MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Inbox: Looking at landscape of 2017 Draft

Jim Callis answers fans' questions about who the Padres will select, prospects with helium

Inbox: Looking at landscape of 2017 Draft

The most popular question this week: When will MLBPipeline.com expand its Draft Prospects list from 50 to 100? The answer: next Thursday, April 27.

Now for some Draft questions that require longer answers ...

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The consensus as of now is that Notre Dame High (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) right-hander Hunter Greene and Louisville left-hander/first baseman Brendan McKay are the top two talents in this Draft. For the sake of argument, let's assume that the Twins and Reds use the top two selections on Greene and McKay.

2017 Draft: Royce Lewis, SS/OF

If that were the case, my best guess right now is that the Padres would opt for JSerra Catholic High (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis, whose impact bat and speed should make him a star at whatever position he ends up (likely center field). Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall and North Davidson High (Lexington, N.C.) outfielder Austin Beck are two more high-upside position players who could be in the mix. If San Diego opted for an arm, Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright would be the best option.

Whiteville (N.C.) left-hander MacKenzie Gore does have what has to be the highest leg kick in his Draft class, but I'll opt for "killer prospect with helium" if those are my choices. I thought we were being aggressive when we ranked him 28th on our first Draft Prospects list in December, but he's going to go about 20 spots earlier than that on June 12.

Scouts loved Gore's athleticism and makeup coming into the year, and his stuff has improved. His fastball has jumped from 89-92 mph and touching 94 to 92-94 with a peak of 96, and he's maintaining that increased velocity deep into games. Gore's curveball has gotten tighter and more consistent as well.

One scout I spoke with graded Gore as having a double-plus fastball, plus curveball, plus slider, plus changeup, plus control and at least average command. A regional crosschecker said Gore was the best player he has seen all spring --- and he covers a Southeast region that has a disproportionate share of this year's best talents.

Where do you see Mississippi State's Jake Mangum and Brent Rooker going in the Draft?
-- Francisco A., Atlanta

Rooker, who is posting the best offensive numbers of any college prospect, looks like a second-rounder and could bash his way into the first round in a lean year for college position players. Mangum fits in the second or third round.

Selected in the 38th round by the Twins as a redshirt sophomore last year, Rooker leads NCAA Division I in slugging (.937), OPS (1.457) and RBIs (58), ranks second in doubles (21) and stands third in hitting (.423) and homers (16). He has a .415/.522/1.038 slash line in the rugged Southeastern Conference and has stolen 15 bases in 39 games. Rooker is making more consistent and louder contact this year, moves well for a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder and can play first base or the outfield corners.

A center fielder who's Draft-eligible as a 21-year-old sophomore, Mangum is batting .357/.422/.448 with nine steals in 37 games. There are some worries about how much impact he'll have with the bat, but he's a switch-hitter with well-above-average speed who's still learning how to translate it into on-base and basestealing ability. Mangum covers a lot of ground in center field and has a strong arm, having hit 93 mph while pitching for the Bulldogs.

Acquired from the Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in the White Sox, Dunning has a 0.45 ERA, 26/1 K/BB ratio and .153 opponent average through three starts and 20 innings in the South Atlantic League. It's not surprising that a 2016 first-round pick from the SEC is dominating low Class A hitters, but he's showing why some scouts think he could be a more effective big league starter than Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez, the other right-handers in the Eaton trade.

Top Prospects: Dunning, CWS

Used more as a swingman on a loaded Florida pitching staff in college, Dunning has everything needed to pitch in a big league rotation. He has nifty command of a low-90s sinker that generates a lot of swings and misses as well as groundouts, and he has feel for a pair of solid secondary offerings in his slider and changeup. Dunning is athletic, has a strong 6-foot-4 build and comes with relatively low mileage on his arm.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.