MLB Draft Live Tracker: Twins select Royce Lewis with first overall pick
The first round of the 2017 MLB draft has arrived! Follow along with the SI.com live tracker and analysis from scout Dave Perkin for everything you need to know about this year's intriguing crop of prospects. Perkin is a retired MLB scout who now works as a private baseball coach in Southern California. His book, "Five Plus Tools" was published in September of 2014.
6'3", 195 lbs
Lewis is perhaps the most polarizing top prospect in this year’s draft. Clubs who like him see a tall, athletic shortstop or third baseman or outfielder with outstanding speed, a strong arm and easy, fluid fielding actions. (The guess here is that he will wind up in rightfeld.)
Teams with doubts about Lewis are concerned with his hitting ability. (The number one rule of corner players is that they must hit.) As he swings, Lewis shows an alarming tendency to pull his front side open and off the pitch. He’ll also need to incorporate more “separation”—spacing of the hands that permit them and his arms to work independently throughout the swing.
The Twins are taking the same strategy the Phillies used last year in picking Mickey Moniak. Lewis is nowhere near the top prospect in this draft, but Minnesota wants to get Lewis for a reduced price and use the leftover money to get other players later on.
I think the strategy is misguided, but we'll see how it pans out.
6'4", 215 lbs
The most glamorous prospect of this year’s draft due to his recent appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Greene is deserving of the hype he’s gotten. His lanky, projectable frame is perfect for a young pitching prospect, and his long fingers provide an added advantage in giving extra spin to his pitches.. The finish of his delivery is a near carbon copy of Hall of Famer Bob Gibson’s.
Greene’s signature pitch is a blistering 97 mph fastball. He needs to add consistent command and a sharper break to his high 70’s-low 80’s breaking ball. Solid but not perfect mechanically, Greene must correct a habit of opening and pulling off to his left, which causes his arm to drag.
6'2", 185 lbs
Prospects who make a late surge prior to the draft are said to have “helium”, which in scouting terms, means one player is succeeding while others are struggling. Gore has helium and the added advantage of being a lefthander, a rare and prized commodity in any draft.
Loose limbed and flexible, Gore flashes a 91-94 mph fastball and adds a changeup, a slider and an intriguing 77 mph curveball—perhaps his best pitch. Gore shows two main mechanical flaws: he rises up as he begins his delivery (a tactic that can cost a pitcher 3-5 miles per hour in velocity) and subtly loses his balance by landing on his right heel.
6'2", 220 lbs
Pundits and scouts debate whether McKay projects as a pitcher or a hitter in pro ball. On the mound, he shows clean mechanics and decent but not “blow away” stuff—a low 90’s fastball and a curveball with a sharp break. The main impediment to a career as a pitcher for McKay is his stocky, mature build—he displays a distinct lack of looseness in his hips.
McKay should have a brighter future as a slugging 1B. His swing is fundamentally sound, short to the ball and he exhibits easy lift and pull power. McKay is seen as a “safe” 1-1 alternative to Hunter Greene—a safer bet to succeed (but probably not at a superstar level) but with nowhere near Greene’s upside.
6'4", 220 lbs
Wright presents the ideal physical template for a big league righty, and his stuff is impressive too: A mid 90’s fastball complemented by a slider, curve and changeup. Clubs picking at the top of the draft may see Wright as a “safe” pick, but even mature college righties are no lock to succeed—think Bryan Bullington or Mark Appel, a pair of No. 1 overall picks who have combined for one major league win.
The main concern with Wright is his mechanics: He opens his front side too soon, losing the benefits of hip and shoulder separation (a torqueing of the upper body that is the primary component of velocity) and he circles his back leg around his left side as he delivers the ball, preventing him from finishing with his head and chest out over his front leg.
6'2", 205 lbs
A torn meniscus and ACL in his left knee forced Beck to miss the latter half of his junior season and the subsequent summer and fall showcase events. It’s a safe bet that all clubs have a medical file on Beck as thick as a dictionary, but he is a terrific prospect despite his health issues.
Strong, fast and athletic, Beck is an intense and aggressive player. At bat, he attacks the ball using an inward turn load and an old fashioned “bat dip” to get started. Few prospects can match Beck’s bat speed, but he will need to correct a tendency to pull off the ball.
6'2", 210 lbs
Terms like “solid” or “steady” may seem like damning with faint praise, but they fit Smith perfectly. He’s the closest thing to Reds star Joey Votto available this year—a smart, disciplined lefthanded hitter with the ability to drive the ball with authority to all parts of the field. Smith possesses this draft’s sweetest and most mechanically correct swing and has a miniscule strikeout rate.
