph. Teams laid off the curveball early when he wasn't throwing his fastball for strikes, and he needs to land both breaking balls for strikes more consistently going forward. Some scouts prefer the slider over his curve, though Wright throws the curve more often. Wright's power changeup in the upper 80s flashes plus as well with late bottom, though he uses it fairly rarely. Wright's clean arm action, low-maintenance delivery and sturdy 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame help him maintain velocity deep into games, up to 94 mph even into the ninth inning of his complete games. He was getting better as the season went on, including a dominant 38-inning stretch in April and May in which he allowed just 15 hits and nine walks while striking out 44. Wright had moved to the top of the college righthander crop.
|4||MacKenzie Gore||LHP||Whiteville (N.C.) HS||6/1||185||L/L||East Carolina|
Strikethrowing lefthanders are a hot commodity, and they’re even more valuable when they have velocity and the ability to spin a breaking ball. Gore checks all those boxes and more. He’s an elite athlete on the mound, where he employs a very high kick and long stride off the rubber. He gets deep extension over his front side with his torso consistently landing over his front knee. As Gore grew taller and stronger entering the spring of his senior year, his stuff took a jump. He pitches at 89-93 and can hit 95 or 96 mph with his fastball, showing the ability to get sink on the pitch or cut it in toward righthanded batters or run it away from them. He throws two distinct breaking balls. Gore’s curveball shows plus potential with tight 1-to-7 snap and mid 70s velocity. His slider is also a weapon with more horizontal tilt and more firm velocity, reaching into the low 80s. He flashes feel for his low 80s changeup, which projects as an above-average to plus offering. Gore repeats his unorthodox mechanics well and shows elite control for a high school pitcher. As he gains strength, Gore will look to add stability to his lower half. His mechanics can sometimes give him difficulty getting on top of his curveball, an issue he’ll aim to correct with reps in the low minors. Some evaluators believe Gore is the top high school pitching prospect in the class due to his command of a well-rounded arsenal of pitches.
|5||Royce Lewis||SS/OF||JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.||6/1||190||R/R||UC Irvine|
Lewis’s unique combination of explosive tools, top-of-the-scale makeup and up-the-middle defensive profile make him arguably the best position player prospect in this year’s class. “In my opinion Royce Lewis is the best player in the country,” JSerra head coach Brett Kay said in April. “You want to see that kid excel because that’s how good of a kid he is. He deserves everything that’s coming his way.” What’s coming his way is a multi-million dollar signing bonus. Lewis was the MVP of the Trinity League as a sophomore and again as a junior. Lewis is high-waisted and broad-shouldered and runs like a gazelle; his best run times from home to first base are under four seconds. He’s typically a 70 grade runner but can flash an 80 run time when he gets out of the box well. He also shows plus-plus bat speed and plus raw power. Lewis played third base as an underclassman at JSerra and moved over to shortstop after teammate Chase Strumpf graduated. He played center field often on the summer showcase circuit preceding his senior year and showed plus range and flashes of advanced defensive instincts. He has the quick feet and plus arm strength required to play shortstop, though scouts aren’t certain that he’ll make the necessary adjustments as he continues to fill out and the speed of the game advances. Scouts have noted Lewis’s inconsistent spring at the plate, as there is length to his swing that has led to occasional weak contact. The UC Irvine recruit has had a consistently high contact rate, shows an advanced approach and a sound understanding of the strike zone. He makes lots of hard contact and has plus power potential. His pure hitting ability and defense will be the keys to his pro development. Lewis is in consideration to be taken with the first overall pick and is unlikely to slide far in the draft, likely being selected in the top 10.
|6||JB Bukauskas||RHP||North Carolina||6/1||196||R/R||D-backs '14 (20)|
Bukauskas, whose first name is Jacob, reclassified as a high school junior to be part of the 2014 draft class and enroll at North Carolina a year early. The Diamondbacks drafted him that year anyway but he became a Tar Heel and made a jump as a sophomore, when he refined his slider to become one of the nation's top strikeout pitchers. Short but strong-bodied at a listed 6-foot, 201 pounds, Bukauskas features the nation's best breaking pitch, a slider that earns consistent 70 grades and even some 80s from area scouts. He has tremendous command of the 86-88 mph pitch with late, sharp bite and good tilt. He has better command of the slider than either his fastball or changeup, leading him to pitch off his slider more than big league pitchers would. The slider also helped him average 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings over 150 innings from the start of 2016 through April 2017. His fastball earns plus grades thanks to its velocity; it usually sits 95-97 mph early and settles in as a 92-94 mph pitch. It tends to lack movement even when he leaks out with his front shoulder and yanks the pitch. Bukauskas' changeup earned above-average grades as an amateur and in the summer of 2016 with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team, but he was using it sparingly (5-10 times per game) as a junior, too infrequently for scouts to grade it more than average. The overall package leads many scouts to chalk Bukauskus up as a reliever, while others believe he could still start in the Sonny Gray/Lance McCullers mold. He's young for the class and has the swing-and-miss slider to land in the first 10 picks.
|7||Pavin Smith||1B||Virginia||6/2||210||L/L||Rockies '14 (32)|
Smith ranked 108 on the BA 500 out of Palm Beach Gardens High, where he was a teammate of Florida’s J.J. Schwarz. An unsigned Rockies 32nd round pick, Smith attended Virginia and hit .307 as a freshman in the Cavaliers’ 2015 national championship season. Smith has matured into the best pure hitter in the draft class for some scouts, making consistent hard contact with a pretty lefthanded swing and incredible ability to avoid swings and misses. As Virginia reached its exam break in May, Smith had more home runs (10) than strikeouts (seven), using an all-fields approach but still producing plus power while being a plus hitter. That ability to pair high contact with power bodes extremely well for the future, according to most teams’ research. Smith moves well for his size and is a solid athlete, and most scouts consider him an above-average defender. The track record for college first baseman high in the draft is fairly mixed, but Smith has hit his way into contention.
|8||Jordon Adell||OF||Ballard HS, Louisville||6/3||200||R/R||Louisville|
Adell’s explosive raw tools are rarely matched. He’s a workout legend, capable of running a 6.4 60-yard dash, smacking a 450-foot home run with a wood bat or making a 70-grade throw from the outfield. He’s got all the body clichés—the high-waist, the broad shoulders and the defined muscles stretching his sleeves. When the players walk off the bus, Adell’s the guy scouts want.The degree to which Adell translates those attributes into baseball-specific skills will determine whether or not he becomes a superstar. On the summer showcase circuit—both as a rising junior and then again as a rising senior—Adell’s game skills were raw. He’d botch plays in the outfield and often expand the strike zone and swing at bad pitches. Every so often, though, he’d do something flashy to remind scouts of his promise. After a tough week at the Tournament of Stars, Adell made adjustments to his swing and showed more contact ability at the Metropolitan Baseball Classic and the Under Armour All-America Game. He had closed off his open stance and reduced the load of his back elbow, improving his direction to the ball, helping his head stay on plane and allowing his bat to stay through the zone longer. The changes yielded a much more functional swing. He concluded the showcase circuit with a strong performance at the WWBA World Championships, playing for the Evoshield Canes travel team. After a dedicated winter, Adell has done everything possible to reduce concerns about the swing-and-miss to his game. After swatting three home runs in a game on May 3, Adell had 21 on the season with only seven strikeouts. If his improvements hold up against next-level pitching after the draft, he could prove to be a true five-tool talent. Adell is also a significant prospect as a righthanded pitcher. His athletic body plays well on the mound and when he’s in prime pitching condition he’s capable of pitching at 92-94 and touching 95 with life on his fastball. His 12-to-6 breaking ball has powerful bite and low- to mid-80s velocity. Adell is committed to Louisville but is expected to have a team meet his bonus demands.
