2012 MLB Mock Draft: Latest Full First-Round Projections
If you're not yet familiar with Byron Buxton, the top high-school prospect for 2012, here's your primer.
Now that the calendar has finally turned to January, Major League Baseball's draft season is just getting fired up. The college season will be starting soon, with the high school campaign set to follow shortly thereafter.
The 2012 draft crop has nowhere near the elite talent of the 2010 crop (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Jameson Taillon), and nowhere near the depth of the 2011 class, but that's not to say that there isn't any future MVP or Cy Young talent to be found.
On the contrary. The 2012 class is big on ceiling, with many of its top names (Mark Appel, Byron Buxton, David Dahl, Chris Beck, etc.) still yet to have a truly dominating season. The hope with these players is that the best is still yet to come.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to set the final draft order until the beginning of the 2012 big league season, seeing as how several big-name free agents have yet to sign, and therefore compensation for their losses has yet to be handed out.
Still, there's a good chance that with the exception of an awarded compensation pick for Milwaukee for eventually losing Prince Fielder, the first round will look a lot like it does right now.
So, without further ado, let's delve into the first full first-round mock draft of 2012, complete with video accompaniment, when available.
1) Houston Astros: Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros
The 2011 Astros put together the worst season ever produced by the franchise, and their reward is the top pick in the 2012 draft.
Stanford right-hander Mark Appel (6'5", 190 lbs) is the closest thing to a legitimate No. 1 draft pick, at least so far, and it's a good bet that the Astros would be more than happy to purchase his services. His arsenal includes a mid-90s fastball, a slider with above-average potential and two promising offerings in a cutter and changeup.
Appel has yet to have a truly dominating season, but appears to be on the cusp of breaking out in a big way.
2) Minnesota Twins: Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
Don't let the Twins' 2011 first-round pick, shortstop Levi Michael, fool you into thinking they wouldn't pull the trigger on the best defensive shortstop to come out of the college ranks in many, many years.
Selecting near the top of the draft for the first time since 2001, when they famously selected hometown two-way athlete Joe Mauer, the Twins might seriously consider taking a catcher, especially with Mike Zunino (Florida) still on the board, but Marrero makes the most sense. He has the ability to be a regular .300 hitter and shines on defense.
Adding the 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year would allow the organization to move Michael to a more defense-friendly position such as second base.
3) Seattle Mariners: Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (GA)
Buxton has already drawn comparisons to the Upton brothers, both of whom were drafted early in the first round, and he would be the best young outfielder to join the Mariners organization since some guy named Griffey.
Buxton is one of a select few high schoolers who has legitimate five-tool ability. He's got great pop in his bat, above-average speed and incredible defensive range. He's also Baseball America's top high school prospect heading into 2012.
Buxton would be the perfect replacement for Ichiro.
4) Baltimore Orioles: Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern
Roache had one of the more impressive collegiate seasons (.326, 30 HR, 84 RBI in 62 games) seen since Buster Posey was tearing it up for the Seminoles. The Georgia Southern slugger further solidified his spot among the top 10 draft prospects from the college ranks with a strong summer. He hit .316 and finished second with eight homers and 28 RBI in the wood-bat Cape Cod League.
He'll enter the 2012 season as the top college bat and arguably the best power hitter from either the high school or college crop.
The Orioles have a severe lack of position talent in their system, aside from top guys Manny Machado and Jon Schoop, and could use Roache's 30-homer potential, especially with Adam Jones a year away from free agency and Nick Markakis aging into a singles and doubles hitter.
5) Kansas City Royals: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
The Royals have put together quite a fine farm system, and one of its greatest strengths has been pitching. RHP Chris Dwyer, along with lefties Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and John Lamb are destined to put the Royals back on the map and make the team a serious contender in the AL Central, but you know what they say...you can never have too much pitching.
