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2017 MLB Draft: American League Central Division review

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

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida vs Texas Tech
Alex Faedo
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing with our 2017 MLB Draft coverage, here’s a quick look at the American League Central 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.

Chicago White Sox

1-11) Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State University
2-49) Gavin Sheets, 1B, Wake Forest University
3-87) Luis Gonzalez, OF, University of New Mexico
4-117) Lincoln Henzman, RHP, University of Louisville
5-147) Tyler Johnson, RHP, University of South Carolina
6-177) Kade McClure, RHP, University of Louisville

ANALYSIS: Heavy on college picks with an emphasis on power bats at the top with Burger and Sheets, both capable of reaching the majors quickly. Gonzalez is a speed/defense/OBP guy, giving them someone to knock in, while Henzman, Johnson, and McClure are solid arms coming out of elite programs. This is calculated to make a rapid impact. Seventh rounder Evan Skoug, C from TCU, is another slugger but might be a signability concern given his pre-draft designs on the first round. SLEEPER: 12th round 3B Justin Yurchak from University of Binghamton has a doubtful glove but an excellent track record as a hitter. IMPRESSIONS: Performance in college was the obvious theme here but each of the top guys has at least one loud skill or tool.

Cleveland Indians

2-64) Quentin Holmes, OF, East Elmhurst, New York
2B-71) Tyler Freeman, SS, Rancho Cucamonga, California
3-102) Jonathan Rodriguez, OF, Florida, Puerto Rico
4-132) Ernie Clement, 2B, University of Virginia
5-162) Austen Wade, OF, TCU
6-192) Michael Rivera, University of Florida
7-222) Kirk McCarty, LHP, Southern Mississippi

ANALYSIS: The Indians didn’t have a first round pick but didn’t short-change themselves on upside, grabbing the 80-grade speed of Holmes and the solid batting-average-with-power-bat of Freeman. Rodriguez is raw but has power, speed, and a good throwing arm. College choices from elite programs were then emphasized, Clement offering versatility, Wade on-base ability, and Rivera defense. McCarty was the first pitcher chosen and offers advanced command. SLEEPERS: Jesse Berardi, ninth round SS from St. John’s, and Angel Lopez, 13th round C from Northampton JC, are good values in their spots. IMPRESSIONS: Despite lacking a first round pick the Indians still came away with some impact raw talents mixed with polished college guys. There’s upside as well as diversity.

Detroit Tigers

1-18) Alex Faedo, RHP, University of Florida
2-57) Reynaldo Rivera, OF, Chipola JC
3-95) Joey Morgan, C, University of Washington
4-125) Gio Arrierra, RHP, Palm Beach State JC
5-155) Sam McMillan, C, Live Oak, Florida
6-185) Dane Myers, RHP, Rice University

ANALYSIS: Faedo was in the picture for the top five at one point so getting him at 18 is a value given his advanced pitchability and closeness to the majors. Rivera destroyed junior college competition and while rather raw and needing defensive polish, he could be an excellent power hitter. Morgan is a fine defender and has at least some chance to hit, while Arrierra (up to 94 MPH) and McMillan (defense) have good standout qualities for their draft spots. Myers is an intriguing two-way talent but will pitch as a pro with a fastball up to 95. SLEEPERS: Several late round college picks are possibilities, including 11th round RHP Garett King (Cal Baptist) and 15th round OF Teddy Hoffman (Texas State). IMPRESSIONS: A very balanced group with a combination of pitching, defense, and power upside.

Kansas City Royals

1-14) Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach, California
2-52) M.J. Melendez, C, Palmetto Bay, Florida
2B-73) Evan Steele, LHP, Chipola Junior College
3-90) Daniel Tillo, LHP, Iowa Western Community College
4-120) Michael Gigliotti, OF, Lipscomb
5-150) Charlie Neuweiler, RHP, East Elmhurst, New York
6-180) Tyler Zuber, RHP, Arkansas State University

ANALYSIS: This is not a rapid impact draft. Pratto has one of the best prep bats available but is three years away even under a best-case scenario. He’s drawn comps to both Joey Votto and Eric Hosmer. Melendez is an excellent defensive catcher but his hitting draws very mixed reviews; again, he is years away. Both Steele and Tillo are big, hard-throwing left-handers from the junior college ranks but both have some concerns about durability, Steele with a history of blood clots and Tillo a late-spring velocity drop. Gigliotti could be a nice value, having drawn first-round ratings last year in the Cape Cod League before an erratic spring dropped him down; speed, defense, and OBP are his strengths. Neuweiler is a cold-weather arm with upside who needs development, while Zuber is a performance-oriented senior budget pick. SLEEPER: 7th round OF Brewer Hicklen from Alabama-Birmingham is very fast and athletic with flashes of power. 14th round OF Isaiah Henry from high school in Texas is very fast and has a good arm but is raw. IMPRESSIONS: As stated, this isn’t a draft that will provide much quick help, but there is quite a bit of upside at the top.

Minnesota Twins

1-1) Royce Lewis, SS, San Juan Capistrano, California
1B-35) Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State University
2-37) Landon Leach, RHP, Ajax, Ontario
3-76) Blayne Enlow, RHP, St. Amant, Louisiana
4-106) Charlie Barnes, LHP, Clemson University
5-136) Andrew Behtold, 3B, Chipola JC
6-166) Ricardo De La Torre, SS, Gurabo, Puerto Rico

ANALYSIS: Lewis was something of a surprise to fans at first overall but this was mainly a product of media expectations, as both his tools and skills are outstanding for his age. Rooker annihilated college competition this spring thanks to improved plate discipline, while Leach is a cold-weather arm with a nice delivery and a fastball up to 94. Enlow had first round buzz so he is strong value in the third round, provided they can sign him. Middle rounds showed diversity with strong college performers Barnes and Bechtold balanced by De La Torre, who has a shortstop glove and a chance to hit. SLEEPERS: Seventh round LHP Ryley Widell (Central AZ JC) and eight round LHP Bryan Sammons (Western Carolina) have good size and fastballs in the 90s. 12th round RHP Bailey Ober (College of Charleston) is 6-9 and throws strikes. IMPRESSIONS: There’s risk at the top but there’s also balance and diversity here. Lewis didn’t get the same hype as Hunter Greene or Brendan McKay but he’s a valid pick on ability. I believe in Rooker’s bat but the prep right-handers will need time.