2017 MLB Draft First-Round Grades

The 2017 MLB Draft is in the books, and while we’ll have plenty more analysis, let’s take a look at how we grade the selections in the first round.

1. Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (CA)

The Twins did their due diligence on all the top prospects, including Hunter Greene, who they brought in for a workout the week before the draft. While Greene would have been a tremendous selection, it seems as though they couldn’t pass on the flexibility that Lewis offered them. He’ll likely sign a team-friendly deal, allowing the Twins to make a strong run at a few of their late-round picks, namely Blayne Enlow, a LSU-commit that will require a large offer to turn pro. That said, Lewis is plenty worthy of the No. 1 overall pick. It’s been a known fact for months that he was the top position player in this year’s class, ahead of both Greene (as a shortstop) and Brendan McKay. He has plus speed, above-average arm strength and defensive ability, and a chance to hit for average. Regardless of where he sticks defensively, Lewis should emerge as one of the top prospects in baseball before long.

Grade: A

2. Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (CA)

The Reds picked No. 2 for the second consecutive year and have now nailed back-to-back selections. Greene gives them arguably the most explosive pitching prospect in the minors, and going to Cincinnati allows Greene to continue to hit a little while longer.

Grade: A+

3. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)

There’s no denying that the Padres really wanted Greene, but with him off the board, they still had plenty of options, all of them good. In Gore, they got a projectable left-hander with plenty of polish and more velocity than the typical high school southpaw. He has a chance for three plus offerings and if his command develops as expected he’s going to be a handful for hitters in the National League West for years to come.

Grade: A+

4. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville

After the first three picks went the way they did, there was little surprise that the Rays tabbed McKay. The only real shock was that he was announced as “first baseman,” instead of “left-handed pitcher.” The front office in Tampa now says that McKay will begin his career on the mound, but he’ll be given every opportunity to continue to hit as a DH. McKay appears to have been in negotiations with Minnesota to go No. 1 overall, but the two sides were far apart on the money, leading to his fall to No. 4.

Grade: A

5. Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

Many expected the Braves to go the high-school route, and end up with either Gore or Austin Beck. In the end, however, they couldn’t ignore the tantalizing talent that is Kyle Wright. Yes, he had a disastrous final start for Vanderbilt in NCAA super-regionals, but he was still the best pitcher in college baseball for the final three months of the season. He should move quickly through an Atlanta system that develops pitching as good as anyone in baseball.

Grade: A+

6. Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (NC)

Ultimately, all doubts about Beck didn’t mean much, as Oakland made him the sixth player selected. In Beck, the A’s get one of the toolsiest players in this draft class. He flashes four plus tools and could be a franchise player if he can stay healthy and his bat develops as expected.

Grade: A

7. Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia

It’s hard to argue that Smith wasn’t the best available player when Arizona picked, and his junior campaign was one of the most impressive in UVA history, but one could make the argument that Smith wasn’t even the best player on his own team. Smith should move quickly thanks to his incredible plate discipline, but we expect him to hit more for average than power at the next level. Further limiting his upside is the fact that he’s not much more than a capable defender at first base.

Grade: B

8. Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia

Haseley put together a tremendous career at UVA, on the mound and at the plate, and was ultimately rewarded with a top-ten selection. While Philadelphia might not be the ideal fit for him, he will get a chance to become an integral part of the next great Phillies’ rebuild. There’s nothing he does poorly, and his plate discipline should also allow him to move quickly.

Grade: A

9. Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC-Irvine

Nearly every outlet had the Brewers going after a toolsy outfielder, and they pulled the rug out from under everyone when they tabbed Hiura. While he does possess arguably the top bat in this draft class, one inevitably wonders about the long-term health of his elbow. He hasn’t played the field in a competitive game in more than a year, and the Brewers probably won’t risk running him out there either. He did show some pop this season, but don’t expect him to hit more than 10-15 home runs per season.

Grade: B-

10. Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard HS (KY)

The Angels didn’t likely expect Adell to fall to them at No. 10, but they happily scooped him up and added to their farm system a high-risk, high-reward player that could end up being, dare we say…Mike Trout-like. Granted, the risk that comes with Adell is huge, and he’s just as likely to become the next Bubba Starling as he is the next Trout. Still, it’s hard to fault the Angels for taking the deep dive on him.

Grade: A

11. Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State

The Sox also turned a few heads with their selection of Burger. There’s no doubt they can use some heavy bats in their farm system, but the industry consensus seemed to be that they were in on the toolsy crop of high school outfielders and some college pitchers. Burger’s bat is legit, and he’s the kind of hitter that could regularly hit .300 with 30-35 home runs, but strikeouts could limit him to more of a .275 hitter at the pro level.

Grade: B+

12. Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)

With tons of momentum, it was easy to see Baz flying off the board long before the Pirates picked, but as luck would have it, he lasted all the way to No. 12. Baz might end up giving Greene a run for his money as the top right-handed pitcher from this draft class, and as Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow have proven, Pittsburgh knows how to develop elite pitching talent from the prep ranks.

Grade: A+

13. Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad HS (NM)

You have to give the Marlins credit for not being scared of going back to the high school ranks after watching both Tyler Kolek and Braxton Garrett go down with injuries that cost them at least two years of development. Rogers carries that same risk, and while his ceiling likely isn’t as high as Kolek’s he could end up being a better pro than Garrett. Getting him on a mound, and keeping him healthy has to be priority No. 1.

