The first round of the 2012 MLB Draft is this Monday, June 4. It should be an interesting one, as there is no consensus No. 1 overall pick like there has been in years past.
Three players have a legitimate shot at going first overall—Florida catcher Mike Zunino, Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton.
Beyond those three, the draft as deep as any in recent years on high-ceiling high school arms. It's incredibly thin on college bats and left-handed pitching.
Predicting who falls where is a tricky business. Here a breakdown of who I feel are the top 20 prospects of the 2012 MLB draft class.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 220
Committed To: Ole Miss
The best prep catcher in the draft by a long shot, Trahan has the defensive skills to stick at the position at the pro level. He has the offensive tools to be among the best hitting backstops in all of baseball once he gets there.
He hits left-handed, which is a bonus. He ranks as not just one of the top hitting backstops, but one of the top overall hitters in the entire draft.
He has plus power and a good approach at the plate that profiles him as a franchise catcher for whoever selects him.
He is an overall terrific athlete, and could shift to the outfield or more than hold his own, if it comes to that. There is always a good deal of risk in drafting a high school catcher, but Trahan has the tools to make it worth the risk.
Height/Weight: 6'5", 200
Committed To: University of Central Florida
With good size that should fill out into a prototypical power pitching frame as he progresses, Eflin has boosted his stock with a strong spring.
His fastball has spiked from the low-90s into the 94-to-95 mph range. He pairs that with a terrific changeup and a curveball that should only get better.
However, a triceps injury cost him a few starts in the middle of the season and ,while he has bounced back and has seemingly not missed a beat, it could be enough for teams to think twice about him.
Committed to the University of Central Florida, Eflin could chose to honor that commitment if he falls beyond where he feels he is worth being taken.
The combination of the injury and the fact that he has not been pitching at a premier level all that long could push him down the board. But, he is without a doubt a top 20 talent.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 190
Committed To: Auburn
Dahl is the definition of a pure hitter, as his smooth left-handed swing is quick through the zone and capable of hitting the ball to all fields with solid power.
He is a relatively low-risk pick given that he is a high schooler. He projects as a middle order hitter capable of hitting over .300 with 25 to 30 home runs at the big-league level.
A number of outlets have Dahl projected to go to the Blue Jays at No. 17, but he has the tools to be the second high school bat taken after Buxton. No one would be surprised if he was a top 10 pick.
Height/Weight: 5'9", 180
Stats: 6-5, 2.39 ERA, 136 K, 98 IP
A terrific athlete who also plays some shortstop for the Blue Devils, Stroman gets the most out of his 5'9" frame as one of the harder throwers in the draft.
Stroman is essentially a two-pitch pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and biting slider. They would both rank as plus pitches right now.
That could mean his future is in the bullpen. But, after dominating against top level competition in the Cape Cod League last year where he pitched 25 scoreless innings and allowed just 10 hits with a 32:3 K:BB ratio, he could surprise everyone and become a frontline starter.
Either way, his floor is incredibly high. He should be able to make an impact in the big leagues relatively soon, one way or another.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 172
Stats: .279/.335/.438, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 36 R
A high school teammate of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, Marrero kicked off his college career with a bang. He hit .397 to be named Freshman All-American.
His average dropped to .319 last season and is down again this year, but he projects as a future No. 2 hitter who could hit .280 with decent speed—although his true value lies in his elite defense at a premium position.
He'll likely be taken higher than his overall ability warrants because of his projectable skills at a premium position. Don't be surprised if he sneaks into the top 10 come draft day.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 205
Committed To: University of Florida
A legend since he hit 96 mph on the radar gun as a sophomore, McCullers has been lights-out all season—11-0 record, 0.12 ERA and 107 K to 18 BB ratio over 58.1 innings.
His father was a pro baseball pitcher who spent seven seasons in the big leagues, so the pedigree is there.
His command was his biggest question mark entering the season, and that has been vastly improved. His blazing fastball and big-league-ready curveball make him one of the top prep arms available.
However, he is undersized and has a max-effort delivery that could lead to arm problems down the road. It also remains to be seen if his future is as a starter or reliever.
Still, on pure stuff alone he could prove to be a steal if he slips for the aforementioned reasons.
