As the 2016 MLB season is nearing a close, we get you prepped for 2017. Scouts have been busy analyzing players over the summer, from showcases to the Cape Cod League, there are amateur talents being evaluated constantly.
In the first of a series of five articles, Scout.com gives you an in depth look at the top 50 prospects for the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. Though there's eight months between now and the moment talents will hear their name, it's still a great time to learn more about the future stars of the game.
All scouting reports below are from Scout.com Draft Analyst, Taylor Blake Ward.
50. Bryce Montes De Oca, Right-Handed Pitcher, Missouri
This isn't the first time Bryce Montas De Oca has been a coveted draft prospect. In 2014, elbow reconstruction surgery dropped his draft stock, and he fell to the 14th round, where the Chicago White Sox took a chance at the big right-hander. The gifted pitcher opted for the University of Missouri, and is now in a scenario to hear his name in the early stages of the upcoming draft.
The track record hasn't been friendly to Montes De Oca, as he lost his junior season of high school to Tommy John surgery. After facing one batter, which he struck out, his sophomore season ended promptly when surgery was needed to repair a nerve in his throwing arm.
At first glance, Montes De Oca looks like a basketball player. Standing tall at six-foot-eight and roughly 270 pounds, it's obvious to see where his power pitches and downhill angle stem from. His fastball is explosive, ranging in the mid 90's with regularity, touching 97, with bowling ball sink. Due to his premium athleticism, he is able to maintain velocity deep in games. Bryce flashes a power curve that has depth and velocity. He's shown a feel for his changeup, but it is still very raw.
There's a lot to refine with Montes De Oca, primarily in giving him a healthier and more repeatable delivery. His command is still a concern, as is his injury past. He'll likely be used as a Saturday starter for Missouri, which will give him more time on the mound to find consistency, but his pitch count will be constantly monitored. Despite a wicked arsenal the expectancy for pitchers of Bryce's size is that they bloom late after understanding their body and how to control it, which could impact his draft status.
49. Corbin Martin, Right-Handed Pitcher, Texas A&M
The Cape Cod League exposes college talents, with a mixture of negatives and positives fluxuating. When it came to Corbin Martin, his stock sky-rocketed due to his late-inning dominance, helping him to All-League honors as a closer.
A two-sport athlete in high school, Martin went from a highly touted quarterback to a highly-touted pitcher. The athleticism taken to the mound did not translate immediately and he never heard his name called in the draft. The attention instead was drawn from Texas A&M as a two-way player. There, he has helped as a swing-man, seeing more time in the bullpen late in games.
Martin has a quick arm and flashes mid 90's with regularity, sitting 93-95, being upwards of 97. He commands his fastball to both sides of the plate and shows some late cut. He has a changeup that has flashed plus at times, and a sharp off-speed offering with plenty of velocity in the mid 80's that can be an extra swing-and-miss offering.
There's a lot of projection to the Aggie, with his mixture of athleticism and natural large frame. Martin held a relief role during his first two years at A&M, and with his aggressive and nasty nature, most believe that will be his calling card as a professional. However, he'll be tested as a starter, and if his command holds up like it did in the Cape, he could be a first-round talent.
48. M.J. Melendez, Catcher, St. James HS (FL); Committed: Florida International
Arguably one of the best catchers in the draft, Mervyl Melendez Jr., or "M.J.," has been working on the fundamentals since he was very young, and is now flashing some of the best defensive catching skills the draft has seen in recent history.
M.J.'s father, Mervyl Sr., has been working with his son since a young age on how to use proper mechanics defensively. This has helped him to pop times from home to second anywhere from 1.8 to 1.9 with one report noting he was a 1.75. His receiving skills grade out at league average with potential to be above-average, as well as his presentation skills. He backs it all up with a strong-arm, tops among prep draft prospects, which has been said to be more consistently accurate.
At the plate, there's a lot of inconsistencies but the overall raw package brings desire. Melendez has plus bat speed, some of the best among prep talents. When raw, he has some loft to his swing and keeps the barrel through the zone. The problem is that in-game he has been both short to the ball and also shown a long swing, leading to swing-and-misses. These inconsistencies will need to be corrected over the spring to turn him into a high first-round pick, but there is no larger critic of this than Melendez himself.
