2012 MLB Mock Draft: The Star Each Projected First-Round Pick Most Resembles

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterMay 8, 2012

2012 MLB Mock Draft: The Star Each Projected First-Round Pick Most Resembles

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    Unlike the loaded 2011 draft class, this year’s class only has about 10-to-15 consensus first-rounders.  Furthermore, there is no consensus No. 1 pick.

    Due to his pure, raw athleticism and potential, Byron Buxton has emerged as the only prep player who could be selected first. The only other position prospect who has drawn consideration for such a ranking is Florida’s backstop, Mike Zunino, who might have the best hit tool in the class.

    Beyond Buxton is a slew of highly talented and projectable collegiate right-handers in Mark Appel (Stanford), Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco) and Kevin Gausman (LSU). Their selection will ultimately depend on organizational need, as well as their showings leading up to the draft, which begins at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, June 4.

    So, as we are now less than a month away from draft day, I've composed a preliminary mock draft that focuses on each potential draft pick's major-league comparison. While it's likely that most of these players will never match the success of their counterpart, it sure is fun to speculate.

1. Houston Astros: Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (Ga.)

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    Position: CF
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 180
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: December 18, 1993

    The Astros are likely interested in a collegiate player who won’t need much time in the minor leagues en route to the Show. However, since there is no consensus on which collegiate pitcher fits that bill, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Astros change their draft strategy and ultimately select the most athletic and toolsy player on the board.

    Major-League Comparison: B.J. Upton

2. Minnesota Twins: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'5"
    Weight: 215
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: July 15, 1991

    Appel is exactly the type of pitcher the Twins seem to covet; he has "pitchability" and above-average command and shouldn’t take too long to reach the major leagues.

    Major-League Comparison: Mark Prior

3. Seattle Mariners: Mike Zunino, C, Florida

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    Position: C
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 220
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: March 25, 1991

    While the Mariners have a future talent in Jesus Montero, it’s common knowledge that he profiles more as a designated hitter (or even first baseman). Therefore, the Mariners could select Zunino, who arguably has the best hit tool in the class, and slate him to be their future backstop.

    Major-League Comparison: Buster Posey

4. Baltimore Orioles: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 220
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: September 1991

    Having only pitched for a few years now, there is little concern about how Zimmer’s arm has been taxed. Having said that, the right-hander also has a considerable amount of room to further develop.

    With a plus fastball and breaking ball, as well as an advanced feel for a changeup, Zimmer could be the next highly touted Orioles pitching prospect.

    Major-League Comparison: Adam Wainwright

5. Kansas City Royals: Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State University

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 185
    Bats/Throws: L/R
    Birthdate: January 6, 1991

    Once again, it is believed that the Royals are targeting an elite college arm, and the best remaining at this point is undoubtedly Gausman. His command can be a bit shaky at times, but there’s a lot to love in his mid-to-upper-90s arm and supplemental arsenal.

    Major-League Comparison: Max Scherzer

6. Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (Fla.)

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    Position: OF
    Height: 6'1"
    Weight: 170
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: April 16, 1994

    While the Cubs could conceivably go after Carlos Correa with their pick, they lack outfield depth within their system, and Almora’s upside will be hard to pass up. 

    Major-League Comparison: Carlos Beltran

7. San Diego Padres: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 235
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: July 14, 1994

    Prior to his UCL strain at the beginning of the spring season, Giolito was nearly a consensus 1-1 selection. However, he’s been cleared to resume throwing and may need some bullpen sessions in front of scouts to reaffirm his status as a top draft pick.

    Major-League Comparison: Justin Verlander

8. Pittsburgh Pirates: Carlos Correa, SS, PR Baseball Academy

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    Position: SS
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 190
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: September 22, 1994

    With Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon quickly ascending in the Pirates’ system, they could deviate from their draft strategy of previous years and select Correa, who is one of the more projectable infielders—time will tell whether he outgrows shortstop—in the draft class.

