2017 MLB Draft: The most interesting thing to know about all 30 draft classes
A total of 1,215 picks were made in the three-day MLB Draft, but here are 30 things that stand out
Following three days and 1,215 total selections, the 2017 First-Year Player Draft is finally complete. Chicago Cubs made Lipscomb outfielder Jeff Passantino the 1,215th pick. Here are the schools that had the most players drafted:and the
Now that the draft is in the books, let's look at one fun piece of information about all 30 clubs.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Drafted Mike Trout's buddy
The Arizona Diamondbacks used their fifth-round pick on Buddy Kennedy, a third baseman out of Millville High School in New Jersey. Know who else was drafted out of Millville? Mike Trout . Kennedy is the school's first MLB draft pick since Trout.
And yes, Kennedy and Trout are pals. They work out together in the offseason.
Not a bad workout partner, that Trout guy.
Atlanta Braves: Their first-round pick is a Braves fan
Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright had a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, though he wound up "falling" to the Atlanta Braves with the fifth overall selection. I say "falling" because going fifth overall is still pretty darn great.
Anyway, I'm guessing Wright is totally cool with going to Atlanta, seeing how he grew up a Braves fan:
Fandom works both ways though. In a since-deleted tweet from 2011, Wright declared the Braves "very frustrating." We've all been there, Kyle.
Wright, by the way, grew up in Alabama. The Braves have a thing for drafting players from Georgia ( Jason Heyward , Brian McCann , etc.), though in this case Alabama is close enough.
Baltimore Orioles: Drafted a pitcher named DL
I couldn't help but laugh at this. The Baltimore Orioles used their first-round pick, the 21st overall selection, on a pitcher named DL. Ominous!
In all seriousness though, DL is DL Hall, a left-handed pitcher from a Georgia high school, and he was one of the top pitchers in the draft class. MLB.com ranked him as the 14th-best prospect in the draft class, so it was a good value pick for the O's. Here is a piece of the MLB.com scouting report:
Hall usually operates at 90-93 mph and can touch 95 with his heater, which has some running action but is more notable for his command than his life. His hard curve is often his best offering and features a high spin rate, though it can get slurvy at times. While his changeup is still in its nascent stages, it's showing improvement as he commits to throwing it more often ... Hall's build and live arm prompt comparisons to Scott Kazmir .
Drafting the next Scott Kazmir would be pretty awesome. As long as he stays off the ... [puts on shades] ... DL.
Boston Red Sox: Drafted a future brain surgeon
In second baseman Tanner Nishioka, their ninth-round pick, the Boston Red Sox are getting a possible future brain surgeon. Nishioka recently graduated from Pomona College with a neuroscience degree, though he is going to put his medical school plans on hold for a little while to play baseball. From Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
"I just wanted to play baseball for as long as I could," Nishioka said. "I wouldn't say I thought I would get drafted in the top 10 rounds at all. I still can't believe it."
Medical school can wait. The Red Sox told him they would call Wednesday to discuss their plans for him, and a guy that wasn't sure he would get drafted at all can hardly believe his good fortune.
"I was just hoping for an opportunity to go play," he said. "Baseball was always my dream."
If the whole baseball thing doesn't work out, I suppose there are worse fallback career options than neuroscientist.
Chicago Cubs: Drafted son of Charleston shooting victim
Two years ago, nine people were killed by a white supremacist at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Chris Singleton , an outfielder from Charleston Southern and , is the son of one of the shooting victims, Sharona Coleman Singleton. Last year he told Sports Illustrated his goal is to spread his mother's message of love:
"I just say, love is always stronger than hate," Chris told the crowd. "If we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won't be nearly as strong as the love is."
There it was, his mission for the rest of his life-to show how small hate is, held against love. It was out of his mouth before he'd had a chance to grasp what that would take. He took off the microphone, went to his car, closed the door and broke into sobs. Now he had to go home and live that message.
Good luck to Singleton in his playing career. Hopefully he reaches the big leagues and can spread his message even further.
Chicago White Sox: Drafted a water polo player
With their eighth-round pick, the Chicago White Sox selected standout water polo player Sammy Abbott. The Washington high school first baseman has an athletic scholarship all lined up to play water polo at Long Beach State.
Did he ever expect to play baseball beyond high school?
"No," Abbott said, admittedly struggling to find words. "No chance."
"I'm still just trying to figure everything out," Abbott said shortly after being selected. "It's been a roller coaster of a month. And it ended well – and ended with a dream come true."
That's what Abbott told TJ Cotterill of the News Tribune. A surprise pick, this was.