The other concern when it comes to Melendez is that his father was hired as the coach at Florida International, where M.J. moved his commitment to from Alabama State, where Mervyl Sr. originally coached. Scouts are uncertain whether this will effect his chance of signing, but feel his advanced overall game will be enough to turn him into a high draft pick, and pull him from his commitment of playing for his father at FIU.
47. Ryan Vilade, Shortstop, Frisco HS (TX); Committed: Oklahoma State
There's always stories of young kids that are seen in professional clubhouses, and the common theme is, "one day, we'll see this kid in a professional clubhouse." When it comes to Ryan Vilade, that story is soon to become a reality.
Growing up with his father, James, coaching at both the collegiate and minor league levels, Ryan is now en route to play for his father at Oklahoma State. The only thing standing in his way is 30 Major League teams who are ready to call his name in the early stages of the upcoming draft. Scouts got a full show at the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field, where he won the Home Run Derby, over other top prep draft prospects, Hunter Greene and Jordon Adell.
Vilade's above-average hitting tool will be his carrying card, as he shows barrel control and the timing to prove he can hit with the best at the professional level. He possesses raw power, and should see this become an above-average tool. Mixed with his advanced approach, he is one of the better prep hitters in this draft. Vilade will need to improve defensively to stick at shortstop at the highest level and show range to both sides, but he has enough arm (low 90's from the mound) and has light enough feet to make quick actions.
46. Glenn Otto, Right-Handed Pitcher, Rice
2007 was the last time Rice had a first-round pitching talent, but Wayne Graham has produced over 150 draftees, 28 Major Leaguers, three All-Stars, and most recently, a batting title. Glenn Otto may be the next to follow in those footsteps while becoming the first Owls pitcher in a decade to hear his name called in the first-round.
Otto turned heads as a late-inning reliever at Rice the past two seasons, helping him earn First Team All-Conference USA honors as a closer this year. It didn't take long for the heads to turn on a national scale as scouts turned their attention to the sound of his fastball overpowering the sound of batting practice for the National Team.
Otto's fastball ranges his fastball in the low to mid 90's with sink, sitting 92-93 with projection of increased velocity. He backs it up with an excellent swing-and-miss 12-to-6 curve, which he has shown an excellent feel for. He comes from over-the-top, and creates deception with a small amount of crossfire in his initial drive to the plate. Development of his changeup and slider, as well as fastball command, will be key to his stock.
45. Logan Allen, LHP, University HS (FL); Committed: Florida International
Being named a "big game" pitcher is usually reserved for guys pitching at the highest level in postseason games, and rarely used for a guy still in his teen years. Logan Allen fits the mold of a big game pitcher at just 18.
Florida State Championships, Underclass World Championships, and currently, the U-18 National Team pitching against the best teens in the world, Allen has competed at the highest level he possibly can, and excelled in all. There's a competitive level that can't be taught, yet, and Allen has it.
Allen has drawn scouts to see him since he was 15 due to his arsenal of three pitches, all of which he throws for strikes consistently, compliments of a repeatable, compact delivery. He attacks with a high 80's to low 90's fastball with arm-side run, throwing it east-to-west in the bottom of the zone. Allen has a great feel an above-average hard-breaking curve, as well as a plus changeup with fade. Rumor has it he's worked in a high 80's cutter to his arsenal.
The strongest asset to Allen's overall game is his knowledge of how to attack. He works quick, throws strikes, and changes speed regularly, while maintaining his velocity. The knock will always be his size, at just six-foot, but his knowledge and competitiveness outmatches his fellow competitors.
44. Colton Hock, Right-Handed Pitcher, Stanford
The transition from being a "thrower" to a "pitcher" isn't always an immediate shift, but with Colton Hock, it came with a quick transformation. With a program that has offered a handful of professional pitchers, this year's group of starters seem to all hold an opportunity of pro futures.
Holding the closing role at Stanford, Hock seems ready to make the move to the weekend rotation. There's a high intensity with Hock, who has a proven track record of success with upside projection attached.
Hock works in the low to mid 90's with his fastball, being upwards of 97. He backs it up with a power curve with tight spin, that has some slurve-break to it in the mid 80's. There's also a changeup in his arsenal that has flashed above-average at times, with enough fluctuation to creates misses. Hock's childhood hero, Mike Mussina, has helped him develop a cutter which is average at the moment with much higher potential.
