2011 MLB Mock Draft: Projecting the First-Round Picks
The 2011 MLB draft is now less than a week away, and teams are starting to get an idea of how the first round will shake out.
Between Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole and Bubba Starling, there are plenty of big-name prospects to go around. But who will go where?
Here's my complete mock draft of all 33 picks in the first round.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
There's a lot of chatter saying the Pirates are going to take Danny Hultzen with this pick, but Cole is the top talent and could pitch in the majors tomorrow if needed.
Pittsburgh can't screw up another high draft choice, so at the end of the day, the 6'4" right-hander out of UCLA has to be the pick.
2. Seattle Mariners: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
A lingering shoulder injury has some teams concerned about Rendon, but the Mariners aren't one of them.
They'll happily take the best position player in the draft and stick him in the middle of the lineup alongside Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley in a couple of years.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks: Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
Hultzen has been climbing up draft boards because he's viewed as perhaps the safest prospect in the draft, even though his upside might be nothing more than a mid-rotation starter.
The Diamondbacks are also in on Bauer, Starling and Bundy if Hultzen does end up going No. 1.
4. Baltimore Orioles: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
The Orioles have one of the best young staffs in baseball and they'll get even better by adding Bauer, a hard-throwing righty with a fastball that gets up to 97 mph and a knee-buckling curve.
Those two pitches alone should get him to the majors, even if it isn't as a starter.
5. Kansas City Royals: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Royals are rapidly becoming a competitive team, and they'll be hard after a college pitcher who can help the big club by 2014 at the latest.
Gray has a phenomenal curve and a decent fastball, so he has the makings of a future closer, but he could also be a No. 2 starter if he adds a third pitch.
Kansas City could also go with Bundy here, because the high school pitcher is as polished as most of the college guys.
6. Washington Nationals: Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
The Nationals would love Bauer or Cole, but neither is likely to fall outside of the top five. That leaves Meyer, a 6'9" righty with a great fastball and slider.
Control problems could push Meyer out of the top 10, but the Nationals will be willing to gamble that he can be a No. 2 next to Stephen Strasburg in a few years.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (Okla.) HS
The Diamondbacks add to their haul of Hultzen earlier in the draft by taking Bundy, the best high school pitcher in the draft. The righty can hit 98 mph on the gun, but his most impressive pitch is a cutter that could one day rival Mariano Rivera's.
It shouldn't be long before we get to see it, as Bundy is more major league-ready than most college pitchers in this draft.
8. Cleveland Indians: Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn
Barnes has been all over draft boards. He has three major league pitches (fastball, curveball, slider), but he has serious control problems and all sorts of mechanical issues.
He's not beyond fixing, however, and the Indians really want a college pitcher. With the top four gone, Barnes could be the pick.
9. Chicago Cubs: Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgarton (Kan.) HS
Starling is the kind of five-tool star that teams dream of drafting, and for once, the Cubs' dreams could come true.
He's the best athlete in this draft and the Cubs actually have the financial backbone to get Bundy to give up his football scholarship to Nebraska (though it'll take at least $5 million).
10. San Diego Padres: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde (Fla.) Academy
The Padres need to draft someone who they know they can sign, and Lindor fits the bill.
The 17-year-old is a terrific shortstop with the ability to hit for average and some raw power. He's also the best infield prospect in the draft.
11. Houston Astros: Cory Spangenberg, SS, Indian River State College (Fla.)
The Astros would love to grab Lindor if he falls here, but they won't hesitate to take the second best infield prospect in Spangenberg.
He'll probably end up at third base or center field, and he has Michael Bourn speed with a smooth swing.
The new Houston ownership could also make a big splash by going over slot to sign Gray or Archie Bradley.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
Jungmann is a 6'6" righty with good control, a mid-90's fastball and a great curveball.
He'll be a decent starter in the majors and is viewed as one of the safer picks in this draft, but doesn't have the upside of the top college arms.
That's perfect for the Brewers, who aren't expected to go over slot.
13. New York Mets: George Springer, OF, Connecticut
Springer is a toolsy outfielder who can run, hit and field.
His swing is a major work in progress, however, and he could flame out like Carlos Gomez, the hot-shot prospect the Mets jettisoned in the Johan Santana deal.
If Springer works out, he could be New York's long-term replacement for Carlos Beltran.
14. Florida Marlins: Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
Bradley falls out of the top 10 because teams are going to have a hard time getting him to give up his scholarship to play football at Oklahoma.
That won't stop the Marlins from taking him, however, as they need a hard-throwing righty who has perhaps the best curveball in the draft.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU
The Brewers go offense with their second pick in the first round and grab a terrific college player in Mahtook.
The 6'1" outfielder showed tremendous power at LSU and has enough speed and defense to stick it at the major league level.
Spangenberg is the pick if Mahtook is gone already.
16. Los Angeles Dodgers: Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O'Dowd (Calif.) HS
The Dodgers may not have a ton of financial flexibility in this draft due to the McCourt saga, so they'll reach for a player like Ross here who they know they can sign.
Ross is a solid, yet unspectacular, pitcher with good mechanics and a promising arsenal.
17. Los Angeles Angels: Javier Baez, 3B, Arlington Country Day School (Fla.) HS
The Angels could go in several different directions with this pick, and with Lindor and Bradley gone, the pick could be Baez.
His scouting report reads a lot like Dallas McPherson's (awesome power and not much else), but the Angels do still desperately need a third baseman.
