MLB The Show 18: Aaron Judge’s Cover, Latest Trailers and Soundtrack

MLB The Show 18 is a love letter to baseball fans—and those with even the slightest interest in the sport. 

Call it the same sweeping appeal someone such as New York Yankees star Aaron Judge has on the sport itself. Even casual fans can find it fun when he's so often sending rockets out of the park in a stylistic manner. 

This is probably at least part of the reason he's the cover star of MLB The Show 18: 

The latest offering from developer Sony San Diego walks this accessibility-minded tightrope in every facet, from things like the soundtrack right on down to the gameplay within modes and on the field itself. 

Speaking of the soundtrack, these are some of the notables from the game itself: 

  • Beck — "Colors"
  • Chris Stapleton — "Midnight Train To Memphis"
  • Earl Juke — "I Got Music"
  • Greta Van Fleet — "Safari Song"
  • JD McPherson — "Under the Spell of City Lights"
  • NF — "Destiny"
  • Nipsey Hussle — "Loaded Bases" (ft. CeeLo)
  • NoMBe — "Signs"
  • Queens of the Stone Age — "The Evil Has Landed"

The full list is more expansive, though players always have the option to queue up their own custom playlists via apps such as Spotify. 

Like the soundtrack, MLB The Show 18 has an overall low barrier for entry. Players who want a relaxed experience can kick back in the retro mode. It's a fun side affair where the presentation, visuals and controls (one button to pitch; one button to hit) make for an arcade-esque experience worth a player's time. 

And that retro mode is one of many available from the main menu or within franchise mode itself. There, players can choose to play a game on a calendar in a full-blown game, in retro, or have a smaller time investment outright thanks to 10-minute modes where players are locked into one athlete or only play the critical moments. 

It's a nice addition considering the various audiences who will likely want to hop in and help build a team. And the franchise process has been streamlined into phases, ensuring players see the critical points of the calendar in a given phase and that they are all accessible from the franchise home screen. 

Franchise is, of course, an in-depth affair for those who want it to be. Same story for the newly revamped Road to The Show. Those who want to just hop in and play a quick line of games as a created character while trying to make the pros can. 

Those who want to dive deep into the experience can keep track of their progression via on-screen feedback for each throw or hit during a game and carefully groom their stats, which have temporary ratings caps assigned based on the archetype a player initially selected in the creation process. Power hitters, for example, have a lower rating cap to earn on skills such as speed. 

That creation process is as simple or deep as players want it to be as well. Breezing through it is, well, a breeze. But a new feature like the batting-stance creator is something a player could invest hours in while carving out a unique stance in the box while tweaking numerical values such as the bend of the knees. 

This accessible nature extends to on the field as well, especially at the plate. Batting is responsive and rewarding, with a few basic swing options available to players. Aiming the ball is easier than ever if contact is solid, allowing for a player to get a read on the defense before attempting to send the ball through a weakness in the defense's alignment. 

But the feedback and strategy are where things at the plate take a deep dive into the advanced side of baseball. Every sort of feedback a player could want is here, from contact and exit velocity metrics to the useful plate-coverage indicator (PCI) graphic. Statistics related to an individual pitcher and batter weigh into results, as do stadium and time of day and year, thanks to the dynamic weather system. 

The note about weather there says quite a bit about MLB The Show 18. The depth is there and realistic, should a player want to seize it. But Sony San Diego has covered all the bases with the retro mode, online play, player-lock games, weekly challenges, a reimagining of the game's most popular mode and even Diamond Dynasty, the ultra-popular card game. Even universal profiles allow for player customization of nameplates and other features as seen in other games. 

Sony San Diego listened to fans here, and it shows, making the Judge-covered affair something fans of the series and otherwise should watch closely. Those interested in how it all comes together can check out our official review

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MLB the Show 18 Review: Gameplay Videos, Features, Modes and Impressions

The team at Sony San Diego hit its offseason and likely compiled a huge list of wants from fans for the upcoming MLB The Show 18. 

Like the game's cover star, Aaron Judge, it knocked them all out of the park.  

Unlike Judge, MLB The Show 18 isn't a newcomer on the block, but some of this year's biggest success stories in the way of upgrades to the annual series make it seem like it was treated as such. 

Big changes in customization, presentation and gameplay—not to mention a reimagined Road to The Show—have this looking like a gigantic plate of fan service. 

No matter what a fan enters this year's game looking for, MLB The Show 18 seems to offer it. 

       

Gameplay

One doesn't have to look far to find the talking points about this one. Tagging. Animations. Immersion. 

We'll keep it simple and start in the batter's box, though. Batting remains as intuitive and as fun as ever, with timing and use of both sticks an important aspect. 

The satisfying crack of the bat previously served as the only feedback. Not here. Swing timing, contact and exit velocity all pop up on the screen. So does the plate-coverage indicator (PCI) to paint a complete picture of a player's performance. 

Sounds complex and is—but only if a player wants it to be. Those who want to dive into the advanced numbers, review performance and take their skills to the all-new practice mode can. Those who want to work through the paces without worrying about breaking out a spreadsheet or calculator can and still earn an added sense of realism from the data on the screen. 

But the improvements don't stop there. The tagging system has been overhauled, finally. It wasn't fun to watch someone take advantage of the old system while on-screen players struggled to keep up or outright glitch. The new system has players actively trying for the tag and properly positioned most of the time, all while looking more true to the real thing. 

Much of the gameplay improvements here can be attributed to the implementation of new animations, which applies everywhere. Pitchers on the mound react flawlessly to a ball hit at them just like in real life. There's no more odd stutter from the catcher as a bunt hit in front of him causes him to stutter-step as he tries to figure out what to do—he swoops out of his stance and guns the ball at a base, as expected. 

These new animations form a cohesive unit many probably didn't realize was missing in the first place in prior offerings. Even off screen, players are covering the proper bases flawlessly, filling mistakes created by the player if necessary. 

Call this the most significant overhaul to gameplay for the series in a long time. And much of it goes to show just how difficult the sport is. The pros on television and at the ballparks make it look easy, whereas the gameplay depth here shows it is anything but. 

           

Graphics and Presentation

Sony San Diego spent some important time in the presentation department, too. 

