Archive for 2017 MLB Draft

2017 Draftees in the College World Series

The College World Series begins this weekend, with two games on both Saturday and Sunday. The eight participating teams include Oregon State, Texas A&M, Cal State Fullerton, Louisville, Florida State, TCU, LSU and Florida. A total of 57 players from these schools were drafted by Major League teams this week, including four who went in the first round.

The table below includes vital information about the players drafted who will be competing in this year’s College World Series, including Eric Longenhagen’s top-100 rank and FV grades (click through for individual tool grades and scouting reports) and my KATOH projections.

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If KATOH Had a Team in the Draft

Now that I’ve projected all of the college players taken (and not taken), I thought it would be fun to see what would have happened if a team picked straight from the KATOH rankings. In practice, this would be a terrible strategy, as KATOH would be picking from a talent pool less than half the size of everyone else’s. Since I only have projections for guys who played regularly in Division 1 this year, a lot of talent would not even be considered. All high-school, junior-college, Division II, and Division III players — plus Division I players who were injured or benched — would not be eligible.

It also doesn’t account for the fact that many of KATOH’s top guys were near certain to fall to the middle or late rounds. Or that some had likely informed teams they were going back to school next year. A competent front office would have drafted accordingly, rather than blindly picking names off of a list. In an effort to compensate for these disadvantages, I gave KATOH the No. 1 pick in the draft and the top pick in the two supplemental rounds, as well. I excluded registered sex offender Luke Heimlich from KATOH’s draft board, as all 30 MLB teams did the same with their own boards.

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KATOH’s Top Undrafted College Players

On Tuesday, I published a post projecting the players taken on day one of the draft. On Wednesday, I did the same for the players taken on day two. Yesterday, I did the same for day three. Today, let’s take a look at what my math says about the players who were eligible to be drafted but weren’t selected.

Below, you’ll find some quick thoughts on KATOH’s top-five hitters and top-five pitchers who weren’t drafted. Below that, you’ll find by a table with projections for all undrafted players who project for at least 0.4 WAR. As a reminder, I only have projections for college players who logged at least 100 plate appearances or batters faced in a Division 1 conference. I do not have projections for JuCo or high-school players. Note: WAR figures are projected totals for the relevant player’s first six years in the majors.

Cody Anderson, LHP, Washington State, 0.9 WAR

A 6-foot-6 lefty from Washington State, Anderson held his own in the Pac-12 this spring. He didn’t strike many guys out, but still managed to put up a 3.40 ERA.

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Projecting the College Players Taken on Day Three of the Draft

On Tuesday, I published a post projecting the players taken on day one of the draft. Yesterday, I did the same for the players taken on day two. Let’s take a look at what my math says about the players taken on the third and final day of the draft.

Below, you’ll find some quick thoughts on KATOH’s top-five hitters and top-five pitchers selected in rounds 11-40. Below that, you’ll find by a giant, sortable table with projections for all drafted players for whom I have projections. As a reminder, I only have projections for college players who logged at least 100 plate appearances or batters faced in a Division 1 conference. I do not have projections for JuCo or high-school players. Note: WAR figures are projected totals for the relevant player’s first six years in the majors.

Darren McCaughan, RHP, Seattle, 2.3 WAR

McCaughan allowed just 20 walks across 120 innings with Long Beach State this season, finishing up with a sparkling 2.50 ERA. He doesn’t rack up the strikeouts like many of the pitchers drafted before him but has three years of strong performance in the Big West to his name.

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Projecting the College Players Taken on Day Two of the Draft

Yesterday, I published a post projecting the players taken on day one of the draft. Between then and now, an additional 240 players have been selected. Eric Longenhagen considered some notable selections this morning from both the American and National leagues. Let’s take a look at what my math says about some of those players.

Below, you’ll find some quick thoughts on KATOH’s top-eight hitters and top-eight pitchers selected in rounds 3-10. Below that, you’ll find by a giant, sortable table with projections for all drafted players for whom I have projections. As a reminder, I only have projections for college players who logged at least 100 plate appearances or batters faced in a Division 1 conference. I do not have projections for JuCo or high-school players. Note: WAR figures are projected totals for the relevant player’s first six years in the majors.

