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2017 MLB Draft: American League Western Division review

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Here’s a quick take on the American League West in the 2017 MLB Draft

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Vanderbilt vs Virginia
Will Toffey
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing with our 2017 MLB Draft coverage, here’s a quick look at the American League Western Division results. The standard caveat applies: it takes five or six years before we really know how good a class was or wasn’t, but at least we can get some idea of the strategies employed.

Houston Astros

1-15) J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, University of North Carolina
2-53) Joe Perez, 3B, Southwest Ranches, Florida
2-56) Corbin Martin, RHP, Texas A&M
2B-75) J.J. Matijevic, 2B, University of Arizona
3-91) Tyler Ivey, RHP, Grayson Junior College
4-121) Peter Solomon, RHP, Notre Dame
5-151) Nathan Perry, C, Bassett, Virginia
6-181) Jake Adams, 1B, University of Iowa

ANALYSIS: This seems very Astros-esque with a mix of strong college performers with the occasional upside play. Bukauskas was a top ten candidate before slipping late so getting him at 15 could be a coup. Perez got a lot of attention as a pitcher but he’s a good prospect as a hitter, too, and can always return to the mound if hitting doesn’t work out. Martin can hit 95, Matijevic can hit and is athletic enough to earn a trial at second base despite playing first base this year, Ivey and Solomon have live arms but need work on their secondaries, Perry and Adams have impact power but questions about contact and defense. SLEEPERS: Many college guys to choose from, but Matt Ruppenthal (RHP, Vanderbilt, 17th round) was stuck behind other guys on a deep college staff and could end up being very good. IMPRESSION: This fits with past Astros draft strategies which have worked well.

Los Angeles Angels

1-10) Jordon Adell, OF, Louisville, Kentucky
2-47) Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA
3-85) Jacob Pearson, OF, West Monroe, Louisiana
4-115) John Swanda, RHP, Des Moines, Iowa
5-145) Joseph Booker, RHP, Brewton, Alabama
6-175) Jonah Todd, OF, Auburn University

ANALYSIS: A thin farm system needs both impact and depth and the Angels front office took a shot at adding both. Adell has huge upside but will need time, while polished Canning is a bargain in the second round IF his arm is OK. He dropped due to medical concerns. Pearson was a second round talent who dropped to the third, perhaps since he’s already 19, while Swanda is a cold-weather prep with a chance for three strong pitches. Booker is similar but from a warmer clime, while Todd is an on-base machine. SLEEPERS: Ninth round RHP Brett Hanewich from Stanford has control issues but can hit 95-96. 20th round RHP Mitch Traver out of TCU has a long list of health problems but is always effective when on the mound. IMPRESSION: This looks like a nice draft aimed at addressing weaknesses in a system that needs everything.

Oakland Athletics

1-6) Austin Beck, OF, Lexington, North Carolina
1B-33) Kevin Merrell, SS, University of South Florida
2-43) Greg Deichmann, OF, Louisiana State University
3-81) Nick Allen, SS, San Diego, California
4-111) Will Toffey, 3B, Vanderbilt University
5-141) Santis Sanchez, C, Ceiba, Puerto Rico
6-171) Logan Salow, LHP, University of Kentucky

ANALYSIS: Getting the mega-toolsy Beck and the highly-regarded Allen in the same draft is a prep coup, provided Allen (a late first round talent) signs. Polished college performers otherwise dominate but they picked some very good ones, with Merrell’s speed, Deichmann’s power, and Toffey’s pure hitting ability standing out. SLEEPERS: There are some big college names who could advance quickly with polished RHP Parker Dunshee (7th round, Wake Forest), RHP Brian Howard (8th round, TCU) and RHP Wyatt Marks (13th round, Louisiana Lafayette) all capable of providing quick reinforcement. IMPRESSION: Looks very good from where I’m sitting. There’s big upside mixed with college polish, keeping both traditionalists and metrics people happy. Toffey screams Matt Carpenter to me.

Seattle Mariners

1-17) Evan White, 1B-OF, University of Kentucky
2-55) Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville, Minnesota
3-93) Wyatt Mills, RHP, Gonzaga
4-123) Seth Elledge, RHP, Dallas Baptist University
5-153) David Banuelos, C, Long Beach State
6-183) Oliver Jaskie, LHP, University of Michigan

ANALYSIS: College-oriented, but with a key prep upside play in the second round; Carlson was a first-round talent so getting him at 55 is very nice, especially in combination with the very polished hitting of White and the “will help quickly” bullpen arm of Mills. Elledge and Jaskie won’t need long, either, and you have the impressive glove of Banuelos to catch them. SLEEPERS: Seventh round LHP Max Roberts from Wabash Valley JC can hit 90 already and projects more. Ninth round LHP Jorge Benitez is an ultra-projectable arm from Puerto Rico. 11th round LHP J.P. Sears from The Citadel led NCAA Division I in strikeouts despite an 87-89 MPH heater. IMPRESSION: Lots of college talent here with good performance records but with just enough longer-term pitching upside mixed in to please traditionalists.

Texas Rangers

1-26) Bubba Thompson, OF, Mobile, Alabama
1-29) Chris Seise, SS, Winter Garden, Florida
2-66) Hans Crouse, RHP, Dana Point, California
3-104) Matt Whatley, C, Oral Roberts University
4-134) Ryan Dease, RHP, Altamonte Springs, Florida
5-164) Jake Latz, LHP, Kent State University
6-194) Noah Bremer, RHP, University of Washington

ANALYSIS: This is certainly Rangery, with three high-upside bets at the top. Thompson is a superior athlete who showed better baseball skills this spring and could have easily gone 10 spots higher, while Seise has the glove for shortstop but questions about his bat. Crouse can hit the upper-90s and would have been a legit pick 40 spots earlier. Dease is the picture of projection. Affordable college picks were then emphasized, necessary to find the bonus money for the top trio, but Whatley’s glove and Bremer’s polish could get them to the Show fast. SLEEPERS: Seth Nordlin (13th round, RHP, Gateway JC) has sharp control, as does Alex Eubanks (13th round, RHP, Clemson). IMPRESSION: The Rangers have a specific strategy and executed it well, giving the player development folks plenty of talent to work with.