2011 MLB Mock Draft: Weighing Each Teams Biggest Need into Their Decision

Zachary Ball@MLBDraftCntdwnAnalyst IJune 3, 2011

2011 MLB Mock Draft: Weighing Each Teams Biggest Need into Their Decision

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    The Major League Baseball draft is unique.

    And while hockey is the only other sport that has a similar style draft, in which players who are drafted aren't immediately a member of the league that hosts the event, only baseball offers six and sometimes seven different levels of "minor leagues."

    The baseball draft is unique in yet another way. When targeting a draft selection, need is often the furthest thing from a scouting director's mind. Drafting for need as a scouting director or GM can get you fired real quick.

    This is a sharp contrast from football, where the worst teams in the NFL often look to a quarterback or defensive player who can step in immediately and make a difference.

    In baseball, a team can draft a player and have him up to the majors in one to two years at the quickest in most cases. Other players, high-schoolers specifically, need anywhere from two to five years of seasoning.

    Still, whereas drafting for need is most of the time the worst possible thing a team could do in baseball, it has served some teams well in the past few years (think the Nationals with Stephen Strasburg and the Orioles with Matt Wieters) and is starting to become something that is less and less silly thanks to the polished players that are being drafted out of the college ranks these days.

    Taking that into account, let's examine closely which teams could fill a great need in their farm system by taking a player in the first round. 

1) Pittsburgh Pirates- Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice

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    Biggest Need- Elite Talent...regardless of position

    The Pirates made a killing from 2005-2010 trading away veteran players in exchange for a ton of young prospects. Problem is, none of those prospects were elite level guys. Most, like Tim Alderson and Jose Tabata, were middle-tier talents whose future roles were likely as role players.

    They've used their last few draft picks to pick up some elite talent, like Pedro Alvarez and Jameson Taillon, and have done a good job of picking up some high-ceiling talent after the first round. They've also excelled since breaking into the international market, picking up the top pitching talent from the 2010 class in Luis Heredia.

    Still, the team is severely lacking in elite, major league talent at just about every position except for third base (Alvarez) and centerfield (McCutchen). Adding a player of Rendon's caliber would give them a sure-fire future All-Star with David Wright potential.

    It would also greatly improve their team defensively, as Rendon is far and away a better talent at the hot corner than Alvarez could ever dream to be. Selecting Rendon would allow the Bucs to move the portly Alvarez to first base, where his limited range wouldn't be as much of an issue.

    Assuming Rendon is healthy and his shoulder checks out OK, there is no way that the Pirates should make any other pick besides him. 

2) Seattle Mariners- Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia

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    Biggest Need- MLB Ready Starting Pitching

    The Mariners may look like they're in good shape with King Felix anchoring the rotation and Michael Pineda blossoming into a bona fide ace, but beyond those two guys and the no-names that occupy the other three rotation spots there isn't much going on down in the minors. They have last year's pick Taijuan Walker who looks like a promising player, but he's still at least three years away from making a big-league impact.

    After Walker, it's nothing but a bunch of career minor leaguers and some low-ceiling prospects.

    Adding a guy like Hultzen with their first pick would bolster the M's in two ways.

    First, it would give them Hultzen, a bona fide starting pitcher with a ceiling as a No. 1 starter and a floor as a No. 3. His command is arguably the best in the college class and his repertoire of pitches is fantastic.

    Second, the move would allow Jack Zdurencik to start looking around for some suitors for Hernandez. If he could find the right deal, one that would allow them to pick up two or three starting prospects with high upsides, it might be worth pulling the trigger, knowing Hultzen won't require much time in the minor leagues.

3) Arizona Diamondbacks- Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA

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    Biggest Need- Elite Starting Pitching

    The D-Backs are sitting pretty in the National League West, largely in part to their starting pitching, which has been a revelation over the past month. Down in the minors, the team has a ton of starting options, including Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin. Unfortunately, Skaggs and Corbin have been hit pretty hard this season, and Parker hasn't looked the same since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

    What the D-Backs need is a top-notch pitcher who has super-star stuff. That just about sums up Gerrit Cole, who was once upon a time considered a frontrunner for the top overall spot. Falling to No. 3 doesn't have anything to do with the kind of season he's had but rather with the overall depth of this draft.

    If Cole can get a better harness on his fastball and continue to develop his breaking stuff, he could be the top overall pitcher from this class five to 10 years from now. Because of his struggles this season however, it looks like he's going to spend more time in the minors than Hultzen, making the latter the more preferred pick of the Mariners.

