The 2013 MLB Draft kicks off this Thursday, with the Houston Astros once again holding the No. 1 pick in the draft a year after taking high school shortstop Carlos Correa first overall.
Day one of the draft will feature 73 selections, with the first round (picks 1-33), competitive balance round A (picks 34-39), second round (picks 40-68) and competitive balance round B (picks 69-73) being completed.
Predicting the MLB draft, more so than in any other sport, remains a complete crap shoot, but here is my take on how things might shake out on day one. I have provided analysis on each of the 33 first-round picks as well as my projected selections for the remaining 40 picks of the day.
*Special thanks to Mike Rosenbaum for his great working putting together the following player-comparison videos on each of the top potential picks in this year's draft.
Some have pointed to the Astros drafting of Carlos Correa last year as a sign that they'll reach for someone like Colin Moran with the first pick, but I think their need for a long-term ace will be enough to compel them to grab one of the two big college arms.
While Mark Appel may be more polished and closer to big league ready, Jonathan Gray is not far behind on either front and has the higher ceiling of the two.
The big right-hander is the definition of a power pitcher with a fastball that can reach triple digits and solid secondary stuff.
In 16 starts this season, he's 10-2 with a 1.59 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 119 innings of work.
A recent positive test for Adderall could be reason enough for the Astros to think twice, but when all is said and done I think he's the pick here.
The rebuilding Cubs are clearly in need of high-end young pitching, and even if the Astros opt to go a different route with the No. 1 pick than Jonathan Gray, I think Appel is the pick here.
Taken by the Pirates with the No. 8 pick last year, the Scott Boras client passed on a $3.8 million signing bonus and opted to go back to Stanford for his senior season.
His demands will no doubt be high once again, but as a senior he no longer has the leverage of another year of college eligibility, so he'll sign one way or another.
As polished as he is, if the Cubs can come to terms with him early enough he could wind up being the first player from this class to reach the big leagues.
In 14 starts this season, he's 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 106.1 innings and is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.
Hands down the best bat in college baseball this season, Kris Bryant out-homered a number of teams all by himself on his way to leading the nation with 31 home runs, 10 more than anyone else.
Whether his glove sticks at third base or winds up playing a corner outfield position remains a question, but it does little to affect his value as his offensive tools are what will make him such a high pick.
He hasn't faced the best competition at the University of San Diego, but with a 6'5" and 215-pound frame he profiles as a 30-HR, 100-RBI guy if he can make the transition.
In 62 games this season, he hit .329/.493/.820 and drove in 62 runs with 13 doubles and three triples to go along with the impressive home run total.
A 4-star recruit and the No. 15-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country, according to Rivals.com, Kohl Stewart is currently committed to Texas A&M to play both football and baseball.
However, considering he's the consensus top high school pitcher in the MLB draft and would likely have to redshirt while sitting behind reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, it's hard to imagine Stewart not opting to go the baseball route at this point.
His mechanics need some work, but he brings a level of athleticism to the mound that few pitchers possess, and he has the stuff to be a solid No. 2 starter at the big league level.
The Twins certainly need pitching, and if Gray or Appel don't fall to them here, they're best suited going with the high ceiling of Stewart over one of the other college arms in the class.
North Carolina had one of the best college teams in the nation this season, and third baseman Colin Moran was without question their best player.
The most polished bat in the draft class, Moran has flashed more power this season, boosting his draft stock and making him a sure-fire top-10 pick with an outside shot at being taken No. 1 overall.
The bloodlines are there, as his uncle was 19-year big league veteran B.J. Surhoff, and he fills a clear need in Cleveland with Lonnie Chisenhall looking like a bust at third base.
After hitting .365 last season, Moran has hit .348/.478/.557 this year with 13 home runs and and Division-I best 86 RBI.
The starting shortstop at Nevada his freshman year, Shipley hit .287/.370/.375 while posting an 8.71 ERA over five appearances on the mound.
The following season he made the move to the mound full-time, and the results were better than anyone could have expected, as he went 9-4 with a 2.20 ERA and 8.6 K/9 mark as one of the NCAA's breakout stars.
