2011 MLB Mock Draft 2.0...High Schoolers Included!!
Don't let the ridiculous pants fool you...
Left-hander Daniel Norris has some serious skill and is starting to gain some helium with his sights set on being a top-five pick in next year's MLB draft.
You can check out my high-school-less mock draft, but this is the new and improved draft, complete with all the prep studs who have thrust themselves onto the big stage.
You'll also notice I've added some player comps. These aren't necessarily who each player should turn into, but they are models of who the prospects are most similar to in terms of size, tools, and personality. Think of them as best-case scenarios for each player.
Let's get to it!
1) Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
Rendon still is, and should be, the Orioles' top choice with the number one pick that they're only a handful of games away from securing.
Okay, I'm just kidding...about the pick thing, not Rendon.
Rendon was recently named Baseball America's College Player of the Year after putting up a ridiculous .394/.530/.801 line. His 26 home runs ranked second in the nation, and his 85 RBI ranked him tied for fifth.
The third baseman joined Robin Ventura as the only players to receive Freshman of the Year honors and Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons.
And don't forget to factor in the glowing quotes from his Rice coach, who granted is a tad biased, that claim Rendon has very Brooks Robinson-like skills at third base.
With the recent drafting of Manny Machado, the Orioles would have one of the best up-and-coming left-side infields in all of baseball.
I don't foresee anything happening to change the O's mind on this one.
Comparison: Evan Longoria
2) Pittsburgh Pirates: Matt Purke, LHP, TCU
In case you haven't noticed, Matt Purke is earning himself a crap-load of money in the College World Series.
After picking up his 14th win against Texas in his second CWS start, in which he tossed 7.2 innings of three-hit ball with 11 strikeouts, Purke dominated Florida State in his first CWS final, striking out seven in seven innings.
In three NCAA tournament starts Purke is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 21 innings. The scrawny lefty is averaging seven innings each time out and has turned TCU from a "happy to be here" story into a serious national title contender.
The Pirates must have been watching. They've now swapped spots with the Indians and are the only team besides Baltimore to have fewer than 10 victories on the road this season.
Pairing Purke with 2010 first-round pick Jameson Taillon would just be unfair.
Comparison: Clayton Kershaw....but slightly better.
3) Houston Astros: Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS, TN
Following this past weekend's Perfect Game showcase, Daniel Norris has emerged as the top prep pitching prospect heading into the 2011 draft.
Norris' bio states he tops out at 6'2" and 180 pounds, and while that might be fudging the numbers, there's no diverting attention away from Norris' stuff.
He features a low 90s fastball that tops out at 94-95 and a very good curveball. He's working on a changeup, but obviously as a high school junior hasn't had to use it that much.
Example A was his Friday night start that sent Science Hill to the state tournament. Norris struck out 13 batters in a three-hitter. On the season Norris has held hitters to a .110 batting average and has 135 strikeouts in only 61.1 innings.
The one knock on Norris has been his control. He's also walked 37 batters this year, and he tossed a no-hitter while issuing nine walks earlier in the year. He managed to strike out 18, so most of the free passes went for naught, but the concern is still there.
Norris is a rising senior, so he has plenty of time to reign in his erratic fastball and maybe gain a little weight. He certainly has plenty of helium pretty early though.
And he's the kind of high-ceiling prospect that the Astros just can't pass up.
Comparison: Tim Lincecum....but not as good
4) Cleveland Indians:Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
The Longhorns may have faded in the CWS, but Jungmann will head into 2011 with as much helium as any college pitcher.
He has the size—6'6" and 200 pounds,the repertoire—a mid-90s fastball and two possibly above-average breaking pitches, and the long line of Texas hurlers going for him.
Jungmann finished the season 8-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 120 innings. That actually qualifies as a setback from his 2009 campaign in which he went 11-3 with a 2.00 ERA, but to be fair Jungmann faced more conference opponents this season.
Jungmann could be a workhorse and an excellent sidekick for Drew Pomeranz.
Comparison: Jeff Niemann...but better
5) Arizona Diamondbacks: Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS, CA
Henry Owens has the pitcher's body that Daniel Norris lacks.
And that singular fact could end up pushing Norris into the number one prep spot by the end of 2010, but for right now he ranks second. But he is still a top-five talent and a real find for the D-Backs at number five.
Owens stands 6'5" and has plenty of room to grow in terms of weight and maybe a little in terms of height, which is scary for a kid who already deals in the high 80s.
Clearly the high 80s have been enough, as Owens struck out 127 batters this year in only 87.2 innings, compiling a 9-3 record.
Owens' team lost in the state tournament to the team that featured 2010 draft pick Peter Tago, even with the lefty pitching a three-hit complete game, striking out 12.
