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2017 MLB Draft: Ranking the players likely draft slots

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A final look at what could happen before the draft begins today.

Top 3: Players who basically have virtually zero chance of falling to the Diamondbacks at any time of the draft.

Hunter Greene: Greene is a contender to be taken anywhere in the Top 3, including his home town team, the San Diego Padres. Greene is a 2-way player, but projects to be a pitcher at the Pro Level instead of a shortstop. As a pitcher he sits 95-98 with the ability to reach back for 102. His breaking ball needs a bit of development because his curveball and slider are meshing together instead of being distinct. Scouts seem to think he should focus on the slider over the curveball since it complements his upper 90s fastball more. Greene is the top prospect in the draft in terms of raw upside, but of the Top 5 carries the most risk. Signability is not an issue because he’s a surefire Top 3 pick.

More reading: The Bard’s Take

Brendan McKay: McKay comes as the top college bat in the draft and is also a 2-way player. McKay will likely end up playing in the field instead of on the mound. Defensively he’s limited to first base, but is pretty much a surefire major leaguer who needs very little experience in the minors to prepare. Could be the first player in the draft to reach the show. As a hitter, he has 25 home-run power in most parks and as a defender will be well above average if not a plus defender. McKay throws left-handed, so that’s an asset for a team looking for a 1B. I don’t think McKay makes it past the 2nd pick of the draft.

More reading: The Bard’s Take

Kyle Wright: Wright is currently the favorite to get selected 1st overall by the Twins in most mocks. Wright looks the part of an Ace, but doesn’t have the polish that Alex Faedo has or the knockout breaking ball Bukauskas and Faedo possess. However, Wright can command 4 pitches, all of which project to be easily above average. Wright’s slider and change-up need development in the minor leagues, but if he can get either one to develop into a plus pitch, the likelihood he develops into an Ace exponentially increases. His upside is on par with Hunter Greene, with a bit more polish and not completely projection.

More reading: The Bard’s Take

Top 5: Players that have a non-zero chance of being available to the Diamondbacks, but overall not very good unless something unprecedented happens.

Royce Lewis: Lewis is interesting because he didn’t get to play shortstop until his senior year of high school. While there are some concerns about his ability to stick to shortstop, I believe he’ll develop into a quality middle of the field defender in either center field or second base. The most important part is the bat, where Lewis projects as a high OBP, high SB guy with 20 home run power. This high in the draft you’re looking for top or middle of the order bats, and Lewis projects to be in the former.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Mackenzie Gore: Gore is the top LHP in the draft, over Brendan McKay who I have as a 1B, with legitimate top of the rotation upside. Absolute ceiling is Clayton Kershaw although it’s possible he develops into a player of Madison Bumgarner’s career. Gore has a lot of polish for a high school player and won’t need a lot of development time. Gore’s ability to command 4 pitches well makes him a tough matchup for anyone to face. I have his floor in the draft being the 5th pick to the Atlanta Braves.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Top 10: Likely pool of players the Diamondbacks could be considering when the draft starts.

JB Bukauskas: Bukauskas would be almost the perfect pick for the Diamondbacks in the draft. Bukauskas presents the perfect mix of upside and less risk, unless you’re not a big believer his arm will hold up. Another point against him is his lack of ideal height, measuring in at 6’0” on a good day. However, you cannot deny his stuff is filthy either. Bukauskas throws 94-98 with the fastball and complements that with a wipeout slider and a change-up that has the potential to be a strong 3rd pitch. On most days, the fastball and the slider will be enough. JBB likely presents the Diamondbacks with their best possible chance to find an Ace in the draft.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Austin Beck: If all the top college pitchers are off the board by the 7th pick, the Diamondbacks could elect to go for the highest upside position player in the draft. That could mean picking between Beck and Haseley. Haseley is closer to a finished product and more likely to reach the majors, but Beck has much more upside and a stronger chance he develops into a game-changer in the outfield. Beck’s swing needs some fine-tuning, but has plus power and an arm that profiles in both center and right field. Beck’s physical tools are impressive, but the consistency with the bat whether he can hit his ceiling or not.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Alex Faedo: If you want a pitcher who’s a surefire bet to land in the rotation, Alex Faedo would allow the Diamondbacks to go for a low-risk player in the draft. Faedo is pretty close to hitting his ceiling already and needs very little minor league action to prepare for the majors. Faedo’s best pitch is his slider, a true out pitch that just baffles hitter after hitter. Faedo is aggressive in the strike zone with his fastball, sometimes to his own detriment, which plays well off his slider. There’s a very low chance Faedo develops into more than a #2 starter, but his worst case scenario is a likely #4 starter.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Adam Haseley: Haseley doesn’t have the raw tools that Austin Beck, Jeren Kendall, or Jordon Adell possess, but he’s another player who’s a surefire MLB starter in the outfield. Haseley has enough speed, instincts, and arm to stay in CF. He’s been tapping more into his power in his swing, causing a giant uptick in extra base hits while also improving his walk rate and dropping his strikeout rate. Haseley got better every year in those categories and offers a strong approach to hitting, that will likely project him as a top of the order hitter. Upside is 15 homers and 20 stolen bases at the MLB level while playing solid defense in center.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Pavin Smith: After McKay, Smith presents the 2nd best college bat in the draft. Like McKay, being a left-handed thrower and lacking good running speed limits him to 1B defensively where he should be an asset with the glove. Smith is one of the toughest hitters to strikeout and that doesn’t come at the expense of walks, suggesting he has excellent strike zone discipline and pitch recognition. Smith won’t need a lot of time in the minors to develop either and should pick up where Paul Goldschmidt left off at 1B. If the Diamondbacks don’t feel like taking huge risks, Smith might be their guy.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Top 15: Under slot options for the Diamondbacks at 7, but ideally they don’t draft any of these guys unless there is a major cost-saving opportunity and a chance to go above slot later.