Considered by most to be the best college arm after Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel are off the board, he would help a Marlins team with no shortage of needs up and down their roster long-term.
The right-hander is 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 107.1 innings of work in 15 starts this season, and even if the Marlins go a different route he likely won't fall out of the top 10.
Most mock drafts out there have the Red Sox taking Clint Frazier, and with good reason, as he has the skills to be a difference maker in the Boston outfield alongside Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz a few years down the line.
With impressive raw power and perhaps the best bat speed in the entire draft, Frazier profiles as an athletic middle-of-the-order bat. He's a center fielder now, but his average arm strength and speed could mean a move to one of the corners.
After hitting 24 home runs as a junior, he batted an impressive .485 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI as a senior this spring.
The premier two-way player in this year's draft, Ball has first-round tools as a left-handed starter or an outfielder, and it remains to be seen which route he goes as a pro.
On the mound, the 6'6", 180-pound southpaw has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s with a slider and changeup that have plenty of room for development.
In the outfield, he has a smooth swing and should possess power to all fields as a continues to develop. The team may opt to get a longer look at him before making a decision on where to put him, but my guess is he winds up on the mound.
Drafting high school catchers in the first round is always a risky proposition, as only Joe Mauer and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have established themselves as big league starters among high school backstops taken in the first round since 1995 (h/t Zachary Ball).
That said, it's hard not to like what Reese McGuire brings to the table and the Pirates have been linked to him throughout the draft process this season.
Already the premier defensive backstop in the draft and a potential future Gold Glove winner, his offensive game improved significantly this spring, and as a result he has separated himself from the rest of the catching pack.
A friendly rival of fellow Georgia high school outfielder and potential top-10 pick Clint Frazier, there is a lot to like about Austin Meadows, and he would be a welcome addition to a Blue Jays' farm system that was thinned out with their offseason of trading.
He profiles as potential five-tool talent, though there is some question as to how much power he'll develop, and his floor is higher than most high school bats.
The left-handed hitter batted .535/.633/.930 during his senior season with 14 doubles, one triple and four home runs while also swiping 17 bases.
Taken in the third round by the Mariners out of high school three years ago, Ryne Stanek has refined his game at the University of Arkansas and ranks as one of the top college arms in the class.
The Mets have other, bigger needs, but the right-hander may be too good to pass up at this point in the draft and would give the team another high-upside young arm alongside Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard.
He went 10-2 record with a 1.39 ERA as a junior this season, and while he doesn't have overpowering stuff (7.3 K/9), he managed to hold opponents to a .207 average. His off-speed stuff still needs refining, but the talent is there for him to be a plus middle-of-the-rotation arm relatively soon.
A big shortstop at 6'2" and 180 pounds, J.P. Crawford is the consensus top player at the position in this year's draft class and has the potential to develop above-average tools across the board.
He is a smooth fielder and should have no problem staying at shortstop long term, but he'll be something of a project offensively and will need time in the minors.
The Mariners have a pair of young middle infielders in Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin, but neither of them have locked down their respective positions at this point. Crawford would give a Mariners team on the rise a potentially elite prospect at a premium position.
Hunter Renfroe has come a long way since last season, when he hit just .252 with four home runs and 25 RBI in his sophomore season at Mississippi State.
After a strong showing last summer, he emerged as one of the nation's most dangerous hitters this season. There are still some holes in his game, but given how far he's come in the past year, there may also be room for more significant improvement.
Either way, in a weak class of college bats, his numbers speak for themselves as he hit .352/.440/.634 with 15 home runs and 58 RBI this season. For a Padres team on the rise, he provides a potential impact bat capable of reaching the majors rather quickly if all goes according to plan.
Maybe the best pure hitter in the draft class, DJ Peterson would fill a need for the Pirates down the road regardless of what position he winds up playing.
First baseman Garrett Jones is already 31 and third baseman Pedro Alvarez is perhaps the most wildly inconsistent hitters in the league, so adding Peterson to the mix would be a good move.
His numbers are certainly hard to ignore, as he hit .408/.520/.807 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI as a junior this season. He may be the first bat from this draft class to reach the majors.