|9||Austin Beck||OF||North Davidson HS, Lexington, N.C.||6/1||200||R/R||North Carolina|
As an underclassman, Beck was a known commodity for Carolina area scouts thanks to travel ball and his own high school team. Then Beck tore his left knee's ACL just as his junior year came to a close and missed the entire summer and fall as a result. When scouts went to go see Beck hit in the cages during the winter, he was a different animal. The North Carolina recruit used his time away to fill in his frame, and his plus-plus bat speed attracted upper-level scouts early in the spring. Decision-makers didn’t get to see Beck hitting with a wood bat against good high school pitching on the showcase circuit, but he’s shown present all-fields power and puts on a show in batting practice. He is a plus runner and has a plus arm, giving him the potential to become an impact defender in center field, where his reads and route-running remain raw. Beck has moving parts to his swing, with a bit of a leg kick and some back-elbow drive to his load. In spurts he’ll show a more selective approach and sound understanding of the strike zone, but he will also become more aggressive at times and can sometimes struggle to barrel breaking pitches. He is a passionate player with a fiery competitive nature to his game. Beck is a hard worker and comes from a humble, small-town upbringing. He is a high-risk, high-reward prospect whose tools compare to some of the best players in the game. If he proves that he can get to those tools consistently, Beck has the potential to develop into an all-star.
|10||Alex Faedo||RHP||Florida||6/5||220||R/R||Tigers '14 (40)|
The nephew of 1978 first-round pick and ex-big leaguer Len Faedo, Alex Faedo played at Tampa’s Alonso High for his uncle. An unsigned 40th-round pick in 2014, he became an instant rotation member at Florida, pitching ahead of A.J. Puk in the rotation by the end of 2016 and finishing the summer as the No. 1 prospect on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. At that time, all three of his pitches—fastball, slider, changeup—earned plus grades from some scouts. Faedo had minor surgery on both knees in the fall, affecting his conditioning and offseason routine, and hadn’t quite gotten rolling for much of the spring as the calendar turned to May. At its best, Faedo’s slider rivals that of North Carolina’s J.B. Bukauskas, though it has a bit less power in the 83-84 mph range. He manipulates the pitch’s shape well and can locate it for strikes or as a chase pitch, though at times he gets too cute and throws too many sliders. Faedo’s fastball velocity has tended to be average at 88-92 mph this spring, but he’s pitched in the 92-94 register in the past, and he fills up the strike zone with his heater despite it having plus life. He can sink it and cut it, and at times his changeup has similar sinking life and run. Faedo’s longer arm action gives scouts some pause but hasn’t impeded his feel for the strike zone, and he has plenty of track record for clubs picking high to rely on.
|11||Jeren Kendall||OF||Vanderbilt||6/1||190||L/R||Red Sox '14 (30)|
Kendall’s father Jeremy played in the Phillies farm system for five years, and the dynamic outfielder has baseball and youth hockey in his background. The Wisconsin prep product starred in the 2013 Area Code Games but got limited looks from scouts due to weather and modest competition. He wound up at Vanderbilt, starting as a freshman for the 2015 national runner-up, then making strong progress in 2016 before playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team that summer. Kendall has the best tools of any college position player in the class. He’s an 80 runner and has plus arm strength and accuracy. He’s a plus defender in center field. The biggest question with him is how much he’ll be able to hit at the highest level; he has plus bat speed and raw power, but Kendall had struck out in more than 25 percent of his plate appearances with a month left before the draft. Kendall doesn’t use his lower half much and doesn’t create much separation in his swing. He has electric hand speed and strength in his 6-foot frame. Kendall often whiffs at pitches thrown in and out of the strike zone, even when facing below-average college pitchers. He tends to pull the ball—even when he’s pitched away—and the ball consistently comes off his barrel with authority. Kendall compares favorably with Corey Ray, the Louisville outfielder that Milwaukee drafted fifth overall in 2016, but Ray made more contact as a junior and showed more present hitting ability. Kendall’s other tools are better, but he may wind up being drafted lower than Ray was a year before.
|12||Shane Baz||RHP||Concordia Lutheran HS, Tomball, Texas||6/3||190||R/R||Texas Christian|
Baz is the top prospect in the Lone Star State this year thanks to electric stuff and promising athleticism. His fastball consistently works in the low to mid-90s and can reach 98. In the summer prior to his senior year, Baz pitched off a bat-breaking upper 80s cutter and used his four-seam fastball as an out pitch. Baz also entered the spring with a more physical frame, clearly having put in the work to get stronger during the offseason season. This spring, Baz showed more of a true slider in the mid-80s with tight, slurvy break. He also throws a sharp curveball with more top-to-bottom action on it and late vertical dive to it. Scouts have projected each of his breaking pitches to develop into plus pitches, though he’ll have to work on being more consistent with both. He is a very good athlete with a loose lower half and plus arm speed. He has a relatively compact arm action and outstanding body control, giving him the ingredients to repeat his delivery. Baz is a Texas Christian recruit and is a legitimate two-way prospect for the collegiate level thanks to his plus raw power from the right side. Most evaluators see him as the second-best prep righty in the class behind Hunter Greene, but Baz has the ingredients to surpass Greene going forward due to his more potent breaking pitches.
|13||Adam Haseley||OF||Virginia||6/1||195||L L||Never drafted|
Haseley has a winner’s pedigree, having helped Orlando’s First Academy to a 2014 NHSI title, then keying Virginia’s 2015 College World Series championship with a five-inning start in the CWS Finals. Haseley was considered a bit more of a prospect on the mound out of high school but prefers hitting and has hit his way into the first round as a junior, breaking out with more power than he’s ever shown before. Scouts still peg him as an average power hitter and knock his rotational swing, but his performance has demonstrated improved feel for hitting and an ability to make his average power play. He ranked among the national leaders in slugging, batting, hits and total bases in early May. An above-average hitter, Haseley has shown the ability to hit the ball out to all fields, controls the strike zone and has an advanced approach. He hits plenty of line drives but also has learned to loft the ball, producing more home runs. He’s also an above-average runner underway who grades out as an average defender in center field. Haseley could stick there as a pro but may slide to a corner, where his average, accurate arm could tick up as he gives up pitching. He’s an upper-80s lefthander and tremendous competitor on the mound who is ready to stop pulling double-duty and focus on hitting. Physically and in his overall game, Haseley fits a similar profile as former Expos outfielder Brad Wilkerson.
