2017 MLB Draft: Mock Draft 1.0

The first full first round mock of the year is a group effort by Jeff Ellis and Taylor Blake Ward. They go through the first 30 picks alternating write ups.

1. Minnesota Twins - Hunter Greene, RHP/SS, Notre Dame HS (CA)

Greene is number one on every board but mine. He could end up there by the draft. The ceiling and youth fit with both the Texas and Cleveland approach, which is where the new front office leaders come from. Greene would be the first the prep right-hander to go number one, which says all you need to know about his ability.

2. Cincinnati Reds - Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

Despite a slow start, no one had anyone outside of Jeren Kendall as the top college position player in this draft, and it's unlikely that thought will change. With plus speed, athleticism, and above-average tools across the board, Kendall is sure to be one of the top picks in this draft. With the Reds current strategy of drafting athletic college players, it's sensible to believe Kendall could go No. 2... or higher.

3. San Diego Padres - Brendan McKay, LHP, Louisville 

The Padres focus has been on adding arms the past few years. McKay has been a great player for three years in college.  He’s a force as both a hitter and a pitcher. He is wrapping up a college Hall Of Fame career. He should move quickly through the minors and be a potential two or three starter. The Padres took the college arm with polish early a year ago. Lewis could also be in play, but hearing arms so far here.

4. Tampa Bay Rays - Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (NC) 

The secret is out. The Rays really like Austin Beck and have a representative at the majority (if not all) of his games. After tearing his ACL and meniscus in May last year, he didn't play the rest of summer and into fall. He's now playing and flashing plus with all five tools, with his bat being the primary weapon. He's hit his fair share of home runs and has a nice arm to support his speed and defensive abilities. Tampa loves upside and toolsy guys, and Beck fits the mold, so the secret is out. Beck is also a candidate to possibly fall far with any lackluster play.

5. Atlanta Braves - Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (CA) 

Lewis is in the top two on most boards. A very good chance he sticks at shortstop and, if not, then you have a potential plus defender in center fielder. The hit and run tools look like future plus today as well. A hard worker with plus physical skills, Lewis is a top five lock right now. Braves have gone prep arms heavy recently. While there are options, the top prep player here is a bat

6. Oakland Athletics - Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida 

Death, taxes, and the Athletics taking college players in the draft. There's always trends to teams when it comes to the draft, but maybe no team goes is as trendy as Oakland. In Billy Beane's tenure with the A's, they've selected a college player in the first round 34 of 40 times. Organizations also begin to trust programs and three of the A's last five two-round picks have come from the University of Florida. That leads us to Alex Faedo, who has a plus mid 90's fastball and plus slider. Faedo had surgery on both knees this fall, and has seen his velocity drop while regaining his strength.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks - D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)

A new front office means this is a bit of a shot in the dark. Hazen comes from Boston, which does provide us with some information. Boston leaned a bit more towards prep players. Hall is considered the top prep left-hander in this class. Without a lot of information available, I’m going with the prep lefty, based on Boston’s recent history. Hall is the number two prep arm on most boards. 

8. Philadelphia Phillies - J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina

If Bukauskas was two inches taller, he'd likely be a top-three selection. Instead, the six-footer with the most electric college arm in this class is going to have to rely on his mid-to-high 90's fastball and plus wipeout slider to garner teams attention for a big payday. It only takes one team to ignore the standard of scouting pitchers, and take a smaller statured guy, and Philly could be that team. Amateur Scouting Director, Johnny Alamanaz, has no fear of short-statured pitchers. He was responsible for signing Johnny Cueto and Julio Teheran, who are both south of six-foot-two and has drafted a fair amount of hurlers of similar size in his two years with Philly. Bukauskas is a gamer, which is another thing Almanaz and Matt Klentak love in prospects, and Bukauskas could easily be a gift to them at #8.

9. Milwaukee Brewers - Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia 

Smith has talk of being in play as high as one. He has been a strong performer for three years. His power is up and his strikeout total is minuscule. The only knocks are his position and where he went to school. Brewers have taken known sliding talent. They also tend to value hit tools with their high picks; this all fits for Smith.

10. Los Angeles Angels - Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri

The Angels' new regime has given hints as to what they're looking for in pitching prospects - athleticism, projection, and velocity. Tanner Houck throws mid 90's bowling balls and offers an average slider and changeup. A two-sport athlete that stands at six-foot-five, he fits the profile of what the Angels would be looking for. The ultimate knock is that his delivery could lead him to a relief role, but his ability to throw strikes and maintain velocity in outings has him jumping up draft boards.

11. Chicago White Sox - Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt 

Wright has had a rough year for Vanderbilt. He started the year in the running for the top pick and was the number one pitcher on some boards. Here it is just a matter of him being too good of a value to pass up, along with an organization that is one of the best at developing pitchers. They could view this as getting a top five talent at 11. If they can help fix Hansen, then Wright would be easy. The White Sox have so many high ceiling arms, but you can never have enough of them. If you do end up being the rare team with too much starting pitching, then you have the most valuable trade asset in the game. 