He is not “tooled up”; that is, he does not show great speed or athleticism, so his role undoubtedly will be as a first baseman or a DH.
6'1", 195 lbs
Haseley is not a classic outfield prospect, but he will appeal to organizations that think “out of the box” (many think they do but few actually do). Haseley runs well but is not a blazer, has a nice arm but not a cannon, shows a nice bat but has neither great bat control nor exceptional power. He has a mature, athletic frame but not the lanky projectable body of a Royce Lewis.
Hitting out of a pronounced crouch that gives him more lower half drive and a condensed strike zone, Haseley prefers to attack the ball in front of the plate, and he feasts on low pitches. He can play any of the outfield spots but will probably wind up in left.
5' 11", 190 lbs
Hiura may be the first early round non-pitching college prospect to never play a single inning of defense in his draft eligible year. Hampered by an elbow injury, he spent the entire 2017 campaign as a DH. In truth, his eventual defensive spot is irrelevant; the club drafting him is selecting him almost entirely for his bat.
Hiura eschews the type of swing typical of college players who use a metal bat for a pro-type rip that usually has to be developed once a player switches to wood. He utilizes a high leg kick and an inward turn load, and at front foot strike, his hands are in a pro position, with the right amount of separation from his arms. Hiura may benefit from a shorter stride, but he displays a compact stroke and impressive doubles type power.
6' 3", 200 lbs
Adell has remarkable tape measure power to all fields, but scouts are worried about the lack of top-notch competition he’s faced, as well as his issues with contact and his ability to hit with wood.
Fortunately for him, Adell is not a one dimensional player. He sports a powerful arm, excellent speed and his projectable frame indicates he will get bigger and stronger over time. Adell is the biggest “risk/reward” prospect in this draft—if he succeeds, officials with clubs that did not draft him will be forever pestered with questions as to why he was passed over.
6'2", 220 lbs
Raw power is the most alluring tool in baseball: It causes onlookers to swoon during batting practice, but several modern big leaguers hit bombs in BP but .175 in games. The club selecting Burger will have confidence he will not follow that unfortunate trend, because power is his signature tool.
Burger uses a series of intriguing hitting devices. He starts with a slight forward press and pads his feet, both tactics that are near extinction. His stride is a shade too long and he drops his hands and back elbow pre-swing, but he does a nice job of getting his hands moving to generate bat speed. He does not run, throw or field particularly well. Burger may start his pro career at third base but don’t be surprised if he eventually moves to first.
6' 3", 200 lbs
Hard throwing, righthanded high school power pitchers from Texas are always alluring, as teams hope they’re getting the next Nolan Ryan or Josh Beckett rather than the next Tyler Kolek. Baz, who bears a striking resemblance to the Hamilton Porter character in The Sandlot, is the latest fireballer from the Lone Star State. Sporting an ideal pitcher’s frame, Baz offers a mid 90’s fastball and adds a cutter, slider, curveball and change.
A pitcher’s delivery can be divided into three sections: balance position, launch position at foot strike and delivery/follow through. Baz is mechanically clean through the first two segments but shows a poor finish. A lack of lower half drive causes him to straighten up and spin off to his left (first base side) as he delivers the pitch.
6' 6", 185 lbs
Hailing from a small town tucked away in the southeastern portion of New Mexico, Rogers is a cousin of longtime major league outfielder Cody Ross and utilizes a Dontrelle Willis-style leg kick. He sports an ideal, projectable pitcher’s frame, tossing a low 90’s fastball which can touch the mid 90’s. His slider, curve and change are inconsistent and will require development. Rogers exhibits an easy, fluid arm action and solid mechanics, but he may need to alter his almost stiff legged landing, which can inhibit his delivery finish.
6'2", 220 lbs
Pratto is this draft’s version of the Braves’ Freddie Freeman. He’s not gifted with great speed but is an outstanding defensive first baseman, shows a strong arm and has the best lefthanded high school bat in the draft. Like Freeman, Pratto has been a successful prep pitcher but his pro future is at first base.
For scouts, judging if a high school prospect will hit as a pro is akin to tossing a coin into a wishing well. Pratto’s approach, bat speed and mechanically sound swing make him a safer bet to hit than many other players with similar physical attributes.
6'0", 200 lbs
Scouts love Bukauskas’ raw stuff and his aggressive nature on the mound. No fan of subtlety, he attacks hitters with a hissing mid 90’s fastball and a biting mid 80’s slider. Some clubs see Bukauskas as a starter, some as a closer; the final decision on his role will probably be made when he reaches Double A.
