Inbox: Draft decisions, Cuban phenom Robert

Jonathan Mayo answers fans' questions about baseball's future stars

May 25th, 2017

Hey, did you know the Draft is just over two weeks away? I'm guessing so, given the amount of 2017 Draft-related content rolling out on

The most recent is the first in a series on top Draft prospect Hunter Greene. But there's much more to come. Some of you even asked about it when I went to Twitter to elicit questions. 

That's been a big focus for us. We will expand our Draft Top 100 to 200 in early June. And don't forget to tune in to MLB Network for the hour-long Top 100 Draft prospects show on June 4 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET.

:: Submit a question to the Pipeline Inbox ::

Now, let's get onto your questions this week. And guess what? We start, of course, with a Draft-related one.

Jim Callis is doing this week's mock Draft, so he will likely have more on this, but in a word, yes. There's no question they like Brendan McKay, and they like him as a left-handed pitcher. But there's a chance the Twins will take McKay, giving the Reds the chance to take either Kyle Wright from Vanderbilt or the aforementioned Greene. Minnesota could easily take Wright, leaving Cincinnati with McKay and Greene to think about.

But that's not exactly what you're asking, is it? What if the Twins take one of the other candidates on their list, say, Royce Lewis or Mackenzie Gore? That would create the scenario you bring up, where they have Greene, McKay and Wright to choose from. It is far from a slam dunk that McKay would be their pick at No. 2 overall in that, or any, scenario. Both Greene and Wright would get serious consideration, and if McKay doesn't go 1 or 2, he could get to No. 5 with the Braves.

Perhaps the only thing creating more buzz than the Draft in the amateur baseball world is the impending signing of Luis Robert, the Cuban outfield phenom. Last month, Jim wrote about Robert in response to an Inbox question about how he compares to . As luck would have it, it's seems that Robert will be joining Moncada in the White Sox organization shortly.

The first question provides a nice segue from the Draft to non-Draft matters. Robert is 19 years old, so he's a touch older than most high school seniors and a couple of years younger than typical college juniors, and he's currently ranked No. 1 on our 2016 Top 30 International Prospects list (He qualifies as part of the 2016 signing class). There is little question he would be at or near the top of our 2017 Draft list should he have been eligible for this year's Draft. Robert has considerable tools, particularly his plus bat speed and power potential. It's obviously impossible to know if he'd go No. 1 overall, but it's probably not a far leap to make to say he'd be in the conversation.

As for the Top 100 Prospects list, I'm tempted to give a "wait and find out" response. But I'm feeling generous. Robert is at No. 1 on the international list, just one spot ahead of Kevin Maitan, who signed with the Braves last summer. Atlanta's 17-year-old infielder is ranked No. 27 on that list, so you should look for Robert tucked in just ahead of Maitan when the signing becomes official.

Speaking of the Braves… yes, they have been very aggressive in moving their young talent up the ladder. The most notable example of this was taking much of the rotation at Class A Rome that helped the team win a South Atlantic League championship in 2016 and double-jumping them to Double-A.

Overall, I think it's hard to say that was too much. After all, Kolby Allard is second in the Southern League in ERA and Mike Soroka is fourth in WHIP (Allard is fifth) and seventh in strikeouts while maintaining a sub-3.00 ERA. has struggled, but it's too early to draw any conclusions from that. Offensively, Ronald Acuna has been pushed, but he's responded by raking in Double-A.

In the end, the Braves move players if they feel they have the ability to handle the level from a skills standpoint and, more importantly, from a maturity standpoint. How they deal with adversity is a key part of the development process, and by and large, they've been dealing with the challenge just fine.

Gatewood was a 2014 Draft pick (see what I did there to tie it to the time of year?) who got an above-pick value balance to sign with the Brewers. Milwaukee knew he'd be a bit of a project, but to say the infielder struggled out of the gate is an understatement. He had a .528 OPS in his summer debut. That did improve to .709 in 2016, but that was mostly because Gatewood righted the ship a bit after not being ready for full-season ball and moving down to the Rookie-level Pioneer League.

Gatewood showed some more power (14 homers) with his return to the Midwest League a year ago, though he finished with just a .659 OPS. This year? He has hit .312/.387/.541 in his first 46 games in the Carolina League. What happened? As Gatewood tells it, he put in the work this offseason more than anything else. He's using his body, particularly his lower half, more consistently at the plate. Gatewood is making more consistent hard contact as a result while improving his overall approach. Yes, he's still striking out a good amount, with a K rate around 25 percent this year, but that's down from 26.9 in 2016 and 33.7 with Wisconsin pre-demotion back in 2015. At the same time, Gatewood's walk rate is up at 11 percent, by far a career high. If he can keep that up, this resurgence could have some legs to it.