2012 MLB Draft Live Coverage: Grades & Analysis for Every Team's 1st-Round Pick
After all the scouting reports, evaluations and mock drafts, the 2012 Major League Baseball draft is finally upon us.
This year's class doesn't have that one elite player—like 2009 with Stephen Strasburg and 2010 with Bryce Harper—or nearly as much depth as last year's class, which had no less than six players worthy of the No. 1 overall selection.
Still, there are a few names that have emerged from the shadows to separate themselves from the pack.
Even if this draft doesn't look great on the surface, there are always going to be a few stars who make the class look a lot better than originally thought.
We are here to break down the entire first round—all 31 picks—and provide analysis and grades for each selection.
1. Houston Astros Select Puerto Rico Baseball Academy SS Carlos Correa
The consensus had the Astros taking either Mark Appel or Byron Buxton with the No. 1 overall pick, but Correa's stock had been climbing rapidly as the draft day approached. It turns out the Astros loved what they saw.
In getting Correa, the Astros bring arguably the draft's best bat into their system. He has an advanced approach already, to go along with plus power and bat speed to control the zone.
Defensively, he is likely going to outgrow the shortstop position and move to third base. He will be at least an above-average glove, with arm strength and good footwork. He is the kind of high-upside player the struggling franchise needs.
2. Minnesota Twins Select Appling County HS OF Byron Buxton
After the Astros' surprise pick at No. 1, the Twins went with the player who was arguably the consensus best overall player in this draft, Byron Buxton.
He is not as polished as Correa, but his upside is higher. He has true five-tool potential, with the ability to hit for average and power. He has some of the best speed in this class and uses it to cover a lot of ground in center field. He has a strong arm that could play in right field should he move to a corner.
The downside with Buxton is that he did not face good competition in high school and didn't show off a lot of his pop against inferior arms. He is not a lock to reach his ceiling, but if he does, he is a superstar for Minnesota.
3. Seattle Mariners Select Florida C Mike Zunino
No surprise here, as the Mariners were linked to Zunino throughout the process. They did not deviate from the plan for the first time in a long time.
Zunino does not have a lot of tools that stand out, but he is a strong defensive catcher with a lot of offensive potential for the position. He is going to hit for average with above-average power, with a strong throwing arm and good receiving and blocking skills behind the plate.
He is polished coming out of college, so it will not take him long to get to the big leagues.
4. Baltimore Orioles Select LSU RHP Kevin Gausman
After three position players, the Orioles finally took the draft's first pitcher. Kevin Gausman was my top college pitcher after a stellar season at LSU and developing his slider as his primary off-speed pitch.
Gausman has a great pitcher's frame with an easy delivery that finishes well and gets on top of the ball.
He already boasts good command and control of all his pitches, so he should be able to move quickly through the system and join the big-league rotation with Dylan Bundy in the near future.
5. Kansas City Royals Select San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer
The Royals were thought to be on a fast-moving college arm throughout this process, and they wound up sticking to that theory with San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer. With Mark Appel still out there, it's bit of a surprise.
Zimmer's stock did take a slight hit late this past season, as his velocity was down near 90 mph. But when he is right, he will fit in the top of a rotation. At its peak, his fastball will sit in the mid-90s, and he complements it with a hard curveball that he has a good feel for.
He has only been pitching for one year after converting from third base. He has a big, athletic body that should easily hold up for 200 innings every year.
6. Chicago Cubs Select Mater Academy Charter OF Albert Almora
The new regime of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer kicked off its first draft with the Cubs by taking one of the most advanced high school players in this year's class, Albert Almora.
Despite not having as much upside as someone like Buxton, Almora is further advanced and more likely to reach his ceiling. He has a strong approach at the plate, with very good bat control already. He is going to hit 20-25 home runs at his peak, to go along with average, and has enough speed to steal 10-15 bases.
Defense is where Almora separates himself. He has incredible instincts and the ability to read the ball off the bat. He covers a lot of ground in the outfield despite average speed.
7. San Diego Padres Select Harvard-Westlake HS LHP Max Fried
The San Diego Padres made left-handed stud Max Fried the first high-school pitcher taken in the 2012 draft.
