Round 1 forecast: MLB Draft starts Monday!

June 9th, 2017

You may notice that the top of this first-round projection looks extremely similar to my last one two weeks ago. The first four picks and nine of the 12 are identical.

That doesn't mean that teams are locking into their selections by any means. Everything is still fluid heading into the final weekend before the Draft, and financial considerations will affect where players will land.

With the No. 1 overall choice, the Twins ostensibly still are evaluating the consensus five best prospects: California high school right-hander Hunter Greene, Louisville left-hander/first baseman Brendan McKay, Vanderbilt righty Kyle Wright, North Carolina prep lefty MacKenzie Gore and California high school shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis. Teams picking behind Minnesota believe the pick will come down to Wright versus McKay.

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

The Draft begins Monday with broadcast coverage on MLB Network and, and continues Tuesday and Wednesday on The first round consists of 30 picks, 27 regular choices and three compensatory selections. The Blue Jays, Rangers and Cubs each added a second first-rounder when free agents , and signed with the Indians, Rockies and Cardinals (each of whom forfeited their first-rounder).

Detailed scouting reports for all of the players discussed below can be found on's Top 200 Draft Prospects list.

1. Twins: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

Both Wright and McKay will pitch this weekend in NCAA super-regionals, though their performance won't really affect Minnesota's decision. The Twins are much more likely to go with one of the collegians -- they'd take McKay as a pitcher -- than one of the high schoolers.

2. Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)

Greene is No. 1 on Cincinnati's list and should be available. If he's not, the Reds would pop McKay as a pitcher.

3. Padres: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville (N.C.) HS

San Diego also wants Greene, but it can't get him. The Padres appear to like Gore and Lewis more than McKay (whom they would send to the mound) and Wright. Gore gets far less publicity than Greene, McKay and Wright, but several evaluators consider him the best pitcher in the Draft. There's some talk that Texas high school righty Shane Baz could fit here, but he's more of a long shot.

4. Rays: Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Louisville

Tampa Bay's top target is McKay, whom it'd make a full-time first baseman. If he goes No. 1, Greene and Gore still would go with the next two picks, and the Rays would look at Wright and several outfielders (Lewis, North Carolina high schooler Austin Beck, Kentucky prepster Jordon Adell, Virginia's Adam Haseley, Alabama high schooler Bubba Thompson).

5. Braves: Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)

Atlanta would love a shot at either Wright or McKay, with the idea of turning the latter into a corner outfielder. If the first four picks play out like we project, Lewis would be the obvious choice as the lone consensus top-five talent remaining. However, multiple teams behind the Braves don't think Lewis is a lock for them. They could employ a similar strategy to last year, when they paid their top selection (Ian Anderson at No. 3) an under-slot bonus to spend more money on later choices. North Carolina high school outfielder Austin Beck and California first baseman Nick Pratto would be candidates if that happens. They also could go the college-performer route and pop Virginia center fielder Adam Haseley.

6. Athletics: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (Lexington, N.C.)

Oakland has spent a lot of time scouting in North Carolina, and Gore and Beck look like the top two choices unless someone surprising falls. The A's also like Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith and Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall.

7. Diamondbacks: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia

Lewis is the best player who realistically could get to No. 7. If he's gone, Arizona could grab Haseley or Smith, or cut a below-slot deal with someone to save money for subsequent picks.

8. Phillies: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia

It looks like a collegian for Philadelphia, more likely a hitter (Haseley, Smith, maybe Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger) than a pitcher (Florida right-hander Alex Faedo, UCLA righty Griffin Canning). If the Phillies want a high schooler, it could be Baz.

9. Brewers: Jordon Adell, OF, Ballard HS (Louisville, Ky.)

Adell has exciting tools but scares some teams with his swing-and-miss issues, so he could realistically go here or drop into the 20s. Milwaukee seems to be pursuing mainly high schoolers with him, Beck, Georgia left-hander D.L. Hall and New Mexico southpaw Trevor Rogers.

10. Angels: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida

North Carolina right-hander J.B. Bukauskas' disastrous NCAA regional start against Davidson may drop him out of the top 10 and make Faedo the next college pitcher taken after Wright and possibly McKay. There have been Adell whispers with Los Angeles, but the club seems more likely to go after a college performer such as Smith, Haseley, Faedo or Canning.

11. White Sox: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

Like Adell, Kendall combines dynamic tools with strikeout concerns, though he's performed well in the best conference (Southeastern) in college baseball. Bukauskas, Kentucky first baseman Evan White, Faedo and Burger are other college considerations. Prepsters Lewis and Beck would intrigue Chicago if they dropped.

12. Pirates: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (Tomball, Texas)

Pittsburgh isn't afraid of taking high school right-handers, making Baz an obvious fit even if his commitment to Texas Christian gives him extra negotiating leverage. Bukauskas could be attractive after his late slip, as could one of the college position players.

13. Marlins: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon

Peterson has steadily climbed draft boards as much as any college pitcher in the past six weeks. Miami took high school left-hander Braxton Garrett seventh overall last year and has shown interest in prep lefties Hall and Rogers. Adell is another possibility.

