On June 12th of this year, 400 people, myself included, will tune into the MLB Draft to witness where this year’s crop of fresh meat will land. Is it a bit insensitive to refer to these talented ballplayers as fresh meat? Sure, but I’m an inappropriate prospector, and I really enjoy upping the creep ante on my readers. After all, we’re talking about high school and college kids. Wait till I get to my 16 year old internationals! Any da hootie-hoo, over the last few seasons we’ve come to expect a few things from the draft. First at least 2-3 advanced college hitters ready for pro-ball nearly immediately, think Schwarber, Benintendi, Bregman, and Swanson. And secondly, super talented prep players with huge ceilings, but long ETA’s. This is not a ranking, I repeat this is not a ranking. Just in case you missed it I’m going to use all caps, THIS IS NOT A RANKING. I’m simply using this as an opportunity, to write about something besides the same 15 potential rookie of the year candidates, but also to introduce some of the players to follow over the coming college season. On the latest episode of The Prospect Podcast Mr. Michael Halpern Esq. of Imaginarybrickwall.com, and I discuss many of the names covered below. So listen to that while reading this, it syncs up like Darkside of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. Seriously check it out…. Over the next two months, players are bound to rise, and to fall, though let them never be subjected to the trade offers I’ve received from fellow Razzball writers in the Perts and Writer’s RCLs over the last 48 hours. Pssst I don’t want the pitchers you shouldn’t have drafted. Meh, let’s get into some exciting 2017 MLB Draft Prospects.
Draftee Update 4/6:
Hunter Greene, RHP Norte Dame HS (CA): The goods, simple as that. Greene draws comps to Doc Gooden, and it has nothing to do with a taste for the Bolivian Marching Powder. Greene is super advanced for a high school arm, hitting high 90’s velo with ease. While mixing his 70 grade heat with a plus curve, and average change. His delivery is athletic, and repeatable, and there’s no red flags in his mechanics. Right now Greene is my uno.
Jeren Kendall, OF Vanderbilt: The best college bat in the draft is a speed, hit tool player, with average home run power. The favorite comp of evaluators, and scouts is Jacoby Ellsbury, and as far as I know they mean the distant memory of a good player. Not the current Peter principle version in New York. On the pod, Halp compared him to last year’s top power/speed prospect, Corey Ray. It’s a great take, as they share a similar skill set, as well as similar flaws (swing and miss).
Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP Louisville: Will he go hitter or pitcher? That’s the question surrounding McKay, some like his bat and see him as one of the premier college power hitters in the draft, while others see a solid mid-rotation arm with a touch of upside. He’s certainly capable of making the show from either side of the ball, and on a personal level I’m undecided as to which way I hope he goes. I lean toward the hitting side, as powerful first base prospects with plus hit tools aren’t exactly in abundance in the minors. Also scouting reports that read “future number 3 starter” are as exciting as boxed mash potatoes with no salt, pepper, or gravy. In other words I’d pass. Then again how can I doubt a man who went to high school in a place called Beaver Falls.
Alex Faedo, Florida RHP: Maybe I’m reading too much into the pedigree, and maybe as Halp astutely brought up, dismissing his knee issues too easily. But damn do I like Faedo. So much so, I’m buying Faygo Soda Brands, made famous by the Insane Clown Posse, and changing the name to Faedo. Why? So I can dost myself in Faedo after drafting him. The Florida baseball team is the Kentucky of the college hardball world. No, I don’t mean all of their players get paid, nor do I think manager Kevin O’Sullivan resembles a mobbed up jewelry salesman. What I mean is, they churn out the top round talent. Last year’s pitching staff alone produced 5 picks in the top four rounds of the draft. Faedo is this year’s “It” guy from Florida, and he even outpitched last year’s “It” guy in A.J. Puk. Though that last statement might be a wash. His stuff isn’t as nasty as Puk’s, but he’s a far more polished product, and really knows how to spot it. He’s got a starter’s body at 6’5 220, with a plus fastball, and plus slider, that can flash plus plus grades on certain reports. Faedo also has feel for a change, but really works off his elite two pitch mix, and plus control. The highest floor arm in the draft.
