MLB Mock Draft 2011: 50 Key Prospects to Watch on Draft Day
One of the great things about the upcoming Rule 4 Draft is that each and every team has a chance to restock their farm systems and find that diamond in the rough that can move rapidly through the minors and make an impact at the major league level quicker than expected.
Chris Sale is one such player. Drafted with the 13th overall pick by the Chicago White Sox just last year, Sale made his Major League debut just two months after he was drafted, making 21 appearances and posting a 1.93 with four saves.
This season, Sale was in the running for the closer’s job in Chicago, and while he has had a bit of a rougher go in his second season, he is no doubt one of those rare finds that can make an immediate impact.
This year’s draft is considered one of the deepest in recent years, especially among pitchers. Teams like the Kansas City Royals, who lost ace and former Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke, will be able to select from a great crop of high school and college pitchers that could wind up helping their rotation sooner than expected.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who lost a considerable amount of players last season to free agency and trades, will have 10 of the first 60 picks, giving them the opportunity to select a number of quality players who can reap rewards quickly.
So, who are the players that teams will be coveting in the first round? Here is a look at the top 50 prospects that each Major League team will be following and possibly selecting.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.
50. Tony Zych: RHP, Louisville
Right-handed reliever Tony Zych was literally built to be a closer in the majors. Zych has a fastball that hovers around 96 MPH and occasionally touches 98 MPH. He also has a hard slider in the high-80s and struck out 27 batters in 25 innings, picking up 12 saves for Louisville.
Zych also had great success last summer in the wood bat Cape Cod League, striking out 29 in 20 innings of work, which is definitely something that major league teams look at. The Rays and Cardinals are both closely monitoring Zych as a sandwich round pick.
49. Dwight Smith, Jr.: OF, McIntosh High, Peachtree City, GA
High school outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr. has a pretty good pedigree behind him. His father, Dwight Smith, was a member of the 1995 World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
All Smith did in his senior year was hit .577, and is considered to be a sound fundamental player offensively and defensively. Smith has committed to Georgia Tech in the fall, so his signability is uncertain.
48. Sean Gilmartin: LHP, Florida State
Florida State starter Sean Gilmartin could very well wind up being one of the real steals of the draft. Gilmartin burst onto the college scene as a freshman, posting a 12-3 record with a 3.49 ERA for the Seminoles.
His sophomore year however was a major step back for Gilmartin, who posted a 9-8 record and 5.24 ERA. However, after working hard during the offseason, Gilmartin became one of the best collegiate pitchers in the country this past season in his junior, with an 11-1 record and 1.53 ERA, with 116 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 106 1/3 innings pitched.
Gilmartin incorporated a third pitch into his arsenal, already featuring a great fastball and changeup—a slider that he throws with great effectiveness against left-handed hitters.
On Saturday, in an NCAA regional tournament game against Alabama, Gilmartin got off to a rocky start, giving up five runs in his first four innings. However, he found his groove and shut the Crimson Tide down the rest of way, giving the Seminoles a chance to come back and beat Alabama 9-5.
47. Kyle Crick: RHP, Sherman (Texas) HS
Even though Kyle Crick signed a commitment with TCU to play football, scouts are nonetheless very high on the potential of Crick as a pitcher in the majors, including Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who personally went to watch Crick pitch.
Crick was 7-2 with a 1.11 ERA in 13 starts, features a fastball that sits in the low 90s with movement, and a hard slider as well. Teams like the Red Sox may try to take a flyer on Crick, considering his potential and his talent.
46. Dillon Maples: RHP, Pinecrest HS, Southern Pines, N.C.
Senior high school pitcher Dillon Maples has impressed just about everyone who has seen him, including Gatorade, who recently named him the 2010-11 Player of the Year in North Carolina.
Maples finished with a 9-1 record with a 0.93 ERA and threw in two saves to boot. In 68.2 innings of work , Maples struck out an incredible 143 batters.
Maples has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at UNC, so his signability is definitely in question. With the lure of his hometown college, it might take a bit of bonus money to lure Maples.
45. Michael Fulmer: RHP, Deer Creek HS, Edmond, Okla.
High school right-hander Michael Fulmer is one of several Oklahoma players making this list. Fulmer, just named the Big All-City Player of the Year, Fulmer was 10-2 with a 0.72 ERA, with 127 strikeouts in 68 innings.