    Cole would fit nicely in Arizona.

4) Baltimore Orioles- Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS (KS)

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    Biggest Need- Elite Position Players

    Last time I checked, and I check frequently, the Orioles had one of the finest groups of young pitching at the big-league level. Brian Matusz is a stud, Chris Tillman has massive potential, Jake Arrieta has had a terrific season and Zach Britton is the future ace in Baltimore. So as much as I'd like to get behind the whole "draft big-league ready pitching" bandwagon, I'm stuck firmly in the "this team has one of the worst collections of position player talent in the minors" camp. 

    Manny Machado aside, the O's need position player depth, especially in the power department, where they're best bet is Joe Mahoney, who has spent most of this season on the DL, and is a mid-tier prospect at best.

    Starling arguably has as much power in this draft as anyone, and he's got four other flashy tools to go along with his light-tower power. I'd go so far as to say the Orioles have never had a player of Starling's caliber in their system, and he's just one of a few guys who they could pick up who has a higher ceiling than last year's pick, Machado.

    Drafting Starling, rather than Jed Bradley or Trevor Bauer, is also starting to look good because it seems as if Nick Markakis is beginning to regress and he enters the prime of his career. His hitting ability seems to have declined rapidly, and he's looking way too patient at the plate. He's terrible in the clutch, and his bread-and-butter, his defensive play, doesn't look as sharp as it used to. 

    Taking Starling would give the O's a successor to Nick the Stick, assuming he can't figure out a way out of this hole he's digging.

5) Kansas City Royals- Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy (FL)

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    Biggest Need- Franchise Shortstop

    First baseman...Eric Hosmer. Second baseman...Christian Colon. Third baseman...Mike Moustakas.

    The only two positions missing from that infield is a catcher and a shortstop, and unfortunately for the Royals, there is no catcher worthy of a top-five pick in this year's draft, meaning they should take a good, long, hard look at Lindor with pick No. 5.

    The Royals have a place-holder at short in Alcides Escobar, but he's struggled to hit above .200 all season and has very limited on-base potential. 

    In Lindor, the Royals would be getting a franchise-type player with unlimited potential. In the field, he's a potential Gold Glove winner with solid fundamentals and the knack for making the sensational plays. At the plate, he's a switch-hitter with a great stroke. He might not develop too much power, but he should be able to hit .300 with a good amount of doubles.

    His speed isn't a major threat, but he's still got some wheels.

    I get where everyone is coming from with the whole "draft a polished college arm who could contribute immediately" idea, but the Royals have the biggest collection of high-ceiling arms in baseball, and most of them are at Double-A or higher, meaning their time is just around the corner.

    Why bother throwing another pitcher into the mix when you don't have a franchise guy at one of baseball's most demanding positions?

6) Washington Nationals- Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech

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    Biggest Need- MLB Ready Starting Pitching

    The Nationals are one of a few teams in baseball who are at a crossroads. Many of their top prospects are nearing completion and arriving at the big-league level, and they also have an intriguing mix of veterans who are in the prime of their career.

    For them, to me, it seems like this is the time to put the major focus on getting some big-league ready talent that will be ready to compete as soon as next year. Hultzen would be the best bet for that, but since he's off the board, I bet they look to Bradley, who has one of the best repertoires of any college pitcher.

    He's also incredibly durable and has a great pitching frame.

    Bradley should be pretty quick to the Majors and could arrive at around the same time that Strasburg returns to full-health and Jordan Zimmerman has two-years of starting experience under his belt. That combo could be enough to make Washington a major player in the NL East.

7) Arizona Diamondbacks- Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS (OK)

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    Biggest Need- Still Starting Pitching

    With two of the first seven picks in this draft, the D-Backs are pretty much guaranteed to get two elite players. Getting Cole at pick No. 3 is almost a coup, and getting the top high school pitcher at pick No. 7 is almost unfair.

    Put them both together and they could get arguably the two top pitchers in this draft in terms of pure stuff.

    Building a rotation around Cole and Bundy would allow everyone to be bumped back a slot or two in the rotation, and I like the sound of Jarrod Parker and Dan Hudson as No. 3 and 4 starters much better than No. 1 and 2.

    Toss in Ian Kennedy and that's one of the best young rotations in baseball.

