2012 MLB Draft Results: Every MLB Team's Biggest Steal/Bust Candidate
Is ASU shortstop Deven Marrero a steal or a bust for Boston Red Sox? Photo courtesy statepress.com
Now that the 2012 MLB draft has come to a conclusion, experts and wannabe draft gurus alike will be poring over research on each and every one of the over 1,200 players selected earlier this week.
Only time will tell how each team fared with their selections, but it doesn't stop anyone from peering into their crystal balls and predicting which players will be stars and which players will be looking for another line of work.
At Bleacher Report, we won't let that stop us, either.
Here then is a look at each MLB team's biggest steal or bust candidate.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jake Lamb, 6th Round, Bust
Photo courtesy dailyuw.com
University of Washington third baseman Jake Lamb is an imposing presence on the left side of the infield at 6'3" and 210 pounds.
However, despite his size and strength, Lamb struggled somewhat in his junior year with a .321/.429/.442 slash line, hitting just three homers in 54 games. Critics have pointed to Lamb's swing, which is more of a flailing, inside/outside swing.
Work will clearly need to be done with Lamb's swing to tap into that power, but it could take quite a while to see positive results, if any.
Atlanta Braves: Blake Brown, 5th Round, Bust
Photo courtesy columbiamissourian.com
Missouri Tigers slugger Blake Brown, the fifth-round pick of the Atlanta Braves, hit .302 with 10 HR and 40 RBI in 59 games this season.
However, he also struck out 61 times. As tantalizing as his bat is, Brown has constantly struggled to recognize breaking balls, and that will be a major concern as he faces higher quality pitching at higher levels.
Baltimore Orioles: Christian Walker, 4th Round, Steal
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Everything about South Carolina Gamecocks first baseman Christian Walker just screams the word "winner."
Drafted by the Orioles in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB draft, Walker was a key cog on the Gamecocks' back-to-back national champion teams of 2010 and 2011. The Gamecocks have already advanced to the NCAA Super-Regionals on their way to attempting a third consecutive national title.
Walker thus far is hitting .319 with 11 HR and 53 RBI, striking out just 21 times in 210 at-bats with a .447 OBP. He clearly has a clue at the plate, and it's no coincidence that Walker's time at South Carolina has coincided with their championship run.
The kid is simply a gamer, and a winner.
Boston Red Sox: Ty Buttrey, 4th Round, Steal
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Even though Providence High School (N.C.) senior pitcher Ty Buttrey was the 38th-ranked player, according to Baseball America, he still fell all the way to the fourth round. And the Boston Red Sox were more than happy to snatch him up.
The fact that Buttrey fell so far has more to do with the bonus restrictions implemented in the new collective bargaining agreement agreed to by MLB and the players' union during the offseason. As a result, more college players were drafted in the earlier rounds so that teams could save that bonus money to draft higher ceiling players in the later rounds.
Buttrey is absolutely a high-ceiling guy. In his arsenal is a fastball that comfortably sits in the low 90s and touches 96 MPH, a lively knuckle-curve that breaks down sharply and a developing changeup. Buttrey had committed to Arkansas but is considered signable with the right bonus.
Chicago Cubs: Anthony Prieto, 5th Round, Steal
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When the Chicago Cubs selected Americas High School (El Paso, Texas) senior pitcher Anthony Prieto in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB draft, it caught many people by surprise. However, he could be the steal of the draft.
Prieto just barely made the top 500 rankings in Baseball America, coming in at No. 492, and for good reason. He didn't start pitching full time until his junior season, and while he wowed with a fastball that hit 97 MPH, Prieto missed the first six weeks of the season this year with a forearm strain.
When Prieto came back, his velocity was down somewhat, throwing his fastball in the high 80s. However, it didn't stop him from putting together a spectacular shortened season, posting a 6-0 record, striking out 70 batters in 40 innings pitched and allowing just just 16 walks and 16 hits. Prieto relied on a terrific curveball to induce quite a few swings-and-misses.
Prieto is only committed to Howard Junior College, so he'll likely forgo that to start his professional career. Given his body of work in such a short span of time, the sky's the limit for young Anthony Prieto.
