Biggest MLB Prospect Busts from the 2012 Draft Class
Declaring a 2012 draft pick as a bust in less than a year is a bit unfair. As it goes in the prospect game, it’s difficult to project a player’s true ceiling in anything less than three seasons, with at least one of which at a full-season level.
However, that’s not to say that early predictions can’t be made based upon a prospect’s present tools/pitches and secondary skills.
Therefore, I’ve identified five, high-round 2012 draft picks who I’m currently anything but sold on, and they are as follows.
Nathan Mikolas, OF, New York Yankees
A third-round draft pick, Mikolas struggled during his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League, as he batted .149/.295/.184 with one extra-base hit in 31 games.
Given his lack of defensive tools and secondary skills, most of the left-handed hitter’s value is tied to his production. He has a consistent swing and average power potential, which he’ll certainly need to show in future seasons.
Hayden Jennings, OF, Washington Nationals
It’s especially difficult to declare Jennings as a bust given his lack of baseball experience after he was a two-sport standout (he also played wide receiver) in high school.
During his professional debut last season in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, the sixth-round draft pick batted .192/.254/.231 with four extra-base hits, 17 stolen bases and 70 strikeouts in 47 games.
But beyond his plus speed, the undersized outfielder lacks projectable baseball skills and showcases fringy tools across the board.
Kenny Diekroeger, 2B, Kansas City Royals
A second-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays out of high school in 2009, Diekroeger turned down a $2 million signing bonus to attend Stanford. He was on course for an even bigger payday in 2012 before a disappointing spring season dropped him to the fourth round last June.
Due to Stanford’s offensive philosophy, the right-handed hitter’s swing became inefficient with several holes. He ended up batting .208/.275/.366 with 15 extra-base hits and 60 strikeouts in 52 games in the rookie-level Appalachian League.
Peter O'Brien, c, New York Yankees
The Rockies selected O’Brien in the third round of the 2011 draft after a monster offensive season at Bethune-Cookman. However, the 6’3”, 215-pound catcher opted not to sign and transferred to the University of Miami. The Yankees took him in the second round last season after an injury-fill spring.
A right-handed hitter with raw power, O’Brien batted .202/.249/.394 with 10 home runs and a 61/10 K/BB rate in 48 games for Short-Season State Island. Although the 22-year-old has a plus-plus arm behind the plate, he’s still raw defensively and threw out only 20 percent of basestealers in 33 games. He also saw significant time as the designated hitter.
O’Brien’s calling card over the last several years has been his raw power and arm strength, though neither has matured. He’s still relatively young, but his hit tool and secondary skills lack projection.
Collin Wiles, RHP, Texas Rangers
As a 6’4”, 187-pound right-hander, Wiles selection in the supplemental first round was one of the more surprising picks in the early rounds. His professional debut in the rookie-level Arizona League was anything but special, as he’d register a 6.87 ERA with a 25/12 K/BB rate in 36.2 innings.
He’s obviously still very young with a huge gap between the present and future, but I don’t see him developing into anything more than maybe a backend starter. With clean mechanics and a smooth arm swing, he should feature at least average command of a three-pitch mix highlighted by an above-average slider.