The big-league draft is a funny thing.
For the two teams picking at the top of this year's draft, their decisions are as easy as pie.
For the Houston Astros, the choice is simple: Which front-of-the-rotation arm do they prefer?
For Chicago, the decision is even easier: Which front-of-the-rotation arm does Houston not take?
As soon as the picks start flying off the board, however, the decisions get more and more difficult.
After Kris Bryant inevitably goes third overall to Colorado, who does Cleveland select?
Picking 21st, do the Tampa Bay Rays go ahead and gamble on Austin Wilson, a toolsy, yet inconsistent, hitter from Stanford, or do they go the safer route and select polished lefty Marco Gonzalez from Gonzaga and hope that Wilson is still on the board when they pick 29th?
And so on and so forth.
Best-case scenario, the Indians, picking fourth, are absolutely in love with a player and joyous at the fact that the top three picks are all but sewn up, leaving them the player they desire most.
Best-case scenario, the Rays can get Gonzalez and Wilson.
What follows is a best-case scenario for all 30 squads, including those that don't have first-round selections, and the decisions that make the most sense for their picks.
Last year, the Astros passed on the player (Mark Appel) widely regarded as the top overall prospect in the draft in favor of a shortstop (Carlos Correa) who, while plenty talented, agreed to sign for a lesser amount, allowing the team to spend money in later rounds of the draft.
Expect the same thing in 2013.
The front office has already narrowed down their choices to a handful of prospects, widely assumed to include Stanford's Appel, Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray, San Diego's Kris Bryant and high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows.
Now they're going to position those prospects against each other and see which ones they can get for the least amount of money.
If the cards fall like everyone expects, they'll likely end up with Midwestern fireballer Jonathan Gray, who, by all accounts, seems to have leapfrogged Stanford ace Mark Appel, who, for the second year in a row, will not be selected first overall after entering the season as the projected No. 1 pick.
Gray has been simply sensational this season for the Sooners, posting a 9-2 record with one of the lowest ERAs in the country (1.55). He's also struck out an astonishing 127 batters in just 110 innings.
He pairs his triple-digit heat with a devastating slider.
If someone would have told Theo Epstein that, despite drafting sixth overall last year and second overall this year, he still would have two shots at drafting Appel, the consensus top prospect in both drafts, there's no doubt that he would have told you a return to the Boston Red Sox front office was more likely.
Yet here we are, just weeks away from the draft, and by all accounts, it seems that Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray has surpassed Appel on most draft boards and will go No. 1 overall to Houston.
Chicago fans couldn't be any happier.
Few other players make sense for the Cubbies here.
Third baseman Kris Bryant (San Diego) plays a position that will one day be occupied by 2011 first-rounder Javier Baez, Georgia high schoolers Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier are too big a risk with the second pick and lefty Sean Manaea (Indiana State) and right-hander Ryne Stanek (Arkansas) have been too inconsistent this season.
That leaves the no-brainer, Appel.
Appel has it all—size, stuff, clean mechanics, and most importantly, the mentality of an ace.
The last trait has been lacking in Chicago for a long time.
From a distance, Kris Bryant and the Colorado Rockies seem like a match made in humidor heaven.
But upon closer inspection...yes, Coors Field really is a perfect fit for the NCAA home run leader.
Colorado hasn't been shy about going after prospects with incredible potential at the plate. They took a chance on two-sport star Kyle Parker a few years ago and have been rewarded with back-to-back 20-home run campaigns. Last year, they selected David Dahl, who made a run at the triple crown in the Pioneer League.
Bryant, who shattered incredibly high expectations for his junior campaign, offers an explosive bat and the most usable power in this year's draft. He has slugged 31 homers in just 58 games, a feat that would have been impressive enough a few years ago but even more so now that players are required to use composite bats that have suppressed home run numbers nationwide.
Bryant isn't all home runs, though. He's walked a San Diego-record 62 times, stolen seven bases and committed just nine errors all season.
The Rockies and Bryant are such a perfect fit that if the Rockies had the No. 1 overall pick and the chance to select Appel or Gray, they might still go with Bryant.
