The MLB Draft had fans applauding and scratching their heads through day one action on Monday night, and there are sure to be draft grades flooding the internet this week.
Let’s focus on what surprised us in the first few rounds of the draft, because there was plenty of it.
Twins take Royce Lewis with top pick:
It didn’t take long at all for the draft to surprise us on Monday night. The surprise of the Twins’ first pick was diluted a tad when rumors surfaced of the team honing in on two-way stud Brendan McKay and shortstop Royce Lewis, but plenty of baseball minds still thought McKay was the top candidate.
Most mock drafts had Lewis going fourth overall, but the Twins snagged the high schooler with the top pick, while McKay “fell” to the Rays at number four, where Lewis was originally projected to go.
High-schoolers dominate top of draft:
With Lewis, Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore going in the first three picks, we have our first trio of high school prospects going in the top three of the draft since 1990, when Chipper Jones highlighted a list of promising youngsters.
College prospects usually seem to be the safer bet in the draft, so teams like the Twins, Reds and Padres must be really sold on these high school talents. We’ll have to see how this plays out in the coming years.
Keston Hiura cracks the top 10:
The UC Irvine prospect was drafted ninth overall by the Brewers, which is a surprise to me. His hitting talent is undeniable, but he has his defensive problems and doesn’t seem to have a true position in the field.
The injury concerns also land Hiura in the surprise column. He sprained his UCL last year and Tommy John surgery has been mentioned in the same sentence as his name, so we’ll have to see if the platelet injections hold up. For Brewers fans looking for a hope shot, Yankee ace Masahiro Tanaka suffered a similiar injury back in 2014 and is still chucking. If a pitcher can hold up, perhaps a position player should have no problem. However, everybody is different.
Yanks take injured Clarke Schmidt at no. 16:
Speaking of Tanaka and the Yankees, the Bombers rolled the dice and went with the right hander from South Carolina with their mid-round pick.
Schmidt saw a rising stock before he was sidelined after Tommy John surgery, and won’t be able to throw a pitch until 2018. Given the Yankees’ troubled past with pitching prospects, including their recent top pick James Kaprielian who is struggling with injuries, you would think the Yanks would take a safer pick with their first round choice.
The fact that the Yanks took a risk would have to suggest that they talked to some experts and have faith that Schmidt will be back to his normal self in 2018 and show the baseball world why he was such a highly touted prospect before his elbow injury.
The fall of Jeren Kendall:
Plenty of mock drafts had the Vanderbilt outfielder just outside of the top 10, but instead the speedy center fielder fell to 23rd when the Dodgers grabbed him.
Scouts have raved about Kendall’s speed and fielding ability, but expressed concerns about his strikeout rate. Obviously, other teams heard those concerns and stayed away. Still, with strikeouts being more forgivable in today’s version of baseball and the other incredible abilities Kendall has, his slide to no. 23 comes as a surprise.