Obviously, better animations lead to a better-looking game with more fluidity resembling the real thing. As expected though, player models, jerseys and the usual suspects look great. 

But the surrounding pieces really stand out. Dynamic crowds react well to the on-field action and the stadiums they occupy now have interesting diversity in the form of true-to-life bleachers and benches. In a simulation like this, it's the little things that can enhance the product. 

Speaking of little things, dynamic weather is here and a game-altering affair. Weather changes throughout games now, and a ball hit in the third inning might turn into a home run in the ninth—yet another small tidbit for those who want to grind the minutia of the sport. 

Those tasked with keeping a player informed about the action on the field do a great job as well. The announcers haven't always come off as natural in the series, though this year's edition rectifies that after taking a cue from Madden and having commentators record dialogue together. It sounds more natural this way, and the talent present adds depth to the experience. 

It's also a nice touch to let players choose what sort of broadcast experience they want before the game, ranging from MLB Network presentation to other options. 

                  

Road to The Show 

While the above details are major, what most will want to know about is the significant retooling of Road to The Show. 

The progression system got most of the attention here, with it actually feeling like progression this time. Now, players earn points based on on-field performance that pour into a player's ratings in specific areas. Those areas have a predetermined starting point and cap based on archetypes. 

Archetypes are another refreshing feature. There are several at each spot to choose from (infielder, outfielder, pitcher) and assign preset caps to ratings. Take a speedy infielder archetype, expect to have plenty of contact at the plate and speed on the bags, but don't expect to hit a ton of home runs. 

Those caps, though, aren't necessarily permanent. Thanks to the new Focus Training sessions, where your player practices with another player from his team, a cap can get pushed beyond its initial set point. These aren't playable, but there's a layer of strategy here that helps the mode feel like an RPG. 

It's a nice touch to see the experience for your player as it gets rewarded. Field a ball and properly move the target before throwing it, securing the out, and green plus marks pop up on the screen in the areas you excelled. This goes the other way as well, but a constant feedback loop during live games makes progression rewarding. 

The work put into getting a player up to the majors still feels like a grind, no doubt. But the exorcism of microtransactions and the implementation of RPG-esque elements into a beloved mode feels great and rewarding, the latter part a key element of a mode such as this. 

         

Franchise and More

Franchise returns with the newfound depth added in recent years just as fans have come to expect. 

Accessibility of that depth seems to be the focus this year. 

New here is a phases feature slapped atop the franchise mode, which helps better-inform players as to the key portions of the calendar. An MLB season is a long process on its own—managing everything going into a team is a huge undertaking, a point emphasized by the fact even these accessibility minded phases check in at a resounding 19. 

Still, it's nice to have the major tasks available right on the first panel of franchise mode as opposed to wading through layers of menus in the pursuit of accomplishing something.  

The accessibility theme extends to the gameplay itself and those lengthy seasons. A variety of options awaits players for each game. Those who want the full experience can have it. Those who want a 10-minute affair can play a critical-situations or player-lock game. The retro mode falls somewhere between and offers a more casual experience. 

And while we're talking about different games modes, let's keep it simple—retro mode is a breath of fresh air. It's somewhat weird we're in 2018 praising a more simplistic time for baseball video games, but it's refreshing to punch one button to pitch a ball and one button to hit it. The throwback to graphics and presentation from a different era is a great touch. 

Diamond Dynasty is here as well and boasts legends such as Babe Ruth, with the usual seemingly endless collectibles for players to chase. 

As if all this weren't enough, players can get lost in online player, weekly challenges and events like home run derbys. Some wil bemoan the loss of online dynasty, but its sitting on the bench for a year gives fans of the series something to look forward to.

Both Road to The Show and franchise benefit greatly from the deep customization offered. There was a noted emphasis on skin and hair looking more realistic, which they do, but more notable is just how obsessive players can get over their created characters. 

There is a vault in which to browse custom creations, which is implemented seamlessly. The batting-stance creator is almost humorous in depth, with numbers assigned to everything from the bend of the knee to arm positioning. As long as it's mostly realistic and doesn't create any hiccups, players can do whatever they want with their batter in the box. 

As a small aside, the universal profile system is also a nice touch, as collecting nameplates and such as you would in Call of Duty feels like something akin to a cherry on top in the rewarding department. 

                       

Conclusion 

MLB The Show 18 is an impressive feat with layers. 

It's one thing to take a sport as deep as baseball and accurately recreate a simulation the masses adore, if not driving new fans to the sport in the process. It's another to then simplify the process in accessible ways, coming up with sheer fun like retro mode or different ways to experience a full game. 

As hinted in the intro, this one has everything, a true do-it-all feat. Want to play a strict simulation, taking into account stats and minutia such as time of day and weather in the ballpark? Knock yourself out. Want to kick back with a friend and play an arcade mode? It's there. How about slapping yourself in the game down to the degree bend of your knees in the batter's box? Yep. 

More accessible than ever, MLB The Show 18 is a complete package fit for the hardcore to the casual with enough in the way of notable on-field upgrades and RPG-level customization and grind to warrant a pickup for most. 

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MLB The Show 18: Release Date, Top Features, New Modes and Cover

March 27 is the date MLB The Show 18 lands in stores and begins its innovative quest to capture the minds of baseball fans everywhere yet again. 

Innovative, because developer Sony San Diego has turned the focus for this year's edition into fresh-feeling revamps of both "Road to The Show" and franchise modes. 

Gameplay and graphical improvements are here, of course, but the headline act is the new events and experiences players will undertake as the modes take a cue from other great sports games alongside a dash of unique developments. 

It's only fitting, then, New York Yankees star Aaron Judge is on the cover: 

He also had a recent look at player ratings: 

Besides ratings themselves, the biggest thing fans will look for right out of the gates is the changes to Road to The Show. 

Of which there are plenty. How a player's character performs in games will now dictate rating changes as opposed to the slider system of old. And those created characters now fit into an archetypes system, which has skill-rating caps based on which one a player selects. 

Call it a breath of fresh air for a mode previously allowing sliders to fly right up to 100, sometimes trivializing the minors-to-majors journey. Tracking performance and the points gain pouring into stats should add a rewarding element to the mode on top of what was already there, not to mention replayability given the different archetypes. 