Height/Weight: 6'5", 205
Committed To: LSU
One of the top raw-power prospects in the draft, Gallo had a .561 BA, 14 HR, 61 RBI line through his first 28 games this season. He is far from just a power bat, as he has a good approach at the plate as well.
He is also a hard-throwing pitcher on the mound, capable of hitting 95 mph on the radar gun with a plus curveball. That has led to some disagreement as to where he profiles as a professional.
As with most power-hitting high schoolers, his swing can tend to get long. There is certainly work to be done if he is to reach his potential.
For the above listed reasons, he is far from a sure thing. While he is a top 20 talent, he could very well fall to the bottom of the first round or the supplemental round.
That could lead to him honoring his commitment to LSU, and he is viewed as one of the biggest signing risks in the draft class right now.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 174
Stats: 8-2, 1.60 ERA, 140 K, 118.1 IP
Relatively unheralded entering the season, Heaney has been dominant all season long. He has moved up draft boards with each start he made.
Last season, he put up pedestrian numbers of 7-4 with a 4.03 ERA and made just nine starts among his 20 appearances. He made the jump from that to First Team All-American this year.
He has a solid three-pitch arsenal, with a fastball that sits in the low-90s, a plus changeup and a developing slider. The draft is relatively thin on left-handed pitching, and he represents the top college southpaw available.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 215
Committed To: University of Texas
It comes down to Hawkins and Joey Gallo as to who the best power prospect in the draft is. That isn't all the two players have in common, as Hawkins is also a pitcher who could be a high pick on the mound as well.
Hawkins would likely be taken somewhere in the second round range as a pitcher, as he throws mid-90s with two solid secondary pitches. Unlike Gallo his future is clearly with a bat in his hands.
He profiles as a five-tool-caliber outfielder, and he will go off the board early in the first round—perhaps as the second high school hitter taken after Byron Buxton. He could be a 30 HR, 20 SB player in his prime, and his ceiling is huge.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 190
Stats: .339/.479/.583, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 45 R
Shaffer has great power and profiles as a plus hitter across the board, as his good plate discipline should allow him to progress quickly at the pro level.
A Gold Glove-caliber first baseman, Shaffer has made the move to third base this season. While it remains to be seen where he'll play as a pro, that added versatility only boosts his value.
It comes down to him and Deven Marrero as to who is the second college position player taken. Many have him projected to go to the A's at No. 11.
That is if he even lasts that long.
Height/Weight: 6'6", 180
Stats: 8-1, 2.21 ERA, 107 K, 106 IP
Undrafted out of high school, Wacha has been terrific for the Aggies in his three years with the program. He's gone 26-7 with a 2.72 ERA and 8.6 K/9, as he has made himself a sure-fire early first-round selection.
He is not a flashy pick, and he does not have near the ceiling of some of the other guys in that area of the draft. But, he is as safe a pick there is.
With a mid-90s fastball with good sink, a terrific changeup and a solid slider, he should enjoy a lengthy career as a middle rotation starter. He should be a fast mover for whoever drafts him.
Height/Weight: 6'1", 170
Committed To: Miami (FL)
Almora has been a member of the USA baseball circuit for the past several years and has made a name for himself performing well on the international stage.
He has a good amount of filling out to do at just 170 pounds, but his skills are incredibly polished for a high school hitter. He comes with far less risk than most players his age.
He does not quite project as a future superstar. He should do a little bit of everything and be good for a .280 BA, 25 HR, 15 SB line season-in and season-out, while playing stellar defense in the outfield.
Height/Weight: 6'3", 170
Committed To: UCLA
After his high school cut extra-curricular activities heading into this year, Fried transferred to Harvard-Westlake where he joined the nation's top high school pitcher in Lucas Giolito.
Fried himself was the No. 5 ranked prospect according to Max Preps, and would soon be the ace of the staff after Giolito went down with a season-ending injury.
His fastball sits in the low-90s, and he may well have the best curveball in the entire draft. He has a frame that should fill out well.
