Every year at this time, hope springs eternal for Major League Baseball clubs. Sure, there is the old adage that the start of a season is a clean slate for a team to build upon. However, truth be told, some teams are far beyond starting a season fresh.
In fact, some teams are in desperate need of retooling from the top all the way down.
The MLB First-Year Player Draft, or more commonly referred to as the Rule 4 Draft is an opportunity for MLB teams to select amateur baseball players from high schools, colleges, and other amateur baseball clubs, to its teams.
Those that benefit the most arguably would be the team that finished the worst the season prior as the draft order is determined based on the previous season's standings.
As with every draft, there are analysts who do fine work covering and speculating where a particular player may land. For Bleacher Report, that individual is Mike Rosenbaum, who just recently put out his Mock Draft 2.0.
Comparatively, ESPN has its own mock draft as compiled by MLB insider Keith Law.
In an effort to analyze both drafts, I've decided to run down each and compare the selections and make a case for whose pick would make more sense for the team drafting a particular player. The draft is to be held June 4 to June 6.
An interesting note, the lists were only in agreement three times out of 31 selections.
*NOTE: This is not my mock draft. If you see a player (like Zimmer for instance) who is not "drafted" on this list it is not because I don't believe he will not go in the first round. Rather, if a player is not taken, it is merely because he did not make sense at a particular draft position based on the aforementioned referenced mock drafts.
With the first selection of the 2012 MLB Rule 4 Draft, the Houston Astros take RHP Mark Appel out of Stanford.
Both B/R and ESPN are in agreement on this selection.
Appel provides the Astros with a solid pitcher to build around for their future. Appel projects to be a ground ball pitcher with three major league caliber pitches in the works.
With the second pick in the draft, once again B/R and ESPN are in agreement: the Minnesota Twins will select outfielder Byron Buxton out of Appling County High School in Georgia.
Buxton, by many standards, is the best all-around prospect in the 2012 draft. While the Astros will have a tough time passing on him at No. 1, it is a necessity for them, while Buxton will be a welcome addition to the Twins roster in short order.
B/R Projection: Catcher Mike Zunino out of Florida
ESPN Projection: RHP Lucas Giolito out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, Calif.
I tend to side with ESPN on this one. The Mariners just gave up a young, potential stud arm in Michael Pineda this offseason, and replenishing arms is always a good decision.
Furthermore, they just landed Jesus Monteiro from the Yankees, which would indicate that the team is okay at catcher for the time being.
B/R Projection: RHP Kyle Zimmer out of San Francisco
ESPN Projection: RHP Kevin Gausman out of LSU
If you had told me that the Orioles would be playing incredible baseball in 2012, I would have never believed you. Now, not only has the team figured things out, but they can add some serious depth.
Once again, I find myself parting with the boys in Connecticut. Gausman scouts as being potentially the best pitcher in the draft. While not taking anything away from Zimmer, Gausman just feels like a better fit for the O's.
B/R Projection: RHP Kevin Gausman here
ESPN Projection: Catcher Mike Zunino out of Florida
Obviously I feel that Gausman will already be off the board, leaving the Royals with Zunino, which will prove to be a solid pick for the Royals.
The team already has two solid pieces to anchor the infield in Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Now, a catcher would really help to round out the team.
ESPN Projection: Center fielder Albert Amora out of Master Academy Charter
B/R Projection: RHP Lucas Giolito out of Harvard-Westlake High School
I tend to side with B/R and can see Lucas Giolito heading to the Windy City. In his first start of the season Giolito hit 100 mph on the radar gun.
The Cubs are obviously in full blown rebuilding mode. They aren’t really a top competitor in the NL Central and have some big contracts they are looking to wipe off their books. Alfonso Soriano anyone?
That said, a youth movement is on the way.
This would be the third and final time that both B/R and ESPN are in agreement on the draft.
Both companies foresee shortstop Carlos Correa, from the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, heading to play in San Diego, though most scouts do not see him as a shortstop at the major league level.
Correa is an incredibly gifted athlete and has solid hand-eye coordination that would suit him best manning the hot corner in the big leagues.
B/R Projection: Outfielder Albert Amora out of Master Academy in Florida
ESPN Projection: Shortstop, drafting Deven Marrero out of Arizona State
The question facing the Pirates with the eighth pick is not a matter of what pitcher to take, but according to both mock drafts, what position player to take.
While the buzz is in agreement with what ESPN is projecting, the fact that Marrero did not have a great 2011 season may hurt his chances of going to Pittsburgh, as they may seek outfield help instead. I think B/R may be on to something here. I tend to agree that Amora will be a Pirate.
ESPN Projection: LHP Max Fried out of Harvard-Westlake High School
B/R Projection: RHP Marcus Stroman out of Duke
Do you take the righty or do you go with the southpaw?
