Greene, 2-way talent highlight Top 50 Draft Prospects list

December 14th, 2016

For the second year in a row,'s early Draft Top 50 list is topped by a high school pitcher. There's still a long way to go between now and June -- last year's early No. 1 Jason Groome eventually went No. 12 overall to the Red Sox -- but there is no question that Hunter Greene is the best overall talent in the Class of 2017.
A two-way star at Notre Dame High School in Southern California (the same school Marlins star attended), Greene is preferred by some for his ability as a hitter and an infielder, but the vast majority think the right-hander has the chance to be an elite performer on the mound. A prep right-handed pitcher has never been the No. 1 overall pick in the history of the Draft, but does Greene and his stuff plus athleticism give him the chance to be the first?
:: 2017 Draft ::
"Absolutely," said one National League scouting director. "Maybe you do more due diligence because he's a high school pitcher and you worry about guys having arm injuries. But this kid is so exceptional athletically and has almost an 80 fastball. Is his arm going to fall off where he can't play shortstop? Talk about having a safety net!"
Greene, who began going to the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., when he was 7 years old, has excelled on the summer showcase circuit, showing off his plus heater across the country. Those who have been evaluating amateur talent for a long time put Greene in a special category.
"I've been going to the Area Code Games forever and I like to tell people the best pitcher I've seen there has been Josh Beckett," the NL scouting director said. "I think Greene went past him."
Top two-way talent
Greene isn't the only player on the Top 50 who could get attention both on the mound and at the plate. And while there is close to consensus on liking Greene as a pitcher, the others on the Top 50 -- Louisville's Brendan McKay (No. 7) and high school teammates Hagen Danner (No. 27) and Nick Pratto (No. 42) -- are drawing a much more split camp.
"Those guys are tough to evaluate," the NL scouting director said. "I want to say the best two-way high school guy I scouted was Rick Ankiel. You'd watch him pitch, he'd strike out 14 or 15, but what never got talked about was the two home runs. When there's the radar gun involved, so many people never get to the position. Greene blows up the radar gun. He's a very good prospect as a shortstop. It's just that he's a monster prospect as a pitcher.
"McKay doesn't blow up the radar gun. He really pitches. Guys who like him have seen him throw a little harder. He really knows how to use his stuff, that college lefty you think can run through it pretty quickly. But going into Louisville, watching him go seven innings, then having to evaluate the kid as a hitter, that's tough."
Class breakdown
McKay, as a left-hander, is part of what is considered to be the real strength of this class. Six of the top 10 prospects are college arms, and there are 15 total on the Top 50. The same can't be said for college bats, with the annual rallying cry from scouts that there aren't enough to go around. Vanderbilt's Jeren Kendall (No. 2) is the clear top college position player, followed by perhaps Virginia's Pavin Smith (No. 14), or McKay if you like him as a first baseman.
"It's pretty thin with the college hitters," an American League scouting director said. "There are a few decent ones. You start with Jeren Kendall, and there are a few performer types like Pavin Smith and Jake Burger, but it's probably fair at best. But the college pitching is very strong."
After Greene, Georgia lefty D.L. Hall, at No. 9, is the only other high school pitcher in the top 10. There are 14 prep arms in the Top 50, counting Danner and Pratto as pitchers. There's just one high school position player -- shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis from California (No. 3) -- in the top 10, one of 13 prep bats on the list. That leaves eight college hitters rounding out the Top 50.
Not surprisingly, pitching rules the day on this Top 50. Combining high school and college hurlers, there are 29 pitchers on the list. Outfielders are next, with eight, followed by five shortstops (keeping Lewis at the premium position for now), three catchers and third basemen apiece and, finally, one first and second baseman each.
Top 2017 Draft prospects

  1. Hunter Greene, RHP
  2. Jeren Kendall, OF
  3. Royce Lewis, SS/OF
  4. Alex Faedo, RHP
  5. Kyle Wright, RHP
  6. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP
  7. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B
  8. Tanner Houck, RHP
  9. D.L. Hall, LHP
  10. Alex Lange, RHP
    Complete list