Austin Beck, OF North Davidson HS (KY): One of the biggest risers in the group, and one that you won’t find on MLB Pipeline’s Top 50 draft prospects, but one you’ll find in Baseball America’s Top 5. Long story short, always trust BA first, then Ralph, then everyone else. Unless they disagree with me. Could Beck be this year’s Mickey Moniak? Meaning the prep player who rockets up draft board with a strong showing. Much of that is due to Beck being shut down with a knee injury last summer, and missing the showcase circuit. The outfielder brings a 5 tool skill set to the table, even if there are concerns about his approach, and the ability to hit with wood bats. Regardless of the concerns Beck is one to watch. No I will make not jokes involving the words “Loser” “Two turntables and a microphone”, or “Devil’s Haircut”. If there are other popular Beck songs forgive me, I stopped paying attention in the summer of 96′.
Royce Lewis, SS/OF JSerra Catholic HS (CA): A personal favorite of mine, Lewis balances an advanced hit tool for a prep player, with plus plus speed, and average power. He’s played mostly at short during his time in the prep ranks, but long term his future may lie in center. He’s still an up the middle talent, with 5 category potential and pedigree to back it up. A worthy prep gamble, IMHO.
JB Bukauskas, RHP North Carolina: The best name in the first round, and there are some good ones (Looking at you Hans and Heliot). Bukauskas is a small righty with an electric sinking fastball, that misses bats, and drives weak contact. He’s really refined his control so far in 2017, and the results have followed suit. He’s 5-0 with a .96 ERA and a 13.4 K/9 to a 2.1 Bb/9. If he had A.J. Puk’s body he’d be the consensus number one. However, he’s 5-11 200 lbs, tossing him into the small righty bucket, and getting a whole bunch of prospectors not named Ralph (or Halp) shook. Ain’t no such thing as half way scouting books.
Pavin Smith, 1B Virginia: Maybe it’s me but I love me some Virginia hitting prospects. You know my feelings for Derek Fisher, and Matt Thaiss, so it’s only natural I be a big fan of Smith. Blessed with one of the best hit tools in the draft, the first baseman has really tapped into his raw power this season, besting his previous season high of 8 homers, with 10 dongs in half the games. He’s also a member of the plus approach fraternity, which is where most of my college hitting crushes reside, before entering the real world. At the moment he’s outside the Top 10 on most draft boards, but should easily be within my top 10 when I post that on June 8th.
Seth Romero, LHP Houston: Another riser who finds himself in the Top 10 of Baseball America’s Draft Top 100. He’s a serious strikeout pitcher, using the combination of his mid-90’s fastball and plus slider to keep hitters off balance. He’s a control over command arm, but has added significant polish since entering D1 ball, so there might be some projection left. Could be the first lefthanded starter taken should Brendan McKay decide to pursue a career at first.
Hans Crouse, RHP Dana Hills HS: A tall lanky prep arm, with a funky delivery, and a funky name. Crouse is described as a big personality, and character with the electric stuff and mechanics to match. Seriously watch him… He could possess the best one-two punch of any pitcher in the draft, with his high octane fastball, and filthy breaking pitch. Still has no real third pitch, even though he throws a change, and that should be the focus early on in his career. High risk/high reward, but could be fun to own.
Heliot Ramos, OF Leadership Christian Academy (PR): The evaluations on Ramos are split, some see him as an exciting up the middle player, while others wonder if he’s a corner outfielder. His defensive outlook could determine how early in the draft he goes. He’s got power, speed, and athleticism, so he’s a worthy fantasy prospect.
Adam Haseley, OF/LHP Virginia: An up the middle talent, who’s in the throws of a serious offensive breakout, as he slashes .410/.507/.718 with 9 homers and 7 steals. A favorite of Halp’s, and one of BA’s risers on their most recent draft board.
Jake Burger, 1B/3B Missouri State: He looks like a Jake Burger no? He’s one of the top power hitters in the draft, even if he’s done it in the tiny Missouri Valley Conference. More known for mid-major Cinderella’s in the NCAA Basketball tourney than baseball talent. However don’t sleep, Burger has the boom-boom, even if he needs to better refine his approach.
Griffin Canning, RHP UCLA: I’m a sucker for polished UCLA starters, every few years they bless us, and the most recent is Canning. A polished smaller righthander with a good changeup, and a mid-90’s fastball. He possesses plus control, and has modeled his game after Zack Greinke. You can see this when you watch him. I like the polish, pedigree, and approach.