Fried is already considered a polished player, especially for a prep school pitcher.
Really, either choice is solid. Typically I side with a lefty, let alone a well-polished one. However, for a team like Miami that has some big contracts locked up for the next few seasons, the idea of having a closer-in-waiting is a solid plan.
I have to side with Stroman.
ESPN Projection: Outfielder Courtney Hawkins from Carroll High School in Texas
B/R Projection: LHP Max Fried to go in this slot
As I stated on the previous slide, I tend to side with lefties. If Max Fried is still available for the Rockies, they would be foolish to pass up on him.
ESPN Projection: RHP Lance McCullers, Jr. out of Jesuit High School in Tampa
B/R Projection: Third base prospect Richie Shaffer out of Clemson
B/R hits the nail on the head with this selection. I share the same belief as Rosenbaum on this one in saying that is an Oakland type of player through and through.
He’s a prospect with solid OBP and great plate discipline. Plus, there are really no major names that stick out in the A’s farm system at third base (as Rosenbaum agrees).
B/R Projection: Deven Marrero of Arizona State to make his way to the Mets
ESPN Projection: RHP Michael (walka) Wacha (sorry, bad joke) of Texas A&M going here
Once again, I am in agreement with B/R. Marrero won’t be a top 10 draftee like ESPN forecasts, but falling to 12 is not that far fetched.
He is talented and has had a good year for the Sun Devils to bounce back from 2011.
ESPN Projection: Richie Schaffer from Clemson
B/R Projection: Outfielder Courtney Hawkins out of Carroll High School in Texas
From what I said on the A’s slide, there is no way Oakland passes up on Richie Schaffer from Clemson if he is available here at 13. That would rule out the ESPN projection of him going to Chicago.
That said, B/R’s selection of Courtney Hawkins seems like an appropriate fit. It feels like the White Sox have not had a truly viable outfielder since the days of a healthy Jermaine Dye. Perhaps Hawkins could change that.
ESPN Projection: RHP Kyle Zimmer out of San Francisco
B/R Projection: RHP Michael Wacha out of Texas A&M
I almost have to side with B/R on this one. ESPN rated Wacha higher than this, yet I don’t believe he’d go to the Mets. That said, I’m comfortable enough to say he could be a Red at the end of the day.
While the upside to Wacha is projected as limited, a team like the Reds with a deep farm system could roll the dice and hope for a 2015 rotation addition.
ESPN Projection: LHP Andrew Heaney out of Oklahoma State
B/R Projection: RHP from Mississippi State in Chris Stratton
Once again it comes down to righty versus lefty.
At this point, Heaney would be the best left-handed pitcher available in the draft.
That said, the Indians have lost a couple of their younger arms over the past few seasons, and they are in a position to replenish here.
While Heaney is a prep player, I’m not sure that will scare the team off at all, and I tend to side with ESPN here and see the Indians taking him.
ESPN Projection: RHP Chris Stratton out of Mississippi State
B/R Projection: LHP Andrew Heaney out of Oklahoma State
So, you know everything I just said for the Indians? You can pretty much flip everything around and make the opposing case for the Nats.
Obviously I just said that Heaney will go to the Indians, therefore I agree with ESPN here that Chris Stratton will go to Washington.
This young, talented Nationals team will just be stock-piling younger, talented arms for a sustained successful run.
ESPN Projection: Gavin Cecchini, a shortstop out of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La.
B/R Projection: David Dahl, outfielder from Oak Mountain High School in Alabama
B/R believes that the Blue Jays will continue their ways of drafting gifted outfielders.
With Bautista and a young Colby Rasmus in the outfield, I could actually see the Jays going against the grain and taking the shortstop. They are developing a young core, and adding a middle infielder to the mix would be wise.
ESPN Projection: Ty Hensley out of Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Okla.
B/R Projection: Zach Eflin out of Hagerty High School in Florida
Both outlets see a similar theme at this selection for the Dodgers. Both B/R and ESPN are expecting The Blue to take a RHP.
I like the gamble of Eflin, though rumor has it that he will be an issue to sign. The Dodgers, with cash to burn, would be the team to not be timid in this situation.
However, Hensley is a big ol' pitcher with a solid curveball.
I tend to think that the Dodgers will roll the dice here and go with Eflin.
B/R Projection: Shortstop Gavin Cecchini here, who I've already configured to be taken by the Toronto Blue Jays at pick 17.
ESPN Projection: Catcher Stryker Trahan out of Acadiana High School in Lafayette, La.
Seriously, how cool of a name is Stryker? The dude should have been a pitcher. This is a compensatory pick from the Angels from the loss of Albert Pujols.
Adding a quality catcher may not fill that void for the Cards, but it will certainly help the lineup down the road.