|14||DL Hall||LHP||Valdosta (Ga.) HS||6/1||180||L/L||Florida State|
Hall’s performance at the 2016 East Coast Pro Showcase was the stuff of legend. With the eyes of baseball’s entire amateur scouting community upon him, Hall struck out seven batters—including Jeter Downs, Tim Elko and Brady McConnell—in three electric innings. Hall has arguably the highest ceiling of any pitcher in this year’s class. His fastball velocity sometimes settles in in the low 90s but mostly works at 92-95 and touches 96. His fastball command can come and go, but he is a good athlete, and scouts expect him to develop better command as he matures physically. His curveball shows exceptionally late break with 1-to-7 shape; some scouts grade it as a future 60 while optimists have rated it as high as a 70. He can show an above-average changeup when he is throwing strikes, with the pitch showing late tumbling action in the low 80s. Hall is committed to Florida State. His inconsistency hurt his draft stock a bit during the spring, but his upside remains unquestioned and he’s unlikely to slide too far in the first round. Hall is a bit older for the class, and will turn 19 in September.
|15||Sam Carlson||RHP||Burnsville (Minn.) HS||6/4||208||R/R||Florida|
Carlson is the top high school prospect to come out of Minnesota since Joe Mauer in 2001. He draws comparisons to Athletics prospect Logan Shore; like Shore, Carlson is a Minnesota prep righty committed to Florida whose fastball-changeup combo defines him. Carlson, however, has a better body and throws harder than Shore did as an amateur. On the summer showcase circuit prior to his senior year, Carlson showed plus arm speed and a projectable body, but he pitched 90-91 with fastball. He showed the potential for a plus changeup with exceptionally late fade and tumbling action down and away from lefthanded hitters. Carlson flashed tight spin on his upper 70s breaking ball, but the pitch had inconsistent tilt and often backed up on him when he threw it to his arm side. Carlson was one of the biggest risers this spring due to the growth of his fastball velocity and the consistency of his breaking pitch. He came out of the gate hot, pitching at 91-95 and touching 96. Carlson has not thrown his changeup often in games this spring, but it continues to show the plus potential it did last summer when he throws it in the bullpen. His breaking ball now has more of a true slider look to it, and he’s hitting on it more consistently than he did last summer. Carlson hides the ball well in his delivery with a short plunge towards his back hip. He throws from a lower three-quarters arm slot and finishes across his body. He has a loose, athletic lower half and gets over his front side well. Carlson shows above-average control of his all of his pitches and has the chance to develop command as he matures physically. Carlson is a legitimate two-way prospect if he makes good on his Florida commitment. He runs well and shows the ability to generate hard line drives to the gaps. He’s likely to be selected in the first two rounds, though.
|16||David Peterson||LHP||Oregon||6/6||242||L/L||Red Sox '14 (28)|
Peterson was a Top 100 prospect out of a Denver high school thanks to a projectable 6-foot-6 frame, ability to sink his fastball that reached 91 mph and flashes of above-average changeup and slider. A broken right fibula delayed the start of his prep senior season, and the 28th-round pick (Red Sox) didn't sign, instead heading to Oregon. He proved durable in his first two seasons and pitched for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team last summer, but Peterson didn't take off until 2017, when he hit it off with new pitching coach Jason Dietrich. Peterson was leading the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio in early May and had six double-digit strikeout games, including 17 against Mississippi State and 20 in late April against Arizona State. Peterson has improved his fastball velocity (up to 94 mph early in games) and command this season. He pitches at around 91 mph. His quieter delivery features better direction to the plate this year and a bit more deception, eliciting swings-and-misses from his fastball. His slider earns plus grades from some scouts, and at times he'll back-foot righthanded hitters with it all night until they adjust. Then he can locate an average curveball to mix things up, and scouts like his above-average changeup, though he doesn't use it much. One Pac-12 coach called it his best pitch, with plus tumble and fade, and it allows Peterson to go arm-side with his fastball and change, then glove-side with the slider, slicing up the plate and flummoxing hitters. Peterson stays out of the middle of the plate, pitches with angle and gets groundballs when he isn't striking out loads of hitters. He has solid athleticism that allows him to repeat his improved delivery, even as he's filled out physically from 213 pounds as a prep senior to a listed 235 at Oregon. Peterson had pitched his way into the first round.
|17||Nick Pratto||1B||Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS||6/2||200||L/L||Southern Cal|
The legend of Nick Pratto began at the 2011 Little League World Series, when he hit a walkoff single to give California a 2-1 victory over Japan in the championship game. Pratto’s legend has only grown since; as a legitimate two-way performer he starred for the 18U National Team in each of the two summers prior to his senior year. On the mound, Pratto attacks hitters with an upper 80s fastball that can reach as high as 91. He’s able to pound the strike zone and locate his fastball to both sides of the plate. His best offspeed pitch for the next level is his filthy changeup, which shows plus fade and was an out pitch for him on the showcase circuit. Pratto also throws a three-quarter breaking ball that shows promising shape and spin but is a below-average pitch at present. Pratto’s future, however, is in the batter’s box. He’s a lefthanded hitter with strike zone awareness and plate discipline well beyond his years. Pratto stands close to the plate and covers it well. He has exceptionally loose wrists and creates separation in his swing, giving himself time to adjust to pitches late and keep himself alive in counts. Pratto has advanced pitch recognition and timing. The biggest development of Pratto’s draft year was the growth of his raw power; it’s become a plus tool for him and he’s capable of hitting the ball out to the opposite field or pulling it 400-plus feet. He’s still learning how to get to all of that power, but the ball consistently comes off his bat with authority in games and he should develop more game power as it becomes a bigger part of his approach. Pratto is a near-average runner and has enough arm strength to play the outfield, but he’s a very advanced defender at first base at present. He is committed to Southern California, where he’d likely begin his collegiate career pitching on the weekend and hitting in the middle of the lineup, but he is expected to be drafted in the first round as a position player. Scouts compare him to Joey Votto because of his offensive skillset and competitive spirit.
|18||Seth Romero||LHP||Houston||6/3||240||L/L||Never drafted|
On pure talent, Romero is a top 10 prospect and among the top college pitchers in this year’s draft. He’s a lefthander with a chance to have three quality pitches: a 93-96 mph fastball, a slider and a changeup. Romero’s plus fastball is his primary weapon. Throwing from a low three-quarters slot, he does a good job of getting in on the hands of righthanded hitters and is capable of locating his fastball to either side of the plate. His low slot makes his fastball even tougher for lefties. His slider has excellent bite and is also a plus pitch. He uses his changeup less often, but it has deception and the potential to be at least average. Romero has shown a consistent ability to pound the strike zone while generating swings and misses. He was leading Division I with 15.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2017. For his college career, he struck out 11.5 batters per nine while walking only 2.8 per nine. But as teams line up their draft boards, they're surely spending as much time talking about questions about Romero’s makeup as they are discussing his swing-and-miss stuff. Romero was suspended during the 2016 season for what Houston termed a violation of team rules. He was suspended again this April, reinstated and then kicked off the team just a week after his reinstatement. Romero also had surgery during high school where a screw was inserted in his elbow. Scouts will have to feel comfortable that Romero’s problems stem more from immaturity than anything else, but at some point, likely in the first round, a team will view his talent as worth the risk, because he’s a three-pitch lefty who could move quickly. After throwing less than 50 innings for Houston, his limited workload makes it easier for a team to let him throw significant innings in his first pro season. And he has the stuff to potentially help out a big league club in the bullpen this fall.