Fried did fade a little bit down the stretch, but his stuff and potential made him far too tempting to pass up at No. 7. He has a good fastball that will sit in the low 90s, and his curve was arguably the best secondary pitch of any prep pitcher in this class.
He has a smooth delivery with no real effort at all. Fried is going to eventually turn into a No. 2 starter once his body matures.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates Select Stanford RHP Mark Appel
Mark Appel's longer-than-expected wait finally came to an end when the Pittsburgh Pirates shifted their board to go after the Stanford ace.
While he does have some flaws in his game, Appel could turn out to be the best college pitcher in this draft class. He has a powerful fastball and good changeup that should get a little better with time.
His holes are subtle. His delivery does not feature a lot of deception, making the ball easy to pick up out of his hands. He also needs work staying on top of his fastball to keep it down in the zone. The upside is there, so to get a potential ace with the eighth pick is too much to pass up.
9. Miami Marlins Select Oklahoma State LHP Andrew Heaney
Heaney's stock steadily climbed through the season, as he put up impressive strikeout numbers in the Big 12.
He does not have a lot of upside or projection left, but he is a fast mover who could contribute within two years.
He works with a low-90s fastball, changeup and above-average curveball. His stuff plays up thanks to his strong command and feel for his pitches, throwing anything in any count.
His ceiling is limited, but he can be a good No. 3 starter in the big leagues.
10. Colorado Rockies Select Oak Mountain HS OF David Dahl
The Rockies get one of the most intriguing five-tool players in this draft class. David Dahl has great speed and should end up staying in center field in pro ball. He has a strong arm with good range to handle the ground at Coors Field.
Dahl may not have a lot of power in his prime, relying more on his bat speed and good contact to hit for average. He will add some muscle for some home-run pop, but don't expect more than 20 homers in a season.
Still, Dahl is a great athlete and should be at least an above-average big leaguer.
11. Oakland Athletics Select Pace HS SS Addison Russell
The A's break their streak of college players in the first round by taking power-hitting shortstop Addison Russell with the No. 11 overall pick.
Despite losing a lot of weight prior to the 2012 season to stay at shortstop, he is too big and does not have enough range to stay in the middle of the field.
Russell will have the arm and range to handle third base, especially when you have the potential to hit for 25-30 homers.
He does have some strange swings at a lot of pitches, but as he gains more experience he should be fine. A bit of a reach, though the upside is there.
12. New York Mets Select Barbe HS SS Gavin Cecchini
The Mets continue their one-year trend of going after high-upside high school players by grabbing Gavin Cecchini at No. 12.
There has been a lot of differing opinions on where Cecchini will fit at the next level. Those that believe he will stay at short see him as a plus-defender with a strong arm and range, and he should hit for average.
He may not hit enough to be an everyday player, however, especially since he is going to have little power. A good risk worth taking for the Mets.
13. Chicago White Sox Select Carroll HS OF Courtney Hawkins
The Chicago White Sox could be signaling that they are willing to rebuild their depleted farm system by taking one of the best bats in this year's draft, Courtney Hawkins.
Hawkins has incredible bat speed and big raw power. He does have to work on making more contact to actually drive the ball out of the park, but it is hard to argue with what he can do when he does connect.
In addition to his hitting prowess, Hawkins has a very good throwing arm and the range to handle himself in right field at the next level.
14. Cincinnati Reds Select Archbishop McCarthy HS RHP Nick Travieso
Travieso is an intriguing arm who could end up at the front of a rotation and will take his talents to Cincinnati.
The season started on a positive for Travieso, as he showed a big fastball that hit 99 mph. He also throws a changeup and slider, with the latter being much more advanced at this stage of his game.
He has likely hit his physical peak, but the Reds are banking on him holding his present level of performance and adding more to it as he moves through their system. A big risk that could pay big dividends.
15. Cleveland Indians Select Texas A&M OF Tyler Naquin
Pulling off a surprise, the Indians grabbed one of the best pure hitters in the draft with Tyler Naquin out of Texas A&M. He handles the bat well with a smooth, easy swing, and should have no problem hitting for average.