Enter Lucas Giolito, the top pitcher from the college crop. He has the size (6'6", 220 lbs), the stuff (94-98 mph fastball) and the mentality to pitch at the front of a rotation. He would be a fantastic addition to the Royals organization and a steal if they could get him at pick No. 5.
No matter who drafts him, he's going to be a tough sign considering his commitment to UCLA.
6) Chicago Cubs: Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
Going the small-guy route (Hayden Simpson, 2010) didn't work too well for the Cubs and with new team president Theo Epstein on board, expect the Cubs to return to a more traditional drafting strategy.
Walker Weickel would be an excellent addition to the system, which happens to be one of the weakest in all of baseball when it comes to starting pitching. Wieckel has ideal size (6'6", 205 lbs), a blazing fastball (mid-90s) and a above-average curveball that he has great command of. For a guy of his size, Weickel is an exceptional fielder as well, and as noted in the first half of the video, he's also a pretty good hitter.
7) San Diego Padres: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (LA)
Cecchini could be an interesting option for the Cubs at No. 6, especially considering Epstein was responsible for drafting Gavin's older brother Garin when he was still in Boston.
With higher-ceiling players on the board, however, Cecchini could very easily slip to pick No. 7, where the Padres, who lack a true franchise shortstop, could come a calling. No team has done a better job of fortifying their farm system the past year-and-a-half, but adding a player of Cecchini's caliber could move San Diego up into the top five or six in baseball.
While Garin offers the more impressive set of tools at the plate, Gavin is the superior defender. Don't get me wrong, he's no slouch at the plate either, offering a quick bat and solid raw power.
Garin heads a strong shortstop class and a very strong crop from the Bayou State. Thanks to his defensive polish, he shouldn't last the first round. He's a great runner as well, and his athletic, yet lanky build should allow him to stay at shortstop long-term, a fate his brother couldn't attain.
8) Pittsburgh Pirates: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (AL)
There haven't been many top-flight prospects to come out of Alabama in recent memory, but there should be very little chance of Dahl making it out of the first round.
The Pirates have drafted incredibly well the past few years and have made a killing on high-upside players like the Alabama outfielder with five-tool potential.
He's a similar player to OF Byron Buxton. Dahl has a better feel at the plate and more polish to his all-around game, but his ceiling isn't as high. He has great speed and advanced defensive skills. Playing in Alabama, however, will inevitably hurt his chances of going in the top five, as the level of competition just isn't up to snuff with the bigger states.
Dahl had an excellent showing at the Tournament of Stars showcase in North Carolina, showing one of the most electric bats of any attendee, before succumbing to a bad case of mono. He should be fully recovered and poised for another great season.
9) Miami Marlins: Mike Zunino, C, Florida
The Marlins have been in the market for a franchise catcher ever since Charles Johnson left town. Former first-rounder (2008) Kyle Skipworth didn't work out, and the team hasn't done much to shore up the position in the free-agency market.
The rising junior hit .383 with 19 doubles, 15 homers and 59 RBI. In conference play, he was in a class of his own, hitting .442 with eight homers and 33 RBI. The scary part is, as good as Zunino was at the plate, he was even more impressive behind it, showing natural leadership skills and showing above-average defensive ability.
He made only three errors all season long, allowed just seven passed balls and threw out 28 percent of attempted base-stealers. His arm was easily the best of any SEC backstop.
Furthermore, he took on the role of team leader, and it seemed to come naturally. He'll headline another stellar UF squad with College World Series hopes.
10) Colorado Rockies: Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern
Beck burst onto the scene with a strong 2011 campaign, and he now figures to play a prominent role on day one in 2012, giving Georgia Southern an opportunity to have two players selected in the first round for the first time ever.
Beck features a mid-90s fastball that can scrape 96-97 mph. He complements the pitch with two potential above-average offerings, a slider and a changeup. He's got great size (6'3", 220 lbs) and has shown well in the showcase circuit. He earned So-Con Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors and followed that up by earning All-Star honors in the Cape Cod League.
