Stanford Daily

2017 MLB Draft: Best Player Available Day 2

In his Best Player Available analysis, Jeff Ellis breaks down the players still left on the board for day 2 of the draft.

So day one of the draft is done, but day two is when the heavy lifting happens. These rounds are more important than the first round. This is where teams really make the picks to build an organization. So I am going to highlight my top ten players left on my Big Board. I will also note if I think the player is signable or not. I have to note that I think the Twins could sign any player at this point, so just about anyone could be signable. So when I state signable, it is more a matter of if I think they are likely to sign overall, not just with a couple of teams, which is heavily based on the programs they are committed to. 

1 Blayne Enlow, RHP, St. Amant HS (LA) Ranked 20th 

Enlow doesn’t throw as hard as several players I have already talked about. Yet, he is high on my list because he is an athletic pitcher with a clean, repeatable delivery. He already shows an advanced curveball that should be a 60/65 grade pitch. As with virtually all high school arms, his third pitch is a work in progress. It is easy to project him to add velocity with his frame and mechanics. I see a potential two starter who doesn’t have any major red flags. He should be one of the safer prep arms who also has top of the rotation upside.

Verdict - Unsignable, LSU is a big program and he could have a big role 

2 Blaine Knight, RHP, Arkansas  Ranked 28th

I was super high on Blaine Knight in my first mock, then he entered SEC play and came back to Earth. Well, he relatively came back to Earth, I should say. He still posted a walk rate under two and a strikeout rate over nine. The draft eligible sophomore has had a really interesting set of reports. I have heard it said that his secondary stuff is well behind and he is a future reliever. Then I have been told his slider could be a plus tool and he is a potential four pitch guy. I lean towards a middle ground. I think his fastball and slider could be potential plus pitches. I think his change needs to develop into an average pitch to help him reach his mid rotation potential. He is a very skinny kid and needs to add bulk. Right now, he sits low to mid 90’s and touches 97. When you combine his slight build and youth it is not crazy to think he could add velocity. My concern, on top of a third pitch, is his high home run rate this year. I would still roll the dice on Knight, in spite of these issues, thanks to his athleticism, command, and fastball/slider combo. 

Verdict - Unsignable, reports before draft that he was not set on leaving 

3. Nick Allen, SS, Francis Parker HS (CA) Ranked 35 

Allen might have more fans than any player in this draft. It speaks to his ability that teams will look past his lack of height to still universally judge him as a top talent in the draft. Allen is 5’8”, which means he is not just undersized, but historically small. He is a sure shortstop and should be a plus defender there. Where you place him on a board really depends on how you view his hit tool. If you think it's a potential plus tool, then you likely have Allen in the top 25 players in this class. I think it's more of an average tool, which is why I have him lower. His plus defense and speed mean that even with an average hit tool and no power he should still profile as a future starter.  

Verdict - Unsignable, USC commit, whose size must be the issue

4. Trevor Stephan, RHP, Arkansas Ranked 38

Stephan, along with Fairchild, are the players that would be described as “my dudes” this year. Stephan will be higher on the last Big Board, I can tell you that. He was drafted a year ago, out of the JUCO ranks, by the Red Sox, who tried to sign him. He then went to the SEC and dominated the conference in year one. There are not a lot of guys who can post walk rates under two and strikeout rates near 12. Oh, and Stephan has also touched 97 and shown the ability to hold 95 late into games. His slider looks like an above average pitch, though his third pitch is a work in progress. I get the concerns with the third pitch and how it might limit him to a pen role. His performance this year, though, has me convinced that he is a likely future mid rotation starter. 

Verdict - Signable, junior, he is going to sign  

5. Tanner Burns, RHP, Decatur HS (AL) Ranked 39

Burns has been a fantastic two way player all spring. He has been, arguably, the top player in the state of Alabama, as a hitter and a pitcher. It says a lot about his potential on the mound that no one is considering him as a hitter, even though he is undersized. Burns is more advanced, in terms of secondary stuff, than your typical prep arm. His fastball is his best pitch and it touches 97. He sits low to mid 90’s and I would not expect him to gain velocity, as he is physically mature. The profile reminds me of Beau Burrows a few years ago. The floor here should be a back end starter, with a chance for more if his curve develops into a second plus pitch.  

