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2017 MLB Draft: American League Eastern Division reviews

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Finalizing our 2017 MLB Draft review series with a look at the American League Eastern division

University of Louisville sports information

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

Baltimore Orioles

1-21) D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta, Georgia
2-60) Adam Hall, SS, London, Ontario
2B-74) Zac Lowther, LHP, Xavier University
3-98) Mike Baumann, RHP, Jacksonville University
4-128) Jack Conlon, RHP, Sugar Land, Texas
5-158) Lamar Sparks, OF, Katy, Texas
6-188) Mason McCoy, SS, University of Iowa

ANALYSIS: Georgian Hall was a top five candidate at one point but dropped for unclear reasons; there’s certainly nothing wrong with his 90-95 MPH fastball and a nasty power curve; he’s good value here. Canadian Adam Hall is very toolsy but his performance has been inconsistent; Lowther is a command-over-stuff southpaw while Baumann can hit 96 but is still learning his craft. Texans Conlon and Sparks are bundles of projectability who will not advance quickly, while McCoy projects as a utility infielder. SLEEPERS: Ben Breazele (C, Wake Forest, 7th round, power) and T.J. Nichting (9th round, UNC-Charlotte,,speed) are proven college performers with an interesting tool. 13th rounder Reed Hayes (RHP, Vanderbilt) is a two-way guy who can hit 95 MPH. IMPRESSIONS: Upside early here, then a switch to college pitching, then back to upside, followed by typical senior drafts. This one will take time to make impact dividends and it will be interesting to see how the Orioles handle the Halls

Boston Red Sox

1-24) Tanner Houck, RHP, University of Missouri
2-63) Cole Brannen, OF, Perry, Georgia
3-101) Brett Netzer, 2B, UNC-Charlotte
4-131) Jake Thompson, RHP, Oregon State University
5-161) Alex Scherff, RHP, Colleyville, Texas
6-191) Zach Shellenger, RHP, Seton Hall University

ANALYSIS: Diversity. Houck was a top ten candidate but dropped late, getting him at 24 could be quite profitable. Brannen was considered a first-round talent by some scouts due to pure hitting ability and speed, while Netzer needs glove work but can hit. Thompson can hit 97 and pitched well this year, he looks like another steal; Scherff is inconsistent but looks like a first-rounder on the right day, a fine choice if signable. SLEEPER: Garrett Benge, 3B, Oklahoma State, 13th round has destroyed college pitching but doesn’t have a great glove; Frankie Rios, SS, Southern Cal, 17th round is a sparkplug type with a sound glove. IMPRESSIONS: This strikes me as a class with a fair balance of upside, risk, and polish.

New York Yankees

1-16) Clarke Schmidt, RHP, University of South Carolina
2-54) Matt Sauer, RHP, Santa Maria, California
3-92) Trevor Stephan, RHP, University of Arkansas
4-122) Canaan Smith, OF, Rockwall, Texas
5-152) Glenn Otto, RHP, Rice University
6-182) Dalton Lehnen, LHP, Augustana College

ANALYSIS: Pitching focus with a clever use of the bonus rules: Schmidt is out with Tommy John and could cut a below-slot deal, leaving extra budget room for dominating prep right-hander Sauer. Arkansas stalwart Stephan is a quality pick in the third round, while Otto and Lehnen both hit 94 but have some concerns about durability and command. Smith has power and patience, so much that he was pitched around in high school and scouts aren’t completely sure what to expect. He’s interesting though. SLEEPER: 13th round pick Eric Wagaman (1B, Orange Coast JC) can mash. IMPRESSION: It would be nice if Tristan Beck (Stanford, RHP, 29th round) or Jake Mangum (Mississippi State, OF, 30th round) sign but that seems unlikely. Even without them the Yankees picked several interesting arms with upside that can be polished.

Tampa Bay Rays

1-4) Brendan McKay, 1B, University of Louisville
1B-31) Drew Rasmussen, RHP, Oregon State University
2-40) Michael Mercado, RHP, San Diego, California
3-79) Taylor Walls, SS, Florida State University
4-109) Drew Strotman, RHP, St.Mary’s
5-139) Josh Fleming, LHP, Webster University
6-169) Zach Rutherford, SS, Old Dominion

ANALYSIS: McKay is the best two-way player from college since Dave Winfield and won’t come cheap but can make a rapid impact on either side of the ball. Rasmussen came back from Tommy John to hit 98 MPH and could also come quickly if his health and command hold up. Mercado is the type of projectable arm the Rays love to work with, while Strotman and Fleming both hit the low-90s. Between Walls and Rutherford the Rays should get at least one good utility infielder. SLEEPERS: College picks who stand out in the later rounds include Riley O’Brien (RHP, College of Idaho, 8th round), Phoenix Sanders, (RHP, 10th round, South Florida, 88-92 MPH fastball but an 80-grade name), and Erik Ostberg (C, 13th round, Hartford) who looked like a third round pick until getting hurt. IMPRESSIONS: There’s some good material here but ultimately the thing that will matter most is McKay living (or not) up to expectations.

Toronto Blue Jays

1-22) Logan Warmoth, SS, University of North Carolina
1-28) Nate Pearson, RHP, JC of Central Florida
2-61) Hagen Danner, C, Huntington Beach, California
3-99) Riley Adams, C, University of San Diego
4-129) Kevin Smith, SS, University of Maryland
5-159) Cullen Large, 2B, William and Mary
6-189) Brock Lundquist, OF, Long Beach State

ANALYSIS: This is a really impressive mixture of impact and diversity. Warmoth: polished defender who showed he could hit this year. Pearson: 95-101 MPH fastball. Danner: first round candidate as either a catcher or pitcher, a steal at 61. Adams: first round power with at least some chance to catch. Smith: will make a great double play partner for Warmoth. Large: switch-hitter who can hit with versatility. Lundquist: erratic, but has second round tools. SLEEPERS: Colton Laws, 7th round RHP from UNC-Charlotte is 6-8, hits 92, and throws strikes. Kacy Clemons, 8th round 1B from Texas, was a productive college hitter with a famous father but a legit prospect in that spot. 13th rounder Brody Rodning (LHP, Minnesota State) can hit 92 and threw a shutout the day after his mom died of cancer. IMPRESSIONS: This strikes me as an excellent balance between future potential and current performance with no shortage of upside