Over in franchise mode, a deeper sense of control over a team seems to be the name of the game here. General manager duties from drafting to lineups and more are laid out in front of the players in a way games like the NBA 2K series have done lately. 

One major point of emphasis, though, is ease of use. Aptly named front-office phases check in at 19 variations, helping players break down key points into lists as they move through the calendar. 

Sony San Diego designer Matt Schaeffer hit on the main point: "Phases also allow for navigation that is quicker and more intuitive than ever. Even if you decide to never leave the home page in Franchise mode, you can still make all the decisions necessary to manage your team to the World Series."

Having everything at a player's fingertips from the home screen of franchise mode and extending a helping hand if necessary throughout different phases is a big deal here. While other games have offered deep innovation and control in their franchise modes, getting bogged down in menus and understanding the intricacies of running a pro team has always offered an intimidating barrier of entry. 

Baseball is a particularly in-depth beast to tackle, so the more simplified the better. Same story for the games themselves, which players can choose to tackle in various ways, from playing the full game to a critical-situations-only mode that takes about 10 minutes. Also in that time frame is a player-lock mode, meaning experiencing a game only from Judge's perspective, for example. 

Another example is the new retro mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a throwback to past great baseball games meant to punch the nostalgia button, complete with retro visuals and presentation, not to mention simplified gameplay. 

Also included outside of franchise mode are three-inning games and Diamond Dynasty, the legend-filled offering sure to be a hit. 

The overall theme here seems to be a streamlined experience cutting down the barrier to entry, which is fitting alongside a sport that has tried to cut down game time over the course of a lengthy season. 

Gameplay and graphics have received work as always, with new animations and improved physics a priority for the developers. Gameplay has never been an issue for the series, though upgrades in a quality-of-life slant are always welcomed.  

As a whole, it's not hard to see why there is a steady hype train rolling down the tracks for this latest release. Much-needed tweaks to favorite modes should scratch the itch of those hardcore fans and bring in new ones ready to tackle the depths of MLB baseball in an accessible manner. 

The journey in these revamped modes starts March 27. 

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MLB The Show 18: Latest ‘Road to The Show’ Mode Trailers, New Features and More

MLB The Show 18 arrives March 27, and with it comes a sense of hype unlike some of the recent offerings in the series. 

The biggest reason? A revamped "Road to The Show" mode from developer Sony San Diego. 

This year's edition of the classic franchise throws the word "progression" at fans early and often because players can no longer turn the slider up on ratings—a created character's journey through the minor leagues and up into the pros is directly tied to performance on the field. 

A new video walks would-be players through the features, from the player-creation process to on-field play and how skills develop as a result: 

It was only a matter of time before the series started taking a page out of the NBA 2K series, this time doing so with player archetypes. These provide depth and replayability to an already-fresh game mode because each archetype features a cap on certain skills to realistically reflect the created character's role on the field. 

As hinted, player performance directly ties into how a created character's career goes, as explained by senior game designer Steve Merka: "You will be able to track these gains, both during the game, as they happen, and at the end of the game, on the Base Gains screen. The hope is that both you and your player improve together, as you play."

Road to The Show isn't the only mode receiving some love this year. 

Franchise mode returns with hinted new additions we'll learn soon. There's also Diamond Dynasty, which lets players collect historical figures from the sport's past: 

Babe Ruth and a bevy of others are listed there for readers who want to slow down the video—like NBA 2K games as of late, the ability to play with legends spanning generations is a nice touch. 

Rounding out the total package is three-inning games and retro mode, which are exactly what they sound like: 

It wouldn't be another sporting release without quality-of-life improvements, and Sony San Diego delivers here as well. 

The developers haven't been shy about listing some of these. Outside of the obvious graphical improvements, players can expect upgrades in dynamic crowds, new animations overall and better physics. 

Perhaps most important of all, MLB The Show 18 takes a cue from games like Madden and features all commentators recording dialogue together. Mark DeRosa is the new mainstay on the call after one year of Harold Reynolds, and joining him is the tandem of Matt Vasgersian and Dan Plesac. 

There is a give and take in this sequel as well when it comes to missing features. Online franchise mode is out, though so are microtransactions. Losing the former will be a tough pill to swallow for some fans, but if it means better long-term online stability and a more robust mode itself in future iterations, it could be a positive in the end. 

From the early indications, MLB The Show 18 is another epic offering for fans of the series and is fresh and welcoming enough to usher in new players with the same list of features and gameplay.

Playing the strong base game itself has never been a problem, so it isn't hard to understand why there is so much buzz about this release after the developers focused on its most popular modes. 

Fans can get their hands on the release March 27. 

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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Remaining Trade Targets as Deadline Looms

Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander and a host of others own the spotlight as the MLB inches toward Monday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline.

The ride so far has been wild. Not only have major names like Jose Quintana found new homes, would-be contenders like the Tampa Bay Rays have made repeated splashes in an effort to push through gritty divisional standings and into the postseason.

Which is the point, right? Teams going all-in around this time of year at the risk of long-term stability along the farm systems is a show of confidence and a potential yanking upward on the window to create excitement for fans.

It's clear the Rays and notables such as the Chicago Cubs, winners of the Quintana sweepstakes, aren't alone in this pursuit. Here's a look at the latest making the rounds.

       

Cubs' Hunt Continues

The above wasn't meant to suggest the Cubs are anywhere close to done on the open market, not with an apparent need at catcher still weighing down the team's outlook.

It seems the staff in Chicago wants a defensive-minded player behind the plate to pair with a shiny new toy like Quintana ahead of a playoff run.

Here's Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal on the matter:

Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers is a natural target for the Cubs, considering he's one of this year's unexpected breakout stars, hitting .276 with 11 homers and 32 RBI. He's one of the more impressive catchers at the plate this year but who could see some natural regression, but as the report mentions, the Cubs aren't necessarily tied to the idea.

The nice thing about the open market is having options. According to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the Cubs also have an eye on the Miami Marlins' A.J. Ellis:

Ellis, though six years older than Avila at 36, is more in line with what the Cubs want. He's only appeared in 27 games this year but would be a nice situational deployment behind Willson Contreras—and he's the definition of a rental as he heads to free agency this offseason.

Maybe the bigger picture here is stressing the point that catcher is a position that could heat up in a hurry. The Cubs are the big fish on the hunt in the pond, but plenty of teams, spanning contenders and long-term thinkers alike, wouldn't mind grabbing Avila even at a high selling point and seeing if he can fend off regression at the plate.