Picking fourth means the Minnesota Twins will likely miss out on the draft's top three prospects: Appel, Gray and Bryant.
On the plus side, it frees them from the shackles of having to pick one of those players. From their spot, they could go in any number of directions.
If they are seeking a seasoned hitter, UNC's Colin Moran will be there for the taking. If they prefer another high-upside player in the Byron Buxton mold, there's two waiting to be plucked in Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier.
More than likely, Minnesota will be going after the top available pitcher. Right now, it looks like they could have eyes for prep right-hander Kohl Stewart.
Stewart is a pretty good consolation prize, offering mid-90s heat and arguably the best breaking ball in the draft. He is an exceptional athlete who has front-of-the-rotation stuff.
On a related note, the Twins happen to lack a true ace.
This is the perfect example of need meeting best available player.
The Indians are off to a surprising start under first-year manager Terry Francona, and while their winning ways might not last the summer, Cleveland fans should sleep well knowing they have a top-five selection to drool over.
The best-case scenario for Cleveland is that they are able to have the opportunity to select from a pool of impact bats. As it stands right now, it seems like they'll get the chance to choose from a group that includes North Carolina's Colin Moran, Georgia prep stars Meadows and Frazier and possibly D.J. Peterson from New Mexico.
While Frazier and Meadows offer the highest ceiling, it's Moran who offers the highest floor, meaning he's their best-case scenario pick.
If Bryant dropped off the face of the earth, people would realize just how amazing Moran's 2013 campaign has been.
A .357/.485/.579 line, 13 homers, 84 RBI and nearly three times as many walks (55) as strikeouts (20).
If that was the case, however, it's likely he wouldn't make it to Cleveland's pick at No. 5.
Apparently the Miami Marlins corporate cutbacks that began with the purging of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and John Buck will extend to this year's draft.
Baseball America has already reported that the team will attempt to rein in their spending by negotiating a pre-draft deal with a player who isn't expected to be drafted in the top 10 picks. According to BA draft guru Jim Callis, that could be Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley or high-school catcher Reese McGuire.
New Mexico's D.J. Peterson has also gotten some love at this spot, and he seems to be the perfect fit.
For starters, Peterson should logically slot in somewhere in the 10-20 range. If he gets popped as early as sixth overall, it's a safe bet that he would be signing for less than slot. Second, while he would technically be a money pick, few prospects offer as much offensive potential as Peterson, who has hit over .400 the past two seasons.
He gets above-average grades for both his hit tool and power, and it's easy to see him developing into a .290-.300 hitter who slugs 30-35 homers annually.
The Marlins best-case scenario would be getting a player who doesn't resemble a money pick, but who really is.
A few months ago, Loganville High's Clint Frazier was getting some love as a candidate for the No. 1 overall selection.
One would have to assume he's still in the running, but with so many big-league ready prospects positioned to go inside the top five, it's looking more and more likely that Frazier will be one of the players who slips.
At pick No. 7, the Red Sox would be thrilled to scoop up a player who has been compared favorably to both Mike Trout (speed/power combo) and Bryce Harper (tenacity and passion for the game).
Frazier offers some of the loudest tools in this year's draft and could be the perfect centerpiece of the new Red Sox farm system.
Flush with cash and a player-friendly bonus pool, the organization should have no problem signing him either.
Picking eighth, the Kansas City Royals would love to have a shot at any of the top college arms and could very easily go that route.
At the same time, once Appel and Gray are off the board, the college crop looks a whole lot weaker. There very well may be some value to Shipley, Stanek and Manaea, but none of them have the ceiling of some of the top high school players.
It's still early, but it seems like K.C. got burned on Bubba Starling, although he has looked strong coming back from Lasik surgery, so they'll likely avoid the Meadows route.
California high schooler Phil Bickford has come on strong of late and could go as high as pick No. 5 or 6. The Royals would love to have a chance at him at No. 8.
Bickford has an easy delivery, mid 90s heat and two potential above-average secondary pitches. He's got a ceiling as a No. 2 starter.
With Gerrit Cole drawing closer to the majors, the time could be near for a major restructuring of the Pittsburgh Pirates' big-league rotation.
