The 2017 MLB Draft begins on June 12, meaning every team is narrowing down its top choices and taking a close look at what areas of their farm systems need help. Here’s a look at what each National League team’s system needs as the draft approaches:
The Diamondbacks have a top-10 pick for the second time in three seasons, as they have the seventh pick after choosing shortstop Dansby Swanson with the No. 1 overall selection in 2015. However, they traded Swanson away to the Braves for starter Shelby Miller, who is now out for the season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Which brings us to the D-backs’ biggest need: starting pitching. The D-backs have plenty of infield prospects, but they need to build depth in their rotation to be able to contend for during the prime years of pitchers Zach Greinke and Taijuan Walker, and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
The Braves’ farm system right now is loaded with prospects, as they have eight in Baseball America’s Top 100, with five of them being pitchers. They are about to add even more firepower to it since they have the No. 5 pick. Their biggest need, though, is in the outfield, as they only boast five outfielders among their top-30 prospects. In addition, Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp are 33 and 32 years old, respectively, so they may want to get younger blood there. The last time they chose an outfielder in the first round was Jayson Heyward back in 2007.
The defending World Series champions are picking 27th and 30th, making it the first time they are picking outside the top 20 since 2009. Their No. 30 pick is compensation they received for Dexter Fowler, who signed with the Cardinals for this season. The Cubs’ big need will be starting pitching, as John Lackey is 38 and a free agent after this year. Though they have a great 1-2 punch in Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, they would love to have a first-round pick turn into a homegrown starter, which they have not had since they drafted Mark Prior in 2001.
For the second straight season, the Reds have the No. 2 pick. Last year, they took third baseman Nick Senzel, who seems to be on his way to being a franchise player at the hot corner. Now, they have a chance to pick either a starting pitcher or first baseman of the future, both of which are big needs since they do not have quality pitchers atop their staff in the big leagues and Joey Votto is entering the latter half of his career. They can fill either hole if pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay of Louisville falls to them or only fill their pitching need if the best high school player in the country, Hunter Greene of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, is there.
The Dodgers will pick in the latter half of the first round for the 12th time since 2006, as they have the 23rd pick. Their biggest need at the moment is starting pitching, as they have little depth after ace Clayton Kershaw. Their other current starters in the majors have been battling injuries, while four of their top five prospects are either struggling in the minors or hurt. They also could use another outfielder since Cody Bellinger may transition to to his natural position at first base after Adrian Gonzalez’s contract is up next season.
The Marlins, who have the 13th pick, have a ton of needs, but starting pitching is imperative for them after ace Jose Fernandez unfortunately passed away at 24 years old. They landed a big-time prospect in lefty Braxton Garrett with the seventh pick last year, but they have to develop more depth so they can be able to contend in the future and not waste away Giancarlo Stanton’s prime years in South Florida. They also need a first baseman and an outfielder who can make an impact sooner later than later.
The Brewers are playing at a high level with a lot of young talent plus the resurgence of Eric Thames and the usual steady play of Ryan Braun. However, they have to get a pitcher who will be their ace for a long time with the ninth pick of the draft. The only starter they had ever chose in the first round who ended up being the ace of the club for more than five years was Ben Sheets, who was picked 10th overall and was their No. 1 pitcher for eight years. They may also need a possible outfield replacement for Braun, who has been mentioned in trade talks with the Dodgers and is a 10 and 5 player now.
Only a couple of years ago, starting pitching seemed to be a luxury for the Mets. Now, it is turning into a deficiency with injuries and lackluster performances at both the Major League and minor league levels. The Mets own the 20th pick and they may need to shore up this position again because they won’t have the talented arms of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zach Wheeler and Seth Lugo for long. They also need a third baseman of the future with David Wright’s return to the field virtually in doubt.
At No. 8, the Phillies are picking in the top 10 of the draft for the fourth straight season. The Phillies are an incredibly young team that has some pieces already in place for the future after landing starter Aaron Nola, the seventh pick in 2014 who is already in the big leagues, and outfielder Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick last year who is ranked 16th-best prospect in baseball. The Phillies may need more starting pitching to build around Nola or a second baseman to replace an aging Howie Kendrick.
Owners of the 12th pick, the Pirates need starting pitching and outfielders. After all, the rumors for trading ace and former No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole have ramped up recently and Andrew McCutchen has been on a decline. The Pirates can fill either hole with their selection, choosing guys such as pitcher Alex Faedo of Florida, pitcher D.L. Hall of Valdosta High School in Georgia and/or outfielder Adam Haseley of Virginia.
The Padres are picking in the top 10 for the second straight season, as they hold the third pick. Given where they are, the Padres will address either their need for a future starting pitcher or their need for a shortstop down the road. The Padres can solidify either position since they will probably have Vanderbilt pitcher Kyle Wright, Georgia prep pitcher MacKenzie Gore or California shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis available to them.
After not having a first-round pick last year, the Giants are selecting 19th in the draft this time around. Their biggest position to address is the outfield, where they have been plagued by injuries at all levels this season. They can fill the spot by selecting second baseman/left fielder Keston Hiura of the University of California-Irvine.
After having three first-round picks last year, the Cardinals will not be picking until the third round at the 94th pick overall. The Cardinals forfeited their first-round pick (30th overall) to the Cubs after signing Fowler, and forfeited their two second-round selections (No. 56 and No. 75 overall) because they had breached the Astros’ database back in 2013 and 2014. Still, they will try to fill their outfield and relief pitching needs.
The Nationals are picking in the latter half of the first round for the fifth time since 2011, as they have the 25th pick. The Nationals need a future outfielder or a pitcher. They do have three prospects in the top 100, including outfielder Victor Robles (No. 5 overall). But, with Bryce Harper only being signed through next season, the Nationals need to find another franchise player sooner rather than later in case Harper heads to free agency.