The Rockies have a strong rotation, thanks to the additions of Drew Pomeranz and Kevin Slowey, but could do well to add a few more starting options. Beck could be the first of the college arms to reach the majors, thanks to his seasoned approach.
11) Oakland Athletics: Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State
Kevin Gausman was one of the most talented high school pitchers available in the 2010 draft, but due to concerns about his signability and his strong commitment to LSU, he dropped all the way to the sixth round, where the Dodgers took a flier on him. He didn't sign and instead honored his commitment to LSU, where he blossomed into one of the top pitchers in a very impressive SEC.
The right-hander made a team-high 14 starts, winning five. He posted a respectable 3.51 ERA and held a 86-23 K-BB ratio in a team-leading 89.2 innings.
Batters only hit .215 off of him, and he served up only five home runs all season. His finest performance came in an early season outing against Tennessee. He tossed a complete-game shutout, scattering four hits and striking out seven. He walked none.
Gausman has the potential to be a top-10 pick in 2012, thanks not only to his velocity and developing secondary pitches, but also to his very prototypical pitcher’s body. At 6'4" and 185 pounds, he still has plenty of room to add some more weight (increasing his durability and stamina).
The A's appear to have struck gold with SEC All-American Sonny Gray, last year's first-rounder, and dipping back into the SEC well might be just what they need to reverse the team's fortunes in the increasingly tougher AL West.
12) New York Mets: Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon HS (OH)
The Mets took a giant step forward in the way that they draft when they selected talented but raw outfielder Brandon Nimmo from East HS in Wyoming. For years, they had been content to simply take the most polished college pitcher, and that approach has netted them Brad Holt, Eddie Kunz, Kevin Mulvey and, most recently, Matt Harvey.
With a new GM on board and a new drafting philosophy installed, the Mets are prepared to take the next step, one in which they go after a high-ceiling pitching prospect. Lefty Matt Smoral would be just that. As one of the top pitchers from the high school crop and arguably the top left-hander, Smoral would be a welcomed addition to the Mets organization, one that is particularly lacking in high-ceiling starting pitching depth.
At 6'8" and 225 pounds, Smoral certainly looks the part of a big leaguer.
The left-hander has been clocked in the low 90s, reaching as high as 94 mph, and complements his fastball with a stellar slider, one of the best in the high school class. He also offers a two-seam fastball, a curve and a changeup.
Smoral is committed to UNC, where the Mets just so happened to find their most recent first-round pitcher, Harvey.
13) Chicago White Sox: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
The White Sox have some of the worst starting pitching depth in baseball, arguably the worst. As such, it wouldn't be a total surprise to see them go after a premium arm in the upcoming 2012 draft.
Michael Wacha earned a lot of praise late last season as he guided Texas A&M to the College World Series, even garnering some attention as a first-rounder. He certainly has all the intangibles.
Wacha doesn't offer as much upside as some of the other top arms, specifically Lucas Giolito or Lance McCullers Jr., but he does seem like he's a much safer bet. Like Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, Wacha deals in the low to mid-90s, and throws a mean slider. He also offers a changeup and curveball.
Wacha was especially impressive down the stretch last season, more than picking up the slack left behind when John Stilson went down. He led the Aggies in innings pitched, strikeouts and starts, and posted a stellar 2.29 ERA. He really shined in the College World Series, putting together back-to-back gutsy performances against Florida State and California.
Wacha has prototypical size (6'6", 200 lbs) and figures to be the staff ace with former teammate John Stilson signing with the Blue Jays.
14) Cincinnati Reds: Jake Barrett, RHP, Arizona State
Barrett will undoubtedly be one of the top arms to watch for in the 2012 season, but unfortunately, the season will likely be a wash for the Sun Devils, who face the possibility of being suspended from postseason play for some off-the-field transgressions committed by the previous coaching staff.
That might make it hard for Barrett to channel all of his ability, but if he can string together some nice starts, he could be right in line for a top-five selection.