It only makes sense then for the team to utilize its two first-round selections to pick up one or possibly two arms that are close to big-league ready themselves.
Nevada ace Braden Shipley could be available with the ninth pick, but he likely won't be on the board when the team picks again at No. 14, so if the Pirates feel good about him, they'll need to pounce on him with the pick they acquired for failing to sign Appel last year.
A seasoned college vet, Shipley offers great velocity and two potential above-average secondary pitches. He's got a ceiling as a No. 2 or 3 starter, and he would slot in nicely behind Cole and Pittsburgh's contingent of veteran starters led by Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett.
The ace of a struggling Nevada squad, Shipley has looked incredible, accounting for nearly one-third of the Wolfpack's victories, while racking up 102 strikeouts in 107.1 innings.
The Toronto Blue Jays love them some high school prospects.
They really love high school pitchers.
They really, really love left-handed high school pitchers.
Enter Indiana high school prospect Trey Ball, who could very easily be gone by the time the Jays pick at No. 10, but whose availability would make the front office downright giddy.
A two-way star who could probably warrant first-round consideration as a position player, the left-handed Ball is destined to star on the mound. He's incredibly polished on the mound for someone who plays both ways and has as high a ceiling as any prospect in this year's class.
His fastball sits in the low 90s, and he complements his heater with an above-average changeup.
These two parties are as close to a perfect match as Kris Bryant and Colorado.
The New York Mets will be shopping for a high-upside bat with their first pick in this year's draft, and if things fall their way, they could be looking at a pool of talent that includes several.
Austin Meadows seems to be losing some helium, and as such, a slide down to pick No. 11 doesn't seem as unlikely as it would have a few months ago.
Meadows offers speed, power, defensive ability and has more polish than New York's 2012 pick Gavin Cecchini or 2011 first-rounder Brandon Nimmo, and drafting him would give the Mets quite a nice young foundation to build around.
For a team anxious to change their losing ways by building through their farm system, Meadows seems the obvious choice, even if it takes several years of minor league seasoning to see any progress.
For too long, Seattle has been content to back-load their rotation with a collection of over-the-hill pitchers (Aaron Harang and Joe Saunders) and unproven rookies who are usually rushed into action before they're ready (Brandon Maurer).
It's time to finish building an impressive collection of arms to slot behind staff ace Felix Hernandez.
The addition of Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.35) is a step in the right direction, and the trio of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton represents a ton of promise, but Seattle could use a pitcher who could contribute right now.
The candidate most likely to assume that role is Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek.
The M's are familiar with Stanek, considering they selected him in the third round back in 2010, and three years later, they'd be getting a polished product capable of stepping in almost immediately.
Stanek has shown some inconsistency this season, but he appears to be peaking at exactly the right time. His most recent start against LSU in the SEC tournament was a real gem. The right-hander tossed eight innings of six-hit ball, striking out four, leading Arkansas to a 4-1 victory.
For the year, Stanek is 9-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 90 innings.
Watching J.P. Crawford play is a thing of beauty.
He's graceful, agile and has a Howitzer attached to his right shoulder. There's no doubt he is head and shoulders above every other shortstop prospect in this class. And oh yeah, he can hit.
The San Diego Padres have been seeking out high-upside players the past few years and have been undaunted by the Donovan Tate disaster. Their recent efforts have netted them two high-upside arms in Joe Ross and Max Fried.
Now it's time to turn the focus back to position players and put Tate in the rearview for good.
Like most teams picking in the teens, the Padres would love a shot at Austin Meadows, D.J. Peterson and Clint Frazier. All three figure to be gone by the time San Diego picks at No. 13, leaving Crawford as the most logical selection.
He would eventually shore up a position of need for the Padres, who have been forced to fill the spot with Jason Bartlett, Everth Cabrera, Miguel Tejada and Luis Rodriguez the past half-decade.
On paper, Washington prep catcher Reese McGuire is a top-10 talent.
He has the tools to develop into an above-average defender behind the plate and has the potential to hit for a decent average with plenty of pop at it.
As such, the Pittsburgh Pirates would have to have a lot of things fall their way to have a shot at selecting him with the 14th overall pick in the draft.
