2012 MLB Draft: Predicting ETA of Top 25 College Prospects Debuting in MLB
Since I published my first Top 25 college baseball prospect rankings, a lot has changed on the draft board. As the draft is now less than a week away, every organization’s draft board will be in a state of flux—with hype sometimes the determining factor between preferring one player over another.
Some players who appeared toward the top of the original Top 25 have plummeted in the rankings, while others have completely dropped off. At the same time, there are numerous players who have been gaining momentum, turning in their best performances as the season quickly winds down.
The updated rankings are once again not based on the presumed selection order; rather, they are based upon a player’s current level of talent and how they project at the next level.
As you will see, these rankings also include each draft prospect's potential ETA in the major leagues. It's important to note that these are not exact predictions but more so conservative speculations on how their talent will develop at the next level.
Be sure to check back with Prospect Pipeline in the coming days for Round 2 of my mock draft, as the next version will also include the supplemental first round.
25. Matt Koch, RHP, Louisville
Height/Weight: 6’3”/205 lbs
Due to his max-effort delivery, Koch profiles best as a reliever—a role that he adapted to well this past summer in the Cape Cod League.
The right-hander has an athletic frame and quick arm that generate fastballs in the low-to-mid-90s, though he occasionally touches the upper-90s. His slider is slurvy at the moment, but still generates whiffs due to its depth and deception. Koch also has a changeup, though he rarely throws it as it is more of a show-me pitch.
ETA: 2014 - Quality relief pitchers always reach the majors quickly.
24. Nolan Fontana, SS/2B, Florida
Height/Weight: 5’11”/190 lbs
Although none of his tools stand out more than the others, Fontana is an all-around solid ballplayer. He possesses excellent plate discipline and an ability to make contact that could make him a second-division reserve infielder in the major leagues. His speed is a bit of a drawback, as he’s only an average runner.
He’s a sound defender at shortstop who takes care of the baseball. However, his lack of arm strength and range might call for a switch to second base in the future, where his bat and ability to get on base will be a premium.
23. Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern
Height/Weight: 6’3”/215 lbs
College: Georgia Southern
Coming off a strong season in the Cape Cod League, there’s no reason to look too far into his mediocre results this season. Beck’s stuff is still excellent. He features three at least above-average pitches in a fastball that sits 92-96 mph, an 81-84 mph slider, and an 80-83 mph changeup. It’s tough to say whether his arsenal and makeup will evolve into that of a front-line starter, but he at least has the potential to be a solid No. 3 or No. 4.
ETA: 2015 - Draft stock has been dropping over the last month or so; good arm with promising pitchability, but just don't see it being a smooth cruise through the minors.
22. Adam Brett Walker, 1B/OF, Jacksonville
Height/Weight: 6’5”/225 lbs
Walker is one of the top power hitters in this year’s draft, and he possesses the raw strength to jump the yard to all fields. His swing has a hitch in it and at times can get too long and drag through the zone. However, as one looks for in an elite college bat, Walker has the plate discipline that makes his power especially projectable—especially in a weaker draft class.
Given his size and average athleticism, he’ll likely be a first-base-only prospect. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if his future organization gives him trial run in the outfield.
ETA: 2015 - Conservative estimate based upon him ultimately reaching the big leagues as a first baseman.
21. Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook
Height/Weight: 6’3”/185 lbs
College: Stony Brook
After winning the Cape Cod League MVP last summer, Jankowski entered the season as a sure-fire first-rounder.
A left-handed hitter, Jankowski has the speed and bat to be a top-of-the-order hitter in the big leagues. He currently lacks power, but, given his quick wrists, adding loft to his swing could make it a possibility. His plus speed lends to his above-average defense, and his arm should be good enough to stick in center field.
ETA: 2015 - It'll take some additional time for his hit tool to be big-league-ready, but it should.
