WARD: MLB Draft Analysis, Picks 19-36

In the second of four first-day notebooks, Taylor Blake Ward gives his analysis on picks 19 through 36 of the 2017 MLB Draft.

19. San Francisco Giants - Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian Academy (PR)

You usually see players like Ramos land in the second round, but the Giants saw an up-the-middle player with loud enough tools to make him their first selection. Pretty simple, Ramos has easy abilities due to his athleticism, but each comes with a question, particularly the bat. If he can improve his hitting, he has a chance to be a pretty good regular in center. 

 

20. New York Mets - David Peterson, LHP, Oregon

I have to toot my own horn. Before the season began, I said Peterson would get first round talk and a lot of people laughed so this is me laughing back at you. The Mets and Sandy Alderson throw smoke screens all over the place, but were relatively quiet this year. Regardless, they landed with top strike-throwing, strikeout creating monster in this draft. You could argue that initially on paper, the Mets had the best first day of the draft.

 

21. Baltimore Orioles - D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)

Another argument for best first day could go to Baltimore. For the first time in a long time, the O's were linked to prep players in the first round. For the first time since 2013, the O's pulled the trigger on a prep player with their first pick, and it happened to be the best available on the board. Hall (who is also the name of their second pick) works downhill with ease with his low-to-mid 90's fastball that he commands east-to-west, along with a hammer curve and advanced feel for his changeup.

 

22. Toronto Blue Jays - Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina

The Blue Jays got the guy they wanted. Plain and simple, Warmoth was a guy that war room was pretty stoked to see fall to them. There's no loud tools across the board, but he has the bat speed, discipline, grinder mentality and work ethic to be an impact Major Leaguer. However, it wasn't a pretty draft for the Jays in general.

 

23. Los Angeles Dodgers - Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

The rich get richer. The Dodgers went out in full force to see Kendall recently, with Farhan Zaidi liking what he saw. In a down year with the bat, Kendall went from 1-1 candidate to becoming the Dodgers newest prize from Vanderbilt. With loud tools across the board and a strong resume, the price is going to be very high and may cost the Dodgers in the long haul of this draft, something they can afford to do.

 

24. Boston Red Sox - Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri

Scouts seemed really torn by Houck. He was once seen as one of the best college arms in this draft, and obviously at 24, he was still among the top crop. The performance was just very weak over the Spring, and he went from a potential three-pitch guy to a guy who wasn't even showing that great of a fastball. When he's on, he's something special, which is probably the calling card for the Red Sox, but a lot has to start going right in development from the moment pen hits paper.

 

25. Washington Nationals - Seth Romero, LHP, N/A

Well, I was told it was just too big a risk to take Romero with the next pick 40 away from this one. Look at who was wrong again... (this guy). It was reported that Romero was seen in a photo holding a bong while in full uniform, which led to suspension one of the year. He was then suddenly kicked off the Houston program, and had nowhere to pitch for the final month prior to the draft. I suppose there's a lot of perks to being a Scott Boras client, especially when it comes to the Nats. For whatever it's worth, I don't think Romero is a bad kid, and a lot of scouts would agree. He just needs to grow up and get out of the college mindset.

 

26. Texas Rangers - Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Thoolen Catholic HS (AL)

There were a lot of teams ahead of the Rangers that wanted Thompson, even up towards the fourth overall pick as a large underslot value. He was passed over by the Rays, Tigers, Giants, Dodgers and 25 other teams, helping him land with with Arlington. It sounds like there's little doubt in his signability, but he will have to pass on multiple Division-1 scholarships for football (one of the prized quarterbacks recruits in Alabama) and a potential two-sport commitment to Alabama. This kid is a stud athlete.

 

27. Chicago Cubs - Brendon Little, LHP, State JC of Florida (FL)

Chicago keyed in on pitchers, and primarily, a pair of Junior College pitchers. Little was the safer option of the top JUCO arms. He has two loud tools, a high 90's fastball from the left-side, and a big spinning 12-6 curveball. As you'll see in a few picks, tight curves were another big focus for the Cubbies.