No doubt pitching experts in every organization have closely analyzed video of Bukauskas, wary that his mechanics are a prelude to injury. He lands on a stiff front leg and falls off to his left, opens too soon (isolating the arm and putting strain on the elbow and shoulder) and his arm action is cramped on the back end into the dreaded “inverted W”, often a telltale sign of an injury waiting to happen.
6'1", 205 lbs
Tommy John surgery doesn't terrify clubs as much as it once did--medical science has advanced to the point where pitchers often recover and are superior to their pre-surgery selves. Schmidt missed the 2nd half of his 2016 season due to elbow surgery, but he has rebounded strongly in 2017. Schmidt shows a strong, mature frame and profiles as as mid rotation starter, a hurler who can consistently get into the 7th inning in his big league starts.
Not regarded as a flamethrower, Schmidt delivers a low 90's fastball and relies on placement, creating angles and late movement to get hitters out. In his delivery, Schmidt does an excellent job of using his powerful lower half, but he opens his front (left) side too soon and can lose command of his pitches to his arm side. Once those issues are solved, Schmidt could make it to Yankee Stadium fairly quickly.
6'3", 205 lbs
White is a rare bat-right, throw-left prospect who, unlike others of that ilk, could be a fairly versatile player. An excellent defensive first baseman, he has the arm, the speed and the fielding skills to potentially man a corner outfield spot, thereby increasing his value to a ballclub.
At bat, White begins with his weight loaded into a bent back leg—an old fashioned tactic. His easy, fluid, sweeping righthanded swing that produces decent power, and he projects to add more as he fills into his tall and rangy frame.
6'5", 220 lbs
Nagging injuries prevented Faedo from fully participating in fall ball and inhibited his start to the season this spring. Now at full health, he has displayed the arm strength and stuff to vault back into first round consideration. Faedo delivers a low to mid 90’s fastball and relies heavily on his low to mid 80’s slider.
Minor league pitching coaches will be kept busy working on Faedo’s mechanics. He does a fine job of driving off his back leg, but straightens up and falls leftward as he delivers the ball, preventing him from driving directly to the target. He also brings his arm too far out and away from his body on release, making him an eventual injury risk.
6'1", 190 lbs
Ramos, a sturdily built corner outfield prospect, is similar to Austin Beck: both sport strong, mature frames, decent arms, fine speed and quick bats—but Beck probably has a slight overall advantage.
Ramos loves to attack the high fastball but will have to avoid going out of the strike zone and chasing pitches above the letters. An aggressive hitter, he shows a compact swing and attacks the ball in front of the plate. Ramos will need to correct a habit of opening his hips and lead shoulder a tad too early and pulling off the ball, preventing his weight shift from driving directly through the center of the field.
6' 6", 240 lbs
Peterson owns one of the most bizarre pitching stats seen in many years: In 100 innings of work in 2017, he walked only 15 batters—but hit 10. That oddity may be due to the exceptional arm side run Peterson gets to his low to mid 90’s fastball. He also tosses a slider and a curve; he has more consistent bite and command with the slider.
A tight-end-sized lefty, Peterson’s mechanics are decent but his stiff legged spin off finish prevents him from creating a consistent downward plane to his pitches. One of the main reasons organizations are insistent on acquiring tall pitchers is their ability to deliver the pitch at a severe downward angle, making the ball more difficult to hit by catching just a small sliver of the strike zone.
6'0", 180 lbs
Hall is one of three high school southpaws who may be chosen in the first round of this year’s draft, along with McKenzie Gore and Trevor Rogers. Hall’s mid to high 70’s curve is one of the best in this entire draft class. His fastball sits in the low 90’s and can touch 95.
In his build, stuff and pitching mechanics, Hall screams Cliff Lee. Like Lee, Hall gets terrific lower half power by driving off a severely bent back leg and tilts his upper body backward in mid-delivery. His command is negatively affected by his stiff legged, “spin off” finish; Lee maintained pitch control by staying low, driving forward and finishing with his head and chest out over his front foot.
6'0", 180 lbs
Catchers and middle infielders are the weakness of this draft; as for shortstops there is no Troy Tulowitzki, Dansby Swanson or Trea Turner in sight. Warmoth is the premier college shortstop available and while he is a fine player he projects more as a solid, dependable player than as a superstar.
Warmoth exhibits decent range, acceptable hands and defensive actions plus a serviceable arm. After signing, he’ll probably ship out as a shortstop but, if needed, could flip to second base without a hitch. As a hitter, Warmoth is well schooled mechanically and should be able to swipe bags. Currently, he profiles as a bottom of the order hitter but may move upward if he handles a wood bat well in the minors.