Toronto was so high on him back in 2009 because he had a big league body (6'3", 225 lbs), a good fastball (90-94 mph) and two pitches (curveball and splitter) with above-average potential.
He showed great poise stepping into a very talented bullpen during his freshman year, pitching to a 3.41 ERA in 28 outings and striking out 43 batters in 29.1 innings.
This year, Barrett made the jump to the rotation and found instant success. His first start of the season saw him toss six innings of shutout ball, giving up only three hits while striking out six. He finished the season with a 7-4 record, a 4.14 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 76 innings. He tossed one complete-game shutout against Cal late in the season.
The Reds have a large cache of position talent, but are severely lacking in the pitching department. Barrett can help shore that up, as well as reach the majors rather quickly. Also, their last dip into the Arizona State well with Mike Leake worked out pretty well.
15) Cleveland Indians: Lance McCullers, RHP, Tampa Jesuit HS (FL)
McCullers has all the tools of a potential top overall selection.
His fastball is one of the best in the class, his command looked better than ever this past season and he's made impressive strides with his secondary pitchers. The reason he ranks ninth overall on Baseball America's high school top 100, and the same reason he'll likely slide on draft day is due to the uncertainty surrounding how long he's going to remain a starter.
If a team believes he has what it takes, he could go as high as No. 1, but most teams right now seem to think he's destined to pitch out of the bullpen, meaning he could fall to the middle part of the first round.
The Indians have failed to make a real splash with any of the draft picks they have spent on pitching the past few years, and could use a real hit with McCullers.
16) Washington Nationals: Brian Johnson, LHP, Florida
Johnson had a great season in 2011, posting a 3.62 ERA and a 72-15 K-BB ratio in 15 starts before an errant Mike Zunino throw plunked him in the head and sidelined him with a concussion. Johnson had a fantastic freshman campaign as well, making 14 starts and picking up six victories. He also made an impact at the plate, hitting .405 in 84 at-bats, bashing four home runs and driving in 21 runs.
Like most of the players on the UF roster, Johnson was already drafted once, back in the 27th round of the 2009 draft by the Dodgers. He spurned that offer to come to UF, where he has continued to grow into his 6'3", 225-pound frame and develop his stuff. Johnson has been excellent at keeping his low-90s fastball down, but in the zone during his time with the Gators. He has shown a great curveball that got better as the 2011 season wore on.
The upcoming season will be a true test for him. Will he choose to give up time at the plate in order to better hone his skills as a pitcher? Or will he continue to be one of the better two-way players in college baseball?
Either way, the Nationals could pick up a usable piece: a mid-rotation pitcher to slot behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.
17) Toronto Blue Jays: Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (FL)
The Blue Jays have been incredibly savvy during the past three drafts, picking up players that many other teams undervalued (Aaron Sanchez) or thought were un-signable (Kevin Comer). Both methods have allowed the Blue Jays to create one of the top farm systems in baseball.
A player who is sure to be underrated come June and one of the top five-tool players in this draft class, Almora has shown an impressive skill set at each of the summer showcase events.
His bat is very good, and he doesn't complicate things with any unnecessary action in his swing. He has excellent bat speed, and he absolutely attacks the gaps. He should develop into a doubles machine.
In the field and on the basepaths, he shows slightly above-average speed, but his speed plays up due to a very aggressive attitude. Teams can't sleep on him.
He has a frame (6'2", 170 lbs) that is conducive to sticking in center field.
18) Los Angeles Dodgers: Trey Williams, 3B, Valencia HS (CA)
The Dodgers went the route in 2011 that many expected them to the year prior, when they shelled out more than $5 million to sign prep right-hander Zach Lee. With a bit more stability in 2012, expect them to return to their safe, but not "Chris Reed safe," ways.
Williams had some pretty big shoes to fill in 2011. He took over shortstop duties from Christian Lopes, who transferred and then was selected in the seventh round and earned an $800,000 signing bonus from Toronto.
