The Major League Baseball Draft is a different animal. In the NFL or NBA, fans can easily watch draft-eligible prospects for most of their amateur careers. If not, they can at least expect to see them perform at the highest level just a few months after they get selected.
That’s not the case in baseball. Access to college games isn’t as widely available, and good luck watching that talented high-school third baseman everyone keeps talking about. Oh, and once your favorite team drafts that sure-fire prospect, be prepared to wait. Even the best baseball draftees need some time in the minors.
Because of that, we can’t blame you if you haven’t exactly made yourself familiar with many of the players available in the 2017 MLB draft. That’s OK, because we’re here to help.
Below, you’ll find The Stew’s list of 11 names you need to know before Monday’s draft. Keep in mind, these aren’t necessarily the best players (though some of them are included). If you want that, you can find mock drafts easily. Instead, our list is a mix of talented players, fun names and guys with familiar family members.
HUNTER GREENE, RHP/SS, NOTRE DAME HIGH SCHOOL
You’ve probably heard of Hunter Greene. The 17-year-old can hit triple digits on the mound, and has already made the cover of Sports Illustrated. A few months ago, it was believed Greene could be the first right-handed high school pitcher to be selected No. 1 overall. That may no longer be the case, though it’s not due to Greene’s performance. The Minnesota Twins are reportedly looking in another direction with the top pick. Greene won’t last very long past that.
BRENDAN MCKAY, LHP/1B, LOUISVILLE
The Twins are reportedly still undecided about their No. 1 pick, but a Friday report from Jim Callis of MLB.com suggested they could be leaning toward Brendan McKay. The left-hander has excelled as a two-way player for Louisville, but Callis believes the club will take him as a pitcher. He’s posted a 2.34 ERA, with 140 strikeouts in 104 innings as a pitcher this year. He’s hit .343, with 17 home runs, over 210 at-bats. You can’t really go wrong either way.
ROYCE LEWIS, SS/OF, JSERRA CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
There’s a case Royce Lewis is the best position player available in the draft. Both McKay and Greene may be drafted as pitchers, leaving Lewis as the best non-pitcher of the bunch. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Lewis was considered a top talent, but not necessarily in play for No. 1 overall pick. That may have changed. Our own Jeff Passan reports the Twins are considering either Lewis or McKay with the top pick on Monday.
KYLE WRIGHT, RHP, VANDERBILT
For weeks, many thought Kyle Wright would be the Twins’ pick at No. 1. That may no longer be the case, though Wright remains an elite prospect. While Greene is a phenom with plenty of upside, Wright is the more experienced and polished pitcher. That could help him move more quickly through the minors. Well, that and the fact that he has a 97 mph fastball.
JORDON ADELL, OF, BALLARD HIGH SCHOOL
Jordon Adell is a toolsy high school outfielder who enjoys “Prison Break,” has Ryan Braun’s cell phone number and listens to DMX to get him pumped. How do we know all that? Because we talked to him about the draft process. Adell is set to be one of the four players actually in attendance during the draft, and he told us he’s got his outfit all picked out for the big day (but wouldn’t reveal anything else).
LUKE HEIMLICH, LHP, OREGON STATE
Luke Heimlich had been considered a first- or second-round pick in the draft until a report detailed he pleaded guilty to one felony count of molestation in 2012. Heimlich was 15 at the time, and molested a 6-year-old family member on two occasions. With No. 1-ranked Oregon State still playing for a spot in the College World Series, Heimlich asked to be excused for the team because he didn’t want “to be a distraction.” At least four teams have removed Heimlich from their board completely following the revelation, according to our own Jeff Passan.
JAKE BURGER, 3B, MISSOURI STATE
We’re suckers for food names, so that makes us want to root for Jake Burger. And, hey, he’s not just a great name, but he’s actually a pretty strong prospect. Analysts have him going within the top-20 during the draft. That probably takes him out of the running for the St. Louis Cardinals, who currently have Eric Fryer. Since Burger won’t go No. 1, he likely won’t be paired up with Trey Cabbage, who was drafted by the Twins in 2015. Our best hope is that he slips slightly and falls to the Texas Rangers. They once employed Mark Hamburger. Even if you don’t know much about Burger, you can at least applaud any team that drafts him by tweeting “well done” at them. It’s not our preferred way to consume grilled meats, but saying “medium-rare” to a team would be weird.
DARREN BAKER, 2B, JESUIT HIGH SCHOOL
This ought to make you feel old. Remember Darren Baker? You know, Dusty Baker’s son who was saved by J.T. Snow during the 2002 World Series? He’s a pretty decent baseball prospect now, and has a chance to get drafted this year. He’s already committed to Cal, but his dad admitted Darren could choose to go pro if he’s selected high enough. Dusty and the Washington Nationals aren’t exactly on the best terms regarding his current contract. Perhaps drafting his son could clear the air between both sides.
JETER DOWNS, SS, MONSIGNOR EDWARD PACE HIGH SCHOOL
C’mon, his name is Jeter and he plays shortstop. Most have Downs going either near the back of the first round or at some point in the second. Baseball America has him listed as the 76th best prospect, but Downs has seen his stock shoot up after hitting .412, with 12 home runs, during his senior season. And look, mentioning a guy named Jeter gives us the opportunity to also mention …
JOE DUNAND, SS, NORTH CAROLINA STATE
What does Joe Dunand have to do with a guy named Jeter? Nothing, but his uncle, Alex Rodriguez, is more than familiar with that name. Dunand will likely always be compared to his uncle, and at 6-2, he is a big shortstop. But it’s unfair for anyone to be compared to Rodriguez. If anything, Dunand has experienced the limelight early in his life, and has seen all the stuff his uncle has gone through. That could help him if a team calls his name in the draft.
COLE BELLINGER, RHP, HAMILTON HIGH SCHOOL
You know that really excellent rookie who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers? Goes by the name Cody Bellinger? Turns out, he’s got a younger brother who is also pretty good at baseball. Cole Bellinger is a right-handed pitcher who has led his team to two straight Arizona state baseball championships. Bellinger pitched in both championship games, so the talent is clearly there. But you already knew that since both his brother and father have played in the majors.
OTHER FUN NAMES
Peyton Glavine – Son of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine. He might not go as high as his dad, but you have to think the Atlanta Braves are at least keeping tabs on him.
Kacy and Kody Clemens – Sons of possible future Hall of Fame pitcher Roger Clemens. Kacy was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2013, but chose to go to college. Both are eligible for the draft in 2017
Zach Britton – No, not the Baltimore Orioles reliever. This one is a high school catcher. He has no relation to the closer, as far as we know. He just has a good baseball name.
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