The last pitcher drafted out of Oral Roberts is currently Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner, and it is safe to say that Alex Gonzalez has a bit more upside than his fellow alum.
He relies heavily on a terrific cut fastball and slider combination, and depending on how well his changeup develops he could wind up as a late-inning reliever in the big leagues.
For now though he's a starter, and he went 9-5 with a 1.83 ERA in 15 starts as a junior this spring. The last time the White Sox took a college arm in the first round it was Chris Sale, so they'll be looking to strike gold again here.
A big right-hander at 6'4" and 225 pounds, Chris Anderson was a mixed bag this season at Jacksonville University, but he has the projectable frame and plus stuff to be a mid-first-round pick anyway.
With a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and a plus slider among his four-pitch arsenal, Anderson could wind up as a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter if he can gain some consistency.
He finished the season 7-5 with a 2.48 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 104.2 innings over 14 starts, and his .231 BAA and 2.3 BB/9 have certainly helped his draft stock.
Being limited defensively to playing first base generally hurts a potential draft prospect's stock, but in the case of Dominic Smith his bat is good enough that it can be overlooked.
He projects more as a pure hitter and run producer than he does a future 40-HR threat, but there is some pop there and he should be an all-around above-average producer at the position.
The White Sox have an aging Paul Konerko currently manning first base and nothing in the way of a long-term replacement for him, so Smith could be the answer there. Even with his polished offensive approach he'll need a few years in the minors, but he would give a White Sox team in need of rebuilding a piece for the future.
With a vastly improved curveball, Ian Clarkin has shot up draft boards this spring, as the improved off-speed stuff has led to dominant numbers across the board.
The left-hander was 9-2 record with a 0.96 ERA with 132 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 72.2 innings in his senior season at James Madison High School.
Clarkin has a strong commitment to San Diego and could be a tough sign, but the Dodgers have gone above slot before in the first round to land a high school arm when they took Zach Lee a few years back, and if they made the pick here they would likely do whatever it takes to bring him in.
The star of the Cape Cod League last summer, Sean Manaea went 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 51.2 innings against the top amateur talent in the country.
He was named the league's top pitcher and top pro prospect for his efforts, and he entered this season at Indiana State as a potential No. 1 overall pick.
His stock has dropped due to some minor injuries and a decrease in his velocity, but he has electric stuff when he's on and could be an absolute steal if he falls this far.
The big left-hander was 5-4 with a 1.47 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 73.1 innings this season, holding opponents to a .190 average.
A right elbow injury early in the season cost Stanford slugger Austin Wilson some time this season, but upon his return he once again flashed the offensive tools that made him one of the top college prospects in the nation entering the season.
At 6'5" and 245 pounds he is a physical specimen in the batter's box, and he has drawn comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton for his size and high offensive ceiling.
The Tigers will need a replacement for Torii Hunter in right field after the 2014 season, and while they will likely need a stopgap before Wilson is ready, he could be the long-term answer there.
The Rays' need at catcher is one of the most glaring at any position for any team in baseball, as they have nothing in the way of a notable prospect in the system and a below-average veteran stopgap in Jose Molina at the big league level.
While they would love to get their hands on Reese McGuire, he'll be long gone by the time they pick here at No. 21, and if they opt to go catcher it will likely be a choice between high schoolers Nick Ciuffo and Jon Denney.
Both have solid upside at the plate, but Ciuffo is the better receiver and, for a Rays team that values defense more than perhaps any team in the majors, that will be the deciding factor.
After taking a backseat to last year's No. 5 overall pick Kyle Zimmer at San Francisco last season, Alex Balog has made a name for himself this season.
The 6'5" right-hander is a workhorse with a four-pitch arsenal that is highlighted by a fastball that can reach 96 and a slider/curveball combination that both rank as potential plus pitches.
His numbers weren't all that impressive, as he was 3-4 with a 3.63 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 91.2 innings, but he is a projectable arm with a relatively high floor given his repertoire.
One of the best prep bats in the draft class, Billy McKinney profiles as a corner outfielder who will have a plus hit tool and should develop at least average power.
Compared to current Rangers left fielder David Murphy, the Rangers could opt to keep the Plano West star close to home, and he would give them a relatively safe prep bat with terrific makeup.