|19||Jake Burger||3B||Missouri State||6/2||210||R/R||Never drafted|
Much like Wake Forest third baseman Will Craig in 2016, Burger is the bad-bodied but big hitting third baseman whose track record of excellent offensive production will be hard for teams to ignore if they are looking for the safety of picking a college hitter. Burger’s power is some of the best in this draft class. He’s a fastball hitter with above-average bat speed who can catch up to premium velocity, but he’s also aware enough of the strike zone and has the pitch recognition to lay off tough off-speed offerings to put himself in fastball counts. Much like Todd Frazier, his swing includes an arm bar, but he’s been strong enough to make it work. In pro ball, his swing means he'll likely sacrifice batting average for power. As of mid-May, he had 19 home runs, meaning he’s likely to reach 20 home runs for the second straight season and he does it while hitting for average (.344 career batting average) and while walking more than he’s struck out this season. Whether Burger can stick at third base will depend on how much work the team that drafts him is willing to do. His feet work relatively well and his arm is average and accurate, but he lacks a quick first step and is limited in his range.
|20||Keston Hiura||2B/LF||UC Irvine||6/1||188||R/R||Never drafted|
Hiura will be one of the toughest calls in the draft, as one of the top college bats available with projection needed for his defense and future position. Offensively, Hiura has few peers in college, as he hit 14 homers as a prep senior in Southern California’s strong Foothill League, then hit his way onto USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team with two strong seasons to begin his career at UC Irvine. He was one of Team USA’s top hitters while playing DH last summer, then ranked among national leaders in batting, walks, on-base and slugging percentage through early May this spring. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Hiura has a compact swing path, present strength and plus bat speed. Combine that with a feel for the barrel and excellent strike-zone judgment, and Hiura was producing as much hard contact as any hitter in the country. Scouts who like him grade him as a plus hitter with plus power, while others see him above-average (55 on the 20-80 scouting scale) rather than a true plus (60). Hiura has an elbow injury that has kept him from playing in the field since April 2016, and while he had a platelet-rich plasma injection in January that had his arm feeling better, he has not thrown this spring, though he usually takes ground balls in pregame. An average runner who played center and left field in his first two years, Hiura could be an outfielder and could be a second baseman, but most teams believe he’s having elbow surgery as soon as he signs.
|21||Griffin Canning||RHP||UCLA||6/1||170||R/R||Rockies '14 (38)|
An unsigned Rockies 38th-round pick in 2014, Canning jumped straight into UCLA’s rotation as a freshman with an 11-1 strikeout-walk ratio in 64 innings and hasn’t looked back much since then. While the Bruins lack an explosive offense that would give him gaudy win totals, he had improved his consistency of stuff to become one of the nation’s top starters as a junior. He’s grown into his listed 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame and was among the national leaders in strikeouts with a four-pitch mix, with scouts at times seeing all four pitches as plus. Others consider his repertoire average to above-average, but scouts see him as a future starter with a clean arm and delivery. Canning has weapons and knows how to use them, pitching off his 90-94 mph four-seam fastball that features a high spin rate and peaks at 95. He throws plenty of strikes with it, showing average fastball command. That helps him consistently get ahead of hitters, who he can put away with either a slider, curveball or changeup. His change was a go-to secondary pitch as a sophomore, though he’s thrown more breaking balls this spring, with the curveball usually ranking ahead of the slider according to many scouts. Like most UCLA aces under John Savage, Canning has shown durability under a robust workload, including 134-pitch shutout of rival Southern California in early May. Teams that see him as a future No. 3 starter, the high-end projection for him, will jump on him in the first round.
|22||Matt Sauer||RHP||Ernest Righetti HS, Santa Maria, Calif.||6/4||200||R/R||Arizona|
On the summer showcase circuit, Sauer pitched mostly at 89-91, touching as high as 93 (at the Area Code Games). He showed potential with his breaking pitches, but was wiry and far from what he’d become the next spring. At MLB’s Prospect Development Pipeline event in January, Sauer’s fastball touched 95 and he was on his way up draft boards. The righthander has some funkiness to his motion. Sauer hides the ball well as his arm comes through, and has plus arm speed. He finishes across his body and his head whacks after his arm recoils across his torso. Sauer’s fastball has reached 97 this spring and he has consistently pitched at 91-94, showing life on the pitch. His low-to-mid-80s slider is his best offspeed pitch with powerful two-plane break. Sauer will sometimes throw the pitch from a slightly lower arm slot and generate more horizontal break on the pitch. He has feel for manipulating the spin on the ball and also throws a curveball with more vertical shape. He rarely throws a changeup and scouts note that it could project as an average offering but that is a far-off projection given Sauer’s limited reps with the pitch. Sauer is committed to Arizona but is likely to be selected on the first day of the draft.
|23||Bubba Thompson||OF||McGill-Toolen Catholic HS, Mobile, Ala.||6/1||180||R/R||Alabama|
On the high school showcase circuit, Thompson fit more into the “projectable athlete” category; he was an accomplished quarterback.Thompson has made progress this spring in terms of translating his elite athleticism into baseball skills. He’s a righthanded hitter with a projectable, broad-shouldered frame and a high-waist. Thompson flashes plus bat speed and has shown plus raw power this spring. His 70-grade speed gives him a chance to develop into a base-stealing threat and stay in center field; his reads and reactions in the outfield are raw, but he has the speed necessary to make up for his mistakes and he made some highlight-reel caliber plays this spring. Thompson will turn 19 a few days prior to the draft, making him old for the high school class. While he showed flashes of hitting in games on the showcase circuit, he was not seen as a premium hitter for average. He’s hit well against inferior competition this spring. Thompson has drawn interest from teams in the first round, with the Dodgers and Yankees being two of the teams that have shown some of the most interest. He is committed to Alabama but is expected to sign.
|24||Heliot Ramos||OF||Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, P.R.||6/2||185||R/R||FIU|
Ramos has become a divisive prospect, with some teams enthused by his loud tools while others are wary of his limited track record of hitting with a wood bat against high-level competition. He is a plus-plus runner; he ran a 6.40 60-yard dash at the Excellence Tournament in early May. He has plus raw power, with his home runs becoming something of a legend during the spring of his draft year. Using a hotter bat than those allowed in games, Ramos hit a ball this spring that some evaluators believe traveled more than 500 feet. He has a plus arm from the outfield and has the potential to stay in center field. Ultimately, Ramos’s ceiling will hinge on the development of his righthanded bat. He has very loose hands and a knack for making hard contact, but he will expand the strike zone and take off-balance swings. So, while he has the plus bat speed and loose wrists to develop into a good hitter, his offensive approach will require refinement in the minor leagues. Ramos is one of the youngest players in the 2017 class, and won’t turn 18 until September. English is his second language, and he made tremendous progress with picking up the language in the months preceding the draft. One of his older brothers, Henry Ramos, is a minor leaguer who reached Triple-A with the Red Sox in 2016. Another of his brothers, Hector Ramos, is a forward for the Puerto Rican national soccer team. Ramos is committed to Florida International, but could be taken as high as the first round and is likely to sign.
