Day one of the 2017 MLB Draft has come and gone, and over the 75 picks, we saw plenty of surprises. For the most part, however, this was a pretty straightforward draft, and the best talents went relatively closely in order, with some obvious exceptions.
Keep in mind that these players still need to sign, but here are some long and short-term prospects to keep an eye on that were drafted in this year’s MLB Draft.
Hunter Greene, RHP, Cincinnati Reds -- Greene was the top player on my board, and Cincinnati should be thrilled that the Twins decided to go with Royce Lewis instead of him (more on that later). Greene has an electric fastball that touches triple-digits routinely, and he also shows an above-average slider. He also has some feel for the change, and he repeats his delivery well enough to believe he’ll throw plenty of strikes. In the next two to three seasons, he could develop into a legitimate ace.
Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins -- Lewis may have been a slight reach for me as the first-overall pick, but there’s certainly a lot to like here. He’s a smart kid with a quick swing, and he makes enough hard contact to project his hitting skill at plus. He’s also not bereft of power; capable of hitting 15-20 homers a year. His best talent is his speed, and he should be a 30-plus steal guy if he gets on enough to do it. There’s a chance he moves to the outfield, but the bat should play there even if he does.
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Shane Baz, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates -- The Pirates do a good job as developing pitching, so fantasy players should salivate at what Pittsburgh can do with a talent like this. Baz not only has an electric fastball that touches 98 miles per hour, he has a cutter, slider, curve and change that all project at least average. That’s right. Five pitches. He still has projection left, and if he harnesses his delivery, he has huge upside in his right arm.
Jordon Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels -- The Angels have famously -- or perhaps infamously -- had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Adell gives them a chance for their first legitimate high-upside prospect in quite some time. He has double-plus power in his right-handed bat, and he can take the ball out to any part of the park. He’s also a double-plus runner, so 30-30 seasons are possible. There is a lot of volatility here because of his pitch-recognition skills and long swing, but his upside is obviously legit.
Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Tampa Bay Rays -- It was a little surprising that the Rays took McKay as a hitter, but it makes sense. There’s more value in the everyday hitter, and he looks ready to go. McKay has plus hitting talent, and there’s above-average power potential in his left-handed bat. Assuming the Rays don’t try and do a pitcher/hitter thing, he should move quickly through the system.
Jeren Kendall, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers -- Kendall had a slightly disappointing season with Vanderbilt, but nevertheless he still showed a ton of promise -- particularly as a fantasy prospect. He’s a double-plus runner, and he should be an immediate stolen base threat. There’s also “sneaky” pop in his left-handed bat, and he could be a 15-homer guy. He’s also an excellent defender, so that will help him move quickly. There’s a lot to like here, even if 22 teams didn’t see it.
JB Bukauskas, RHP, Houston -- It was very surprising to see Bukauskas still on the board with the 15th pick. The Astros sure weren’t complaining. While he doesn’t have elite size and there’s some effort in his delivery, Bukauskas has two pitches that compete with any pitcher in this draft; a fastball that gets up to 97 miles per hour with loads of life, and the best slider of any pitcher in the class, and it’s not close. Even if Bukauskas ends up in relief, he’s fantasy-relevant because he’s going to miss a ton of bats.
Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers -- Without a doubt, Hiura has the best hitting talent in this class. He makes tons of hard contact to every part of the field, and he’s not a dink-and-dunk hitter, either. 20 homer seasons are certainly within reach for the former UC-Irvine star. There are serious issues with the throwing arm, but they shouldn’t come into play as much if he’s playing second base. Hiura should be helping the Brewers before the end of 2019.