What follows is my best guess for the first round of the 2017 amateur draft. I’ll update it the day of the draft itself (June 12), perhaps several times. Players have been assigned to teams based on multiple factors: rumors I’ve heard from various industry sources, the presence of front-office members at certain games (especially lately), each club’s own particular modus operandi, etc. Be sure to check out our draft rankings here.
1. Minnesota – Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
It sounds like Louisville LHP/1B Brendan McKay is also under heavy consideration here and that Minnesota would evaluate him both ways in pro ball for a while. Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore are dark horses but less likely than the Wright or McKay.
2. Cincinnati – Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (CA)
The Reds had about a half-dozen scouts at the ACC tournament in Louisville and watched Brendan McKay’s middling start, though I think they prefer him as a bat. He’s a possibility, but Greene is more likely and, in my opinion, the better prospect.
3. San Diego – MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)
I think the Padres would take Greene if he were available here and would be fine with JSerra shortstop Royce Lewis, too, but Padres decision makers have seen some of Gore’s best starts all year.
4. Tampa Bay – Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Lousiville
I think this is where McKay stops and that the Rays take him as a bat. If McKay goes at No. 1, I think Wright goes here, though the Rays had multiple high-level executives at MacKenzie Gore’s last start, too.
5. Atlanta – Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS (CA)
There have been a lot of crazy rumors about the Braves and they can’t all possibly be true, but of course the Braves haven’t been afraid to do things differently in order to maximize the overall talent they get in a single class before. As such, we have to at least consider the possibility they might get creative here. I think they’d like McKay or Gore and there’s a chance they cut an underslot deal (it would have to be at a huge discount and would still be risky), but Lewis is the best player on the board in this scenario.
Royce Lewis: going to Atlanta? (Photo: Bill Mitchell)
6. Oakland – Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (NC)
Beck had a private workout in Oakland over the weekend and has the kind of tools the A’s can’t buy on the open market.
7. Arizona – Adam Haseley, CF, Virginia
D-backs GM Mike Hazen was at the ACC Tournament and Haseley looked great in center field all weekend.
8. Philadelphia – Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
Scouting director Johnny Almaraz and advisor/hitting genius Charlie Manuel were at the ACC Tournament and GM Matt Klentak has seen the UVA kids. I also think there’s a chance they cut a deal here to try to move Trevor Rogers back to their second pick, or they could just take Rogers here.
9. Milwaukee – Jo Adell, OF, Ballard HS (KY)
Milwaukee has a tendency to draft for ceiling, and Adell has as high of one as any bat in this class. I think they’d take Beck if he were here.
10. Los Angeles of Anaheim – J.B Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
Anaheim has reached for a college player in the first round each of the last two years and taken overslot talents later in the draft. That’s not as easy this year, however, with more uniform bonus amounts on the margin. The Angels have been linked to Adell, but he’s likely to have been selected by this point and Bukauskas is solid value here after falling due to poor outings over the last few weeks.
11. Chicago AL – Jeren Kendall, CF, Vanderbilt
If any of the three toolsy outfielders (Adell, Beck, Kendall) or UVA hitters are here, I think they’re the pick.
12. Pittsburgh – Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)
The Pirates are one of the clubs that weight things like spin rate more heavily, and Baz has some of the best data in the class while also possessing premium stuff. That said, there are also some signability rumors with Baz. He’s committed to TCU, Matt Purke’s former school. They could reach for a college hitter like North Carolina SS Logan Warmoth.
13. Miami – D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)
Basically a carbon copy of Braxton Garrett, the Marlins’ first-round selection last year, Hall is a slightly undersized prep lefty with a plus fastball and curveball. Bukauskas could also go here if he’s still available.
14. Kansas City – Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
Kansas City had a large contingent in Fayetteville to see Burger. I also have them on Jeren Kendall.
15. Houston – Keston Hiura, 2B, UC Irvine
Arguably the best pure hitter in the collegiate ranks, Hiura appeals to Houston’s analytical tendencies — and they have margin for error with him defensively in the AL. I think they’d take Baz if he were here.
16. New York AL – Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad HS (NM)
The Yankees have sent special assistants in to see Rogers.
17. Seattle – Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach HS (CA)
Pratto would simply be good value at 17. I also think UCLA RHP Gage Canning is a possibility.
18. Detroit – Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville HS (MN)
A hard-throwing prep righty with a protoypical build, Carlson is very much Detroit’s style. I’ve heard they could start the run on the next tier of prep outfielders here, too, either with Puerto Rican CF Heliot Ramos or Georgia high schooler Drew Waters.
19. San Francisco – Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
I also have the Giants with Missouri State 3B Jake Burger and Georgia prep C Luis Campusano.
20. New York NL – David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
I think Peterson is off the board before this (and he should be, I think he’s a top-10 prospect in the draft), but I haven’t heard his name connected strongly enough with any specific team to mock him ahead of this. J.P. Ricciardi has seen the UVA bats (Haseley, Smith), but neither of them is getting this far.
21. Baltimore – Alex Lange, RHP, LSU
I’ve heard Baltimore with California prep righty Matt Sauer and, in general, college arms. Lange’s stuff has ticked up recently, with some scouts throwing a 70 on his curveball.
22. Toronto – Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina
Warmoth might go earlier than this, and I think Florida RHP Alex Faedo is a possibility here, too. Toronto is the first team to pick twice, so this might be an overslot prospect.
23. Los Angeles NL – Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen HS (AL)
Thompson to LA has been a rather ubiquitous rumor.
24. Boston – Seth Romero, LHP, Houston
Boston wasn’t scared away by Jason Groome’s off-field issues last year, and Romero has top 15 stuff.
25. Washington – Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
Beck is the best prospect who has fallen solely because of injury, a well from which Washington has been glad to draw several times in the past.
26. Texas – Mark Vientos, SS, American Heritage HS (FL)
The Rangers have two picks quite close to one another (26 and the Ian Desmond comp pick at 29 overall), and they can take a projectable, expensive, high schooler here and then go under slot with their next pick.
27. Chicago NL – M.J. Melendez, C, Westminster Christian (FL)
If any of the other college bats already mocked falls this far, I think they go here. Same for Trevor Rogers. Melendez plays a premium position and has high-end makeup, two Cubs priorities. And while prep catchers are especially risky,s the club can mitigate their class’s risk by taking a safer asset with the pick received from St. Louis for Dexter Fowler. They might also go over slot here with a pitcher like CA high schooler Michael Mercado and then cut a deal at 30.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.