MLB Draft 2013: Breaking Down the Biggest Long-Term Projects

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2013

Austin Meadows could be a star down the line. Image courtesy of Grayson High School
Austin Meadows could be a star down the line. Image courtesy of Grayson High School

The MLB draft is one giant game of what-if. Even the winners whiff most of the time, so teams are going to use some of their several choices on prospects loaded with talent who still need years of fine-tuning.

Even the polished draftees typically require at least a year or two to blossom in the minor leagues. Most need plenty more, as is especially evident with teenagers jumping straight from high school.

Since the MLB Rule 4 Draft is a wild jungle, many franchises went for broke and grabbed players who might need four or five years to harness their skills. With some patience, these gambits might pay off.


Austin Meadows (Drafted No. 9 by Pittsburgh Pirates)

Things are looking up for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

They're currently sitting well over .500, potential future ace Gerrit Cole is on his way and Jameson Taillon is waiting in the distance. Now they have another top prospect in their arsenal after outfielder Austin Meadows fell in their laps at pick No. 9.

Fresh out of Grayson High School, the Georgian product is considered the prototypical five-tool talent. He probably won't match his 535/.633/.930 slash line from high school, but wow. That's good. 

If there's anyone in this class with 30/30 potential, it's the 18-year-old, but it will take him some time to grow into a legitimate power threat. At 6'3" and 215 pounds, he could stand to add some more muscle to his frame.

With Andrew McCutchen and Startling Marte lighting up PNC Park, the Pirates should not feel any pressure to call up the future star.


Dominic Smith (Drafted No. 11 by New York Mets)

When the New York Mets selected a first baseman with their first-round pick, many fans quickly began waving goodbye to the slumping Ike Davis. Well, let's listen to Amazin Avenue's Eric Simon and not assume that Dominic Smith's selection is a harbinger of Davis' departure.

By the time this new lefty first baseman arrives, Davis might be in his 30s. Although he sports a sweet swing and sky-high upside, don't start counting the days until Smith debuts.

The 17-year-old has a quick bat and a good eye at the plate, so much so that Bleacher Report's Adam Wells likened him to Adrian Gonzalez. 

Not that there are many holes in Smith's game, but he must run the minor league gamut before saving the fluttering Mets. It's also possible that they test him in the outfield, because even a 14-year-old could compete with what they currently have out there.


Hunter Harvey (Drafted No. 22 by Baltimore Orioles)

The son of former All-Star closer Bryan Harvey will look to follow into his father's footsteps, but in the starting rotation.

Hunter Harvey is set to jump right from Bandys High School to the show, but not before smoothing his mechanics and sharpening his breaking pitches.

At age 18, the lean 6'3", 175-pounder will need time to work on his seldom-used changeup in order to give him another secondary pitch to complement his curve. 

While it's hard to gauge his readiness after dominating high school competition, his command (especially of his off-speed offerings) could cause some concern against worthier adversaries. 

That's what the minors are for, and Harvey could morph into a future No. 2 starter if he fills out and works out all the kinks.