Owens also features much better command of his fastball, curveball, and changeup than Norris does, but until he can crank his heater up a few notches, he'll remain a notch lower.
Comparison: Madison Bumgarner....but with better breaking ball and slightly worse fastball
6) Seattle Mariners: Danny Hultzen, RHP, Virginia
Virginia's loss in the CWS super-regionals didn't do anything to put a damper on the draft prospects of right-hander Danny Hultzen.
Touted as a early-round pick as early as last year, Hultzen breezed through the ACC this season and notched a 11-1 record. His 2.78 ERA led the Cavs and his 123 strikeouts ranked in the top 10 nationally.
The 6-3 righty has now put together a 20-2 career record with 230 strikeouts in 202 innings.
Hultzen features a low 90s fastball, an above-average curveball, and a very promising changeup.
He also features excellent command and issued only 52 walks in his two seasons as a Cav.
Hultzen could be one of the safest bets in the 2011 draft and is a sure-fire pick to go in the top ten.
Comparison: Mike Minor
7) Kansas City Royals: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
Anybody who watched last night's TCU-UCLA contest saw Bruins ace Gerrit Cole dominate the Horned Frogs.
UCLA is now 2-0 in the CWS and is one win away from the championship series.
Cole struck out 13 over eight innings, walking only two, and worked out of one heck of a jam in the seventh. He did allow three runs, but aside from that bases clearing triple he was nearly unhittable.
Cole famously turned down the Yankees' offer in the 2008 draft and chose instead to pitch for UCLA. After watching him toss 97 mph heat in the eighth inning, you have to feel that he made the right choice.
The win was Cole's 11th of the season, and he lowered his ERA to 3.26.
With mid 90s heat and a pretty solid slider, not to mention one of the smoothest deliveries in the draft, Cole should be a pretty safe bet to go top ten.
Cole had signability concerns in 2008, and that probably won't change during his second go-around, but the Royals have shown they have what it takes to pony up for pitchers in the draft.
Comparison: Tommy Hanson
8) Milwaukee Brewers: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
Everybody assumed that since the Brewers' pitching at the big league level was so thin, they would reach for a big league-ready arm in the 2010 draft.
They didn't necessarily do that, drafting Dylan Covey, a high school arm, but their inevitable awful 2010 season will give them a chance for a do-over.
With their second chance they would be wise to take a look at Vandy's Sonny Gray.
Gray struggled a bit in the CWS as Vandy's ace, but he still put together quite a solid season, and as good as it was he'll still have plenty of room to improve his draft stock come next June.
Gray features mid 90s heat, impressive for a guy who stands 5'11" and 195 pounds. He's also got a great slider and a pretty decent changeup that can only get better.
His command is a bit spotty, as his 48 walks this season testify to, and his delivery isn't the most sound, so cutting down his walks should be something he'll make a big goal of in 2011.
Gray represents probably the safest college pick behind Hultzen, and while his size could make him wind up in a bullpen one day, he should be given every chance to start in an organization like Milwaukee.
Comparison: Roy Oswalt
9) Chicago Cubs: Ricky Oropesa, 3B, USC
Ricky Oropesa is a personal favorite of mine.
Playing for a pretty sad USC team that gets very little attention on campus, Oropesa has done nothing but mash for the two years he's been a Trojan.
The third baseman was originally drafted by the Red Sox with their 24th round pick, but he chose instead to sign with USC. Since then, he's hit 33 home runs, including 20 this year, driven in 115 runs and hit for a career average of .336.
He's turned into a doubles machine, and projects for above-average power at the big league level.
He's got decent size (6'3" and 225), but he won't make Cubs fans forget about Aramis Ramirez at third, so a position change could be in his future. His bat would profile quite well at first base.
No doubt, the Cubs could use a franchise cornerstone in the infield, and there's no telling if Josh Vitters is going to be that or not, so Oropesa is the guy.
Comparison: Dayan Viciedo
10) Washington Nationals: Archie Bradley, RHP, Muskogee HS, OK
Number two overall pick Jameson Taillon isn't the only guy drawing comparisons to Josh Beckett.
Archie Bradley has the skills to end up as a top-three pick when all is said and done, and you can almost guarantee that he'll end up as a Boras client, thus making him a tough sign.
Hence the drop to number 10.
Bradley is 6'4" and about 210 with a fastball that reaches into the low 90s, topping out at about 94-95 mph. His bread and butter are his off-speed pitches though, as he has some of the most advanced off-speed stuff of the high school class.
Bradley also features excellent command, something that helped Taillon rocket up draft boards early in the draft season.
He's still so young, so there's still a bit of projection left in his frame, and if he can dial up his fastball a few more mph, he could challenge Rendon for the number one spot.
Most likely comparison: Jameson Taillon