With just one month remaining until the 2017 MLB draft, industry experts are starting to let mock drafts fly left and right. ESPN’s Keith Law released his first version on Thursday, and estimated that the Detroit Tigers would take right-handed pitcher Alex Faedo with the No. 18 overall selection. Other publications, such as MLB.com and Baseball America, have released partial mocks detailing their projections for the first 10-15 picks.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis put out his first full mock draft on Friday, and, like Law, he estimates Louisville first baseman/pitcher Brendan McKay will be drafted first overall. More important to our interests, however, is at No. 18. Callis thinks the Tigers will draft left-handed pitcher Trevor Rogers, a high schooler out of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
“The easiest thing to do in a mock draft? Give Detroit a power arm like Rogers,” says Callis in his article. MLB.com ranks Rogers as their No. 23 overall prospect in this year’s draft, but it sounds like he has the potential to be more.
Rogers will show plenty of fastball, still occasionally touching the mid-90s he showed at the Area Code Games. More often than not, he's pitched at 89-92 mph, but the fastball plays up because of his long arms, deception and very good command of the pitch. Rogers' secondary stuff is well behind his fastball. He'll throw a slider and a curve, which will run together. He has trouble staying on top of his curve and will likely be better off sticking to the slider at the next level. His changeup is getting better and approaching average.
FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen didn’t rank any draft prospects, but was also impressed with Rogers’ physical abilities.
Rogers has the wingspan of an Andean Condor and low arm slot which, combined with his velocity and decent feel for a breaking ball, give him a likely injury-independent LOOGY floor. His body is extremely projectable, perhaps the most projectable prep arm in this year’s entire class, and he’ll probably be throwing 96-plus consistently at maturity.
Scout.com’s Taylor Blake Ward ranked Rogers as the No. 29 overall prospect in this year’s draft. I’ll quote him too, but the refrain is the same.
Rogers has all the looks of a pitcher. Tall stature at six-foot-six, broad shoulders, and a giant wingspan. That size, added with his athleticism, allows him to deliver the ball with ease, and maintain his velocity into outings. With a high leg kick, and long stride to the plate while keeping the behind his large frame, and a low 3/4 arm angle, he gives added deception. Rogers works in the low to mid 90's with his fastball, tapping out at 96, all with late life. The fastball is his biggest, and most used, weapon, as he's shown good command of the pitch, working east-to-west in the bottom of the zone, and elevate it when wanted.
High school arms are always a high-risk, high-reward venture, but Rogers certainly looks the part of a future front-line starter.
Callis also noted that the Tigers could shoot for Georgia high school Drew Waters, a potential five-tool outfielder that MLB.com ranked at No. 39.