In a recent post on MLB.com, prospect columnist Jonathan Mayo highlighted seven prospects the Twins could be considering for the number one overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft. We have already covered five of those prospects, and today we will look at Mackenzie Gore and Shane Baz, who are considered long shots, but still potential targets with the first overall pick.
Mackenzie Gore is a 6’2” 180 lb lefty from the high school ranks in North Carolina. Some scouts consider Gore the best high school prospect, even better than Hunter Greene. He throws an excellent fastball that sits anywhere from 90-95 mph and can reach 97 mph. A legitimate 60 grade (plus) curveball gives him a quality second pitch and he also has a hard slider and a changeup that some scouts already grade as above average offerings. Gore features a high leg kick but is athletic enough to repeat it consistently which leads to solid control. I assume whoever drafts Gore will soften that leg kick to help his command even more.
Gore does not have many weaknesses other than being a high school pitcher, but some believe that he will demand a large signing bonus. His leg kick may concern some but overall he is a mechanically solid high school pitcher, for what that is worth. Few prospects have helped their draft stock this spring more than Gore, and will likely go in the top five picks.
Shane Baz is another prep pitching prospect who has shot up draft boards this spring. A solid-sized righty (6’3” 190 lbs) from Texas, he has what is considered the deepest pitch inventory among high schoolers in the draft. That inventory includes a 65 grade fastball that sits between 92-96 mph and reportedly reached 98 mph this spring. Baz backs that up with a plus cutter in the 84-88 mph range that he can also turn into a true slider, which is a separate and distinct above average offering. An above average curveball and an average changeup round out his repertoire, giving him five distinct pitches that he can throw for strikes. He is a solid athlete that will play both ways if he ends up at TCU, and has a solid delivery that leads to average control that will likely improve with time.
Like Mackenzie Gore, Baz’s top weakness is that he is a high school pitcher that requires time to develop. When he focuses too heavily on his secondary offerings his command does waver a bit, so whoever drafts him will have to help him focus on using his fastball first to set up his other pitches. Other scouts think there is slightly too much effort in his delivery but it should be something that is fixable.
With such a monumental spring, every team has been out to see Gore, and the Twins have done their due diligence. There have been few connections made by the media between the Twins and Gore other than basic scouting, however.
When Thad Levine made the trip to Texas with the big league club many mentioned how he so happily reminisced with his old colleagues in Texas. The general manager was also there to scout Baz, a potential target if the Twins wish to make a deal with the first overall pick. If the Twins made a good enough deal with another player, like Pavin Smith, I could also see them offering Baz great money to entice him to fall to the 35th pick. Keith Law mentioned recently that some in the industry think Baz is either going to TCU or has made a deal with a team to be taken for above-slot money after the first round. The Marlins (13th pick, $3.875 million) and Astros (15th pick, $3.588 million and his favorite team) are said to be considering Baz, so any deal to take him later in the draft would come with a significant investment to get him to fall.
Both prospects have front line starter potential, and would likely become the Twins best pitching prospect. If the Twins’ front office want to take a prep pitcher and don’t trust Hunter Greene’s potential, Gore or Baz could hear their names called with the first overall pick.