DL Hall: Hall is the 2nd best LHP behind Gore, but doesn’t have the same polish or upside. Hall features a solid 3 pitch mix, a fastball that sits 90-94, a hammer curveball that’s his one out pitch, and a change-up that projects to be above average. Getting Hall to agree to a below slot deal will be tough, especially when he can just go to Florida State instead and the Diamondbacks draft pool shrinks by $5M overnight.

Shane Baz: Diamondbacks could be in a similar boat with Baz, although he has more upside than Hall on the mound. Baz commands the full mix of pitches: fastball, curveball, slider/cutter, changeup, all of which project to be above average. Command can sometimes falter a bit, when he starts going to his breaking stuff more often than his mid 90s fastball. He’s also a 2-way player with solid batting skills as a 3B but his future is on the mound. Could be a in case of emergency break glass option on the mound with the 7th pick.

Jordon Adell: Adell has better physical tools than Beck away from home plate but is less polished and not as able to use them as consistently. Adell has the makings for an All-Star center fielder, but needs a lot of time in the minors to hone in instincts and work on the bat. Adell could be a guy the Dbacks can target in the 2nd round should he slip and the team goes under slot at 7.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Jeren Kendall: Kendall reminds me a lot of Justin Upton. Very gifted player who manages to wow scouts with physical tools, but the sum is not equal to the parts. Main concerns for Kendall are strikeouts and an overall lack of plate discipline coming from a program that sells out on power. Toolsy outfielders can be very tricky and the Diamondbacks have had issues with players of similar skill to Kendall not hitting their ceiling.

More reading: The Bard’s Take

Nick Pratto: Pratto is interesting as a 1B candidate like Pavin Smith, but much less polished at the plate and more upside overall. Pratto has the advantage of being left-handed and a solid throwing arm for the position. He’s another 2-way player from high school although he’s more likely to stick as a hitter than a pitcher. He has more power potential from the left side of the plate than Smith although his approach needs work coming ahead in the draft and could be a 4-5 year guy to develop.

Under Slot Options: Players who the Diamondbacks can target for below slot pick and use the savings to take a high school player that fell out of the 1st round

Jake Burger: Burger is a safe bet to develop into a middle of the order hitter with plus power from the right side of the plate. Defensively, he’s limited to third or first base, but he projects to have enough range to stick at the hot corner. Burger’s raw power and athleticism is very similar to another bad-body slugger the Diamondbacks took in the 2009 draft in Paul Goldschmidt. Burger would need very little time in the minors, just to get quality reps defensively at 3B and face advanced pitching in the upper minors.

More reading: Scouting Report

Logan Warmoth: The Diamondbacks have been heavily scouting J.B. Bukauskas in the draft, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Logan Warmoth also caught their attention. Warmoth projects to be an everyday shortstop at the MLB level, although there are some concerns about his arm and range being enough at the position. Warmoth is a sum is better than the parts type player, where he uses his above average speed as a weapon on the basepaths and does a good job of controlling the strike zone. I see him as a 10-15 homer guy with 25 steals and a .350 OBP hitter at the top of the lineup. At the 7th pick, drafting a surefire MLB SS is a solid use of the pick, even for only above average starter upside.

More reading: Scouting Report

David Peterson: Peterson has seen his stock rise faster than helium this year, showing impeccable control with 140 strikeouts to 15 walks in 100 13 innings. He’s a big lefty at 6’6” 240 and can command 4 pitches. His best secondary pitch is a change-up which is a good weapon to have against right-handed batters. Peterson isn’t as highly rated as Faedo, mostly due to being relatively unknown prior to his monster junior season, but there is at least just as much upside if not more. However, Peterson is also a lot more likely to fail than Faedo and the increase in upside is mostly marginal. Peterson is a dark horse to sneak into the Top 10 as an under slot signing.

More reading: The Bard’s Take, Scouting Report

Evan White: You look at position and you see 1B and think “meh”, but White is a gifted runner and projects to have gold glove caliber defense at 1B. He has enough speed to be able to cover the outfield if you want to move him to a corner spot, although I’m not sure teams would want to do that unless they have an already established 1B. White is a rare player who throws lefty and hits righty. Even though he’s a college guy, there is a lot of projection in his frame as he fills out from 177 to 210. The question becomes is there enough pop in the bat to justify playing him at 1B.

More reading: Scouting Report