|25||Logan Warmoth||SS||North Carolina||6/1||189||R/R||Never drafted|
Warmoth played his travel ball with the Orlando Scorpions as a teammate of Brendan Rogers (No. 3 overall pick in 2015) and Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley, also a likely first-round pick in 2017. A starter since early in his freshman season at North Carolina, Warmoth started to emerge offensively as a sophomore, hit well in the Cape Cod League (.270 with four home runs) and was having an All-America-caliber season as a junior. Warmoth's older brother pitched for Stetson and Florida State and has reached Triple-A with the Angels, and the younger Warmoth has an accurate, plus arm that rates as his best tool. His arm strength, good hands and solid range give scouts confidence Warmoth can stay in the middle of the diamond, and many believe he'll stay at shortstop. Other see him as an offensive second baseman, and his offensive performance was pushing Warmoth into first-round consideration. His power is mostly to his pull side, but Warmoth has the ability to use the whole field and has a solid offensive approach, looking for pitches he can drive and showing the ability to make adjustments. Scouts see him as a high-floor, safe bet big leaguer who could exceed his offensive projections.
|26||Nick Allen||SS||Francis Parker School, San Diego||5/8||155||R/R||Southern Cal|
Allen is a mesmerizing prospect. He shows flashes with every tool. Allen has excellent range at shortstop to go along with plus body control and arm strength. He is a plus runner and flashes sneaky raw power in batting practice. However, Allen is 5-foot-8 and could be one of the smallest prospects ever taken in the first round. Allen’s height leads him to play with a chip on his shoulder and he receives positive reviews for his competitive nature and hustle. Allen has a high baseball IQ and shows natural instincts both as a defender and as a righthanded hitter. Allen has a compact swing with quick hands and he keeps the barrel of his bat through the hitting zone well. He makes a lot of contact and covers the plate well, and he showed the ability to barrel up line drives against good pitching on the showcase circuit. The San Diego native is committed to Southern California. His tools would fit closer to the top of the draft, but pro teams have concerns about how his smaller body will hold up over the course of a full season. Even with those concerns, Allen is likely to be selected on the first day of the draft.
|27||Blayne Enlow||RHP||St. Amant (La.) HS||6/4||180||R/R||Louisiana State|
Enlow is the kind of pitcher who sometimes makes it to school, and if he does, blossoms into a potential front-of-the-rotation ace, but his obvious potential may lead a team to spend money now to avoid losing the chance to get him later. The Louisiana State signee is all arms and legs right now, but he has the frame to fill out and become much more physical as an adult. Enlow’s velocity was down early this spring, as he would sit 88-90, touching 92. But by the end of his high school season he was again sitting in the low 90s and touching 94 with an easy delivery, loads of athleticism, a fast arm and a plus curveball. Enlow has excellent feel for spinning the ball and he has more advanced command and control of his fastball than most high school fireballers. He’s toyed with a changeup that looks promising but is a distant third pitch for now. Enlow is a long-time Louisiana State fan who will be tough to sway from his Tigers commitment, but he’s shown enough potential that teams will consider cutting him a very large check.
|28||Trevor Rogers||LHP||Carlsbad (N.M.) HS||6/6||185||L/L||Texas Tech|
Rogers checks a lot of the usual boxes for potential first-round picks while also checking some unusual ones. One of the oldest prep players in the class, Rogers attends the same school that produced big leaguers such as Shane Andrews, Paxton Crawford and more recently Cody Ross. He’s a twin whose family members have very different bodies to Rogers’ wide-shouldered, lean frame, listed at 6-foot-6, 185 pounds last summer in the Area Code Games. One of the top performers in Long Beach last summer, Rogers pumped effortless gas up to 95 mph to go with a slider with intriguing shape and action. He’s been inconsistent against inferior competition all spring, essentially dominating with a fastball around 88-90 mph coming in from his low three-quarters slot that evokes Andrew Miller. When he needs it, he’s shown the ability to go get 93-94 mph heat at will. He commands the fastball very well for his experience level. Rogers’ sweepy 10-to-4 slider can be a swing-and-miss pitch, though its shape gets loopier when he’s working to locate it, and he’ll toy with an effective changeup as well. Already 19, Rogers is old for the class but has the pitcher’s body and loose arm scouts crave. He’s committed to Texas Tech.
|29||Tanner Houck||RHP||Missouri||6/5||218||R/R||Blue Jays '14 (12)|
Houck has been one of the best pitchers in the Southeastern Conference since he arrived in 2015. He was also a stalwart for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team for two summers. Early this season, Houck’s stuff was a tick softer than it had been in the past. But as the weather warmed up, Houck started to return to form. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander’s unconventional delivery has long led to debates among scouts. He has plenty of arm speed, but he throws from a low arm slot and throws across his body--his front foot lands pointing somewhere between home and third base. He then spins off toward first base in his finish. It’s anything but direct to the plate, but that also helps make him deadly against righthanded hitters. They struggle to pick the ball up out of his hand and his 90-94 mph heater has outstanding sink. It’s a plus pitch and some scouts give it a 70 grade thanks to its movement. His slider garners average grades, and he’s started to develop his fringe-average changeup as he's thrown it a bit more. But scouts are still trying to figure out what Houck will be. Some see the delivery and his sinker-heavy approach and see a future one-and-a-half pitch reliever. Others believe he’ll end up as a solid No. 3/4 starter who has enough of a changeup to keep lefties honest while his above-average control and sinkerball beats up righthanders.
|30||Nate Pearson||RHP||Central Florida JC||6/6||245||R/R||Never drafted|
As a high school senior, Pearson received little interest from pro teams. He was a tall righthander whose fastball could reach 93, but he had no usable offspeed pitch. So he enrolled at Florida International, where he got stronger and got some experience, earning more than 30 innings that spring. Following his freshman year, Pearson transferred to the JC of Central Florida, where his stock took off. In a bullpen during the fall, Pearson’s fastball touched 100, creating buzz throughout the amateur scouting community. In a starting role in the spring, Pearson pitched mostly at 93-94 and touched 97 in most starts. His fastball shows late running or sinking movement and he made tremendous growth with his command. His changeup now projects as a plus pitch, showing late fade when he locates it down in the zone. He throws both a slider and a curveball, and scouts see his slider as a more prominent part of his future. The pitch shows slurvy shape and sits in the low 80s. Pearson’s athleticism and rapid growth could lead him to come off the board as high as the back of the first round. Scouts have compared him to Carl Pavano because of his size, athleticism and potent fastball-changeup combo.
|31||Luke Heimlich||LHP||Oregon State||6/1||190||L/L||Never drafted|
In 2014, Oregon State powered to the College World Series behind Michael Conforto and ace lefthander Ben Wetzler, who posted a 0.78 ERA to lead the nation. In 2017, top-ranked Oregon State had the nation’s best record in early May with a rotation led by Heimlich, a lefthander leading the nation in ERA. Heimlich has firmer stuff than Wetzler (now known as Ben Holmes), who was a senior at the time. Heimlich was thriving with deception and excellent command of his entire repertoire to go with competitiveness and moxie. Primarily a reliever in his first two seasons with the Beavers, Heimlich used to pitch in the upper 80s and use his fading changeup as his out pitch. Planning to start this season, he got stronger (up to a listed 6-foot-1, 197 pounds) and has pitched off his fastball more, sitting at 89-91 mph with his fastball, touching 92 and spotting it up well with a deceptive, slinging arm action. His curveball also has become a solid-average weapon, and he works up with his improved fastball and down with the curve to get awkward swings and rack up strikeouts (10 per 9 IP). Heimlich’s average stuff plays up due to plus control, but scouts stop short of giving him above-average command. Still, being a lefthanded, high-performing college pitcher with enough velocity gives Heimlich a chance to go out in the first 50 picks.
