The Minnesota Twins staged a draft-night surprise on Monday, selecting dynamic California prep shortstop Royce Lewis with the first overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
Lewis, who starred at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano, emerged as the Twins’ choice in the final hours before the draft, as they apparently struck a more slot-friendly deal with Lewis. It was expected the club would draft Louisville two-way star Brendan McKay, but apparently McKay’s asking price exceeded what the Twins were willing to allocate from their bonus pool.
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Lewis has top notch athleticism, as he has been clocked running the 60-yard dash in 6.64 seconds. On top of that, his power is expected to blossom and complement his ability to hit for average.
Lewis was among a quintet widely expected to go in the top five picks, but it’s not believed he ever worked out for the Twins in Minnesota, unlike another prep star, Hunter Greene. Lewis may grow out of shortstop, but clubs are comfortable slotting his tools in center field, as well.
The Cincinnati Reds did not hesitate to nab Greene, whose two-way ability has commanded national attention, with the second overall pick. Greene, whose fastball is clocked at 100 mph, just missed becoming the first prep right-hander to go No. 1 overall. While he has elite power at shortstop, he’s expected to pitch for Cincinnati.
“It’s been my dream since I was 7,” Greene said of when he began his career in earnest at the MLB Urban Youth Academy. “The Reds are awesome. I’m excited. A beautiful stadium, a great fan base.”
Here is a look at the first round:
1. Minnesota Twins (Pick value: $7,770,700)
Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) HS
Comment: Has showcased the ability to play both middle infield spots, as well as in the outfield. Known for his athleticism, has been clocked running the 60-yard dash in 6.64 seconds.
2. Cincinnati Reds (Pick value: $7,193,200)
Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame High (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
Comment: Highest drafted African American since Byron Buxton was taken second overall by the Twins in 2012. Another two-way standout, but a fastball that has been clocked at 100 mph will probably land him on the mound.
3. San Diego Padres (Pick value: $6,668,100)
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville (N.C.) HS
Comment: Boasts a fastball that sits at 92-95 mph, thought to have polish on his off-speed stuff. Currently standing at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, the Padres will hope he can mature physically
4. Tampa Bay Rays (Pick value: $6,153,600)
Brendan McKay, LHP-1B, Louisville
Comment: Won his third straight John Olerud Two-Way Player award after doubling as a pitcher and first baseman for the Cardinals, tied second in the NCAA with 140 strikeouts.
5. Atlanta Braves (Pick value: $5,707,300)
Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
Comment: Considered to be the top collegiate right-hander in the draft class and have an arsenal of pitches that can almost immediately translate to the majors. Showcased strikeout potential with the Commodores.
6. Oakland Athletics (Pick value: $5,303,000)
Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson (Lexington, N.C.) HS
Comment: Has showcased a well-rounded game with plenty of speed, power and arm strength. Thought to have extremely high upside.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (Pick value: $5,016,300)
Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
Comment: Smith finished with less strikeouts (12) than home runs (13) and is thought to have a great feel at the plate, home run total doesn’t necessarily correlate with his power.
8. Philadelphia Phillies (Pick value: $4,780,400)
Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia
Comment: Strong arm, considered a well-rounded, reliable hitter who can contribute in multiple phases.
9. Milwaukee Brewers (Pick value: $4,570,000)
Keston Hiura, 2B, University if California – Irvine
Comment: Hiura had a season marred by an elbow injury, which only allowed him to contribute in the DH spot. Still, Hiura has been credited with excellent bat speed and the ability to play all over the field.
10. Los Angeles Angels (Pick value: $4,376,800)
Jo Adell, OF, Ballard (Louisville) HS
Comment: Has the potential to become a superstar in the majors with the right coaching, impressive athleticism, bat speed and power.
11. Chicago White Sox (Pick value: $4,199,200)
Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
Comment: Burger is the first position player to be drafted out of Missouri State since the Phillies took Ryan Howard in the fifth round of the 2001 MLB Draft. He is tabbed as one of the best power options in the draft, and has quick enough hands for him to continue playing third base.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates (Pick value: $4,032,000)
Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran (Texas) HS
Comment: Baz’s fastball has peaked at 98 mph, plus his cutter has been known to force a lot of swing and misses. Though he has had some issues with control, scouts were optimistic about his 6-foot-3, 190 pound frame.
