2012 MLB Mock Draft: Predicting the First Round with Video

Zachary Ball@MLBDraftCntdwnAnalyst IApril 10, 2012

2012 MLB Mock Draft: Predicting the First Round with Video

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    The 2012 MLB draft is almost upon us.

    Front-runners like Stanford's Mark Appel and San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer have established themselves as threats to go No. 1 overall, while a few players, namely high-school right-hander Lucas Giolito and college slugger Victor Roache have been lost to injury.

    And then, of course, there have been a few surprises, none bigger than Texas two-way star Courtney Hawkins, who has emerged as a potential top-10 pick, thanks to a stunning showcase of his skills at the National High School Invitational a week ago.

    Each of the players mentioned are the closest things there are to first-round locks, and there's a good chance they'll be joined by 26 other potential superstars, all of whom are covered in this most recent mock draft, complete with video of each player.



    For more draft coverage tune in to MLB Draft Countdown, or follow me on Twitter @mlbdraftcntdwn

1) Houston Astros: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

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    Height/Weight: 6-5/215

    Hometown: Houston, Texas

    2012 stats: 4-1, 3.32 ERA, 7 starts, 3 CG, 55-to-16 K:BB in 57.2 IP, .193 average against

    Coming into 2012, Appel had shown everything teams look for in a No. 1 pick, aside from dominating results. After subpar freshman and sophomore campaigns, he has been incredible in his junior season.

    In seven starts, he's already tossed three complete games, including a four-hitter in his most recent start. Appel has shown the same great velocity in each of his starts and his slider has looked markedly better than last year.

    Appel is a Houston native, and would be arguably the most splashy pick the Astros could make. Their farm system is weak in starting pitching, and Appel could be in the majors by the end of the 2013 campaign.

2) Minnesota Twins: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco

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    Height/Weight: 6-4/220

    Hometown: La Jolla, Calif.

    2012 stats: 2-3, 2.15 ERA, 8 starts, 3 CG, 60-to-7 K:BB in 54.1 IP

    Zimmer could be this year's Gerrit Cole. Not in the sense that he touches triple-digits with his fastball, but rather in that he might finish with a losing record, but still end up as a top-three pick.

    He was tabbed with his third loss of the season this past weekend, despite tossing his third complete game in four starts against Portland. Zimmer allowed just six hits, two runs and struck out nine, giving him 60 punchouts and just seven walks on the season.

    All season long, Zimmer has shown great velocity, touching as high as 96, and has complemented his fastball with a great curve. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he's proven to be a durable workhorse.

    The Twins never have been one for the sexy pick, eschewing the more notable names for safer choices. Zimmer represents the best of both worlds. He has great control, an organizational trademark, but still offers front-line potential.

3) Seattle Mariners: Mike Zunino, C, Florida

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    Hometown: Cape Coral, Fla.

    2012 stats: .351, 12 2B, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 14-to-21 BB:K, 5-for-5 SB

    Zunino has followed up an impressive sophomore campaign, one in which he won SEC Player of the Year honors, with an incredibly hot start to the 2012 season.

    A run-creating juggernaut, Zunino leads the Gators in nearly every offensive category. On defense, he's been just as good, committing only one error while throwing out 24 percent of attempted base stealers.

    Zunino would be a perfect fit in Seattle, where they're going to try defensively-challenged Jesus Montero behind the plate this season.

    Having both of their powerful bats in the lineup would bolster their chances in the A.L. West dramatically, and Zunino's presence behind the plate would only make a team with several up-and-coming pitchers that much better.

4) Baltimore Orioles: Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (Ga.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-2/175

    Hometown: Baxley, Ga.

    2012 stats: .500, 7 2B, 3 3B, 8 RBI, 15-for-15 SB (as of March 25)

    Buxton has burst onto the scene this season, garnering top-overall pick consideration in the midst of an impressive senior campaign at Appling County High in Georgia. The two-way star has done it all, starring as the team's ace on the mound, while continuing his usual assault at the plate.

    Buxton has been favorably compared to 2011 first-rounder Bubba Starling, in that he offers a veritable shed of tools. He hits for average and power, has great speed and a cannon arm. He's one of the top athletes in the 2012 class.

    Buxton would be an ideal fit with the Orioles, who aside from Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, lack elite prospect talent. Buxton could be groomed to take over for Adam Jones, who the team has yet to sign to a long-term extension.