20. Nolan Sanburn, RHP, Arkansas
Height/Weight: 6’1”/205 lbs
Sanburn asserted himself as a potential first-rounder with an excellent performance in the Northwoods League this past summer, where he garnered No. 1 prospect honors. His plus fastball is easily his best pitch, as it sits 92-96 mph and has been clocked as high as 98. He’s aggressive with it, working both sides of the plate, and generates a mixture of swing-and-misses and weak contact.
His breaking ball is of the sharp-downer variety, and he throws it with the same arm speed. He also throws a changeup, though it lags behind his nasty slider.
Sanburn has a muscular upper body, but has clean, repeatable mechanics that have allowed him to consistently improve his command over his college career.
ETA: 2015 - Could be earlier if he's used as a reliever.
19. Brian Johnson, LHP, Florida
Height/Weight: 6’4”/220 lbs
Despite being a standout two-way player for Florida, Johnson is much more projectable on the mound. The broad-shouldered left-hander boasts a fastball that sits at 90-94 mph, as well as command of four pitches, including a plus slider. He knows how to attack hitters and has shown an ability to work both sides of the plate with all his pitches. He’s another safe pick given his polish, and could move quickly if drafted into the right system.
ETA: Late 2014 - Left-handers with trace elements of polish always have potential to move faster.
18. James Ramsey, OF, Florida State
Height/Weight: 6'0”/195 lbs
College: Florida State
Overview: Despite the fact he isn’t a physical specimen, Ramsey has above-average raw power to all fields due to a compact left-handed swing. He employs a patient approach at the plate that gives him the ability to hit for both average and power, and he’s a constant on-base threat. In the outfield, Ramsey has above-average speed and range, and may have the ability to remain in center field.
17. Barnett Barnes, OF, Texas Tech
Height/Weight: 6’1”/210 lbs
College: Texas Tech
A right-handed hitter, Barnes has quick wrists that produce considerable bat speed, and in turn, plus raw power. His batting average in college is a result of his advanced plate discipline and ability to drive the ball. However, he is almost exclusively a pull hitter and will have to learn how to use the whole field—at least to an extent.
Beyond his power, Barnes’ most appealing tool is his plus speed, which has led to improved range in center field and plays on the basepaths. Given that his arm is only slightly above average at best, he will be most valuable by remaining in center field. He’s still very raw overall, but his power-speed combination—as well as his potential to stick in center—could boost his draft stock over the upcoming weeks.
16. Alex Wood, LHP, Georgia
Height/Weight: 6’4”/205 lbs
After missing the entire 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery, Wood has been consistently throwing 94-96 mph this season. However, his mechanics and arm action on the backside are all over the place, though they admittedly add some deception to his pitches. Having said that, he has shown impressive command this season, as well as a knack for keeping the ball in the park.
ETA: Late 2015/Early 2016 - Has some things to smooth out with mechanics and arm action.
15. Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern
Height/Weight: 6’2”/225 lbs
College: Georgia Southern
After belting 33 home runs in 2011, a year where offensive production was down throughout college baseball, Roache suffered a broken wrist in the first week of the season. However, he’s expected to make a full recovery.
He has the most thump in his bat of any hitter in the draft thanks to quick wrists and an explosive weight transfer. Despite missing the majority of the season, a team will ultimately draft Roache based solely upon his plus raw power.
ETA: 2015 - Roache is a real wild card when it comes to predicting a big-league arrival.
14. Mitch Haniger, OF, Cal Poly
Height/Weight: 6’2”/215 lbs
College: Cal Poly
A player whose draft stock is gaining momentum, Haniger is a toolsy outfield prospect with a big-league frame as well as legitimate baseball skills. He consistently drives the ball to all fields and has shown increasing power potential over the course of the current season.
Haniger has adapted a more patient approach at the plate, which has allowed him to manipulate more counts and, in turn, see more pitches to drive.
He’s played a solid center field this season and probably has enough speed to stick there, but his plus arm is a cleaner fit in right field.
ETA: 2015 - All sorts of talent; could even be late 2014 if he retains plate discipline at next level.
