2017 MLB Draft: Big Board Part 2

In his latest Big Board installment, Jeff Ellis breaks down some more of the players expected to be taken in this year's draft.

I need to lead this off with a shout out. While I don’t use others scouting reports, when I’m getting numbers together for the ranking piece, I find Perfect Game invaluable. As far as I know, they are the only place to find percentile ranks on players bat speed and 60 times. I also find the age listings invaluable, as I find age very hard to track down.

51- 41 can be found here

40. Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)

Baz fits the profile a lot of teams look for in a starter. He is athletic, has good velocity, and won’t be 18 until July. Teams are valuing athleticism more and more with pitchers. I personally think that athletic pitchers tend to be less injury prone and have better success rates. Baz is a player who could easily end up sitting mid 90’s. He has four pitches, and his cutter is his best off speed pitch. His curve and change are behind his cutter in development. He might not have the sexy traits of some of the other prep arms, but the overall package makes him one of the safer prep arms in this class.

39. David Peterson, LHP, Oregon

Peterson is having himself quite a year. He is 18th in NCAA in strikeouts per nine and 12th in the NCAA in walks per nine, which combined to make him third in the country in strikeout to walk ratio. The 6’6” left hander has benefited from the new pitching coach at Oregon this year. His command and control have improved, which helps elevate his profile. Peterson is a very good athlete, who some thought could have been a two way player in college. Peterson’s size and length are an asset with his sinking fastball, which sits in the low to mid 90’s. Teams love bigger pitchers and left handed starters. Peterson is both and should hear his name in the top two rounds.

38. Conner Uselton, OF, Southmoore HS (OK)

Uselton is a player that seems to have lost some of his momentum from last summer, when he was routinely listed among the top 30 or so players in the draft. I am still on board, because of the tools that Uselton has shown. He is a big kid, at 6’3”, but runs very well. I would grade his speed as a plus tool. His arm is a plus to plus plus. He has some of the best bat speed in the class which, combined with his size, makes it easy to project plus power potential. There are concerns with his swing, which is rather loud. He is a bit like Will Benson, from a year ago, in terms of having lots of tools, but big questions about his ability to hit. 

37. Joe Perez, RHP/3B, Archbishop Edward McCarthy HS (FL)

Joe Perez started the year behind his teammate, Alexander Toral, on many lists. He was also listed as a third baseman in most places, with big power potential. He has come out this spring and started to pitch more often. He has been pitching out of the pen this year on a consistent basis. He has hit 98 and often comes out 93-96, according to reports. He has nearly no mileage on his arm, since he has not pitched much before this year. He is a blank slate as a pitcher. Perez will be 17 on draft day, has pitched very few innings, and is already touching high 90’s. The ceiling is very high. Perez could be a player we look back at in five years and think, “how did he not go in the top ten?” The risk is there, but what prep arm doesn’t come with a relatively high amount of risk? For some teams, the fact that he is a player they can mold completely will be a big positive in his favor. 

36. Cole Brannen, OF, Westfield School (GA)

Brannen has a lot of fans as a sure centerfielder with plus-plus speed. It might even be an 80-grade tool. He combines this with plus bat speed, though his swing is not one geared for power. His arm is strong enough that he could play anywhere in the outfield but, with his speed, center is the obvious choice. The raw tools for Brannen are what will see him drafted early. The overall profile is closer to an average bat but, combined with his potential in center field, there is a chance for a Dexter Fowler type player. 

35. Nick Storz, RHP, Poly Prep Country Day School (NY)

Nick Storz is this year’s top draft prospect from New York. The past few years, there has been a player taken in the first round from the state of New York, though most of them are often from upstate. Storz is from Brooklyn, not a borough known for its baseball. There have been just two players signed out of Brooklyn since 2000, though Storz did have a teammate drafted in the 27th round last year. Storz is another 19 year old pitcher with a birthday at the start of the year. Storz could also generate some talk as a hitter, as his bat speed and size have led to impressive BP displays. He has only been a pitcher in high school, but his size and ability give him number two pitcher type of potential. As mentioned, he is a big kid, at 6’6” and 245 pounds. His fastball this summer was a mid 90’s pitch. Bottom line is that Storz is most likely a pitcher. As either a pitcher or hitter, there is significant upside in Storz, but he is also going to take a bit longer than other prep players.

34. Drew Waters, OF, Etowah HS (GA)

Waters has one of the better prep outfield arms in this class. He is a plus runner as well, which means he could profile to play any spot in the outfield. If he bulks up as he gets older, he should still profile as an above average defender in either corner spot. His bat speed and exit velocity numbers have been impressive, leading me to believe that he has plus power potential. The reports on his approach as a hitter are also positive. It's a pretty complete profile and there is a chance for a five-tool player with Waters. If one tool ends up holding up his development I would think it would be his hit tool, due to mechanical reports. 

33. Hans Crouse, RHP, Dana Hills HS (CA)

Crouse is a polarizing player. He has been in the top ten for some and really could have been a little lower for me. He is a player who sits mid 90’s, which is part of the reason he excites so many. He was hitting 98 at the NHSI last week. He also has a build that teams love, and looks like a potential front of the rotation starter when he is out there throwing fastballs. His delivery is an issue. I have seen it described as violent or having effort. This delivery leads to control issues, which is my biggest concern. The stuff is so good I would not want to mess with the delivery but, at the same time, I think he is likely a reliever with his delivery, albeit a very good one. He is ranked here because the ceiling is a front of the rotation starter.

32. Blayne Enlow, RHP, St. Amant HS (LA)

Enlow is a big right-handed pitcher. While he might not have current elite velocity, I see big time upside and think he has a much higher probability of being a starter than the prep arms I have already talked about. He is 6’4” and about 180 pounds, so one would expect his velocity to jump from the low 90’s once he bulks up. His curveball was one of the best in the prep class this summer. His delivery is clean and velocity is so easy, which is another reason I expect more velocity to come. Enlow might not blow up radar guns, but a smooth delivery and develop secondary offerings make him a safe prep arm with front of the rotation upside.

31. Cole Turney, OF, William B. Travis HS (TX)

Turney is another player I am higher on than the rest of the industry. When I see him so much lower it makes wonder if there is something I don’t know, as I am not as connected as others. Turney has been on the radar for a while and sometimes it seems a player like him can get over analyzed. Turney has some of the best physical tools in this class. For anything that is measured as a physical tool, Turney would rank among the upper tier of players in this class. He isn’t the biggest guy, at 6’1”, but the bat speed should allow him to have at least average power. His ability to run and his arm mean he could profile anywhere in the outfield. For me, Turney is more about tools than anything else right now. The physical tools give him a very high ceiling but, again, I wonder what I must be missing, as Turney seems like a slam dunk top 50 prospect. 

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