Upside Dictates the 2017 MLB Draft

What do Mike Trout, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Carpenter have in common? At first glance, they are each dissimilar players with varying skill sets but all changed the direction of their franchises after their selections in the MLB Draft. On Monday, the 53rd annual First-Year Player Draft took place at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, NJ with clubs seeking a similar result from a potential franchise cornerstone.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Hunter Greene out of Notre Dame High School was one of the most intriguing names on the board, starring as both a pitcher and a shortstop. Greene’s ascension led some to surmise that the Minnesota Twins would select him with the first overall pick, but the organization opted for Royce Lewis, a SS from Serra Catholic High School. Lewis batted .388/.569/.662 with four home runs as a senior and was a 2017 Rawlings Perfect Game First Team All-American.

“We considered a lot of guys, but Royce is one of the elite athletes with his makeup and intangible packages available in any draft,” Twins VP Mike Radcliff said. “We see him as an impact player on both sides of the ball and has the unique ability to impact the clubhouse.”

Greene didn’t stay on the board for long and became the second overall pick with the Cincinnati Reds, who targeted him over college pitchers Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright. In 121.1 career innings at Notre Dame HS, Greene posted a 1.62 ERA and struck out hitters at a 30 percent clip. He also served as a member of USA Baseball’s U18 team.

“After my sophomore year, my numbers increased and a couple of scouts started coming to my games and I started to look at the draft as a realistic possibility,” Greene said. “I have a great circle and a support system that has helped me through the process.”

Youth and potential took precedence over experienced products with three consecutive high school players selected to open the draft and four coming off the board within the first six picks The unexpected trends at the top of draft resulted in a bevy of college talent available later in the first round.

After taking HS outfielder Blake Rutherford a year ago, the Yankees opted for proven product with the selection of South Carolina right-hander Clarke Schmidt. Despite posting a 4-1 record with a 1.34 ERA as a junior, the pick comes with uncertainty after he underwent Tommy John Surgery in May, but the Yankees are fond of his upside.

With the 20th selection, the Mets opted for David Peterson, a left-handed pitcher out of Oregon. Unlike most Mets’ starting pitchers, Peterson relies less on velocity, but more on the command of his pitches. This spring, Peterson went 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 12 starts and walked just eight batters in 81.1 innings as a junior.

Other notable first round picks include outfielder Austin Beck out of North Davidson High School, (Athletics, 6th overall), North Carolina RHP J.B. Bukauskas, (Astros, 15th overall), and RHP Alex Faedo out of Florida (Tigers, 18th overall.) In the second round, the Yankees added right-handed pitcher Matt Sauer out of Ernest Righetti High School with the 54th overall pick, while the Mets took American Heritage third baseman Mark Vientos with the 59th pick.

Major League teams have until July 15 to agree to terms with their draft picks. The 2017 MLB Draft continues on Tuesday with rounds 3-10 and concludes on Wednesday with rounds 11-40. For a complete list of every selection, click on the draft tracker at this link.

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