2011 MLB Draft: Where Are Bryce Harper and Top 10 Picks of Last Year's Draft?
Being a top draft pick does not necessarily mean you will have instant success at the next level. You go from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a massive ocean and for some players, that is too much to handle.
The expectations can loom large on a player's shoulders and they can fold under the pressure.
Early round draft picks also put huge dents in a team's payroll. Just ask the Washington Nationals, as they have had to fork over quite the pretty penny to sign Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
First-round draft picks are looked at as the cornerstone of a franchise. They are players that are envisioned as capable of turning a struggling franchise around and bring a new life to their team.
Is this in the cards for these young prospects? We will just have to wait and see.
1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
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Ever since Bryce Harper graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, he was destined to take the MLB by storm. The ceiling was set so high for this teenager that it almost seems as if it almost unreachable.
After going No. 1 in the draft, Harper is living up to the hype in A-ball. In 42 games, the 18-year-old is hitting .346 with an OBP of .429 and an OPS 1.056. It seems as if he still is the big fish in a small pond.
Harper has also hit 10 HR and 13 doubles. Harper is living up to the bill.
After inking a five-year deal worth $9.9 million, Harper tore it up in Spring Training with the big boys, hitting .389. This kid is worth every penny.
2. Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates
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When the Pirates drafted Taillon out of The Woodlands High School in Texas, they saw a top-of-the-rotation starter in the 19-year-old. He has been compared to Josh Beckett and boasts a 99-mph fastball. This kid is the real deal.
After signing $6.5 million signing bonus, Taillon has appeared in six games this season for the Pirates A-ball affiliate. Through those six starts, he is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA. The most amazing statistic is his K:BB ratio. Through 24 innings, he has an impressive 20:4 K:BB ratio. His stuff is electric.
While it will be quite some time until he reaches the MLB, this kid will be quite the star when he makes his debut.
3. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
The future of the Orioles infield was drafted in 2010 when the O's selected Manny Machado. Baltimore has been missing that power bat in the infield for quite some time, and Machado is the answer.
Machado was looked at as the best High School positional prospect in the draft and has been compared to Alex Rodriguez.
Scouts have said that his glove is just a bit above average, but his bat is off the charts.
In 25 games in A-ball, Machado has hit .333 with five HR and 21 RBI. He has committed four errors in 23 games at shortstop, but with time and practice, he will become a more sure-handed infielder. Let's not forget just how bad Derek Jeter was fielding was in the minors when he first was drafted.
Machado is looking to be quite the prospect in the O's farm system. He could be the answer Baltimore is looking for to turn the corner and become a force in the AL East once again.
4. Christian Colon, Kansas City Royals
The Royals were looking to add to their extensive farm system with the fourth overall selection in 2010.
With names like Mike Moustakas, the recently promoted Eric Hosmer and Aaron Crow, the Royals are looking to be a force in the future.
Colon is being looked at as the future of their middle infield. So far in 2011, he is only hitting .257 with only five extra base hits. He has stolen eight bases in 12 chances and only committed six errors.
With Colon and Moustakas manning the left side of the infield and Hosmer at first, the Royals boast a top-notch infield.
5. Drew Pomeranz, Cleveland Indians
The Indians might have found the best pitcher in the draft with Pomeranz. Coming out of Ole Miss, he signed the highest signing bonus for a college pitcher at $2.65 million.
He is breezing through high-A-ball. In eight games, he is only 1-1, but boasts a 2.09 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Let's not overlook his K/9 ratio at 12.6.
The Indians are making some noise this season even with their future ace of the staff just starting his trek through the minors. This kid will be the best thing to happen to Cleveland's pitching staff since Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia.
6. Barret Loux, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Barret Loux with the No. 6 pick, but failed to sign him after he failed a physical with the team medical staff.
Obviously, a red flag showed up and the Diamondbacks decided to let him pass and in return gained a compensation pick in next year's draft.
The Rangers took a chance on Loux and signed him to a deal. At high-A-ball, he has a respectable 3.40 ERA and an impressive 9.8 K/9 ratio.
Arizona's loss appears to be Texas' gain.
7. Matt Harvey, New York Mets
The Tar Heels have a habit of producing some top-notch talent. Dustin Ackley is one of the more recognizable names to come out of Chapel Hill.
Matt Harvey has done quite well this season. He has only allowed one earned run in 16 innings and has a 3-0 record. Talk has been circulating of him becoming the closer of the future for the Mets, which would work quite well with K-Rod most likely leaving town.
The kid has some nasty stuff, with a fastball that tops out at 97 mph. He could really make some noise when he reaches the big leagues, and we all know the Mets could use some hope for the future with the recent gray cloud looming over Citi Field.
8. Delino DeShields Jr, Houston Astros
DeShields is a speed demon with the ability to hit line drives to all fields. Outside of that, his scouting report doesn't peg him as a future All-Star.
He has been compared to the Rockies prospect Eric Young Jr., but that doesn't instill too much confidence.
With the Astros A-ball club, DeShields has whiffed an astounding 42 times in 157 at bats and only walked 16 times.
For someone with "plus-plus speed", he has only swiped eight bases and been caught seven times.
The potential is there, but there is still some real work to be done.
9. Karsten Whitson, San Diego Padres
Whitson decided that he wasn't ready to make the jump from High School to the bigs and declined to sign with the Padres and elected to attend the University of Florida. The two sides just didn't see eye-to-eye when coming to terms with just how much the 6'4" right-hander should sign for.
During his freshman season with the Gators, Whitson went 7-0 with a 2.47 ERA and struck out 71 while only walking 21.
Even though his resume in High School was impressive—striking out 123 in 55 innings—the time he spends in the tough SEC will only help better prepare him for his MLB career and get him that pretty penny he deserves.
10. Michael Choice, Oakland Athletics
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The A's and General Manager Billy Beane drafted Michael Choice with the No. 10 selection in the draft and this kid fits just what Oakland needs. He brings speed and power to a lineup lacking that powerful punch.
Choice has performed well in high-A-ball this season to the tune of a .247 BA and nine HR. Even though the average is low, the OBP sits at a pretty .360. If he can cut out some of the K's that he racks up—58 in 170 at-bats—he could really turn some heads.
Not only does Choice bring a solid bat to the table, but he is a stellar outfielder.
Once again, it looks like Billy Beane and Co. found themselves a gem on draft day.