Years from now, if there's one thing that the 2012 MLB draft will be known for, it will be the amount of quality pitching that comes out of this draft.
Both left-handers and right-handers will dominate the first few rounds. The right-handers are led by a trio of talented arms: Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer and Mark Appel.
1. Kevin Gausman, LSU (6'4", 185 lbs; 21 years old)
I'm with B/R's prospect guru, Mike Rosenbaum, on this one—Kevin Gausman is the best pitching prospect and is probably the most major league-ready arm available.
Gausman has dominated the best division in all of college baseball, the SEC, getting his fastball into the upper 90s with regularity and showing an 85-mph changeup that fades, sinks and has become his best secondary pitch.
His slider, which sits in the mid-80s, has a nice bite and late break to it, and he also toys with a curve that sits in the upper 70s early in counts.
If I were drafting for the Astros, I'd make Gausman the No. 1 overall pick of 2012.
2. Mark Appel, Stanford University (6'4", 195 lbs; 20 years old)
Appel is no slouch—his fastball routinely sits in the mid-90s, and he's dialed it up to 98 on occasion. But he sometimes struggled with the pitch this year, allowing it to flatten out and become more hittable.
His slider is hard, with late movement, and Appel has a circle change as well, one that bottoms out when he is in control. All three of his pitches project as plus offerings, and Appel could very well be deserving of the first-overall pick with which most expect the Astros to select him.
3. Kyle Zimmer, University of San Francisco (6'3", 210 lbs; 20 years old)
Zimmer has four pitches that project to be above average at the MLB level, starting with his heater that has good run and sink. While it routinely sits in the mid-90s, Zimmer has dialed it up to 97 with relative ease.
Throw in a killer curve, a slider that can be effective when Zimmer has a feel for it and a changeup that projects as a plus pitch should he put it back into this arsenal, as he has essentially stopped throwing it.
Zimmer attacks the strike zone and can throw any one of his pitches for strikes at any time.
4. Lucas Giolito, Harvard-Westlake High School; Santa Monica, Calif. (6'6", 230 lbs; 17 years old)
We'd be talking about Giolito as the prohibitive favorite to go first overall if not for a sprained UCL that took him out for the season in March. Pitchers as advanced as he is at his size don't grow on trees.
Because of his size, Giolito is constantly throwing downhill—an advantage for sure. His fastball has late movement and sits in the low 90s, but he's touched as high as 96 in the past.
In addition to his heater, Giolito has an excellent changeup that behaves like a split-fingered pitch and a heavy, power curve that sharply breaks at the plate.
5. Marcus Stroman, Duke University (5'9", 185 lbs; 21 years old)
Stroman has blazing arm speed, and his fastball consistently sits in the upper 90s, but his 5'9" height is a concern.
He doesn't throw downhill, and thus, he could have issues as a starting pitcher going forward. He does have a power curve with late break on it, but his fastball is far and away his best pitch.
Stroman is likely headed for a bullpen, either as a setup man or closer, and the comparisons to Tom Gordon will only grow louder.
6. Michael Wacha, Texas A&M University (6'6", 195 lbs; 20 years old)
Wacha's fastball sits in the low 90s, but it's his changeup that scouts are overly impressed with, as many are calling it the best changeup in the draft.
Wacha has a slider, but it's relatively undeveloped. As he sits now, he's a two-pitch pitcher, and he needs his breaking stuff to develop to succeed in the bigs.
Some have compared him to Jon Garland, and that's what Wacha projects to in the worst-case scenario—a solid but unspectacular serviceable starting pitcher.
7. Lance McCullers, Jr., Jesuit High School; Tampa, Florida (6'1", 190 lbs; 18 years old)
Son of former major league reliever Lance McCullers (a tough one to figure out with his name, I know), the junior McCullers is a power pitcher who should enjoy a longer and more successful career than his father did.
The junior McCullers has no fear on the mound and relentlessly attacks hitters. His fastball sits in the mid to upper 90s, his changeup fades late and he has a curveball with a late bite that is his best offering.
Some view him as a starter, while others believe he's destined to close. Either way, McCullers has a bright future ahead of him.
8. Chris Stratton, Mississippi State University (6'3", 190 lbs; 21 years old)
Stratton has pitched out of the bullpen and as a starter for Mississippi State the past season, and it's as a starter that teams have taken notice.
Stratton has four pitches that could all be above average to plus offerings in the major leagues: a fastball with sneaky movement that sits in the low 90s, a sinking changeup and two breaking balls—a slider that has good rotation and late bite (his best pitch) and a curveball that looks more like a slurve.
9. Shane Watson, Lakewood High School; Bellflower, Calif. (6'4", 195 lbs; 18 years old)
Watson's fastball sits in the low 90s, but he's shown the ability to dial it up to the mid-90s when needed, including late in games.
His curveball, his No. 2, sits in the high 70s to low 80s, and it comes with a sharp bite as the pitch reaches the batter.
Watson also has a changeup and a slider, but both pitches are behind his heater and curve in development and effectiveness.
10. Lucas Sims, Brookwood High School; Lawrenceville, Ga. (6'3", 190 lbs; 18 years old)
Primarily a two-pitch pitcher, Sims has future closer written all over him.
His fastball sits in the low to mid-90s, but is extremely lively. Sims also throws a curveball that has a tight three-quarters rotation to it and makes hitters look foolish.
Most notable is his mental makeup on the mound. Nothing seems to phase the young Sims, and he attacks the plate—two important traits one needs to become a quality pitcher at any level, but especially as a closer in the majors.