If they do get the chance, they'll have no qualms about taking arguably the most talented all-around high school catcher prospect to come through the draft in five or six years.
Getting a polished college arm who could provide instant help, as well as a young, promising talent like McGuire would give the Pirates another A+ draft.
Picking 15th overall doesn't afford the Arizona Diamondbacks with many opportunities to pick up a true game-changing talent.
Most of the players with middle-of-the-order or front-of-the-rotation talent will be gone, and considering there's always at least one team that throws a wrench into everyone's plan by going off-board, it seems unlikely that they'll find what they're looking for.
Lucky for them, then, that Junipero Serra High's Dominic Smith will likely be available.
Smith has flown under the radar leading up to draft day, but more than any other high schooler, he seems a safe bet to reach his ceiling.
That ceiling, the Diamondbacks will be happy to know, is as a .290-.300 hitter capable of slugging 25-30 homers per season.
And don't for a second forget that he possesses Gold Glove potential at first base.
Smith has been compared to Houston Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton, although there's no doubt that Smith has better defensive chops at first base.
The Philadelphia Phillies' roster isn't getting much younger.
Cliff Lee is 34 years old, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick are pushing 30, and with the inevitable departure of Roy Halladay, their rotation could use a boost of young talent.
Too bad they dealt away their most big-league ready prospects: Jarred Cosart to Houston and Trevor May to Minnesota
Twenty-one year old Jesse Biddle has pitched like a big leaguer so far this season, but he only has 10 starts above High-A, and the jump from Double-A to the majors rarely goes smoothly.
Enter Alex Gonzalez, a late-rising prospect who could work his way into the top 15.
Drafted back in 2010 by the Baltimore Orioles, Gonzalez has put together a nice run at Oral Roberts, and this season, especially, has wowed scouts with a simple delivery that produces solid low 90s heat and two impressive secondary pitches, including a slider that could become a devastating out pitch.
Gonzalez has been firing on all cylinders, so far, posting a 9-5 record, a 1.83 ERA and a 126-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
To get a polished pitcher like Gonzalez with the 16th pick would be a no-brainer for Philly.
Before the season, Indiana State southpaw Sean Manaea was touted as competition for Appel in the battle for the No. 1 overall spot.
He has since ceded that honor to Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray, and unfortunately, put together an unimpressive junior campaign that has dropped him out of top-10 consideration and possibly the first round altogether.
Leaving his most recent start with shoulder tightness likely won't help his cause.
Luckily, there will be a team or two out there that remembers the kind of pitcher Manaea was before all the attention. Last summer in the Cape Cod League, the left-hander looked downright dominating and head and shoulders above the rest of the college crop.
The Chicago White Sox don't normally make logical decisions like this, but it would be in their best interest to take a shot on Manaea, whose "inconsistent" campaign has resulted in a 5-4 record, a 1.47 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 73.1 innings.
Selecting a high school pitcher with their first-round pick has become somewhat of a inevitability for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In fact, seven of their past 11 first-round selections have fit that description, including Zach Lee (2010), Chris Withrow (2007) and some guy named Clayton Kershaw (2006).
Madison High's Ian Clarkin has quietly kept his name in first-round consideration, despite a late-season onslaught of talent encroaching on his territory.
Clarkin has the stuff (low 90s fastball and plus curveball) and the mentality to pitch near the front of the rotation and could be a steal for whichever team gets him in the bottom half of the first round.
Two years after settling for a back-end-of-the-rotation starter (Chris Reed) with the 16th pick, Los Angeles could get a pitcher with a much higher ceiling two years and two picks later.
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the savviest drafting teams in baseball. They always manage to find useful parts, despite nearly always picking in the bottom half of the first round.
Well, here they are again, picking 19th overall.
The Cards' front office prides themselves on identifying a player and sticking to their guns, and that mentality has resulted in Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn, all current members of the St. Louis pitching staff. And don't forget Kolten Wong and Michael Wacha, two of the top prospects at their respective positions in baseball.
While it will be tempting to once again go the pitching route, the Cards will get an unexpected surprise if Mississippi State's Hunter Renfroe falls into their lap.