As a senior, he hit .372/.585/.663 with 15 extra-base hits and 17 RBI in 86 at-bats, and he should be off the board some time at the back-end of Round 1.
There has been no faster riser among the high school ranks this spring than Phil Bickford, as he has perhaps the best fastball among prep arms and a projectable frame at 6'4" and 200 pounds.
His secondary pitches, a slider and changeup, both need work but they also both have the potential to be above-average to plus pitches. He's far from a finished product and is not necessarily the prototypical A's draft pick, but his ceiling it just too high to pass up here.
He closed out his high school career with a one-hit, 18-strikeout performance in the division championship game, and he ended his senior season 12-1 with 146 strikeouts in 84.2 innings of work.
At 6'7" and 240 pounds, Aaron Judge has plus-plus raw power and in a draft weak on impact bats, his potential alone should be enough to make him a late-round pick.
His stats don't exactly jump off the page, considering he played in a weak conference at Fresno State, but they are impressive nonetheless. As a junior this season, he hit .369/.461/.655 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI while going 12-for-14 on stolen base attempts.
The Giants' farm system is thin, and they as much as anyone would be willing to take a risk on someone like Judge in hopes he taps into his vast power potential.
A player whose stock has been on the rise this spring, Tim Anderson went from a toolsy athlete heading into the season to a more polished all-around baseball player in his senior season.
Now that's not to say he's not still a work in progress, as he'll need as much time as any first-round pick in the minors to develop, but with an impressive toolbox and given the fact that he plays a premium position, he may well be worth the wait.
He hit .495 to lead all of D-II Junior College hitters while playing at East Central Community College in Mississippi. He added 10 home runs, 45 RBI, 63 runs and 41 stolen bases, though he did commit 21 errors at shortstop.
The son of former MLB All-Star closer Bryan Harvey, who recorded 177 saves over nine big league seasons, Hunter Harvey has the bloodlines to make an impact at the big league level.
He's far from just a name though, as he has a projectable 6'3" frame and a terrific fastball/curveball combination, making him one of the best prep arms in the country.
His mechanics need work, and he'll be a project of sorts, but the high ceiling is there and he is as sure a thing to sign as anyone seeing as he does not have a college commitment at this point.
One of the few preps from the Midwest garnering first-round consideration, Devin Williams has a strong commitment to Missouri but should be better off going the pro route.
With a 6'3" frame that has plenty of room to add strength, his fastball should sit in the mid-90s consistently down the road. He pairs that with one of the better changeups in the class and a curveball that is still raw but has the potential to be a plus pitch.
There are prep arms still available at this point with a little more upside, but the Cardinals tend to err on the side of picking more polished players, and the local kid makes sense here.
A two-way player for Gonzaga, the future will be on the mound for left-hander Marco Gonzales after he impressed in the Team USA rotation last summer.
His stuff is not overpowering, but it is as polished as any arm in the class, and with a fastball that sits in the low-90s and a changeup that already rates as a plus pitch, the control pitcher should move quickly once he signs.
He was 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 106 innings this season, while also leading the team with a .311 average and driving in 26 runs at the plate.
Though he doesn't have the projectable frame most first-round prep arms do, Robert Kaminsky makes up for it with a solid three-pitch repertoire and advanced pitchability at an early age.
He is currently 9-0 with a 0.14 ERA after throwing a complete-game shutout in the state playoffs last Friday, and he's struck out 119 batter in 64 innings.
While those numbers are impressive, they're taken with a grain of salt considering he's playing lesser competition on the East Coast. However, coupled with his performance on the showcase circuit last summer, it's enough to make him a first-round pick
For a Braves team without a long-term answer at third base following the retirement of Chipper Jones last offseason, taking a college bat like Eric Jagielo certainly makes sense.
There is some question as to whether he will stick at the hot corner defensively, but even if he winds up at a corner outfield spot, he's still a good value at this point with average and power from the left side of the plate.
The Big East Player of the Year, he hit .388/.500/.633 with nine home runs and 53 RBI this past season, and while he could be off the board earlier if a team is looking for a college bat, he's a good fit here.