8) Cleveland Indians- Josh Bell, Of, Jesuit Prep (TX)

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    Biggest Need- Hard Hitting Outfielders

    Pitching has been at the crux of the Indians revival this season, which is good, because as a group, they're not getting too much from their outfielders. Shin-Soo Choo has been solid, but he's hitting below .250, and the rest of the Tribe's outfield corps is hitting around .260 with very little power. Personally, I'm not sold on Michael Brantley, and Grady Sizemore is a shell of his former self.

    If Cleveland wants to continue this revival and turn it into a long-term run atop the AL Central, they're going to need some talented hitting outfield help, and since they don't have too much in the form of power-hitting outfielders in their system, it would make the most sense to scoop up one of the draft's better all-around hitters in Texas' Josh Bell.

    I know Bell has been floating around the idea that he doesn't want to be drafted, much less sign, but I'm pretty sure that the prospect of a $3-5 million bonus might change his mind.

    As a powerful switch-hitter, Bell profiles as a guy who can hit for average and decent power.

9) Chicago Cubs- Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA

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    Biggest Need- Starting Pitching

    The Cubs would love to take a run at Bubba Starling, assuming he's still available when they pick at No. 9, but if he's gone, they would be wise to take a crack at rebuilding their farm system's pitching depth, where aside from Trey McNutt, they no longer have any elite arms.

    The Matt Garza trade cleaned them out of Chris Archer, and now their system largely comprises of veteran arms and starters who would probably be better utilized pitching out of the bullpen.

    Bauer is as surefire a starter as there is in this draft, and his stamina is unquestioned. He throws hard and has a great repertoire with pitches that few people have ever attempted to throw, much less throw well. 

    Some teams will be scared off by his long-toss regimen, but if you're going to draft based on exercise routine, that's pretty darn stupid. 

    Bauer would bring instant legitimacy to their starting pitching depth, and he might even force his way into the big-league rotation without even setting foot in the minors, a la division rival Mike Leake of Cincinnati.

10) San Diego Padres- Cory Spangenberg, SS/3B, Indian River State JC

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    Biggest Need- Middle Infield

    All things being considered, the Padres actually have a pretty loaded farm system. They have some top-line bats in Anthony Rizzo, Jaff Decker and Jedd Gyorko and some rangy athletes in Reymond Fuentes and Donovan Tate.

    On the mound, they're in even better shape, with a large group of underrated pitchers, led by the potentially overrated Casey Kelly.

    Where the Padres are lacking is in the middle infield. Drew Cumberland is a stud, but he can't keep himself off the DL, making picking up some talented middle infielders a top priority in this draft. Spangenberg played a little shortstop in high-school and during his first year at VMI, but he's slid over to third base during all the talks about his long-term position.

    I for one, think that with his athleticism, he could probably handle second base, where the Padres have a gaping hole in the minors and at the big-league level. Another thing that the current big-league team lacks is speed, with their best base-stealer being 33-year-old Orlando Hudson.

    Spangenberg is one of the fastest players in this draft, and while the rumors about the Padres selecting him this early might be a bit ridiculous, if they're drafting solely based on need, he could be their guy.

11) Houston Astros- Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow HS (OK)

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    Biggest Need- Elite Starting Pitching

    The Astros have the makings of a very fine starting rotation. Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez are solid pieces to build around, but let's not joke around, neither guy is a legitimate No. 1. Bud Norris has looked strong this season, J.A. Happ has shown considerable promise, Jordan Lyles just made his big-league debut and they have a couple of high-ceiling guys down in the minors in Mike Foltynewicz and Tanner Bushue.

    However, the one thing the Astros lack is a true, surefire No. 1 starter. By taking Bradley, the Astros would have that front-line anchor to their future rotation. He's going to shoot pretty quickly through the minors, at least for a high schooler, and his stuff is really good.

    Starting their rotation with Bradley, and filling in around him with Happ, Norris and Lyles should make the Astros much more competitive in three to five years. 

12) Milwaukee Brewers- George Springer, Of, UConn

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    Biggest Need- Elite Talent...regardless of position

    The Brewers have, far and away, the worst farm system in baseball. They could use an influx of talent more than any other team and they're well positioned, with picks No. 12 and 15, to improve their organization greatly.

    I know all the talk has been about the team adding some pieces that could help them ASAP, now that they have Greinke and they're in the hunt and all, but by doing so,they're once again sacrificing the long-term success of their organization.

