2017 MLB Draft: Mock 1.0

In his latest Mock Draft, Jeff Ellis analyzes all of the players expected to be taken in the first round.

First Round

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

I know the talk as well as anyone else. Greene really wants to go to the Padres, but seems likely to sign with whoever drafts him. He just likely will give those teams a higher bonus demand. The people who run the Twins came from Cleveland and Texas; both teams, if they were picking here, I would expect to take Greene. There is some talk of going under slot here and then spending big on later picks. I think Mackenzie Gore could be the wildcard here. If they like him enough and can save a lot of pool money, they might want to take Gore. Greene I have heard he does not mind the Twins, though, and, for now, I think he still makes the most sense here.

2. Cincinnati Reds - Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Louisville 

The top of the draft is pretty well defined. McKay and Greene are the universal top two. The Reds really like Greene, but he wants no part of them. It would be interesting if he was here to see if they would call his bluff. There has been talk since February that the Reds like McKay here, but as a bat. I can see that point of view, as one could see a higher ceiling as a hitter. Either as a hitter or a pitcher, McKay is going in the top two. 

3. San Diego Padres - Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (CA) 

This is a hard choice, as the Padres really hope Greene falls. At the same time, they have shown a willingness to take college or prep talent earlier. They are looking for upside with their early selections. While Quantrill was a college player, his injury caused him to slide a year ago. There is little doubt that he would go higher now, after his performance this year. The Padres seemed to have a deal with Quantrill not to pitch once healthy and this year we see Greene also shutting down his pitching. So we can assume another deal is likely in place, if Greene can slide. Lewis is here as an up the middle athlete, who will turn 18 a week before the draft. If Greene is gone, Lewis makes the most sense.

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

Early on, I had heard Beck to the Rays and, based on recent drafts, it makes a lot of sense. I know the high ceiling prep players have been a mixed bag for them over the last two years, but I’m going to lean on recent history here. Beck’s meteoric rise has plateaued a bit and Adell is coming on strong lately. It will be interesting to see which prep outfielder is the first off the board. I think if they decide to go the college route, then Wright would make sense.

5. Atlanta Braves - Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

The Braves could go a lot of ways here. Wright has been rising after some better performances of late. He has still not lived up to expectations, but I have been told that he is still the top college right hander on many boards. I am not as high on him, but I think the Braves will likely just sit at six and see who slides to them. Wright would be the top talent on most boards at this point. They are another team that could go a bit off board to save cash for later picks, like they did last year. 

6. Oakland Athletics - J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina

The A’s love velocity and don’t care about size. Bukauskas, in terms of stuff, youth, and velocity is the premier pitcher in the college class. He is a college junior who won’t be 21 until late in the fall. His fastball hits the upper 90’s and he has three years of excellent performance. The only knock here is size and some concerns about effort in his delivery. I have little doubt that if Bukauskas had two more inches, he would be in the running with Greene to be the top player in this class. 

7. Arizona Diamondbacks - MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)

Gore along with Beck have made themselves the most money this spring, by rising into top ten lock status. Gore could be in play anywhere in the top ten. He is a very athletic lefty who is often compared to Braxton Garrett from a year ago. The difference, for me, is that Gore is clearly the better athlete of the two. 

8. Philadelphia Phillies - Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia 

Smith is in play for any spot in the top ten. Last year, the Phillies went with a polished prep hitter and early reports had them mostly on college players. Klentak comes from Anaheim, which has been a fairly conservative team when it comes to the draft. Smith has his limitations, but it's a fairly safe profile. It is the safety of the profile, along with strong production, which have him talked about as high as the top pick.

9. Milwaukee Brewers - Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida  

This pick came down to Faedo and Kendall. The Brewers have taken sliding talent the past few years. While Kendall is higher on most boards, the Brewers also tend to take players with strong hit tools, which is the question for Kendall. In addition, after going with toolsy outfielders the last two years, Kendall strikes me as less likely here. Faedo has not performed as well as he did a year ago, but there are two plus pitches there and a chance for a front of the rotation starter. 

