The MLB draft may not attract the same fanfare as their NFL and NBA counterparts, but there is just as much of an impact on the future of the franchise.
This year’s draft is going to be littered with collegiate stars that are experienced and ready to move their way through the minor league ranks in a hurry.
Will we see another Mike Leake? The Reds pitcher was a 2010 first-rounder that didn’t play a single inning in the minors after making the eventual NL Central champs rotation out of spring training.
As we go through a mock draft, the emphasis will be on college stars that will hit the ground running with their new team as the countdown to June 4th rolls on.
(College Studs Highlighted in Italics)
1. Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
The defensive whiz was the 2011 Pac-10 Defensive player of the year as he gobbled up seemingly every ball that was hit in his direction.
The righty is considered to be a line-drive gap hitter with the potential to hit for power as well. His baseball instincts are what set him apart and you can bet the Sun Devils are going to miss him dearly after he leaves down with a year of eligibility to his name.
Expect to see Marrero in the majors in the next two seasons.
2. Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (Ga.)
At 6’2’’ and 190 pounds, he possesses blazing speed in addition to a big bat that could one day lead him to a 40 home run season.
Obviously he isn’t as polished as many of the players in this draft, but there is no question he has the talent to become an elite player in the majors.
3. Seattle Mariners: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
The junior throws a fastball that reaches the mid-90’s and has a very smooth delivery that suggests he won’t have the injury concerns of other fireball throwing pitchers. With a strong slider and a circle changeup, Appel has all of the tools to be an elite starter for a Mariners team that loves pitching.
4. Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU
The 6’4’’ beanpole has a live arm with a fastball that tops out at 94 mph.
Command is still in issue, but with his size, mound presence and arm, Gausman is worth the risk—especially for a pitching hungry team like the Orioles.
5. Kansas City Royals: Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (Fla.)
The Royals have to find a face of the franchise to get fans excited and selling them on the potential of Almora is not a bad idea.
He has already played in USA Baseball games, giving him much more big-game experience then most at his age. Almora is a five-tool guy that is capable of becoming a slugger that steals bases and can cover a ton of ground in centerfield.
6. Chicago Cubs: Mike Zunino, C, Florida
The son of a long-time Yankees scout, Zunino has grown up around the game his entire life.
There is no question his baseball intelligence make him the top catching prospect in the draft. All that’s missing is more consistency with his swinging motion. That’s something a strong coaching staff can alter in a hurry.
7. San Diego Padres: Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Correa has displayed the range and arm to be a top notch shortstop, and the hitting skills to make him a top 10 pick.
He has impeccable work ethic and incredible power for the position. This is just what the doctor ordered for the Padres.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates: Lance McCullers, RHP, Jesuit HS (Fla.)
With major league bloodlines, McCullers brings a strong understanding to the game with a rocket for a right arm. He is pure power with a fastball that has been clocked in the upper 90s.
This guy has all of the ingredients to become an elite closer in the majors at some point.
9. Miami Marlins: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco
At 6’3’’ and 210 pounds, Zimmer has a body frame that is capable of handling the load of a starter and his fastball that can reach 97 mph.
Durability and four pitches that can be effective in the majors make Zimmer one of the best starting pitching prospects to come along in a while.
The Marlins rotation would be incredible if they are able to get Zimmer into the majors in the next year…something that is more than capable of occurring.
10. Colorado Rockies: Max Fried, LHP, Westlake HS (Calif.)
If there was ever a team that could use a lefty in their rotation, it’s the Rockies.
Fried has three pitches he can throw for strikes with a fastball that has been clocked at 94 mph. He has great command and a strong mound presence that should put him on the fast-track to the big leagues.
11. Oakland Athletics: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (Ala.)
Some scouts have suggested Dahl will turn into the next Johnny Damon because of his body type (6’2’’, 185 pounds) and approach to the plate.
You can’t cheat this guy out of a productive AB.
12. New York Mets: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
At 6’6’’ and 230 pounds, he is being compared to Roy Halladay because of his size.
What concerns me is a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that KO’ed him for his entire senior season. Is this injury going to alter his 96 mph fastball?
13. Chicago White Sox: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
The sky-high 6’6’’ Jon Garland reincarnation has a nasty spin on his curve and has proven to be very durable in college.
While he may never be an ace, Wacha is a safe bet to make the majors at some point.
14. Cincinnati Reds: Brian Johnson, LHP, Florida
When you are a lefty that can throw four different pitches for strikes…the sky’s the limit. While his fastball may only reach 93, Johnson has a wicked slider and a changeup that leaves hitters utterly confused.
What scouts really love is his mound presence and no-fear approach to right handed hitters. He doesn’t nibble and that’s something so many pitchers struggle with.
The future is very bright for this Gator.
15. Cleveland Indians: Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern
The thing scouts love about the 6’3’’, and 220-pound Beck is his ability to keep his 93 mph velocity deep into ball games.