    Taking Springer not only gives the farm system a much needed shot of speed AND power, but it also gives them a player who should be much quicker to the Majors than any high school position player or pitcher.

    The Brewers could really benefit from a shortstop, such as Francisco Lindor, but it's unlikely that he'll be available when they pick. 

13) New York Mets- Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS (SC)

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    Biggest Need- Elite Starting Pitching

    The Mets have been reportedly very smitten with Guerrieri, and my guess is that he's likely to be available when they pick at No. 13.

    The Mets have some decent pitching depth in the minors with Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey, and some nice pieces in the current big-league rotation in Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, but they could use a top-notch starter to lead them assuming Johan Santana doesn't ever return to full health.

    Guerrieri has front-of-the-rotation stuff, including a mid-to-high 90s fastball and a hammer curveball. He has been hit with the "maturity" question mark after getting kicked out of one high-school, but assuming he can channel all of his energy into pitching, he could be one of the top pitchers out of this class.

    The Mets need to spend whatever it takes to ensure that they have a chance to get a guy like that.

14) Florida Marlins- Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas

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    Biggest Need- Starting Pitching

    The Marlins have one of the finest young group of pitchers in baseball with their collection of Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad. They have another stud down in the minors in Chad James.

    Aside from those guys, there really isn't too much to get excited about. Their system is filled with a lot of low-ceiling guys and some future relievers, leaving their injury-prone rotation very thin in the event that something happens to one or more than one of them.

    And since Chad James is still down in A-ball, it might make sense for them to select a guy who could arrive in a more timely fashion, making a guy like Taylor Jungmann a perfect fit.

    Jungmann doesn't fit the Marlins usual high-schooler criteria, but he is a big-framed kind of guy, which is something they covet. He also throws in the mid-to-high 90s and has a couple of solid secondary pitches.

    Jungmann also fits the model of being a Texas-Oklahoma guy. Both Chad James and Johnson were scooped up from that area.

    He could be in Miami by the time the Marlins christen their new stadium next season.

15) Milwaukee Brewers- Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt

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    Biggest Need- Elite Talent...regardless of position

    Once upon a time, Sonny Gray was tabbed as a top-five pick in this draft, and while he had one of the more impressive seasons of any SEC pitcher, somehow he's dropped out of the top-five talk, and possibly out of the top 10 as well.

    By scooping him up here at pick No. 15, the Brewers not only get another high-ceiling arm, but they also get a guy who shouldn't need too much time in the minors. And if the Brewers are really antsy for some big-league reinforcements, Gray could serve them quite well in a relief role, possibly as soon as September of this year, assuming the Brew-Crew are still in contention.

    Like most of the college crop, Gray throws in the mid-to-high 90s and generates excellent velocity with his diminutive frame. His curveball is as good as any in this draft class, and his one-two combo would make him an outstanding reliever.

16) Los Angeles Dodgers- Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State

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    Biggest Need- Catching...the cheaper the better

    Down in the minors, the Dodgers have a rag-tag group of catchers that inspires little confidence that their backstop of the future is among them. Up in the Majors, the situation looks just as bleak, with Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro hitting a combined .214.

    Andrew Susac isn't the best catcher in this draft, and he's probably not even the second best. He is, however, likely going to be the cheapest out of him, Blake Swihart and Austin Hedges, both of whom are likely to command bonuses way over slot.

    And this season, more than ever, the Dodgers are going to be looking for a relatively cheap sign.

    That's not to say that Susac isn't a talented backstop. His defensive skills are way ahead of his potential at the plate, but he showed some offensive potential early on in the season before succumbing to a broken hand that kept him out for more than a month.

    He's returned just in time for the NCAA tournament and is likely to get back behind the plate at some point.

17) Los Angeles Angels- Javier Baez, 3B/2B, Arlington Country Day HS (FL)

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    Biggest Need- Offensive Catcher

    Now I know that taking a third baseman when you're biggest need is a catcher doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but there are those who believe that Baez could likely handle a move behind the plate.

    Even if he can't the Angels would still pick up one of the top hitters from the high school class. They picked up Kaleb Cowart last year, and he projects to be their long-term third baseman, meaning Baez could be forced to second, where they now have a hole with Jean Segura performing so well at shortstop.

    Baez's bat is electri, and has some decent power in it, making him a good bet to come of the board pretty early.

    If he can handle the move to catcher, he could be the team's real long-term answer there, a spot that has plagued them ever since they settled on Hank Conger being the answer.

