The Houston Astros will most likely claim the top spot in next year's draft as they are on pace for their worst season in club history. They are on pace to beat the 1975 Astros who finished with a record of 64-97.
With every bad there is a little good and that is the Astros will have the number one pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Worry not Astro fans, there are some good potential prospects for that top spot. I have put together five potential candidates that the Astros could pick next year.
Deven Marrero is the starting shortstop for Arizona State and will be entering his junior year next year. Last year he won Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He has hit .349, eight home runs and 62 RBI over 96 games his first two seasons at ASU.
Keith Law even picked Marrero as his number one pick next year, which can be seen here.
Diamond Prospects put together this scouting report on Marrero:
The 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Deven Marrero is a plus-plus defender at shortstop. He has great range and smooth actions while utilizing his plus throwing arm to make tough plays look easy. He has a solid approach at the plate and quick hands that allow him to make consistent hard contact. He has the potential to hit for above-average power for a shortstop and profiles as a prototypical No. 2 hitter. However Marrero has just average speed on the basepaths and could slow down even more if he continues to fill out. Marrero didn't regress as much as Kenny Diekroeger in his sophomore year but he could jump into consideration for the top pick with a better year in 2012.
Lucas Giolito is a right handed pitcher who committed to UCLA after high school. He is already 6'7' and has a 96 mph fastball.
Diamond Prospects says this about Giolito:
No 2012 prep pitcher has more upside than Lucas Giolito and he is definitely one of the top follows over the next year.
With a good senior season, he could easily be the Astros top pick next year.
Mark Appel is a right handed pitcher who has spent the past two seasons at Stanford University. The MLB Draft Guide wrote this scouting report on Appel:
Mark Appel is generally considered the top college pitcher returning for 2012 and a likely top 5 selection in the 2012 draft. He is a power pitcher with a big frame. Appel has good arm speed and an easy delivery. Appel’s fastball is generally 93-95 and has been as high as 98. His top secondary pitch is a swing and miss slider. He also throws a change with good movement and a cutter.
At 6'5" 200 pounds he is a big, strong pitcher who I think projects as a front of the rotation pitcher and should be at the top of the 2012 Draft.
Mark Appel could be competing with teammate Kenny Diekroeger, Stanford's starting shortstop, for the top spot next year. Diekroeger had a great freshman year and regressed a little bit last season but with a good junior year and the Astros need for middle infielders, he could be the pick.
This is the scouting report from Diamond Prospects on Kenny Diekroeger:
One of the top high school prospects in the 2009 draft Kenny Diekroeger stands out for his elite athleticism. He has plus speed and range at shortstop and has improved greatly at the position since his high school days. He should be able to remain there in the future as his slightly above-average arm is helped greatly by his superb athletic ability. Diekroeger has quick hands that allow him to have great bat speed. He projects to hit for solid power along with plus average. However he struggled at the plate this year for Stanford, which could partially be due to the new bats. If Diekroeger can return to his freshman year form at the plate and continue his excellent work in the field, he could be selected within the Top 5 picks in the 2012 draft. If his struggles remain, though, his stock could drop to the back end of the 1st round.
Lance McCullers is considered one of the top pitchers in 2012 even though he may be physically smaller than some of the other pitchers on this list, standing at 6'2". His father, also named Lance McCullers, pitched in the majors for seven seasons for the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers.
This is the scouting report from Diamond Prospects:
McCullers is considered to have the best arm in the 2012 prep class, despite measuring in at a relatively small 6'2". His father pitched seven seasons in the Majors and although Lance is also a top prospect as a third baseman, his future as a pro is on the mound. He has an extremely quick arm that allows him to pump mid 90's fastballs with late, boring action. He has touched 99 MPH and it is easily a plus-plus pitch. The righty compliments it with a plus power curveball that could become plus-plus in due time. The difference in him ending up as a frontline starter or a dominant closer is whether he develops his change-up. Right now it is an average offering but it has plus potential and I believe it will get there as he works on it more after high school. His command is a little shaky now but it shouldn't be a problem heading forward with his career. With a special arm, McCullers has all the makings of a No. 1 starter and should easily go in the Top 5 picks of the 2012 draft.
The Astros have had a history of staying away from high school players but it is hard to ignore the talent this kid has and I think is the favorite to be the Astros' pick in the 2012 Draft.