10. Los Angeles Angels - Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia 

Haseley over Kendall would have seemed crazy at the start of the year. It still might seem a bit crazy now. Haseley, though, has outperformed Kendall in almost every way this year, while also being a starting pitcher for Virginia. Kendall is more likely to stick in centerfield and has a higher ceiling, but Haseley is also viewed as a player with high growth potential, once he focuses entirely on hitting. The stronger approach and eye at the plate give Haseley a higher floor and a ceiling that approaches Kendall’s. Angels have scouted Virginia heavily the last two years and feel comfortable with the program. There is a lot Adell and Baz talk here. A year ago, the Angels were linked to a few prep players, then took the safest college player possible in Matt Thaiss. I won’t get fooled again. Sadly, there was no catcher for me to mock here. 

11. Chicago White Sox - Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

The White Sox have been one of the most college heavy teams, in terms of the draft. They also have had connections to the Vanderbilt program in the past. Kendall was a potential number one overall pick at the start of the year. There are concerns with his hit tool and his size. This season, Kendall has reminded me a bit too much of Drew Stubbs. There is a plus runner, defender, and some power with contact issues. Kendall is a plus defender in centerfield and has above average power, but his ceiling is going to be defined by his hit tool.  

12. Pittsburgh Pirates - David Peterson, LHP, Oregon 

This might seem like a very high spot for Peterson, but give me a chance to explain why Peterson makes so much sense. First, the Pirates were linked heavily last year to college performers before taking Will Craig. Craig was a performance over scouting player last year and Peterson is right up there with McKay for the top performing pitcher this year. Lastly, the Pirates have shown a favoritism towards tall pitchers and Peterson stands 6’6”.  Peterson has been slowly moving up boards, but he makes a lot of sense when you look at the factors.

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 has been linked heavily to the Yankees, but the feedback from my last mock was that the Marlins were big fans of Pratto as well. There are a pair of sleepers for this pick, since Stan Meek is still in charge of scouting. Ryan Vilade and Conner Uselton are a pair of Oklahoma kids and Meek loves to scout and draft in his backyard, which is Oklahoma. 

14. Kansas City Royals - Jo Adell, OF, Ballard HS (KY) 

The Royals have gone back and forth, in terms of prep or college talent. When they built the current core, the Royals’ focus was on high upside prep talent. Once that core started to move up the minors, they seemed to shift to more college players. The Royals have struggled this year and have several free agents to be. The front office has to know a rebuild is in the works and grabbing a player with the ceiling of Adell would make sense, based on the previous rebuild. Adell has been a hot name of late and seems to be rebounding late in the process. 

15. Houston Astros - D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)  

The Astros have leaned prep, which meant this pick came down to Hall and Shane Baz. I went with Hall, as the Astros don’t have a high upside lefty in their system and Hall has been considered a top ten player in the summer and fall. While Gore has passed him, I still have Hall as the third prep arm in this class. 

16. New York Yankees - Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA

The Yankees have traditionally been one of the most conservative teams in the entire draft. While they took Blake Rutherford last year in the first, they only took two prep players in the first 13 rounds. The Yankees have had some luck in the past taking a UCLA arm, and Canning is a name who has been consistently rising up draft boards. He seems like a lock for the top 20 picks now.

17. Seattle Mariners - Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State 

This is a team that is all but guaranteed to take a college player. Jerry Dipoto, at every stop, has been one of the most conservative drafters in the first round. The Mariners have seemingly been on a constant search for power bats. While Burger is a third baseman by trade, there are doubts about his defense. He has the power to be able to move over to first, as the Mariners have one of the top third baseman in the game. Burger’s power potential puts him ahead of the other college bats on the board, for me. 

18. Detroit Tigers - Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri

The Tigers have been linked to a lot of SEC pitchers. Historically, they have been a team to look for toolsy outfielders or high velocity pitchers. Houck is a very divisive player in this class. He has fans who think he is top ten talent and others who think he is a future pen arm. They both tend to agree, though, that he is a likely Major League pitcher. He has been a two pitch guy in college and his velocity, which had touched 97 before, is more like 89-93 this year. His control numbers in college have been strong and he won’t turn 21 until after the draft. He has been a very productive pitcher in the top conference in the country. Yet, the drop in velocity and concerns over a third pitch are likely to cause him to slide. Youth, performance, and floor should still see him go in round one.

