With the spring season edging closer every day, draft talk is beginning to heat up as each organization quietly evaluates the top talent in the 2013 class. However, the format has already endured a significant change, as the qualifying offer system under the new collective bargaining agreement will deprive two teams of a first-round pick.
Because the Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves signed free-agents Josh Hamilton and B.J. Upton this offseason, respectively, both organizations will not make a first-round selection. At the same time, because the Rangers and Rays each offered their free agents a qualifying offer, they will now receive an additional draft pick in the first round.
Here are my latest thoughts as to how the 2013 draft may play out.
1. Houston Astros: Austin Meadows, OF (Grayson HS, Ga.)
Toolsy outfielder who has arguably the most upside in the 2013 draft class.
2. Chicago Cubs: Sean Manaea, LHP (Indiana State)
The 6’5” left-hander burst onto the scene this summer in the Cape Cod League with a mid-90s fastball and devastating slider, and he addresses the Chicago Cubs' lack of minor league pitching prospects.
3. Colorado Rockies: Clint Frazier, OF (Loganville HS, Ga.)
A baseball rat, Clint Frazier is an impact talent loaded with quick-twitch athleticism, tools and advanced baseball skills. He may not project as favorably as his close friend, Austin Meadows, but he has more present talent.
4. Minnesota Twins: Mark Appel, RHP (Stanford)
Even if Mark Appel is only mediocre this year at Stanford, the right-hander should still be a top draft pick.
5. Cleveland Indians: Ryne Stanek, RHP (Arkansas)
While Appel gets all the hype, Ryne Stanek has the better pure stuff and arguably a higher ceiling with a three-pitch mix highlighted by a plus fastball.
6. Miami Marlins: Kris Bryant, 3B (San Diego)
The top collegiate bat available in the 2013 draft class, Kris Bryant seems to be a safe solution to the Marlins’ current vacancy at the hot corner.
7. Boston Red Sox: Kohl Stewart, RHP (St. Pius X HS, Texas)
He’ll need big money to turn down a football scholarship to Texas A&M, but with a fastball in the mid-90s, the Red Sox should be willing to pay him.
8. Kansas City Royals: Austin Wilson, OF (Stanford)
With the loss of Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, the Royals need an impact prospect—and it’s hard to find a better one than Wilson, who’s a physical specimen with speed and power.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates*: Trey Ball, LHP/OF (New Castle HS, Ind.)
After failing to sign Mark Appel last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates will likely draft both a pitcher and hitter in the first round next year. I assume they’ll get the harder sign out of the way first, and Trey Ball seems to be the leading candidate as the top two-way player on the board.
10. Toronto Blue Jays: Reese McGuire, C (Kentwood HS, Wash.)
The Toronto Blue Jays lost Travis d’Arnaud in the trade for R.A. Dickey, so why not re-stock with the top catcher in the 2013 draft class?
11. New York Mets: Colin Moran, 3B/1B (North Carolina)
The New York Mets need bats, everywhere. If there’s not an impact outfielder still on the board, they should target Colin Moran—one of the more advanced college hitters in the class.
12. Seattle Mariners: Justin Williams, 1B/OF (Terrebonne HS, La.)
The Seattle Mariners have been a roll for several years now, so expect them to target another high-profile bat in Justin Williams, who possesses robust power.
13. San Diego Padres: Oscar Mercado, SS (Gaither HS, Fla.)
The Padres haven’t developed a shortstop prospect in, well, a long, long time. Oscar Mercado offers a combination of tools and secondary skills, and projects to stick at the position.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates: Bobby Wahl, RHP (Ole Miss)
Bobby Wahl may not be available at this point, but if he is, the Pirates will snatch the hard-throwing right-hander in a heartbeat.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Clarkin, LHP (James Madison HS, Texas)
Possessing the best fastball among prep left-hander, Ian Clarkin will likely gain momentum headed into the draft and could be a steal in the mid-first round.
16. Philadelphia Phillies: Aaron Judge, OF (Fresno State)
After drafting a pair of prep right-handers with their first two picks last season, I like the Philadelphia Phillies taking a gamble on Judge, who’s a massive 6’7” outfielder with plus raw power.
17. Milwaukee Brewers: Jonathan Crawford, RHP (Florida)
Because of his fringy projection as a starter, Jonathan Crawford may not be selected as high as his pure stuff warrants. However, given his college experience and upside, he fits the Milwaukee Brewers’ needs.
18. Chicago White Sox: Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (Cathedral Catholic HS, Calif.)
At 6’5”, the left-hander is highly projectable, but there’s a wide gap between the present and future.
19. Los Angeles Dodgers: Andy McGuire, IF/OF (James Madison HS, Va.)
He played most of the 2012 season with an injured hip—he’s since had labrum surgery and expected to make a full recovery for 2013—but this kid can really play. He could even jump into the top 10 with a big season.
20. St. Louis Cardinals: Jeremy Martinez, C (Mater Dei HS, Calif.)
A polished backstop who combines tools and a high baseball IQ, Jeremy Martinez has the upside of a high-level talent on both sides of the ball.
21. Detroit Tigers: Clinton Hollon, RHP (Woodford County HS, Kent.)
The 6’1” right-hander is undersized, but his quick arm generates a plus fastball that’s supplemented with two solid secondary pitches.
22. Tampa Bay Rays: Robert Kaminsky, LHP (St. Joseph HS, NJ)
Although Robert Kaminsky is left-handed with a mature arsenal, his frame and pure stuff lacks projection at higher levels. However, it's hard to overlook his polish.
23. Baltimore Orioles: Marco Gonzales, LHP (Gonzaga)
A highly athletic two-way player, Marco Gonzales has an advanced three-pitch mix that’s highlighted by a plus changeup.
24. Texas Rangers: Chris Oakley, RHP (St. Augustine HS, NJ)
A 6’8” right-hander, there’s legitimate concern about his size and the projectability of his arsenal. However, he’s the type of power arm that the Texas Rangers covet.
25. Oakland Athletics: Jon Denney, C (Yukon HS, Okla.)
I’d honestly be surprised in Jon Denney lasts this long give his plus raw power and defensive skills, but he seems like a solid fit for the Oakland A’s this late in the draft.
26. San Francisco Giants: J.P. Crawford, SS (Lakewood HS)
A projectable left-handed hitter, Crawford is a plus defender capable of sticking at shortstop as he matures. The only question is how well his bat develops.
27. New York Yankees: A.J. Puk, LHP (Washington HS)
Yes, he involves considerable projection as a raw, prep left-hander, but his ceiling is very high.
28. Cincinnati Reds: Ryan Boldt, OF (Red Wing HS, Minn.)
A cold-weather player, Ryan Boldt is an excellent athlete with raw baseball skills. However, he’s extremely projectable with a ceiling that should only increase this spring.
29. Washington Nationals: Kevin Ziomek, LHP (Vanderbilt)
Somewhat of a sleeper prospect after a disappointing sophomore season, Kevin Ziomek stands to rebound this year and already shows an average three-pitch mix.
30. Tampa Bay Rays (Upton): Karsten Whitson, RHP (Florida)
A former top-10 pick of the San Diego Padres in 2009, Karsten Whitson is yet to show the promise at Florida that he did as a prep. However, he still has a plus arm with intriguing raw stuff.
31. Texas Rangers (Hamilton): Ryan Eades, RHP (LSU)
Ryan Eades doesn’t miss stuff like his pure stuff suggests, but his size and three-pitch mix both make him projectable. Personally, he strikes me as the type of player who will pitch better as a professional than amateur.