Williams never missed a beat, however, and had a stellar season, despite being a bit stocky (6'1", 215 lbs) for the position. Now that he's slid over to third base, he's one of the top players at his position in the high school class.
His bat is what makes him special, as he offers above-average power (he hit six homers in three games against rival West Ranch HS this past season). He should hit for a decent average as well.
On defense, he's a much better defender at third than he ever could have hoped to be. He's not going to win Gold Gloves, but he won't hurt his team much either.
19) St. Louis Cardinals: Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana HS (LA)
In addition to having one of the coolest baseball names ever, Trahan happens to be the top overall catcher in the 2012 class, and a player that the Cardinals would be lucky to get their hands on.
He has a solid frame (6'1", 215 lbs), one conducive to catching every day, and he is an excellent athlete. In addition to playing all over the diamond (catcher, first base, third base), he's also seen time at tight end and quarterback for the school's football team. He has a cannon for an arm and has consistently produced some of the top pop times on throws to second on the showcase circuit.
At the plate, he's consistently described as selective, showing great patience and he's definitely not afraid to take a walk. He has decent power and is actually one of the top-running catchers to come along in quite some time, showing more speed than many of the top outfielders in the high school crop.
Assuming he doesn't sign, he'll be a part of a banner crop at the University of Mississippi, joining top infield prospect Gavin Cecchini.
With his combination of skills (plus defense, plus speed) it's unlikely he'll ever be a Rebel.
20) San Francisco Giants: Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Due to a budget decision by the state of California, Harvard-Westlake now has two top pitching prospects in RHP Lucas Giolito (see later) and LHP Max Fried. All the easier for the local Giants to swing by and get a look at the latter, who they might have a chance at getting with the 24th overall pick.
Giolito has the talent and projection to challenge for the top overall spot in the draft, while Fried is in the running for the top lefty. He offers premium velocity (91-94 mph) and has two potential above-average offerings in a curveball and changeup.
He benefits, and will benefit down the road, from a very smooth delivery that should allow him to jump quickly right into pro ball. At 6'4" and 170 pounds, he could stand to put on some more weight, which might allow him to add a tick or two to his fastball.
21) Atlanta Braves: Duane Underwood, RHP, Pope HS (GA)
Underwood is the top pitching prospect hailing from the Braves' home state, which has been a great source of talent for the club over the years.
After missing out on Zack Wheeler a few years ago, the Braves get their guy in Underwood, a lithe, athletic right-hander with a power arm that at first glance reminds a bit of 2010 first-rounder Taijuan Walker. He has great velocity, capable of reaching 97-98 mph, and the makings of an above-average curveball.
Underwood also carries on in the tradition of many former Braves draftees in that he's a legitimate two-way player who could be a first-round pick as a hitter.
22) Toronto Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke
The Blue Jays under GM Alex Anthopoulos have never been the kind of team that has been willing to bend to conventional drafting wisdom. In 2010, they selected Georgia Tech right-hander Deck McGuire, although there were several other higher-ceiling names on the board, and in 2011 they basically drafted (and handed out bonuses) as if they were OK with the fact that they were going to fail to sign their first-round pick (Tyler Beede).
With the pick they gained from failing to sign Beede, expect them to make yet another unexpected move.
Don't let Stroman's size fool you. Despite checking in at a measly 5'9" and 175 pounds, Stroman is a likely preseason All-American, and could be a major factor in the 2012 draft.
Splitting time between the bullpen and the rotation, Stroman racked up 90 strikeouts in a mere 64 innings. He only surrendered one home run and posted a 2.80 ERA. Furthermore, the diminutive right-hander wowed scouts with a low- to mid-90s fastball and a stunning slider that has the makings of a true plus pitch.
An astonishing outing in the Cape Cod League in 2010 really put Stroman on the map. In just 25 innings he posted a 32-3 K-BB ratio. He only allowed 10 hits and didn't surrender a single earned run.