He has the potential to gain a decent amount of velocity moving forward. He has as high a ceiling as any pitcher in the draft, and his floor is not all that low.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 220
Stats: 5-3, 2.85 ERA, 104 K, 88.1 IP
On film, Zimmer is as polished as any pitcher in the 2012 draft class. He could very well be the first pitcher to reach the majors once he is selected.
He sits comfortably in the mid-90s and can reach back and hit 99 on the gun. He throws a ton of strikes, keeping hitters off-balance with two different curveballs and a slider that he can throw at varying speeds.
However, he could also be in for a major culture shock against pro hitters after pitching against lesser talent at San Francisco. That lack of experience against top-level competition is all that is keeping him out of the conversation for No. 1 overall pick.
He could still sneak into the top five.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 190
Committed To: Miami (FL)
In the mold of Javier Baez last year, Correa is a big shortstop with terrific offensive potential who could shift to third base given his size.
He is as raw a talent as anyone in the draft and, while he has all the tools to be a future star, he has a long way to go between now and then.
He's impressed in showcases with his tremendous raw power. Despite his size, he has the glove to stay at shortstop and an absolute cannon for an arm. He's been clocked at 97 mph across the diamond.
He may be the biggest risk and reward high school bat in the draft.
Height/Weight: 6'6", 220
Committed To: UCLA
The No. 1-ranked high school prospect in the country entering the season, according to Max Preps, Giolito certainly looked the part as he uncorked a handful of 100 mph fastballs in a one-hit season debut.
However, a sprained UCL in his throwing elbow effectively ended his senior season.
While he will not need surgery, it is nonetheless a red flag and has moved him out of the conversation for No. 1 overall pick.
He could opt to honor his commitment to UCLA if he falls too far. With some of the best stuff in the entire draft and a smooth delivery that does not show signs of being a hindrance to his health moving forward, he won't slip out of the Top 10.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 190
Stats: 10-1, 2.84 ERA, 125 Ks, 107.2 IP
Gausman is a draft-eligible sophomore, and he pairs a high-90s fastball that can touch 100 mph with plus secondary stuff. This makes him one of the most dominant pitchers in college baseball right now.
He was a weekend starter as a true freshman at LSU, and he has taken the next step this year as a First Team All-American. He is one of the most dominant college arms in his class.
He was taken in the sixth round by the Dodgers out of high school. It is unlikely he will fall out of the Top Five this time around, as he profiles as a future top-of-the-rotation starter.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 215
Stats: .323/.394/.664, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 46 R
Zunino enjoyed a fantastic sophomore season last year, hitting .371 BA, 19 HR, 67 RBI and solidifying himself as college baseball's top catcher entering this season.
He has rare offensive tools for a backstop and should be a franchise catcher for whichever team selects him. He's capable of making a Buster Posey-like impact once he reaches the majors.
It appears as though the No. 1 overall pick will come down to Byron Buxtin, Mark Appel and Zunino. If the rebuilding Astros decide to go with the safest pick of the bunch, Zunino will hear his name called first come draft day.
Height/Weight: 6'5", 190
Stats: 9-1, 2.37 ERA, 116 Ks, 110 IP
Viewed by many as the consensus No. 1 overall pick entering the season, Appel has not quite had the dominant junior season many anticipated. He has done nothing to hurt his stock either.
He has very smooth and repeatable mechanics and throws a heavy mid-90s fastball that should induce plenty of ground balls. With a plus changeup and two other solid pitches, he should move quickly through the system of whoever selects him.
His frame should fill out into that of a classic workhorse, and his floor should be nothing worst than a No. 3 starter at the next level.
He may never be a dominant, top-tier ace, but he should be a productive top-of-the-rotation starter for years once he reaches the majors.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 175
Committed To: University of Georgia
A fantastic athlete who profiles as a five-tool talent, Buxton is the top high school position player in the draft. Without a doubt, he is the most exciting pick on the board.
Speed is his greatest asset right now, but he also has terrific raw power and has drawn comparisons to B.J. Upton. He has potential for even more once he fills out.
He's a tremendous athlete but, like all high school players, comes with a certain amount of risk. He's playing against less-than-stellar competition in rural Georgia, and he will no doubt take some time to reach the majors.
If the Astros decide to go the safe route, Buxton could slip out of the top spot. But, there is no chance he falls any further than No. 3.