What a day! The Twins selected first, 35th, and 37th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft Monday, and it was one for the memory books.
Mostly because most Twins fans don’t like the picks.
Round 1, Pick 1
First overall the Twins selected SS/OF Royce Lewis, a freakish athlete with insane speed and a quick bat. Here are his grades according to MLB.com:
Hit 55/Power 45/Running 70/ Arm 50/ Field 50/ Overall 55
These are on the 20-80 scouting scale, with 50 being average. He projects as a guy that can hit 15 to 20 homers a season, steal a whole bunch of bases, and use his speed to hit doubles and triples as well. He has the range to play shortstop, but many doubt his arm will play there. He could always move to center field, where he will have great range and a solid arm.
Most Twins fans wanted a high-ceiling pitcher like Hunter Green or Kyle Wright in this year’s draft, or a polished arm like Brendan McKay.
Don’t worry, Twins fans—Royce Lewis is a legitimate pick at first overall, and was the best position player in this year’s draft (according to pure talent as of today, NOT according to future results). If he makes it at SS he gives the Twins great depth behind Jorge Polanco and Nick Gordon. Even if he moves to the outfield he can be a Justin Upton-like force in center.
He also gives the Twins more flexibility throughout the draft, given the signing bonus pool rules.
Competitive Balance Round A, Pick 35
I assumed the Twins would use their 37th pick on Brent Rooker, a 1B/OF from Mississippi State. I was only wrong in that they took him earlier, with the 35th pick.
Rooker was taken by the Twins in the 38th round last year, but he went back to school to prove he deserved a larger signing bonus. He did not disappoint, being named the SEC player of the year after hitting .387/495/.810 with 23 home runs, 30 doubles, and 82 RBI in 67 games.
A big strong right handed hitter, Rooker was given these grades by MLB.com:
Hitting 50/ Power 55/ Running 50/ Fielding 50/ Arm 50/ Overall 50
Rooker has played both RF and 1B at Mississippi state, but some media types like Keith Law think he needs to work on his defense to make an impact. The same was said about college hitters, though, like Kyle Schwarber. Rooker might be able to stick at a corner outfield spot, especially if he would end up flanking Byron Buxton. If not, he is a solid 1B power hitter type.
If Rooker were a 21-year-old, like most college juniors, he would likely have gone in the top 20 selections. But at 22-ears-old (and turning 23 in November) he fell a bit. Still, Rooker will likely start in A-ball this year. He will then be 23 and (potentially) in Double-A to start next season, which is not a terrible place to be for his age and ability.
Round 2, Pick 1
I will admit that I scratched my head when the Twins selected RHP Landon Leach, of Pickering High School in Ontario. Ranked just the 101 best prospect in the draft by MLB.com, I thought there were much better talents available, including Burnsville RHP Sam Carlson.
But Leach has plenty of upside, too. He turns 18 years old in July, and he’s already 6’4” 225 lbs, which is a legitimate pitching frame if I’ve ever seen one. He has been able to throw 96 mph this spring and has the solid makings of a breaking pitch, although it is a blend between a curve and slider at this point. He also has decent feel for a changeup and solid control.
Here are his ratings according to MLB.com
Fastball 60/ Curveball-Slider 50/ Changeup 50/ Control 50/ Overall 45
This same combination of individual grades received a higher overall grade from MLB.com when attached to pitchers from warmer climates, so the potential is certainly there. Leach is a solid athlete who plays basketball and volleyball, so with his size, athleticism, and natural velocity he has all the makings of a mid-to-front line starter once he begins playing pro ball.
The Twins will now have the first pick of every round from here on out. Rounds 3 through 10 will take place Tuesday starting at noon central time. The Twins were said to have saved some money by taking both Lewis and Rooker, and many fans have asked where that money is going to go. I’d expect to see it starting to go in the third round.
The Twins’ third round pick has a value slot of $755,500, so saving roughly $1 million from the first pick and maybe $500,000 from pick the 35th pick (a total I came to myself, but could potentially be close to accurate) could up the bonus for the 76th overall pick to around $2.25 million—the equivalent of the 29th overall pick. Many of the best players available around that time have sign-ability questions, but perhaps the Twins can sway them with there bigger offers.
Here are some of the better prospects available, as ranked by MLB.com:
- 29. RHP Blayne Enlow, St. Lamant HS (Louisiana), committed to LSU
- 30. SS Nick Allen, Parker HS (California), Committed to Southern California
- 39. RHP Tanner Burns, Decatur HS (Alabama), Committed to Auburn
- 45. LHP Jacob Heatherly, Cullman HS (Alabama), Committed to Alabama
- 48. C Evan Skoug, Junior, TCU
- 52. RHP Alex Scherff, Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas), Committed to Texas A&M
- 55. OF Daniel Cabrera, Parkview Baptist HS, Louisiana, Committed to LSU
- 58. RHP Blaine Knight, Sophomore, Arkansas
Of course, most of these high schoolers have decided to attend college and will not entertain the idea of signing, but Skoug and Knight are players to look out for. Skoug hit 20 homeruns this year for TCU despite a low average. Knight had a 96/20 K/BB ratio for the Razorbacks and a 3.28 ERA in 90 innings—great marks in the ever-tough SEC. Daniel Tillo of Iowa Western CC was drafted by the Twins last year, ranks 82nd on MLB.com’s rankings, and has been linked to the Twins in early mock drafts. Tillo is also committed to the Razorbacks next year, so both of these pitchers might require some money to make the jump to pro ball.
There are still quality players available, however. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as the Twins kick of round 3 of the 2017 MLB Draft!