Abbott is slotted for $161,600 as the 237th overall pick in the draft, and six-figure paydays have a way of getting kids to put college on hold to play pro baseball.
Cincinnati Reds: Finally drafted a Jeter
One of the biggest draft "what ifs" took place 25 years ago. With the fifth overall pick in the 1992 MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds selected catcher Chad Mottola out of Central Florida. One pick later, the New York Yankees drafted future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. Ouch.
The Reds did not pass up a Jeter in the 2017 draft. They used the 32nd overall pick, in Competitive Balance Round A, on a Florida high school shortstop named Jeter Downs. And yes, young Mr. Downs is named after that Jeter. From MLB.com:
Downs, born on the island of St. Andres and named after Yankees great Derek Jeter, has a chance to be the best position player (and shortstop) to come from the school since Adrian Cardenas was a supplemental first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 ... Scouts love the way he swings the bat, consistently barreling up balls, and he has very good power, especially given his size. He should grow into more over-the-fence power and his baserunning acumen will allow him to pick up extra bases when he hits the gaps.
That sounds ... sort of like Derek Jeter? Better late than never, I suppose.
Cleveland Indians: No first-round pick for first time since 2006
For the first time in more than a decade, the Cleveland Indians did not have a first-round pick in this year's amateur draft. They forfeited their first-rounder, the 25th overall selection, to sign Edwin Encarnacion over the winter.
The last time the Indians did not have a first-round pick was 2006. Who did they give up their first-rounder to sign that year? Veteran right-hander Paul Byrd. Their first-round pick went to the Los Angeles Angels -- back then when you gave up your first-rounder, the pick when to the free agent's former team -- and the Halos used it on Hank Conger .
Don't worry though, the Indians did pick up a supplemental first-round pick that year. That pick was compensation for losing Bob Howry (!), and they used it to take left-hander David Huff . Amazing.
By the way, the Indians used their first pick in the 2017 draft (second round) to select outfielder Quentin Holmes out of a New York City high school.
Colorado Rockies: Had lowest first pick in franchise history
Because the Colorado Rockies surrendered their first-round pick, the 11th overall selection, to sign Ian Desmond over the winter, their first pick in the 2017 draft did not come until the second round. It was the 45th overall selection. The Rockies have never picked lower than that initially in a draft in franchise history. That comes after picking inside the top five every year from 2013-16.
Prior to this season, the lowest the Rockies ever made their first pick was 44th overall. That was back in 2001. They forfeited their first-round pick that year to sign Mike Hampton to one of the most ill-fated contracts in baseball history. That pick went to the New York Mets -- back in the day, if you gave up a pick to sign a player, the player's former team received the pick -- which they used on Aaron Heilman .
The Rockies, by the way, used that 45th overall pick on high school third baseman Ryan Vilade.
Detroit Tigers: Went very college heavy
Few teams emphasized college players as heavily as the Detroit Tigers this draft. They made 40 selections this year, and 32 (32!) were college players, including 28 of the first 30. Usually there's a more even split than that. Not quite 50-50, but close.
Very clearly, the Tigers set out with a plan to target quick-moving college players who are close to MLB ready. Not a bad idea! Their farm system is in okay shape and their big-league team could use help in a hurry.
Houston Astros: Had two Cardinals picks
Thanks to the hacking scandal, the Houston Astros owned the St. Louis Cardinals ' second (56th overall) and third (75th overall) picks in the 2017 draft. They also received a $2 million lump sum payment.
The 'Stros used those picks on two pretty good players too:. We have some nickname ideas already:
Kansas City Royals: Drafted a Little League hero
The Kansas City Royals used their first-round pick on Nick Pratto, a high school first baseman from California, and he has a history of coming up big in pressure situations. Back in 2011, Pratto had a walk-off single against Japan to win the Little League World Series championship. Check it out:
Little League players from 2011 are already graduating high school and getting drafted. Where does the time go?
Los Angeles Angels: Drafted the son of a former NFL player
Kentucky high school outfielder Jo Adell was one of the most tooled-up players in the 2017 draft, so it's no secret why the Angels selected him with the 10th overall pick. It's no secret where his athleticism comes from either. Adell's father Scott Adell was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 12th round of the 1992 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, Scott's football career never really got off the ground. He suffered a career-ending back injury before ever playing for the Saints. Here are Scott and Jo talking about sports and their relationship:
The cross-sport father-son thing is always interesting to me. Most children of pro athletes follow in their parent's footsteps. The kids who take a different path and play another sport -- and are good enough to get drafted in the top 10 overall, like Adell -- are a testament to just how athletic these guys are.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Stuck with Vanderbilt
This was the third draft of the Andrew Friedman era for the Los Angeles Dodgers , and all three times they used a high draft pick on a Vanderbilt player who was falling down draft boards for whatever reason. Here's the list:
- 2015: RHP Walker Buehler (24th overall): Elbow concerns led to Tommy John surgery shortly after the draft.