Brian Howard, RHP, Oakland, 2.5 WAR

A senior out of TCU, nothing about Howard’s 2017 performance jumps off the page. He’s been quietly effective over his college career, however, allowing just 10 homers in over 250 innings and posting a 3.52 ERA. KATOH penalizes him for already having turned 22, but loves his 6-foot-9 build. Just a tall pitcher with a strong body of work in a good conference.

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Day 2 Draft Standouts, American League

See also: National League.

Below are some notable selections from the draft’s second day. I chatted live for the first three hours of Day 2 here. If you missed any Day 1 analysis, the draft live stream is located here and analysis of the first day is available here for the American League and here for the National League. My top 100 with tool grades, scouting reports, etc., is here.

The numbers in parentheses beside each name indicate the round in which the relevant prospect was drafted.

Baltimore Orioles

Michael Baumann (3), a right-handed pitcher from Jacksonville, was just off my draft top 100. He’s got a strong build, above-average fastball, potential above-average slider, and had enough of a curveball and changeup to project as a starter on basis of repertoire depth.

There are concerns about the length of his arm action and the way it limits his command. CF Lamar Sparks (5) from Seven Lakes HS (TX) has a projectable frame, above-average bat speed, and runs well enough to stay in center field for a while. He’s the athletic, projectable sort of athlete on which Baltimore’s system is currently short. He’ll have to overcome his swing’s length.

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Day 2 Draft Standouts, National League

Below are some notable selections from the draft’s second day. I chatted live for the first three hours of Day 2 here. If you missed any Day 1 analysis, the draft live stream is located here and analysis of the first day is available here for the American League and here for the National League. My top 100 with tool grades, scouting reports, etc., is here.

The numbers in parentheses beside each name indicate the round in which the relevant prospect was drafted.

Arizona Diamondbacks

High school pitchers Matt Tabor (3) and Harrison Francis (4) both have promising physical projection, and Tabor’s velocity was already starting to climb this spring.

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The Draft Could Use a New Date

Prior to covering professional baseball, I covered household expenses and built a meager savings by reporting on Clemson athletics for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier. Clemson has typically been a fixture in the NCAA Tournament and in early June of 2010 I covered a bizarre scene at the regional in Auburn, Alabama.

One of Clemson’s star players was Kyle Parker, who was also the starting quarterback for the school’s football team. While playing quarterback at Clemson was the higher-profile amateur position, he was expected to choose baseball professionally, as he’d shot up draft boards that spring and was regarded as a potential first-round pick. On the opening night of the draft, Parker found himself also playing an NCAA Tournament regional elimination game against Auburn in Auburn.

Parker was the starting right fielder for Clemson, and Auburn had something of a party deck just beyond and above the right-field wall, where a rowdy collection of loyal Auburn partisans gathered. As a sort of preemptive measure, Parker approached the section of fans before the game and suggested they heckle him in any manner they chose, but he made one request: he ask they avoid one subject matter in their taunts and that was anything related to the draft.

Parker envisioned a scenario in which the fans out there distracted him while his team was on the field. “Hey, Kyle, you just went fifth overall!” “Hey, Kyle you’re really sliding!” Imagine the NFL draft taking place the night of the national title game. This was nearly the baseball equivalent.

In the middle of the seventh inning, a cheer went up during a rather innocuous, low-energy point in the game. It was audible throughout Plainsman Park. It had been produced by the Parker family, seated in the grandstands on the first-base side. The yelps indicated that Parker had been selected 26th overall by the Rockies, who at the time had a thing for college quarterbacks (See: Helton, Todd and Smith, Seth.) Earlier in the game, Parker had smashed a three-run homer, so maybe the whole life-changing-moment, life-changing-money thing hadn’t been so much of a distraction. Or maybe Parker was smart to make a personal appeal to the Auburn’s rowdiest contingent of fans. A similar situation played out this past Monday night, as University of Florida Friday night starter Alex Faedo was selected 18th overall by the Tigers while his Gators were in the midst of an NCAA Tournament game.

