Now that the draft signing deadline has passed and the Astros fallout has settled a little, I wanted to post a few players that I feel could really improve in the next three years and be some of the top picks in 2017.
Brady Aiken is the clear cut top player here but I think he will be available next year. I don't see how the NCAA will allow him to play after Casey Close has publically said what he has. He was Aiken's agent and the NCAA doesn't allow players to use agents. I think it is also possible that Jacob Nix goes a similar route and ends up at a community college for a season before getting drafted again next June.
Mac Marshall would be next on my list. Since he didn't have any public negotiations like Nix and Aiken, he should have no eligibility problems. He should slide into the rotation at LSU and try to fill the hole that Aaron Nola left and make his own name.
Keaton McKinney could be one of the best college arms as soon as he plays for Arkansas because of his changeup. Logan Shore stepped in at Florida and dominated SEC hitters with a fastball/change combo that may not be as good as McKinney's.
J.J. Schwarz is in line to be the starting catcher at Florida as a freshman. His lane has been cleared by Taylor Gushue signing. His combination of defense and power potential could allow him to be a first rounder in three years.
Turner Larkins is a long, projectable kid who should really mature into his own at Texas A and M. It wouldn't surprise me to see him consistently in the 92-94 MPH range in three years and with his secondary stuff, he should be a top pick.
Greg Deichmann really impressed me when I saw him at PG National last summer but it seems like he fell off radars with inconsistent performances after that and didn't even get drafted. I think he steps in at LSU ans shows why he should have been taken early. Although he may have to find a spot at 3B instead of 2B, like many had him slotted at due to Kramer Robertson blocking his way.
D.J. Peters has unusual size for an OF at 6'5". His swing is also unusually short for someone his size. While he currently doesn't show a lot of power, he has the potential to grow into a big power hitter at Cal Stat Fullerton.
Evan Skoug is a catcher going to Texas Christian and could develop inot a similar player to Kyle Schwarber. He's not a great defensive catcher but the power is in the bat.
Cobi Johnson is a polished RHP that will likely get a spot in the rotation and look to fill some of the innings that they lost with Luke Weaver going pro.
Bryce Montes De Oca will need to stay healthy but he is the kind of arm that can change a program. The big righty could really impact Missouri for the next three years if he can refine his skills.
Shane Benes will also be joining Missouri this fall. After blowing out his ACL in a basketball game, he went undrafted. He has a polished bat and is a great athlete. He will likely pitch at Mizzou as well with his low 90's velo and bloodlines on the mound. He is Andy Benes' son. I don't see him as a guy who will be dominant in pro ball but his skillset will do well in college.
Luke Bonfield is a bat that could impact at Arkansas quickly. He won't hit a ton of homers but he always hits the ball hard and his great bat to ball skills that will lead to plenty of offense. His position is a bit of a question but with Brian Anderson going pro, maybe 2B would be a decent fit.
Jacob Bukauskas had one of the bigger arms in the draft but also sent a letter saying he would not sign and would head to North Carolina. He should be a useful arm there but they don't have the best track record for developing amrs well. They have more of a pattern of burning them up or using them questionably. If I were a top pitching prospect, I would not go to UNC but maybe it goes well for Bukauskas.
Pat Mahomes is one of the few football players in this class. Mahomes is attending Texas Tech where he will be a QB and hopefully pitch as well.
Justin Smith has tools that shouldn't get to school but Miami got him. He struggles with consistent contact but he has all the tools to succeed if he makes enough contact.
Keith Weisenberg is a big RHP that will head to Stanford. He has a lot of work to do on his delivery consistency. The talent is there but Stanford usually doesn't give to much rope to players that don't put up good results. He'll be interesting to follow.
Bennett Sousa is a LHP going to Virginia. Sousa has a lot of potential on the mound and flashes three plus pitchers. He could easily be a top 15 pick in three years if he gains consistency.
Jake Godfrey is a big RHP that is going to Notre Dame and could fill the void that Pat Connaughton filled this year. Much of his future will depend on his velocity. If he can gain a few ticks, he could go very will in '17.
Pavin Smith is also a LHP heading to Virginia and is also an excellent hitter. Hcould add some power to one of the best teams in college baseball.
Jeren Kendall is a gamer going to Vanderbilt and will join the defending CWS champs. He should fit into that squad well with his speed and bat to ball skills.
Kel Johnson could develop into a power threat at Georgia Tech. He reminds me a little of Hunter Pence.
David Peterson is a polished lefty that could gain a few ticks at Oregon and be a big name in the draft in a couple years.
Joe Dunand is headed to NC State. He is a polished bat that could get him into the top 2-3 rounds in three years and get 1st round mentions if he keeps improving.
Micheal Cantu could be a great two way guy at Texas. He has a power arm, good breaking ball and can really hit. He's a catcher as well.
Zach Shannon could be a two way guy at Ohio State. He is likely a 1B only in pro ball but could maybe be tried out in a corner OF spot at Ohio State.
Jeff Harding at South Carolina has a big arm and could impact as a freshman with an aggresive approach on the mound.
Carl Chester could be a guy hwo outplays his tools at Miami. He's a gamer who can fly and has a big arm. Miami is a serious team this year with good college players as well as future pro studs.
Justin Bellinger is going to Duke. He could grow into a 30+ home run guy or just turn into an org guy at best. He could be a top 10 pick in three years. He may not get drafted in three years. He is that big of a wild card.
There are also a handful of guys that got very little attention that I really like.
Isaih Gilliam was set to be a 2015 draft pick but bumped up to the 2014 class and it cost him a high pick. He was committed to Georgia but will now attend Chipola College. He'll never get a lot of hype because he's a 1B but he will turn into a good hitter.
Scott Hurst at Cal State Fullerton can fly and he's a gamer. Reese Cooley, also going to Chipola, is an under the radar player that doens't get the love he should.
Jeremy Vasquez is shoer for a 1B but can hit and should be a presence in the Florida lineup for the next three years. He may have to play some OF to get in AB's as well.
Devein Smeltzer at Florida Gulf Coast is fun to watch and is a funky lefty. He may be a LOOGY but there is a chance he's more.
Brandon Murray at South Carolina could be one of the best freshman pitchers in 2015.
Brock Barger is going to Oklahoma and could be an impact arm there as well. He's 6'7", 250 LBS and has good body control. He already can hit 90, so if he can gain a few ticks, he could be an undrafted guy who really jumps up.
There is a lot of potential in this freshman class. I know I'm leaving some guys off, but I'll have a top freshman list and a top 2017 draft pick list coming this fall/winter to get everyone.