|32||Alex Lange||RHP||Louisiana State||6/3||201||R/R||Never drafted|
It is possible that the best season of Lange’s hopefully lengthy career will forever be his freshman season at Louisiana State. It’s a hard season to ever live up to again—12-0, 1.97 with 131 strikeouts in 114 innings as the ace of an LSU team that went to Omaha. In the two years since, scouts keep waiting to see that same guy again, but the slightly lesser Lange they’ve seen is still very good. Lange doesn’t get to 94-96 mph as frequently as he did in 2015, but more than anything, teams have realized Lange’s plus curveball is so good that they are much better off taking and hoping to do damage against his fastball. When he locates his hard-breaking curveball, he can dominate, but on nights he can’t land his curveball for strikes he’s not shown that his command of his 90-94 mph fastball is good enough to consistently get ahead with it. He shows occassional feel for his upper 80s changeup, which flashes late fade on the right night. Lange’s delivery involves some effort which has explains some of his command struggles. Lange’s lengthy record of durability and success make him a safe option at the back of the first round.
|33||Drew Waters||OF||Etowah HS, Woodstock, Ga.||6/2||200||S/R||Georgia|
In a thinner than normal Georgia draft class, Waters is the Peach State’s top position player prospect. He’s a dynamic athlete with an wide variety of tools and ways to impact the game. Waters has a plus arm and the plus speed underway to stay in center field. He’s strong and has a broad-shouldered frame at 6-foot-2. Waters’s offensive skillset is what really sets him apart. He’s a switch-hitter with legitimate power from both sides of the plate. He got off to a very strong start this spring and was launching home runs from both sides of the plate. Even when he doesn’t loft the ball over the fence, Waters can hit screaming line drives or hard ground balls that skip through the infield. He’s shown a bit of swing-and-miss, sometimes even against suspect competition, but he has the raw elements to develop into at least an average hitter with plus power. He turns in above-average or plus run times on the base paths, and scouts believe he will be a plus runner once he’s done maturing. Waters is committed to Georgia, but is expected to be selected somewhere on the first day of the draft. Scouts note his competitive personality and desire to shine on the big stage and in high-leverage situations.
|34||Brendon Little||LHP||State JC of Florida||6/2||215||L/L||Giants '15 (36)|
Little was the No. 159 prospect in the 2015 BA 500 out of a Pennsylvania high school due to his flashes of arm strength and promise with his offspeed stuff. However, his lack of command and tough signability lead him to enroll at North Carolina. He pitched just four innings as a freshman, then chose to transfer to a junior college. Little pitched in the Cape Cod League following his freshman year, and he showed a mid-90s fastball and tight curveball. Little has taken impressive strides with his control with the workload he's gotten in junior college. He’s been consistently around the strike zone, even if lacking pinpoint command. He has a tendency to finish upright and isn’t always able to time his delivery. As a result, Little’s strikethrowing can come and go and he’ll sometimes struggle to get on top of his curveball. Still, Little’s fastball reaches 96 and rests comfortably at 90-93 with above-average life. His curveball shows tight top-to-bottom break in the upper 70s and could be a true plus pitch if he’s able to continue improving his consistency. The lefty receives positive reviews for his work ethic and desire to improve. He’s expected to come off the board on the first day of the draft.
|35||Hans Crouse||RHP||Dana Hills HS, Dana Point, Calif.||6/5||185||L/R||Southern Cal|
Crouse owns the most electric arm in this year’s class. He’s 6-foot-5 and skinny. Off the field, he’s goofy and playful, but when he hops on the mound, Crouse is an animal. He’s an intense competitor who isn’t afraid to attack hitters with his fastball—which worked consistently in the upper 90s and shows life through the zone. He shows the ability to hold his velocity deep into his starts. His breaking ball has varied throughout the past year, sometimes showing more horizontal sweeping action and sometimes being more vertical, but it shows plus spin and projects as a plus pitch as Crouse gains more reps with it and gains strength and consistency. Mechanically, Crouse’s delivery isn’t the prettiest. His long arm action includes a high back elbow and a violent across-body finish. He’s a short strider and doesn’t get tremendous extension despite his tall frame. Despite his mechanics, however, Crouse is a consistent strike thrower and shows at least average control of his arsenal. He rarely throws a changeup and would likely need to develop one to remain a starter. Crouse, whose older brother Merrick pitches at Southern California, dominated in a starting role for USA Baseball's 18U team last fall, striking out 11 in seven one-hit innings against Cuba in a 6-1 victory. Still, many scouts believe he has the mentality and elite fastball-breaking ball combo to be a lights-out closer. He remains physically projectable and could some day throw extremely hard. He should clear the triple digits threshold and then some, especially if he shifts to a bullpen role.
|36||Clarke Schmidt||RHP||South Carolina||6/1||205||R/R||Never drafted|
The younger brother of Tigers prospect Clate Schmidt, who pitched for rival Clemson and was also drafted by the Tigers out of high school, Clarke Schmidt didn't have near the level of fame his brother had out of high school. A dimunitive righthander who worked in the upper 80s, Schmidt went undrafted and enrolled at South Carolina. Pitching primarily out of the bullpen and in midweek starts, Schmidt had an inconsistent freshman year, but he blossomed his sophomore year, when an injury to staff ace Wil Crowe forced him into the Friday role. Throughout the course of his college career, Schmidt has added about 30 pounds to his frame, and this spring he was routinely touching 95-96 mph with his four-seamer and sitting comfortably in the low 90s. He also throws a heavy two-seamer, although his four-seamer shows good movement as well. Schmidt's slider has developed into one of the better breaking balls in the college class, a strikeout pitch in the mid-80s with tilt. He also flashed an above-average changeup at times, with sinking movement to his arm side. Schmidt was putting together a first-team All-America-type season with the Gamecocks this spring, going 4-2, 1.34 with 70 strikeouts to 18 walks in 60.1 innings before he tore his UCL in late April and had to have Tommy John surgery. Before the surgery, Schmidt's stock was steadily rising, and to some evaluators, he had inserted himself into the uppermost tier of college pitching. Schmidt could still be taken early in the draft, given what he showed before the injury and with teams less wary of Tommy John surgery than ever before. Schmidt is a fierce competitor with plus-plus makeup, staying home from summer ball in 2015 in order to be with his brother, Clate, as he battled cancer.
|37||Tanner Burns||RHP||Decatur (Ala.) HS||6/1||210||R/R||Auburn|
Burns is like a high school version of North Carolina righthander J.B. Bukauskas. Burns is short but he is not small, with broad shoulders and a country strong body on the mound. The righthander can reach 96 with his fastball and consistently works at 92-94. He has a very fast arm and isn’t afraid to attack hitters with his fastball. His best offspeed pitch is his power breaking ball, a plus pitch thrown in the low 80s with hard slurvy shape to it. He has also shown some feel for his changeup this spring. Burns is a very good athlete with loose hips and a very strong core. He controls his body well and can throw all of his pitches for strikes. In 64 innings in the spring, Burns struck out 116 batters and walked just 22. He also had an exceptional season as a hitter, batting .467 and hitting 16 home runs. Mike Burns, Tanner’s father, is the head coach at Calhoun Community College. He played in the minor leagues with the Astros in the early 1990s. Burns could be a two-way player if he fulfills his commitment to Auburn. He is valued in the back of the first round to early second round.