And when he wasn’t pitching, Fulmer pitched in (no pun intended) at third base, hitting .436 with six home runs and 43 RBI. For Fulmer, it was a major achievement, having only made 17 plate appearances in his sophomore and junior years combined.
Fulmer has signed on to play baseball at the University of Arkansas, but he will definitely get his chance with a first or sandwich round draft pick.
44. Brian Goodwin: OF, Miami-Dade JC
Miami-Dade Junior College has been a launching pad for several draft picks over the years, and this year is no different. Brian Goodwin, originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox out of high school in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft, opted to go to UNC, but then transferred to Miami-Dade after going through some academic issues.
Goodwin just completed his sophomore season, hitting .382 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Goodwin was recently projected to be selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 29th pick by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, however any team that selects Goodwin will get a solid defensive corner outfield with power potential and the ability hit with power to all fields.
43 Kyle Winkler: RHP, Texas Christian
Kyle Winkler, just recently named as one of the 30 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, the award given to the nation’s top collegiate player, was 8-2 in 12 starts with a 1.40 ERA, and Winkler went at least six innings in all 12 of his starts.
Winkler could drop lower in the draft because of recent troubles. He missed two starts in the last three weeks, and on Sunday, TCU was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Oral Roberts after Winkler had to leave the game in the first game due to elbow soreness.
42. Alex Dickerson: OF, Indiana
Alex Dickerson may be one of the most highly sought after power outfielders in the Rule 4 Draft. Last season, Dickerson won the Triple Crown in the Big Ten Conference, with a .419 average, 24 home runs and 75 RBI.
This season, because of the rules change regarding composite bats, Dickerson’s power numbers dropped, hitting.367 with nine home runs and 49 RBI. However, his strikeout rate was exceptional, fanning just 21 times in 248 plate appearances.
Dickerson has been compared favorably to Jim Thome, and is projected to be a sandwich round pick.
41. Josh Osich: LHP, Oregon State
Left-handed pitchers are such a hot commodity in baseball, and a college left-hander with poise is especially valuable. That’s how scouts have described Oregon State southpaw Josh Osich.
All Osich has done this year is no-hit powerful UCLA back in April and post a 6-4 record with a 3.57 ERA. And this was after he endured Tommy John surgery.
Osich was due to pitch Sunday with a chance to give the Beavers the regional victory in NCAA regionals in Corvalis, with a chance to move on to the College World Series.
40. Trevor Story: SS, Irving (Texas) HS
There’s a lot to like about senior shortstop Trevor Story, who attracted 28 scouts to a practice earlier this year. Gifted with soft hands, Story has a very good arm, and at 6’1” and 188 pounds will eventually develop more power.
Story has signed a letter of intent to play at LSU, so his signability remains in question. As a possible sandwich round pick, Story could be offered as much as $1 million, so money could be a draw.
39. Jorge Lopez: RHP, Academia de Milagrosa, Cayey, P.R.
Scouts have raved about the abilities of Puerto Rican pitcher Jorge Lopez. Lopez has been projected as high as the No. 31 pick to the Tampa Bay Rays, who are certainly looking to replenish pitchers lost during the offseason.
Lopez would be given time by the Rays to develop as well, as they have found great success in building their farm systems and cultivating home-grown players.
38. Andrew Chafin: LHP, Kent State
Kent State entered the NCAA regional tournament in Austin on the strength of a 45-15 record and a great starting pitching staff, led by Andrew Chafin, who compiled 7-1 record and 1.90 ERA during the regular season.
Kent State, the No. 24 seed, upset No. 5 seed Texas on Saturday, 7-5. Chafin led the way by pitching 8 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs. On Sunday Kent State will have the opportunity to win their first-ever NCAA Regional Tournament.
Chafin is coveted because of his command of the strike zone and overall poise on the mound. Chafin red-shirted last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, so scouts have admired his grit and determination in coming all the way back and posting impressive numbers.
37. Brandon Nimmo: OF, East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo.
High school outfielder Brandon Nimmo has impressed a number of teams, despite never playing a high school game in his life. Wyoming is one of three states that don’t play high school baseball, however Nimmo made his name recognized by playing in American Legion ball and being showcased in several tournaments.
Nimmo’s raw skills (bat speed, hits to all fields, strong arm) will certainly be a draw, and Nimmo will definitely be given the chance to progress slowly, considering he has not developed stamina and endurance given his lack of high school experience.
