Best Draft picks of the first 5 rounds

June 17th, 2017

This week on the MLBPipeline Podcast, host Tim McMaster and resident prospect gurus Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo recap the MLB Draft and weigh in on the biggest winners, including nods to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Minnesota Twins as well as the best picks in each round. The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Pipeline Podcast.

Tim McMaster: Guys, I wanted to go through the first few rounds. And it's easy enough to say, this team took the highest guy in the Top 100 of your rankings in this round, and that's why they should be No. 1 -- but I think you guys will end up going different directions.

Because Jim loves it so much, we're going to go serpentine-style. This time around, because last time we went serpentine I gave Jonathan the first pick, this time I'm gonna go with Jim in the first pick. So Round 1, Jim. The Twins took Royce Lewis, but which team made the best choice in Round 1 of the Draft?:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::


Jim Callis: I have a question. Are we picking the Competitive Balance lottery rounds?


Jonathan Mayo: I had the same logistical question.


McMaster: [Sighs] See? See what you guys do to me?


Mayo: You're the commissioner.


McMaster: Why don't we include… oh no, we can't do that, because teams would have a second pick. You know what? We'll go Rounds 1-5 and I'll add in each of the Comp Rounds, which is limited because not every team picks. But we'll do that. So start with Round 1, no Competitive Balance.


Callis: OK. I'm going to interpret this as not necessarily who got the best player, because then I would wax poetic about MacKenzie Gore for about the 30th straight podcast. But to me, the best value, I will continue to back Jeren Kendall from Vanderbilt. I know the 25-percent strikeout rate scared some teams off. But to me, I still thought he deserved to go 6-10. The tools are that good. Even if he doesn't hit for a high average, he's gonna have some power, he's gonna steal a bunch of bases, he's gonna play a quality center field. He's been productive on the U.S. Collegiate National Team, he's been productive on some very good Vanderbilt teams. So I thought the Dodgers getting Jeren Kendall with the 23rd overall pick, that was my favorite pick of the Draft. I just thought that was tremendous value right there.


McMaster: Jonathan, who did you like in the first round?


Mayo: I actually generally agree with Jim, which pains me to say publicly. But I will, just for the sake of adding more names, and also staying away from the top of the list, I think I'll probably say D.L. Hall to the Orioles. A really interesting high school lefty whose name had been mentioned a bit higher. The Orioles had been very college-focused in the past, and they sort of changed course when Hall was actually there. He's got an interesting combination of ceiling and polish for a high school left-hander. So to get him at 21 -- I don't think it's quite the sort of value that I agree with Jim that Kendall appears to be at 23, but I like that pick for them.


McMaster: All right, I've changed my mind and we're not going to do the Competitive Balance rounds. Because not every team picks, so that's not fair.


Mayo: I did so much prep work!


Callis: We're doing the Competitive Balance. We're overruling you. Jonathan, who's your favorite Competitive Balance pick?


Mayo: Jeter Downs. Jeter Downs to the Reds at 32.


McMaster: All right, so we'll go quickly.


Callis: I get to pick too, don't I?


Mayo: Yeah, you can pick one, but we don't even have to break it down. Just pick a guy.


Callis: Tristen Lutz to the Brewers. There was some talk the Brewers might take him in the first round, liked them getting him at 34. Big right-handed power. So there we go.


McMaster: On to Round 2. I'll go back to Jonathan, because I don't count those Competitive Balance picks.


Callis: You're not sanctioning that? Well we're going Comp Round B, so be ready.


McMaster: Round 2, Jonathan.


Mayo: I got distracted by the Comp Round talk.


McMaster: This whole process is falling apart.


Mayo: I'm gonna take Sam Carlson, who I might guess might be Jim's pick also. But Carlson's a big high school right-hander from Minnesota. Jim, I don't about you now, but every time I talk about a guy from a cold-weather state, I can hear Harold Reynolds waxing eloquent about how much he loves guys from cold-weather states. That's neither here nor there. But Carlson was a guy that talent-wise could have gone in the middle of the first round. We had heard he might go late in the first round. For the Mariners to get him in the second round at 55 I think was a very good get for them.


Callis: I would agree with that. He would be my pick. You guys have heard me rave about how much I love Sam Carlson and how high school right-handers go lower than they should. But the other guy I'd mention is Matt Sauer to the Yankees right ahead of Sam Carlson. Same type of thing. We're talking about a 6-4 projectable righty who's already hit 97, has a very hard slider. This is a guy who also had first-round talent, who should have gone about 20 or 30 spots higher than he did. And I think when he got picked, we all kind of went, "Aha," and it finally made sense why the Yankees had taken Clarke Schmidt in the first round while he's recovering from Tommy John surgery. Basically, I would think that Sauer's gonna get close to the first-round slot, and Clarke Schmidt will get closer to the second-round slot, but you couldn't have gotten them both unless you picked them in this order. So I thought it was a very nice value here in Round 2, and also good strategy by the Yankees in Round 2.


McMaster: All right, Competitive Balance B. You each get 10 seconds to make your decision.


Callis: I'm gonna go Conner Uselton. Thought he should have gone in the second round, thought that was a real nice pickup for the Pirates. Power and some tools to go with the power as well.


McMaster: Jonathan?


Mayo: I'll take Blake Hunt. Good defensive-minded catcher. The Padres took him at the 69th overall pick. Had some late helium. Kind of an type.


McMaster: Now we talked about this a little bit. You make the move from Round 2, or the Competitive Balance B round, to Round 3. That's Day 2. So teams get a chance to settle back in, make contact with some of these players and agents, see who's still signable. So it adds kind of a different element to the Round 3 selections, and maybe Round 4 and 5 to a lesser degree.


So back to you, Jim. Round 3, who made the best choice?


Callis: Tim, first I'm gonna ask you a quick question. To show how well you know us: Who am I gonna pick and who is Jonathan gonna pick in this round?


McMaster: You are going to pick Blayne Enlow and Jonathan's gonna take Nick Allen. That's my prediction.


Callis: You are probably correct. You are at least 50 percent correct, and I believe you'll be 100 percent correct. But yes. Blayne Enlow. Again, high school right-hander. I thought he had the talent to go toward the end of the first round. Best curveball in the Draft. Really like this guy.


His stock slipped a little bit because after being 90-94 consistently on the showcase circuit last year, he was more 88-92 this spring. That's not atypical. You know, gee, the guy threw harder when it was warmer? That never happens. But he's 6-4, 190, he's gonna get stronger. That curveball is a wipeout curve. Tremendous pick for the Twins to get that guy at the top of Round 3.


McMaster: Now Jonathan, when Nick Allen didn't go on Day 1, I was worried that maybe you wouldn't get the chance to talk about Nick Allen during the Draft coverage. But he came through on Day 2, Round 3. Feel free to go a different direction, but you can also take Nick Allen.


Mayo: I almost want to, just 'cause, but no. Come on. Really? Of course I'm gonna talk about Nick Allen. I found out after Day 1 that there was a certain price tag, signability ask, however you want to put it, and that's why he didn't go Day 1. But was told there was a good chance he was gonna go early in Day 2. And the A's took him with the sixth pick in the round.


Best defender in the Draft. He's smaller, otherwise he probably would have gone in the first round -- where he probably should have. But once he slid out of the first round, I think the dollar figure came into play a little bit more. I think he has the chance to be a really good everyday shortstop at the Major League level. I'm excited to see him get going and continue to prove people who think he can't do it because of his size wrong.