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Tonight marks the beginning of the 40-round MLB Draft. The BatCats will have several players that will go in the first two days of the Draft, including projected first-rounder Evan White. The first two rounds of the Draft will take place tonight on MLB Network, so read up on where Kentucky players could potentially land this year.
Evan White, Junior, First Baseman-
There have been big-league scouting reports on White since he got to campus three years ago. White is the most athletic first basemen in all of amateur baseball. He has great range at first and covers the bag extremely well. Many coaches have called him the best defensive first baseman they have ever seen, and Coach Madison compares him to Keith Hernandez. Besides winning a Gold Glove and being named to the All-SEC Defensive Team, White has a plus bat as well. White hit .318 as a freshman and .378 last year. The big year last year led to White being named to Team USA where he played for scouts all summer. White battled injuries early but still lead the team in average. He doesn't have the same kind of power that many first base prospects have, but he hits for a high average and will most likely stick at first. White's performance in the postseason only helped his stock. All projections have White going in the top 20. The Giants, Blue Jays, and Yankees have been tied to White since projections began.
Projected Round- Top 20 picks
Perfect Fit: Toronto Blue Jays- The Jays will be down for some time. White would be on a fast track to the majors and could stick within the next two years as the Jays build a new team.
Zach Pop, Junior, Pitcher-
The tall righty made quite an impact coming out of the bullpen this year. Pop sits around 97 when he is on with a nice slider. He started some last year but has been exclusively a bullpen guy in 2017. The late season forearm injury sidelined him for over a month and will most likely affect where he lands in the Draft. For teams interested in Pop, it will all be about upside. For me, I think someone should take him and develop him into a dominant bullpen guy.
Projected Round- Fifth Round
Perfect Fit: Atlanta Braves- After developing the likes of Craig Kimbrel, the Braves know how to handle closers. Pop could take his time rising through their system and work on commanding his fastball.
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Riley Mahan, Junior, Infielder-
Mahan is one of the hardest guys to place in this Draft. Baseball America has him listed as a top 100 prospect, but other sites don't have him listed in the top 200. I think this comes back to the defense. He struggled at shortstop but found some improvement at second base. What he doesn't show in the field he makes up for at the plate. Mahan led the team in home runs and RBIs as he was named SEC Player of the Week three times. I really like Mahan as an offensive guy in this draft. There will be a team that takes a chance on him and puts him in rookie ball or extended spring training to work out the defensive issues. He will be one of the steals of the Draft if his offense continues to improve.
Projected Round- Third Round
Perfect Fit: Colorado Rockies- The mile high air would be perfect for Mahan. The Rockies also developed Trevor Story, Tro Tulowitzki, and Forrest Wall into quality bats recently. His rise to the big leagues would be in several hitter-friendly parks as well.
Justin Lewis, RS Sophomore, Pitcher-
Even with Sean Hjelle dominating on Friday nights, no one showed better stuff at times than Lewis. Teams will love the fastball/changeup mix that the 6'7" righty brings to the table. Lewis took a no-hitter past the fifth inning twice this year as a redshirt sophomore. The issue for Lewis late in the season was walking batters. He just needs to work on commanding those pitches as his changeup is one of the best in the entire Draft.
Projected Round- 7th-10th Rounds
Perfect Fit: St. Louis Cardinals- With two plus pitches, Lewis is very projectable. The Cardinals are well known for developing pitchers, and Lewis would fit well in this system.
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Zach Reks, Senior, Outfielder-
Reks has not received much love on draft rankings in the last week, and I do not know why. He will be an easy sign, he has done nothing but hit, and he is a good baserunner. After walking on at UK, Reks was excellent. As a senior, Reks hit .352 stole 15 bases and had a fielding percentage of .991 in left field.
Projected Round- 12th round.
Perfect Fit: San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox
Logan Salow, Senior, Pitcher-
Salow's strikeout numbers went through the roof as a senior. He will be able to be signed for well below slot as a senior. Salow pitched 55.1 innings this season and struck out 73 batters on his way to All-SEC honors. It is yet to be seen if Salow will carry that mojo into the next level, but I feel like Salow will be developed as a late reliever for the remainder of his career.
Projected Round- 8th Round
Perfect Fit: San Francisco Giants
Other Players that will be drafted
Zach Logue, Junior, Pitcher
Troy Squires, Junior, Catcher
Connor Heady, Senior, Shortstop
Marcus Carson, Senior, Outfielder