    Major-League Comparison: Alex Rodriguez

9. Miami Marlins: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State

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    Position: LHP
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 174
    Bats/Throws: L/L
    Birthdate: June 5, 1991

    With a system comprised of mainly position prospects, the Marlins selected right-hander Jose Fernandez with their first pick in 2011. This year should be no different, as they may draft Heaney to one day complement Fernandez at the front of their rotation.

    Major-League Comparison: Derek Holland

10. Colorado Rockies: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain (Ala.)

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    Position: OF
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 190
    Bats/Throws: L/R
    Birthdate: April 1, 1994

    A speedy outfielder with a solid hit tool and power potential, Dahl profiles at each outfield position and could be an intriguing selection for a system that lacks well-rounded outfield prospects.

    Major-League Comparison: Colby Rasmus

11. Oakland Athletics: Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson

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    Position: 3B/1B
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 205
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: March 15, 1991

    Shaffer seems like the perfect pick for the A’s (if he’s still available). He has that ideal mix of power potential and plate discipline that has become a trademark of A’s prospects. 

    Major-League Comparison: Ryan Zimmerman

12. New York Mets: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: July 1, 1991

    Although the Mets have two top-ranked right-handed pitching prospects in Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, it may not hurt to add another promising collegiate arm in Wacha.

    Major-League Comparison: Tyler Clippard

13. Chicago White Sox: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Mary Carroll (Texas)

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    Position: OF
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 215
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: November 12, 1993

    The White Sox have repeatedly drafted both toolsy prep outfielders or high-risk, high-reward collegiate arms, and this year should be no different. Hawkins has some of the best raw power in the class, and it may be difficult for the White Sox to pass on him if he drops this far.

    Major-League Comparison: Corey Hart

14. Cincinnati Reds: Matthew Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio)

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    Position: LHP
    Height: 6'8"
    Weight: 230
    Bats/Throws: L/L
    Birthdate: March 18, 1994

    An Ohio native, the lanky left-hander could be a much-needed addition to the Reds’ system that lacks southpaws—outside of Tony Cingrani, obviously—and has the potential to be a fast riser.

    Major-League Comparison: Randy Johnson

15. Cleveland Indians: Zach Eflin, RHP, Paul J. Hagerty (Fla.)

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'5"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: April 8, 1994

    Eflin’s draft stock has risen as much as anybody's in the class, and he has an arsenal with at least three above-average pitches. Last year, the Indians drafted Francisco Lindor in the first round, so it’s conceivable that they try to secure one of the more promising prep arms in Eflin. 

    Major-League Comparison: Jordan Zimmermann

16. Washington Nationals: Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)

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    Position: LHP
    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 170
    Bats/Throws: L/L
    Birthdate: January 18, 1994

    There’s a strong chance that Fried won’t last this long, but if he does, the Nationals will likely snatch him up and add him to the already impressive collection of arms in their farm system.

    Major-League Comparison: C.J. Wilson

17. Toronto Blue Jays: Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 198
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: August 22, 1990

    Although the Blue Jays lack up-the-middle bats in their system, Stratton is a right-hander whose stock continues to rise as the draft approaches. They already have a slew of high-upside right-handed arms in their system, but it could never hurt to add another—especially if Stratton is the best arm still on the board.

    Major-League Comparison: Daniel Hudson

18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 5'9"
    Weight: 185
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate:  May 1, 1991

    Although Stroman has a chance to slide down the board considering he’s only 5’9”, his upper-90s fastball and swing-and-miss potential make him an intriguing selection.

    Yes, the Dodgers have Shawn Tolleson in their system, but Stroman (if they choose to develop him as a bullpen arm) has the ability to be a top-notch closer.  

    Major-League Comparison: Tom Gordon

19. St. Louis Cardinals: Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona St.

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    Position: SS
    Height: 6'1"
    Weight: 194
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: August 25, 1990

    Beyond Kolten Wong, the Cardinals lack up-the-middle prospects. And given their emphasis on defense, Marrero could fit the Cardinals’ needs.

    Major-League Comparison: Stephen Drew

20. San Francisco Giants: Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern

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    Position: OF
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 225
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: September 17, 1991

    The Giants' system is devoid of power prospects, especially outfielders with thump in their bat. At this point, Roache should be the best power available on the board.

