If we've learned anything in recent years, it's that the future is now for the 30 Major League clubs. That's what makes today's Draft such a must-see event.Who will emerge as the next Kristopher Bryant? Or perhaps the next Trea Turner, Aaron Judge or Kyle Schwarber? Just four years ago,
If we've learned anything in recent years, it's that the future is now for the 30 Major League clubs. That's what makes today's Draft such a must-see event.
Who will emerge as the next Kristopher Bryant? Or perhaps the next Trea Turner, Aaron Judge or Kyle Schwarber? Just four years ago, none of these players had been drafted yet. Now, they're some of the game's brightest young stars.
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
Seventy-five players will hear their names called during tonight's festivities, as coverage begins with MLB Network's preview show at 6 p.m. ET. The first 36 picks will broadcast live on MLB Network, while all picks -- including those on Days 2 and 3 of the Draft -- will be streamed live on MLB.com.
The Twins are believed to be choosing between Louisville left-hander/first baseman Brendan McKay and Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright with the top pick, their first since they selected Joe Mauer as a high schooler in 2001. Minnesota has worked out six players while deciding who to take No. 1, including Notre Dame High School (Calif.) righty/shortstop Hunter Greene, who visited with the Twins on Friday and is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Draft's top prospect.
Greene, who burst into the national spotlight when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this spring, will be among the four amateur players in attendance at MLB Network's Studio 42 for the festivities.
Greene, 17, excels as both a right-handed pitcher and a shortstop, and he could become the first high school righty to go first overall since the Draft began in 1965. His athleticism and makeup have earned praise from scouts around the league, while his fastball -- which has been clocked as high as 102 mph -- is his biggest weapon on the mound.
The fact that Greene would also be a first-round pick as a hitter is almost a footnote.
"He's a unique talent, that's for sure," one American League executive said. "He has a chance to be really special."
McKay -- the Draft's No. 2 overall prospect -- is a similarly gifted talent, who is arguably the best two-way Draft prospect since Dave Winfield went No. 4 overall to the Padres in 1973. In fact, he's so talented in both roles that the teams picking in the top five are divided on his optimal role. According to MLB.com's Jim Callis, the Twins, Reds (No. 2 pick) and Padres (No. 3) would draft him as a pitcher, while the Braves (No. 4) and Rays (No. 5) think his future is at first base.
Among the potential top overall picks, Wright probably has the best combination of high ceiling and floor, combining a prototypical ace's frame (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) with a mid-90s fastball and an advanced feel for secondary pitches. He also proved he can compete against elite completion, striking out 121 batters (to go with just 31 walks) in 103 1/3 innings while pitching in the SEC, traditionally the toughest conference in college baseball. However, he did not leave a great final impression on scouts, allowing 7 runs in 6 2/3 innings on Saturday as Vanderbilt got eliminated by top-ranked Oregon State in the Super Regional.
Other candidates in the mix to go No. 1 overall include Royce Lewis, a prep shortstop/outfielder from Southern California who has the most complete package of tools in the Draft. There's also Mackenzie Gore, a high school lefty from North Carolina with a vicious fastball-curve combo, and Pavin Smith, a first baseman from the University of Virginia who is probably the most advanced collegiate hitter in the Draft.
In addition to Greene, three other high-school players -- outfielders Jo Adell (No. 21 Draft prospect) and Bubba Thompson (No. 26) and left-hander Trevor Rogers (No. 25) -- are also expected to be in attendance.
While many players must embark on lengthy journeys through several levels of professional ball before finally reaching the big leagues, a number of recent early-round selections have made quick work of the Minors, defying the odds -- and giving this year's draftees reasons to dream big.
Although no players from the 2016 Draft class have made their Major League debut yet, four of the top nine selections from the 2015 Draft have not only made their debuts, but they've already made a meaningful impact at the big league level.
Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (drafted by the D-backs) and Astros third baseman Alex Bregman were the top two picks in 2015, while Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi went seventh and Cubs IF/OF Ian Happ was selected ninth.
"At that moment in time, I didn't really think about it," Swanson said of his rapid rise from top pick to Major League shortstop. "[Draft night] was a moment I was able to share with the [Vanderbilt University] team and my family."
The first round of the 2014 Draft included White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon (No. 3), Cubs catcher/outfielder Schwarber (4), Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (7), Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland (8), Mets outfielder Michael Conforto (10) and Nationals shortstop/outfielder Turner (13, by the Padres), all of whom have already shown the ability to thrive at the highest level.
"You can get there," Turner said of his fast track from the Draft to Washington. "But staying there is harder."
Then, there's the 2013 Draft, which featured 2016 National League MVP Award winner Bryant as the No. 2 overall pick by the Cubs, and Judge, who leads all American League players in All-Star voting this season, at No. 32 by the Yankees.
While Bryant made his presence felt in Chicago just 22 months after being drafted, it took a little more than three years for Judge to go from Fresno State to a starring role in the Bronx.
"It didn't feel fast," Judge said. "It was a grind."
The 2017 Draft will take place from tonight through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 75 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at 1 p.m. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon.
Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLBPipeline.com analysts Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
Judge knows what the kids preparing for tonight's madness are going through. When will they hear their name called? Which team will be the one to call it? What will happen after that?
His advice to those players?
"Just enjoy the process," Judge said. "Enjoy the struggles. Enjoy the terrible bus rides. Enjoy all of it."
It all starts tonight.
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.