Developing a third pitch is a must to keep him out of the bullpen long-term and he'll likely get a full season in 2012 at Duke to show what he's capable starting every weekend.
Aside from the stuff, Stroman is a sensational athlete, who has played a little bit of shortstop for the Blue Devils. He should be an above-average fielder at his position and has the perfect attitude any team would want in a player.
23) St. Louis Cardinals: Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook
The beauty of college baseball, and the MLB draft, is that big-name talent often comes from small-town America. The Cardinals know this better than anyone. They plucked the recently departed Albert Pujols from a local Kansas City community college.
The Cardinals didn't mind, but they lost a huge lineup presence when they dealt Colby Rasmus to Toronto this past summer, and they would do well to find a replacement for him. Travis Jankowski, from small-town Lancaster, Pennsylvania could be just that guy. Granted, the Stony Brook outfielder doesn't have as much power as Rasmus, but he would give the team a top-of-the-lineup guy they've been lacking for years.
This past season, Jankowski was a revelation. He hit .355 with 38 RBI and a team-leading 30 steals. His sterling season extended to his play in the outfield, where he posted a perfect fielding percentage in 115 chances in center. He further boosted his draft stock with a strong summer. He was named MVP of the Cape Cod League after hitting .329 with 22 RBI and 15 steals.
24) Boston Red Sox: Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo HS (CA)
Boston's 2012 draft will be the first in nine years to not be run by Theo Epstein. New GM Ben Cherington will be in charge and there's no doubt he'll be looking to establish his own drafting strategy. My guess is that he'll favor high-upside high schoolers, and as such, a quality pick near the bottom of Round 1 would be California lefty Hunter Virant.
Virant has been on the draft scene for quite some time and there's no doubt he'll challenge some of the other southpaws to be the top left-hander selected.
He's been consistently clocked in the low to mid-90s, and has touched 96 mph in the past. He complements his fastball with a stellar curveball, one that could be one of the best in the class with a bit more experience and polish.
Virant is athletic enough to play multiple positions throughout his high school career, including first base and outfield. He shows enough potential at the plate to warrant a spot in the draft, but on the mound his future as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter is going to be too much to ignore.
25) Tampa Bay Rays: Carlos Correa, SS/3B, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy
The Rays likely won't have numerous first-round selections this year, and there's no way they're going to be able to scoop up as much talent as they did in 2011, but picking at No. 25 there will still be plenty of talent available.
Despite the team's depth at shortstop and third base, Puerto Rican infielder Carlos Correa would be an excellent addition. He's likely growing too big to stay at shortstop long-term and a move to either third base or the outfield is in his future, but his bat is going to be his meal ticket.
Assuming he slides over to third, he'll have one of the strongest throwing arms in the system. If he heads to the outfield, he'll be an assist machine.
Correa in many ways resembles 2010 first-rounder Manny Machado (still growing into his body, great arm, great raw power), although his ceiling isn't likely as high.
26) Arizona Diamondbacks: Adam Brett Walker, OF/1B, Jacksonville
Even with the departure of former top prospect Jarrod Parker, the Diamondbacks are still stocked in the pitching department. As such, it's time to start rebuilding at several positions.
Jacksonville University's Adam Brett Walker is a hulking beast of a man (6'5", 225 lbs) who has above-average tools across the board. He led the team in numerous offensive categories in 2011, including batting average (.409), doubles (23), homers (13) and RBI (75). He was also a perfect 14-for-14 on the basepaths and played near-perfect defense (.992 fielding percentage) splitting time between first base and the outfield.
In Arizona, Walker's bat and arm would fit best in the outfield.
27) Detroit Tigers: Joey Gallo, 1B, Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
The Tigers haven't had the opportunity to pick in the first round since 2009, thanks to free-agent compensation rules, so you know they'll be looking to make a splash.
Nevada high schooler Joey Gallo has arguably the best power in this draft class, both at the plate and on the mound, where he's known for touching the mid- to high 90s. At the plate is where his professional future lies, however.
