Last Monday, the MLB First Year Player Draft commenced to much fanfare. The draft is indeed a lot of fun, whetting the appetites of fantasy owners far and wide in anticipation of the next Mike Trout or Aaron Judge.
However, it is indeed an arduous climb from the ranks of Top Prospect to everyday Major League play, so we should all remind ourselves it takes time for prospects to be big league ready, if they ever are. And also remember, the majority never will become full-time Major League ballplayers.
It is, however, fun to speculate. So, here are ten names I have some hope for, and why. And, aside from Brendan McKay, they are in no particular order. (# in parens is overall draft number.)
Brendan McKay (#4, 1B, Rays): My favorite pick of the draft reminds me a lot of John Olerud, who was drafted by the Jays in the late 80's. Olerud played at Washington State for three years, hitting .443-33-131 while going 26-4, 3.17 over 241.3 innings. McKay, a lefty like Olerud, hit .327-28-131 while going 31-10, 2.15 over 310 Louisville frames. Olerud, who wound up a first sacker, hit .295-255-1230 over 17 years in the big leagues. Plus, Olerud made the Majors at the end of the year he was selected and he never went back. That is a pretty good profile, and is why I have the most faith in McKay making it.
Hunter Greene (#2, RHP, Reds): Hit .337-13-72 with 62 runs as a high schooler, while whiffing 145 over 121.3 innings, going 12-5 with a 1.62 ERA. He's a few years away to be sure, but at 6'4", 210 pounds right now, Greene should fill out all over.
Austin Beck (#6, OF, Athletics): A bit of a gamble as Beck hyper-extended his throwing arm in 2016, but he belted 12 prep homers his senior year while hitting .500 with a .700 on-base percentage. Apparently, he is a tools player, and a lesser first round name as Billy Beane is wont to grab. Remember Nick Swisher?
MacKenzie Gore (#3, LHP, Padres): Lanky lefty, throws hard with a fastball close to 95 to go with a solid curve and slider. He is just 18, so three-to-four years away anyhow. But, a hard-throwing lefty with control is hard to pass.
Jeren Kendall (#23, OF, Dodgers): We can expect a good pedigree from Jeremey Kendall's progeny, and Jeren hit .309-32-152 over three years at Vanderbilt with a .386 OBP. 193 whiffs, though.
Brian Howard (#231, RHP, Athletics): 25-5, 3,52 over 256 innings with 254 strikeouts at TCU and just ten homers allowed. Look at some of the arms the Athletics have drafted over the past years, and for sure they are good at the prospects. Whether the guys can stay healthy and have a career is another thing, but they for sure have been talented.
Lamar Sparks (#158, OF, Orioles): This Texas High draftee can hit the high 80's with his fastball, and he has decent bat speed. But most important, he was a track star who ran a 6.5 100, which is pretty fast. Speed is what I look at first: how fast and fluid the guy is.
Heliot Ramos (#19, Of, Giants): The Giants nabbed the 17-year-old Puerto Rican as their first rounder, with speed akin to that of Sparks, plus power potential. And, the Giants have always done well mining Central America.
Keston Hiura (#9, OF, Brewers): What a great name for a ballplayer, so hard not to like. And, Hiura hit .375-22-135 over three years at UC Irvine, which makes another reason to love the kid who was an Anteater. Just 123 strikeouts as a collegiate to 93 walks, good for a .466 OBP.
Clarke Schmidt (#16, RHP, Yankees): The Pinstripes have been building within the Minors pretty well, so it is logical to look at the team's top pick this year. At South Carolina, Schmidt was 15-9, 3.21 over 230 innings with 254 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP.
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