36. Joe Ross: RHP, Bishop O'Dowd HS, Oakland
Senior high school pitcher Joe Ross, the younger brother of Oakland A’s pitcher Tyson Ross, has been projected anywhere from mid-to-late first round to the third round in the upcoming Rule 4 draft. Keith Law recently ranked Ross at No. 25, while Baseball America has Ross at No. 36.
Ross has committed to collegiate powerhouse UCLA, so it could all be a moot point. Ross features a moving fastball that ranges between 90-94 MP, a changeup in the low 80s and a breaking ball that’s part curve/part slider.
The New York Yankees have shown interest in Ross, as well as a few other teams, but unless a nice little bonus is paid, Ross could opt to continue his development at one of the best collegiate baseball programs in the country.
35. Jackie Bradley: OF, South Carolina
Collegiate outfielder Jackie Bradley is one of three Bradley’s in our top 50, none of them related. Even though Bradley injured his wrist last April 24 in a game against Mississippi State and had surgery a week later, he is still projected to go fairly high in the draft.
Bradley finished the season with a .259 average, six home runs and 26 RBI, and scouts love his five tool abilities and his strong character.
34. Andrew Susac: C, Oregon State
Catcher Andrew Susac in considered the second or third best catcher in the draft behind Blake Swihart. The second player in our top 50 from Oregon State, Susac hit .352 with five home runs and 31 RBI, and has been instrumental in helping to lead the Beavers to the NCAA Regional Tournament final in Corvalis.
In a draft that’s not very deep at the catching position, Susac could definitely be a first-round draw for teams looking for solid backstops.
33. Tyler Beede: RHP, Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass.
18-year-old right-handed pitcher Tyler had an exceptional senior season pitching for Lawrence Academy, with a 7-0 record, a 0.32 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 44 innings. Beede’s control was impeccable, walking just six batters all season.
The highest rated player from Massachusetts, Beede features a low-90s fastball with movement and a hard-breaking curveball. Beede is considering attending Vanderbilt University, so signability could be an issue with him as well.
32. Henry Owens: LHP, Edison HS, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Henry Owens is considered one of the best prep left-handers in this year’s draft, and many mock drafts have him going within the first 20 picks. The 18-year-old southpaw was undefeated in his senior season, going 11-0 with a 1.10 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings.
Owens is an imposing figure on the mound at 6’7”, his high school coach, Steve Lambright, told the Sporting News that "I've been coaching for 16 years and not only have I not had a better high school pitcher, and I've coached against a lot of good pitchers being from Southern California, and he's the best high school pitcher I've ever seen. When he's locked in, he can flat-out dominate a baseball game."
31. Austin Hedges: C, JSerra HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Senior high school catcher is considered the best defensive catcher in the entire draft, certainly high praise for a young 18-year-older. Offensively he was no slouch either, hitting .366 in his senior season.
However, scouts were concerned about Hedges’ swing, saying that he has a herky-jerky hitting motion with a lot of holes, so work will need to be done there. Combine that with the fact that Hedges has committed to UCLA, and he could be one of the more difficult signings in the draft. He may very well decide to continue developing his hitting mechanics at the college level.
30. Matt Purke: LHP, Texas Christian
Matt Purke, the second pitcher on our Top 50 draft board along with Kyle Winkler, Purke had an absolutely outstanding season in his freshman year with TCU, going 16-0. However this season Purke has been bothered by shoulder stiffness, and while he posted a 5-1 record with a 1.44 ERA in nine starts, scouts are a bit unsure of his durability.
Purke was checked out by noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews, and was apparently told that all he needed was a rest. Purke did provide five innings of relief work on Saturday for the Horned Frogs, giving up two runs on two hits and striking out six in TCU’s 3-2 loss to Dallas Baptist.
29. Cory Spangenberg: 3B, Indian River (Fla.) JC
Third baseman Cory Spangenberg was arguably one of the best junior college players in the country, and was just named the Florida State College Activities Association Male Athlete of the Year. It’s hard to argue against a .477 average, 19 extra base hits and 33 steals.
Spangenberg has signed a letter of intent with another great collegiate baseball program, the University of Miami Hurricanes, but the lure of being a potential high pick in the draft could sway his decision.
28. Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
Many scouts believe it won’t take University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong long to be major league ready. MLB.com recently projected Wong going to the St. Louis with the 22nd pick, and Keith Law has Wong being picked by the Colorado Rockies with the 20th selection.