5) Kansas City Royals: Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Tampa Jesuit Prep (Fla.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-2/205

    Hometown: Tampa, Fla.

    2012 stats: 6-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 starts, 57-to-9 K:BB in 30.1 IP, .075 average against (as of March 25)

    McCullers has been on teams' radars for a couple of years now, but the 2012 season has proven to be imperative to his hopes of being drafted in the first-round. Not only did he sprout an extra inch and put on a few pounds, but he also has taken his dominance of the Florida high-school ranks to a whole new level.

    In just over 30 innings, McCullers has yet to surrender a single earned run, and his last outing was arguably his best, a 12-strikeout no-hitter.

    Dominating high-school hitters isn't entirely an impressive feat and it is one that has been accomplished by many pitchers who have gone on to flame out in the pro ranks, but along with his domination has improved control over his repertoire, which includes a mid-to-high 90s fastball and a hammer curveball.

    The Royals have drafted as well as anyone the past five years, and passing on McCullers because of doubts about his size, or long-term role, isn't their style.

6) Chicago Cubs: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-6/230

    Hometown: Santa Monica, Calif.

    2012 stats: will miss remainder of 2012 season due to sprained UCL

    Giolito's injury and expected fall on draft day have been well documented, even earning himself and his teammate Max Fried, one of the top lefties available in the 2012 draft class, a spot on ESPN the Magazine's April cover.

    Despite a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the burly right-hander still figures to be a top-10 pick. The injury doesn't need surgery, just plenty of time off, meaning Giolito won't be pitching again until he's signed with a pro team, assuming he doesn't honor his commitment to UCLA for the fall.

    With a high-90s fastball that touched 100 mph this spring and a couple of impressive secondary pitches, Giolito won't make it past Theo Epstein and the Cubs, who pick sixth.

    Epstein needs to rebuild the Cubs, and that means a major overhaul of a depleted farm system, of which Giolito will be the prized possession.

7) San Diego Padres: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU

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    Height/Weight: 6-4/185

    Hometown: Centennial, Colo.

    2012 stats: 5-1, 2.83 ERA, 8 starts, 70-to-17 K:BB in 54 IP, .218 average against

    One of just a few draft-eligible sophomores, Gausman has performed so admirably this season he's established himself as a front-runner for the Golden Spikes award, as well as the top overall selection in the draft.

    Gausman's fastball has looked more explosive than ever in his eight starts for LSU, touching as high as 97-mph in his last start against the top ranked Florida Gators.

    The right-hander was drafted two years ago by the Dodgers, and would be a perfect fit for their division rival San Diego.

8) Pittsburgh Pirates: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (La.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-1/180

    Hometown: Lake Charles, La.

    2012 stats: N/A

    Cecchini's older brother Garin was drafted a couple of years ago by the Red Sox, and while he very well may be the best pure hitter in their system, there's little doubt that his younger brother, Gavin, is going to surpass him as a prospect.

    Gavin is the superior defender, and has the tools to stay at shortstop long-term. In addition, he has a potent bat which has produced more than its fair share of home runs this season. His combination of power and defense has Barbe High at 20-6 and ranked among the top 10 teams in the country.

    Cecchini would be a great fit for Pittsburgh, who has drafted well at every position for the past few years, but still lacks a franchise shortstop.

9) Miami Marlins: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (Ala.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-2/190

    Hometown: Birmingham, Ala.

    2012 stats: .386, one HR, 27 runs, 9 RBI, 15 SB (as of March 25)

    Dahl has a case as the top position prospect from the high-school crop, and he will likely face comparisons to Buxton for the majority of his pro career, at least until he reaches the majors. Both players are similar, five-tool studs with incredible athletic ability.

    While Buxton may have better power and a stronger arm (he's also his team's pitching ace), Dahl is probably the better pure hitter. His level of competition in Alabama isn't as tough as Buxton's in Georgia, but it's clear he's got the talent to be a top-15 pick.

    The Marlins have a few talented outfielders in their system, but few have the all-around ceiling of Dahl.

10) Colorado Rockies: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Mary Carroll HS (Texas)

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    Height/Weight: 6-3/210

    Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas

    2012 stats: .469, six HR, 23 RBI

    Hawkins has emerged as the star of the 2012 high school season. His exploits both on the mound and at the plate have been so impressive, he's catapulted his name into top-10 consideration.

