Vandy outfielder No. 1 among 2017 MLB draft prospects

Vanderbilt's Jeren Kendell is a five-tool talent who is also an above-average center fielder. Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

The 2017 draft class is different than those we’ve seen the past few years. It lacks the depth of some recent classes, but features an above-average group of first-rounders, with an especially strong crop of college pitchers and some high-upside high school outfielders.

Southern California is as good as it has been in years, and it’s a banner year in Kentucky, of all places. We’ve even got a few smaller colleges represented in addition to the usual passel of SEC prospects. It’s a good year to pick at the very top, and the back half of the first round is better than normal, but the difference between picking third and seventh -- which was determined on the season’s final day -- is significant.

1. Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

A first-round candidate out of a Wisconsin high school, Kendall was close to unsignable because of his commitment to Vanderbilt, and his decision to go to school may end up tripling his signing bonus. He’s an actual five-tool talent, with the potential to play above-average defense in center, but high strikeout totals do have some scouts concerned about what his contact rates might look like in the majors.