It's MLB draft day! The final version of our 2017 MLB Mock Draft can be found here.
While the MLB draft is nowhere near as big as the other major sports drafts, it's still a big day that could help turn your favorite teams fortunes around. The fact that most players drafted today won't see a big league roster for 3+ years makes the draft less exciting than it's NFL or NBA counterpart, though.
With the Minnesota Twins holding the first pick, they've been very tight lipped on their plans. Reports emerged over the last few weeks that they had zeroed in on Vanderbilt starting pitcher Kyle Wright, which seemed like a reach. Since then, the Twins appear to have cooled a bit on Wright, and experts in the industry now think the Twins are targeting Louisville two-way star Brendan McKay.
While the Twins refuse to go on record with any kind of clues, sources insist the team is tight lipped on their choice because they are still in the process of determining who they will select. The team is considering the previously mentioned Kyle Wright and Brendan McKay, as well as prep phenoms Hunter Greene, Royce Lewis and Mackenzie Gore.
Lewis or Gore are long shots, to be sure, and would have to be willing to sign for considerably less than the #1 slot. Because they both seem likely to be top 5 picks regardless, it seems unlikely they'd be willing to take enough of a pay cut for the Twins to be interested. Gore is the North Carolina phenom that went 9-0 with a 0.22 ERA and 132 strikeouts during his senior season. Lewis is arguably the draft's best athlete, but is overshadowed in his own state by Hunter Greene's fastball.
Greene worked out for the team on Friday and it's possible he was so impressive that the team has changed it's mind. However, leading up to the workout it was clear the Twins had some reservations about Greene, likely tied to the risk involved in trying to develop some off-speed pitches for the hard throwing right hander. While he's a great athlete and scouts seem convinced he'll develop above average off speed pitchers, if he's unable to do so he's going to be resigned to a career in the bullpen. As fun as it is to dream on Greene's potential, the risk is simply too high to take him with the top pick in my opinion.
That leaves Louisville star Brendan McKay as the current "likely" top choice. If the Twins goal truly is to minimize risk at the top, McKay appears to be the safest prospect in the draft. A three-year standout at Louisville, McKay has been the country's best two-way player every season. The Twins reportedly view him as a long-term starting pitcher, but if he is the choice most expect him to pitch minimally this summer after a long collegiate season. That would likely allow him to DH on days he doesn't pitch, giving the team more options with him long term if he doesn't develop into the starting pitcher most expect.
While the new Twins regime has left us fans on the edge of our seats trying to determine who will be the top pick, it's clear they are doing their due diligence on every major prospect even days before the draft. This also helps them from a negotiating standpoint, as they can suggest to agents they view 3 or 4 guys all the same and will simply take whoever signs for the least money. Even if they've settled on McKay or Wright, their leverage is only increased by creating more possibilities.
If the team takes McKay or Wright, a 2018 debut isn't out of the question if they can play well in the minors. If they take one of the high school standouts, it could be 2021 or 2022 before we see anyone. Regardless of when the team's top pick makes his big league debut, one thing is clear: The team can't afford to get this wrong. Brendan McKay is the right choice, so here's to hoping the latest reports are correct.