Renfroe is the kind of player whom St. Louis loves: a seasoned hitter with good defensive value. Most importantly, he's just a pure gamer.
He's been a one-man wrecking crew for the Bulldogs this season, hitting .352 with 14 doubles, 15 homers, 54 RBI and nine steals.
His late-season slump could scare off several teams picking in the latter part of the first round, but St. Louis knows better.
For all the talk of how the 2013 draft class is weak compared to previous years, there are actually some positions that have incredible potential and depth.
One of those is catcher, where Reese McGuire, Jon Denney and Nick Cuiffo all project somewhere in the first round.
Yukon High's Denney would be an excellent fit here for Detroit, who clearly values offensive potential over defensive ability. Just take a look at their corner infielders.
That said, while Denney offers an impact bat, he also contributes behind the plate.
His arm has produced some of the best pop times of any catcher in this year's class, and for a high schooler, he's pretty polished overall.
If he reaches his ceiling, he'd be an offensive upgrade over both Brayan Pena and Alex Avila, while not sacrificing too much on defense.
The Rays are another team that has grown comfortable drafting late in the first round, and they have built up quite a collection of talent with picks ranging from the early 20s to the supplemental rounds.
Because of their on-the-field success, they've had to go about drafting in a different way, as most surefire impact players are off the board by the time they pick.
Every so often, like what happened last year with right-hander Taylor Guerrieri, a player falls out of favor and drops to them.
This year's version of Guerrieri is Florida right-hander Jonathan Crawford.
Crawford entered the season as a potential top-five pick, but has had such a bad season he's all but dropped out of first-round consideration.
But really, what has changed?
Yeah, his stats (3-6, 4.03, 64-to-33 K-to-BB) look bad, but he still offers the same mid 90s heat and an above-average breaking ball, right?
Lost in the shuffle of fast-risers Alex Balog and Alex Gonzalez and fast-droppers Sean Manaea and Chris Anderson is Gonzaga lefty Marco Gonzalez.
Gonzalez entered the season as one of the top lefties and stands out for not only his stuff, but his polish.
He is widely regarded as a player who should get to the big leagues quickly and stay there, establishing himself as a mid-rotation fixture for years to come.
The Orioles have seen way too many promising pitchers come and go through their rotation the past few years (Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz just to name a few), and it would be nice to have a safe guy like Gonzalez lock down a spot.
On the season, the smallish (6'1'', 185 lbs) Gonzalez has posted a 2.80 ERA and racked up 96 strikeouts in 106 innings.
Like St. Louis and Tampa Bay, the Texas Rangers have also become adept at finding talent late in the first round.
Last year, Texas made a run on toolsy, high-risk, high-reward outfielders, but this year, they'll go back to their roots and scour the country for the top pitchers who have been overlooked by teams picking inside the top 20.
Left-hander Cody Reed is just that kind of player.
He is bursting with potential, despite being stashed away at Northwest Mississippi Community College for the past two years.
Make no mistake, though, Reed is ready for the big time. Thanks to his 6'5'', 220-pound frame, he looms over hitters, and that's before he starts firing 95-97 mph bullets.
Reed has gone 16-5 the past two seasons for NWMCC, racking up an astounding 10 complete games and one no-hitter in the process.
The Oakland A's have never been a team to bend to the will of the consensus.
That maxim especially applies to their efforts in the drafting process.
As such, there's no telling who Oakland prefers, especially when the A's are picking relatively late in the first round.
Notre Dame infielder Eric Jagielo seems to fit the kind of prospect they're always looking for. He's an on-base machine (.395/.506/.649 this season) who offers good power and decent fielding ability.
Other players like Fresno State's Aaron Judge, Samford's Phillip Ervin or juco product Tim Anderson might seem like higher-ceiling prospects, but Jagielo is just too perfect a fit to bypass.
Let's face it, Buster Posey isn't going to remain at catcher for much longer, regardless of what he and the organization say.
It's only a matter of time before the team finds and grooms his replacement, and Posey moves off to first base.
It just so happens that picking 25th overall positions the San Francisco Giants perfectly to scoop up whichever of the talented high school catchers falls on draft day. The way this draft has gone leaves them with Nick Ciuffo of Lexington High in South Carolina.
