Two years ago, Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft by Arizona. Although he was traded to Atlanta that December, Swanson made quite the first impression for the Braves after he was called up this past August, which is why he’s considered the front-runner for National League Rookie of the Year honors this season.
The 2017 MLB Draft is set for June 12-14 and while there are a number of intriguing high school prospects, it’s just as likely that Minnesota will take a college player, like Swanson two years ago, with the No. 1 overall pick. If history is to repeat itself in that way, chances are it will be a pitcher the Twins select, considering that eight of the first 10 college prospects listed below have RHP or LHP after their name.
Top 40 College Prospects for 2017 MLB Draft
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1. Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
A.J. Puk was a first-round pick of the A’s last year, but Faedo outpitched him in the Gators’ rotation. Faedo is a righthander with a nearly ideal frame (6-5, 220) and an excellent fastball/slider one-two combo. If he can improve his changeup, he could be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
2. Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
Kendall didn’t get to play center field at Vanderbilt in his first two college seasons because of 2016 second-round pick Bryan Reynolds, but he’s the best college center field prospect in the upcoming draft class. He has great speed with plenty of offensive potential as well, although he’s going to have to show better contact ability.
3. Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has had five pitchers taken in the first or supplemental first round since 2011. Wright will almost assuredly be the sixth thanks to his 90-94-mph fastball. He’s already shown the ability to manipulate his fastball, cutting it and sinking it, and his curveball shows plenty of promise.
4. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
The success of Sonny Gray, Johnny Cueto and Marcus Stroman has helped paved the way for Bukauskas, another short righthander. The 6-footer has three quality pitches, but it’s his devastating slider that helped him pile up nearly 13 strikeouts per nine innings as a sophomore.
5. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville
It’s hard to imagine a team passing on his pitching potential — he’s a lefty who can spot his fastball and finish off hitters with an above-average curveball — but McKay is also one of Louisville’s best hitters.
6. Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
Houck has successfully dominated with power in his first two years at Missouri. Now he’s working on becoming a more refined pitcher. Houck is a ground-ball machine at his best, but he needs to improve his changeup this spring.
7. Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
Beck and Colton Hock will team up to give Stanford one of the best weekend rotations in college baseball this year. Beck is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he will have some additional financial leverage come draft time because he has two remaining years of college eligibility.
8. Alex Lange, RHP, LSU
In his first two seasons at LSU, Lange has twice ranked among the top 10 in Division I in strikeouts. There’s some debate whether Lange will fit better long term as a pro as a hard-throwing closer or as an innings-eating starter.
9. Pavin Smith, 1B/OF, Virginia
Smith has one of the smoothest left-handed swings in college baseball, and he’s been a consistent performer at Virginia and in the Cape Cod League. He’s shown flashes of what could be above-average power.
10. Colton Hock, RHP, Stanford
Hock has started only two games in two years at Stanford as the Cardinal staff worked to stretch him out. He will have an opportunity this spring to prove that his power stuff can work deep into games.
11. Seth Romero, LHP, Houston
Romero dominated the American Athletic Conference as a sophomore. Hitters couldn’t handle his low-90s fastball and hard slider. He’s one of the best lefties in the draft class.
12. Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
Burger, who has tremendous power, could play his way into the first round or out of the top three rounds in his junior season. Scouts want to see more athleticism from him at third base, and they want to see better bat control at the plate.
13. Brendon Little, LHP, State College of Florida
Little barely pitched at North Carolina in 2016, so he’s transferred to State College of Florida, which is thrilled to get a lefty with a 93-mph fastball and a dominating breaking ball.
14. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina
Schmidt took a big step forward as a sophomore at South Carolina. His velocity jumped by 2-3 mph, which helped him earn a spot in the weekend rotation and finish sixth in Division I with 129 strikeouts.
15. Wil Crowe, RHP, South Carolina
If not for an elbow injury, Crowe would likely be pitching in pro ball. He missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery and decided to return to school to prove his front-of-rotation stuff has returned.
16. J.J. Schwarz, C, Florida
Schwarz was a revelation as a freshman when hit 18 home runs. After a disappointing sophomore season, he needs to show he can still drive the ball while also showing improvement defensively behind the plate.
17. Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC Irvine
Hiura was the best power hitter on the California high school circuit in 2014. He’s hit seven home runs in each of his first two college seasons and has topped .500 in slugging twice. He’s one of the best hitters in this year’s draft class, but he needs to prove he can handle second base defensively.
18. Dalton Guthrie, SS, Florida
The son of former big-league pitcher Mark Guthrie is one of the best defensive players in college. He has a strong arm, good hands and excellent anticipation. But he needs to prove he can hit to go in the first round.
