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2017 prospect rankings: 40-21

ESPN

Three more players from the 2016 draft class appear here, along with five prospects who've already been traded since they first entered pro ball.

As the numbers get smaller here, you'll notice the prospects I'm ranking have higher and higher upsides, and we're past the part of the list where the higher-floor but lower-ceiling prospects reside.

Editor's note: Age is the player's age as of July 1, 2017.

Top 100 prospects ranked 1-20 | 21-40 | 41-60 | 61-80 | 81-100 | Index


40. Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Age: 22 (7/28/94) | B/T: R/R
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 175
Top level: Low-A | 2016: NR

Buehler was headed for a top 15 pick in the 2015 MLB draft before his junior season, but missed time with a sore elbow, pitched poorly down the stretch, and slipped to the Dodgers at 24th overall, only to have the team confirm during his post-draft physical that he’d need Tommy John surgery. When he returned to the mound in 2016, he was a completely different animal, touching 100 mph with his fastball and sitting in the mid-90s, even though he said he wasn’t doing anything different to try to throw harder.

The big variable around Buehler’s projection is what his stuff will look like during a regular season of work where he’s pitching deeper into games. Buehler threw 92-95 mph as a starter before the injury, typically working once a week, then 88-92 mph a few weeks before he was drafted; his summer 2016 spike was an entirely new level of velocity and arm speed, and we don’t know if he’ll maintain it. He had an above-average slider and changeup before the injury, but scouts have always been concerned about his slight build holding up in a 200-inning role. If he stays healthy and holds this newfound velocity, he’s a top 25 prospect, and could race through the low minors to the big leagues as soon as his workload permits.