Posted by Mack Ade at 12:00 PM
This is my draft of what I feel are the current top 20 players available in this draft. I can’t even begin to consider what each team is thinking nor can I project a team’s need four to five years after this draft is taken. All I can do is pick who I feel… and, this is very important… is the current players that are performing at the top of the game.
Case in point her would be Vanderbilt RHP Kyle Wright. Most mockers have him being picked anywhere from the 2nd pick overall in the draft to as high as 15th. I don’t even have him in my top 20 picks because in four starts so far, he has produced only a 5.40-ERA.
Lastly, this is only a 20 pick mock because all most of my readers care about is who the Mets will pick.
1. Minnesota Twins – I could have picked Vanderbilt OF Jeren Kendall here and no one would have questioned me at all. Instead, I went for the two-headed monster named Hunter Greene, of Notre Dame HS (CA). He plays SS, hits .500+ and throws a fastball 100mph. Greene will be drafted as a pitcher and sign, taking every dollar he can at signing time from the Twins.He has a sinking fastball that will set anywhere from 92-94 MPH. His breaking stuff is good and has above average potential.
2. Cincinnati Reds – This is where Vanderbilt OF Jeren Kendall falls to, if you really call this a fall. Through 67 at-bats, Kendall is hitting a mere .284, which does include four home runs. I expect his stats to rise as the season goes on. If they don’t, he will fall in future mocks I do. For now, he’s the second most talented player eligible for the 2017 draft and the Reds will be thrilled to get him. An undersized speedster that can hit for both contact and power. Hit a slash of .310/.395/.552 with 17 home runs, 99 RBIs and 47 stolen bases in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt. He could bat anywhere from leadoff to the 3-hole.
3. San Diego Padres – LSU senior pitcher Jared Poche decided to pass on signing last year after his junior season when San Diego drafted him in the 14th round last June. Poche thought he could better his draft standing if he came back to pitch college ball as a senior. How’s that going? Well, so far, Poche for the season is 4-0, 0.00 with eight hits allowed in 29 innings. He has 18 strikeouts against only two walks and a hit batter. Opponents are batting only .086 against him. There seems to be a lot of helium here but, for now, he’s the best college pitcher in baseball.
4. Tampa Bay Rays – Not far behind Poche is North Carolina junior RHP JB Bukauskas, who, in four starts, is 2-0, 0.69, 26-IP, 37-K, .169-b/ave. This is a right hand pitcher draft and JBB leaves a handful of five great juniors that will go somewhere in the first round this June. Has a + fastball and an above average slider
5. Atlanta Braves – The Braves love young prospects and aren’t afraid to go high school here and develop the best middle fielder in the draft. The person in question is easily nationally 6th round J Serra HS (CA) SS/OF Royce Lewis. He has been named the Player Of The Year for two seasons in a row in the Trinity League and, last year, hit .429, with 42 hits, nine doubles, and four home runs. He also plays third base and centerfield, but this is a future major league shortstop. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with a great baseball IQ and the ability to play anywhere in the outfield and shortstop. He has plus speed and his defense and arm are above average. He has plus contact potential and above average power.
6. Oakland Athletics – Here comes college’s answer to a two-headed monster. Louisville LHP/OF Brendan McKay is hitting .548 in 42-AB, with four home runs and 16-RBIs (.905-slugging), but that’s not the best he does. In three starts, he is 3-0, 0.50, 18-IP, 29-K. He also cleans windows during the week. This is another of those top players that could go anywhere in the top six picks, but I have him going to the A’s, who will be dancing in the halls when they call his name out. Posted a 1.77-ERA in 2015 and 2.30,last season. Also had two year slash line of .321/.416/.474 with 10 home runs in his two seasons at Louisville.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks – Drafts have a way of changing five minutes before a player is picked. This, in my opinion, will be the first time this happens in this draft. Houston County HS (GA) LHP DL Hall probably wasn’t the top name on the Diamondbacks’ board, but he is one of only two A+ lefties projected for this draft. One was Brandon McKay, who was just picked by Oakland and, if you don’t call out Hall’s name here, you lose any chance of a special lefty talent this draft. Hall’s fastball has plus-potential and will touch 95 every now and then. He also has a plus-potential curveball and a decent changeup. Hall needs to work on commanding his pitches better, but there’s no doubt that he has the most potential out of all the prep lefties in this draft.
8. Philadelphia Phillies – The eighth pick will, in my opinion, begin a run on right handed starters. The first will be one of two premier Gamecock juniors, South Carolina Wil Crowe. In four starts, his stat line is: 3-0, 2.25, 24-IP, 31-K, .163/b-ave. This is another slight helium pick here, though I am sure he will be a first rounder. My hopes is he loses a couple and falls below the first 22 picks so the Mets could snag him.
9. Milwaukee Brewers – The most entertaining pitcher in this year’s draft is Dana Hills HS (CA) RHP Hans Crouse. He easily has the worse mechanics of any of the pitchers that will go in the first round, but his talent alone has him this high. He still is considered more of a project, but his fastball already touches 95. The rest… curve, change… is a work in progress. High risk, high reward pick.