13. Miami Marlins (Pick value: $3,875,800)
Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad (N.M.) HS
Comment: The cousin of former big leaguer Cody Ross, Rogers is considered a player that teams were going to pick in hopes that they could unlock the potential his 6-foot-6 frame holds. There have been some concerns about his command and speed of his fastball.
14. Kansas City Royals (Pick value: $3,727,600)
Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS
Comment: Showcased the ability to hit to all fields, lauded for his bat speed, awareness of the strike zone and ability to hit a range of pitches.
15. Houston Astros (Pick value: $3,588,200)
J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
Comment: At only 6 feet tall and 195 pounds, there are questions of whether he will become a starter or reliever in the majors. Still, his fastball clocks at 94-97 mph and his slider has been called “the most unhittable pitch in the draft”.
16. New York Yankees (Pick value: $3,458,600)
Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina
Comment: Schmidt needed Tommy John surgery in late April, but can throw a 96 mph fastball and throws a lot of strikes. There have been some concerns about the consistency of his off speed pitches.
17. Seattle Mariners (Pick value: $3,333,200)
Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
Comment: White is an unconventional first baseman, as power may be his biggest weakness. Still, he has been praised for his defense and plate awareness, and the power is likely to develop for the 6-foot-3, 177 pound prospect.
18. Detroit Tigers (Pick value: $3,214,600)
Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
Comment: Faedo has a big-league body, standing at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. While he may not have the same overpowering speed as other prospects, he has been dubbed as someone already equipped with three pitches that could translate to the majors.
19. San Francisco Giants (Pick value: $3,101,700)
Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian Academy (Puerto Rico)
Comment: Ramos is believed to be the best talent Puerto Rico has to offer in 2017, but there have been some reservations about if he will be able to take full advantage of his power against pitching in the majors.
20. New York Mets (Pick value: $2,994,500)
David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
Comment: At 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, there is no question that Peterson has the build to become a starter in the majors. He still needs to refine his command, but is coming off a year in which he kept his walk rate extremely low.
21. Baltimore Orioles (Pick value: $2,892,400)
D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta (Ga.) HS
Comment: There have been questions about Hall’s command, but his fastball tops out at 96 mph and his curveball has helped him put batters away with both power and touch.
22. Toronto Blue Jays (Pick value: $2,795,200)
Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina
Comment: There’s nothing that pops out about Warmoth’s game, but there also aren’t any major weaknesses. He flashed improved power on the back end of his career in Chapel Hill, but he may need to move to second base in the majors.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers (Pick value: $2,702,700)
Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
Comment: Almost unanimously considered the best outfielder on the defensive end in this class, and believed to have high upside on the offensive end if he can reduce his strikeout total.
24. Boston Red Sox (Pick value: $2,614,500)
Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
Comment: Considered to have one of the best fastballs in his draft class, Houck has drawn comparisons to Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who also blossomed in college at Missouri. To have a real impact in the big leagues, Houck will have to hone an arsenal to complement his fastball.
25. Washington Nationals (Pick value: $2,530,400)
Seth Romero, LHP, Houston
Comment: There have been some character questions about Romero, as he was kicked off Houston’s team in May and his apparent indifference toward conditioning raised some red flags. With a 92-97 mph fastball and an impressive slider, though, the talent is there.
26. Texas Rangers (Pick value: $2,450,100)
Bubba Thompson, CF, McGill-Toolen Catholic (Ala.) HS
27. Chicago Cubs (Pick value: $2,373,300)
Brendon Little, LHP, State College of Florida Manatee – Sarasota
28. Toronto Blue Jays (From Cleveland for Edwin Encarnacion. Pick value: $2,302,900)
Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida
29. Texas Rangers (From Colorado for Ian Desmond. Pick value: $2,238,900)
Christopher Seise, SS, West Orange (Fla.) HS
30. Chicago Cubs (From St. Louis for Dexter Fowler. Pick value: $2,184,300)
Alex Lange, RHP, LSU
Gallery: Overall No. 1 picks