12. Pittsburgh Pirates - Hans Crouse, RHP, Dana Hills HS (CA)

Pittsburgh loves tall pitchers who throw hard--Daher, Hans Crouse. The Southern California prep product has a fiery side to him on-and-off the field which, along with his nasty arsenal, makes him one of the most intriguing arms in this class. At the National High School Invitational, Crouse flashed his mid 90's fastball with all styles of life to it, mixing in a multi-break off-speed pitch with plenty of spin. There hasn't been a high-energy arm like Crouse in some time and his overall performance could put him among the first prep arms to go in this class.

13. Miami Marlins - Nick Pratto, 1B/OF, Huntington Beach HS (CA) 

The Marlins have leaned prep recently and the last time they picked in this range, they took a prep first baseman, Josh Naylor. Pratto is a different hitter than Naylor and always would not be the reach Naylor was.  Pratto’s hit tool is what has been pushing him up boards. His swing is often described in the kind of words people often use to describe sports cars or attractive people. One thing is for sure, whoever does go here is the number two prospect in the Marlins organization, unless they do something very surprising. Since it is the Marlins, that is still very possible. 

14. Kansas City Royals - Jacob Heatherly, LHP, Cullman HS (AL)

Very similar to Foster Griffin, the Royals first-round pick in 2014, Heatherly is a polished prep pitcher from the Southeast, who shows both a high ceiling and high floor. Fitting the mold of the Royals draft trends, the southpaw is a tremendous athlete, who works in the low 90's with a trio of other advanced offerings, which he craftily uses to create outs and should help him be a fairly quick mover through the pro ranks. With a small amount of impact prospects, the Royals have to hit on someone in this draft, but a high-floor arm is a nice fall back to maintain future impact.

15. Houston Astros - MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)

The Astros have leaned prep and Gore would be the top prep arm on just about any board by this point. He is an advanced lefty, who has been rising all spring. The last two years, he has looked like a high schooler facing elementary school kids. For all the depth in the Astros minors, they don’t have a lefty who projects as a likely starter down the road. 

16. New York Yankees - Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford

Tristan Beck has yet to pitch this season, due to injuries but is nearing a return to the mound, where he will become one of the most desired draft prospects this year. In high school, teams loved him, but he had his heart set on Stanford, where he's now a draft-eligible sophomore with an advanced changeup and precision command of his low-to-mid 90's fastball. Dating back to 2013, the Yankees have selected eight California born and based prospects with their 13 top-100 picks, which makes them a more viable option for the Corona-born pitcher.

17. Seattle Mariners - Wil Crowe, RHP, South Carolina

This is a team that is all but guaranteed to take a college player. Crowe is, right now, showing what a lot of people expected Kyle Funkhouser to do in college. He has a big sinking fastball, but also the velocity and secondary pitches to miss bats. Dipoto has gone college in round one nearly every year, with an upside prep in the second. I could see Burger here if they go college bat.

18. Detroit Tigers - Jo Adell, OF, Ballard HS (KY)

Hardly any player in this draft has as many questions mark as Adell. He has the potential to be a five-tool star but also has all the flaws to be a potential bust. The Tigers have gone all in on players like this before and reaped fairly minimal rewards. They need to hit on some kind of prospect of this caliber and, if all comes together, Adell could be a defensive star with mass power. It will take high-quality coaching, because he has holes in his swing that are worrisome but, with the upside being as large as it is, Adell is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

19. San Francisco Giants - Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina

Giants are always one of the hardest teams to predict. They have leaned towards college and up the middle talent, which means Warmoth makes sense here. Another player with a lot of helium, Warmoth has been a consistent producer at UNC. Warmoth’s position and hit tool just fit the Giants typical profile and shortstops always rise on draft day.

20. New York Mets - Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State

The Mets have been fairly conservative in the past, and one of the safest bats available in this draft comes in the form of Jake Burger. An all-around talent at the plate, Burger has already shown power to all parts of the field this spring, while showing a balanced approach at the plate. There's a chance that, with this class being limited in impact college bats, Burger could possibly be long gone by this point in the draft. With consistent ties to college hitters in the past, it's fairly sensible to write Burger's name with the Mets in the long haul.

21. Baltimore Orioles - Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC Irvine

The Orioles have become the Cleveland Browns of the MLB draft. Players either get hurt, under perform, or excel when they leave. The consistent levels of zero return are depressingly impressive.  They tend to follow safe college bats and Hiura has one of the best current hit tools in this class. There are questions about his position, but Hiura would have a chance to be the O’s top prospect. Sisco and Mancini should graduate. Harvey is hurt, so it will likely come down to Sedlock and whoever is picked here to be the O’s top prospect. 