Considering the Rockies’ troubles at second base at the major league level, it certainly makes sense that Wong could go to the Mile High city. Wong hit .375 this past season, with six home runs, 49 RBI and 22 steals.
27. Robert Stephenson: RHP, Alhambra HS, Martinez, Calif.
Alhambra High School pitcher Robert Stephenson was just honored with Gatorade’s Player of the Year honors for the state of California, compiling an 8-2 record, 1.19 ERA, 142 strikeouts and 23 walks.
Stephenson has signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the Washington Huskies, but the possibility of being a Top 20 pick could sway that decision. If the local San Francisco Giants come calling, that could certainly be enough to change Stephenson’s mind.
26. Tyler Anderson: LHP, Oregon
Southpaw Tyler Anderson has drawn a lot of interest from several teams in the upcoming Rule 4 Draft, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the 16th pick. Anderson was 8-3 with a 2.17 ERA this past season, setting a single-season record for strikeouts (114) for the Ducks, and was recently named a second team All-American.
Anderson is generally projected to go anywhere from No. 16 to No. 30 in the first round on Monday.
25. Dillon Howard: RHP, Searcy (Ark.) HS
Senior high school pitcher Dillon Howard had an outstanding season, with a 9-1 record, 0.36 ERA and an astounding 115 strikeouts in just 58 innings, averaging just under 2 K’s per inning.
Howard features a low-to-mid 90s fastball with movement and a curveball that is considered a work in progress. The Los Angeles Angels are said to have interest in drafting Howard with the 17th pick, which makes sense considering GM Tony Reagins dealt away six pitching prospects in dealing for Dan Haren and Alberto Callaspo.
24. John Stilson: RHP, Texas A&M
Aggies pitcher John Stilson could have potentially been a Top 10 pick, however a torn labrum suffered in a game against Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament, sidelining him for the rest of the season.
Teams may still take a flyer on Stilson however, considering the monster numbers he put up before the injury--1.68 ERA in 91.1 innings, striking out 92 and walking just 29 batters.
23. C.J. Cron: 1B, Utah
First baseman C.J. Cron comes from a baseball family. His father, Chris, is a Double-A manager in the Detroit Tigers and was drafted in 1984, and his brother, Kevin is also expected to be drafted in this year’s Rule 4 Draft.
C.J. has been considered one of the most underrated college players in baseball, hitting .430 with 15 homers, 59 RBI and a .803 slugging percentage. At 6’4” and 235 pounds, Cron is definitely a pure hitter, but is considered challenged defensively, which is why he doesn’t rate a higher number on this board.
22. Javier Baez: SS, Arlington Country Day School, Jacksonville, Fla.
Javier Baez is one of two highly-rated high school shortstops in the draft along with Francisco Lindor, and judging from his senior year numbers, it’s no surprise.
Baez hit .771 with 22 home runs and 52 RBI, and stole 28 bases for Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville. In recent mock drafts, Baez has been tied to both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but at 18 years old and still raw, he’ll no doubt need time to mature.
21. Jose Fernandez: RHP, Alonso HS, Tampa
Coming from the area that produced baseball stars Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield, right-handed pitcher Jose Fernandez could outshine them both by the time his career is over.
In his senior season, Fernandez, who has been compared favorably to Felix Hernandez, was 13-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 93 innings.
As a high schooler, Fernandez will be given some time to continue his development, and several mock drafts have him going anywhere from the 15th to 25th pick in recent weeks.
20. Blake Swihart: C, Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho, N.M.
Blake Swihart is one of several high school players among the Top 20 on this list that could opt for college rather than the lure of a high draft selection. Swihart, considered one of the best pure high school hitters in the draft, is considering the University of Texas as well.
The 19-year-old hit .545 in his senior year, with five homers, 41 RBI and even stole 19 bases. Swihart has drawn attention from the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.
19. Levi Michael: SS, North Carolina
Levi Michael no doubt will be keeping an eye on the upcoming Rule 4 Draft, but he is also in the thick of things in the NCAA tournament, with his Tar Heels defeating James Madison 9-3 on Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals.
Michael has been rumored recently to be drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres, and many scouts believe that Michael will be moved to second base.
18. Mikie Mahtook: OF, Louisiana State
Mikie Mahtook of LSU has been highly touted as a gifted five-tool player, hitting .383 with 14 home runs, 56 RBI, a .709 slugging percentage and 29 steals.
