MLB Draft 2012: 10 Players Who Will Be in the Majors by 2013
Every year, there are several players drafted with the intention of making almost an immediate impact at the major league level—others are simply unexpected surprises.
More often than not, those who are the first to reach the big leagues are relievers, as there’s always a need for a dynamic arm in a team’s bullpen. However, on occasion, there are position players whose skills are so advanced—whether at the plate or in the field—that they are able to contribute within one or two years of their selection in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Assuming that they ultimately sign prior to the deadline, here is a look at 10 players from the 2012 draft class who have the potential to reach the major leagues at some point in 2013, if not sooner.
Branden Kline, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Drafted: Second round (No. 65)
Although he’s had some success as a starting pitcher at Virginia, I believe Kline’s true value at the professional level will come as a late-inning reliever. His low-90s fastball and power slider could make him a viable threat out of the Orioles bullpen.
R.J. Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Drafted: Third round (No. 114)
The 6’1”, 180-pound right-hander emerged as one of the more dominant bullpen arms in college baseball last season, throwing serious fuzz at 95-97 mph with a hard, late-breaking slider at 82-84 mph.
Most importantly, he has excellent command of both pitches.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Drafted: First round (No. 22)
Stroman’s plus fastball and slider—and not to mention a damn good changeup—are so good that they negate the fact that he’s only 5’9”.
As I said in my mock drafts as well as in his player profile, Stroman could be ready to contribute out of the bullpen by the end of June. In my opinion, he’s the most big league-ready player in the entire 2012 draft class.
Expect to see him at some point this season unless the Blue Jays opt to develop him as a starting pitcher or he doesn't sign.
Nolan Fontana, SS/2B, Houston Astros
Drafted: Second round (No. 61)
In a draft class with limited college middle-infield talent, Fontana’s glove, baserunning abilities and on-base skills made him stand out from the field. Furthermore, it’s those same abilities that could allow him to reach the big leagues towards the end of 2013 as a utility infielder.
Jake Barrett, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Drafted: Third round (No. 120)
Barrett possesses a heavy fastball that’s been consistently clocked in the mid-90s and scrapes 97-98 at times, as well as an above-average curveball and solid-average splitter.
He’s got a big league makeup and showed his potential as a late-inning arm this season at Arizona State, where he worked out of the bullpen for the Sun Devils for the first time in his career.
Stephen Johnson, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Drafted: Sixth round (No. 208)
Johnson has the best fastball in this year’s draft class, clocked as high as 102 mph this spring while consistently working in the high-90s. Beyond that, the right-hander features a power slurve which profiles as a true out pitch.
However, his arm action and angle are funky and unorthodox, which, in my opinion, will make him even more valuable in the Giants bullpen provided that he stays healthy.
Tyler Naquin, OF, Cleveland Indians
Drafted: First round (No. 15)
Considered one of the more advanced hitters in the 2012 draft class, Naquin’s left-handed batter and big league-ready defense could make him one of the first position players to make his big league debut at some point in 2013.
If that doesn’t happen, it’s because the Tribe are hoping he develops more power with extra seasoning in the minor leagues.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
Drafted: First round (No. 9)
The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Heaney’s draft stock skyrocketed all spring. The left-hander showcased command of his four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that works in the low- to mid-90s and can be located to both sides of the plate.
If he signs in the near future and begins his professional career in A-ball, I would think Heaney could be a September call-up in 2013.
Travis Jankowski, OF, San Diego Padres
Drafted: First-round supplemental (No. 44)
One of the best all-around athletes in the 2012 draft class, Jankowski is currently taking the nation by storm, as he’s helped lead Stony Brook University to a College World Series berth. The left-handed hitter has the ability to hit for a solid average and has exceptional speed that should be an asset in the spacious Petco Park.
Richie Shaffer, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Drafted: First round (No. 25)
One of the best all-around hitters (both for average and power) in the 2012 draft class, it’s uncertain at which position the Rays will develop Shaffer; if he signs, he may begin his professional career as a corner outfielder.
His bat is advanced enough to start at a more advanced level and if things go smoothly, he has the potential to move quickly.