This year’s amateur draft class is still quite unsettled, though in Baseball America’s initial ranking of the Top 100 draft prospects, Hudson Belinsky and John Manuel note that a pair of two-way players are standing out as the potential top two picks. Louisville first baseman/left-handed pitcher Brendan McKay is drawing most of his attention as an “elite pure hit tool” batter though “at least one” interested team prefers him on the mound. No right-handed high school pitcher has ever been drafted first overall, though 17-year-old Hunter Greene has an upper-90s fastball and has touched the 102mph mark. This kind of live arm at such a young age has even drawn some Dwight Gooden comparisons, so most evalutors prefer Greene as a pitcher, though he also possesses “top-of-the-scale raw power” as a shortstop. The Twins own the first pick in June’s draft, though McKay and Greene are just two of nine players Minnesota is reportedly considering for the top selection.
Here’s more from around baseball…
- The Rays are currently “on the outside looking in” of the Derek Norris hunt, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter), though they are still one of multiple teams talking to the free agent catcher. The Rays have a need at catcher since Wilson Ramos will miss some time at the start of the season and require DH days after returning, and they’ve been linked to Norris since he was released by the Nationals last week.
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg spoke to reporters (including MLB.com’s Bill Chastain) about the team’s search for a new ballpark, noting that the Rays have already moved on from their top choice. “We had some ideas on locations that weren’t available, that I thought would work perfectly, that were off the table,” Sternberg said. “So we’re sort of moving down our list, No. 2, 3, and 4. Sometimes it’s like starting pitchers. You have five of them, and sometimes No. 4 is better than No. 2, and really better than No. 1.“
- Reds right-hander Nick Hanson, the club’s third-round pick in the 2016 draft, will undergo Tommy John surgery, as reported by SB Nation’s Eric Roseberry and the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan (Twitter links). Hanson, a Minnesota high schooler, was slated to attend the University of Kentucky before agreeing to an above-slot $925K bonus to join the Reds. The 2017 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked him as the 30th-best prospect in Cincy’s system, describing the 6’6″ 18-year-old as “understandably raw with a loose arm” but owning a fastball in the 91-95mph range and the potential for an above-average curveball. Given the usual TJ recovery period, Hanson’s best-case scenario for a return is midway through the 2018 season.
- Jose Quintana is worth the big price it would cost the Pirates to acquire the southpaw from the White Sox, Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opines. Quintana’s strong track record and affordable contract make him a good fit for the Bucs, who could sacrifice young arms Tyler Glasnow and Mitch Keller in order to win now with Quintana, in Zeise’s view. Giving up outfield prospect Austin Meadows could be difficult, though Zeise wonders if the Sox have perhaps slightly lowered their asking price. (White Sox GM Rick Hahn said nothing had changed on that front in comments to reporters today.) Pirates GM Neal Huntington “should do [the trade] today,” Zeise writes, if Chicago would accept Glasnow, Keller and Josh Bell.