18. Oakland Athletics: Josh Bell, OF, Dallas Jesuit HS
Bell sent out a letter flatly telling teams not to draft him because he wouldn't sign, but with Scott Boras as his agent that's probably a bluff.
The A's don't have a single promising hitter to build around and Bell might be the best all-around hitter in this draft.
Plus, Oakland has shown the willingness to spend cash on the right player (Michael Inoa: $4.25 million signing bonus).
19. Boston Red Sox: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso (Fla.) HS
The Red Sox have been in on Bell, Springer and Barnes, but none of those three looks like an option at No. 19.
Fernandez is a pretty good consolation prize, as the righty pitches in the mid-to-high 90's with a good curveball and slider.
You can never have enough good pitching and Boston could stash Fernandez in the minors until the great triumvirate of Beckett, Lester and Buchholz is split up.
20. Colorado Rockies: John Stilson, RHP, Texas A&M
The Rockies have been linked to several players, but all of them are gone by this point. That leaves Stilson, a hard-throwing righty who can hit 99 mph on the gun and has good secondary pitches.
He projects as a reliever, and the Rockies would like to stop their revolving door at closer by plugging Stilson into that role in a couple of years.
21. Toronto Blue Jays: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley (S.C.) HS
The Blue Jays are going to take the best player available, and in this scenario, that's going to be Guerrieri, a prep pitcher with possibly the best raw stuff of any high school pitcher in the draft.
Command and delivery are still issues, but the potential is there for a frontline starter.
22. St. Louis Cardinals: Larry Greene, 1B, Berrien County (Ga.) HS
It's almost bad karma for the Cardinals to take Greene, but with the future status of Albert Pujols uncertain, there's no better insurance option in this draft than Greene.
The slugger has incredible raw power and could be looking at a Ryan Howard-type career if he cleans up the holes in his swing.
23. Washington Nationals: Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami Dade College
The Nationals want a hitter, and there's not much to choose from here, especially with Greene going off the board one pick earlier.
Goodwin is more of a speedster and contact guy than a pure hitter, but he's still a first-round talent who could one day roam the Washington outfield with Bryce Harper.
24. Tampa Bay Rays: C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah
The Rays lost their entire bullpen and a couple of big bats (Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett) in the offseason and were rewarded with three of the top 32 picks in this draft.
With their first pick, look for them to go offense by taking possibly the best power hitter in the draft.
Cron is an absolute masher who played catcher in college and could one day give Evan Longoria the lineup protection he's patiently been waiting to receive.
25. San Diego Padres: Anthony Meo, RHP, Coastal Carolina
The Padres love stockpiling arms, and in a hitter-weak draft, that's the perfect thing to do. Meo generates some serious velocity with his 6'2" frame and can get hitters out with either his fastball or slider.
He projects best as a reliever right now, and it might not be long until he steps into Heath Bell's shoes as San Diego's closer.
26. Boston Red Sox: Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland (N.M.) HS
Even with Jarrod Saltalamacchia starting to hit the ball a little bit, the Red Sox are still painfully thin at catcher at all levels of the organization.
Swihart is considered the best catcher in this draft and is a switch-hitter with good power potential. He'll be a hard sign, but the Red Sox have never been shy about throwing around some dollar signs.
27. Cincinnati Reds: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
The Reds have the best collection of young arms this side of Oakland, but not one of their current starters is a lefty.
Anderson could fix that, although he's not likely to be anything more than a back-of-the-rotation starter in the majors.
Grayson Garvin out of Vanderbilt and Henry Owens out of Huntington Beach are also possibilities.
28. Atlanta Braves: Levi Michael, SS, UNC
Michael is the best college shortstop in this draft and the Braves don't have a long-term answer at the position.
He's not a defensive whiz on the level of Alex Gonzalez, but he's a switch-hitter with pop who could hit in the heart of the order.
Henry Owens is another option if Atlanta decides to go with the best player available.
29. San Francisco Giants: Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State
The Giants may want to consider moving Buster Posey to a less hazardous position after what happened to him last week, but to do that, they'll first need to groom his future replacement.
Susac is the best college catcher in the draft with good power and a good glove. His swing is still a work in progress, but defensively he could be a starting catcher in the majors in a couple of years.
30. Minnesota Twins: Henry Owens, LHP, Edison (Calif.) HS
The Twins are now in full rebuilding mode and they've been linked to several high school pitchers with high upside.
Owens may be at the top of that list because he's 6'6" with three above average pitches and room for more.
Robert Stephenson, Tyler Beede, Michael Kelly and Daniel Norris are all in roughly the same boat at this point in the draft.
31. Tampa Bay Rays: Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
The Rays have been linked to Wong, a 5'9" second baseman who looks and plays like Dustin Pedroia.
He might be the best college hitter in this draft not named Anthony Rendon, and despite his small frame, Wong projects to have above-average power down the line.
32. Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Nimmo, OF, East (Wyo.) HS
The Rays have Desmond Jennings ready for the big show, but not much else in terms of major league outfielders in their system.
Nimmo is a terrific athlete who could've been a top 10 talent if he had played more (his high school doesn't even have a baseball team).
He'll cost upwards of $2 million to sign, but that shouldn't be a problem for the Rays, who have shown a willingness to spend money on prospects.
33. Texas Rangers: Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy (Mass.)
To close out the first round, look for the Rangers to add some more pitching to balance out a team that has once again gotten offensively lop-sided.
Beede has a strong commitment to Vanderbilt so he'll be a tough sign, but the Rangers have to like his upside as a potential No. 2 starter in the majors.