18) Oakland Athletics- Brian Goodwin, Of, Miami Dade JC

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    Biggest Need- Five Tool Centerfielder

    Offensive output has been the A's achilles for the past few seasons, and they've made a concerted effort to bolster their offense through the draft, taking Grant Green and Michael Choice in the first round the past two years.

    Still, they lack a true centerfielder. Yes, they have Aaron Shipman, a third-round pick from last year, but he's not even made his full-season debut yet. Former UNC Tar Heel Brian Goodwin could reach the majors much quicker and possibly make a bigger impact.

    He isn't as quick as Shipman, but his bat his light years ahead, as is his approach at the plate. He's shown excellent plate discipline this season and has the potential for above-average power. 

    Goodwin might not be the picture-perfect centerfielder, but the A's have been great and finding a position for those tweener guys.

19) Boston Red Sox- Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS (NM)

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    Biggest Need- Franchise Catcher

    There's no doubt that Blake Swihart is the top backstop in this class, but he still could be the third guy taken from his position, due to his likely exorbitant signing bonus demands.

    If there was any team that could afford to shell out such a big bonus, it's likely to be the Sox, who need a franchise catcher more than just about any team in baseball. Jason Varitek is ancient and immobile and Jarrod Saltalamacchia is just a long name.

    I can think of no other franchise for Swihart to fit more perfectly in. In Boston, he'll have the time to develop his defensive ability, something that is considered a plus-tool, but that is still quite raw. He'll also get the opportunity to mash at the lower levels, taking advantage of the younger pitchers he'll face as the Sox take it slowly with him due to his developing defensive tools.

    Think of a career path something along the lines of Wil Myers but before he switched to the outfield. 

20) Colorado Rockies- C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah

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    Biggest Need- Franchise First Baseman...aka, an heir apparent to Todd Helton

    Todd Helton had been the face of the Colorado Rockies for nearly a decade before Troy Tulowitzki came along. Somehow Helton is still hanging on, but even he has to know that his time is nearly up, and you're kidding yourself if you think Jason Giambi, the team's other first baseman is the long-term solution.

    Down in the minors they have only one legit first base candidate, and he's currently playing third base. Nolan Arenado has an explosive bat, but if the Rockies could somehow manage to keep him at the hot corner, they could clear out a nice space for C.J. Cron, one of the most polished college bats in this draft. Not only can Cron hit for average (he's hit ABOVE .400 each of the past two seasons), but he also has some incredible raw power in his bat.

    Cron came to Utah as a catcher, and played that position for his first season-and-a-half. An injury to Utah's regular first baseman forced a temporary move, but he looked so good, the Utes decided to keep him there full time.

    He should be an average defender, and I would be very excited to see how his bat reacts to the high altitude of Coors Field.

21) Toronto Blue Jays- Levi Michael, SS, UNC

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    Biggest Need- Second Base

    Aaron Hill, despite all of his immense potential, has struggled to hit for anything close to a decent average the past few seasons, and with the Jays unlikely to pick up his option for the 2012-14 seasons, it looks like the team should start looking for a replacement to groom.

    Levi Michael has played just about every position in his time at UNC. He appears to have found a home at shortstop this season, and he could probably play the position at a big-league level, but his range and arm might be better suited to second base, where the Jays just so happen to have a hole with Brett Lawrie departing for third base.

    Michael has a solid bat, a patient approach at the plate and decent speed. He's an all-around solid player who would be a perfect fit for the Jays.

22) St. Louis Cardinals- Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn

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    Biggest Need- MLB Ready Starting Pitching

    In case you hadn't noticed, the best pitcher on the Cardinals this season has been 32-year-old Kyle Lohse. The biggest name in their rotation is 36-year-old Chris Carpenter. And their biggest trade acquisition in the form of a pitcher from the past few seasons is 32-year-old Jake Westbrook. And the best pitcher on their team is Adam Wainwright, who will turn 30 this August.

    Clearly, the Cardinals could use some pitching help. They have plenty of talented arms down in the minors, including Shelby Miller, but aside from him, most of their starting pitcher prospects are below Double-A. What they could use is a guy who could move through the minors quickly and join their rotation relatively soon.

    Especially with the ticking time bomb that is Albert Pujols. Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman aren't getting any younger either and the time is NOW for the Cardinals.