- 2016: RHP Jordan Sheffield (36th overall): Had Tommy John surgery at a young age in high school.
- 2017: OF Jeren Kendall (23rd overall): Loud tools but he swings and misses an awful lot.
Because they're always good and pick towards the end of the first round, the Dodgers rarely get a chance to draft a premium talent. So they've taken some risks under Friedman by drafting highly-ranked draft prospects with some red flags.
Also, it doesn't hurt that Vanderbilt is one of the best player development programs in the country. The Dodgers know these kids were in good hands in college.
Miami Marlins: Drafted A-Rod's nephew
Alex Rodriguez 's nephew is now a professional baseball player. The Miami Marlins , who happen to play in A-Rod's hometown, selected North Carolina State infielder Joe Dunand Jr. with their second-round pick. A-Rod and Joe Dunand Sr. are half brothers.
When you are struggling on the baseball field, there are worse family members to turn to for advice than A-Rod. He knows a thing or two about the game.
Milwaukee Brewers: Emphasized analytics
The draft will always be a scouting-first event. There is way too much statistical noise at the college level and especially at the high school level to draft on stats only. The Milwaukee Brewers , however, did emphasize analytics this year under still-new general manager David Stearns.
Here's what Tod Johnson, the club's scouting director, told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy:
"I don't want to give the impression that we are reinventing anything," Johnson said. "We're building on what Ray [Montgomery, who ran the Brewers' past two drafts before taking the title of vice president of scouting] has already started the last couple of years, and even some stuff we were doing when Bruce was here [the late Bruce Seid passed away in 2014].
"So we've been moving in this direction from a process perspective the last few years. We're going to try a few different ways of putting things together. We're going to experiment with some of that stuff."
Asked if he could be more detailed, Johnson said, "It is a hard question to answer without giving away what we hope we're doing that is better than other teams. We started last year, or even two years ago, using something of an analytics approach, because there is so much information available on these guys, you have to have some way to organize it. So this just really helps us organize this organization. We've been doing that for the past couple of years, but this is version 2.0 of that."
Interestingly enough, the Brewers selected four high school players with their first six picks of the 2017 draft. High school stats are, for all intents and purposes, completely useless for projecting performance going forward. The level of competition varies so wildly. That goes to show that while Milwaukee used analytics heavily this year, they still had their scouts on the ground.
Minnesota Twins: The No. 1 pick was a last minute decision
The Twins held the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft for the third time in franchise history this year. Joe Mauer (2001)., they'd used those previous two No. 1 picks on Tim Belcher (1983) and
The decision to select Lewis was not an easy one. As of a few hours before the draft, told the Associated Press the decision came down to the wire:, and chief baseball office Derek Falvey
Falvey said the Twins' choice came down to the waning minutes and the decision to pass on Greene was "really tough."
"We felt Royce separated himself from those other guys just a bit, and we feel like he's somebody that we'll build around for the future," Falvey said.
There was no obvious No. 1 talent in this year's draft. No generational Bryce Harper type. Hunter Greene was the concensus top draft talent, though Minnesota passed on him to take Lewis. Greene went second overall to the Reds.
New York Mets: First-rounder had a 20-K game
The Mets hope they selected the newest member of their recent wave of talented young starters in this year's draft. They used their first-round pick on Oregon southpaw David Peterson , who struck out 140 and walked only 15 in 100 1/3 innings this season. He also had a 20-strikeout game:
The MLB record for strikeouts in a game is 20, as you know. The NCAA record? Twenty-six! Former big leaguer Buddy Schultz fanned 26 while with Miami back in 1971.
New York Yankees: Used first-round pick on injured pitcher
Tommy John surgery does not have a 100 percent success rate, but it is pretty darn high, and teams are confident enough in the recovery process that they won't let it scare them away from talented players.
The Yankees, with their first-round pick in this year's draft, selected South Carolina right-hander Clarke Schmidt even though he had Tommy John surgery in May. Now that the normal rehab timetable for Tommy John surgery is closer to 14-16 months than 12-14, the Yankees won't see their 2017 first-rounder on a mound until midseason 2018.
