MLB Draft 2012: Ranking the Top Prep Prospects Available

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIMay 30, 2012

Photo Courtesy of ESPN
Photo Courtesy of ESPN

Major League Baseball will kick off its annual draft on June 4. With less than a week before the picking begins, here's a look at the top high school players available in this year's MLB draft.

1. Byron Buxton, CF, Appling High School, Baxley, Georgia

Buxton is at the top of most draft boards because of his incredible group of all-around tools. He is incredibly fast, has a great athletic body at 6'1" and 175 pounds and has a plus arm. His consistent swing creates a lot of contact and will likely lead to at least moderate power.

High school position players are always a risk at the top of the draft, but if anyone has the "five-tool" logo this year in the prep ranks, it's Buxton. He won't be on the board long on draft day.

2. Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico

Correa is easily one of the best players in this year's draft. He has big power already, and he's just 17 years old. At 6'4" and 190 pounds, he's likely to outgrow shortstop, which means he's likely ticketed for third base long-term. He has the athleticism and arm to play shortstop, but he will probably have to move before heading to the big leagues.

He has an incredible swing and should develop power to all fields. He will be a great contact hitter, but his power will make him special. He could end up developing into the best player to come out of this draft.

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

Fried is almost certain to be the first prep pitcher taken in this year's draft, and it's not hard to understand why. He's 6'3" and 170 pounds, and his fastball sits in the 89-93 mph range. But because of his body, he likely has some projection left to add a few ticks to that. 

His delivery is almost effortless, and he hides the ball well with it. He has a sharp curveball and a very good changeup that will play as a plus pitch as he develops. Fried is a great athlete, and he projects to end up as a mid-rotation starter at worse and a No. 1 at best. 

4. Albert Almora, CF, Mater Academy Charter, Hialeah, Florida

Almora is an 18-year-old who will be a plus defender in center and has a gorgeous swing. He has an extremely polished bat, with a near-perfect swing and a very good feel from hitting. He has also shown the ability to hit with wood bats against good competition. 

At 6'2" and 170 pounds, Almora has good size for his age. And thanks to his great swing, he will produce more power as he gets older. He has all five tools, though his defense and arm are raw, and he's not a burner on the basepaths like Buxton. Still, if he develops, Almora could turn into an All-Star.

5. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, California

Giolito is Fried's teammate, and he may actually be the better prospect. At 6'6" and 230 pounds, he has the build of a workhorse No. 1 starter. Before an elbow injury earlier in the season, Giolito was hitting triple digits on the radar gun while sitting in the 93-98 range. 

He has a sharp curve and a junk changeup right now, but both pitches could develop given time. The elbow injury is a concern, but if teams think the medical reports on him are sound, he could be a steal in the middle of the first round. 

Main Photo Courtesy of ESPN