    Matt Barnes has possibly the best repertoire in the entire 2011 draft class. He has shown four pitches, each of which has at least average potential. He throws in the mid 90s and has shown the willingness to pitch to contact, something most of the other college arms forsake for the love of strikeouts.

    He's a big, sturdy guy who should be an inning-eater, and I'm sure that Dave Duncan could work wonders with this kid. 

23) Washington Nationals- Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon

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    Biggest Need- MLB Ready Starting Pitching

    I think that in any other year, Tyler Anderson would be that guy who sneaks into the top 10, based on his polished approach to pitching and his impressive repertoire.

    This year, however, is a very, very deep year, meaning Anderson will likely get bumped back into the bottom of the first round. I know the Nats are very high on Alex Meyer, but he'll likely be gone by the time they get around to their second pick, a pick they're likely to spend on more pitching.

    With Meyer gone, the top remaining college arm is Anderson, a guy who should speed to the Majors, possibly even faster than most of the guys in the top-15.

    Adding him to Strasburg, Zimmerman and Jed Bradley would give the Nats a nasty R-R-L-L quartet.

24) Tampa Bay Rays- Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS (TN)

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    Biggest Need- None

    It's very unfair that the Rays, the team with fewer needs than any in baseball, have 12 of the first 60 picks in this year's draft. That gives them the exciting opportunity to add whatever they want, with no real agenda.

    Norris is another guy who could be a top-10 pick in any other year, and there are grumblings that he's probably going to go a lot higher than most people think. If he falls to the Rays, it's totally unfair to both parties but probably in the best interest of both.

    Norris is a front-line starter with amazing stuff. His curveball is sick, and his fastball can reach the mid 90s. It would, however, be a shame for him to be selected by an AL squad, which would deprive us all of the opportunity to witness his Ichiro-like batting style.

    Norris would just add to the riches of the Rays, who have a top-notch collection of pitching talent so good, they could put together a rotation that could compete with guys who are likely to end up as relievers.

25) San Diego Padres- Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS (CA)

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    Biggest Need- Starting Pitching

    With an infielder out of the way in Cory Spangenberg, the Padres can now turn the attention to building the depth of their starting pitching, and if there was ever a draft to make that your main focus, this is it.

    The Padres have shown a tendency towards college arms in the past, but with almost all of the top arms off the board by the time they pick for the second time, it's going to make the most sense to take the top high-school guy available.

    It's a toss-up as to who the top remaining guy would be, but I think that they'll take the guy they're most familiar with, Southern California product Henry Owens.

    Owens is going to be a beast. He's 6'7" and already has cracked the 200-lb mark. He's got room for about another 30 or 40 pounds, and when he tops out physically, he's going to be a mean man on the mound.

    His fastball still has some projection left in it, and he should add a few ticks to it as he bulks up, giving him a mid 90s fastball and some solid breaking stuff.

    His command is better than most high schoolers as well. 

26) Boston Red Sox- John Stilson, RHP, Texas A&M

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    Biggest Need- Relief Pitching

    Most seem to think that John Stilson's labrum injury has cost him a spot in the first round. I disagree and see a team looking for a quick-to-the-bigs reliever taking a shot on him. 

    The Sox don't have too many needs, especially since they see fit to fill most of theirs through free agency, but they could always use more help in the bullpen, especially if the desire to get rid of Papelbon is still holding strong.

    They went the bullpen route a few years ago and it took some, but they struck gold, or at least silver with Daniel Bard. I think he's a better fit for a setup role though. Stilson could step in right away as a reliever, a spot he was excellent in at A&M, and be the Sox shut-down closer for the next decade.

    When he pitched out of the pen for the Aggies, he showed high 90s stuff and a sizzling slider. He also throws a changeup, a splitter and a curve, although he could probably scrap a few of those once he turns pro. 

27) Cincinnati Reds- Anthony Meo, RHP, Coastal Carolina

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    Biggest Need- MLB Ready Pitching

    The Reds are at the point where they look like steady, yearly contenders. They have an established rotation, led by veteran Bronson Arroyo, and a farm system capable of curing all the ails of a piece-meal lineup.

    And while the Reds have been reluctant to give their top prospects a change over the past few seasons, it's time to start the shift to a younger squad. Their rotation has all sorts of young talent but could use another big-league ready guy to contribute sooner rather than later.

    Meo is the top remaining college arm, and in case you weren't aware of what he's capable of, he fired a no-hitter about a week ago in the opening round of CCU's conference tournament.