Kyle Parker was drafted literally in the middle of a college tournament game. (Photo: Joel Dinda)

I will hardly be the first or last person to question the awkward timing of the amateur baseball draft. Baseball faces a number of challenges related to the draft given that it has its own feeder system (the minor leagues) to consider, while the NFL and NBA largely use colleges to develop much of their future talent. Major League Baseball probably has little interest in pushing back the draft and losing weeks of potential development time with minor-league seasons underway and short-season ball on the verge of beginning. College baseball, for its part, has shown little interest in changing its schedule. While the sport might benefit from holding its postseason when school is still in session and students are on campus, cool early-spring weather already puts Northern schools at a disadvantage.

While the timing of the draft isn’t the most pressing issue facing college or professional baseball, it is the most obvious portal through which to view the imperfect relationship between MLB and college.

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Projecting the College Players Taken on Day One of the Draft

As you’re probably aware, the first two rounds of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft took place last night. With the first 75 picks off the board, let’s take a look at what my KATOH projection system has to say about the Division 1 college players who have been selected thus far. I’ll be back with projections for the remaining players once we know where they are going.

Scouting the stat line is always dangerous, and it’s perhaps even more dangerous than usual at the college level, where the samples are small, the players are raw, and the quality of opposing pitching runs the gamut. Nonetheless, performance is often an overlooked component of prospect evaluation, and the players who outperform expectations in college often go on to do the same as professionals. A sortable table is included towards the end of this post.

4. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Tampa

KATOH Forecast: 8.0 WAR (0.3 as a hitter)

McKay was KATOH’s top draft-eligible player, largely due to his high strikeout totals. He also did a tremendous job of limiting hard contact, resulting in a 2.34 ERA this year. McKay was excellent in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, too, giving him a long track record of success. As a first baseman, McKay projects for just 0.3 WAR, which would make him one of the worst players drafted last night. However, since he’s primarily focused on pitching to date, I suppose one could argue he has more development left than your typical 21-year-old hitter with his numbers.

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Day 1 Draft Recap, American League

Also see: National League.

Below are brief summaries of each American League team’s draft class following the end of the event’s first day. The numbers in parentheses beside each name indicate where the prospect was ranked on my top-100 list, which is also where players’ scouting reports can be found. Players who were not on my top 100 and were drafted yesterday have brief reports in this post.

Baltimore Orioles

Round 1, Pick 21 — D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA) (10)
Round 2, Pick 60 — Adam Hall, SS, A.B. Lucas Seconday (ON, Canada) (NR)
Hall runs well enough to play up the middle but scouts question his athleticism, physicality, and swing. He’s an interesting developmental project.
Comp B, Pick 74 — Zac Lowther, LHP, Xavier Univ. (89)

Thoughts
The first Hall was great value and, I think, immediately became the organization’s best prospect; the second seemed a bit of a reach.

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Day 1 Draft Recap, National League

Also see: American League.

Below are brief summaries of each National League team’s draft class following the end of the event’s first day. The numbers in parentheses beside each name indicate where the prospect was ranked on my top-100 list, which is also where players’ scouting reports can be found. Players who were not on my top 100 and were drafted yesterday have brief reports in this post.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Round 1, Pick 7 — Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia (20)
Round 2, Pick 44 — Drew Ellis, 1B/3B, Louisville (84)
Comp B, Pick 68 — Daulton Varsho, C, UW-Milwaukee (NR)
Varsho’s a stocky, plus-running catcher with high-effort, above-average bat speed. He has some catcher’s traits but his arm strength might not fit behind the plate. Some have concerns about strikeouts.

Thoughts
Three college performers, two whose futures likely lie at first base.

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FanGraphs’ 2017 Mock Draft, Final Edition

What follows is my last attempt to mock out the first round of the 2017 amateur draft. It’s mostly names with teams and nothing more, but I’ve included exposition where I think it’s merited. I’ll update it as information flows throughout the day, perhaps several times. Players have been assigned to teams based on multiple factors: rumors I’ve heard from various industry sources, the presence of front-office members at certain games (especially lately), each club’s own particular modus operandi, etc. Be sure to check out our draft rankings here. Chris Mitchell and I will be covering the draft live here.