    Major-League Comparison: John Mayberry Jr.

21. Atlanta Braves: Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M

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    Position: OF
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 175
    Bats/Throws: L/R
    Birthdate: April 24, 1991

    Will Matt Lipka ever pan out to be a top-of-the-order threat? Who knows?

    Gambling on a left-handed hitter with wheels and a plus arm might be a safe pick for the Braves.

    Major-League Comparison: David DeJesus

22. Toronto Blue Jays: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe (La.)

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    Position: SS
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 185
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: December 22, 1993

    Cecchini’s older brother, Garin, is a rising prospect in the Red Sox system, so the favorable bloodline is there. Furthermore, he has the tools and athleticism to stick at shortstop, though it will be years until he’s capable of competing at the major-league level. 

    Major-League Comparison: Zack Cozart

23. St. Louis Cardinals: Pierce Johnson, RHP, Missouri State

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 180
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: May 10, 1991

    With one of the best sliders in the 2012 class, Johnson’s stock has climbed steadily all season. And given the Cardinals’ penchant for selecting in-state draft picks, they could add another impressive right-handed arm to their system.

    Major-League Comparison: Drew Storen

24. Boston Red Sox: Stephen Piscotty, OF, Stanford

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    Position: OF
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 215
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: January 14, 1991

    Although he played third base for most of his collegiate career, Piscotty moved to left field this season, which is a better fit for his bat. He’s the type of hitter I can see having success in Fenway Park, though it won’t be easy to crack that lineup.

    Major-League Comparison: Alex Gordon

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

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    Position: C/OF
    Height: 6'
    Weight: 215
    Bats/Throws: L/R
    Birthdate: April 25, 1994

    The Rays’ catching situation is bleak—both at the big-league level and in the minor leagues. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me if they drafted the most athletic catcher on the board, which, after Zunino, is Trahan.

    Major-League Comparison: Brian McCann/Russell Martin hybrid

26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo (Calif.)

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    Position: LHP
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 175
    Bats/Throws: R/L
    Birthdate: January 22, 1994

    Given the Diamondbacks’ recent success in developing prep pitching prospects, Virant could serve as their next project. He’s still raw, but his upside is becoming more and more apparent. 

    Major-League Comparison: Andrew Miller

27. Milwaukee Brewers: Joey Gallo, 3B/RHP, Bishop Gorman (Nev.)

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    Position: 3B/RHP
    Height: 6'5"
    Weight: 205
    Bats/Throws: L/R
    Birthdate: November 19, 1993

    With Prince Fielder gone and considering that the Brewers drafted two collegiate arms in last year’s first round, they may ultimately take a gamble on Gallo, who possesses plus raw power.

    Worst-case scenario, his bat never pans out and they put him back on the bump, where he sits in the mid-90s. 

    Major-League Comparison: Adam Dunn

28. Milwaukee Brewers: Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia (Fla.)

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 210
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: November 14, 1993

    If they take a bat with the previous pick, the Brewers should look to add a prep arm with potential. While there are many others whom they could select over Weickel, he has a lot of room to fill out and could become a highly touted prospect after a year or two in their system.

    Major-League Comparison: Chris Carpenter

29. Texas Rangers: Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit (Fla.)

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    Position: RHP/SS
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: October 2, 1993

    Although he may not last this long, given his professional bloodline and mid-to-upper-90s fastball, McCullers is exactly the type of arm the Rangers covet and would want to develop.

    Major-League Comparison: A.J. Burnett

30. New York Yankees: Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood (Ga.)

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: May 10, 1994

    A right-hander with multiple above-average offerings, Sims could be a nice fit in the Yankees' system after heavily drafting athletic and toolsy prep talent in recent years.

    Major-League Comparison: Luke Hochevar

31. Boston Red Sox: Pat Light, RHP, Monmouth

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    Position: RHP
    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Birthdate: March 29, 1991

    A Northeast product, Light has a plus fastball that could become sustainable late in games with the right development. After going big on position prospects in recent years—sans Matt Barnes—they may ultimately target a high-upside collegiate arm.

    Major-League Comparison: Jeff Niemann