MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Peeking ahead to the 2017 Draft class

10 players from college, HS ranks to know for next year

Peeking ahead to the 2017 Draft class

The 2016 Draft is in the books, but that hardly means scouts for all 30 teams can kick back and relax.

The first order of business, of course, is to get all those recently drafted players signed before the July 15 deadline. Nearly at the same time, the scouting industry will begin work on next year's Draft class. No rest for the weary, right?

With a host of showcase events and leagues this summer, scouts will be scouring the country to establish follow lists -- players they'll want to follow next spring as potential 2017 draftees. These summer performances can take on vast importance, especially if a player gets injured the following spring, faces a poor level of competition or even lives in a cold-/bad-weather climate.

There is an idea of who some of the top amateur talent for next year is already, based on how they performed as college sophomores or high school juniors. Here's a quick look at five college and five high school players who could be among those taken in the early stages of next June's first round.

College

J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
Bukauskas would have been an interesting prospect out of high school, but he reclassified so he could get to North Carolina early. He has a big arm, one that allowed him to strike out 111 in 78 1/3 innings as a sophomore for the Tar Heels.

Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
Faedo pitched behind Logan Shore and A.J. Puk in 2016, but he got the start in Game 1 of the Gators' Super Regional last weekend. He's up to 95 mph with his fastball and has an outstanding changeup and a late-breaking hard slider.

Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
Kendall profiles as a dynamic center fielder who can use his speed both defensively and as a top-of-the-order catalyst. The left-handed hitter hit .332 with 28 steals in 2016.

JJ Schwarz, C, Florida
Schwarz's numbers as a sophomore have not been quite as impressive as his All-America freshman campaign, but that doesn't seem to worry anyone. He's a strong and durable backstop, one who should be able to stay behind the plate, one who can hit in the middle of a lineup with plenty of right-handed power.

Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
It's not a Draft without a Vandy pitcher in the first round, right? Wright is an athletic right-hander with a quick arm, a good breaking ball and an outstanding baseball IQ. He struck out 107 in 93 1/3 innings as a sophomore.

High school

Hagen Danner, RHP, Huntington Beach (Calif.)
A talented two-way player known by many as a former Little League World Series star, he's shown ability behind the plate and as a hitter. He hasn't caught much, to save his arm, and his future is likely on the mound, where his low-effort, fluid delivery fills the strike zone in the low 90s, backed up with a very good curve.

Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame, Stevenson Ranch (Calif.)
Greene is a a high-ceiling, ultra-athletic two-way player, one who can do a lot of things on the mound and with the bat. Teams will likely be looking at him as a pitcher because of his very lively mid-90s fastball, coming from a loose arm and low-effort delivery. Greene's secondary pitches are behind the fastball, but he's shown glimpses of a solid breaking ball and changeup.

Alex Toral, 1B, Archbishop McCarthy, Davie (Fla.)
It's hard not to like Toral's offensive tools. He has one of the best hit and power combinations in the class, coming from the left side of the plate. Toral has a knack for squaring up the ball consistently, and even with his home run power, he does not swing and miss very often. He's fairly athletic, maybe even enough to play an outfield corner, but he's a solid first baseman with good hands.

Conner Uselton, OF, Southmoore, Oklahoma City
Uselton has the chance to be the kind of five-tool player teams covet, and can't often find, in the Draft. The ball jumps off his bat, and he has a solid approach, driving the ball to all fields. Uselton runs well and can cover ground in the outfield, with enough arm to handle a corner if need be.

Mark Vientos, SS, Flanagan, Pembroke Pines (Fla.)
Young for the class (he's still 16), Vientos has plenty of tools to like. Tall and lean, he has excellent hands and more than enough arm for shortstop. If Vientos fills out his 6-foot-4 frame too much, he could be an outstanding third baseman. The right-handed hitter has more of a line-drive stroke now, but shows flashes of pull power.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.