Risky? Sure. But using a first-round pick on an injured pitcher goes to show teams feel pretty about Tommy John surgery recovery rates.
Oakland Athletics: Loaded up on top prospects
What a draft by the Oakland Athletics . They held the sixth overall pick, and they didn't stop picking high-end talent there. They drafted six of MLB.com's top 200 prospects in the first six rounds, which is extremely rare in the draft pool era.
Teams usually make a few cheap picks since spending bonus is limited. Not the A's. They loaded up.
Here's the list of guys they drafted through the sixth round:
- 1st round (sixth overall): OF Austin Beck (MLB.com rank: 9th)
- Comp. Balance A (33rd overall): SS Kevin Merrell (MLB.com rank: 51st)
- 2nd round (43rd overall): OF Greg Deichmann (MLB.com rank: 63rd)
- 3rd round (81st overall): SS Nick Allen (MLB.com rank: 30th)
- 4th round (111th overall): 3B Will Toffey (MLB.com rank: 196th)
- 5th round (141th overall): C Santi Sanchez (MLB.com rank: Not ranked)
- 6th round (171st overall): LHP Logan Salow (MLB.com rank: 165th)
It's not surprising the one unranked player the A's drafted early was a catcher. Catchers are always drafted higher than expected due to position scarcity.
Otherwise, the A's landed two top-30 prospects and four top-63 prospects. That's pretty great. They went big in the draft this year.
Philadelphia Phillies: Selected a player from no school
Jhordany Mezquita is one of the most fascinating stories from the 2017 draft. The Phillies drafted him in the eighth-round even though he never played high school baseball.
It's complicated. Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer has the story:
The Phillies drafted Hazleton, Pa. lefthander Jhordany Mezquita in the eighth round and believe they found a steal. The Phillies nearly signed the 19-year-old Mezquita last year during the international signing period, but Mezquita was ruled ineligible to be an international free agent after it was discovered that he had attended high school in America.
He left the Phillies international academy and returned to live with his parents in Hazleton. The 6-foot-1 Mezquita was ruled eligible for the amateur draft, but he never played high school baseball and American scouts never saw him. He was almost a secret. The Phillies, having scouted Mezquita in the Dominican Republic, were ready to draft him on Tuesday.
A Google search of Mezquita's name before the draft came back basically empty. In an age where teams scour nearly every corner of the globe for baseball talent, the Phillies managed to unearth a hidden gem in Joe Maddon's hometown.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Reunited brothers at the draft
With their 15th-round pick in this year's draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Fairfield University right-hander Gavin Wallace. His brother Mike has been pitching in Pittsburgh's system since being their 30th-round pick in 2015. The two Wallace brothers are reunited in the Pirates' farm system.
"It's unbelievable. It's crazy," Gavin Wallace said from his family home in Madison, where he was watching the draft online with his mother, Diane, and younger siblings."
"He's the real deal," Mike Wallace said about this brother. "I'm excited to see him put on a professional jersey. I think he's going to wear it well."
It's not uncommon for teams to select the sibling of a high-profile player -- the Dodgers drafted Cody Bellinger 's brother Cole, for example -- but it's not often they draft a set of brothers years apart in the late rounds. Pretty cool. Hopefully Mike and Gavin get a chance to play on the same team at some point.
San Diego Padres: Drafted a player from Alaska
For the first time in three years and only the third time in the last nine years, a player was drafted from Alaska. The San Diego Padres used their fifth-round pick on Jonny Homza, a third baseman from South Anchorage High School. He was drafted on his 18th birthday. Neat.
Baseball America did not rank Homza among their top 500 draft prospects, though Beth Bragg of the Alaska Dispath News obtained a scouting report from Tony Wylie, a manager at the Alaska Baseball Academy. From Bragg:
Wylie said Homza possesses a textbook swing. At the state tournament earlier this month at Mulcahy Stadium, Wylie saw Homza hit a deep home run to left field that cleared the flag pole "and had to be close to the goal post" at the adjacent Anchorage Football Stadium.
"If I wanted to instruct my kids that I'm instructing now on every single piece of hitting — from how they set up to how they're quiet in the box to how they use their lower body and don't waste energy — I would show them a video clip of him. His swing is exactly what we try to teach," Wylie said.
Record-keeping back in the day was spotty, though it is believed there have only been 12 MLB players born in Alaska, including current Texas Rangers reliever Tony Barnette . The most notable? Curt Schilling. He was born in Alaska and raised in Arizona.