    It's at the plate and in the outfield where his future lies. He's shown some incredible power, and his 400-plus foot homer was the talk of the National High School Invitational, where he also tossed five shutout innings in Carroll High's only victory.

    Thanks in part to his experience on the mound, Hawkins has a ridiculously strong arm that is a definite weapon in the outfield. He's also got enough athleticism (feel free to check out the video for proof) to handle all three outfield positions right now, although he may be confined to a corner spot as a big-leaguer.

    Colorado thrives on players like Hawkins, who wouldn't have to stray too far from home to join the organization.

11) Oakland Athletics: Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern

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    Height/Weight: 6-1/235

    Hometown: Ypsilanti, Mich.

    2012 stats: .412, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 runs, 7-to-2 BB:K

    Like Giolito, Victor Roache is slated to miss the remainder of the season, due to a severely injured wrist. A complete and total shame considering he was the NCAA leader in home runs last season.

    Even without the opportunity to show his power, Roache will still be a first-round pick, and he would be a prototypical selection for a team like Oakland, who values power as well as on-base percentage, Roache's other specialty.

    The A's went after the top slugger from the college ranks two years ago with Michael Choice, and thinking of those two in the same outfield should give Billy Beane happy fits of joy.

12) New York Mets: Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State

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    Height/Weight: 6-1/194

    Hometown: Davie, Fla.

    2012 stats: .274, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 22 runs, 9-to-9 BB:K, 7-for-8 SB

    Heading into this year, Marrero had top-overall pick potential, but thanks to a terrible start to the season, he's likely going to suffer a bit of a slip on draft day. In 29 games, Marrero is hitting a paltry .274 and he's grounded into five double plays.

    He did come through with a go-ahead triple a few days ago against Oregon State, so maybe that's a sign that his bat is heating up. Regardless of his offensive potential, Marrero is a certified stud at shortstop. He was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year last season and should be an annual threat for Gold Gloves.

    The Mets happen to have just lost Jose Reyes, and don't have another polished shortstop prospect in the pipeline. Marrero could be the heir apparent to Reyes, and depending on whether his bat responds, he could be quick to the big leagues.

13) Chicago White Sox: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M

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    Height/Weight: 6-6/200

    Hometown: Texarkana, Texas

    2012 stats: 4-0, 2.82 ERA, 8 starts, 1 CG, 60-to-11 K:BB in 54.1 IP, .236 average against

    Wacha has been a major factor in Texas A&M's 26-6 start that has rocketed them to No. 2 in Baseball America's most recent college top 25.

    He has emerged as one of the top aces in the country, and teamed with Ross Stripling, has the Aggies poised to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

    Armed with a fastball that has touched 97 mph and tailor made with a 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame, Wacha has also thrown his name into conversation for the top overall pick.

    The White Sox are lacking in pitching depth, and Wacha is really the only elite arm left on the board.

14) Cincinnati Reds: Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS (Fla.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-6/205

    Hometown: Orlando, Fla.

    2012 stats: N/A

    Weickel has Olympia High undefeated, on track for a top-ten finish and along with it, he's boosting his own draft stock.

    He already has the prototypical size and impressive velocity that scouts are looking for in a first-rounder; now it's just a matter of continuing to hone his curveball and developing his changeup.

    Weickel has impressed enough this season to warrant a No. 3 overall ranking on ESPN.com's top 100 high-school player rankings.

    The Reds farm system is heavy on position talent, so adding an arm with the upside of Weickel is a must with the 14th pick.

15) Cleveland Indians: Brian Johnson, LHP, Florida

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    Height/Weight: 6-3/225

    Hometown: Cocoa Beach, Fla.

    2012 stats: 4-1, 4.31 ERA, 8 starts, 31-to-9 K:BB in 39.2 IP, .250 average against

    Johnson had a phenomenal season last year and was a primary reason the Gators had one of the best seasons in school history. This year, he hasn't been as good, on the mound or at the plate, but none of that should matter come draft day.

    Johnson has great size, good velocity and an impressive array of off-speed pitches. He might not be a future No. 1 starter, but there's no reason he couldn't be a solid No. 2 or 3 starter in the big leagues for many years.

    The Indians scored with another SEC left-hander (Drew Pomeranz) a few years ago. Since Johnson has split time between hitting and pitching, he might take an extra year or two to make it to the big leagues, but he has all the tools.

16) Washington Nationals: Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (Fla.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-1/195

    Hometown: Pace, Fla.