1. Minnesota – Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Lousiville
I’ve heard JSerra SS Royce Lewis was being considered above where I had him on my last mock (which was as a potential option at No. 3, mocked at No. 5) and MLB.com has reported that it’s at No. 1. Presumably, Lewis would be an underslot target. That said, he’s a Boras advisee and an option at third overall, whereas McKay’s next home is at pick No. 4, so I’m not sure how Minnesota has more negotiating leverage over Lewis than McKay. If they take Lewis, I think it’s just because they like him most and the savings will be marginal.

2. Cincinnati – Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (CA)

3. San Diego – MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)
Greene is the other option, if he’s still available, with Lewis as a dark horse.

4. Tampa Bay – Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS (CA)
I think McKay stops here if he falls. Alabama high school OF Bubba Thompson has been mentioned as an underslot possibility here.


Royce Lewis: now to Tampa Bay? (Photo: Bill Mitchell)

5. Atlanta – Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
Wright is the top player on my board, and I think he’d be a steal here, but there’s a chance Atlanta goes underslot with Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) Shane Baz, UC Irvine 2B? Keston Hiura and Huntington Beach HS 1B Nick Pratto. They’ve also had North Carolina prep outfielder Austin Beck in to work out, but I think there’s less money to be saved there than with the other names. If Wright doesn’t go here, he should be considered the favorite at each pick until he does.

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The Workloads of 2017’s Top Draft Prospects

Hundreds of college pitchers will be selected in the MLB draft over the next three days. They’ll vary widely in talent and readiness, ranging from raw power arms to pitchability-types lacking premium stuff. Many will be tied together by one commonality: heavy usage in college. Last year, I found that deep starts and meager rest stints are all-too-frequent occurrences for collegiate pitchers. Do the same standards apply to the cream of this year’s draft crop?

Let’s focus on the most coveted collegiate pitchers: the projected 2017 first-round draftees. First rounders capture fan attention, pepper prospect lists, and generally have the best shot at becoming solid MLB contributors. Big leaguers will be found in the later rounds, of course, but it’s the first rounders who are paid the most money and carry the highest expectations. So let’s look at the ten NCAA pitchers — starters all — projected by Baseball America to be selected in the first round this evening.

NCAA Pitchers in Baseball America’s Mock First Round
Pick Pitcher School
1 Kyle Wright Vanderbilt
4 Brendan McKay Louisville
8 J.B. Bukauskas North Carolina
10 Alex Faedo Florida
16 Griffin Canning UCLA
24 David Peterson Oregon
25 Seth Romero Houston*
26 Tanner Houck Missouri
30 Clarke Schmidt South Carolina
33 Alex Lange LSU
Player names and selection numbers are from BA’s June 9 mock draft.
*Formerly; Romero was kicked off the team in May.

I pulled game logs from the NCAA’s statistics pages for each of the pitchers, capturing all of their pitch counts and batters-faced totals from their college careers (up through yesterday’s games). Where the NCAA was missing pitch counts, I recorded the data from game logs on team websites. For the few instances in which this secondary effort bore no fruit, I estimated pitch counts by taking the pitcher’s batters faced total in that game, and multiplying it times the average pitches per batters faced for that pitcher-season.

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A Greater New York 2017 Draft Pref List

Because most of my writing for FanGraphs is based on my KATOH projection system, you might regard me as the exact opposite of a scout. My work is often presented against the backdrop of traditional scouting lists in an effort to identify players who may by underrated by the scouting consensus. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to see more prospects in person in order to put faces and bodies to the stat lines I spend so much time analyzing.

Specifically, I’ve attended a number of high-school and college games this spring in an effort to see as many draft-eligible prospect as possible, including a few who are likely to be selected in the first two rounds tonight. My looks have been defined by one constraint, however — namely, my general reluctance to leave the five boroughs of New York.