Committed to the University of Tennessee where his father Dave Serrano is the head coach, it is looking less and less likely that right-hander Kyle Serrano will ever suit up for his dad.
Drawing comparisons to Dylan Bundy for his polished mechanics and plus fastball/curveball combination coming out of high school, Serrano has been climbing draft boards all spring and looks like a safe bet to go in the first round.
The Yankees are thin on pitching prospects at this point, and Serrano could immediately become the top arm in their system if he falls to this spot.
While the Yankees already have a high-upside catching prospect in Gary Sanchez, Oklahoma high schooler Jon Denney may be too good to pass up here, and an organization can never have too much catching depth.
The 6'2" and 205-pound hitter has some of the best bat speed in the draft, and while his receiving skills still need some polish, he has a terrific throwing arm and should be able to stick at the position.
The Yankees have always been a team willing to draft on upside and take a chance, and Denney could easily wind up being the best catcher of this class.
34. Kansas City Royals: Andrew Thurman, RHP, UC Irvine
35. Miami Marlins: Oscar Mercado, SS, Gaither HS (Fla.)
36. Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt Krook, LHP, St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.)
37. Baltimore Orioles: Jonathan Crawford, RHP, Florida
38. Cincinnati Reds: Michael Lorenzen, OF, Cal State Fullerton
39. Detroit Tigers: Aaron Blair, RHP, Marshall
40. Houston Astros: Cavan Biggio, 2B/3B, St. Thomas HS (Texas)
41. Chicago Cubs: Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU
42. Colorado Rockies: Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss
43. Minnesota Twins: Connor Jones, RHP, Great Bridge HS (Va.)
44. Miami Marlins: Hunter Dozier, SS/3B, Stephen F. Austin
45. Boston Red Sox: Hunter Green, LHP, Warren East HS (Kent.)
46. Kansas City Royals: Phil Ervin, OF, Samford
47. Toronto Blue Jays: Tyler O'Neill, C/SS, Garibaldi SS, Maple Ridge (B.C.)
48. New York Mets: Jason Hart, OF, Parkview HS (Ga.)
49: Seattle Mariners: Ryan Boldt, OF, Red Wing HS (Minn.)
50. San Diego Padres: Jason Hursch, RHP, Oklahoma St.
51. Pittsburgh Pirates: Dustin Peterson, SS/3B, Gilbert HS (Ariz.)
52. Arizona Diamondbacks: Travis Demeritte, 3B/2B, Winder Barrow HS (Ga.)
53. Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew Mitchell, RHP, Texas Christian
54. Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan McMahon, 3B, Mater Dei HS (Cal.)
55. Chicago White Sox: Cody Reed, LHP, Northwest Mississippi CC
56. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jacob Brentz, LHP, Parkway South HS (Mo.)
57. St. Louis Cardinals: Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt
58. Detroit Tigers: Jacoby Jones, 2B/OF, LSU
59. Los Angeles Angels: Blake Taylor, LHP, Dana Hills HS (Cal.)
60. Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan "Rowdy" Tellez, 1B, Elk Grove HS (Cal.)
61. Baltimore Orioles: Clinton Hollon, RHP, Woodford County HS (Kent.)
62. Texas Rangers: Chris Okey, C, Eustis HS (Fla.)
63. Oakland Athletics: Tom Windle, LHP, Minnesota
64. San Francisco Giants: Thomas Milone, OF, Masuk HS (Conn.)
65. Atlanta Braves: Jordan Paroubeck, OF, Sierra HS (Cal.)
66. New York Yankees: Trevor Williams, RHP, Arizona St.
67. Cincinnati Reds: Trey Williams, 3B, College of Canyons (JC)
68. Washington Nationals: Andrew Knapp, C/OF, California
69. San Diego Padres: Carlos Salazar, RHP, Kerman HS (Cal.)
70. Colorado Rockies: Myles Smith, RHP, Lee
71. Oakland Athletics: Chad Pinder, 3B, Virginia Tech
72. Milwaukee Brewers: Kent Emmanuel, LHP, North Carolina
73. Miami Marlins: Christian Arroyo, IF, Hernando HS (Fla.)