2012 MLB Draft Prospects: 10 Most Overrated Players in the 2012 Draft Class

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterMay 30, 2012

2012 MLB Draft Prospects: 10 Most Overrated Players in the 2012 Draft Class

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    The hype for MLB's first-year player draft never escalates to the same level as the hype for the NFL draft, but this is the time of year when it starts to build.

    With the draft just a few days away, now's the time for us to start asking all the questions that we ask before every other draft.

    Which players are going to be studs? Which are going to be duds? Which players are underrated? Which are overrated?

    We're gathered here today to answer that last question. Because the MLB draft deals in projection a lot more than other drafts, it's considerably more difficult to determine which players are overrated and which players aren't. There are, however, a handful of prospects who are very clearly not all they're cracked up to be.

    Here's a closer look at 10 overrated MLB draft prospects.

10. Alex Wood, LHP, Georgia

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    Big lefties who can throw hard fastballs are always going to be in demand, and that's exactly why Alex Wood is in demand.

    Wood checks in around 6'4" and 215 pounds, and his fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s. He can throw it as high as 98.

    This is great, but Wood doesn't bring much else to the table. His changeup is merely average, and his slider is below-average. He's been able to be successful in the SEC even without great secondary pitches, but he'll need to be able to rely on something other than his fastball in the pros.

    There are also concerns about Wood's arm, which has already undergone Tommy John surgery once and his delivery. Here's what Baseball America (subscription required) has to say about it:

    "When he lands on his right (lead) leg, he hops backward. It's odd to watch and will be difficult for pro pitching coaches to avoid changing."

    Basically, this hard-throwing lefty is going to be a heck of an experiment in the pros. Despite that, he has a shot to go in the supplemental round.

    If he does get drafted in the supplemental round, it better be by a team with clever pitching coaches at all levels of the organization.

9. Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M

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    There's no questioning the quality of Tyler Naquin's bat. He hit .381 this season, and at last check he was batting .384 this season (see Texas A&M's official site). The dude can hit.

    He just can't hit for power. Naquin has shown power in batting practice, but it has yet to translate in game situations. If it doesn't come along, he'll never be anything more than a line drive hitter with gap power.

    This is fine, but there are also questions about where Naquin is going to be able to play in the field once he turns pro. He plays right field, but Baseball America and other publications have noted that his lack of power makes him a poor fit for either corner outfield spot, and nobody really knows if he can play center field. 

    Naquin is a classic tweener. He has a great bat, a very good arm and he can run pretty well, but it's hard to determine where he's going to be able to put these skills to use. He's likely to be converted into a centerfielder, and things are going to be iffy for him if he can't hack it in center.

    It's very much possible that Naquin will have to settle for an ongoing role as a fourth outfielder who can run the bases and provide a few base hits here and there. For a guy who's going to be a first-round pick, Naquin's upside is surprisingly limited.

8. Matthew Smoral, LHP, Solon HS

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    There are things to like about Matthew Smoral. At about 6'8," he has imposing height that he uses to generate a fastball that can hit the mid-90s. He also has a funky three-quarters delivery that looks a little bit like Madison Bumgarner's.

    There are a couple problems with Smoral. He throws good hard stuff and he has a decent changeup, but Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com describes his slider as being "below-average." Other scouts disagree, but the fact that there's a difference of opinion at all is concerning in and of itself. It indicates that the quality of Smoral's primary breaking ball is very much open to interpretation.

    The bigger issue with Smoral is that he's injury-prone. He suffered a stress fracture in his foot earlier this season, and he's also had to deal with back issues and blisters.

    ESPN's Keith Law (Insider access required) thinks that the fracture and the back pain may have something to do with Smoral's height. He's tall, but he pitches like a shorter man, which is to say that he doesn't take advantage of his length.

    To fix this, Smoral may need a complete mechanical overhaul. That's fine, but using a first-round pick on him just to take on an experiment like that is awfully risky.

    Smoral is rated pretty highly by some publications (i.e. Baseball America), but there are simply too many question marks attached to his name.

7. Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS

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    Walker Weickel certainly has the look of a major league power pitcher. He stands tall at about 6'6" and weighs in right around 200 pounds, and he's got long limbs that help him pitch downhill and get right on top of the hitter.

    The only issue is that Weickel hasn't had his usual power stuff this season. According to Baseball America, Weickel has been hitting the upper 80s with his fastball instead of the low 90s, and scouts don't think the ball is exploding out of his hand like it has in the past.

    His fastball isn't the only concern. Weickel throws a 12-6 curveball, but it's more of a loopy breaking ball than a sharp breaking ball. Without a fastball in the 90s, he may as well be a right-handed Barry Zito.

    Weickel's track record makes him worth a first-round pick, and I think that's actually part of the problem. He's high on the draft radar because of the work he's done in high school and for USA Baseball, and now you have to wonder whether Weickel's arm is feeling the effects of a consistently heavy workload.

    Teams shouldn't draft this guy based on his track record. They should draft him based on what he's shown this spring, and that stuff isn't worth a first-round pick.

6. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

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    Mark Appel is a lock to go in the top 10 on draft day, and some would say he's a lock to go in the top five.

    A few others, such as Keith Law, think he's going to go No. 1 overall.

    The hype surrounding Appel is considerable, but here's the truth: He's far from being a perfect prospect.

    Appel has excellent size at 6'5" and about 215 pounds, and he can run his fastball up to the plate as fast as 98 miles per hour. He's got a very good slider, but he insists on throwing his changeup more often despite the fact it's merely average.