Chicago White Sox: Courtney Hawkins, 2nd Round, Bust
Photo courtesy collegebaseball360.com
The Chicago White Sox went big on high school power with their first two pick, selecting Courtney Hawkins with the 13th overall pick and Keon Barnum with the 48th pick overall. However, they may have struck out with their first college pick.
The White Sox opted to pick Georgia Southern pitcher Chris Beck in the second round. Beck did not put up the numbers expected of him in his junior year, posting a 6-7 record and 3.91 ERA. Beck did strike out 115 batters in 103.2 innings, but opponents hit .288 off him and scouts saw that his arm slot had dropped considerably from the previous season.
Beck generally threw his fastball in the high-80s range and threw a cutter that didn't show a whole lot of life. Not exactly sure what the White Sox saw that enamored them so much.
Cincinnati Reds: Seth Mejias-Brean, 8th Round, Steal
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Before this season, Arizona Wildcats third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean was considered a fringe prospect. As a matter of fact, he wasn't even listed in Baseball America's top 500. However, with the season he's had leading his Wildcats into the NCAA Tournament, the Cincinnati Reds certainly took notice.
Mejias-Brean was hitting .351 with 19 doubles, 52 RBI and a .486 slugging percentage heading into postseason play, striking out only 20 times during the regular season. Mejias-Brean doesn't have typical home run power, yet he has the ability to turn on a 98-MPH fastball, plus the wherewithal to lay back and blister a ball into the gap in right-center.
Oh yeah, and he can lay down a pretty mean bunt at times as well.
Cleveland Indians: Dylan Baker, 5th Round, Steal
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Cleveland Indians fifth-round draft pick Dylan Baker has literally been all over the map over the past three years—starting in high school ball in Juneau, Alaska, then on to a year of community college in Washington, followed by a year at Western Nevada Junior College.
Now he's hoping that Cleveland will be his final destination.
Baker was outstanding this year, posting a 13-0 record with a 1.91 ERA in 16 starts this spring, leading Western Nevada to the Junior College World Series.
Before this year, Baker's fastball was nothing special. But with some work over the winter, Baker developed a solid mid-90s fastball to go with a terrific slider and developing curve. Scouts didn't love Baker's delivery, but refinements will change that.
I like Baker's chances of getting to Cleveland, and even quicker if it's as a reliever.
Colorado Rockies: David Dahl, 1st Round, Bust
Photo courtesy al.com
The Colorado Rockies had a chance to draft a solid power pitcher, something they're sorely lacking in Denver right now. With Michael Wacha, Lucas Giolito and Nick Travieso still available, they opted for an outfielder with projectibility—Oak Mountain High School (Ala.) slugger David Dahl.
On one hand, scouts like Dahl's plus speed and rifle for an arm, and, at times, he shows the ability to hit for power. On the other hand, they also question whether or not Dahl has the instincts to stay in center field, and they also aren't sure if he'll develop enough power to be moved to a corner outfield position.
I would have much preferred the Rockies to front-load with pitching, and Dahl could turn out to be the hitter that some think—but I'm not yet convinced.
Detroit Tigers: Drew VerHagen, 4th Round, Bust
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The Detroit Tigers had to wait until Tuesday to make their first pick. Maybe the long wait dulled their senses, because they struck out with their third pick of the day.
After selecting a high school pitcher and shortstop, the Tigers looked to the college ranks with their fourth-round selection, picking Vanderbilt reliever Drew VerHagen.
The pick was perplexing—VerHagen was ranked No. 321 by Baseball America—yet the Tigers made him the 154th pick overall. VerHagen does have a nice mid-90s fastball—and that's about it.
No secondary pitches of note for VerHagen, who will absolutely need to develop at least one, even if only making it as a reliever.
Houston Astros: Hunter Virant, 11th Round, Steal
Camarillo High School (Calf.) left-handed pitcher Hunter Virant fell all the way to the 11th round before being snatched up the Houston Astros, despite the fact that he was the 53rd-ranked player on Baseball America's top 500 list.
