MLB Draft 2012: Late-Round Picks Destined to Be Stars
With all of the focus on the blockbuster first-round picks, we take a peak at the late-rounders who have a chance to make a serious impact for their new clubs in the near future.
The MLB draft is precarious compared to other sports because investments take years to pay off and often the young selectees opt not to sign. Despite all of the scouting and deliberation involved, the draft is practically a lottery. Some of MLB's greatest—i.e., Albert Pujols—came from the late-round picks while other first-rounders were a bust.
Here are six MLB hopefuls who I feel have what it takes to be breakout players in the bigs.
Chris Stratton (RHP)
Pick No. 20 to San Francisco Giants
Some of the draft scouting reports have been lukewarm on this kid, but Giants scout John Barr has a good eye for pitchers. In the last decade, the Giants have drafted and cultivated some of the biggest names in pitching—Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson, Madison Bumgarner, Sergio Romo and Zach Wheeler (who was dealt for Carlos Beltran). Mississippi State's Chris Stratton is in good company.
Stratton features a fastball that zips in anywhere between 90-95 mph, although some reports have seen him hump it up to as high as 98. Another interesting aspect about Stratton that has San Francisco excited is his experience both as a starter and reliever in college. This will allow the Giants to develop him according to roster needs, and he could make his way to the bigs in a short period of time.
The Giants aren't afraid to throw young pitchers in the mix, plus with an aging staff in Affeldt, Mota, Vogelsong, Lopez, Zito and Hensley, don't be surprised to see Stratton in the next couple of years. MLB.com draft analyst Jonathan Mayo concurs, stating (per The Dispatch), "This guy is going to be a big league starter in the not-so-distant future."
Stratton won Giants scouts over in his pitchers' duel against LSU's ace, Kevin Gausman, where he struck out 17. The Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year went 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 17 games for the Bulldogs, including 127 strikeouts in 109.6 innings.
Tony Renda (2B)
No. 80 to Washington Nationals
The Cal second baseman has received accolades from every level of he has played at. His most recent resume boasts Freshman All-American, Pac-12/10 First Team three years, Pac-10 Player of the Year and Third Team All-American.
He may be undersized, but has lightning-quick bat speed, a good glove and is an instinctual baserunner. His best quality is perhaps the uncanny maturity and level of professionalism he carries himself with. He treats baseball like it is his job, which is a good thing because now it actually is. He always runs out ground balls, hustles, never showboats or shows up an umpire. Playing for an up-and-coming franchise like the Nationals, who favor young prospects, works in Renda's favor. He will be playing in the MLB in no time.
Season stats include .342 average this year with a .436 on-base percentage with five homers and 16 steals in 54 games.
Marcus Stroman (RHP)
No. 22 to Toronto Blue Jays
I hope Duke's ace, Marcus Stroman, has a passport, because he is headed to Toronto.
An undersized pitcher listed at 5'9" (a quality that never stopped two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum), Stroman doesn't have an undersized arm. His fastball ranges from 90-96 mph and features some lively movement. He also features a mid-80s slider, a cutter and a changeup, an arsenal suited towards getting hitters to ground out.
He can start but also worked out of the bullpen for Team USA. MLB Network insider Jonathan Mayo said Stroman could be "the steal of the draft."
Lewis Brinson (OF)
No. 29 to Texas Rangers
Bleacher Report writer Adams Wells describes the Coral Springs high schooler as having tremendous upside. He is loaded with raw athleticism and a lanky frame, which will undoubtedly fill out as he is groomed for the big leagues.
He has quick hands but a long swing, which suggests power but also vulnerability to inside heat. He reminds me of a young version of Dexter Fowler or Adam Jones depending on how he fills out.
Brinson batted .394 with four doubles, four triples, four big flies and 21 runs batted in last season.
Ty Hensley (RHP)
No. 30 to New york Yankees
The Santa Fe high schooler is a man amongst boys with his 6'5", 220-lb frame. He already garners great strength and can hit 97 on the radar gun. With MLB talent in his bloodline, he could make an impressive relief pitcher for the Yankees.
Considering he was the 19th overall prospect in the draft, he is a steal at pick No. 30. His senior-year stats include a 10-0 record with a daunting 1.52 ERA. He also threw a striking 111 Ks in just 55 innings.
The Yankees will undoubtedly take their time developing this young bull of a pitcher in the farm system. But who knows, he could have the potential to replace legend Mariano Rivera.
Tyrone Taylor (OF)
No. 32 to Milwaukee Brewers
Although a football star, he is not to be confused with Ravens QB Tyrod Taylor.
The 6'1", 180-lb center fielder has an impressive combination of both speed and strength. In his junior year of high school in Torrence, Calif., Taylor batted .472 with 26 RBI and six HR. He can fly around the bases and extend singles into doubles and gappers into triples. His athleticism is obvious and he can cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Plus, he has a canon for an arm.
One problem is he has already committed to Cal State Fullerton. If he opts to go to Milwaukee instead, this kid could make for a solid bat in their lineup down the road.