2017 MLB Draft Grades: Seattle Mariners
Best Pure Hitter: 1B Evan White (1) established a long track record for hitting as an amateur and was a career .356 hitter at Kentucky. He has a mature, disciplined approach and sprays line drives to all fields.
Best Power Hitter: The biggest knock on White has long been his power, but he began to grow into it this year. He nearly doubled this spring his career extra-base hit total and has the tools to hit for at least average power. He consistently produces hard contact and he should be able to turn that into over-the-fence pop in time.
Best Defensive Player: Even as a first baseman, White was one of the best defenders in the draft class. He runs well enough to play the outfield, but his defensive value at first base, where he earns well above-average grades, has been good enough to keep him at the position. First-team All-American C David Banuelos (5) also earns praise for his defense.
Best Fastball: RHP Seth Elledge (4) comes from a Dallas Baptist program known for producing power arms, and he can run his fastball up to 96-97 mph with a high spin rate that makes it a swing-and-miss pitch.
Best Secondary: RHP Sam Carlson (2) saw his velocity tick up this spring, making his breaking ball into more of a true hard, mid-80s slider. Its short, late action makes it especially tough on hitters. His changeup also flashes plus potential.
Best Pro Debut: LHP J.P. Sears (11) was an All-American this spring after leading the country in strikeouts in the regular season. He carried that performance over to pro ball, finishing the year in low Class A Clinton and averaging 16.6 strikeouts per nine innings this summer. Offensively, INF Johnny Adams (22) opened some eyes by hitting .316/.374/.445 in the Northwest League.
Best Athlete: White doesn’t fit the traditional profile of a plodding first baseman. He has above-average speed and shows impressive athleticism around first base, helping his defense.
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Most Intriguing Background: RHP Jamal Wade (17) went to Maryland as a position player, like his older brother and former Terps teammate LaMonte, now in the Twins system. After struggling at the plate, the younger Wade moved to the mound following his sophomore season and has shown arm strength and feel for spinning a breaking ball.
Closest To The Majors: RHP Wyatt Mills (3) has a side-winding delivery and built a strong track record for performance at the back of Gonzaga’s bullpen. He throws harder than most sidearmers—his fastball reaches the mid-90s— and he fills up the strike zone. He could make quick work of the minor leagues.
Best Late-Round Pick: Sears is undersized (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) and not overpowering, but he gets swings and misses with his 88-92 mph fastball, which has an exceptional spin rate. With a pair of potentially average offspeed offerings, he is an intriguing weapon out of the bullpen.
The One Who Got Away: OF Jesse Franklin (37) was a three-sport star at Seattle Prep HS and has an exciting set of raw tools. But instead of signing with his hometown club, he headlined Michigan’s 10th-ranked recruiting class.