19. Peter Solomon, RHP, Notre Dame
Solomon’s control needs refinement, but as one of the most impressive pitchers on the Cape last summer, he showed a promising low-90s fastball and a potentially above-average slider.
20. Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA
Canning was dominant as a freshman in 2015 and handled a bump to a larger role as a sophomore. He is now UCLA’s undisputed ace thanks to his 92-95-mph fastball and hard cutter.
21. Evan Skoug, C, TCU
It’s hard to find a scout convinced that Skoug is ever going to be an average catcher defensively, but he’s a good enough hitter that he has a plausible path to the big leagues.
22. Michael Gigliotti, OF, Lipscomb
Gigliotti is a speedy, top-of-the-order hitter who knows how to get on base, bunt for hits and swipe a bag once he reaches. His speed also plays well in the outfield, where he is a rangy defender.
23. Corbin Martin, RHP, Texas A&M
Martin has an exceptional mid-90s fastball that will touch 97-98, but he needs to show this spring that he has some idea where it’s going. He could be a dominating closer for the Aggies if his control improves.
24. Taylor Walls, SS, Florida State
Walls is a top-of-the-order hitter who knows how to spray the ball around the field, take a walk and cause some havoc with his above-average speed once he reaches base.
25. David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
Peterson has yet to put together the kind of dominating season that’s possible from a massive (6-6) lefty who gets good sink on his 88-92-mph two-seam fastball and runs his four-seamer up to 94-95.
26. Joe Dunand, 3B, NC State
The nephew of Alex Rodriguez, Dunand is also a former shortstop who has slid to third. Dunand is better defensively at his new home, and he has some of the best power potential in the draft class.
27. Kevin Smith, SS, Maryland
The Cape Cod League’s playoff MVP last summer, Smith is a line-drive hitter who needs better plate discipline. Defensively, he has the arm and reliability for shortstop, but he needs to improve his range.
28. Mitch Hart, RHP, USC
Hart didn’t wow scouts in the Cape Cod League last summer, but with solid stuff and a spot in USC weekend rotation, the draft-eligible sophomore could quickly rise up draft boards with a strong season.
29. Dylan Busby, 1B/3B, Florida State
Busby was a fixture in the middle of the Seminoles’ lineup as a sophomore and was equally good last summer in the Cape. Scouts love the power, but they want He to prove he can stay at third base defensively.
30. K.J. Harrison, C, Oregon State
If Harrison were catching regularly, his significant power would stand out even more. But he has largely been limited to first base, where there’s a lot more pressure on his bat.
31. Ricky Tyler Thomas, LHP, Fresno State
Thomas doesn’t blow anyone away, but the slight (6-1, 175) lefty has shown he can baffle hitters by spotting his below-average (87-91-mph) fastball to set up an excellent changeup.
32. Zach Rutherford, SS, Old Dominion
Scouts will focus on whether Rutherford projects as a shortstop or a second baseman in pro ball, but at either spot his athleticism and right-handed power should play well.
33. Hunter Williams, LHP, North Carolina
Williams hasn’t pitched that much in two years as a Tar Heel because of control problems. But he finished second in the Cape Cod League in ERA, leading to hopes that he could have a breakout junior season.
34. Mike Rivera, C, Florida
If Rivera and J.J. Schwarz could combine their strengths, you’d have the No. 1 pick in the draft. Schwarz is Florida’s hitting catcher; Rivera is the top defender at the position, but he will have to prove he can survive at the plate in pro ball.
35. Tyler Johnson, RHP, South Carolina
Johnson was the closer for USA Baseball’s College National Team last summer. He has the fastball/slider combo to miss bats, but he also has some traits that could make him an effective starter.
36. Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
White is more athletic than the average college first baseman, and there are scouts who believe he has the skills to play in the outfield. He hit .376 for the Wildcats as a sophomore, but he still needs to improve his strike-zone awareness.
37. Zach Warren, LHP, Tennessee
Warren is a lefty who has plenty of potential, but he has yet to show consistency in his first two years as a Volunteer.
38. Garrett Cave, RHP, Tampa
Cave will be one of the top relievers in this year’s draft class and is the top arm in Division II. His control isn’t always as sharp as it needs to be, but his 95-mph fastball and power curve give him two potential out pitches.
39. Deon Stafford, C, Saint Joseph’s
The 2016 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year has a chance to be a star, as he’s a catcher with big-time power and a strong arm. However, he’s far from polished defensively.
40. Will Gaddis, RHP, Furman
Gaddis was the Paladins’ dominant ace in 2016, and he was equally impressive last summer in the Cape Cod League. He’s a four-pitch starter with solid if unspectacular stuff.