What follows is specific sort of document, then, based on a combination of in-person looks, statistical performance, and geography. It is, in short, the pref list of someone who refused to stray far from New York City while compiling it. The mediocre scouting video is my own. KATOH numbers are included for college players and represent projected WAR over first six major-league seasons.

1. MJ Melendez, C, Westminster Christian HS

Westminster Christian isn’t located in New York, at all, but rather the Miami area. The school’s baseball team visited Brooklyn’s Grand Street Campus in April, though, so they’re eligible for this list.

Melendez is the catcher for Westminster Christian. He’s a joy to watch behind the plate, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a catcher move the way he does. He sets a low target with his Tony Pena-esque stance and has the arm strength and athleticism to throw to second from his knees — a maneuver that made Benito Santiago an elite defensive catcher back in the day. He also showed quick hands at the plate. High-school catchers are always a gamble, but Melendez oozes athleticism, so perhaps he’s a gamble worth taking.

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The Siren Call of the Two-Way Star

The 2017 MLB Draft kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. ET, and the Minnesota Twins will have the first pick from what is generally considered to be a pretty a mediocre class. And how the rest of the draft goes depends on how the Twins answer one pretty simple question: can a high-end MLB player really contribute as both a hitter and a pitcher?

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KATOH’s Top 250 Draft-Eligible College Players

The draft is right around the corner, and KATOH’s here with some content. Today, I give you projections for the top-250 draft-eligible college players. This list considers all Division 1 players who logged at least 100 plate appearances or batters faced this season. These projections don’t just incorporate this year’s data, but also consider performances from 2016, 2015, and last summer’s Cape Cod League. I consider this to be a vast improvement over the work on amateur prospects I’ve done in the past.

I derived these projections using a methodology similar to the one I use for minor leaguers. I ran a series of probit regression analyses on historical data to determine the likelihood that a player will reach a variety of WAR thresholds (Playing in MLB, >0.5 WAR, >1 WAR, >2 WAR, etc.) through age 28. The resulting probabilities were used to generate a point estimate for each player’s WAR through age 28. The projections take into account performance, conference, age and height. They also account for defensive position for hitters and batters faced per game for pitchers. All of these factors are weighted accordingly based on the major-league careers of historical college players.

There are thousands of Division 1 baseball players, and the data is often unruly and prone to inaccuracies. Furthermore, determining who’s draft-eligible is often tricky, as birthdays and high-school graduation years are sometimes hard to track down. A bunch of front offices didn’t realize T.J. Friedl was eligible for the draft last year, so this isn’t just a me problem. All of this is to say that I can’t be 100% sure nobody was left off erroneously, so feel free to ask if your favorite college prospect isn’t listed.

I will provide further analysis on many of these players once we know where they end up, so check back next week. One quick observation: there’s been much debate over whether Louisville’s Brendan McKay should be selected as a pitcher or a hitter. KATOH sides strongly with Team Pitcher, as it ranks him No. 1 among college players as a pitcher and No. 191 as a first baseman. However, since he’s primarily focused on pitching to date, I suppose one could argue he has more development left than your typical 21-year-old hitter with his numbers.

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FanGraphs’ 2017 Mock Draft

What follows is my best guess for the first round of the 2017 amateur draft. I’ll update it the day of the draft itself (June 12), perhaps several times. Players have been assigned to teams based on multiple factors: rumors I’ve heard from various industry sources, the presence of front-office members at certain games (especially lately), each club’s own particular modus operandi, etc. Be sure to check out our draft rankings here.

1. Minnesota – Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
It sounds like Louisville LHP/1B Brendan McKay is also under heavy consideration here and that Minnesota would evaluate him both ways in pro ball for a while. Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore are dark horses but less likely than the Wright or McKay.

2. Cincinnati – Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (CA)
The Reds had about a half-dozen scouts at the ACC tournament in Louisville and watched Brendan McKay’s middling start, though I think they prefer him as a bat. He’s a possibility, but Greene is more likely and, in my opinion, the better prospect.