|38||Mark Vientos||SS/3B||American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.||6/4||200||R/R||Miami|
Even as an underclassman, Vientos was well-known for the huge upside in his bat. Before transferring to American Heritage, Vientos participated in the 2016 National High School Invitational with Pembroke Pines, Fla.'s Flanagan High where he showed rare ability to impact the baseball. On the summer showcase circuit the following summer, Vientos consistently hit the ball hard and that hasn’t stopped this spring. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Vientos has a projectable body that should add even more strength. He has thunderous hands and he’s able to generate explosive bat speed without loading his hands deeply. He’s able to drive the ball with backspin to the gaps and he projects for at least plus power as he learns to loft the ball more. Defensively, Vientos is unlikely to stay at shortstop, lacking the glove actions or body control typically found at the position. He’s also a well below-average runner. His plus arm strength leads scouts to project him moving to third base or a corner outfield spot.Vientos is one of the youngest prospects in the class and won’t turn 18 until December. He is committed to Miami, but his loud offensive skillset and youth are likely to entice a team to pick him on the first day of the draft.
|39||Brady McConnell||SS||Merritt Island (Fla.) HS||6/1||170||R/R||Florida|
Following the Tournament of Stars in June, many evaluators thought McConnell would blossom into a top 10 pick. He had shown all the tools to stick at shortstop, he was an elite runner, and he had hit well against some of the top prep arms in the country. As the summer unfolded, however, McConnell tired out and didn’t perform to the same level. In the spring time, McConnell’s hot-and-cold nature continued; he’d show flashes of top-of-the-draft tools while scouts concerns about his present strength and how he’d hold up over a full season persisted. At the National High School Invitational, McConnell showed above-average body control, range and hands at shortstop in addition to above-average to plus arm strength. At his best, McConnell shows some of the best bat speed in the class, and he’s developed more power as he’s begun to fill in his wiry 6-foot-1 frame. He is a 70 runner and can reach first base in 4.1 seconds. McConnell is a day one talent, but he’s committed to Florida and is not expected to be an easy sign. A team could take a shot on him later in the first round or try to sign him to an overslot bonus later in the draft. McConnell will be 19 on draft day, making him old for the class, but he would be a draft-eligible sophomore if he were to enroll at Florida.
|40||Quentin Holmes||OF||Monsignor McClancy Memorial HS, East Elmhurst, N.Y.||6/1||180||R/R||Mississippi State|
Following a loaded Northeast class in 2016, Holmes is the region’s top prospect in 2017. Holmes had success on the summer showcase circuit, establishing a reputation as a strong leader and an enthusiastic competitor. His defining tool is his plus-plus speed, which plays better underway than it does out of the box. His best home to first times are 4.1 seconds, but he often runs in the low 4.2s. Holmes has above-average hand speed and shows above-average barrel awareness. He generates torque with wide hips and broad shoulders, and balls really carry off his bat, especially to his pull side. He came out in the spring having added significant muscle, filling in his coat-hanger shoulders. Coming from a cold-weather climate, Holmes doesn’t have as many reps as some of the other top prospects in the country, and could improve at a faster rate when he begins playing every day. He has the elements to develop into an above-average hitter with usable power. He remains raw in center field, but showed the ability to get good reads and routes during the summer showcase circuit. Holmes is committed to Mississippi State but teams love his all-around skillset and elite makeup, both in terms of leadership and work ethic.
|41||Stuart Fairchild||OF||Wake Forest||6/1||195||R/R||Nationals '14 (38)|
Scouts have debated Fairchild and North Carolina’s Brian Miller all year as college center fielders in the same geographic area. They’re quite different players, starting with Fairchild batting righthanded and having more power than Miller, even accounting for the cozy confines of Wake’s Gene Hooks Field. Fairchild arrived from Seattle and was a freshman All-American in 2015, then ranked as the Cal Ripken League’s No. 1 prospect that summer. His power didn’t start playing consistently until his junior season, though, becoming a fifth average or better tool. He has solid pop but also has some swing-and-miss in his game, and he doesn’t control the strike zone on par with top-caliber college hitters. Fairchild’s best tools are not his hitting tools; it’s in the field, as he’s an above-average runner who earns plusses for his throwing arm and defense in center field. He has good instincts for the position and impressed scouts with several highlight catches in the 2016 ACC tournament. While the 6-foot, 200-pound Fairchild has shown more power than Miller, he had a middling summer in the Cape Cod League (.234) last year, which probably keeps him from ascending higher than the second round. His defensive ability gives him a high floor as a potential fourth outfielder.
|42||Brian Miller||OF||North Carolina||6/1||186||L/R||Never drafted|
Coming out of Millbrook High in Raleigh, N.C., Miller was lightly recruited and committed as a recruited walk-on to UNC Asheville. When North Carolina’s recruiting class was decimated in the 2014 draft (six of the first 64 players picked were preps committed to UNC, all six signed), the Tar Heels had spots to fill and found Miller at a summer camp. His brother Rick ran track and cross country at North Carolina, making Miller an easy signee, and his legs got him onto the field as a freshman, when he played DH. He played first base and right field as a sophomore before taking over in center as a junior and has the plus speed (some scouts consider him a true 70 runner) and improved reads, range and instincts to be an asset defensively in center. Miller has had a streaky spring season with the bat, rolling over too many balls while trying to incorporate his lower half more and show more pull power. He’s had more success spraying line drives from left-center to the right-field line, using his speed and setting the table, but his below-average power limits his ceiling and could keep him from being a big league regular. He has a strong wood-bat track record, hitting .327 in the Cape Cod League in 2016 and .389 in 2015 in the Coastal Plain League. His athleticism, speed and contact bat could land him as high as the second round.
|43||Evan White||1B/OF||Kentucky||6/3||200||B/L||Never drafted|
White is not your typical college first baseman. Usually college first baseman are players who can’t handle another position. White, who wears number 19 because it’s Joey Votto’s number, is athletic enough and fast enough (he’s an above-average runner) to play in the outfield and his plus arm would fit in right field. But White is such a gifted defender at first base that Kentucky has kept him in the dirt. He’s a 70 defender at first on the 20-to-80 scouting scale with range, the hands to scoop balls out of the dirt and excellent flexibility. He’s shown himself to be an adequate corner outfielder when he got some time in the grass while playing for USA Baseball’s College National Team last summer. And he has a long track record of hitting--he hit .318 as a freshman, hit .376 as a sophomore and was posting similar stats as a junior, having shaken off hip and hamstring injuries that sidelined him early in 2017. White projects as an above-average or even plus hitter. But scouts do understandably wonder about White’s power. He generally earns fringe-average power grades from scouts and he’s never reached double digits in home runs at Kentucky. As a righthanded hitting, lefthanded throwing first baseman/corner outfielder White is going to have to hit for at least average power in pro ball. He does have some athleticism and the frame to add some more weight.