Verdict - Signable, Auburn, not a big program 

6. Luis Gonzalez, OF, New Mexico Ranked 40

I am much higher on Gonzalez than anyone else and I am fine with that. The park in New Mexico is a hitter’s haven, but the effect is more in terms of huge power production. Gonzalez is not a power bat, though. He is an on base percentage machine, with plus speed and arm. He was actually the Sunday starter for New Mexico and his fastball was in the low 90’s. Gonzalez was fifth in the country in walks and also fifth in on base percentage. While most New Mexico hitters have struggled majorly once they leave, I don’t see this as an issue for Gonzalez. He is not a power hitter and his game is not going to be changed by a different park. I think the worst case is a fourth outfielder, with a very good chance for a top of the lineup hitter. Gonzalez is a smart hitter who has a strong eye for the zone which, combined with his speed, should see him break the Lobos’ losing streak with the draft.  

Verdict - Signable, junior, he is going to sign

7. Jacob Heatherly, LHP, Cullman HS (AL) Ranked 42

Heatherly has been sliding on boards, mostly because his command was erratic this spring. His velocity was up and it lead to me getting reports that he seemed to be throwing more than pitching. What I liked best about Heatherly entering the spring was the fact that he was a steady, well developed pitcher. While his velocity was up, it was nowhere near as effective. When it is all going right, Heatherly is a 6’3” athletic lefty with four pitches. I think he is likely a mid rotation starter and, once he gets with a team, they can help straighten out the issues that were there this spring. He is another of the 19 year old players in this class, which will make him an unlikely match for a few squads.

Verdict - Signable, Alabama has a new coach, not the one who signed him 

8. Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford Ranked 47

I feel like the Beck situation is much like that of his teammate, Cal Quantrill, a year ago. Beck was supposed to be back in April to pitch, but has not picked up a ball yet. This makes me feel like he has a deal in place to sign. While it is technically illegal to make such deals, they still happen. Beck not pitching at all has caused him to plummet down boards. He went from a possible top ten pick to a player rumored to be going in the competitive balance A section of the draft. Part of the problem right now is his extremely limited track record. As a draft eligible sophomore who has not pitched this year, his entire college career is 14 games. A team has to really like what they saw in those games to take the risk with pool money and he surely won’t be cheap. 

Verdict - Signable, think he has to have a deal to have not pitched at all this year

9. Brady McConnell, SS, Merritt Island HS. (FL) Ranked 51

McConnell is yet another already 19 year old in this class of prep players. During July of last year, and even into the fall, he looked like a potential top 20 pick. It has been an inconsistent up and down spring, which has led to more concerns. His best trait is his speed. He is a plus plus runner. In addition, he has plus bat speed which, combined with his strength and size, should lead to average power. If he can get back to the way he was swinging the bat last summer, his hit tool looks like an above average tool. The tools are here for a special talent at short. The question is will everything come together? The combination of tools and ability at short is something few in this draft can match.  I think it's likely he goes to Florida and is a top prospect in two years.  

Verdict-Unsignable, Florida commit, will be eligible for draft in two years. 

10. Jacob Pearson, OF, West Monroe HS (LA) Ranked 54

Yet another 19 year old high school player. I should do a final count but I think that there has to be approaching double digit players in this top 101 who would be draft eligible sophomores in two years. This could give them extra leverage, but for the most part it is a negative as it is going to remove them from consideration by some. Pearson has the added knock of being undersized at 6’ even. In spite of these issues I am still a fan of Pearson. The ceiling for him is very high. He is a potential four tool player, with only his arm not having a chance to be an above average to plus tool. More than likely he ends up with an above average hit tool and average power in centerfield which is potential starting profile. 

Verdict - Signable, he was projected around a third round value

11. Bryce Bonnin, RHP, Barbers Hills HS (TX) Ranked 63

Bonnin was recruited to Arkansas as a shortstop. I think he would be a two way player if he ended up going to school. I don’t think he will, and is likely a second round pick this year. As one would expect from a player recruited to be a shortstop in the SEC, Bonnin is a plus athlete. This year, he came out as a pitcher, hitting 97 and sitting in the low 90s. He is raw and has a lot of room for growth, as he was more focused on hitting than pitching for most of his life. There are some concerns with his delivery and it is something teams might try and mess with. The bigger issue, pun intended, is size. Bonnin is 6’1”; this means many teams won’t consider him, because the cost to sign, along with his height, will combine to be prohibitive. 

Verdict - Unsignable, was thought to be a 2nd rounder, might be hard to get away from Arkansas 

 


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