    2012 stats: N/A

    Russell has emerged as one of the top shortstops in the 2012 draft class, and considering he has more power than any of his other competitors, he's a sure bet to be drafted pretty high.

    It’s already been on display this spring, with him homering in numerous contests. One of his most recent outings resulted in a two-homer, four-RBI outburst that pushed Pace High to yet another victory.

    On defense, Russell is no slouch, either. He's not as capable a defender as Cecchini, but he should do just fine.

    The Nationals have Ian Desmond manning shortstop now, but his bat is nowhere near as special as Russell's. He would allow Danny Espinosa to remain at second base.

17) Toronto Blue Jays: Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-4/170

    Hometown: Encino, Calif.

    2012 stats: N/A

    Fried has nimbly stepped into the gaping hole created by the season-ending injury to Lucas Giolito, and has guided Harvard-Westlake to a top-10 national ranking. Along the way, he's generated plenty of interest for himself.

    Like Giolito, Fried has excellent velocity and a promising curveball/changeup combination. His command is above-average for a high-schooler and probably even better than his teammate's.

    He showed all of his talents in the National High School Invitational, where Harvard-Westlake's run ended in the championship game.

    The Blue Jays, more than any other team in the American League, love drafting left-handers. They have done so 24 percent of the time in the top-ten rounds over the past five years. No other team has drafted lefties more than 15 percent of the time.

    As such, Fried would be a perfect fit.

18) Los Angeles Dodgers: Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern

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    Height/Weight: 6-3/220

    Hometown: Jefferson, Ga.

    2012 stats: 4-2, 3.49 ERA, 8 starts, 2 CG, 70-to-13 K:BB in 56.2 IP, .264 average against

    Last year, the Dodgers went cheap and selected Stanford lefty Chris Reed, whose future could eventually be in the bullpen. Reed signed quickly and the team went back to work trying to figure out their financial mess. Now that they've been sold to a group fronted by Magic Johnson; expect them to draft more...intelligently.

    Beck has top-five helium coming into the year, but due in part to the fact that he plays for a pretty bad team, he's seen his fair share of struggles. He's righted the ship over his past few outings and was even honored as the National Pitcher of the Week.

    At his best, Beck throws in the mid-90s with two tough pitches (curveball and changeup). He has the frame to eat innings and could have No. 1 potential if he can reach his ceiling.

19) St. Louis Cardinals (for Pujols): Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke

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    Height/Weight: 5-9/185

    Hometown: Medford, N.Y.

    2012 stats: 3-3, 2.17 ERA, 8 starts, 85-to-17 K:BB in 58 innings, .220 average against

    Stroman seems like such a perfect fit for the Cardinals, whose draft picks always skew towards college pitching, that there seems to be an incredibly slim chance of it actually happening. After all, trying to predict any picks outside the top five is the epitome of the phrase "crap shoot."

    Despite his diminutive stature, Stroman has pitched like a man twice his size. He ranks among the NCAA leaders in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. He's averaged almost two strikeouts per inning and his 2.17 ERA is one of the best in the conference, despite playing on one of the ACC's worst teams.

    Stroman has had a knack for making an impression this season, notching 12-, 13- and 17-strikeout performances. Like Trevor Bauer and Mike Leake, two other small-frame pitchers, Stroman should rocket through the minors relatively quickly.

20) San Francisco Giants: Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo HS (Calif.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-3/175

    Hometown: Camarillo, Calif.

    2012 stats: N/A

    Baseball America staff were on hand for Virant's last start, in which the left-hander struck out 13 and tossed a complete-game. According to the game report, Virant was clocked at 91 at his highest, but mention is made that with more development to his wiry frame, he could add a few more ticks.

    Virant gets rave reviews for being an incredible athlete. He's the star QB on the gridiron, a scoring machine on the hardwood, and a two-way star on the diamond. He has above-average speed and is a nimble fielder.

    His future, however, is on the mound, where he complements his low 90s fastball with an impressive changeup. He also throws a curveball and slider.

    The Giants are no doubt familiar with Virant, who plays a few hours south of San Francisco, and in him they could see a smaller version of Madison Bumgarner.

21) Atlanta Braves: Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook

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    Height/Weight: 6-3/190

    Hometown: Lancaster, Pa.