Signability appeared to be the issue, as Virant is committed to UCLA, and teams would have likely had to pay a pretty penny to get him signed. However, the Astros seem to think it's doable, and if they are successful, Virant could be the steal of the draft.
Virant is still relatively new to pitching, so the arm is fresh. He sports a low 90s fastball, a changeup that's already considered a plus pitch and a developing slider and curve. With some time in the minors, Virant's four-pitch repertoire could provide great value as a starter for the Astros in the future.
Kansas City Royals: Sam Selman, 2nd Round, Bust
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When the Kansas City Royals selected Sam Selman out of Vanderbilt University with their second-round pick, the phrase "red flag" immediately came to mind.
Selman only worked 12 total innings in his first two seasons with Vandy, and this year control issues kept him out of the rotation early, although he bounced back nicely to finish at 8-3 with a 4.03 ERA.
Still, the inconsistency is a concern, and scouts wonder if Selman even has the instincts to survive as a pitcher at this point.
Los Angeles Angels: R.J. Alvarez, 3rd Round, Steal
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It took a couple of years for the Florida Atlantic Owls to figure out how to best use right-handed pitcher R.J. Alavarez, but once they finally did, the results were outstanding.
Blessed with an arm that threw fastballs as high as 97 MPH, FAU put Alvarez into their rotation, but he struggled, posting a 5.17 ERA in 26 starts over that span.
Alvarez then pitched in the Cape Cod League, where the Bourne Braves used him in relief, and Alvarez was effective. FAU took notice, moving Alvarez to the closer's role this spring.
Alvarez thrived, posting a 5-0 record, 0.53 ERA, eight saves, 45 strikeouts and just nine walks in 34 innings.
Alvarez figures to continue in that role with the Los Angeles Angels, and he could move quickly through their system as a result.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Scott Griggs, 8th Round, Bust
Photo courtesy pac12sportswatch.com
There is no questioning the great array of pitches owned by right-handed pitcher Scott Griggs of UCLA, taken in the eighth round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, it's where his pitches end up that is in question.
Griggs saved a school-record 13 games for the Bruins, posting a 1-1 record and 2.08 ERA. He also struck out 52 batters in 30 innings, giving an indication of how nasty he can be at times.
However, he also walked 29 batters in those 30 innings, and ends his UCLA career averaging a walk per inning. Having the stuff is great, knowing how to command it is another thing entirely.
Miami Marlins: Austin Nola, 5th Round, Bust
Photo courtesy lsusports.net
The third time was finally the charm for LSU shortstop Austin Nola.
Nola had previously been drafted in the 48th round by the Colorado Rockies in 2008 and again by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 31st round.
Now, the Marlins tabbed Nola with their fifth-round pick, and I'm not sure they should have jumped at the chance.
As a senior, Nola seems like a fill-in pick here, considering the bonus restraints placed on teams with the new CBA. Nola is a lifetime .296 hitter at LSU who doesn't project to be much more than a spray hitter at the major league level with nominal speed and limited range.
Milwaukee Brewers: Tyler Wagner, Utah, 4th Round, Bust
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The fourth-round selection for the Milwaukee Brewers, Utah reliever Tyler Wagner, was definitely a leap of faith.
Not even ranked in Baseball America's top 500 list, Wagner nonetheless drew the eye of Brewers' scouts. This past season, Wagner was 2-6 with a 3.59 ERA and just two saves, with 34 strikeouts in 42.2 innings.
Wagner has a fastball that can at times touch 95-96 MPH along with a tight slider. However, no one else was even taking a sniff in his direction, so a peculiar choice indeed.
Minnesota Twins: Luke Bard, Compensation Round, Bust
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Apparently, the Minnesota Twins wanted to see if the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree.
Georgia Tech pitcher Luke Bard, the younger brother of Boston Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard, tore a lat muscle early this spring and hasn't thrown a pitch since.
At best, Bard projects as a reliever, and with a low- to mid-90s fastball, he would definitely be considered "Bard Light" compared to his brother.