Grade: A

14. Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach HS (CA)

The Royals were linked to a lot of high school arms, but with the most seasoned pitchers already off the board, they went with the best high school hitter in Pratto. There’s a good chance he could be the franchise’s top prospect by the end of the year

Grade: A

15. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina

Bukauskas has two offerings that grade out as plus, and that alone certifies him a top-ten talent, making him a really good get for the Astros at No. 15. Clearly there were concerns about his durability and long-term effectiveness as a starter, but very few people expected him to fall this far. Houston has more flexibility in their farm system than most, allowing them to take a chance on Bukauskas, knowing full well that if he doesn’t make it as a starter, they have their closer of the future.

Grade: B+

16. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina

Schmidt was pitching as good as anyone before his injury earlier this spring. He’ll be shelved for at least another 14 months, which is about on par with the learning curve for most of the high school players the Yankees no doubt considered. If he shows the same stuff and command after rehab, he could be a steal that moves fast through the New York farm system.

Grade: B

17. Evan White, 1B/OF, Kentucky

White rose up draft boards the last two months after showing a powerful bat, good plate discipline and elite-level defensive ability. He’s a good enough athlete to handle the outfield, but he’s so good at first the Mariners will be tempted to leave him there. If his hitting ability translates to the pros he could be a poor man’s Paul Goldschmidt.

Grade: B

18. Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida

The Tigers were rumored to be interested in several college arms, placing a higher premium on those with greater velocity. Faedo is probably a top-15 talent based on his stuff and he was peaking at the right moment, making it quite a coup that Detroit was able to snag him this late. He should move quickly and become an anchor in the rotation by 2019.

Grade: A

19. Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian Academy (PR)

The late rumors that the Giants were leaning toward a high school outfielder proved to be correct, with Ramos their guy. He offers an incredible package of tools, and his bat could have elite potential, but he also carries a tremendous amount of risk. He’s one of the younger prospects in the 2017 class, so don’t expect to see him in the Majors before 2021.

Grade: B-

20. David Peterson, LHP, Oregon

Peterson appears to be headed toward a top-ten selection, if the draft-day rumors turned out to be true. They weren’t and he ended up going around where we expected, although we have to admit we didn’t see him as a fit for the Mets, who tend to favor the high-risk, high-reward nature of high-schoolers. With his combination of stuff and elite command, he’ll move quickly, and should add some maturity to a rotation that at times seems to be lacking exactly that.

Grade: B+

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

The O’s were frequently linked to Hall, and his poor spring dropped him into their range. He has one of the highest ceilings of any pitcher in this draft class, and if he can avoid the injury pitfalls that have hit nearly every other prep first-rounder they’ve drafted, he should move pretty quickly.

Grade: B+

22. Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina

A selection long-rumored, the Jays went ahead and tabbed Warmoth with the first of their two first round picks. He has the tools to stick at shortstop long-term and his ability at the plate should allow him to hit for a decent average. If the power he showed this season is for real, he could be a solid everyday player for the Jays.

Grade: B

23. Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

No one expected Kendall to fall this far, leading to even more concerns about his penchant for strikeouts. He showed a little pop this year, but if he can’t connect on a regular basis, it won’t show up at the pro level. He does offer plus-plus speed and elite defensive ability, so he’s likely going to stick in the big-leagues regardless.

Grade: B

24. Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri

True to their form, the Sox didn’t let need or concerns about performance dictate their drafting. Houck has a big-time arm and a breaking ball that flashes plus at times. They snagged him and won’t look back.

Grade: B-

25. Seth Romero, LHP, Houston

Much like the Red Sox, the Nationals rarely get scared off by performance or injury related issues. Romero, however, is a whole other bag. Suspended twice in one season for disciplinary reasons, and dogged by weight issues his entire college career, he’ll need a severe attitude adjustment to survive in pro ball. That said, there’s already talk of utilizing him in a relief role as early as this September, meaning the first prospect to have his season end, could be the first one to make his big-league appearance.

Grade: B-

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

The Rangers love toolsy outfielders, and having traded away a few and seeing others graduate to the big-leagues, the time was right to pounce on Thompson. He got our highest grade for defense, a plus grade on speed and above-average grades for hitting and power. If he puts it all together, he could be a tremendous late-first-round find.

Grade: A

27. Brendon Little, LHP, State College of Florida

Most experts expected Nate Pearson to be the first JUCO player drafted, but the Cubs tabbed Little with their first of two first round selections. He doesn’t have the velocity that Pearson does, but there’s a good chance his secondary offerings will grade out better in the long run.

Grade: B

28. Nate Pearson, RHP, State College of Central Florida

The Blue Jays got two prospects with huge upside in Pearson and their second-rounder, Hagen Danner. Getting them both signed required a safer pick that they were able to get in Warmoth. Pearson has tremendous upside, with arguably the draft’s second-best fastball. If his secondary offerings develop, he could be a front-of-the-rotation arm.

Grade: A

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

Seise likely didn’t warrant a first round selection, but when the Rangers tabbed Thompson, they required their next pick to have a little more financial flexibility. Seise has that, but he also has an intriguing skill-set, along with some savvy that could make him the better of the two picks in the long-run.

Grade: B-

30. Alex Lange, RHP, Louisiana State

Regardless of what you think of Lange, the value at this pick is tremendous. Worst case scenario, the Cubs picked up an elite reliever with a tremendous fastball. Best case, he’s a mid-rotation starter with three solid offerings.

Grade: B+

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