22. Toronto Blue Jays - Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA

A breakout talent at one of the finest pitching schools in the nation, Canning has shown the ability to miss bats, something he didn't possess earlier in his collegiate career. The Blue Jays new Front Office has ties to safer picks, and Canning is a sure-fire arm who will have an impact at the Major League level not too far down the road. With four pitches that all average plus or better that he fills the zone with, and his fastball raising in velocity upwards of 96 MPH, Canning is jumping up draft boards early. Some believe Canning could be working his way into top-15 talk, after proving year-after-year that he can continue performing at a high level at a program that's known for producing high-caliber arms.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers - Brendon Little, LHP, State JC of Florida Manatee-Sarasota

Dodgers have been focused on arms or up the middle talent. When they have grabbed arms early, they have gone to the college ranks, looking for velocity and lack of size. I am not sure the lack of size is something they want as much, as the best pitcher available with velocity late in round one is often one who is undersized. They could go any number of directions but, for now, Little made sense here. They have looked almost exclusively at ceiling and Little would present one of the highest available.

24. Boston Red Sox - Garrett Mitchell, OF, Orange Lutheran HS (CA)

Constantly going with the best available player, there's argument about who could be the Red Sox target in the first round. Mitchell is still raw but shows the ability to barrel balls and put on a showcase of power during batting practice. Along with his talents at the plate, he's a solid defender in center field, with an average arm and plus speed. With tools across the board and a strong showing at the National High School Invitational, Mitchell never hurt his stock. Two concerns that come up when talking to scouts are fairly out of his control. Mitchell is a Type-1 diabetic, which causes concern on how he'll hold up in the long run. The other is that he's down in weight but, as one scout noted, he went from linebacker-size to halfback-size, and still has a desirable Major League frame.

25. Washington Nationals - Alex Lange, RHP, Louisiana State

Nationals are another fairly conservative team when it comes to the draft. Lange has been rated highly, in terms of this draft, since his freshman year. I see more of a back-end starter, but the Nationals and I often disagree on the players they draft anyways. Lange has two at least average pitches with solid control, which makes him a safe bet once drafted. This, though, would be a good value and would help a Nationals system that has been weakened by trades and promotions. 

26. Texas Rangers - Mark Vientos, 3B, American Heritage HS (FL)

Jon Daniels loves young guys with large upside. Mark Vientos won't be 18-years-old until mid-December and has as much upside as any prospect throughout this entire draft. A large-bodied kid, Vientos already shows a pro mold but will be forced to move from shortstop, due to size and lack of quick actions. Coming from a successful program in Florida, the track record is there for the youngster, who could hit his way to a much higher spot in the draft than No. 26. With the potential to hit for power and average, he's going to be high on most boards but, if the Rangers have the opportunity, they should scoop him up.                                    

27. Chicago Cubs - Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina

The Cubs have no issues with size and Schmidt reminds me of a better version of last year's third round pick, Thomas Hatch. Schmidt is almost universally a top 20 player in this draft. The only reason he would end up going later is if there are concerns about his height. Cubs won't care and the rich get richer. I would bet that, by this time next year, Schmidt will be one of the Cubs top five prospects, with a chance he would be considered the top arm in the system, depending on Cease’s development. 

28. Toronto Blue Jays - Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia

No player has helped his draft stock this year as much as Haseley. He's a true gamer in the outfield, who has always shown the ability to hit but is now flashing some serious thud behind his swing. Already at double-digit home runs for the first time in his collegiate career, along with a fair amount of speed and stellar approach taught at the University of Virginia, Haseley has gone from a relatively small name to one to pay special attention to. As mentioned multiple times, in a class with minimal impact college bats, Haseley could be climbing higher-and-higher with each strong performance. 

29. Texas Rangers - Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)

The Rangers like athletic pitchers, which is Shane Baz to a T. They also look for guys who are pitchers more than throwers. Baz might not have the big velocity of other pitchers in this class, but he has shown four pitches this year. Lastly, the Rangers are one of the teams who really have a focus on age relative to class. The fact that Baz will be 17 on draft day is another point in his favor. There is a chance the Rangers could target a Georgia talent here. They take one prep player from Georgia early in every draft, it feels like. They could also take a high-priced talent who slid, with pick 26, and look to go under slot here. Basically, it’s a very smart front office who is going to have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the draft this year.

30. Chicago Cubs - Brady McConnell, SS, Merritt Island HS (FL)

Theo Epstein and crew have continually ignored any alternatives to prospects and gone after the best available player. That leads to Brady McConnell, who has the knock of already being 19-years-old by draft time, which we saw become a problem for Blake Rutherford last year. Regardless of how old he is or isn't, McConnell is a player who should hear his name in top-15 conversation. He will stick it out at shortstop, with plus-plus speed and some ability to hit for average. There's always a kid who teams kick their rear ends over when they see them at the Majors years later, and McConnell could easily be that player and blessing for any team that nabs him from the nay-sayers about age.

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