For the last two years, baseball has watched the Washington Nationals take the most hyped pitching and hitting prospects the game has ever seen with the 2009 and 2010 top overall picks in the MLB Draft.
This season, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be on the clock when the draft commences, and they find the pool talented, but without the name power of a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg. Though this year's class doesn't have the media coverage of the past two, there are still future All-Stars and MVPs in there.
These are the top 25 names on my board.
With the 25th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres select Trevor Bauer from UCLA.
In 38 appearances for the UCLA Bruins, Bauer is 21-6 with a 3.00 ERA. He struck out 257 with only 68 walks in 236.2 innings pitched and has been elected All-Pac-10 as a freshman and a sophomore.
Bauer also entered the 2011 season tied for eighth in most strikeouts in UCLA history.
With the 24th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays select Alex Meyer out of Kentucky.
Meyer was selected in the 20th round of the 2008 draft by the Red Sox, but elected to stay in school. His first two years were extremely disappointing. His command isn't where it should be, but he has posted impressive K/9 ratios each season.
There are still many questions about Meyer's control and longevity, but the talent is there, and he could develop into a very good starting pitcher down the road.
With the 23rd pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals select Dillon Howard.
Rivalshigh.com has Howard ranked as the eighth overall prospect coming out of high school this season and the top one from Arkansas.
He has a mid-90's fastball, mixes in a two-seam and he throws a curve/change that could both become plus pitches. He needs to develop consistency in his delivery to maintain success at the professional level.
With the 22nd pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals select Tyler Anderson out of Oregon.
Anderson features a low-90's fastball (topping out at 94), a plus changeup and a slider that needs some work.
He was selected in the 50th round of the 2008 Draft by the Twins, but went to college instead. Now, he is one of the more mature pitchers in the draft and could move through the minors fairly quickly.
Bell already possesses plus power and very good plate discipline. His lack of high-end speed probably means he will settle into a corner outfield spot.
He has a decent arm, is very accurate and could develop into a very good defender if he learns the angles to make up for what he lacks in speed.
With the 20th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Colorado Rockies select Anthony Meo out of Coastal Carolina.
Meo is 22-4 with a 2.75 ERA at Coastal Carolina. He has 162 strikeouts and 66 walks in 173.1 innings.
In the summer of 2010, Meo played for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball League. In five starts, he managed two wins, a 3.12 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.
With the 19th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Boston Red Sox select Andrew Susac out of Oregon State.
The Beavers' catcher was selected in the 16th round of the 2009 Draft by the Phillies, but did not sign.
He played in the Cape Cod league in the summer of 2010 and raked in totals of .290, five homers, 15 RBI and 13 BB in 29 games.
With the 18th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Oakland A's select Jackie Bradley Jr. out of South Carolina.
Bradley was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 College World Series. He was also named to the All-SEC team in 2010, and he was also a consensus Freshman All-America in 2009.
He hit .368 in 2010 with 13 home runs and a 1.060 OPS. There are some who believe he could be taken within the first 10 picks of the draft, especially if one team in particular falls in love with his skill set.
With the 17th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim select Archie Bradley out of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma.
Bradley might actually fall farther than this because he is also an elite quarterback prospect, and there are questions about his commitment to baseball. But someone might take a risk on him; he has committed to playing both sports at the University of Oklahoma.
He does boast a low-to-mid-90's fastball and a sharp knuckle curve. He is also reported to have excellent leadership skills and mental toughness.
With the 16th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers select Matt Barnes out of the University of Connecticut.
Barnes was thought to be a prospect in the 2008 Draft out of high school, but went undrafted. He went to UConn and quickly became one of the best pitching prospects available.
Barnes features an excellent sinking fastball, plus a developmental curve and slider. He was thought to be a potential top-five pick before the season started, but expectations have wavered a bit since then. Still, the Dodgers would get a bargain if he fell to them at this spot.
With the 15th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Milwaukee Brewers select Daniel Norris out of Science Hill High School in Tennessee.
Norris throws a sinking fastball, slider and change that he mixes effectively; the change might be his best pitch by time he reaches the majors.
He shows remarkable maturity on the mound for a high school pitcher, and the left-hander has the talent to become an ace at the major league level.
With the 14th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Florida Marlins select Mike Mahtook out of Louisiana State University.
Mahtook was taken in the 39th round of the 2008 Draft, coincidentally by the Marlins, but instead elected to take the scholarship offer from LSU.
He played center field in 2009, then moved to right in 2010. He has a big arm and plenty of speed to provide range.
Mahtook can drive the ball with authority to all fields and is already an excellent defender. He may move through the minors quickly.
With the 13th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the New York Mets select Blake Swihart out of Cleveland High School.