 

28. Toronto Blue Jays - Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida JC (FL)

In front of loads of scouts, Pearson hit 102 MPH with his fastball and sat comfortably in the triple digits. You don't see that from draft prospects too often. However, that's really all you can bank on when it comes to Pearson, and even if speed kills, you can't be a one pitch wonder at the Major League level.

 

29. Texas Rangers - Chris Seise, SS, West Orange HS (FL)

Toolsy up-the-middle player with physical growth as the focus of development? How did we not have him pegged for Texas already? Realistically, I knew Seise had worked out with a few teams behind the Rangers and fully expected him to go in Comp-A. This wasn't a bad pick by any means, but it wasn't Matt Sauer, who I was sworn to would be taken by Texas...

 

30. Chicago Cubs - Alex Lange, RHP, Louisiana State

What?! It's not Nick Allen? There's a lot of things that have to go right to be perfect in figuring out the draft, and sometimes, things don't go perfect and your team gets a gem. There's a line in the movie, "Miracle," where Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is talking to Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich) about the team Brooks put to paper before first day of tryouts ended. Patrick asks Brooks why he has Jim Craig backing up Steve Janaszak at goalie, and Brooks notes it's the other way around. Patrick then says, "People say Craig's game has been off since his mom died," and Brooks retorts, "Ever see him when his game is on?" To make an extensive story shorter, when Alex Lange is on with his fastball and curveball, he's unouchable and unhittable. That's what the Cubs are looking to make out of one of the best curve/fastball combos in the draft.

 

 

COMPETITVE BALANCE - A 

 

31. Tampa Bay Rays - Drew Rasmussen, RHP, Oregon State

Not a "wow" moment, but a bit shocking, Tampa doubled up on college players and went pretty well underslot for Rasmussen. "Raz" missed most of the season, and the one prior, due to Tommy John surgery, but came back with vengeance, flashing easy mid 90's velocity that plays up due to separation. He's not a complete package, but he'll be thrown into a big spot in the coming weeks with the departure of Luke Heimlich at Oregon State. Rasmussen very well could be the key piece to a World Series victory for the Beavers.

 

32. Cincinnati Reds - Jeter Downs, SS, Monsignor Pace HS (FL)

Cincinnati loves athletes, and got a really nice pair (trio later) between Downs and Greene. Yes, he was named after that Jeter, but don't expect him to reach that kind of ceiling. He's still going to be a good player in the long run, and comes from a program that has a nice baseball track record.

 

33. Oakland Athletics - Kevin Merrell, SS, South Florida

Maybe a bit of a surprise, Oakland is going to have to save some cash for the Beck signing. Among college hitters, Merrell is the top base runner and has the top speed, likely only being outmatched by Quentin Holmes. The A's continue to target up-the-middle players, and even though Merrell profiles better as a second baseman, don't expect them to stop keying in on middle infielders and future center fielders.

 

34. Milwaukee Brewers - Tristen Lutz, OF, Martin HS (TX)

There was a lot of mid first-round conversation with Lutz, and this seems like a steal. He has the size of a football player, with tools across the board of average or better. Power and defense will be the key to Lutz's success at the next level, but everything about this kid screams future Major Leaguer.

 

35. Minnesota Twins - Brent Rooker, 1B, Mississippi State

I got one right, can you believe it? Pretty simple, Minnesota expressed interest in Rooker for awhile, and quite a bit as of recent. He's a bit older for the class, and will show up to Spring Training next year as a 23-year-old, but most believe he's an advanced enough hitter to move quickly through the minors. Rooker was recognized as one of the top five hitters in this draft class, and could be tested in the corner outfield positions.

 

36. Miami Marlins - Brian Miller, OF, North Carolina

From an analytical stand point, Miller is a fairly safe pick to become a Major Leaguer in the future. Whether or not he'll be a starter or not is dependent on how he gains strength in his swing and in the field. His arm is fairly below-average, and his power is below-average at best when raw.

 

 

 


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