       

Verlander's Market Slows?

It might be time to pump the brakes on chatter about a Verlander trade.

At first, it seemed obvious the Tigers would easily find a trade partner for an ace, especially with MLB Network's Jon Morosi noting the Cubs had an interest as recently as last week—though his salary over the next two years was clearly an issue.

Morosi followed up Friday night by walking back some of the hype the rumor mill built over the past few days:

This aligns with a Rosenthal Facebook post from a day earlier saying the "odds remain heavily against" a trade before detailing the fact Verlander's resume means he needs to approve a deal and that the league itself would need to approve any significant cash exchanging hands between teams.

It's a shame, as the 34-year-old Verlander in new settings would be quite the interesting sight. He's not performing like the ace who tallied a sub-4.00 ERA in each of the past two seasons, but a 4.50 mark with 120 strikeouts over 124 innings isn't terrible, and a change of scenery might help.

Despite the reversal in tone, the Cubs and others might make this interesting on the run to the deadline. Plenty of others—such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, per Morosi—have an interest, and it only takes one team getting desperate after missing on another target like a Darvish or Sonny Gray.

For now, buzz seems mild on Verlander. But as longtime fans understand, these things change in a matter of hours, and there has simply been too much smoke so far to turn away now.

            

Clock Keeps Ticking on Darvish

Few teams have their backs to the wall more than the Texas Rangers as this deadline nears. 

Most expect the team to move an elite arm like Darvish, even after an early denial by the front office, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

The mood has all changed in a matter of days, according to Rosenthal's Facebook post: "The Rangers are telling interested clubs that they will move right-hander Yu Darvish, according to major league sources. They are confident they will get a quality return and actively exchanging names with teams."

It's silly to think the Rangers would sit on Darvish now, given some of the teams interested. Though he has a handful of teams such as the Cubs on his no-trade list, sharks like the Dodgers and New York Yankees still seem in the running if the price is right. 

And it might just be—Darvish boasts a 4.01 ERA with 148 fanned batters over 137 innings, but he just took the mound on Wednesday and coughed up 10 earned runs in 3.2 innings in an eventual 22-10 loss. Teams understand a dud happens, but it's a leverage point in blockbuster trade talks.

With the Rangers still in the hunt in the American League West, it's easier than it should be for the Rangers to laugh off trade offers that don't include a top-tier prospect or two. The fact he's heading to free agency after the season means little to the team if keeping him means a playoff push.

Like many of the potential deals being mulled over the next 48 hours or so, any wide range of outcomes seems plausible here. Darvish could land elsewhere if the Rangers decide to focus on the future, or he could stick in town and land a lucrative extension in the offseason.

In short, Darvish is one of a few massive dominoes capable of falling and setting off a string of fireworks over the weekend.

               

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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MLB Trades 2017: Examining Most Intriguing Deals Heading into Deadline

Fans understood right away the approaching MLB trade deadline on July 31 would be a wild one.

After all, the sprint to the cutoff started with a bang in mid-July when the Chicago Cubs, looking to defend the World Series title, struck up a deal with the Chicago White Sox for ace Jose Quintana.

If those two sides can agree to a deal, it truly starts to feel like anything is possible as the days bleed into just hours before the deadline passes.

Though it's hard to imagine the journey won't offer more blockbuster deals, it's important to look back on some of the biggest splashes already—several teams have already made it clear to their fans they consider this a prime year to make a run.

           

Rockies Grab Neshek 

Mired in a bitter battle in the National League West, the playoff-minded Colorado Rockies sought out notable help Wednesday by striking a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for reliever Pat Neshek.

The Phillies, who have been sellers on the market over the past few years, were more than happy to come to terms on the deal because it meant acquiring a trio of quality prospects to reinforce the depth of the organization:

The big winner here, though, is the third-placed Rockies, who are behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers in the conference.

Neshek is 36 years old and sitting on the best year of his career with a 1.12 ERA with 45 strikeouts over 40.1 innings, a gigantic jump from his 3.06 ERA and 43 strikeouts over 47 innings in Houston a year ago. 

"It's exciting," Neshek said, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. "You jump right into a playoff race. That's a great team with a great offense."

Indeed, Neshek is the sort of title-minded rental any team like the Rockies would love to secure ahead of the deadline. He can help with the push, then comes off the books after the season as he heads to free agency. Call it a quality blueprint for other would-be contenders to follow in the future.

                 

Rays Gamble on Lucas Duda

Like the Rockies, the Tampa Bay Rays have big ambitions while sitting third behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the American League East. 

Sitting on a walk-year deal like Neshek, Lucas Duda seemed an obvious target for a team like the Rays because of his rental status. He'd spent eight years with the New York Mets, but a split was obvious with the team sitting on a 47-53 mark and needing to look toward the future.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand captured the details:

Duda's fit in Tampa Bay is, in a word, outstanding. The Rays rank in the top 10 with 146 homers this year, and he's sitting on 17 of his own alongside an average of .246 and 37 RBI, making him an obvious boon for a rotation in need of more firepower.

"I'm excited to join the Rays. They're in the hunt," Duda said, according to ESPN.com. "Kind of mixed emotions. There are guys here I've grown pretty close to, and [the Mets] are a first-class organization. I was very proud to be a New York Met, and I'm gonna be very proud to be on the Tampa Bay Rays."

Given the AL East is an arms race of sorts right now, it makes sense the Rays would capitalize on a team like the Mets selling off even their most beloved veterans and slap more firepower in the lineup in an effort to make a push. 

It's not hard to imagine this ending up as one of the best pre-deadline deals in hindsight.

            

Rays Land Dan Jennings

The Rays, clearly, aren't pulling any punches. 

Adding firepower at the plate is one thing—depth on the mound is what makes victories in lengthy playoff series possible.

Therefore, the Rays shipping away prospect Casey Gillaspie in exchange for reliever Dan Jennings classifies as a major win:

The 30-year-old Jennings has been an absolute workhorse this season, appearing in 49 games so far over 44.1 innings and sitting on a 3.65 ERA with a 3-1 mark and seven holds.

