The 2017 First Year Player Draft is here, and promises to be well-stocked for both pitchers and position players, at least for the first few rounds of choices.
Battle Creek Targeting Ben Price
Top draft pick this year will go to the Battle Creek Attack, and it is widely anticipated that High School Triple Crown RF Ben Price will be the top pick. The Dallas Academy lefty slugger held a .444 average, and hit 18 home runs and had 58 RBIs on his way to leading Dallas to a World Series showing.
Battle Creek has been notoriously weak in the outfield offensively, and the addition of Price would be a game-changer for them.
Attack has struggled with its past first picks, however. 2016’s CF John Dyke hit a palty .194 when called up to the top level last season, and his AA-level stats were lukewarm – a .254 average, 1 HR, 21 RBIs in 49 games. In 2015, the team chose Howell Hepburn, a promising starter who has had success at both AA and AAA levels, combining for a 12-11 record and 3.33 ERA since 2015, but is still a few seasons away from being a difference maker in the major level.
Closers Set to Open?
Some of the top-OSA rated players in this year’s draft pool are actually closing pitchers, and could go high in the first round. Freeport U’s John Fraser was 3-0, with 14 saves, 1.59 ERA and an enviable 15.9 K/9, who stymied right-handed batters continually, keeping them to just a .098 batting average during the Can-Am College regular season.
John Wallace put up equally respectable high school numbers for Ixtapa HS, with no decisions but 10 saves, allowing no earned runs along the way, in 18 innings. Fiji College’s Toshizo Tani was 0-1, but snagged 11 saves, and struck out a shocking 39 batters in just 20 innings.
Closers are not traditionally sought after in the first round, but Fraser, Wallace and Tani are probable first-rounders in a pool heavy on great pitching.
PITCHERS AVAILABLE IN DEPTH
Non-amateur RHP Danny Zeider is hoping to make the move out of the independent international Bull Oceanic League, while high school RHP Dave Tripp was solid for Niagara Academy. Sal Salazar, Duane Carrere, Matt Mancini and Nobushi Kobayashi could all go in early rounds as they provided solid innings and kept batters guessing all through this season.
POWER HITTERS A-PLENTY
Several big bats are anticipated to go early in the draft. The top-rated power hitter is Brent Trainor, who played LF for York Academy, where he batted .366, and knocked 12 HR. His keen eye and patience had him walking more than striking out, demonstrating an ability to lay off bad pitches that many power hitters have trouble with.
First basemen Josh Berman and Alex Jeter are also big hitters on the market, and highly rated for power by OSA scouts. Jeter was drafted by Ohio in 2016, but failed to agree to a contract and went back to college, where he hit .293 and had 16 HR (in 2016 he hit .303 and had 18 HR). He’s a two-way player, as well, garnering over 30 steals in both seasons. Meanwhile, Berman was a key to Rocky Mountain U’s offense, helping them earn top honors in the Can-Am for team home runs. Berman hit 30 of his own, while Rocky Mountain led the Canada Conference teams with 97. Berman’s .286 average also won’t hurt his chances at an early round pick.
Other top sluggers available include switch-hitting 3B Rafael Knowles (.388 / 15 HR / 63 RBI), and C Jason Moultrup (.274 / 22 HR / 59 RBI).
OSA Top 20 Draft Prospects:
- John Fraser (P)
- John Wallace (P)
- Toshizo Tani (P)
- Danny Zeider (P)
- Francisco Villarreal (CF)
- Ray James (SS)
- Brent Trainor (LF)
- Dave Tripp (P)
- Rafael Knowles (3B)
- Sal Salazar (P)
- Josh Berman (1B)
- Duane Carrere (P)
- Bob Legge (CF)
- Matt Mancini (P)
- Scott Aquino (P)
- Jesse Harmon (P)
- Sinfronio Kayabya (2B)
- Henry Cote (1B)
- Ernie Fox (C)
- Nobushi Kobayashi (P)