Homza is a true Alaskan. Born and raised.
San Francisco Giants: Went heavy on high school players
Over the last few years the San Francisco Giants have gone heavy on college players at the top of the draft, and hey, it's working for them. They're one of the best player development organizations in baseball. Why fix something that isn't broken?
This year though, the Giants decided to go back to the high school ranks with their top three picks. The hadn't done that in a decade. From J.J. Cooper of Baseball America:
Usually a college-heavy drafting club, San Francisco started with prep bats OF Heliot Ramos (1) and 3B Jacob Gonzalez (2) and Utah prep LHP Seth Corry (3). The last time the Giants started with three straight high schoolers was 2007, when Madison Bumgarner was the top pick.
That Bumgarner kid worked out pretty well.
Seattle Mariners: Brought their second-rounder to Target Field
Sometimes things just work out perfectly. The Seattle Mariners drafted right-hander Sam Carlson out of a Minnesota high school in the second round, and it just so happens they were in Minnesota to play the Twins at the time. The team brought Carlson out to Target Field for batting practice:
That's really cool. Usually teams will wait until their high picks actually sign a contract to bring them to the ballpark, but since the Mariners were already in town to play the Twins, they were able to bring Carlson to the stadium and introduce him to everyone.
St. Louis Cardinals: Had the smallest bonus pool ever
The Cardinals forfeited their three highest picks in the 2017 draft. They gave up their first-rounder to sign Dexter Fowler as a free agent, then had to send their second and third picks to the Astros as compensation for the hacking scandal. Their first selection came in the third round (92nd overall).
Because of that, the Cardinals went into the 2017 draft with the smallest bonus pool in the draft pool era, which dates back to 2012. They had only $2.176 million to spend on drafted players. That's nearly half the next lowest bonus pool (Indians at $3.829 million). They forfeited their three highest draft picks and all the bonus pool space that came with them.
Given their lack of money, it's no surprise then that St. Louis drafted only one player from MLB.com's top 200 draft prospects list: high school catcher Zach Jackson, who ranked 133th. They can't afford any highly ranked players. Not a good draft year for the Cardinals.
Tampa Bay Rays: Will use first pick as hitter and pitcher
Given their shoestring budget and market disadvantages, the Tampa Bay Rays have to be creative to remain competitive in the always tough AL East. Their latest plan: develop a true two-way player, someone who can play a position and hit on the days he doesn't pitch.
Their first-round pick, Louisville first baseman/left-hander Brendan McKay, is the perfect candidate for such a move. In three seasons for Louisville he had a .965 OPS at the plate and a 2.15 ERA on the mound. He'll remain a two-way player in pro ball.
The big difference between what the Rays are doing with McKay and, say, what the Padres are doing with Christian Bethancourt is the development plan. Bethancourt was a catcher all throughout the minors, and now he's trying to learn how to pitch. McKay will be able to both pitch and hit in the minors. They're not going to stick him on the mound full-time, then come back in three years and ask him to starting hitting again (or vice versa).
Texas Rangers: Honored a late scout with a pick
The Rangers recently lost a member of their organization as scout Jose Felomina passed away following a battle with cancer. To honor Felomina, they used their 34th round pick to select one of his former youth players.
The Rangers dedicated the selection of 34th-round pick RHP Edmond Americaan from Chipola (Fla.) JC to the memory of scout Jose Felomina. Americaan played for Felomina in Curacao as a 13- and 14-year-old. Felomina died in February after a battle with cancer.
Nicely done, Rangers. And congrat to Americaan for getting drafted. That's a special moment regardless of round.
Toronto Blue Jays: Drafted Roger Clemens' son
Roger Clemens spent two extremely productive seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1997-98 (41-13, 2.33 ERA), and now one of his sons will get a chance to play for the organization too. Toronto used their eighth-round pick on Kacy Clemens.
Kacy was drafted by the Astros out of high school in 2013, though obviously he did not sign and instead went to college. He hit .305/.414/.532 with 12 home runs and 10 steals in 62 games for the Longhorns this spring.
Washington Nationals: Drafted Dusty Baker's son
Nepotism picks are plentiful in the late rounds of the draft, and sure enough, the Washington Nationals used their 27th-round pick on a California high school shortstop named Darren Baker. He is manager Dusty Baker's son.
Does the name Darren Baker sound familiar? If it does, it's because Darren was the bat boy who nearly got run over at the plate during the 2002 World Series.?
Yes, that little bat boy is now a high school graduate and an MLB draftee. We're all getting old.