6' 0", 190 lbs
Kendall is the premier athlete available from the college side of this year’s draft. He is gifted with Roadrunner speed—3.93 seconds from home to first on a full swing. Kendall is also a talented defensive fly chaser and boasts an excellent arm.
Scouts are concerned with his bat, though. He has an unusually high strikeout rate and is fooled too often—that will prompt clubs to give Kendall a battery of eyesight tests. Kendall has outstanding bat speed, but he pushes the bat and doesn’t use his hands or lower half well. When he enters pro ball, Kendall may benefit from learning the almost forgotten art of the drag bunt.
6'5", 215 lbs
Almost every club films prospects. No doubt scouting directors, upon viewing Houck’s video, will say, “What the…!!” Boasting a sidearm delivery, Houck fires a low-to-mid 90s fastball and adds a decent if inconsistent slider, but his mechanics are a laundry list of what not to do. He lands on his heel and in a closed position with his front foot; he gets his arm so far behind himself mid delivery that the ball is pointed toward first base; and he utilizes the dreaded spin off finish.
To his credit, Houck starts on the far first base side of the rubber, which opens up the strike zone and gives his slider more room to operate.
6'3", 240 lbs
Romero has experienced more off the field problems than Tiger Woods—his latest transgression led to him being dismissed from the University of Houston squad. Baseball people preach quality “makeup” but the game has a long history of non-saintly behavior. The harder a pitcher throws, the less important character seems to be.
Romero is highly similar to Jaime Garcia in look, build and delivery. His mechanics are advanced and clean and his stuff is outstanding: A mid 90’s fastball complemented by a biting low 80’s slider. A quick look at his pre dismissal stat line reveals wicked stuff but also command issues: 85 K’s in 48 innings and 20 walks, 5 wild pitches and 6 hit batters.
6'2", 200 lbs
In this age of specialization, travel ball and high priced sports camps, multi-sport athletes are increasingly hard to find. As a high school superstar in football crazed Alabama, reports indicate that Thompson has left the gridiron and will concentrate on baseball. He is one of the top prospects in a draft that is remarkably well stocked with multi-tooled outfielders.
Tall, lanky, athletic and projectable, Thompson is a speedy centerfield prospect who may not have Jordon Adell’s power but nonetheless projects as an excellent all-around player. He should have the capacity to hit at the top of a big league lineup and to perform at or near a Gold Glove level as a defensive centerfielder.
6'2", 215 lbs
Little resembles Giant lefty Matt Moore. His fastball sits in the low 90's, but his primary "out" pitch in his high 70's hammer curve ball. With two plus pitches Moore can succeed as a reliever; he'll need to add 1 or 2 additional secondary pitches.
Few pitchers "load" into their back hip as effectively as does Little. That permits him to generate more power into his delivery and reduces the strain on his arm. Little can make it to Wrigley quickly as a bullpen guy, but it may take more time to develop him as a starter.
6'6", 240 lbs
Some organizations may be wary of Pearson’s injury history—he has a screw in his right elbow from previous surgery. His stuff, however, is tremendous. Pearson attacks hitters with an exploding, high 90’s fastball and adds a swerving, mid 80’s slider. If his arm holds together, Pearson profiles best as a shutdown closer.
Pearson is impressive mechanically. His arm clears well, he achieves excellent lower half power and he drives straight through to the plate. Pearson may benefit from just adding a bit more hip and shoulder separation. From the stretch, he smartly staggers his feet (left in front of the right). This helps him maintain a closed posture in his delivery.
6'3", 170 lbs
The Rangers' pattern early in this draft is clear: Draft hyper-athletic, multi-tooled high school prospects who will probably take some time to develop, but have the potential to be stars. Baseball people, it is often said, like "to dream on" these types of players.
Seise is tall, rangy and exceptionally fast. His hitting form is smooth but he'll need to get much stronger as he moves through the minors. It is a stretch to compare him to Derek Jeter, but he is a fine defender with range, smooth actions and the ability to make all the plays required of a big league shortstop. Seise may replace Elvis Andrus within 5 years.
6'3", 200 lbs
Lange’s primary drawback jumps off of the stat sheet: 40 walks, 9 wild pitches and 4 hit batters in 111 innings of work in 2017. He has a strong, mature pitchers frame and interesting stuff, boasting a low to mid 90’s fastball and a sharp high 70’s curve, but the control remains an issue.
Command issues are usually derived from problems with mechanics. Lange forces the ball as he delivers it and does not show ease in his release. He often clears his front side too soon and loses his balance at delivery finish. If his control issues are resolved, Lange could become a solid middle of the rotation big league starter.