    2012 stats: .377, 9 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 26 R, 18-for-22 SB

    The Braves have long been seeking a center fielder to remind them of the glory days when Andruw Jones was patrolling out there. Stony Brook outfielder Travis Jankowski isn't going to make anyone forget about Jones, but he could be a candidate for the Braves, who pick 21st.

    Jankowski is exactly what a team seeks in a leadoff hitter. He has impressive on-base skills, including a lightning-quick bat and decent plate discipline, and once he's on base he can really do some damage with above-average speed.

    He swiped 30 bases last season and with 18 so far in 2012, he's already established himself as SBU's career leader in the category.

    Jankowski got off to a slow start this year, but rebounded in a strong way, earning National Hitter of the Week honors about a month ago. His average is now up to a robust .337. His defensive ability is also an incredible weapon. He didn't make a single error last year, and has only one so far this season.

22) Toronto Blue Jays (for Beede): Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State

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    Height/Weight: 6-2/174

    Hometown: Oklahoma City, Okla.

    2012 stats: 5-1, 2.31 ERA, 8 starts, 3 CG, 76-to-13 K:BB in 58.1 IP

    As good as the Jays have been at drafting high-school lefties, they've also been incredible savvy in adding seasoned college pitchers to keep the farm system balanced. Asher Wojciechowski, Deck McGuire and John Stilson come to mind. Heaney would be a perfect balance to Max Fried at pick No. 17.

    The Oklahoma native has enjoyed a breakout season, but he has actually been around for quite a while. He's led the Cowboys in victories in each of his three seasons, and he looked very sharp in the Cape Cod League last summer. This season, however, he's shown the ability to dominate a conference full of capable hitters.

    He ranks among the nation's leaders in strikeouts and has already set numerous career-highs less than halfway through his junior campaign. He also tossed back-to-back shutouts, the first time an OSU pitcher has accomplished that in more than a decade.

23) St. Louis Cardinals: Joey Gallo, 1B/OF, Bishop Gorman HS (Nev.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-5/205

    Hometown: Henderson, Nev.

    2012 stats: .588, 14 RBI (as of March 25)

    The Cardinals have several players in their farm system who will be given a shot at filling the gaping hole at first base, left by St. Louis legend Albert Pujols, but few have a ceiling as high, or ooze as much power as Nevada prep slugger Joey Gallo.

    Gallo is a legitimate two-way prospect, but thanks to his awe-inspiring power stroke, he's likely going to be drafted in the first-round as a hitter.

    He has enough athleticism to play the outfield, but he might continue to grow, leaving first base as his likely destination. He has a cannon arm, capable of producing mid-90s heat (see video), meaning third base also might be an option.

    Either way, as long as his bat is in the lineup, it won't matter where Gallo plays.

24) Boston Red Sox: Adam Brett Walker, 1B/OF, Jacksonville

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    Height/Weight: 6-5/225

    Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisc.

    2012 stats: .300, 9 2B, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 24 R, 19-to-29 BB:K, 5-for-6 SB

    The Red Sox have quietly gone about building a sturdy cache of young hitters, including Xander Bogaerts, Garin Cecchini, Sean Coyle and Brandon Jacobs, but ever since dealing away both Lars Anderson and Anthony Rizzo, the team lacks a true prospect at first base.

    Adam Brett Walker hasn't had the most inspired performance this season, but he's really bounced back as of late, and finally has his average over .300. Toss in his six homers and team-leading 28 RBI and there's no doubt he's one of the most potent offensive forces in college baseball.

    He's also a much better athlete than he gets credit for. He pitched a bit in high school and has been clocked in the mid-90s, so he might be a better fit in the outfield, but if he continues to grow, even a little, he might outgrow every position except for first base.

25) Tampa Bay Rays: Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana HS (La.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-1/215

    Hometown: Scott, La.

    2012 stats: N/A

    What does a team do with a catcher who has plus speed?

    Well, if said team is the Tampa Bay Rays, they select Stryker Trahan, the top catcher from the high-school ranks and figure out what to do with him later.

    If Trahan could be taught second base, which he's played a little of, he could be a dangerous hitter near the top of their lineup. If he manages to stick behind the plate, he could be unlike any player we've seen.

    Trahan's bat is good, as is his defensive ability, but few casual fans are going to notice anything but his speed.