Jennings offered a goodbye before appearing in his first game as a member of the Rays on Thursday:

It might take Jennings some time to get used to his new settings, but he's a multi-inning guy if necessary and a nice tactical deployment for the Tampa Bay coaching staff before lefties struggle against him at the plate.

From a contractual standpoint, Jennings heads to his third year of arbitration this offseason, a nice caveat for the Rays after ripping him from a team that has now sold four relievers over the course of the sprint to the deadline.

Like above, this already ranks as one of the deadline's better moves.

          

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Latest 2017 Deadline Reports

Though a late, unexpected surge from the NBA provides some serious competition, few things this time of year can compete with the craziness of the approaching MLB trade deadline.

The sprint between now and Monday's non-waiver deadline won't just be an entertaining affair for fans—it signals the beginning of the push through fall and the playoffs as well as a potential major shift in power throughout the league.

Tuesday night provided a great example when the San Francisco Giants pulled Eduardo Nunez from a game and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal revealed he'd been traded to the Boston Red Sox.

Call it the beginning of the madness, especially with some of the rumors making the rounds. Here's the latest.

           

The Darvish Puzzle Continues

Yu Darvish seems like one of the most obvious players about to find himself on a flight to a new city before the deadline passes.

If only it were so simple.

The Texas Rangers can hardly keep their head above water at 49-51 and Darvish sits on an expiring contract, yet it doesn't sound like the brass there has plans to settle for just any deal.

Here's USA Today's Bob Nightengale:

At best, it's likely a bargaining stance more than anything as the Rangers continue to sit on the outside of the wild-card race looking in, especially after having picked up all of four wins over their last 10.

Not that the Rangers need to work too hard at drumming up interest in a 30-year-old ace with a 3.44 ERA, 143 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP.

FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman detailed the interested teams:

Much about a potential sweepstakes involving the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers might come down to how well the Rangers play over the next few days. If the team finds hope in the race, the idea of keeping Darvish and trying to make it happen isn't so outlandish—the Rangers could then try to ink him to an extension in the offseason.

At worst, such a scenario is what the Rangers hope to encourage other teams into thinking if the front office wants the best possible return. One of the market's most interesting names will do nothing short of command more and more of the spotlight as the cutoff approaches.

       

Justin Verlander-to-the-Cubs Gains Steam

The idea the Chicago Cubs want to land Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander isn't new.

But momentum gained in this area on the rumor mill is a different story.

Verlander gaining steam seemed obvious the closer the deadline crept because he isn't just an option for the Cubs, not when a team like the Dodgers could use him as a fallback option if the Rangers get stingy in trade talks surrounding Darvish.

It means the Cubs might need to hurry if the brass there views him as strongly as reported in a note by the New York Post's Joel Sherman: "The Cubs also are believed to be interested in Verlander as a piece to not only help defend their title now but also assist in the near future with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey likely leaving as free agents after the 2017 season. Houston also is viewed as interested in Verlander." 

Verlander, 34, has entered "consolation prize realm" at this stage of his career thanks to an odd marriage between his contract and performance. The former calls for $56 million over the next two seasons, yet the latter is a rough-looking 4.50 ERA and 62 earned runs over 124.0 innings, which flirts dangerously close to the 77 he coughed up over 227.2 innings the year prior.

The 45-win Tigers aren't dummies, though, which explains why Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported the Tigers will eat up to $12 million of Verlander's salary in a deal.

For the Cubs, a team with impending free agents and whose top six pitchers in innings pitched all have an ERA of 3.83 or higher, it might be wise to get out ahead of the market here and strike up a deal before other teams jump into the fray.

             

Ramos Sweepstakes Catches Fire

Fans haven't had to look far this month to see AJ Ramos become one of the hottest names on the trade block.

The 45-win Miami Marlins are an obvious trade target for teams not only due to performance, but because the front office already shipped away David Phelps in a move that brought back a handful of quality prospects.

Ramos, 30 years old with a 3.76 ERA, 46 fanned batters and 19 saves—not to mention 91 and counting over all of three years—is worth much more.

Plenty of interest on the market should make this obvious enough, as Nightengale illustrated:

Interest from three contenders in the National League speaks volumes to how big this particular race could get in the coming days. Ramos isn't just a stud player—he's sitting on a nice contract that keeps him under team control through 2018.

Based on above comments, it's not hard to see why the Cubs would have an interest. But for teams like the Colorado Rockies, being set at closer doesn't disqualify the team from taking an angle of pursuit here because there is no such thing as having too many quality late-inning arms during the postseason stretch.

For a rebuilding team like the Marlins, a bidding war among contenders is the best possible outcome to what has already been a successful stretch of future-minded moves.

            

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Latest 2017 Deadline Reports

Though a late, unexpected surge from the NBA provides some serious competition, few things this time of year can compete with the craziness of the approaching MLB trade deadline.

The sprint between now and Monday's non-waiver deadline won't just be an entertaining affair for fans—it signals the beginning of the push through fall and the playoffs as well as a potential major shift in power throughout the league.

Tuesday night provided a great example when the San Francisco Giants pulled Eduardo Nunez from a game and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal revealed he'd been traded to the Boston Red Sox.

Call it the beginning of the madness, especially with some of the rumors making the rounds. Here's the latest.

           

The Darvish Puzzle Continues

Yu Darvish seems like one of the most obvious players about to find himself on a flight to a new city before the deadline passes.

If only it were so simple.

The Texas Rangers can hardly keep their head above water at 49-51 and Darvish sits on an expiring contract, yet it doesn't sound like the brass there has plans to settle for just any deal.

Here's USA Today's Bob Nightengale:

At best, it's likely a bargaining stance more than anything as the Rangers continue to sit on the outside of the wild-card race looking in, especially after having picked up all of four wins over their last 10.

Not that the Rangers need to work too hard at drumming up interest in a 30-year-old ace with a 3.44 ERA, 143 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP.

FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman detailed the interested teams:

Much about a potential sweepstakes involving the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers might come down to how well the Rangers play over the next few days. If the team finds hope in the race, the idea of keeping Darvish and trying to make it happen isn't so outlandish—the Rangers could then try to ink him to an extension in the offseason.

At worst, such a scenario is what the Rangers hope to encourage other teams into thinking if the front office wants the best possible return. One of the market's most interesting names will do nothing short of command more and more of the spotlight as the cutoff approaches.