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

Giants have taken one prep player with their last six first round picks. While they have tended to lean towards pitchers, when they do take bats, they tend to be up the middle players. In a class that is lacking shortstops, Warmoth is going to be pushed up the board, even if he is likely a second baseman. This pick is staying the same, as feedback from the last mock was that the Giants do like Warmoth. I am not sure how much and, in fairness, I am sure all 30 teams do like Warmoth to some degree. 

20. New York Mets - Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) 

Romero was tempting here, but I think the Mets would be leery about a player with the issues Romero has had. The Mets were a hard team for me to predict. They have gone the college and prep route the last few years. They have tended to favor bats but, last year, spent a pair of first round picks on college arms. Baz would be an upside grab, which does fit their profile when they go prep. He will be 17 on draft day, hit 98, and is a plus athlete. He could go a lot higher and I would not be shocked if he managed to sneak into the top ten.

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

The Orioles’ issues with drafting and development have been pointed out repeatedly by me. I have spent a lot of time in the Eastern League the last three years and, every year, the oldest team by far is the Orioles affiliate. They could use a lot of youth in that system. Hiura has questions about his position, but his bat is one of the safest in this class. Even if he ends up a left fielder, his gap power and hit tool should make him an above average regular. In terms of the bats in this class, Hiura’s hit tool makes him the safest college bat. 

22. Toronto Blue Jays - Alex Lange, RHP, LSU

Last year, Shapiro stayed with the early conservative approach that marked his time running the Indians. Lange has been followed heavily since his freshman year and, while most of his numbers have improved, he has been unable to match the ridiculously low 1.97 E.R.A. He doesn't have the ceiling of some of the arms I already mentioned, but should be a safe mid to back end arm. He has been a steady performer in college, with a track record of success. This year, his walk rate is down and his strikeout rate is up; both are positive signs that Lange could end up as a mid-rotation arm.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers - Heliot Ramos, OF, Alfonso Casta Martinez HS (PR) 

Ramos has been an interesting watch. He peaked this summer, with a huge performance at the Under Armour All American game in Chicago. Then it went quiet on him for a while and now his name is again rising. Part of this rise and fall is natural with a player from Puerto Rico, as teams have to go out of their way to scout such players. Ramos isn’t the biggest guy, at 6’1”, nor is he your traditional burner in center field. He has a chance to be a 55 guy in every category, which makes him incredibly valuable in any spot in the outfield. 

24. Boston Red Sox - Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad HS (NM)

Rogers fits the Dave Dombrowski model and would give the Red Sox another high-ceiling lefty. Rogers is raw, but a plus athlete who has touched 97 this year and has bloodlines, as his cousin is Cody Ross. The concern is going to be age, as Rogers turns 20 this year and is very raw, in spite of his age. Dombrowski has not shown concerns with player ages and his love of velocity makes him an easy fit for Boston. 

25. Washington Nationals - Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida JC

The Nationals have leaned towards college players with their first picks in the draft. This has been the case in the first and second round as, for a few years, they didn’t have a first round selection, due to free agency. The Nationals have been a fan of velocity as well; when it comes to arms, few in this draft can match Pearson, in terms of velocity. A JUCO player, Pearson is battling Brendon Little to be the first JUCO player off the board. Pearson has the velocity and size advantage, but he also has a screw in his elbow, which will concern some teams. The Nationals have not been scared off by health concerns in the past and Pearson could be a player that could be fast-tracked as a pen arm or developed as a starter. 

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

The Rangers love youth and Vientos won’t be 18 until December, making him the youngest player in this draft. I have been solidly in the pro Vientos camp for a while and see a chance for plus power, with an at least average hit tool while playing third. I rarely knock a player for age (my top player last year was Blake Rutherford after all) but, for me, youth relative to level is a big bonus. Youth relative to minor league level has been shown to be one of the best indicators of future success. A year ago, the Rangers went to Florida for their first selection. Here, it makes the most sense again.

