From June 6 to June 8, 2013, MLB will hold its annual entry draft as clubs welcome the top prospects into the professional ranks. The event will be held in Secaucus, N.J., and every MLB team will be searching for its next great star.
With the focus consistently centered on pitching, we can't help but wonder—which pitching prospects will become future stars?
There is no shortage of talent in this year's MLB draft, specifically when it comes to players who will take the mound. This creates the potential for multiple teams in the Top 10 to land pitchers who could one day anchor their rotation.
The question is, which players have legitimate star potential?
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford Cardinal
If you recognize Mark Appel's name, it's likely because he was selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates at the 2012 MLB draft. After he failed to come to terms on a deal with the Pirates, however, Appel returned to Stanford.
One year later, Appel is again considered to be a contender for the first overall draft choice.
Appel is a right-handed pitcher with extraordinary size at 6'5" and 215 pounds. He's a dominant starter who has improved his control and finishing of pitches by a tremendous margin from the previous season.
With big-game experience at Stanford, he's also proven on elite stages such as the College Baseball World Series.
Furthermore, Appel has a sharp fastball the floats in the low-to-mid 90s. The potential is there for the pitch to reach the high 90s, but it's his changeup that will keep batters off-balance at the next level.
Keith Law of ESPN Insider has Appel as the top prospect in this year's draft.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State Sycamores
Coming from the same school as NBA legend Larry Bird, left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea has the potential to be an All-Star in his own sport. He stands at 6'5" and 235 pounds and throws a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s.
Left-handers are always a target, and Manaea may just be the next great one to hit the MLB.
Manaea is a powerful pitcher who can get the batter out by swinging or looking at his pitches. Not only can he blow pitches past an opponent, but he is more than capable of keeping the ball over the plate with precision.
For evidence, note that he struck out 85 batters in 51.2 innings and walked just two.
Manaea is the best lefty on the draft board, and that's unlikely to change by the time the draft rolls around. At this stage of the game, it appears as if he and Mark Appel are in a two-man race for the top pick.
The Houston Astros have a choice to make.
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma Sooners
Jonathan Gray is yet another pitcher with extraordinary size, coming in at 6'4" and 239 pounds. The difference in 2013 from previous seasons is that the size is not what it used to be.
Gray is in the best shape of his career and it's showing.
Gray routinely throws his fastball in the high 90s, but has been known to touch 101 on the radar gun. He also has a slider that could be developed into a quality pitch and appears to be the high-caliber pitcher who can thrive at the next level.
Gray's a virtual lock for the Top 10, and his progression physically is a major reason why.
He's commanding his pitches better than in previous seasons and has a bit of a slurve for a second pitch. Regardless of what he throws, Gray does so with power and newfound precision.
This is a legitimate top-of-the-rotation type of prospect.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas Razorbacks
Ryne Stanek doesn't overpower the opposition and isn't the most precise pitcher in the draft. In fact, Stanek isn't the biggest strikeout threat in this draft.
What he is, however, is a reliable pitcher who limits his mistakes and has the potential to be a reliable player toward the top of a rotation.
Stanek stands at 6'4" and 190 pounds, so size is a strength, but his build must improve. Even still, he has three quality pitches and, when he changes them up, he's as tough to hit as any.
Stanek is built in the Zack Greinke mold, as his control is rapidly improving, and a variety of pitches enables him to keep bats from connecting cleanly on balls.