       

Justin Verlander-to-the-Cubs Gains Steam

The idea the Chicago Cubs want to land Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander isn't new.

But momentum gained in this area on the rumor mill is a different story.

Verlander gaining steam seemed obvious the closer the deadline crept because he isn't just an option for the Cubs, not when a team like the Dodgers could use him as a fallback option if the Rangers get stingy in trade talks surrounding Darvish.

It means the Cubs might need to hurry if the brass there views him as strongly as reported in a note by the New York Post's Joel Sherman: "The Cubs also are believed to be interested in Verlander as a piece to not only help defend their title now but also assist in the near future with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey likely leaving as free agents after the 2017 season. Houston also is viewed as interested in Verlander." 

Verlander, 34, has entered "consolation prize realm" at this stage of his career thanks to an odd marriage between his contract and performance. The former calls for $56 million over the next two seasons, yet the latter is a rough-looking 4.50 ERA and 62 earned runs over 124.0 innings, which flirts dangerously close to the 77 he coughed up over 227.2 innings the year prior.

The 45-win Tigers aren't dummies, though, which explains why Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported the Tigers will eat up to $12 million of Verlander's salary in a deal.

For the Cubs, a team with impending free agents and whose top six pitchers in innings pitched all have an ERA of 3.83 or higher, it might be wise to get out ahead of the market here and strike up a deal before other teams jump into the fray.

             

Ramos Sweepstakes Catches Fire

Fans haven't had to look far this month to see AJ Ramos become one of the hottest names on the trade block.

The 45-win Miami Marlins are an obvious trade target for teams not only due to performance, but because the front office already shipped away David Phelps in a move that brought back a handful of quality prospects.

Ramos, 30 years old with a 3.76 ERA, 46 fanned batters and 19 saves—not to mention 91 and counting over all of three years—is worth much more.

Plenty of interest on the market should make this obvious enough, as Nightengale illustrated:

Interest from three contenders in the National League speaks volumes to how big this particular race could get in the coming days. Ramos isn't just a stud player—he's sitting on a nice contract that keeps him under team control through 2018.

Based on above comments, it's not hard to see why the Cubs would have an interest. But for teams like the Colorado Rockies, being set at closer doesn't disqualify the team from taking an angle of pursuit here because there is no such thing as having too many quality late-inning arms during the postseason stretch.

For a rebuilding team like the Marlins, a bidding war among contenders is the best possible outcome to what has already been a successful stretch of future-minded moves.

            

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2017 MLB Draft Results: Full Listings of Grades for 1st-Round Picks

The 2017 MLB draft's opening night certainly had its surprises, headlined by the Minnesota Twins selecting shortstop Royce Lewis with the first pick.

In a pitcher-heavy class boasting some of the most talent a class has offered the MLB in recent years at such a premium spot, it came as a shock to see a different position come off the board first.

Alas, this draft's opening two rounds turned out to be all about high upside as opposed to safe picks. For teams like the Twins and Cincinnati Reds near the top of the order, it seemed like a logical way to go about business while looking to rebuild farm systems, if not find immediate impact in the big leagues.

Below, let's look at the full Round 1 results and assign grades to each selection.

           

2017 MLB Draft Round 1 Results and Grades

Round 1

1. Minnesota Twins: Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS (A)

2. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (A)

3. San Diego Padres: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (B)

4. Tampa Bay Rays: Brendan McKay, P, Louisville (B)

5. Atlanta Braves: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt (A+)

6. Oakland Athletics: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (C)

7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia (B)

8. Philadelphia Phillies: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia (B)

9. Milwaukee Brewers: Keston Hiura, 2B, California (A)

10. Los Angeles Angels: Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard HS (A)

11. Chicago White Sox: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State (B)

12. Pittsburgh Pirates: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (B)

13. Miami Marlins: Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad HS (A)

14. Kansas City Royals: Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach HS (C)

15. Houston Astros: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina (B)

16. New York Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina (A)

17. Seattle Mariners: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky (B)

18. Detroit Tigers: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida (A)

19. San Francisco Giants: Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian Academy (B)

20. New York Mets: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon (A)

21. Baltimore Orioles: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (A)

22. Toronto Blue Jays: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina (A)

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt (B)

24. Boston Red Sox: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri (A)

25. Washington Nationals: Seth Romero, LHP, Houston (A)

26. Texas Rangers: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen HS (B)

27. Chicago Cubs: Brendon Little, LHP, State College of Florida Manatee - Sarasota (A)

28. Toronto Blue Jays: Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida (A)

29. Texas Rangers: Christopher Seise, SS, West Orange HS (A)

30. Chicago Cubs: Alex Lange, RHP, LSU (A)

             

Notable Picks

1. Minnesota Twins: Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS

Lewis came off the board first in large part because of his incredible talent at the plate—which seems fitting enough for the team that drafted Joe Mauer at No. 1 back in 2004.

Standing at 6'1", Lewis hit a smooth .377 average last year and stole 25 bases, stressing the explosive upside teams covet at the plate. Even if experts such as ESPN.com's Keith Law suggest a move to outfield might be in his future, it's clear Lewis fit every check mark necessary by a top pick, other than playing from the mound.

Mike Radcliff, vice-president of player personnel for the Twins, agreed.

"This guy gets it," Radcliff said, according to the Associated Press' Dennis Waszak Jr. (via the Washington Post). "He's got that 'it' factor that a No. 1 pick needs to survive and move forward and have success at the end of the journey. He checked all the boxes for us."

Not ready to believe the hype? Here's a reaction captured by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports:

It's going to take more than Lewis to keep the Twins afloat, obviously, but those in the know don't throw around such praise and comments for no reason.

Provided Lewis can come close to the expectations around him, taking him over a pitcher might not look so wild after all.

         

2. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS

Hunter Greene entered the draft as the most interesting prospect by far.

Greene does a little bit of everything, whether it's on the mound or at shortstop. He checks in at 6'3" and 195 pounds and is all of 17 years old, making him one of the prospects with the most sheer upside of all in the class.

Look at it this way—Greene ranked as the No. 1 prospect in Baseball America's rankings and most considered him a threat to come off the board at the top overall slot, which would've made him the first right-handed pitcher to do so in the draft's history dating back to 1965.

Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins captured the thoughts of scouts who weren't afraid to toss out some jaw-dropping comparisons: "Several scouts agree that he is the best two-way amateur prospect they have ever seen, a first-round pick as a pitcher and a shortstop, with comps to Noah Syndergaard on the mound and Alex Rodriguez in the field."

So, yes, the Reds made out quite well. They captured his big moment on Twitter:

It's going to take a while for the Reds to get Greene on the field, and he'll have his problems in Great American Ball Park like most pitchers do.

But the upside is the Reds nailing down a reliable No. 1 starter who can duke it out well in the offensive-minded National League Central.

          

5. Atlanta Braves: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

Here's where the picks ahead of No. 5 seem a little strange—Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright was one of the safest prospects available in the top 10. 

Meaning the Atlanta Braves just had an ace fall in their laps.

Wright is 21 years old coming off a stellar campaign in which he had a strong ERA while clocking his fastball in the 90s.

The Braves cut out the legwork for many with an informative Twitter post:

Broadcaster Grant McAuley broke down the numbers further:

It's no exaggeration to say Wright could end up as the best player from the class. His two plus-pitches aren't easy to find—the aforementioned fastball only falls behind in impressiveness to a nasty curveball meant to finish off batters.

Wright himself isn't the only reason the Braves come away as one of the biggest winners of all. This is also a case of the rich getting richer because Atlanta happens to have one of the most intriguing pitching farm systems already thanks to Mike Soroka and others.

Looking ahead, there are plenty of rounds left in the draft, but it's going to take a big gaffe by the Braves to ruin their status as the biggest winners.

           

Stats and info courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise specified.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2017 MLB Draft Results: Full Listings of Grades for 1st-Round Picks

The 2017 MLB draft's opening night certainly had its surprises, headlined by the Minnesota Twins selecting shortstop Royce Lewis with the first pick.

In a pitcher-heavy class boasting some of the most talent a class has offered the MLB in recent years at such a premium spot, it came as a shock to see a different position come off the board first.

Alas, this draft's opening two rounds turned out to be all about high upside as opposed to safe picks. For teams like the Twins and Cincinnati Reds near the top of the order, it seemed like a logical way to go about business while looking to rebuild farm systems, if not find immediate impact in the big leagues.

Below, let's look at the full Round 1 results and assign grades to each selection.

           

2017 MLB Draft Round 1 Results and Grades

Round 1

1. Minnesota Twins: Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS (A)

2. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (A)

3. San Diego Padres: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (B)

4. Tampa Bay Rays: Brendan McKay, P, Louisville (B)

5. Atlanta Braves: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt (A+)

6. Oakland Athletics: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (C)

7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia (B)

8. Philadelphia Phillies: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia (B)

9. Milwaukee Brewers: Keston Hiura, 2B, California (A)

10. Los Angeles Angels: Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard HS (A)

11. Chicago White Sox: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State (B)

12. Pittsburgh Pirates: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (B)

13. Miami Marlins: Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad HS (A)

14. Kansas City Royals: Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach HS (C)

15. Houston Astros: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina (B)

16. New York Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina (A)

17. Seattle Mariners: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky (B)

18. Detroit Tigers: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida (A)

19. San Francisco Giants: Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian Academy (B)

20. New York Mets: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon (A)

21. Baltimore Orioles: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (A)

22. Toronto Blue Jays: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina (A)

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt (B)

24. Boston Red Sox: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri (A)

25. Washington Nationals: Seth Romero, LHP, Houston (A)

26. Texas Rangers: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen HS (B)

27. Chicago Cubs: Brendon Little, LHP, State College of Florida Manatee - Sarasota (A)

28. Toronto Blue Jays: Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida (A)

29. Texas Rangers: Christopher Seise, SS, West Orange HS (A)

30. Chicago Cubs: Alex Lange, RHP, LSU (A)

             

Notable Picks

1. Minnesota Twins: Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS

Lewis came off the board first in large part because of his incredible talent at the plate—which seems fitting enough for the team that drafted Joe Mauer at No. 1 back in 2004.

Standing at 6'1", Lewis hit a smooth .377 average last year and stole 25 bases, stressing the explosive upside teams covet at the plate. Even if experts such as ESPN.com's Keith Law suggest a move to outfield might be in his future, it's clear Lewis fit every check mark necessary by a top pick, other than playing from the mound.

Mike Radcliff, vice-president of player personnel for the Twins, agreed.

"This guy gets it," Radcliff said, according to the Associated Press' Dennis Waszak Jr. (via the Washington Post). "He's got that 'it' factor that a No. 1 pick needs to survive and move forward and have success at the end of the journey. He checked all the boxes for us."

Not ready to believe the hype? Here's a reaction captured by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports:

It's going to take more than Lewis to keep the Twins afloat, obviously, but those in the know don't throw around such praise and comments for no reason.

Provided Lewis can come close to the expectations around him, taking him over a pitcher might not look so wild after all.

         

2. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS

Hunter Greene entered the draft as the most interesting prospect by far.

Greene does a little bit of everything, whether it's on the mound or at shortstop. He checks in at 6'3" and 195 pounds and is all of 17 years old, making him one of the prospects with the most sheer upside of all in the class.

Look at it this way—Greene ranked as the No. 1 prospect in Baseball America's rankings and most considered him a threat to come off the board at the top overall slot, which would've made him the first right-handed pitcher to do so in the draft's history dating back to 1965.

Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins captured the thoughts of scouts who weren't afraid to toss out some jaw-dropping comparisons: "Several scouts agree that he is the best two-way amateur prospect they have ever seen, a first-round pick as a pitcher and a shortstop, with comps to Noah Syndergaard on the mound and Alex Rodriguez in the field."

So, yes, the Reds made out quite well. They captured his big moment on Twitter:

It's going to take a while for the Reds to get Greene on the field, and he'll have his problems in Great American Ball Park like most pitchers do.

But the upside is the Reds nailing down a reliable No. 1 starter who can duke it out well in the offensive-minded National League Central.

          

5. Atlanta Braves: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

Here's where the picks ahead of No. 5 seem a little strange—Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright was one of the safest prospects available in the top 10. 

Meaning the Atlanta Braves just had an ace fall in their laps.