Mahtook, recently named a second team All-American, was recently rumored to be going to the Chicago Cubs, who have the ninth overall pick, and MyMLBDraft.com has Mahtook going at No. 12 to the Milwaukee Brewers.
17. Alex Meyer: RHP, Kentucky
The Boston Red Sox took a chance on high school right-hander Alex Meyer by drafting him with their 20th round selection in the 2008 draft, however Meyer elected to go to the University of Kentucky. Meyer, at 6’9” and 220 pounds is easily the tallest pitcher in the draft, and features a four-seam mid-90s fastball with movement and a high-80s slider.
The knock against Meyer is similar to another player of his stature at an early age—Randy Johnson. Meyer has wild streaks within him, and it may take some for him to harness his command.
16. Daniel Norris: LHP, Science Hill HS, Johnson City, Tenn.
Daniel Norris is another high-schooler who has a firm commitment to college, signing a letter of intent with Clemson University. Norris already features a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a devastating changeup.
Money, however, can be a decent neutralizer for college commitments, so depending on how high Norris is selected, he may have a tough decision to make.
15. Josh Bell: OF, Dallas Jesuit HS
You would be hard-pressed to find a scout that has seen Josh Bell play that doesn’t absolutely rave about his talent and abilities. Hitting .593 in his senior season with 13 home runs and 51 RBI, Bell has also made a commitment to play at the University of Texas.
Bell has sent a letter out to the major league scouting bureau, saying that he is firm on his commitment to college, but that doesn’t stop him from placing high on this list.
14. George Springer: OF, Connecticut
UConn Huskies outfielder George Springer is one of two Huskies high on this list, not normally known as a hotbed for baseball phenoms. Nonetheless, Springer has opened many eyes with his raw power, natural speed and ability to hit to all fields.
Springer was originally chosen by the Minnesota Twins with their pick in the 48th round of the 2008 Draft—obviously, going to college greatly increased his value.
ESPN’s Keith Law called Springer "an athletic outfielder with an above-average arm who projects to hit and hit for power and just needs to refine his approach, especially with two strikes."
13. Jed Bradley: LHP, Georgia Tech
Junior pitcher Jed Bradley isn’t finished with his college career quite yet. On Saturday, Bradley pitched his Yellow Jackets to a 6-2 over Southern Miss, landing Georgia Tech in the NCAA Atlanta Regional finals.
Bradley went 7 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs on eight hits, keeping Southern Miss hitters off balance throughout most of the game.
The New York Mets are rumored to be one of the teams taking a hard look at Bradley, who has the maturity and poise to move quickly through the minor league ranks.
12. Matt Barnes: RHP, Connecticut
Both Matt Barnes and his teammate, George Springer, both landed high on this list, and both are also semifinalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, given to the best collegiate player in the country. Like his teammate Springer, Barnes has drawn high praise from scouts for his maturity and poise, and considering some of the questions raised for players ranked higher on this list, Barnes could very well be drafted higher than expected.
Barnes, the ace of the Huskies staff, consistently throws his fastball in the high-90s, and while Barnes had a rough outing against Coastal Carolina on Friday in the NCAA regional tournament, he has been projected as high as the fifth pick to the Kansas City Royals.
11. Sonny Gray: RHP, Vanderbilt
Sonny Gray is another of the quality college arms available among the first 50 picks. Gray is considered undersized, however so were Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson—it seemed to work out okay for them.
Gray was 9-3 with a 2.17 ERA during the regular season for Vanderbilt, with 105 strikeouts in 95 innings. Both the San Diego Padres and New York Mets are rumored to have high interest in Gray, however the Mets may be too late at No. 13 with the Padres picking at No. 10.
10. Taylor Guerrieri: RHP, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C.
According to Baseball America, one high school scout said that pitcher Taylor Guerrieri is hands down the best high school pitcher in the draft.
"It's the best high school arm I've ever seen," the American League scout said. "I walked into the ballpark and saw the first pitch he threw in the bullpen and I could have left. There is no chance I see this guy unless he's pitching against us in the big leagues.
"Everything was above-average to plus-plus the day I saw him. It's easy, effortless. I walked out of there with my jaw dropped. This guy is unbelievable."
Guerrieri has committed to South Carolina in the fall, however he could certainly be lured by the allure of a high draft pick and bonus money. The Brewers and Mets are two teams rumored to covet Guerrieri.