26) Arizona Diamondbacks: Carlos Correa, 3B, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy

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    Height/Weight: 6-4/190

    Hometown: Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico

    2012 stats: N/A

    The Diamondbacks have had several strong drafts over the past decade, but none sticks out like 2009, when they had seven of the top 64 picks. They went strong on high-school hitters that year, and as a result, the majority of their top position players all come from that '09 crop.

    That year, Matt Davidson and Bobby Borchering were both selected as third basemen, and after splitting time at the hot corner, Davidson shifted across the diamond to first base, while Borchering moved to the outfield. That leaves third base open for debate...or Carlos Correa.

    Correa has the skills to play shortstop, but he's already 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds and it looks like he's going to keep growing, meaning a move to third is inevitable.

    That's okay, though, because his bat is where his true value lies. His ability to hit for average, combined with his power stroke, has drawn comparisons to former first-rounder Manny Machado.

27) Milwaukee Brewers (for Fielder): Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Stanford

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    Height/Weight: 6-5/215

    Hometown: Atwater, Calif.

    2012 stats: 5-2, 2.68 ERA, 7 starts, 57-to-23 K:BB in 47 IP, .234 average against

    Mooneyham was destined for a spot in the first-round last season until a hand injury forced him to miss the entire 2011 campaign. He returned to Stanford this season in an effort to regenerate some interest, pitching in the shadow of projected No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel.

    Once plagued by control issues, Mooneyham has looked better than ever, even out-pitching Appel in terms of pure statistics on the season. His five wins and 57 strikeouts both lead the staff.

    A senior, Mooneyham has no leverage, which mean's he'll likely sign for slot, or just below, making him a perfect candidate for the Brewers first pick in the first-round, the unprotected pick they picked up from Prince Fielder signing with the Tigers.

28) Milwaukee Brewers: Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon HS (Ohio)

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    Height/Weight: 6-8/225

    Hometown: Solon, Ohio

    2012 stats: N/A

    Last year the Brewers had two first-round picks and they went the same route (college pitcher) with both. At the time, the move made sense. The team had one of the weakest farm systems in baseball, depleted by trades, and little in the way of pitching depth.

    Now that they have that, they can afford to take some chances on some high-risk, high-reward talent.

    Lefty Matt Smoral is just that. At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, he might literally have the highest ceiling of any player in this year's draft. He throws in the low 90s, but as he gains more strength, he might be able to dial his fastball up to the mid-to-high 90s.

    A potential factor impacting his draft status, and one that could cause him to drop all the way to the latter half of the first-round, is the recent discovery of a broken bone in his right foot, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the 2012 season.

29) Texas Rangers: Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood HS (Ga.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-2/185

    Hometown: Lawrenceville, Ga.

    2012 stats: N/A

    Sims had a breakout experience at the National High School Invitational, out-shining fellow prospect Ryan Burr, with a 11-strikeout performance.

    The Georgia prep hurler is now likely destined for a day-one selection, and could be popped in the first round. Considering his state of residence, the Braves could be a possibility, but the Rangers could be tempted by his athleticism and project-ability at pick No. 29.

30) New York Yankees: Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford

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    Height/Weight: 6-3/215

    Hometown: Pleasanton, Calif.

    2012 stats: .316, 8 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 24 R, 11-to-9 BB:K, 2-for-2 SB

    The Yankees have needs at very few positions, but at third base they're growing old very fast. A-Rod currently splits time with Eduardo Nunez, who plays third about as dangerously as anyone in the game right now.

    Enter Piscotty, a seasoned defender with a strong arm who also happens to be an expert at getting on base. He has 20-homer per season power, and should hit for a decent average. He has the athleticism to play first base or the outfield, and could even pitch in a pinch.

    He would be a safe, adequate long-term replacement for Rodriguez.

31) Boston Red Sox (for Papelbon): Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe HS (Okla.)

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    Height/Weight: 6-5/225

    Hometown: Edmond, Okla.

    2012 stats: N/A

    The state of Oklahoma has produced some pretty impressive draft classes the past few years, spearheaded by the selection of both Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley in the top seven picks last year.

    Ty Hensley isn't exactly on par with those two, but he's the cream of the crop in 2012, and he could find his way into the first round very easily.

    Hensley has great size and amazing athleticism. He's played catcher, third base, first base and the outfield during his time at Santa Fe High. He's capable of hitting the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball and he complements the pitch with a solid curveball.

    The Red Sox have an opportunity to add two high-ceiling players in the first round, and teaming Hensley with Walker would be a major coup.