2012 MLB Draft Predictions: Which Prospects Have Highest Ceiling?

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIJune 1, 2012

2012 MLB Draft Predictions: Which Prospects Have Highest Ceiling?

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    For every Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton, there is a Bryen Taylor and Todd Van Poppel. The Major League Baseball draft is a time of hope with a hint of chance.

    The highest of prospects don't always pan out to be the superstars teams hope that they'll become.

    For some teams, like the Atlanta Braves, they retain hope that players like Jason Heyward pan out to be solid contributors to their teams and not busts.

    For others, like the Washington Nationals, they've proven you can catch lighting in a bottle...twice. Just take a look at Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

    With all that being said, here is a look at which prospects have the most to offer a major league club.

Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

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    Mark Appel is widely considered to be the top selection overall going to the Houston Astros.

    With that top pick comes a lot of pressure.

    Appel already has the capability to throw 97-98 mph though does lack consistency. However, he does have the tools to be a major league ready pitcher in a relatively short amount of time.

    His repertoire includes a classic slider and a changeup as well.

    That bodes well for him because the Astros are a team in transition and in need of a pitcher like Appel to build around. In the same fashion that Stephen Strasburg was a catalyst for progress in Washington, Appel could do the same for the Astros.

Byron Buxton, Outfielder, Appling County High School, Georgia

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    Byron Buxton is either going first or second in this year's draft on pretty much every draft board you look at.

    Rightfully so.

    He has speed, power, a tremendous hitting capability and a rifle for an arm. He has been clocked throwing 93 mph off the mound which translates into a fantastic arm for center field.

    Buxton has committed to the University of Georgia but could very well opt to play in the big leagues. If that should be the case, the Minnesota Twins will come-a-calling. Sure, Denard Span is playing center right now, but in a few short years, we could very well see Buxton doing a fine job there instead.

    He could very well be the next Curtis Granderson.

Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco

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    Kyle Zimmer projects to go in the top 10 or so selections in the draft.

    Some boards have him going as high as third, but he could slip down as far as 14 and land with the Cincinnati Reds.

    While it is uncertain where he's going to land, what is certain is that Zimmer has a lot to offer. He currently possess three pitches: a fastball, curve and slider.

    His fastball can hover right around 96 mph and is still developing.

    I don't envision Zimmer being an All-Star pitcher per se, however I do think he'll transform into a solid No. 2 or 3 on the right staff.

Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy

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    Carlos Correa is currently playing shortstop, but projects to be a major league third baseman.

    If ESPN and B/R are correct, Correa will likely go seventh overall to the San Diego Padres. A team that is in need of a spark.

    Correa already is said to be 6'4" and still growing. He has solid bat speed and a good arm that can translate well for minor league development and eventually taking over at third for a major league ball club with skills akin to Hanley Ramirez.

    While Correa does have a commitment to play college ball in Miami, it is said that he will likely sign if drafted.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake High School

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    If one can consider a third through 10th pick a steal, Lucas Giolito may be just that.

    Yes, he suffered a UCL injury, but all indication is that he is just fine. Previous to said injury, he was a number one or two Rule 4 draft selection. Now, the big righty could "fall" to third and land in Seattle or maybe even a little further down.

    Some believe that Giolito may even fall as far as seventh. Giolito features a fastball that has been clocked at 100 mph with a power curve and changeup.

    Needless to say, the man would be a welcome addition to any of the top 10 teams in the draft.

Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake High School

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    It's hard not to like a solid lefty like Max Fried.

    He features a fastball, changeup and curveball with solid control, hitting the strike zone consistently, but does lack some command on his pitches at times.

    With any other pitching prospect, Fried will need to work out some kinks in the minors. That said, he has an easily projectable frame and solid enough ability to become an impact player, especially as a starting southpaw.

Mike Zunino, C, Florida

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    Mike Zunino projects to be a top five selection in the draft and one day be a star caliber catcher.

    That says a lot, especially playing a position that has been relatively weak in recent memory. He has a great arm and Gold Glove caliber defense behind the plate.

    At the plate, he can contribute power and plate discipline: a delightful combination for any team looking to scoop him up. He could very well be a leader-type on a team like the Kansas City Royals for years to come.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU

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    Some prospects might say that Kevin Gausman already owns the perfect frame for a major league pitcher.

    While he was originally selected in the sixth round in 2010 by the Dodgers, Gausman decided to stay in school and fulfill his commitment. 

    He does own a fastball, curveball and changeup, however, he does need to work on his mechanics a bit before becoming major league ready.

    What he can offer down the line is a great No. 3 starter with the ability to bolster a rotation and even be a stopper in the event of a losing streak in need of correction.

Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson

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    Another player previously drafted by the Dodgers (this time in 2009), Richie Shaffer is said to be one of the better power bats in the 2012 draft.

    While he is currently listed as a third baseman, that could change.

    He is a big, strong player that would likely make a better MLB first baseman than third baseman. He is a solid athlete who's range could work out perfectly at first and may be lost at third.

    This is the type of player that the Oakland A's covet and will likely be very high on.

Joey Gallo, RHP/3B, Bishop Gorman High School

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    Left-handed batter Joey Gallo has exhibited power to all fields capability at the plate.

    Facing batters he has the ability to mow them down with solid command of a fastball, changeup and curveball.

    In other words, Gallo would be a fun project player for most teams. He is versatile enough to pitch, or he can be fully transformed into a position player, such as a third baseman.

    His raw ability offers a hint at sustained success in the majors.