13. Pierce Johnson, RHP, Missouri State
Height/Weight: 6’3”/180 lbs
College: Missouri State
Johnson hasn’t received the hype as the other right-handers cut from the same mold and continues be a big-time sleeper headed into the draft. His arsenal consists of an easy 91-96 mph fastball, a filthy slider that could already be considered a plus offering, and an above-average change. He has simple mechanics and fluid arm action that profile well at the next level. His stats have never "wowed" anyone, but his ceiling is high.
The only drawback with Johnson is his health, as he's overcome some type of injury every year. However, none of the injuries—many of which were the result of bad luck—involved his elbow or shoulder, so teams shouldn't be overly concerned. Yet, they could cause him to slide out of the first round, where he will become a steal in the supplemental or even second round.
12. Stephen Piscotty, 3B/LF, Stanford
Height/Weight: 6’4”/215 lbs
Piscotty has sported a .300-plus batting average in every season thus far thanks to a controlled swing and above-average bat speed. However, for a third baseman, he lacks the power potential of a Richie Shaffer. He may be able to add some more pop by implementing some loft in his swing, but for the time being, his lack of power is a major concern.
Furthermore, his defense at the hot corner can be suspect and it’s yet to be determined whether his athleticism will play at the next level. Luckily for Piscotty, the draft class is weak on collegiate bats, so he could go higher than expected.
ETA: 2015 - Arrival may ultimately depend on position, which will be measured by offensive production.
11. Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M
Height/Weight: 6’1”/185 lbs
College: Texas A&M
Naquin has a smooth, fluid swing from the left side, and is one of the more advanced and consistent hitters in the 2012 draft class. He won’t hit for much power, but his ability to make consistent contact and utilize his above-average speed will make him an extra-base threat at the next level.
He has the plus arm needed to be a right fielder at the professional level, although his power will need to develop in order to stay there.
ETA: Late 2014 - One of the more well-rounded positions in the draft, could be one of the first from this class to reach the major leagues.
10. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke
Height/Weight: 5’9”/185 lbs
At 5’9”, Stroman could probably pump low-90s from his knees. His size will ultimately hurt his draft stock, but his blinding arm speed and upper-90s fastball are legitimate. However, he struggles to throw consistently on a downward plane and could be in for a rude awakening upon entering pro ball.
Given his plus-plus fastball, there’s a strong chance that the right-hander will be transitioned to the bullpen, where he profiles as a high-leverage reliever or closer down the road.
ETA: 2015 as a starter; 2014 as a reliever.
9. Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
Height/Weight: 6’1”/180 lbs
College: Arizona State
Marrero is in the midst of an all-around down year, as he’s struggled at the plate all season and grown increasingly frustrated. Arguably the most advanced shortstop in the 2012 draft class, Marrero has developed an outstanding reputation for his soft hands and 60-grade range. His defensive prowess makes him a lock to continue his career there at the next level.
At shortstop, he has soft hands, as well as average range and a plus arm. Scouts remain divided about whether his hit tool profiles as a big-league shortstop, but regardless, he’ll need to improve his contact rate. Marrero will never hit for much power, but should be able to collect 15-25 doubles annually.
8. Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
Height/Weight: 6’6”/210 lbs
Wacha is basically a two-pitch pitcher with a 50-grade fastball and plus changeup that is the best in the entire 2012 draft class. By the time he reaches the major leagues, it could even grade as a 65 or 70.
While he’s been effective with a limited arsenal, he’ll need to significantly develop his breaking ball to be successful at the next level. He has a power pitcher’s frame with little room left to grown and is one of the safer pitching prospects in the draft.
ETA: Late 2015/Early 2016 - All will depend on development of breaking ball(s).
7. Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson
Height/Weight: 6’3”/205 lbs
A strong season both at the plate and at third has Shaffer’s draft stock on the rise. His hit tool profiles as one of the more consistent in the class and he’s already shown plus power.
His defense at third base has vastly improved, and his bat is much more valuable there than at first base. He has a feel for the strike zone and knows how to take a walk, but isn't afraid to cut it loose.