Built similarly to Posey, Ciuffo also has similar tools. He's an incredible athlete capable of playing multiple positions, and he has sensational hitting ability. He's shown great leadership, and like Posey, makes all of his teammates better, especially the pitchers.
Once Reese McGuire, Jon Denney and Ciuffo are off the board, there isn't much to write home about, meaning the Giants would be wise to strike while there's still oil.
The New York Yankees have toyed with the idea of in-house replacements for Derek Jeter, who clearly doesn't have much tread left on his tires, but they have yet to make a real commitment to a player as the heir apparent at shortstop.
This year, their draft positioning should allow them to do just that.
Despite the incredible weakness of the shortstop crop in this year's class, there are a few players who stand out at the position, namely Tim Anderson of East Central CC in Mississippi.
Anderson is an elite athlete with enough talent to remain at shortstop. He also has plus speed, and in time, he should evolve into a decent enough hitter to get on base and utilize his wheels.
Make no mistake, Anderson is nowhere near what Jeter was at the time of his drafting, but New York has got to start somewhere.
The Cincinnati Reds love toolsy outfielders...
Jay Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, and, in previous years, Drew Stubbs, Josh Hamilton and Chris Dickerson.
Heck, they love them so much, they've turned their top prospect, a toolsy infielder (Billy Hamilton), into one.
Outside of Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, Billy McKinney is arguably the next best, most toolsy high school outfielder.
In fact, scouts at the Under Armour All-American game last summer called McKinney's swing even better than Frazier and Meadows.
His bat has impact potential, and he already offers good defensive value and great speed. He's drawn comparisons to David Murphy, a .280 hitter who projects to 15-20 home runs and roughly the same number of steals.
After tabbing Hunter Renfroe with their first selection of the first round, the Cards can dip back into the pool for another late-rising prospect, San Francisco right-hander Alex Balog.
At 6'6'', 225 pounds Balog has always had the size to wow scouts, but it hasn't been until this year that he's really opened their eyes with his stuff.
After sitting in the high-80s to low-90s as a high schooler, Balog now sits 93-95 while occasionally scraping 96-97 mph. Better yet, he's managed to get some sink on his fastball, making a pitch that was already tough to hit given his height, even tougher.
Balog would slot in nicely behind the Cards' other homegrown starters.
Getting an impact bat in Renfroe and still being able to pick up a mid-rotation (at worst) starter is truly the best-case scenario for St. Louis.
After once again striking it rich with another late first-round find (Jonathan Crawford), the Rays still have a pick early enough to get a similar player, Stanford's Austin Wilson.
Wilson has had an up-and-down career at Stanford, but he has the tools to be a big-time slugger at the big-league level. Unfortunately, he's shown so much inconsistency that it's hard to imagine any team wanting to shell out a top-10 bonus to him.
For starters, yes, he has a ton of power potential. That's what happens when you're 6'5'', 245 pounds. But as we all know, big guys tend to have strikeout issues, and that label definitely applies to Wilson, who has struck out 118 times in three seasons.
And while he's a pretty graceful athlete for a guy his size, one has to wonder how long he'll be able to avoid becoming a regular on the disabled list with that much weight on his frame.
Still, considering his loud tools and his pedigree, there's little chance that Wilson falls this far, so if Tampa Bay gets the chance to, it needs to scoop him up.
Getting two players widely regarded as top-10 talents before the season began at picks No. 21 and 29 has to be considered a best-case scenario for the Rays.
It doesn't seem likely that more than three catchers will be drafted in the first round, but if there is, expect that player to be Eustis High's Chris Okey.
Okey is an under-the-radar backstop who has the complete package.
Simply put, Okey has the defensive chops and the hitting ability to develop into an All-Star caliber catcher, and that's the kind of player whom any team would be lucky to get at the bottom of the first round.
At first glance, Okey reminds of Alex Bregman, who spurned a 29th-round offer from Boston to sign with LSU a year ago. Bregman has emerged as one of the top hitters in college baseball this season, and there's ample reason to believe that Okey could do the same if he heads to Clemson.