If Naquin profiled as a center fielder, he would likely not have lasted until No. 15.
He has a strong throwing arm, but Naquin loses a lot of his value if he has to move to right, simply because he doesn't have the power or the kind of speed you look for in the position.
16. Washington Nationals Select Harvard-Westlake HS RHP Lucas Giolito
Never one to shy away from a potentially special arm, no matter the cost or medical issues, the Washington Nationals grabbed Lucas Giolito in Round 1.
If Giolito had stayed healthy all season, he would have been the first overall pick. He has a fastball that has hit 100 mph and an outstanding curveball to back it up. His delivery is clean, despite the elbow problem, and he has the workhorse frame.
Assuming all is well with Giolito, he has the upside of a No. 1 starter. A tremendous value pick for the Nationals.
17. Toronto Blue Jays Select Stone HS OF D.J. Davis
The Blue Jays have built one of the best farm systems in baseball by going after tools and projection, which is why they went after Davis.
Probably the fastest player in the draft, Davis is a long way away from showing what he is going to do. Speed is great, but that alone won't make you a big leaguer.
His swing is compact and more slappy than anything. He should develop doubles power with experience.
Defensively, he has to learn to read the bat off the ball in order to make the plays to handle center field, and would not profile well in a corner spot.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers Select Northwest Cabbarrus HS SS Corey Seager
New ownership has given the Dodgers a new lease on life, and the draft has brought them Corey Seager, one of the best pure hitters in this draft.
Seager has one of the best swings in this draft, with bat speed, a strong approach and present power that will improve as he learns to hit advanced pitching.
Defensively, Seager is going to move to third, but he has a strong arm with good footwork. He should be a better player than his brother, Seattle's Kyle Seager.
19. St. Louis Cardinals Select Texas A&M RHP Michael Wacha
The defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals used their compensation pick for some guy named Albert Pujols from the Los Angeles Angels on Michael Wacha.
Wacha has the big workhorse frame and a simple, easy delivery. He has a good fastball that sits in the low 90s, but his out pitch at the next level is going to be his changeup.
Not likely to overpower anyone, Wacha has a strong arsenal of pitches to keep hitters off balance and to fit in the middle of a rotation. He should move quickly through the Cardinals system.
20. San Francisco Giants Select Mississippi State RHP Chris Stratton
Stratton only had one great season in college, but he was able to parlay that into a first-round selection, as the Giants grabbed him at No. 20.
After spending a lot of time in the bullpen, Stratton finally honed his breaking ball and command to turn over a lineup three times in a game. He has a solid fastball that sits in the low 90s and mixes in a changeup, curveball and slider.
While his ceiling is limited, Stratton should end up being a solid No. 3 starter in the bigs. Good value for San Francisco.
21. Atlanta Braves Select Brookwood HS RHP Lucas Sims
The Braves don't often go after high-school players, unless they play in Georgia. Lucas Sims fits that bill, but he also has plenty more to offer than just being a peach.
Sims has good life on his mid-90s fastball and commands the pitch well already. He also brings a terrific curveball that has some projection left since he should start throwing it more.
As long as he can command his off-speed stuff and iron out some violence in his mechanics, he could be a No. 2 starter. At worst, he is going to be a dominant late-inning reliever.
22. Toronto Blue Jays Select Duke RHP Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman was one of my favorite pitchers in this draft. He has the present stuff and command for MLB right now.
The only knock on Stroman is his height, or lack thereof. He is listed at 5'9" and does not get a lot of downhill plane on his fastball, making it easy for advanced hitters to put the ball in the air.
I would love to see the Blue Jays give him a chance to start because he has the power arsenal to handle himself in that role.
If it doesn't work out, he can always shift to the 'pen. Stroman will probably end up pitching in Toronto at some point this season.
23. St. Louis Cardinals Select Florida State OF James Ramsey
The Cardinals followed a college pitcher with a college hitter in Florida State outfielder James Ramsey.
It is an interesting choice for the Cardinals, though they reached to get him. He doesn't have any standout tools that make him worthy of a first-round selection.
He will probably end up playing a corner outfield spot, but he doesn't have the power or hit tools to profile there.
