2017 MLB Draft: An Iowa Preview

By Jeremy Karll on June 12, 2017 at 9:05 am
Jake Adams and his boomstick may be heading for the minor leagues soon.

ESPN3

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Iowa doesn't have a rich history of sending players to the major leagues. Only four former Hawkeyes have made it to the majors since 2000, and Matt Dermody's appearance this year is the first Hawkeye since Wes Obermueller in 2007. However, Dermody gave up five earned runs in 0.1 innings with the Toronto Blue Jays this season, resulting in a 135.00 ERA.

Nonetheless, Iowa has still had at least one player drafted in each of the past 10 seasons, including 11 players since Rick Heller took over in 2014. After Iowa's successful season, there is a lot of attention surrounding the future of current and future Hawkeyes. 

Current Hawkeyes

Jake Adams: .335/.417/.747, 29 HR, 72 RBI, 82 H

Despite a somewhat rough postseason (.273 BA, 5 HR, 7 RBI) and only being a junior, Adams is definitely the most intriguing prospect on Iowa's roster. In early-May, some scouts told Baseball America that they felt he worked his way into the top-10 rounds, while others felt he still needed to improve and is a middle-round talent. Overall, he's still No. 297 on BA's Top-500 Big Board, which projects him at the end of the first 10 rounds. 

Adams' defense improved throughout the season, committing just one error in the last 35 games, but his best chance of working his way onto a major league club is as a DH. He still doesn't have the greatest range at first base and will need to continue to improve to become a major league-caliber defensive first baseman. Still, he has as much power as anyone in the draft and also hit for average at Iowa.

Adams has the numbers to impress any scout -- In the BBCOR ERA, only Kris Bryant (31) and Victor Roache (30) hit more home runs than Adams (29) in a single season -- but the biggest concern coming into the season was whether his swing was too long. He proved that he could hit Big Ten pitching all season, but he'll have to continue to prove his swing is quick enough throughout his minor league career.

No one wants to see Adams leave, but it more than likely will happen. Adams has a chance to be the third Hawkeye drafted in the first 10 rounds since 2000, and it's hard to imagine his stock being any higher than it is now.

Mason McCoy: .328/.394/.474, 5 HR, 34 RBI, 83 H

Mason McCoy was widely expected to be drafted at some point in the 2016 MLB Draft last year. But he went undrafted and it ended up being a blessing in disguise. McCoy's senior season was overshadowed by Adams' historic season, but he was an integral part of Iowa's success. He led the Big Ten in hits and ranked second in doubles with 18, while improving in nearly every area and being named to the All-Big Ten Second Team.

McCoy's batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all went up as a senior. He recorded more hits, home runs, struck out 23 fewer times in 30 more at-bats, and improved his stolen base percentage. Defensively, McCoy's fielding percentage went up to .974, despite committing nine errors for a second straight season. However, McCoy showcased his huge range at the position during the postseason with multiple web gems. 

It's hard to imagine 30 teams passing on McCoy for another 40 rounds this season. He's a top of the order bat that has decent power but mostly hits for average and finds gaps in the outfield. Hitting .324 in the postseason should help, too. Either way, Iowa will need to find a new shortstop next year.

Tyler Cropley: .268/.371/.459, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 55 H

Tyler Cropley is flying under the radar leading up to the draft. The All-Big Ten Second Team catcher recorded a hit in all but one postseason game and saved multiple runs behind the plate. Despite being named to the second team, it's hard to argue that Cropley wasn't the Big Ten's best catcher by the end of the season.

Cropley is only a junior, so there is a good chance he returns to Iowa City for his senior season, as he'll be an intriguing prospect in 2018. Cropley's defensive prowess was on display throughout the entire season. He led the Big Ten in runners caught stealing with 19 -- runners stole just 64.2 percent of bases against him -- and he saved Iowa multiple runs during the postseason. If a team wants to take a chance on him late in the draft, his defense will be why.

His power started to show in the Big Ten Tournament when he hit two home runs against Minnesota, but it took the JUCO transfer time to figure it out at the plate. Cropley didn't raise his batting average above .250 until the end of April, but he ended up hitting .319 with four home runs and 15 RBI through the final 20 games of the season.

For as good as Cropley was to end the season, his slow start to the season will hurt his stock. If he does get drafted, it will likely be near the end of the draft where coming back and having a strong senior campaign in 2018 would be his best option. If he can hit like he did to end the season along with stellar defense, he'll catch a lot of teams' eyes.

Nick Gallagher: 8-2, 3.48 ERA, 95.2 IP, 87 K, 25 BB

After allowing 13 earned runs over his final 12.1 innings pitched, Nick Gallagher's ERA skyrocketed from 2.59 to 3.48. Coming back for his senior season to build more stamina throughout the season would help him better prepare for longer minor league seasons as a starter, but that might not happen.

BA ranked Gallagher No. 340 on its Top-500 Big Board. That comes as somewhat of a shock since Gallagher's fastball usually hovers around 89 mph and he relies mostly on his slider. MLB teams probably think they can increase his velocity a couple of mph to get him consistently in the low-90s. Pair that with a deadly slider and Gallagher is even more intriguing.

Gallagher is projected as a mid-round pick, which means his decision could go either way. Being a top-20 round draft pick is hard to pass up, but Gallagher is also a year away from getting his degree and could improve his stock as a senior -- Iowa saw Tyler Peyton return in 2015 after being drafted in the 33rd round. Either way, Iowa should have a pitcher drafted for a ninth straight year.

Ryan Erickson: 4-3, 3.00 ERA, 75 IP, 48 K, 32 BB

Ryan Erickson pitched three seasons for the Hawkeyes and finished with a respectable 3.28 ERA. Although he only started three games before his senior season and didn't start the season in Iowa's starting rotation. Erickson's name was thrown around leading up to last year's draft, but he ended up going undrafted.

However, he has a much better chance this year after he ended the season with two of the best starts of his career. Teams are always looking for left-handers, which should help Erickson's chances of getting drafted. Erickson's fastball is in the low-to-mid 90s and he has solid off-speed pitches.

Just like McCoy, Iowa will have to find a replacement for Erickson no matter what. Erickson seems like a probable-late round pick when a team is looking to take a chance on an experienced left-hander. Whether he'll continue to be a starter or switch back to a reliever is yet to be seen.

Future Hawkeyes

Connor McCaffery

No one expects Connor McCaffery to skip college, especially not to play minor league baseball. Still, with 40 rounds in the MLB Draft, McCaffery will probably hear his named called. In an interview with Matthew Bain of Hawk Central, he said he expects to play baseball and basketball at Iowa. Perfect Game gave him a grade of 9.5 and named him to its National Pre-Draft Top Prospect List, too. It would definitely take a great offer to convince McCaffery to give up playing for his dad in a year and Heller right away, but you never know what will happen. Heller projects McCaffery as a first baseman or outfielder.

Henry Marchese

Other than Adams, Marchese is arguably Iowa's most intriguing draft prospect. As a senior in high school, he hit .490 with five home runs and 28 RBI. Scouts have also projected Marchese from everywhere between a top-five round pick to a late-round pick, according to Land of 10's Bobby LaGesse. Leading up to the draft, Marchese worked out for the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres, so there is definitely interest in him. His commitment to Iowa football will probably drop him in the draft, but he seems too talented to not be drafted at some point. And just like McCaffery, you never know what a teenager will do when they hear their name called.

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