Wright is 21 years old coming off a stellar campaign in which he had a strong ERA while clocking his fastball in the 90s.

The Braves cut out the legwork for many with an informative Twitter post:

Broadcaster Grant McAuley broke down the numbers further:

It's no exaggeration to say Wright could end up as the best player from the class. His two plus-pitches aren't easy to find—the aforementioned fastball only falls behind in impressiveness to a nasty curveball meant to finish off batters.

Wright himself isn't the only reason the Braves come away as one of the biggest winners of all. This is also a case of the rich getting richer because Atlanta happens to have one of the most intriguing pitching farm systems already thanks to Mike Soroka and others.

Looking ahead, there are plenty of rounds left in the draft, but it's going to take a big gaffe by the Braves to ruin their status as the biggest winners.

           

Stats and info courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise specified.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2017 MLB Draft Results: Full Listings of Grades for 1st-Round Picks

The 2017 MLB draft's opening night certainly had its surprises, headlined by the Minnesota Twins selecting shortstop Royce Lewis with the first pick.

In a pitcher-heavy class boasting some of the most talent a class has offered the MLB in recent years at such a premium spot, it came as a shock to see a different position come off the board first.

Alas, this draft's opening two rounds turned out to be all about high upside as opposed to safe picks. For teams like the Twins and Cincinnati Reds near the top of the order, it seemed like a logical way to go about business while looking to rebuild farm systems, if not find immediate impact in the big leagues.

Below, let's look at the full Round 1 results and assign grades to each selection.

           

2017 MLB Draft Round 1 Results and Grades

Round 1

1. Minnesota Twins: Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS (A)

2. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (A)

3. San Diego Padres: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (B)

4. Tampa Bay Rays: Brendan McKay, P, Louisville (B)

5. Atlanta Braves: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt (A+)

6. Oakland Athletics: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (C)

7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia (B)

8. Philadelphia Phillies: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia (B)

9. Milwaukee Brewers: Keston Hiura, 2B, California (A)

10. Los Angeles Angels: Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard HS (A)

11. Chicago White Sox: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State (B)

12. Pittsburgh Pirates: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (B)

13. Miami Marlins: Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad HS (A)

14. Kansas City Royals: Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach HS (C)

15. Houston Astros: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina (B)

16. New York Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina (A)

17. Seattle Mariners: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky (B)

18. Detroit Tigers: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida (A)

19. San Francisco Giants: Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian Academy (B)

20. New York Mets: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon (A)

21. Baltimore Orioles: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (A)

22. Toronto Blue Jays: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina (A)

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt (B)

24. Boston Red Sox: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri (A)

25. Washington Nationals: Seth Romero, LHP, Houston (A)

26. Texas Rangers: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen HS (B)

27. Chicago Cubs: Brendon Little, LHP, State College of Florida Manatee - Sarasota (A)

28. Toronto Blue Jays: Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida (A)

29. Texas Rangers: Christopher Seise, SS, West Orange HS (A)

30. Chicago Cubs: Alex Lange, RHP, LSU (A)

             

Notable Picks

1. Minnesota Twins: Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS

Lewis came off the board first in large part because of his incredible talent at the plate—which seems fitting enough for the team that drafted Joe Mauer at No. 1 back in 2004.

Standing at 6'1", Lewis hit a smooth .377 average last year and stole 25 bases, stressing the explosive upside teams covet at the plate. Even if experts such as ESPN.com's Keith Law suggest a move to outfield might be in his future, it's clear Lewis fit every check mark necessary by a top pick, other than playing from the mound.

Mike Radcliff, vice-president of player personnel for the Twins, agreed.

"This guy gets it," Radcliff said, according to the Associated Press' Dennis Waszak Jr. (via the Washington Post). "He's got that 'it' factor that a No. 1 pick needs to survive and move forward and have success at the end of the journey. He checked all the boxes for us."

Not ready to believe the hype? Here's a reaction captured by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports:

It's going to take more than Lewis to keep the Twins afloat, obviously, but those in the know don't throw around such praise and comments for no reason.

Provided Lewis can come close to the expectations around him, taking him over a pitcher might not look so wild after all.

         

2. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS

Hunter Greene entered the draft as the most interesting prospect by far.

Greene does a little bit of everything, whether it's on the mound or at shortstop. He checks in at 6'3" and 195 pounds and is all of 17 years old, making him one of the prospects with the most sheer upside of all in the class.

Look at it this way—Greene ranked as the No. 1 prospect in Baseball America's rankings and most considered him a threat to come off the board at the top overall slot, which would've made him the first right-handed pitcher to do so in the draft's history dating back to 1965.

Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins captured the thoughts of scouts who weren't afraid to toss out some jaw-dropping comparisons: "Several scouts agree that he is the best two-way amateur prospect they have ever seen, a first-round pick as a pitcher and a shortstop, with comps to Noah Syndergaard on the mound and Alex Rodriguez in the field."

So, yes, the Reds made out quite well. They captured his big moment on Twitter:

It's going to take a while for the Reds to get Greene on the field, and he'll have his problems in Great American Ball Park like most pitchers do.

But the upside is the Reds nailing down a reliable No. 1 starter who can duke it out well in the offensive-minded National League Central.

          

5. Atlanta Braves: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

Here's where the picks ahead of No. 5 seem a little strange—Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright was one of the safest prospects available in the top 10. 

Meaning the Atlanta Braves just had an ace fall in their laps.

Wright is 21 years old coming off a stellar campaign in which he had a strong ERA while clocking his fastball in the 90s.

The Braves cut out the legwork for many with an informative Twitter post:

Broadcaster Grant McAuley broke down the numbers further:

It's no exaggeration to say Wright could end up as the best player from the class. His two plus-pitches aren't easy to find—the aforementioned fastball only falls behind in impressiveness to a nasty curveball meant to finish off batters.

Wright himself isn't the only reason the Braves come away as one of the biggest winners of all. This is also a case of the rich getting richer because Atlanta happens to have one of the most intriguing pitching farm systems already thanks to Mike Soroka and others.

Looking ahead, there are plenty of rounds left in the draft, but it's going to take a big gaffe by the Braves to ruin their status as the biggest winners.

           

Stats and info courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise specified.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com