3. San Diego – MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)
I think the Padres would take Greene if he were available here and would be fine with JSerra shortstop Royce Lewis, too, but Padres decision makers have seen some of Gore’s best starts all year.

4. Tampa Bay – Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Lousiville
I think this is where McKay stops and that the Rays take him as a bat. If McKay goes at No. 1, I think Wright goes here, though the Rays had multiple high-level executives at MacKenzie Gore’s last start, too.

5. Atlanta – Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra HS (CA)
There have been a lot of crazy rumors about the Braves and they can’t all possibly be true, but of course the Braves haven’t been afraid to do things differently in order to maximize the overall talent they get in a single class before. As such, we have to at least consider the possibility they might get creative here. I think they’d like McKay or Gore and there’s a chance they cut an underslot deal (it would have to be at a huge discount and would still be risky), but Lewis is the best player on the board in this scenario.


Royce Lewis: going to Atlanta? (Photo: Bill Mitchell)

6. Oakland – Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (NC)
Beck had a private workout in Oakland over the weekend and has the kind of tools the A’s can’t buy on the open market.

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An Early Look at the Right-Handed Pitchers in the 2017 Draft

This is a series of scouting thoughts on high-school prospects eligible for the 2017 MLB Draft based on observations from summer showcases. Today’s positional group is right-handed pitchers. Links to other positional groups appear below.

Previous editions: Catchers / Corner InfieldersMiddle Infielders / Center FieldersLeft-Handed Pitchers.

Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (CA)

Height: 6’4, Weight: 200, Commitment: UCLA

This kid might go 1-1 and he’d be the first high-school righty in the history of the draft to do so. His fastball is absolutely electric, sitting in the mid-90s and touching as high as 98 with good extension and movement that plays in the zone. I think Greene’s heater would be effective in the big leagues right now and, though the rest of his repertoire is middling, his body and athleticism make the entire package worthy of top-of-the-draft considertation.

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An Early Look at the Corner Infielders in the 2017 MLB Draft

This is a series of scouting thoughts on high-school prospects eligible for the 2017 MLB Draft based on observations from summer showcases. Today’s positional group is corner infielders. Links to other positional groups appear below.

Previous editions: Catchers / Middle Infielders / Center FieldersLeft-Handed Pitchers.

The position du jour is corner infielders. This is a weird group. I shuffled the names around quite a bit before publication and am still not sure that I’m okay with what I have because beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder when it comes to all of these prospects. Without further adieu…

Adisyn Coffey, 3B, Delta HS (IN)

Height: 6’2, Weight: 170, Commitment: Arizona State

Coffey had the coolest looking bat at Area Codes and put on quite a display with it, making hard, airborne contact in several at-bats. He has above-average bat speed and great feel for generating lift because of a cute little backside collapse that creates some uppercut in the swing without overdoing it and eating away at his ability to make contact. Coffey loads his hands quite high and it can take a good bit of time for his barrel to find the baseball in the hitting zone, but he moves the bat around pretty well, I like his chances to hit and, eventually, hit with some power.

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An Early Look at the Center Fielders in the 2017 Draft

This is a series of scouting thoughts on high-school prospects eligible for the 2017 MLB Draft based on observations from summer showcases. Today’s positional group is center fielders. Links to other positional groups appear below.

Previous editions: Catchers / Middle InfieldersLeft-Handed Pitchers.

Center field is a difficult position to play. It requires special straight-line speed but also the ability to read ball trajectory off the bat and hunt down said ball while making in-flight adjustments at a full sprint. As it is such a difficult position to play, not many humans are capable of it and this year’s group of high-school prospects are no different. Below are most all the prospects I’ve seen during summer showcases who I think have a prayer to remain in center field. For the uninitiated, the players who have their own sizeable sections are ranked in the order in which I’d draft them were I forced to do so today, while the players below that are just in alphabetical order.

Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard HS (KY)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 200, Commitment: Louisville

Jordon (or “Jo”) Adell has the best hit/power combination among high schoolers in the 2017 class and has a non-zero chance of playing center field. If that sounds like a player worthy of consideration in the draft’s top 5-10 picks, that’s because it is.

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