MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Inbox: Looking ahead to the MLB Draft

Inbox: Looking ahead to the MLB Draft

If Louisville two-way star Brendan McKay gets drafted as a hitter, three first basemen should go in the top 10-15 picks, with Virginia's Pavin Smith and Huntington Beach (Calif.) High's Nick Pratto joining him. That has happened just once before in the 52 previous Drafts -- in 2008, a historic year for the position.

Nine years ago, the Royals took Eric Hosmer at No. 3, the Reds opted for Yonder Alonso at No. 7 and the Rangers snagged Justin Smoak at No. 11. A record six first basemen went in the first round, a group that also included David Cooper (No. 17, Blue Jays), Ike Davis (No. 18, Mets) and Allan Dykstra (No. 23, Padres). With the exception of Kansas City, all of those clubs might want a do-over.

Just six first basemen have become first-rounders in the eight Drafts since, most recently Josh Naylor (No. 12, Marlins) in 2015.

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Alexander alludes to the story I wrote about where Hunter Greene ranked historically among high school right-handers. MLBPipeline.com's top-rated prospect for the 2017 Draft is not quite No. 1, but he's definitely in the discussion.

Twenty-six years after the Yankees made Taylor the No. 1 overall pick in 1991, many scouts still consider him the best prep left-hander and maybe the best prep pitcher they've ever seen. He had a loose arm capable of delivering mid-90s fastballs -- and remember that the radar guns back then clocked lower velocities than they do now.

It's a close call, but I'd take Taylor because he was left-handed and had a better breaking ball than Greene presently possesses. You could easily make an argument for Greene, who might have the most electric high school arm ever and will be 20 months younger than Taylor when both were drafted.

Greene almost certainly will have the better big league career, because Taylor didn't have one. He overpowered hitters in his first two pro seasons, but he severely tore his rotator cuff in a bar fight after the 1993 season and was never the same.

A number of teams choosing in the top 10 are believed to want college bats, so Burger could go that high, but he's more likely to get picked in the teens. The Missouri State third baseman ranks second in NCAA Division I in homers with 18, and did the same a year ago with 21.

While Burger isn't just a one-dimensional slugger, he's not a consensus top-10 prospect because he doesn't do anything pretty and some clubs question whether he can remain at the hot corner. Nevertheless, he's deceptively athletic for a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, manages the strike zone well and gets the job done defensively. A lot of scouts love Burger's makeup and ability to maximize his tools, and there's no question he's one of the best college position-player options in a thin year for that demographic.

An Oregon left-hander, Peterson fanned 20 against Arizona State on Friday. He has gone 9-2, with a 1.94 ERA in 11 starts and leads D-I in wins and K/BB ratio (107/6 in 74 1/3 innings), while ranking second in whiffs.

Peterson's superlative performance won't boost his earning power much, because he already was pitching himself into the first round beforehand. He could have been a top-three-rounds choice as a Colorado high schooler in 2014 had he been signable, and this spring, he has shown nifty control of a four-pitch arsenal highlighted by a low-90s fastball and a quality slider. If McKay gets picked as a hitter, Peterson could be the first college lefty selected.

How far off of MLBPipeline's Draft Top 100 was Milwaukee catcher Daulton Varsho? What range do you see him going in the Draft?
-- Alexander B., Madison, Wis.

Varsho didn't miss our Draft Top 100 by much at all, and he could sneak into the upper half of our Top 200 when we update and expand the list roughly a month from now. A contender to be the first college catcher taken, he could go as early as the third round and shouldn't last past the fifth.

The son of former big league outfielder and current Pirates scout Gary Varsho, Daulton was named after Darren Daulton, his dad's teammate with the Phillies. He's a left-handed hitter with a chance to hit for average and power, and he's a legitimate plus runner. He moves well behind the plate, though he has below-average arm strength.

Some scouts believe Varsho has enough offensive upside and athleticism to profile as a left fielder if catching doesn't work out. He's batting .382/.492/.674 with nine homers and eight steals in 42 games.

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.