9. Archie Bradley: RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
With a 12-1 record and 0.29 ERA in his senior year, who wouldn’t covet Broken Arrow High School pitcher Archie Bradley?
Archie Bradley was named The Oklahoman's All-State Player of the Year in a very close vote over rival Dylan Bundy, a pitcher who has been consistently ranked above Bradley.
Bradley is going to have a very difficult decision to make—either get drafted high and start his baseball career, or live a dream and go to college at the University of Oklahoma with the opportunity to play quarterback.
8. Taylor Jungmann: RHP, Texas
Taylor Jungmann went into the NCAA Regional tournament undefeated, at 13-0 with a 0.95 ERA, but left the weekend left battered and bruised by Kent State, giving up seven earned runs.
It’s unclear if his latest performance will scare off any teams, as Jungmann is generally projected to be a top 10 pick on Monday in the Rule 4 Draft. Jungmann has been highly touted as a guy who has the potential to move up through the minor league system quickly, so he will no doubt still be a draw early in Monday’s first round.
7. Bubba Starling: OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.
After Monday night, outfielder Bubba Starling, like Archie Bradley before him, will have a major decision—try to make a name for himself in baseball right away, or attend the University of Nebraska and possibly become a starting quarterback.
Starling is a potential five-tool player with great speed, a quick bat and power, and is widely considered to be the best athlete on the draft board.
Starling will have until Aug. 15 to make his decision, as college-eligible draftees must make their decision by then . If Starling is a top five pick, the bonus that would be attached with that selection might be very tempting.
6. Francisco Lindor: SS, Monteverde (Fla.) Academy
Francisco Lindor is considered the second best infielder on this board, however given the question marks concerning the person above him, he just might sneak up in the draft. Lindor hit .528 during his senior season, and is considered a defensive whiz.
Lindor is one of the few very good shortstops in a thin draft for the position, and has drawn interest from the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks, who hold the 3rd and 7th picks in the draft. The Houston Astros have been rumored to have huge interest as well.
5. Dylan Bundy: RHP, Owasso (Okla.) HS
Dylan Bundy is considered by many to be the highest rated high school pitcher in the draft, however he was just beaten out in his own state for Player of the Year honors by Archie Bradley. It’s hard to argue who was better, as Bundy was 11-0 during the regular season with a 0.20 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 71 innings pitched.
Bundy could go as high as number two in some mock drafts, and has been linked to the Baltimore Orioles on several boards, including Baseball America.
4. Gerrit Cole: RHP, UCLA
It’s hard for me to believe that UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole will go first or second in Monday’s draft, considering he wasn’t even the pitcher on his college team. However that’s how many people regard, who is widely considered to be either the first or second pick on Monday night.
Cole suffered through some rough patches during his regular season with UCLA, going 5-7 with a 3.27 ERA. And several scouts have questioned his delivery, and whether or not it could lead to serious injury down the road. Nonetheless, Cole will no doubt be among the top five picks on Monday.
3. Anthony Rendon: 3B, Rice
Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon is widely considered to have the best bat in the entire draft. He has been called a pure hitter who will excel at any level.
The problems lie in the uncertainty about Rendon’s shoulder. Rendon has been unable to play third base since late March because of the shoulder issues, and got most of his at-bats as a designated hitter. Rendon has played second base recently in conference tournament games and in NCAA play. Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik went so far as to implore Rendon to release his medical records.
2. Trevor Bauer: RHP, UCLA
On Saturday, UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer absolutely dominated Fresno State, striking out 14 and extending his record to 13-2, eliminating Fresno State from the tourney. With the 14 strikeouts, Bauer surpassed former PAC-10 pitcher Mark Prior to take over the single-season PAC-10 record for strikeouts (203).
It was also Bauer’s ninth consecutive complete game, showing teams and scouts his durability. There is no question that Bauer will be selected with one of the top three picks, and possibly number one overall.
1. Danny Hultzen: LHP, Virginia
There may be only one pitcher stopping Trevor Bauer from being the number one overall pick, and that would be southpaw Danny Hultzen from Virginia. There is not much to not like about this left-hander, with a 9-3 record, a 1.49 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 90 innings of work.
Hultzen would be a great choice for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and could certainly make the jump to the majors quickly. Maybe not quite as quickly as Chris Sale did last year with the Chicago White Sox, but one never knows.