43. Nick Allen, Shortstop, Francis W. Parker HS (CA); Committed: Southern California
Over the past five drafts, only 17 of the 223 first-round picks have been listed under six-feet. All five-foot-eight of Nick Allen is trying to break the trend of height being a factor in the draft. Though his height has only been matched once in the last five years among first-round picks (Marcus Stroman, 5'8, 2012), his tools and advanced baseball IQ could put his name with the best by June.
Size has been the only knock on Allen, as he's shown a better mindset than his opponents and teammates in front of scouts at the national scale. He does everything, and does it all well. One of the most feared hitters among the prep ranks mixes his speed and defense (Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year) to showcase his skills on a nightly basis.
Allen has excellent bat control, keeping his bat path through the zone throughout his swing, allowing him to line the ball to all fields. His swing can get long at times, and he is missing the explosive bat speed to be an average or better power hitter at the highest level, but this is prior to him hitting any professional weight rooms. He does carry a strong mental approach with him to the plate, which has kept him as a constant offensive threat.
Now the fun stuff. Allen has listed times as low at 6.56 on the 60-yard dash - the MLB average is 6.7 to 6.9. He's been shown on radar at 91 MPH across the infield - the MLB average is 85-90 MPH. He has range to both sides, and has great catch and throw abilities, which make him one of the premier defenders in this draft at a premium defensive position. With his instinct and overall tool set, the only thing keeping him from being mentioned as one of the top prep players in the nation is his size, which won't effect his status at shortstop.
42. Griffin Canning, Right-Handed Pitcher, UCLA
11 years, 11 Major League pitchers. John Savage and his staff have made a career in developing professional pitchers. In fact, 40 pitchers have been drafted under his 11-year tenure with UCLA. Griffin Canning will be the next to gain that opportunity.
Though his stuff doesn't match former Bruins' stars, Trevor Bauer or Gerrit Cole, his attack pattern and mental approach are stronger. That's helped him impress Savage enough to give him the opportunity to start since his freshman year, which has given scouts a regular taste of Canning. What they've seen, they've enjoyed.
Canning works with a four-pitch mix, all of which he throws for strikes regularly. His fastball sits in the low 90's, touching 94, with quality run. Canning has a feel for his change and maintains arm speed, which mixed with his command is a plus pitch. The bread-and-butter of his arsenal is his slider/cutter. He can add some excess or take some off, and differentiate the break and speed of the pitch, making it one of the top off-speed offerings in this class. Canning uses a curveball, that for the time being, is an average fourth offering, but does give him an extra weapon to attack.
41. Nick Storz, Right-Handed Pitcher/Outfielder, Poly Prep Country Day (NY); Committed: Louisiana State
Some guys can do it all. Some guys have the look. Nick Storz can do it all and has the look. One of the top prep two-way players in the upcoming draft is making scouts drool over the raw tools. It's not just the baseball field that Storz excels in, however.
One of the top prospects from Brooklyn in recent years was better known for what he did on the gridiron just a few years back. A two-way player, Storz garnered attention as a tight end, gaining recruiting visits from Miami, Alabama, Michigan and other Division I programs. Recently, Storz has been verbal about ending his football career early to focus on pitching, though reports have noted he's been on the gridiron as lately as August.
Though only transferring to the mound from behind the plate recently, the athletic two-way teen has gained more interest from scouts as a pitcher due to his raw tools. He stands tall at six-foot-six and has plenty of muscle weight (near 250 pounds) packed behind it, which is shown when he fires off fastballs upwards of 95 MPH. Primarily, Storz sits 90-93, and does lose some velocity late in outings, dropping to the high 80's. He backs up his fastball with a big-breaking two-plane slider, that has a bit of slurve break to it. Storz does throw a changeup, but it is in need of development.
At the plate, Storz uses his entire frame to muscle balls out of the park. Winning multiple prep Home Run Derbies, balls have been tracked as far as 430 feet, helped by his plus bat speed and violent uppercut swing. The teen does have control of his swing and body, but there will still be swing-and-miss concerns due to the violence and length of his swing. In the field, he uses his athleticism, plus-plus arm and average to above-average speed be a suitable outfielder.
This article was written and published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher and Draft Analyst for Scout.com. For more updates on the MLB Draft, follow Taylor on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.