Swihart is a switch-hitting catcher with power from both sides and a plus arm behind the plate. He is an increasingly rare breed of catching prospect who can hit, and yet should still stay behind the plate for the duration of his career.
In a generation used to moving hitters to the outfield so they can come up faster, Swihart is most valuable to his organization by providing run production from the oft-weak catcher spot.
Jungmann throws a low-90's fastball with a potential plus slider and change. The concern comes from his delivery though. It can be inconsistent at times, and even when he's on, there is a lot of arm in the motion, which could risk future injury.
That being said, he has tremendous control, and at 6'6" and almost 200 pounds, he will be an imposing presence on the mound.
With the 11th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Houston Astros select Matthew Purke out of Texas Christian University.
I am low-balling here.
Purke could be a top-five pick. It sounds ridiculous, but as a freshman at TCU in 2010, Purke was 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 116.1 innings. He was Freshman All-everything including, Baseball American 2010 Freshman of the Year.
He has a reputation for being one of the toughest and most durable prospects in this year's class and is known for a high baseball IQ. This guy is going to be very good and should rise through the minors with some speed.
With the 10th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres select George Springer out of the University of Connecticut.
In 120 games for the Huskies, Springer has a career .347 average with 34 homers and 119 RBI. He has also stolen 45 bases in 50 attempts.
He is a good, if unspectacular, fielder and will probably settle in as a corner outfielder with power and an average arm by the time he makes it to the big leagues.
With the ninth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs select Dylan Bundy out of Owasso High School.
He has lived on a plus fastball in high school, but recently added a cutter to an arsenal that already included an improving change and a sharp breaking curveball.
There is concern about his delivery, as he stretches the arm farther than most scouts would like. The increased pressure could lead to injury, but for now, he is among the best pitchers in the draft class.
With the eighth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Cleveland Indians select Francisco Lindor out of Montverde Academy.
He's a shortstop with a good glove, very quick hands and surprising power. He won the Home Run Derby at the Aflac All-America Game in 2010. With deceptive speed, Lindor is a smart baserunner, and he projects as a 15 HR, 20 SB guy in the majors.
The only glaring problem with Lindor is his flair for the dramatic that can sometimes come at the expense of his fundamentals. But he possesses as much raw talent as any name in the draft and is certainly the top prospect at his position.
With the seventh pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks select Taylor Guerriera.
This might be the best high school pitcher in the draft.
Scouts rave about his dominant fastball, but he also has a plus curve. His command can be inconsistent at times, but the raw stuff is eye-opening, and he should progress into a very good professional pitcher.
With the sixth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals select Jed Bradley out of Georgia Tech.
He's 6'4", 225 pounds and in the Cape Cod Summer League, he threw 41 innings, posting an impressive 1.98 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.
His fastball can reach the mid-90's, but usually hangs out around 93. He also carries a plus slider and a change. The impressive thing is he is confident with them all and can throw any of them on any count.
With the fifth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Kansas City Royals select Sonny Gray out of Vanderbilt.
Gray throws a mid-90's fastball with excellent control and a slider that spikes into the 80's. He also has a changeup that still needs development, but could become a good third option.
Scouts and coaches say he pitches like a pro by setting hitters up and hitting his spots. He's a little undersized, so he might fall farther than he should.
But there's a guy in San Francisco who is the same height, 15 pounds lighter and he's still pretty good.
With the fourth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Baltimore Orioles select Bubba Starling.
This is the most hyped name in the draft. He is the top high school baseball player in the country, and he is also an elite quarterback prospect. He is committed to The University of Nebraska to play both.
Now let's note he has plus power, has been clocked under 4.4 on the 40-yard dash and has a 95 MPH fastball on the mound.
And Scott Boras is his adviser.
He could easily be the No. 1 overall selection, but there are always some questions about two-sport stars. Most likely, he falls to somewhere between fourth and sixth, and that team gets a steal in the best player in the draft.
With the third overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks select Danny Hultzen out of Virginia.
Control is the major attraction to this 6'3" southpaw. Hultzen throws a fastball in the low-90's that he can place perfectly. He also has a curve, split and a changeup.
Hultzen was a 10th-round selection in 2008 by Arizona. They liked him then, and by all reports, they love him now.
With the second pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Seattle Mariners select Anthony Rendon out of Rice.
Rendon has been ranked by some as a better prospect than Bryce Harper. He has been compared to Evan Longoria with a bat and Ryan Zimmerman with a glove.
Coaches rave about his work ethic, and he has excellent plate discipline.
With the first overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates select Gerrit Cole out of UCLA.
Cole has been clocked at 100 MPH, and he has a plus two-seam fastball and a plus slider. There is also a changeup in development that could prove to make him unhittable when paired with the fastball.
His delivery may cause some injury concern because of the strain on his arm, but Cole is a future ace and something the Pirates desperately need.