New York Mets: Gavin Cecchini, 1st Round, Steal
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The New York Mets liked high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini so much that they invited him to New York this past weekend for a tour of Citi Field. He just happened to watch Johan Santana's no-hitter in the process.
Now, three days later, the Mets have their man.
It was obvious that the Mets were enamored with Cecchini, who had 31 stolen bases and hit .413 with seven HR and 32 RBI, helping Barbe High School (Lake Charles, La.) capture the Class 5A state title.
Cecchini will help the Mets considerably in the middle infield, who previously only had three middle infielders ranked in the top 20 of their farm system, and none of them project quite like Cecchini.
When all is said and done, Cechhini will be looked upon as one of the great picks in the 2012 MLB draft.
New York Yankees: Nick Goody, 6th Round, Steal
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When the New York Yankees made their sixth-round selection on Tuesday, fans could be heard screaming, "Oh, Goody!"
Well, not really.
But they might be after all is said and done. LSU closer Nick Goody is headed to the Bronx after a terrific season with the Tigers, during which he posted a 1-2 record with 11 saves, a 2.51 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 32.1 innings.
Goody goes after hitters, walking only four batters all year, pounding the strike zone consistently with a mid-90s fastball and a late-breaking slider that hits the high 80s. Love this pick.
Oakland Athletics: Addison Russell, 1st Round, Bust
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High school shortstop Addison Russell of Pace HS in Miami, Fla. put together an outstanding prep career, topping it off with a .368 batting average and .532 OBP in his senior year.
However, Russell has a very inconsistent approach at the plate, and while he drew 30 walks this spring, he is still considered raw as a hitter.
Russell is currently undecided about following through with his commitment to play at Auburn University.
"I think that's a family decision right now," Russell said immediately after the draft. "My brothers and sisters, I really do want to set an example for them and go to school, but then again, the Oakland A's are giving me the opportunity to perform at the Minor League level, and I'm just excited about it all."
Honestly, Russell should go to school—if not as an example to set for his siblings, but so he can continue to refine his game and take it to the next level. Not sure he can do that with the A's.
Philadelphia Phillies: Hoby Milner, 7th Round, Bust
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The University of Texas is certainly a storied collegiate baseball program, producing dozens of stars who have gone on to careers in Major League Baseball. This year, however, their streak of producing at least one player who was drafted in the first five rounds of every year since 1999 came to a halt.
The Phillies selected Longhorns reliever Hoby Milner in the seventh round, and it's likely a Longhorn bust.
Milner was used as a reliever after falling out of the rotation for the Longhorns, appearing in 33 games as a swingman. Milner has a high-80s fastball and has failed to increase that velocity in three seasons at Texas. At best, he's a middle reliever, if he even makes it that far.
Pittsburgh Pirates: D.J. Crumlich, 9th Round, Bust
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UC Irvine has a fantastic baseball program, and head coach Mike Gillespie has proven more than adept at recruiting players who buy into his way of playing. Shortstop D.J. Crumlich is definitely one of those players.
Crumlich wrapped up four-year career for the Anteaters by hitting .324 in his senior year, leading UCI with 72 hits.
However, Crumlich profiles as a guy who doesn't have the range or strength to sustain a long stay at short in the majors, and at best, he just looks like organizational depth for the Pirates.
San Diego Padres: Travis Jankowski, Compensation Round, Steal
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This was a terrific pick by the Padres. Travis Jankowski, a center fielder from SUNY Stony Brook, has great speed, is a solid contact hitter and is already a plus defender.
For Petco Park, they certainly chose the right man for the job.
San Francisco Giants: Chris Stratton, 1st Round, Steal
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The San Francisco Giants had only one pick on the first day of the MLB draft, and while many expected them to go with a quality bat—a rare sight in San Fran these days—they went with a power pitcher instead.
Mississippi State starting pitcher Chris Stratton was tremendous in his junior year, posting an 11-2 record, a 2.38 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 107.2 innings. Stratton already has a major league curveball with a solid low-90s fastball that touches 95 to 96. He projects as a solid mid-rotation type.
How good would he look next to Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner?
Seattle Mariners: Patrick Kivlehan, 4th Round, Steal
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Rutgers University student Patrick Kivlehan decided to do something new this spring—play baseball.