Ramsey could turn into a solid big leaguer, as everyone talks about his character and work ethic, but the Cardinals could have gotten him at No. 36 or probably even No. 52.
24. Boston Red Sox Select Arizona State SS Deven Marrero
Once thought to be a top-five pick in the 2012 draft, Marrero's struggles this past season pushed him all the way down to the Red Sox at No. 24.
Marrero's calling card is his defense. He is a plus defender at short, with a strong arm, excellent range and good footwork. He should have no problem making the transition to the big leagues with his glove.
The problems with Marrero lie in his bat. He has never been, nor will he ever be, a power hitter. He should hit doubles, but he has to make enough solid contact to do so.
If he can hit for average, he will be an above-average player solely due to his outstanding defense.
25. Tampa Bay Rays Select Clemson 3B Richie Shaffer
Richie Shaffer's stock soared during the regular season, and then he cooled off with a poor performance in the ACC tournament.
Still, Shaffer has the best power of any college hitter in this year's draft class. He gets his hands through the zone quickly, with good loft and elevation in his swing. The Clemson product should hit for average as well, thanks to a polished approach at the plate.
While offense is his calling card, Shaffer is no slouch on defense. He is not going to win any Gold Gloves, but he has the arm and instincts to play a good hot corner.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks Select Acadiana HS C Stryker Trahan
Another prospect whose stock dropped a bit lately, Trahan profiles as an above-average defensive catcher with good offensive upside.
He should grow into plus power and have an average hit toolbox. He has bat speed, though he does miss a lot more pitches in the zone than he should.
Defensively, Trahan has a plus arm with good pop times. He needs to work on his receiving and blocking skills, but as long as he picks them up early, he should turn into a solid offensive-minded catcher.
27. Milwaukee Brewers Select Union HS C Clint Coulter
The selection of Trahan opened the catcher floodgates, with the Milwaukee Brewers going after Clint Coulter with the No. 27 selection.
Because he is so big and physical already, Coulter may not be able to stay behind the plate. He does not receive the ball well, nor does he move around well enough to block balls in the dirt. His arm is strong, but it doesn't do much good if he can't keep the ball in front of him.
His bat is going to be more power-oriented than anything else. If he can make enough contact, he should be able to profile in right field.
28. Milwaukee Brewers Select Georgia Southern OF Victor Roache
The Brewers saw the power potential in Victor Roache and decided to reward him by taking him in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft.
An injury cut his season short, but he does have big power. Still, he does not have great bat control or a strong approach, which will hinder his ability to hit for average—or even make enough contact to show off his pop.
He doesn't do anything else well besides hit the ball far, so the Brewers invested a lot in his power potential.
29. Texas Rangers Select Coral Springs HS OF Lewis Brinson
The Texas Rangers love drafting upside as much as any team in baseball, and that trend continued with the selection of the electrifying Lewis Brinson.
Offensively, Brinson is incredibly raw and has a lot of work to do to approach his ceiling. He has a long swing that plays well for power, but he needs to shorten it up in order to make contact.
His speed and athleticism make him a plus defender in the outfield right now. Brinson covers ground in center field with a strong throwing arm and speed. He has a lot of risk but could bring a ton of reward.
30. New York Yankees Select Santa Fe HS RHP Ty Hensley
Ty Hensley has already grown into his body at 6'5" and 220 pounds. He has the stuff to match with a power arsenal.
His fastball sits in the mid-90s, but it doesn't have much movement out of his hand. Hensley also throws a hard curveball.
The problem is, Hensley has little command, no third pitch and a lot of effort in his delivery. Right now, he looks like a power reliever with two power pitches.
31. Boston Red Sox Select Florida LHP Brian Johnson
And we are done.
With the 31st pick—most of them unpredictable—the Red Sox closed the first round by taking Florida's Brian Johnson.
Johnson has a low ceiling, but he is likely to turn into a good No. 4 starter in MLB thanks to his polish and command of four average pitches. He is not going to overpower anyone, so he needs to throw quality strikes.
Given his polish, Johnson should move quickly through the Red Sox system and fit into the back of the rotation soon.
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