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2017 MLB Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions for Where Top Prospects Will Land

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 10, 2017

January 14, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA;  High school pitcher Hunter Greene during the USA Baseball sponsored Dream Series at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 MLB draft begins on June 12, with all 30 teams scouring the country to find the best high school and college talent who will represent the next great wave of prospects to lead the sport into the future. 

Atop the draft class is a clear trio who has separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Notre Dame High School star Hunter Greene, Louisville two-way standout Brendan McKay and Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright are the names to watch. 

Looking ahead to what will happen starting on Monday, here's the latest mock draft and what to expect from the first round. 

                 

2017 MLB Mock Draft

1. Minnesota Twins: Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Louisville

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2. Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame High School (CA)

3. San Diego Padres: Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra Catholic High School (CA)

4. Tampa Bay Rays: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt

5. Atlanta Braves: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia

6. Oakland Athletics: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina

7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia

8. Philadelphia Phillies: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson High School

9. Milwaukee Brewers: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

10. Los Angeles Angels: Trevor Rogers, LHPCarlsbad HS (NM)

11. Chicago White Sox: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina

12. Pittsburgh Pirates: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)

13. Miami Marlins: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon

14. Kansas City Royals: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)

15. Houston Astros: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State

16. New York Yankees: Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach HS (CA)

17. Seattle Mariners: Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA

18. Detroit Tigers: Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville HS (MN)

19. San Francisco Giants: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky

20. New York Mets: Keston Hiura, OF, UC Irvine

21. Baltimore Orioles: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida

22. Toronto Blue Jays: Stuart Fairchild, OF, Wake Forest

23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen Catholic HS (AL)

24. Boston Red Sox: Nick Allen, SS, Parker HS (CA)

25. Washington Nationals: Seth Romero, LHP, Houston

26. Texas Rangers: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)

27. Chicago Cubs: Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida (JUCO)

28. Toronto Blue Jays: Heliot Ramos, OF, Leadership Christian Academy (Puerto Rico)

29. Texas Rangers: Quentin Holmes, OF, Monsignor McClancy Memorial HS (NY)

30. Chicago Cubs: Tristen Lutz, OF, Martin HS (TX)

                   

Best Player: Hunter Greene

Coming into the draft, while there's not a clear consensus on who the top pick will be, Greene's status as the best pure player available has never been stronger. 

The California native could become the first high school right-handed pitcher to be taken first overall if the Twins decide to go that direction. 

Regardless of where Greene gets selected, his new team will be getting one of the most dynamic high school players to be drafted in a long time. Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins broke down what makes the 17-year-old an intimidating force coming into professional baseball:

"[Greene] stands 6' 4" and 210 pounds, hits baseballs 450 feet, throws them 102 mph and gloves them just about anywhere left of second base. When he steps to the plate in batting practice, outfielders shout warnings to the soccer players working out on the adjacent football field, lest they take unexpected headers. At 17, Greene has sent balls out of Petco Park in San Diego and Wrigley Field in Chicago, which is not to imply that he simply deposited them over the fence with a souped-up metal bat. No, he put them out of the stadium completely, with nothing but muscle and wood."

Greene plays both shortstop and pitcher in high school and has the potential to be a first-round draft pick at either position, but MLB.com noted "it's become clear his future is on the mound."

He has the ideal pitcher's frame, is loose and athletic with his delivery and doesn't require much effort to hit triple digits on the radar gun. There is legitimate No. 1 starter upside if Greene gets the proper development. 

A true ace is the greatest luxury an MLB team can have, making Greene the only player worthy of being designated the best in the 2017 class. 

                     

Quickest to Big Leagues: J.B. Bukauskas

The simplest way to figure out which player from an MLB class will be the first to reach the big league level is to look at the bullpen. Relievers typically won't need as much development time since their role isn't nearly as physically demanding as that of a starting pitcher or position player. 

North Carolina right-hander J.B. Bukauskas will certainly be groomed as a starting pitcher, especially if he ends up as a top-10 pick, but his quickest path to The Show could come in relief. It's the path David Price took when the Tampa Bay Rays drafted him first overall in 2007 and used him out of the pen during their playoff run in 2008. 

It's not a certainty that Bukauskas will be able to succeed as a starting pitcher at the MLB level because of his size. He's listed at 6'0" on the Tar Heels' official website, which is undersized for a right-handed starter. 

"He's also a 6'0" right-hander with no fastball plane and a delivery that makes no use of his lower half, which gives him reliever risk that Wright and McKay lack," ESPN's Keith Law wrote about Bukauskas. 

Bukauskas is projected to the Oakland Athletics in this mock, which would be a good landing spot. The franchise had success taking Sonny Gray, who is a right-hander listed at 5'10", and helped him turn into an All-Star as a starter. 

If lightning can strike twice, the A's will have another top-of-the-rotation starter added to the mix who can move through their system quickly after pitching three years against ACC competition. 

                

Biggest Risk: Seth Romero

There's no more interesting player to follow in this draft than left-handed pitcher Seth Romero, though it has nothing to do with his performance on the field. 

Romero was kicked off the University of Houston's baseball team in May for violating team and university policies. At the time of his dismissal, the southpaw had a 3.51 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. 

He's still regarded as a potential first-round talent, with Baseball America ranking him as the No. 27 overall prospect in this class. 

Scout.com's Taylor Blake Ward offered a brief scouting report on Romero and the very different approaches teams will have with him when the draft rolls around:

"With a fastball that ranges 92-95 MPH, and a plus swing-and-miss slider, many are torn between Romero's on-field success and off-field concerns. One scout noted the cliche of it taking just one team to ignore any off-field events for him to be a first-round pick. Another scout had a differing opinion, saying his team would never consider taking the risk."

Teams have to weigh the risk of a talented player who forced his way off a college team and if it's worth it to take him in the first round. 

It wouldn't be a surprise to see him slide, but there's also the temptation to add a left-handed pitcher who can touch the mid-90s with his fastball and has a knockout breaking ball. Every team believes it has the ability to "fix" that kind of player. 

There's no denying Romero's upside as a prospect. He just carries inherently more risk than the average player because of his off-field exploits. 

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