1. MINNESOTA TWINS: SS Royce Lewis
Some were definitely surprised when the Twins selected Lewis ahead of two-way phenom Hunter Greene last year. A pick that was more about money than actual need, as Lewis came in $1 million under pick value. Doubters disappeared as fast as they appeared last season, when Lewis performed insanely well in the Gulf Coast League, earning a late promotion to the full season Midwest League. There, he didn’t miss a step and finished the campaign with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a team he started 2018 with. Lewis is proving to be an impact-up-the-middle player with a high ceiling. There is talk that he might not end up being a shortstop in the long run, but either way, he was worthy of a first pick.
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2. CINCINNATI REDS: RHP Hunter Greene
Unlike the Twins had done with Lewis, the Reds wanted to start Greene out slow and ease him into his pitching role. After he signed an, ehem, impressive contract— which earned him a record pool-era bonus of $7.23 million— he was assigned to the club’s Rookie-level team. There they allowed him to DH some and pitch minimal innings. Fast forward to 2018, Greene was promoted to the Midwest League, where he has seen his fair share of ups and downs; which is very different than the success he was used to at Notre Dame (Calif.) High School. To date he’s 0-3 with a brutal 7.18 ERA in nine starts. Since joining the Drayton Dragons, the Reds’ focus for him has been pitcher and not shortstop. His fastball has hit over 100 mph multiple times since the Reds drafted him, so it’s no surprise they only want to keep him on the hill going forward.
3. SAN DIEGO PADRES: LHP MacKenzie Gore
Gore was the third high schooler in a row selected. First southpaw off the board too. He was a big need for a Padres organization that lacks game-changing arms. Some scouts considered him the top pitcher in the class, even over Greene. Let’s just say he hasn’t disappointed thus far. He debuted in the Rookie-level Arizona League, and impressed early on. Like his fellow draftees picked before him, he started out 2018 in the Low-A Midwest League but has been plagued by pesky blister issues that’s made him miss more time than he has wanted. Right now all we can do is wait and see and ooh and ahh over his scouting report.
4. TAMPA BAY RAYS: 1B Brendan McKay
Regarded as the best two-way prospect since Dave Winfield in 1973, which is debatable, McKay was the first college player selected in the 2017 draft. The Rays are excited about this kid’s future. He throws a 92-95 mph fastball that he’s able to work well against right and left-handed hitters alike. His bat is no joke either. The Rays fell in love with his smooth left-handed swing and his knack for opposite field power. Like Gore and Lewis, he had an eye-opening pro debut. This season he started out with the Rays’ Advanced-A Class the Charlotte Stone Crabs. As expected from newbies, McKay has shown to be a bit overaggressive at the plate. In 21 games with the Stone Crabs he’s struck out 13 times. More recently he was sent down to the club’s Midwest League team, where they hope he can get more confidence at the plate and more innings on the mound. While his future seems bright, the Rays might inevitably have to do what the Reds did with Greene and decide on a lone position for him, which also might help with his confidence more at this level.
5. ATLANTA BRAVES: RHP Kyle Wright
Much like Brady Singer this year, Kyle Wright was at one time considered to be a potential number one selection of his own draft class. The high school prospects proved to be too enticing, though, and Atlanta swooped in and snagged Wright with the fifth pick. A steal some have pointed out, a reach others have said. Wright is a big, physical pitcher who comes with four pitches— all better than average, with his nasty curve most likely his plus pitch. Wright’s fastball has gotten him out of trouble this season, peaking at 98 mph many times, but he’s still trying to get a handle on his command, a struggle that helped lower his draft stock his junior year at Vanderbilt. His command problems might be due to Atlanta’s rush to bring him through their system. He started the year with their Double-A affiliate the Mississippi Braves. Though not terrible, he has been inconsistent, showing flashes of brilliance here and there. The projections on this kid have him being a front line starter for Atlanta in a year or two. Much like another prospect on this list, he too might be one of the first 2017 picks to be called up.
6. OAKLAND ATHLETICS: OF Austin Beck
There are many who consider this a Trout-esque pick. Both have loud, promising tools that are eerily similar and jump off the pages of scouting reports. Whether Beck can eventually become Mike Trout or not is yet to be determined, but when Oakland selected the high schooler in the top 10, it showed just how much confidence they had in him. Especially since his junior season wound up being a bust when he went out with a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee. The A’s started him on their Rookie-level team to start his career. Nothing impressive happened to speak of. This season, while playing with the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League, he’s made strides though, perfecting his swing and patching up any holes in his game. He’s hitting .272 with 22 RBI’s off 49 hits in his 180 appearances at the plate. While the A’s won’t rush him, he could see a short stint in Advanced-A before the year ends.
7. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: 1B Pavin Smith
Smith owned social media early on in 2018, after posting a video of him surprising his parents with paying off the rest of their house with some of his hefty $5 million bonus the Diamondbacks rewarded him. This teary-eyed moment was follow with an inconsistent start to his season, however. To date he’s hitting .216 with 24 strikeouts. But on a brighter note he has walked 28 times, so it appears he’s just getting the feel of things at this level. Smith entered the 2017 draft as one of the more accomplished hitters of his class. His advanced approach at the plate is what led him to more home runs than strikeouts in his famed-collegiate career with Virginia, where he finished sixth all-time on the school’s career home run list, and second in RBIs. Making the jump to the pros, he has found himself with the Diamondbacks Advanced-A team the Visalia Rawhide. There are inconsistencies with his offensive game, sure, but he seems to be battling through just fine. Smith is a coach’s dream. There shouldn’t be a demotion this season for Arizona’s number two prospect, despite his struggles.
8. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: OF Adam Haseley
If you’re seeing a trend here, don’t be alarmed. This is the new MLB. Two-way players are starting to see themselves being valued much more than they were 10 years ago. Haseley, like McKay and Greene, was a sensational two-way player before he was drafted. The Phillies, who picked an outfielder (Mickey Moniak) in the first round in 2016, went with the same strategy in 2017. My how they missed the days of super-hitting outfielders. As we can see, they’re still trying to catch that lightning again. Moniak and Haseley are a good start. Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley were the first Virginia Cavaliers, and roommates, to be drafted back-to-back. And just like his former teammate/roommate, Haseley is a left-handed hitter, who can hit all over the field with ease. The Florida native hit the ground running after he made his pro debut and continued that success into this season. Now with the Advanced-A Clearwater Threshers, Haseley is arguably the team’s best bat and best fielder. His pitching? Well, those days are behind him; the outfield is his home now. And a promotion isn’t far in sight either. Currently, he’s considered Philly’s number thee prospect— ahead of 2016 first overall selected Moniak.
9. MILWAUKEE BREWERS: 2B Keston Hiura
There was a slight push in the offseason by the Miami Marlins to involve Hiura as part of the trade package that sent Christina Yelich to Milwaukee for notable prospects Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, but the Brewers weren’t willing to let this prize go. They instead attached infielder Isan Diaz, a prospect that would’ve battled Hiura for second base. There are some comparisons to Keston Hirua and this year’s top college hitter Nick Madrigal. Small frame aside, both were the most consistent hitters of their classes. Hiura has a short swing with crazy bat speed and legitimate feel for the barrel. While he isn’t as skilled of a fielder as Madrigal, he does have good footwork and a decent glove to keep him at second for quite a while. Although, many feel he compares to Willie Calhoun of the Texas Rangers and will ultimately become a left fielder. Unlike the rest of the top 10 picks, Hiura has played as high as Double-A, where he currently resides. In Advanced-A it wasn’t even fair. He was dropping liners all over the place, and making pitchers look foolish. When he left he was hitting .320 with 66 hits and 23 ribbies. It isn’t a stretch to say Hiura might be the first 2017 pick to make the bigs.
10. LOS ANGELES ANGELS: OF Jordon Adell
Last season, teams— mostly the Detroit Tigers— picked away at the Angels’ farm, as they became buyers near the trade deadline. The only prospect that was off the table was their top guy Adell. Adell was one of the more intriguing picks of the 2017 draft. He might have the highest ceiling too. It’s always risky picking high school position players in the top 10, but the Angels felt comfortable enough with Adell to make him an outfielder of the future. If they ever lose Trout to free agency, Adell will instantly become the heir to his throne. A role that could stunt his development. That’s a different talk for a different date, but for now the key to Adell’s development will have to be patience. Early on this season, Adell had a thumb injury that set him back some but has since recovered and received a surprise promotion to the club’s Advanced-A team the Inland Empire 66ers. Adell is a potential five-tool player. These tools are very raw though. Again, patience will be a big part of his success. Looking at the 2018 draft class, Joe Gray Jr. compares to Adell the most, though he could fall out of the first round.