The 2012 MLB Draft - although not entirely top-heavy with extreme talent - has plenty of quality players, giving fans of teams everywhere a chance to be optimistic.
This season, the Houston Astros selected No 1, taking an offensive force that will helpfully build a cornerstone for the franchise for years to come. Other team were able to help themselves for the future too, and some saw value slip all the way to them in late rounds.
The Pittsburgh Pirates steal a pick in the Top 10, the Astros load up and the Colorado Rockies discover depth to add for everywhere on the diamond.
Here's eight picks in the first day of the MLB draft that have extreme value:
When you’re talking about the value picks in this year’s draft, it’s starts near the top with Standford junior Mark Appel.
Appel’s high-90’s fastball and curveball are advanced at the college level and translate well to the pro game, at least according to most baseball pundits and talent evaluators around the country (here's one). Most were affirmed that the Houston Astros would either select Appel or Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa with the No. 1 overall pick. For Appel to fall to the Pittsburgh Pirates at No. 8…by definition, that’s instant value.
Granted, you didn’t have to look far to find the first value pick, and the Pirates may have the next Bryan Bullington – a college pitcher Pittsburgh selected No. 1 overall in 2002 – in the making (again). But, with someone as polished as Appel is, combined with last year’s No. 2 pick and righty, Jameson Taillon, the Pirates may have something cooking here.
According to CBS analyst Jon Heyman, the Colorodo Rockies were set to take 6’5”, 220 high-school righty, Ty Hensley at No. 10 overall. Appel fell to Pittsburgh and a chain effect occurred. When he was taken 20 picks later, his reputation as a value pick was instantly - and forever - cemented.
When anyone really likes a guy that high in the first round and he nearly falls out of it…instant value. The New York Yankees selected him at No. 30, a team desperate to refill the farm system and replenish the pitching staff.
Hensley’s big frame and body is already somewhat filled, which is a good thing for the New York as they search for more answers in the rotation for the years to come. His easy delivery, combined with a mid-90’s heater and a 12-6 curveball that could get low-A level hitters out, the Yankees may have found a building block in the rotation to build around, if everything goes right.
Having already selected a potential offensive shortstop of the future in Correa, the Astros were hunting for a young pitching gem.
His size and persona proceed his dominance, but flamethrower Lance McCullers fits the bill.
McCullers has some of the best stuff, talent wise, in this year’s draft. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but he has the ability to crank it up to top speeds at 97-99 consistently, if need be. He also includes a pro-level curveball in his repertoire, but he will need to add another breaking pitch to become a more complete pitcher.
McCullers’ father, Lance McCullers Sr., played in the big leagues from 1985 to 1992, so junior is looking to make it a second generation of players to make it in the majors. If the youngster maintains his high fastball and develops another off-speed pitch, there’s no telling how far he can go.
Typically, the best power hitters in the draft don’t make it past the first round.
This year, that truth didn’t hold when the Texas Rangers selected high-school slugger Joey Gallo as compensation for C.J. Wilson signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Nevada native hails from the same state as Washington Nationals’ sensation Bryce Harper, and Gallo is looking to create a trend of MLB hitters to come out of the region.
Gallo’s 6’5” height and frame allow him to crush baseballs all over the field. According to ESPN’s Richard Durrett, Gallo was rated No. 23 by ESPN, but his presence on the mound is a big wildcard for why he dropped so low. As a pitcher, Gallo touches 97-98 at times with his heater, but regularly sits in the low 90s and his other pitches need to improve. However, his raw power is one of the best among players in this year’s class, so you figure he’ll make the full-time commitment at the plate going forward.
Look for Gallo to move up the ranks quick to help fill out the Texas lineup that is already one of the best, if not the best, in baseball.
The 6’8” lefty Matt Smoral has an extremely long delivery, but his fastball sits in the low 90s already at a young age. If it wasn’t injury-related concerns involving his foot, Smoral would have been selected easily in the Top 25 of this year’s draft.
For the Toronto Blue Jays, it was a blessing as he fell all the way to No. 50. Smoral is just another product of pitching in the Jays’ farm system, with Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez already with the big-league club after working their ways up the ladder.
To couple a good fastball, Smoral also has a slider that sits in the low-to-mid 80s with good spin and movement to get hitters out. Some compare him to future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, for his similar build and potentially lights-out fastball.
Look for Smoral to be another value pick amongst pitchers taken in this year’s draft.
The Milwaukee Brewers already have a nice core of hitters at their pro level, with the likes of home-grown talent such as Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks.
Victor Roache may be the next big bat to make it to the Brewers-level. The Georgia Southern product slipped to the bottom of the first round in this year’s draft after slated to go in the Top 15. During the spring, he injured his right wrist that required a long amount of time on the shelf. If you take his numbers and project them out over a full college season, he would have been a much higher pick.
His size and athleticism allow him extended range in the outfield. If that wasn’t enough, he blasted 30 homers as a sophomore two seasons ago as a member of the Eagles.
There’s no telling on this guy’s ceiling, because we haven’t been exposed to more of him. Look for Roache to skyrocket up the minors and soon be tracking down balls at Miller Park with Braun.
Anytime you have a shot to land a potential flamethrower outside the first round, you jump on it.
For the Rockies, they got their man at with the No. 46-pick in righthander Eddie Butler, who’s rail-thin frame automatically tells you he doesn’t have much in the tank.
Fortunately for him, his 98 mph heater quickly dismisses the notion that he can’t throw gas. However, there are durability issues with his small build. If anything, the Rockies may have just landed their next great bullpen arm and closer. If the upside holds to form, Butler could become a mid-to-high rotation guy.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Philadelphia Phillies have shown favoritism towards taking athletes in past drafts, including the likes of Jimmy Rollins and Dominic Brown, among others.
High-school righty Mitch Gueller may be that next big athlete for the Phillies – this time though, it’ll be someone taking a spot on the mound.
Gueller has some of the best stuff amongst starters in this year’s draft, works well on the hill and has okay control of his secondary pitchers. Although he isn’t a finished product, his upside as a compensation pick is enormous. Look for Gueller to work his way up the ladder and hopefully join the Phillies’ rotation in the coming years.