14. Royals: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina

A close-to-big-league-ready arm like Bukauskas would be a nice get at No. 14 when it appeared he might go No. 6 as recently as two weeks ago. Kansas City is in on every other demographic as well: college hitters (Kendall, Burger, White), high school pitchers (Hall, Rogers) and high school position players (Thompson). The Royals have kicked the tires on most of the top high school catchers (Georgia's Luis Campusano, California's Hagen Danner, Florida's M.J. Melendez) but this would be too high for them.

15. Astros: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State

A lot of hitters get linked to Houston, such as Burger and UC Irvine outfielder/second baseman Keston Hiura in the college ranks and Beck, Adell and Pratto on the high school side. If the Astros' favored choices are already gone, they could shift gears, look for a discount deal here and try to sign a half-dozen players to seven-figure bonuses.

16. Yankees: Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad (N.M.) HS

If the Draft unfolds like this, New York's decision could come down to Rogers, Canning and Pratto. Adell and Thompson could be in the mix as well.

17. Mariners: Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA

Seattle is associated with several collegians: Peterson, Canning, Burger, White, Hiura and North Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth. High schoolers Hall and Pratto also could prove tempting.

18. Tigers: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta (Ga.) HS

Unless it opts for Pratto's hittability or a surprising position player drops, Detroit winds up with a pitcher here. Hall, Rogers or Minnesota right-hander Sam Carlson are high school contenders, and Canning, Louisiana State righty Alex Lange and Missouri righty Tanner Houck are the top college options.

19. Giants: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky

This is the realistic floor for White, who has developing power and the athleticism to patrol the outfield. San Francisco also is checking out high school outfielders (Adell, Thompson) and prep arms (Rogers, Carlson). Like the Royals, the Giants are heavier on the catchers than most clubs, though the backstops fit better in the second round.

20. Mets: Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS

The best pure hitter in the prep ranks, Pratto could go much higher than No. 20, his absolute floor. New York could be the first club to take JC of Central Florida right-hander Nate Pearson, who famously hit 102 mph in a bullpen workout last week, or slugging Texas high school outfielder Tristen Lutz. Peterson, Canning, Warmoth and Hiura are college options.

21. Orioles: Alex Lange, RHP, Louisiana State

Lange has pitched well down the stretch and seems to have passed Houck, who got hit hard at the Southeastern Conference tournament. Count Baltimore in on college bats White, Warmoth and Hiura. It is the high-water mark for North Carolina prep shortstop Greg Jones, who won't last until their second-round choice at No. 60.

22. Blue Jays: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina

Toronto may lean college with the first of its first-rounders. In this projection, the best available candidates remaining would be Warmoth, Hiura, Mississippi State first baseman Brent Rooker and Wake Forest first baseman Gavin Sheets among the bats and Pearson and Houck among the arms.

23. Dodgers: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen HS (Mobile, Ala.)

It seems like everyone's recent mock draft has Thompson at No. 23, though there's enough interest ahead of here that Los Angeles could miss out. The Dodgers also like Warmoth and several other collegians projected to go right before here. Hiura and Houck are two more potential college picks.

24. Red Sox: Keston Hiura, OF/2B, UC Irvine

Hiura is the best pure hitter in the Draft and leads NCAA Division I in hitting (.442) and on-base percentage (.567), so he could go about 10 spots earlier than this. He also has an elbow injury that teams think will require Tommy John surgery, which clouds his ETA and future defensive home. A college arm like Pearson or Houck could be Plan B.

25. Nationals: Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina

Washington has spent recent first-round selections on pitchers with blown-out elbows, (2012) and Erick Fedde ('14), so Schmidt's Tommy John surgery wouldn't necessarily deter them. Because of GM Mike Rizzo's history of taking Boras Corp. players, other teams consider the Nationals the favorite to take former Houston left-hander Seth Romero, a top-10 talent who got suspended and then dismissed by the Cougars. More likely, Romero winds up with a team that owns multiple top-50 picks.

26. Rangers: Nate Pearson, RHP, JC of Central Florida

Texas is all about upside, which could lead it to Pearson's blazing fastball or a prep right-hander such as Carlson, Danner, Matt Sauer (California), Hans Crouse (California) or Steven Jennings (Tennessee).

27. Cubs: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri

It's no secret that Chicago has prioritized pitching. The Cubs won't force the issue, but it could be a coup to land Houck here after he figured to be a top-10 choice coming into the year. They also could gamble on Romero or Schmidt.

28. Blue Jays: Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville (Minn.) HS (compensation for Edwin Encarnacion signing with Indians)

Carlson deserves to go at least 10 spots higher than this, but the industry remains wary of the injury risks it associates with prep right-handers. Danner, Sauer, Crouse and Jennings are other high school righty alternatives.

29. Rangers: Tristen Lutz, OF, Martin HS (Arlington, Texas) (compensation for Ian Desmond signing with Rockies)

Lutz is one of several high school outfielders generating late first-round buzz, along with Quentin Holmes (New York), Heliot Ramos (Puerto Rico) and Drew Waters (Georgia). Campusano and Florida shortstops Jeter Downs and Chris Seise are three more prep position players doing the same.

30. Cubs: Nick Allen, SS, Parker HS (San Diego) (compensation for Dexter Fowler signing with Cardinals)

This selection could come down to Allen, the best defender in the Draft, and State JC of Florida, Sarasota-Manatee left-hander Brendon Little, who has wipeout stuff but needs more polish.