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
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)
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.
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