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The mystery is over. With the first pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft, the Minnesota Twins selected shortstop Royce Lewis from JSerra Catholic High School from San Juan Capistrano, California.
With the selection, the team gets possibly the best position player in the draft. All of the other players considered with the No. 1 overall pick were either pitchers or two-way players. Lewis is a pure hitter, playing both shortstop and outfield in high school.
Selecting Lewis with the first pick came as a bit of a surprise. While he was one of the best players on the board, the Twins kept their selection shrouded in secrecy up until the last minute. It wasn’t until the morning of the draft that Lewis was mentioned as a candidate to go No. 1 overall.
Weeks before the draft, a report emerged suggesting the Twins would not take flame-throwing high school pitcher Hunter Greene with the No. 1 overall pick. Instead, the team was reportedly debating between Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright. On the morning of the draft, our own Jeff Passan said McKay and Lewis were the two names in play.
Manager Paul Molitor even admitted he had no idea who the team would pick a day before the draft, though that could have been misdirection. Either way, it gives an idea of just how carefully the Twins guarded the pick.
Lewis is the first player to be selected by the Twins with the No. 1 overall pick since the team took catcher Joe Mauer in 2001. If they can get similar production out of Lewis, they’ll be more than satisfied. Prior to a 2013 concussion, Mauer hit .323/.405/.468 over his first 10 years in the majors. He was on a clear Hall of Fame path before injuries struck.
While it’s a lot to expect that type of performance, it shows how the pick could come to define the Twins going forward. If Lewis turns out to be a star, like Mauer, he could be the face of the franchise for years to come.
THE REST OF THE TOP 10
NO. 2: THE CINCINNATI REDS SELECT NOTRE DAME HIGH (CALIF.) PITCHER HUNTER GREENE
The 17-year-old fire-baller Hunter Greene was considered by many to be the most talented player in the draft. The Twins, however, passed on Greene, allowing the Reds to strike. Greene has already been profiled by Sports Illustrated due to both his talent and ability to throw 102 mph fastballs. While he also plays shortstop, the Reds plan on using him as a pitcher.
NO. 3: THE SAN DIEGO PADRES SELECT WHITEVILLE HIGH (N.C.) PITCHER MACKENZIE GORE
While 18-year-old Mackenzie Gore was never mentioned for the No. 1 overall spot by the Twins, he was considered an elite prospect by many analysts. The left-hander was projected to go to the Padres with the third pick by ESPN, MLB.com and Baseball America prior to the draft. Despite his age, Gore was considered by many to be the best left-handed pitcher in the draft.
NO. 4: THE TAMPA BAY RAYS SELECT LOUISVILLE FIRST BASEMAN/PITCHER BRENDAN MCKAY
Brendan McKay was considered one of the two candidates to go No. 1 overall to the Twins. Minnesota reportedly made an offer to McKay, but he declined, leading the Twins to select Lewis instead. The 21-year-old McKay excelled as a two-way player at Louisville. Though he was announced at the draft as a first baseman, the Rays reportedly plan to use him in both roles in the minors. As a hitter, McKay posted a .343 average, with 17 home runs, over 210 at-bats. As a pitcher, he posted a 2.34 ERA, with 140 strikeouts in 104 innings.
NO. 5: THE ATLANTA BRAVES SELECT VANDERBILT PITCHER KYLE WRIGHT
Kyle Wright was considered by the Twins as the No. 1 overall pick, but apparently dropped on their board a few days before the draft. The 21-year-old righty owns a 97 mph fastball. As the first college pitcher to be selected, Wright could make an appearance in the majors sooner than Greene and Gore.
NO. 6: THE OAKLAND ATHLETICS SELECT NORTH DAVIDSON HIGH (N.C.) OUTFIELDER AUSTIN BECK
The 18-year-old Austin Beck has been linked to the Athletics for weeks now. MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Johnathan Mayo predicted Beck would not last past the A’s if he even fell this far. Like most high school players, he’s considered raw. But the centerfielder has immense talent, as evidenced by his high draft slot.
NO. 7: THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS SELECT VIRGINIA FIRST BASEMAN PAVIN SMITH
The 21-year-old first baseman can mash. Each year in college, Pavin Smith posted more impressive stats. In 2017, the left-hander hit .342/.427/.570, with 13 home runs, over 228 at-bats. The Diamondbacks already have a pretty good first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt, but that’s hardly a concern in the MLB draft. You take the best player regardless of position, and sort all that out later if Smith is as good as advertised.
NO. 8: THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES SELECT VIRGINIA OUTFIELDER ADAM HASELEY
That’s right, two teammates went back-to-back. Smith and Adam Haseley terrified opposing pitchers at Virginia. The 21-year-old Haseley actually put up better stats, hitting .390/.491/.659, with 14 home runs, over 223 at-bats. That performance caused Haseley to shoot up draft boards this spring.
NO. 9: THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS SELECT UC IRVINE SECOND BASEMAN KESTON HIURA
If a second baseman is going to go this high in the draft, he must have an elite hitting tool. That’s exactly what the Brewers are getting in 20-year-old Keston Hiura. As a junior, the right-handed Hiura hit an impressive .442/.567/.693 over 199 at-bats. An elbow injury limited him to DH this spring, but the Brewers will have to find the right position for him as he moves up the ladder.
NO. 10: THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS SELECT BALLARD HIGH (KY) OUTFIELDER JORDON ADELL
If you want to know more about Jordon Adell, you’re in luck. We talked to him about the draft process a few days before the Angels made him their top pick. The toolsy 18-year-old outfielder not only gave us some insight into how things work, but also told us his favorite TV shows, pre-game rituals and the most famous person he has in his phone. Hint: It was a player from a team that could have drafted him, but passed. We wonder if Adell will keep that guy as a contact going forward.
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