MLB Draft 2012: Ranking the Top Prep Pitchers Available

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIMay 28, 2012

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

The 2012 MLB Draft may have the deepest crop of high school players we have seen in a long time. 

Here is a look at the top prep pitchers who will be available when the draft kicks off on June 4.

1. Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, California

Fried is in contention to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick and he has an advanced feel for pitching for a high schooler. He sits in the low 90s but at 6'3" and 170 pounds he has room to fill out and add velocity. 

He has a really sharp, hard-breaking curveball and a great changeup, which are hard to hit because of his deceptive delivery. 

He is a lefty with a repeatable, low-effort delivery and he's an excellent athlete. With more time and top-level coaching he should continue to improve. He has enough projection to add a few ticks to his velocity and even improve his already-solid secondary offerings. 

2. Luc Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, California

Yes, the top two high school pitchers in this draft are teammates. Giolito would probably be the top prep pitcher in this year's draft but he had an elbow injury at the beginning of the season. Luckily there was no ligament damage and he should be fine long-term. 

Before his injury, Giolito had hit 100 mph on the gun and was sitting anywhere from 93-98. At 6'6" and 230 pounds, he has a Major League-ready body and will just need to refine his command and refine his hard curveball, which sits in the 83-86 mph range. 

If Giolito can add a changeup to his developing arsenal, he could easily become a No. 1 starter. If he had a completely clean bill of health, Giolito could have easily been the No. 1 pick in the draft. 

3. Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty High School, Oviedo, Florida

Like Giolito, Eflin is another big kid at 6'5" and 200 pounds. Entering the spring, many hoped to see his velocity spike, and it did. He has been sitting in the low 90s, and can hit 95, but thanks to his frame there could be even more speed in that fastball.

His fastball has great movement on it as well. He has a curveball that hasn't developed yet, but if he gets a feel for it, the pitch could turn into a plus offering out of his three-quarters delivery.

Eflin needs a lot of work, but if he can stay healthy (he had a gimpy triceps muscle this spring) he has a great, projectable body and the upside of a No. 2 starter.

4. Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit High School, Tampa, Florida

McCullers is the son of former Major League pitcher Lance McCullers Sr., and while he has potential as a hitter, his best fit is as a power pitcher. His fastball has almost reached 100 mph this spring and his developing breaking ball is above-average now. 

If teams view him as a starter long-term he could break into the top 10. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, he has a solid frame but some clubs might see him as a reliever. 

A few tweaks to his delivery have improved his command this year and as a result the chance he remains a starter has increased. Right now he's moving up the board significantly thanks to the improvements he has made this spring.

5. Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo High School, Camarillo, California

Virant is a guy who has been racing up draft boards this spring as a crafty lefty with good velocity that will likely increase. At 6'3" and 172 pounds, Virant has a lot of room to grow and add weight. He currently sits in the upper 80s, but he'll likely be in the low 90s when all is said and done.

Some have compared him to Tyler Skaggs, another lefty from California who added velocity when he got into pro ball. But Virant shouldn't be expected to make that kind of improvement as quickly as Skaggs did. 

He has a three-quarters delivery and has two solid off-speed offerings with his curveball and a nice changeup. With good coaching and care from the organization that selects him, Virant could develop into a solid, middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Main Photo Courtesy of ESPN