10. Los Angeles Angels – The ‘other’ Gamecock starter is South Carolina RHP junior Clarke Schmidt. Stat line so far is: 4-starts, 3-0, 1.04, 26-IP, 31-K, .198/b-ave. I actually have him higher than his teammate on my pre-season list, but stats are stats and, as of right now, Schmidt comes in as the SP2 on this team. Not bad for the 10th overall pick in the draft.
11. Chicago White Sox – Another great prep pitcher in this draft is St. Amant HS (LA) RHP Blayne Enlow. He throws from a ¾ angle and his fastball sits in the low 90s with late sink. His average sitting range is 90-94. He also has what many say is the best off-speed pitchers in prep baseball. It includes a ++ late-breaking 11-5 slider that seems hitless. Lots of upside for this classic 6-4 righty.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates – Most mockers have Florida RHP Alex Faedo one of the top 10 picks in this draft. I, because of a couple of helium picks I’ve made earlier, have him coming in at 12 here. It’s obviously the Pirates gain. Faedo is a strikeout pitcher that throws a 92-95 fastball and a mid-80s slider. His stat line last season was 3.18 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 11.4 K/9 in 104.2 innings. So far this season, he’s – 4-starts, 3-0, 1.37, 26.1-IP, 30-K, .143-b/ave. I only wish this guy was around when the 20th pick comes around.
13. Miami Marlins – We haven’t picked many outfielders here so far. Yes, Jeren Kendall was picks at #2 and Royce Lewis is considered a potential outfielder (though I still have him at his natural position of shortstop), but Ballard HS (KY) OF Jordan Adell is considered by everyone as the second best outfielder in this draft. He’s a great athlete that can play all three outfield positions, has a plus-potential arm, and power potential. Miami will be thrilled to have him at #13.
14. Kansas City Royals – Staying with the ‘second best player at a given position’, Merritt Island HS (FL) Brady McConnell is the second best shortstop (behind Royce Lewis) in the draft. He definitely has defensive skills, has plus speed, and a plus-potential glove and arm. He has plenty of time to improve on his offense.
15. Houston Astros – Another big college righty is Missouri RHSP Tanner Houck. So far this season he is: 4-starts, 2-1, 2.91, 24-2-IP, 28-K, .227/b-ave. His best pitch is easily his slider, which has a tight, glove side break. His 2-seam fastball sits in the 90-95 range and his changeup is average. I have his ceiling at the SP3 range. Still, he looks to be a lock on reaching the majors someday.
16. New York Yankees – Here comes another of those helium picks! Southmoore HS (OK) outfielder Connor Uselton is racing up the mock boards as we type here. Uselton is a 5-tool 6-3, 185-pound senior with a ton of pop. He also has gold Glove potential who has been clocked throwing at 95 at the Perfect Game Showcase. George Springer comparisons here.
17. Seattle Mariners – Three more to go and then it’s our turn… there’s one more great bat left in this draft and it’s Virginia 1B Pavin Smith. Right now, Pavis is considered to be having a ‘bad start’… 67-AB, .299/.359/.507, 4-HR, 23-RBI. He can both hit and hit for power with strong walk rates and relatively low K rates(note the reversed K/BB in 2016 college season). Since he's pretty much limited to 1B, he's going to have to hit a ton, but he appears to be capable of doing just that.
18. Detroit Tigers – Next up is the best player available, another top right hand pitcher. Stanford RHP Tristen Beck is a draft eligible sophomore who needs some meat on his frame (6-4, 160). Still, don’t think this guy is a weakling on the bump. He regularly sits in the 90-96 range and serves that up around a conventional curve, a spike curve/slider, and a change. A stress fracture has prevented him from starting so far this season, but I still see this guy as a top 20 pick.
19. San Francisco Giants – Okay, I said earlier that Vanderbilt RHP Kyle Wright was not going to be picked in this draft. Well, the Giants couldn’t help picking what they felt was a steal at #19. Yes, Wright is off to a horrendous start this year… 4-starts, 0-2, 5.40, 20-IP, 24-K, .293-b/ave… but he still was ranked in the top three righties eligible for the draft going into this season. It doesn’t both me that they picked him since I was not going to with the next pick.
20. New York Mets – So, we’re down to my pick for the Mets, and, though I think there are a few potential outfielders still out there (Garrett Mitchell, Calvin Mitchell, Quentin Holmes) and LHP prep stat, Jacob Heatherly would fit here, I am a sucker for big right hand throwing college starters. As of today, the next dominating righty is UCLA Griffin Canning, who is currently 4-starts, 0-0, 0.96, 28-IP, 38-K .138-b/ave. His fastball sits in the low 90s, touching 94, with quality run. He uses a change, but his bread-and-butter pitch is his slider/cutter. He throws it at various speeds which can be seen at his high K/9 ratio. Canning started out this season as a top 50 pick, but, as of today, he’s my guy at #20.