He can throw three pitches for strikes and has improved each and every season of his collegiate career.
16. Washington Nationals: Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana HS (La.)
The lefty is incredibly strong, which allows him to absolutely tattoo the ball. Trahan is a slugger in the making and pairing him up with Bryce Harper down the line may make the Nationals one incredibly dangerous team offensively.
17. Toronto Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke
Stroman is a 5’9’’, 185-pound future stud reliever that has a power curve and a mid-90s fastball. While consistently hitting the zone is a concern, Stroman has loads of potential.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Joey Gallo, 1B, Gorman HS (Nev.)
Gallo is an incredibly aggressive hitter that has the raw power to lead the big leagues in home runs someday.
Plate discipline is certainly going to be a work-in-progress, but the sheer power Gallo has displayed in high school is enough to make him worth a first-round selection.
19. St. Louis Cardinals: Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS (Fla.)
At 6’6’’ and 195 pounds, Weickel throws a 12-to-6 curve that can absolutely freeze opposing hitters. While he needs to work on the velocity of his curveball and kinks of his delivery, there is no question he possesses the arm and body type to have a long and successful MLB career.
20. San Francisco Giants: Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford
When you win the Cape League batting title with a .349 average, the scouts are going to be paying attention. His bat speed stands out, as does his ability to consistently make contact to all parts of the field.
While he needs to bulk up to increase his power, there is no question he has major league ability at the plate.
Defensively he has a very accurate arm with soft hands and decent range. There is a lot to like about this guy.
21. Atlanta Braves: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (La.)
His brother Garin was drafted by the Red Sox in 2010 and it looks like the younger brother will be even better.
Cecchini has outstanding extension on his stroke, which allows him to make hard contact more often than not. He has great range, but doesn’t have the strongest arm. A shift to second base will likely occur at some point on his path to the majors.
22. Toronto Blue Jays: Victor Roache, OF, Southern
Here is a guy that has great bat speed and raw power, but has a lot to improve on before stepping into a major league batter’s box.
His uppercut swing concerns me, as does his pitch selection at times. Regardless, these are problems that can be fixed with the proper coaching. You can’t teach his 6’1’’ and 225-pound frame.
23. St. Louis Cardinals: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS (Texas)
As a pitcher he can hit 90 mph on the radar gun, but it appears his future will be in the outfield.
While he swings-and-misses more than you would like, his raw power and ability to spray the ball to all directions of the field make him an incredibly attractive pick for a Cardinals team that has time to wait for him to develop.
24. Boston Red Sox: Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood HS (Ga.)
When you can top 94 on the radar gun with a fastball that has solid movement on it, you are going to draw some serious interest from scouts.
Right now he looks like more of a reliever, due to his mediocre changeup. Yet with a great combination of athleticism, arm strength and poise, Sims is worthy of a first-round pick.
25. Tampa Bay Rays: Travis Jankowski, OF, SUNY Stony Brook
The speedster is a menace on the base path and has above-average arm strength for a center fielder.
He often bunts for base hits and gets outstanding jumps when stealing bases. With his ability to spray the ball to all parts of the field, I see Jankowski making the big league’s before most of the 2012 first-round class.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Kenny Diekroeger, SS, Stanford
Rounding out a trio of Cardinal first-rounder’s, Diekroeger brings great defense to the table.
He has a strong arm in addition to great range and hands.
As long as he continues to develop offensively, the future looks good for the defensive guru.
27. Milwaukee Brewers: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State
The curve is Heaney’s pitch of choice, and it can be devastating for the southpaw. He can throw three different pitches for strikes and reaches 93 mph on his fastball.
28. Milwaukee Brewers: Addison Russell, SS/3B, Pace HS (Fla.)
While scouts aren’t exactly sure what position he projects to be in the field at this point, there is no question this guy will be special at the plate.
Blessed with incredibly quick hands and above-average power, Russell is not going to get cheated in an AB.
29. Texas Rangers: Jake Barrett, RHP, Arizona State
Barrett is a hard-throwing righty that at 6’4’’ and 220 pounds has the body type of a reliever like Heath Bell. He has the stuff to be a starter, but the effort he displays on a regular basis combined with a questionable ability to consistently find the strike zone make the bullpen a likely landing spot for Barrett.
30. New York Yankees: Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe (Okla.)
The thing that stands out about Hensley is his confidence.
It doesn’t matter what the situation is, he always has outstanding body language on the mound and never lets runners on base rattle him.
While he has mechanical issues to clean-up, the future is bright for Hensley.
31. Boston Red Sox: Lewis Brinson, OF, Coral Springs HS (Fla.)
Brinson is a gap hitter that has a beautiful swing. He is an above-average runner that can cover plenty of ground in the outfield.
With the ability to develop power down the line, the Red Sox should be thrilled if Brinson falls to them at No. 31.