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Five Potential Quick Risers from 2017 MLB Amateur Draft

With the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft in the books, it’s time to begin to look at the players who could make a fantasy impact sooner rather than later.

Since 2010, only Chris Sale and Brandon Finnegan debuted in the same year in which they were drafted, but plenty of players have made the jump the following season. As of June 20, no one from the class of 2016 has reached the Majors, and the few ’15 draftees who rose quickly — most notable Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Andrew Benintendi — elevated to that level by June or July.

Assuming no one from the 2017 class exceeds expectations, these five guys could crack the big leagues at some point in 2018.

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2017 Draft Picks

Seth Romero, RHP, Washington Nationals

Romero’s college career was littered with off-the-field issues — which culminated in his dismissal from the University of Houston — but there’s no denying his talent. His fastball-slider combo baffled college hitters, and with a little more progression with his changeup could provide Romero with an arsenal as complete as that of any pitcher in this class. The Nationals have the worst bullpen ERA in the National League, and if Romero impresses in the minors over the next couple of months, he could be called upon as early as this season.

Of course, if Washington acquires a closer at the deadline, Romero would hold no short-term fantasy value, but if Dusty Baker’s squad is still struggling to record outs in the eighth and ninth innings, the 21-year-old southpaw could be worth a speculative add in NL-only and keeper/dynasty formats. Regardless, Romero should be capable of reaching the bigs in some capacity by next season.

Kyle Wright, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Widely projected to be the No. 1 overall pick, Wright ultimately fell to the Braves at No. 5. He will be joining an elite crop of young arms, headlined by the recently-promoted Sean Newcomb. Still, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka and Ian Anderson are all a few years from the bigs, so Wright, who is considered to be as MLB-ready as they come — could jump to the top of the priority list. The 21-year-old Vanderbilt product boasts a polished, four-pitch repertoire, and has dominated for three years at the college level.

Jaime Garcia, Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey are all but locks to no longer be with the club come 2018, so it is not out of the realm of possibility for Wright to slide into one of those rotation spots by this time next season, even with some steep competition.

J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Houston Astros

After posting a 2.53 ERA with a 9-1 record and 116 strikeouts in 92 2/3 innings, Bukauskas was a finalist for the Dick Howser trophy. However, he faltered a bit down the stretch, with his final college season culminating in a surprising regionals loss to Davidson in which he was tagged for six runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

Still, the 21-year-old is capable of dominance at even the highest level. Bukauskas’ slider is MLB-ready, and if the first-place Astros find themselves in need of a bullpen arm later in the season, the North Carolina standout could full that void. Some fear his lack of a third effective pitch — although his changeup has improved over the last year — will lead him to a life in the ‘pen, but regardless, that could be where he begins his career. Bukauskas could be worth adding in keeper and dynasty leagues later in the season, as he can potentially carve out some sort of full-time role by next season.

Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

McKay was voted not only the best two-way player in the country, but the best overall player, period. He crushed 17 homers with a 1.106 OPS and posted a 2.56 ERA across 109 innings in his junior year at Louisville. Despite the exciting possibility of a real two-way player in Major League Baseball, the 21-year-old is expected to be developed into a full-time first baseman.

If the Rays ultimately turn him into a pitcher, however, McKay’s path to the majors would certainly be prolonged, but his offensive game is as polished as you will find, and he profiles as someone who could have success at the plate right away. With Logan Morrison set to hit free agency after this season, mid-2018 seems like a reasonable point of arrival for the potential superstar— even with potential first basemen Jake Bauers and Casey Gillaspie waiting patiently in Durham.

Evan White, 1B, Seattle Mariners

White came off the board at No. 17 overall, drafted by the Seattle Mariners. The 21-year-old first baseman batted a massive .373 with 10 homers and five steals across 212 at-bats for Kentucky this past season. He possesses above-average athleticism for his position, and has the makings of a five-tool player. Danny Valencia is in the midst of yet another mediocre season, and regardless of whether or not the free agent-to-be is dealt before the July 31 deadline, Seattle should be in position for a young bat to take over going forward.

Daniel Vogelbach would likely get first crack at the starting job, but the 24-year-old power hitter didn’t exactly impress when called upon earlier this season. White has the glove to be a Major League asset even if his bat needs some time to adjust, and while it’s unlikely he makes the jump this year, it wouldn’t be a shock for the former Kentucky first baseman to compete for the job in early 2018.


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