He played at third base for a while, where it would make the most sense for his cannon arm, but at 6'5" and 205 pounds, he's slowly outgrowing just about every position except for first base.
28) Milwaukee Brewers: Mitchell Traver, RHP, Houston Christian HS (TX)
The Brewers aren't used to drafting this late in the first round, and as such, they're going to have to tinker a bit with their strategy to keep their organization strong and capable of producing big league talent as they continue to try to stay competitive in the NL Central.
Texas right-hander Mitchell Traver has arguably the highest ceiling of any high schooler available in 2012, thanks not only to his massive frame (6'7", 250 lbs), but also his mid-90s fastball, which could probably jump a few mph with another season's worth of experience and training.
Traver has shined at numerous summer showcase events and gets rave reviews for repeating his delivery better than most pitchers his size. His one weakness is that he hasn't really developed his secondary stuff as well as the other top prep pitchers. To his credit, however, he hasn't had to; his fastball has been that good.
The Brewers could score a major coup if they could manage to transition Traver from a thrower into a pitcher.
29) Texas Rangers: Courtney Hawkins, OF/RHP, Carroll HS (TX)
The Rangers no doubt would love to have a shot at picking up Mitchell Traver. He has the Texas bloodlines and the Lone Star State's fireballing legacy running in his veins, but there's a great chance that he'll be long gone by the time the Rangers pick at No. 29.
A solid consolation prize would be Hawkins, a two-way star who could be a first-rounder as both a hitter or a pitcher. On the mound he can get his fastball into the mid-90s and complements the pitch with a decent curveball/changeup combination.
At the plate he might be slightly better, featuring some of the best right-handed power in the high school class. He has a great arm and decent speed.
Nolan Ryan would no doubt jump at the chance to develop Hawkins as a pitcher, but his potential at the plate might be too tough to ignore.
30) New York Yankees: Kenny Diekroeger, SS, Stanford
Just a few years ago, Diekroeger was one of the most sought-after shortstops in the high school class, and despite a few years of seasoning at one of the top college programs in the country, he's failed to gain much steam.
Heading into the 2011 college season, with Diekroeger coming off of a sensational freshman campaign at Stanford, many considered him a likely top-10 selection in 2012.
And then he played the 2011 season...and underperformed. He clearly struggled with the new bats, witnessing declines in just about every offensive category. Furthermore, Stanford struggled to play at the level that was expected of them, putting even more pressure on Diekroeger to be perfect.
Coming into the 2012 season, that pressure should be lessened. Stanford returns the likely No. 1 pick in the draft, Mark Appel, as well as fourth-year starter Brett Mooneyham, who missed the entire 2011 season.
If Diekroeger can have a bounce-back season, he could jump up draft boards as we near closer to draft day, and with an impressive squad behind him, he'll likely be playing well into June, giving teams an even better look.
Once upon a time, scouts had doubts about his ability to stick at shortstop, but he looked strong there last year, even as he continued to struggle at the plate. He's a big-bodied guy, but he's also one of the most impressive athletes in this draft class, so don't count him out.
If the Yankees could get his bat to come alive, they could be looking at the long-term replacement for Derek Jeter.
31) Boston Red Sox: Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe HS (OK)
Thanks to the Jonathan Papelbon to Philadelphia signing, the Red Sox are now the beneficiary of two first-round picks. The more the merrier for new GM Ben Cherington, who could look to make his mark on the farm system with a strong 2012 draft.
Oklahoma has been a massive source of talent the past few years, producing 2011 first-rounders Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley, as well as a few other mid- to late-round selections. Right-hander Ty Hensley is the cream of the crop this year, featuring a great frame (6'5", 220 lbs) and a blazing fastball (up to 95 mph).
His curveball has above-average potential, although his changeup has yet to gain much traction due to its limited use.
In the same vein as 2008 first-rounder Casey Kelly, Hensley is also a tremendous hitter with mid-round talent at the plate.