|44||Wil Crowe||RHP||South Carolina||6/2||250||R/R||Indians '16 (21)|
Part of the same Tennessee prep class of 2013 that included the likes of Nick Senzel, Will Craig, Dakota Hudson and more, Crowe was on the outside looking in last June, sidelined by Tommy John surgery. While the rest of that Tennessee prep class heard their names called in the draft, Crowe made clear he'd be returning to South Carolina for another season. The thickly built righthander had the misfortune of tearing his UCL late in his sophomore year, wiping out almost two seasons for Crowe, who was the Gamecocks' Friday ace and a freshman All-American in 2014. Crowe reclaimed his place in the Gamecocks rotation this spring and dominated early, showing the kind of stuff that made him a hot commodity before the injury. At his best, Crowe can touch 96-97 mph, sitting 91-94, with a sharp upper 70s curveball and a tighter, more horizontal slider. Crowe has shown improved feel for his 83-85 mph changeup this season, using it effectively against lefthanded batters. However, there's been some inconsistency in the quality of Crowe's stuff and sharpness, particularly late this season—perhaps the result of fatigue from his time on the shelf. He's been tasked with leading the South Carolina pitching staff since ace Clarke Schmidt went down with a torn UCL of his own.
|45||Hagen Danner||RHP/C||Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS||6/1||200||R R||UCLA|
Danner has been one of the most decorated high school players in recent years. He starred on the 2011 Little League World Series championship team from California, played for one of the nation’s top programs at Huntington Beach High and donned the red, white and blue for the 18U National Team for two summers. He’s a legitimate two-way prospect, though most scouts prefer him on the mound. Behind the plate, Danner is a capable receiver and has handled top arms well throughout his amateur career. He has a plus arm behind the plate. He shows plus raw power from the right side, though scouts see him as being more of a slugger than a pure hitter; he lacks elite bat speed and shows a pull-heavy approach. On the mound, Danner shows above-average control of his fastball and curveball. He pitches routinely at 90-93 mph and can touch as high as 95. His curveball has plus potential, showing late 12-to-6 break and consistently tight spin. Danner flashes feel for his changeup. Scouts question the deception of his fastball because he lacks explosive arm speed and high school hitters seem to square up his fastball more than scouts would expect. Danner has battled through shoulder soreness and some scouts are fearful of how he’ll hold up. Danner is committed to UCLA and could be an immediate impact player for the Bruins if he makes it to campus, though teams will be interested in picking him on the first day of the draft.
|46||Luis Campusano||C||Cross Creek HS, Augusta, Ga.||5/11||210||R/R||South Carolina|
Campusano established himself as a prospect to follow with a solid showing on the showcase circuit. He showed flashes of raw power and a quick righthanded bat to go along with average arm strength. There were questions about his body—which still had some baby fat at the time—and his pure receiving skills behind the plate. In the offseason, Campusano got himself into tremendous shape, slimming down and appearing more chiseled and muscular in the spring. His raw power took a step forward as a result; it grades as an easy 60 for some scouts, with some being even more aggressive than that. Evaluators aren’t certain quite how much power Campusano will get to in games. He’s changed his stance often in an effort to find a comfortable hitting position that will allow his power to play, and he’s played well against inferior competition this spring. Defensively, Campusano’s body improvements have helped his lateral mobility but he still lacks soft hands and struggles with blocking. He has an average arm. Campusano is committed to South Carolina, but his hot spring could see him shoot off the board. Teams picking in the 20s are interested, and he’s likely to end up going somewhere between 20 and 50 depending on how the board plays out.
|47||Michael Mercado||RHP||Westview HS, San Diego||6/4||160||R/R||Stanford|
Mercado was a late-riser in a deep southern California class and became a prime attraction by April. Lanky and projectable at 6-foot-5, 165 pounds, Mercado saw his velocity shoot up and he began sitting 90-91 mph and touching 94 in the spring. He also showcased a groundball-inducing two-seamer at 88 mph, a curveball that flashed plus and an above-average cutter. Where Mercado stands out most is his ability to command his four-pitch arsenal in a way that is rare for a prep. He spots his fastball at will, can manipulate the shape and power of his curveball and is smart enough to rely on his two-seamer for quick groundouts when he isn’t feeling his best. Mercado’s top-flight combination of size, stuff, and feel to pitch have catapulted him into supplemental first-round consideration. He is committed to Stanford and expected to be a costly sign.
|48||Steven Jennings||RHP||Dekalb County HS, Smithville, Tenn.||6/2||175||R/R||Mississippi|
A two-sport star at Dekalb County High in Smithville, Tenn., Jennings tore his ACL while playing quarterback with the football team in the fall yet has made a quick recovery and has been pitching this spring while wearing a knee brace. Clearly athletic, Jennings has a quick, loose arm and projectable frame and has drawn plenty of buzz this spring, with 10 scouting directors in to see a couple of his starts in late April. The righthander ranges anywhere from 90-96 mph with his fastball and throws two different breaking balls, with his mid-80s slider and upper 70s curveball showing above-average to plus potential. Jennings could go as high as the second round and likely won't fall below the third—if he's willing to sign. A firm Mississippi commit, Jennings could also look to build his stock at school. The Ole Miss coaching staff has had recent success at holding onto top recruits, reeling in the country's top class a year ago.
|49||Ryan Vilade||3B||Stillwater (Okla.) HS||6/2||200||R/R||Oklahoma State|
As the son of long-time minor league coach and current Oklahoma State assistant James Vilade, Ryan has grown up around the game, getting tips from future stars like Elvis Andrus when they were moving up through the Rangers farm system. As one might expect, Vilade plays the game with an understanding of situations and instincts that are beyond his years. He didn’t always impress last summer—he had a particularly poor Area Code Games—but he’s flushed those impressions with a strong run of consistent contact last fall and this spring. He also has a long track record of success with USA Baseball’s 15U and 18U national teams and he won the home run derby at the 2016 Under Armour All-America Game. Vilade has plus raw power and he’s shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate—he scrapped a significant leg kick to spread out more in his stance. A high school shortstop, Vilade projects as a second or third baseman in pro ball. He has an above-average arm that fits at third and the plus power potential teams look for from the position. He’s an average runner for now. Vilade is committed to Oklahoma State to join his father if he doesn’t opt to sign with a team out of high school.
|50||M.J. Melendez||C||Westminster Christian School, Palmetto Bay, Fla.||6/1||190||L/R||FIU|
Top 10 Central Division Prospect Graduates With Updated BA Grades
We assess the future value potential of the top graduated prospects from the 2022 rookie classes of the American and National league Central divisions.
Melendez moved from Alabama and enrolled at Westminster Christian after his father, Mervyl Melendez, was hired to be the head coach at Florida International prior to M.J.’s senior year. M.J. established himself as one of the top catching prospects in the class with a strong showing on the showcase circuit, and he made impressive strength gains as a senior. Melendez is a lithe, athletic receiver with quick feet and excellent lateral mobility. He sets a low target. He has plus arm strength behind the plate and can throw accurately with carry from his knees. Melendez is a lefthanded hitter whose power is ahead of his pure hitting ability at this point. He has a bit of a high hand set with some length to his swing. Melendez uses a leg kick to get his lower half started and has quick hands; when he connects with a pitch he’s able to drive the ball with authority, and he projects to hit for some power at the pro level. He ditches his leg kick in two-strike counts and focuses more on making contact. The Florida International commit is a heady player with excellent recall, giving him an advantage when he’s seeing a pitcher for the second time. He’s a smart game-caller, has years of experience catching hard throwers on the showcase circuit and is bilingual, so he could adapt to catching at the professional level faster than most prep catchers.