    The biggest red flag attached to Appel's name is the fact that he simply hasn't dominated like a guy with his stuff should be dominating. Baseball America summed it up by saying this:

    Hitters frequently square him up because, even with his arsenal, he's easy to see with his slow delivery, long arm action in the back, and a fastball that doesn't have a lot of movement. 

    For a guy who could go as high as No. 1 overall, the reality that hitters "frequently" square Appel up is more than a little discouraging.

    He's very good, and he deserves to be a high draft pick, but the hype is just too much.

5. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke

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    There's nothing wrong with Marcus Stroman's stuff. He's got a fastball that he can throw in the mid 90s, and he has a nasty slider that he can use to get swings and misses. He also mixes in a changeup and a cutter that are both solid.

    If you ask Jonathan Mayo (and others), Stroman looks like a Tom Gordon clone.

    There are a couple issues when it comes to Stroman, however. First, he's a little short at 5'9," and that makes me worried about how long he's going to be able to maintain his electric stuff, especially if he is used as a starter in the big leagues.

    It's therefore not a surprise that Stroman is being looked at as a reliever who could break into the big leagues as soon as later in the 2012 season. Down the road, he could be a closer.

    This is all well and good, but my gripe is that there's really no need to target relief pitchers so early in the draft. They're a dime a dozen, and some of the best relievers in baseball were late-round picks once upon a time (i.e. Craig Kimbrel). 

    Stroman will be a risky pick simply because of his undefined big-league future. There will be safer picks to be made.

4. Joey Gallo, 3B, Bishop Gorman HS

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    Joey Gallo has the kind of power that makes scouts drool. 

    If you go and check out a video on YouTube of him taking batting practice, you'll see why. Gallo looks huge standing next to the plate, and the ball just explodes off his bat.

    There are a couple red flags when it comes to Gallo, however. First, he swings and misses a lot. He may be a great power hitter, but he needs to get a lot better as a hitter if he wants to take advantage of his power at the big league level. As it is, Baseball America says that Gallo "sometimes looks overmatched against below-average stuff."

    Second, Gallo isn't much of a fielder. He has a good arm, but not a whole lot of range at third base. It's therefore possible that he'll need to change positions by moving over to first base. If that doesn't work out, he may end up being nothing more than a DH down the line.

    Gallo is going to go in the first round because of his plus raw power, but the signs point towards him being more of a batting practice star than an actual game star. There are a lot of guys like that on the draft board every year, so there's really no need for teams to reach for Gallo.

3. Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M

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    Opinions differ when it comes to the top college arm in the 2012 MLB draft class. But at the very least, it is agreed that Stanford's Mark Appel, LSU's Kevin Gausman and USF's Kyle Zimmer are the best of the bunch.

    And then there's Texas A&M's Michael Wacha. He's widely respected and is expected to be a high first-round draft pick, but he doesn't inspire as much excitement as the holy trinity of Appel, Gausman and Zimmer.

    Wacha has the size you look for in a major league pitcher, as he stands tall at about 6'6" and weighs in at about 200 pounds. His best pitch is his changeup, which is excellent, but he doesn't boast an electric fastball or an electric breaking ball. In fact, Baseball America is of the mind that Wacha's slider and curveball project as "no better than average" at the major league level.

    Without a plus breaking ball, Wacha's ceiling as a pitcher is limited. His experience makes him worth drafting in the first round, to be sure, but I think Keith Law said it best when he wrote that Wacha is a "safe" player.

    That's my issue with Wacha as a high first-rounder. Pitchers with ace potential should come off the board first on draft day, and it is very much debatable whether he has ace potential.

2. Stephen Piscotty, LF/3B, Stanford

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    Stephen Piscotty has a proven track record as a hitter. He specializes in hitting line drives, and he's posted good batting averages during all three of his years at Stanford. He led the Cape Cod League in hitting last year.

    The concern with Piscotty is that he may not be much of a power hitter. He has power in his bat, but it hasn't shown up in games. Keith Law thinks this has a lot to do with the hitting philosophy of Stanford's coaching staff, but Baseball America is of the mind that Piscotty will be more of a doubles threat than a home run threat.

    There are also questions about whether Piscotty is cut out to play third base. He's played more in the outfield this season, and moving him to third permanently will be an issue because of his lack of power.

    Piscotty therefore may end up being a bit of a tweener with limited power in his bat. It's no wonder that Jonathan Mayo compared him to Placido Polanco recently.

    With all respect to Polanco, he doesn't come close to fitting the mold of a perfect major league third baseman.

1. Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State

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    The perfect shortstop prospect is a guy who projects as an excellent fielder and an above-average hitter at the big league level. Players like that are relatively rare in the big leagues, so any prospect who looks like he could be a player like that has no trouble drawing attention.

    Deven Marrero is one of these guys. Scouts rave about his defensive abilities, as he has the arm, hands and range to handle shortstop duties in the big leagues with ease. He also has great instincts in the field.

    Marrero is supposed to be a good hitter as well, but he's showing this year that there's still plenty of work to do when it comes to his bat. Per Arizona State's official site, Marrero is hitting just .279 with a .438 slugging percentage this season, and it's not like he's facing SEC pitching day after day.

    Keith Law chalks Marrero's struggles this season up to a lapse in hitting mechanics. Baseball America had something even more damning to say about Marrero, and that's that he has looked "nonchalant" this season despite his struggles.

    Marrero will be a first-round pick simply because there aren't many other shortstops with his skill set, but he's bound to be over-drafted. Shortstops who go high in the first round should have unquestioned fielding and hitting skills, and the fact of the matter is that it's way too easy to question Marrero's hitting skills right now, not to mention his character.

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