Texas has had a virtual black hole at the catcher position for the past few years and could groom Okey as the long-term solution.
The Atlanta Braves have been so good at drafting late in the first round that you almost get the feeling that they wouldn't know what to do with a top-10 pick if they had one.
Well, here they are again, making their first selection with one of the last few picks of the round.
No team in all of baseball has been more committed to drafting pitchers from the college ranks in the first round than Atlanta, which makes the chances that they utilize this pick on whichever of the top college pitchers remains on the board.
If the draft plays out this way, they're looking at Marshall right-hander Aaron Blair.
Blair is a big, hard-throwing righty who can touch 94-95 mph with his fastball and complements the pitch with an above-average changeup.
Blair has struck out more than a batter an inning for Marshall this season, while accounting for one-quarter of their victories and their only complete game.
The Braves know all too well how injuries can decimate a rotation, necessitating a stockpile of starting pitchers, so Blair would really be a best-case scenario pick.
The New York Yankees have a fantastic opportunity to stockpile some talent with three of the last eight first-round selections.
Getting a franchise-type shortstop has to be one of their top priorities, but picking so late likely won't afford them much of an opportunity. JUCO star Tim Anderson is likely going to be as good as they get and if they have a chance to select him, they'll likely have to do so with their first pick.
As for their second and third selections of the round, they have to go with the best available players.
In this mock, that means Phillip Ervin, a potential 20 HR/20 SB talent who would be a great fit in one of the corner outfield spots and right-hander Jason Hursh, a flamethrower from Oklahoma State whose fastball rivals that of Mark Appel and any other pitcher not named Jonathan Gray.
Scouts seem to be divided on Ervin's ceiling, but the truth is, he's a pretty safe selection. He's hit .337 for Samford this year, with 14 doubles, 11 homers, 58 runs scored and 21 steals. He'd be an excellent find at pick No. 32.
Hursh, on the other hand, has put together a great season (6-4, 2.65, 84 K in 102 IP) and showed great improvement of his secondary pitches. If he doesn't stick in the rotation, where he has a ceiling as a No. 3 starter, he could be a shutdown reliever.
The Milwaukee Brewers lost their first-round selection in this year's draft for signing Kyle Lohse, who has already lost more games this season (five) than he did all of 2012 (three).
The best-case scenario for Milwaukee, whose first pick doesn't come until the 54th overall selection, would be to get a player like California prep lefty Matt Krook, who had some first-round helium a few weeks ago, but whose inconsistency has some scouts concerned.
Their concern might drop him out of the first round altogether.
The left-handed Krook has good size, great velocity and spins a great breaking ball.
He'd be a perfect fit for a Milwaukee farm system that has traded away so much pitching talent the past few years.
Picking for the first time, five picks after the Brewers, the Los Angeles Angels forfeited their first-round selection in exchange for signing Josh Hamilton.
Much like Milwaukee, Los Angeles hasn't seen much production from their investment, making their selection all the more important.
Right-hander Andrew Thurman, from University of California-Irvine, would be an exceptional pickup for Los Angeles. A seasoned pitcher with great velocity (91-95 mph) and solid command of three other pitches, Thurman shouldn't need much time in the minors.
His command has been demonstrated in the form of a 91-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
His ceiling is as a No. 3 or 4 starter, but he seems a pretty safe bet to make it to the majors, something that can't be said of many prospects selected after the first round.
With the 68th overall selection in the 2013 draft, the Washington Nationals are the last team to pick.
Their best-case scenario is that they can get a high-upside player who slips out of the first round for any number of reasons: signability, injury, etc.
Florida prep first baseman Nick Longhi falls into the first category.
Commitments to LSU aren't hard to break, but it's becoming increasingly common for prospects to honor their verbals to the university. Recent players who passed on big bonuses include Kevin Gausman and Alex Bregman.
Longhi could be in for a similar fate.
Fortunately, the Nationals have become accustomed to having to deal with tough signing parameters. They're one of the few teams to seek out Scott Boras' clients, and over the past few years, they've signed a handful of them, including Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and last year's pick, Lucas Giolito.
Washington and the sweet-swinging, smooth-fielding Longhi could be an excellent match.