If he continues to produce as he has this season, he could conceivably be a Top 15 overall selection come June. Shaffer is one of the safer draft picks on the board.
6. Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
Height/Weight: 6’2”/197 lbs
College: Mississippi State
With a fastball that sits 91-96 mph with arm-side action, Stratton has a legitimate out pitch in his plus slider. He throws it with nearly identical arm speed, and it features late, diving movement that generates an abundance of helpless swings.
Furthermore, he has enough confidence in the pitch to challenge hitters in the zone. The right-hander also gets enough depth and tilt on the pitch to consistently start it on the outside corner and draw flailing swing-and-misses out of the zone.
Stratton also features a pretty good changeup that has become more than a show-me pitch this season, as his dominance of SEC hitters has led to a high draft projection.
ETA: 2015 - His plus slider and overall pitchability could accelerate his arrival.
5. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State
Height/Weight: 6’2”/175 lbs
College: Oklahoma State
Heaney’s draft stock has been surging all spring, as he’s emerged as the top left-handed collegiate arm in the 2012 draft class. He has excellent command of his 90-95 mph fastball with late, arm-side run, and he throws it with conviction to both sides of the plate.
He has also shown above-average command of his 79-83 mph curveball and 83-87 mph changeup, which gives him overall pitchability. His mechanics are smooth and repeatable, and his quick arm adds deception to all his pitches.
ETA: 2015 - Could arrive earlier if drafted by a team looking to push along a wave of the future.
4. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
Height/Weight: 6’5”/190 lbs
The top collegiate arm headed into the 2012 season, the tall right-hander has the prototypical power build and 94-98 mph fastball to match. However, while his stats may suggest dominance, Appel has been too hittable all season. He struggles to get on top of his fastball at times, which results in straighter and lighter variations that linger up in the zone.
While his slider can flash plus potential on occasion, it’s an inconsistent pitch. Appel’s struggles with the pitch have led to him throwing an increased amount of changeups this season—a pitch that currently works due to its speed differential and not due to movement. He’s a safe pick in any of the top five spots but still lacks the polish and pitchability one looks for in an elite college pitcher.
ETA: Late 2014/Early 2015 barring any major setbacks.
3. Mike Zunino, C, Florida
Height/Weight: 6’2”/220 lbs
Zunino is an athletic catcher who has both the receiving and throwing skills to remain at the position. He's a pure hitter who drives the ball to all fields and generates good extension after contact. His swing can get a bit long at times, but it’s something that will be an easy fix with a big-league hitting coach. His hit tool is probably the most draftable in the entire class and could allow him to play any corner infield position if need be in the major leagues.
ETA: 2015 - If his bat is as advertised and catching skills are at least serviceable.
2. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco
Height/Weight: 6’4”/220 lbs
College: San Francisco
A former position player who’s only been pitching for a few years, Zimmer is already highly advanced with a relatively fresh arm. His fastball has been as high as 98 mph this spring, though he typically works in the 93-96 range. His curveball has late, sharp break and is viewed by some as the best breaking ball in the draft. As he gains more of a feel for it (and pitching in general), it should become a legitimate plus offering.
His changeup lags behind his breaking ball, but considering how quickly he’s put everything together on the mound, there’s no reason to doubt the pitch will be anything less than above-average.
ETA: 2016 - Whichever organization drafts him will likely be gradual with his development.
1. Kevin Guasman, RHP, Louisiana State
Height/Weight: 6’4”/180 lbs
College: Louisiana State
Gausman—who possesses a lightning-quick arm—has consistently popped upper-90s all spring. Surprisingly, his best secondary pitch is a changeup that grades as an above-average offering. His slider has flashed improved bite and depth, and, considering his plus fastball, it should be a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch once it's more developed.
He's been dominant this season against top-notch SEC hitters, and is perhaps the most big-league-ready of all collegiate arms.
ETA: 2014 - Or possibly 2015 if his off-speed doesn't develop as hoped.