27. Chicago Cubs - Nick Allen, SS, Francis Parker HS (CA)

I was told by a source I trust that the Cubs have been fans of Allen. This makes sense, as the Cubs have shown that they are not a team which is fazed by height. Allen is a no doubt shortstop who runs well. Scouts who are fans of his talk about an above-average to plus potential hit tool. He is 5’8”, which limits what teams will be willing to draft him early. As one person I talked to mentioned, how many 5’8” players are in baseball? Thanks to Baseball Reference’s player index I can tell you; since 2000, there have been 12 players who are 5’8” or smaller and have been an everyday starter in the big leagues. He is maybe the most divisive player in the draft; you either love him or hate him, in terms of projection. 

28. Toronto Blue Jays - Evan White, OF/1B, Kentucky 

Again, I am looking at Shapiro's past tendencies--one is college players, the other is, if you take a bat first, then you take an arm, or vice versa. White is another player who has helped himself out a lot this year. He’s a strong athlete who has shown more power this year. If you are not a fan, the profile he might remind you a bit of is Casey Kotchman--stellar defense and average power. White is a better athlete and I think he should be tried in the outfield. He is never going to be a big power bat, but he should be an above-average regular who can play multiple spots in the field well. 

29. Texas Rangers - Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville (MN)

Carlson has been a hot name late in the process. The reason is that Minnesota’s high school baseball season starts later than everywhere else. He is a work in progress, as a cold weather arm, but it also means he has not had as many innings as your typical high school pitcher. Carlson’s size and pitch ability first got him noticed. Now, he is touching mid 90’s and sitting in the low 90’s. It is natural to think he could add some velocity as he matures and grows into his frame. This would be another high ceiling pick, which fits the Ranger's profile.

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

Since 2014, the Cubs have had seven picks in the top three rounds and have taken exactly one prep player, Bryan Hudson, in the third round of 2015. Since I had them taking Allen earlier, this pick had to be a college player. Schmidt would have been long gone if he had stayed healthy. The combination of Tommy John and being a 6’1” right-handed pitcher is going to cause him to slide. First of all, the Cubs don’t have issues with height, as mentioned before, and secondly, with two picks, they can take Schmidt and wait. They are getting a player who was a consensus top 20 talent preinjury.  As we have seen in the past, Tommy John typically causes a drop of 10 picks or less on draft night. 

Teams without first round picks below

48. Colorado Rockies Matt Sauer, RHP, Righetti HS (CA)

The Rockies have gone for high ceiling and velocity the past few years. They have taken a big bodied right hander the last two years with Riley Pint and Mike Nikorak. Sauer has been a late riser but, much like Jared Horn a year ago, is a big California righty with big velocity. Sauer has been up to 97. He is raw and there is some risk; some see him as a pen arm, due to really only having just two pitches right now. If you are a fan, the build is an innings eater with two or three potential.

64. Cleveland Indians Asa Lacy, LHP, Tivy HS (TX)

Lacy fits the Indians high school pitcher profile to a T. He turns 18 at the beginning of June, making him young for his class. He has a strong feel for pitching and well developed secondary offerings with his curve and change. He is also a plus athlete. He is 6’3” and weighs 190, but it is easy to see him adding velocity as he adds weight. He isn’t as lanky as Tristan Mckenzie, but the basic build reminds me a little of him. Lacy checks every box for the Indians and should fit into their allotted pool money. As a bonus, Cleveland media can have a field day, as Tivy High School is also where Johnny Manziel went.

94. St. Louis Cardinals Landon Leach, RHP, Pickering HS (CN)

The Cardinals are hard, as they have so little money. The past few years, they have taken more prep talent, after being one of the more conservative teams in baseball. At the same time, the Cardinals have not taken a prep talent in round three since 2011. I also have to point out that prep players tend to be more expensive and the Cardinals have a little over three million to spend. Leach would fit the high ceiling bill while also likely being around at this point. Leach, being from Canada, is a cold weather arm who has touched mid 90s this spring. In addition, he will be just 17 on draft day. He is a big kid, at 6’4”, but far from maxed out, which would allow him to gain some velocity down the road. The Cards have looked to the prep ranks heavily of late and Leach makes sense here, in terms of bonus and ability.

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