Well, that's not entirely true, but it just could be the feelgood story of the 2012 MLB draft.
Kivlehan starred on the football field for four seasons for the Scarlet Knights. This spring, he decided to try out for the baseball team, not having played since his high school days.
All Kivlehan did was win the Triple Crown of batting in the Big East Conference, hitting .399 with 14 HR and 50 RBI.
Some kids just have it in them. Kivlehan is obviously one of those kids.
St. Louis Cardinals: James Ramsey, 1st Round, Bust
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James Ramsey is going to go down as one of the greatest baseball players in the history of Florida State University, and one of the most well-liked as well. However, that greatness may not translate well to the major league level.
This seemed like a safe pick to me. With the new CBA limiting bonuses for each team, drafting Ramsey makes sense for the Cards. As a senior, Ramsey is a certainty to sign at a reasonable price.
Ramsey hit .365 with 13 HR and 55 RBI for the Seminoles, who are still involved in NCAA tourney play. Ramsey projects to be more of a spray hitter moving forward, with some likening his stance to that of Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.
But for me, that's where the comparison ends. This was a safe pick for the Cards, not one that screams elite status.
Tampa Bay Rays: Richie Shaffer, 1st Round, Steal
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There is an awful lot to like about Tampa Bay Rays first-round draft pick Richie Shaffer.
A three-year starter for the Clemson Tigers, Shaffer hit .336 this spring with 10 HR, registering more walks than strikeouts and flashes power to all fields.
Shaffer primarily played third at Clemson but can also flash the glove at first. Considering the Rays have Evan Longoria in place for a while, the Rays may have found their long-term answer at the other corner.
Texas Rangers: Collin Wiles, Compensation Round, Steal
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The Texas Rangers have done an outstanding job scouting and developing pitching talent in recent years. However, when they selected Blue Valley West High School (Kan.) student Collin Wiles with the 53rd overall pick in the MLB draft, even Wiles himself was surprised.
"I just wasn't expecting to go there, and then I hear my name called and the next thing I know, I'm under a dogpile with all of my friends," Wiles said. "It was insane, to be honest with you."
It's apparent the Rangers did their homework. Wiles was 8-0 with a 0.10 ERA and 76 strikeouts over 49.1 innings, earning Gatorade State Player of the Year honors for the state of Kansas.
Wiles saw his fastball increase from the mid-80s in his junior year to a consistent 92-93 MPH in his senior, and he developed a solid slider and changeup as well.
Toronto Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman, 1st Round, Steal
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This past spring, Marcus Stroman shined on the mound as a starter for a Duke Blue Devils team that pretty much stunk. Stroman was 5-4 with a 2.36 ERA and issued 119 strikeouts against just 22 walks in 84 innings.
However, as good as Stroman is as a starter, his value may be in the bullpen. Last summer for Team USA, Stroman worked as their closer, throwing 8.1 hitless innings, striking out 17 and walking just one batter.
Scouts believe that Stroman could actually work his way to the majors this year if he works out of the bullpen. Considering the Blue Jays have the worst bullpen in the American League (4.39 ERA), Stroman could certainly be a shot in the arm.
Washington Nationals: Brett Mooneyham, 3rd Round, Bust
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The Washington Nationals reached out and touched Brett Mooneyham—twice.
The Nationals drafted the Stanford left-hander last year in the 38th round, taking a flier on him even though he missed the entire season after surgery to repair a cut on his finger.
This season, Mooneyham was spotty, posting a 7-5 record with a 4.26 ERA in 14 starts. Mooneyham struck out 90 batters in 82.1 innings, but he also walked 37 and hit another 15 batters.
The biggest gripe scouts have about Mooneyham is that he's constantly tinkering with his delivery and never seems to throw the same way twice in succession.
Baseball Prospect Nation agreed.
I have reservations about long-term command projection. Mediocre arm action, lack of athleticism and general inconsistency make locating his pitches a consistent issue. May have enough command to become effective, but will never locate with precision or plus ability.
Not quite a ringing endorsement there.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.