Jeff Ellis

2017 MLB Draft: Competitive Balance B 68-75

In the second installment of his Competitive Balance analysis, Jeff Ellis breaks down the players selected from picks 68-75 in this evening's draft.

Competitive Balance Round B

68. Arizona Diamondbacks:   Daulton Varsho, C University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Varsho was a hot name late in the process. He is small, both in size of self and school. This is the big concern for Varsho. The positives are that he has performed well, both in college and in the Northwoods, as well as being young for his class; he won’t turn 21 until July. He also has bloodlines as his father played eight years in the major. He has shown a strong eye in college, which is his best offensive tool.

69. San Diego Padres:  Blake Hunt, C Mater Dei (CA) 

This was a surprising pick for me. I had them taking a catcher at this spot in my mock, but didn’t think they would grab one here, after taking Campusano at the top, of round two. Both guys are catchers long term as well, so it is not a case where one player is likely to move off the position. So it will create issues, as they move up, with finding time for both. Or they will have to be staggered, in terms of level. Hunt is the stronger defender of the two, but Campusano has the higher overall ceiling. 

70. Colorado Rockies:   Tommy Doyle, RHP University of Virginia

This was another surprise pick, though he kind of fits with the Rockies' overall approach. I just did not expect a team with two day one picks to grab a college reliever. Doyle does fit, in terms of being a big right hander( 6’6”) with velocity (has been up to 97). It seems like every year they take a big right hander with velocity early. Maybe they think he can start down the road or maybe they think Doyle could be a quick to the majors arm for a team in first place. I am not sure, but I know that no one rated Doyle as a top 70 player.  

71. Cleveland Indians:  Tyler Freeman, SS Etiwanda (CA) HS

Tyler Freeman, on the surface, reminds me a lot of Tony Wolters. He is an undersized California shortstop, without a plus tool, who is likely going to move to second base. He is a player that scouts and coaches love, a dirt bag type who does everything right. He also fits the Indians' model of youth, as he just turned 18 at the end of May. He has shown a strong eye and approach at the plate and does a bit of everything, just nothing plus. In what seems to be the theme for the night, other than age, Freeman’s top tool is his foot speed. 

72. Pittsburgh Pirates:   Conner Uselton, OF Southmoore (OK) HS

This was another high ceiling pick for the Pirates. They swung for the fences with every one of their four picks on day one. Uselton was a great value this late, as I had him among the top 50 players in this draft. There are questions with his hit tool, but he is yet another power/speed outfielder in this class.

73. Kansas City Royals:   Evan Steele, LHP Chipola College

Steele started out at Vanderbilt, before transferring to Chipola, after he was ruled ineligible to play. He is a big kid, at 6’5”, but is very raw, even if his time at Vanderbilt did help clean up his delivery. I think he is a likely reliever long term. He was not a top 100 guy on most boards, because of concerns with health and likely being a reliever. This should be an under slot signing, maybe using that money to help sign Melendez, who could cost over slot.   

74. Baltimore Orioles:   Zac Lowther, LHP Xavier

This is the last pick I got correct in my mock. Lowther looks average in every way, but gets results. He didn’t just dominate a small conference either, as he was the strikeout leader in the Cape. This pick might save them some cash, as I was the only person to rate him about this high. I believed he could be a solid backend starter and, apparently, so did the Orioles. It was interesting to see them grab a pair of players in round two who I had rated at similar spots, but were much later on most boards.

75. Houston Astros  J.J. Matijevic, 2B University of Arizona

In my first run through of the mock, I had this pick right as well. Then I made some changes and moved him up. I thought it was interesting that he was announced as a second baseman, as he was not a great defender at first, so it seemed like they were the kings of wishful thinking. The tools have been there for awhile and, starting at the Cape, Matijevic broke out and had a solid year. The bat would play a lot better at second, but I also just can’t see it. 

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