We are just a bit more more than a month away from the 2017 MLB Draft. The Milwaukee Brewers will make their first pick at #9 overall and are hoping to get an impact player to help propel the rebuild and their chase of a championship.
Over the coming weeks, we at Brew Crew Ball will be previewing the top draft prospects, especially those linked to the Brewers.
So far, the two consensus top draft prospects are senior high school RHP/SS Hunter Greene and Louisville LHP/1B Brendan McKay. Both are likely to be coveted for their tremendous pitching ability and chosen well before the Brewers get on the board. But the fun thing about the MLB Draft is even consensus top prospects can tumble depending on how a team wants to use it’s draft funds. Last year, Jason Groome was one of the draft’s highest-rated prospects but went #12 to the Boston Red Sox. Since there’s always the outside possibility, we start the preview with a quick look at these two high-ranked draftees.
The Scouting Report
MLB Pipeline Tool Grades:
Fastball: 70 || Slider: 55 || Changeup: 50 || Control: 50 || Overall: 60
Hit: 50 || Power: 55 || Run: 50 || Arm: 60 || Field: 50 || Overall: 55
MLB Pipeline Tool Grades:
Fastball: 50 || Curveball: 60 || Changeup: 50 || Control: 55 || Overall: 60
Hit: 60 || Power: 50 || Run: 30 || Arm: 60 || Field: 55 || Overall: 60
Greene and McKay are an odd combo for the consensus best prospects in the draft in that one can make a great argument for both being hitters or pitchers. I find it hard to imagine either being drafted for their bat, given they are both phenomenal talents on the mound.
According to Keith Law, Greene’s fastball wasn’t clocked below 94 MPH in a recent 7 inning start. Some scouts have him topping out at 101 MPH. That type of durable velocity at 17 — the same age he’ll be when drafted — is not something you see on a regular basis. Pack that in with a decent breaking ball and manageable changeup, it’s easy to get excited about his ability on the mound. Not to mention his delivery is effortless given his velocity, which leads to a fair amount of control.
There are the standard concerns with a pitcher like Greene. Can he continue to develop his secondary offerings to be at least Major League average? Will throwing so hard eventually lead to Tommy John? One of the silliest concerns you’ll read when researching Greene is him being right handed. Of course, baseball is all about streaks, and there has never been a high school right-hander taken number one overall.
On the other side, we have McKay, a left-handed pitcher, which many more teams will find more attractive off the bat. McKay doesn’t feature the overwhelming velocity that comes with Greene — although there’s speculation his peak of 94 could rise once he focuses on pitching full time — but McKay does have one of the best breaking balls in the class. MLB Pipeline goes as far to call it a “consistent plus pitch.”
In his article linked above, Law says McKay should be a fast climber with a #3 starter floor. In the start, he witnessed plus movement on the changeup that was keeping the hitter off balance.
How They Become Brewers
Both of these prospects are very likely to go 1 and 2. However, there is a slight chance they could come to Milwaukee.
In my opinion, McKay will go #1 overall because of his track record and being left handed. We’ve seen pitchers with a similar makeup to McKay fall in the later portion of the first third of the draft due to injury. I certainly would never wish that on him, but it’s the only way he’d become a Brewer. That idea might scare a few people, but it’s worked for farm systems as of late. Jeff Hoffman is one example of a player that recently slid in the draft due to injury and Hoffman is already in the majors. Lucas Giolito in 2012 is another that comes to mind.
Greene has a much higher chance of being a Brewer. We saw last year that top high school prospects could slide for things like character concerns or contract demands. This could be one of the years where Greene drops due to money requirements and the Brewers choose to spend their extra slot money upfront rather than try to spend more throughout the other picks to get a top talent.
Is Greene worth that? I’m not sure. The strategy of spreading money throughout the draft to get more value in later picks certainly has appeared to pay off in the farm system, but Greene has as much ceiling on the mound as anyone we’ve seen in recent years. It could certainly be the time the Brewers pull the trigger and go after someone of his caliber, but given the pitching depth throughout the draft this year, I wouldn’t bet on it.