B/R Projection: Matt Smoral, the LHP out of Solon High School in Ohio.
ESPN Projection: Marcus Stroman out of Duke
The problem with that selection is the fact that Matt Smoral is recovering from a broken bone in his foot.
Now, if that doesn't scare teams away, he could easily be a solid pick here. Having said that, I think the Giants will be leery of the pick.
However, Stroman I have the Marlins taking with the ninth pick.
Therefore, Smoral it is.
ESPN Projection: Tanner Rahier, a versatile infielder out of Palm Desert High School in California
B/R Projection: Third baseman Stephen Piscotti out of Stanford
I like the thought process both mock drafts had on this selection.
Objectively, it appears as though the idea of Chipper Jones retiring was in the minds of both writers. That being said, Rahier projects to have the physique of a third baseman with some pop in his bat.
It really is a toss-up here, as both players are in the mold of a Chipper Jones. I tend to side with ESPN on this one. A versatile infielder that can be molded is a nice commodity.
B/R Projection: Lance McCullers, Jr. out of Jesuit High School in Florida
ESPN Projection: Nick Travieso, a RHP from Archbishop McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches, Fla.
While I understand the argument for a pitcher here, I do think the Jays may be wise to go with a player that can offer some versatility to the lineup, especially since I see them taking a position player earlier on. McCullers can pitch and field.
ESPN Projection: Third baseman in the form of Stephen Piscotty out of Stanford
B/R Projection: Outfielder Tyler Naquin out of Texas A&M
In my opinion, Naquin is a better hitter. It is no secret that the Cards are looking to add bats.
Carlos Beltran will be on his way out of town probably just about the time that Naquin would be ready to take over.
B/R Projection:Third baseman/RHP Joey Gallo out of Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada
ESPN Projection: Outfielder DJ Davis out of Stone County High School in Mississippi
With the Red Sox already having their third baseman of the future in Will Middlebrooks, I don't see B/R's selection of Gallo actually panning out at this point in the draft.
While it is hard to see Davis getting by Texas or the Yankees. If he should, the Red Sox will definitely scoop him up.
B/R Projection: Stryker Trahan, but, he is already off my board
ESPN Projection: Carson Kelly, the third baseman out of Westview High School in Portland, Ore.
While Kelly may have to spend some time behind Evan Longoria, he still could very well make his way to the big club as a utility man or even to play middle infield down the road.
ESPN Projection: RHP Pierce Johnson out of Missouri State
B/R Projection: Hunter Virant, a LHP out of Camarillo High School in California
Pierce Johnson suffered from a forearm strain that may very well have no lasting effects. That said, the snakes should be a bit more conservative with their only first-round pick.
With that in mind, joining the D'backs organization would only help to develop him further among other top-notch pitchers.
B/R Projection: Victor Roache, an outfielder from Georgia Southern
ESPN Projection: Catcher Clint Coulter out of Union High School in Camas, Wash.
The Brewers need to fill a large hole left behind by Prince Fielder in their offense. Obviously there is no easy solution to those problems.
I think the team should go with the catcher here. True, Coulter may not end up staying behind the plate, but he could take over at first and has a rifle of an arm.
B/R Projection: Addison Russell, a shortstop and third baseman out of Pace High School in Florida
ESPN Projection: Lucas Sims, a RHP out of Brookwood High School in Georgia
...and the Brewers have back-to-back picks this year.
The funny thing about that is that in four potential players to go in two different slots, B/R and ESPN couldn't agree on any of them.
I have to side with ESPN here. Sims has a decent fastball and an underdeveloped curve that, if nurtured, could be a solid major league pitch.
ESPN Projection: Zach Eflin
B/R Projection: Ty Hensley out of Santa Fe High School in Oklahoma.
Both ESPN and B/R are reading the same book here, just not on the same page.
I already see ESPN's selection of Zach Eflin going earlier in this draft, so that leaves us with B/R's pick of Ty Hensley.
Hensley's name came up earlier as a possibility for the Dodgers. If they pass on him and he should happen to slide this far, the Rangers will jump all over the big righty.
B/R Projection: RHP Lucas Sims
ESPN Projection: Shortstop out of Pace High School in Pensacola, Florida named Addison Russell
Sims is already off my board at this point.
That said, I still would have sided with ESPN on this one. Russell could fill in at short down the road, but the next Derek Jeter he will not be.
ESPN Projection: Joey Gallo... something that B/R had them doing at the 24th slot
B/R Projection: Corey Seager, a third baseman out of Cabarrus High School in North Carolina
Logic would tell you that if both B/R (at 24) and ESPN (at 31) believe the Red Sox will wind up with Gallo, the team has eyes on him.
Hard to argue that. Last pick of the first round will be Gallo.