    He too is capable of mid 90s heat and has really brought along his secondary pitches this year, especially his slider, which will be an above-average pitch as soon as he can command it at a decent rate. 

28) Atlanta Braves- Austin Hedges, C, Juniper Serro HS (CA)

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    Biggest Need- Franchise Catcher...aka heir apparent to Brian McCann

    Yes...I know McCann is only 27 years old and in the prime of his career, but if we learned anything from the Buster Posey situation, it's that you can prolong your career as a catcher, by playing some other position than catcher part time.

    To me, it seems like it would be a good idea for the Braves to start giving McCann some reps at first base. He's a big guy after all, much bigger (and heavier) than most big-league catchers, and you have to wonder how much longer he'll be able to stick behind the plate.

    Now I know the Braves have a franchise first baseman in Freddie Freeman, but Freeman is more athletic than McCann and could probably handle a move to the outfield, most likely left with Heyward entrenched in right.

    That brings us to Hedges. The Braves have a talented catcher in the lower levels in Christian Bethancourt, but he's looked lost at the plate for the most part this season. Hedges has his questions at the plate, but I can't imagine he'd be much worse than Bethancourt.

    He's also an above-average defender, who is far and away the top defensive backstop in this class and maybe of the past five or six classes.

29) San Francisco Giants- Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS (CA)

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    Biggest Need- Starting Pitching

    The Giants are pretty well set at the big-league level with one of baseball's most impressive rotations, but down in the minors, it's Zack Wheeler and not much else.

    Wheeler could use some company, and the Giants would get a nice find in Stephenson, who has been clocked as high as 97 mph this season and opened the 2011 campaign with back-to-back no-hitters. Stephenson throws a ridiculous number of pitches, including a two- and four-seamer, a slider, cutter, splitter and changeup.

    He's also a local California product whom the Giants have no doubt scouted at least a few times.

    He's the highest ceiling you're going to get this late in the first round.

30) Minnesota Twins- Andrew Chafin, LHP, Kent State

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    Biggest Need- Starting Pitching

    The Twins are a mess. Joe Mauer is never healthy, Justin Morneau looks sickly, and they're relying on a rotation that has largely overachieved and is led by Carl Pavano (enough said) and Francisco Liriano, who aside from his no-hitter has looked like one of the worst pitchers in baseball.

    They've got some help on the way in Kyle Gibson, their first-round pick from 2009, but he could use some help.

    Nobody expected Andrew Chafin to return to such fine form after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the entire 2010 season, but he has bounced back in a huge way, and now projects to be a late first-round, early supplemental selection.

    In addition to his excellent velocity (93-97 mph), Chafin has also rediscovered the command of his slider, which is now an above-average pitch.

    He's been devastating this season and has the makings of either a No. 2 starter or a top-notch closer.

    The Twins could use both.

31) Tampa Bay Rays- Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS (FL)

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    Biggest Need- None

    The Rays have been widely linked to Fernandez because of not only his proximity to the city where the Rays play but also because of his high-ceiling talent.

    He's a Cuban defector who is now coming into the prime of his developmental years and has a wicked mid-90s fastball. 

    For a high schooler, he's incredibly mature physically and should move relatively quickly thanks to his polished approach.

32) Tampa Bay Rays- Matt Purke, LHP, TCU

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    Biggest Need- None

    The Rays are going to have to shell out a lot of cash to sign all of their first, supplemental and second round picks, so if they're going, they might as well go big.

    Purke was considered a top-three talent before the season began, but thanks to some arm troubles and a blister, he's experienced reduced velocity, dropping him out of first-round consideration. He'd be a steal for Tampa here if he can get back to any semblance of his former self.

33) Texas Rangers- Brandon Nimmo, Of, East HS (WY)

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    Biggest Need- Outfielders

    The Rangers have one of the most stocked farm systems in baseball, with talent to the brim over-pouring in the pitching department and at most infield positions.

    Where they could use some help is in the outfield, where they have a lot of middle-tier prospects backing up some aging veterans in the Majors.

    Nimmo represents the highest ceiling of the remaining outfielders, in part because he's the rawest, playing ball only in the American Legion ranks because Wyoming doesn't sanction high-school baseball. 

    Nimmo is a complete package. He has great speed, a rocket arm, smooth actions in the field and a decent chance for power.

    He would be a nice replacement for Josh Hamilton in centerfield.