Sunday, January 15, 2012

Early MLB Mock Draft

For more on the 2012 MLB Draft click here.

Update: Click here for my "Big Board" featuring my personal top 10 draft prospects.

The first edition of my MLB mock draft for 2012.  I will produce a few more editions over the next several months leading up to June so check back for more.  Also, check out this link for more on the MLB draft 2012. I tried to make this mock draft as realistic as possible.  To do so, I strove to avoid a mistake that I often see in mock draft and that frustrates me.  Most mock drafts focus on specific holes on the major league squad (which is better) and base the list off of that that.  I believe teams rarely, if ever, do that in actual drafts, and so instead I'll be trying to formulate my mock draft based upon organizational philosophy and the general shape of a farm system, with a major focus on best player available. I also did not put an emphasis on the effect the new CBA will have on college vs. high school players being drafted.  I think that effect will be minimal in the first round.

#1 - Houston Astros
Mark Appel
  
Position: P 
School: Stanford (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'4, 195
DOB: 07/15/1991 

Wrongly or rightly, the mantra that comes up with the #1 pick is "Don't screw up the first pick."  You hear that Astros? Don't screw up the first pick.  New GM Jeff Luhnow will take that mantra to heart and avoid anything particularly risky.  Looking at this year's draft class, that means Mark Appel.  The Stanford junior is similar to last year's #1 overall pick, Gerrit Cole.  Both have electric stuff but thus far have failed to see their results match their elite arsenal.

Appel is able to run his fastball into the high 90's and it sits comfortably in the mid 90's.  He adds a plus slider and a developing, above-average change-up.  That arsenal - espite a tendency for his fastball to straighten out and a lack of results - will compel Lunhow to select Appel.  He offers more upside than fellow collegian Mike Zunino, and as the Astros move to a loaded AL West, they will need upside.  Likewise, Appel is safer than say high school outfielder Byron Buxton.  Appel may not end up as the best player of the options the Astros have to pick from, but he will end up going #1 because in hindsight he won't be the "wrong" pick, even if he busts. 

#2 - Minnesota Twins
Mike Zunino 

Position: C
School: Florida (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'1, 215
DOB: 03/25/1991 

Yes, I'm well aware that the Twins have Joe Mauer.  Indulge me for a moment.  Even though they have had some changes in management, I expect the Twins to continue in their propensity to draft floor-centric college guys. Here, Zunino and ASU shortstop Devin Marrero fit that bill.  Both play at a premium defensive position, but I believe Zunino will have the better bat and therefore has a higher ceiling.  As such, he's the best player available. Plus, before you knock the Twins if they do select Zunino, time-travel back to 2008 when multiple teams passed on another catcher from the state of Florida, Buster Posey.

Zunino will have no trouble sticking at catcher.  Extremely intelligent, Zunino also has the hands and athleticism to be an above-average or plus defensive backstop.  His swing grows long at times, but he has the bat speed, strength, and loft to have plus power in the future. In addition, he could have the contact ability to be a middle-of-the-order hitter.  To reach that potential, Zunino will need to deal with offspeed pitches better, another vice of his.  Ultimately, Zunino's holes are only minor and he should be an above-average of catcher in the big leagues for several years. 

#3 - Seattle Mariners
Deven Marrero

Position: SS
School: Arizona State
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'1, 175
DOB: 08/25/1990 

This prediction is based on two factors.  The first is Deven Marrero is really good.  The second is the Seattle Mariners organizational depth.  Yes, the Mariners just traded Michael Pineda and Jose Campos, but they still have Hultzen, Walker, and Paxton to go along with Felix Hernandez.  Therefore, I think they will pass on high-school pitcher Lucas Giolito (who I think is the best player in the entire draft) and instead opt for the college bat. Marrero is better suited time frame-wise to team up with guys like Hultzen, Paxton, Smoak, and the recently acquired Jesus Montero. 

Marrero won't wow anyone with his upside.  It's not that he doesn't have very good  potential, he does, it's just that his most attractive attribute is the fact that he probably has the best floor in the draft.  Marrero is a good athlete, with a strong arm, soft hands, and plenty of range.  Furthermore, he's been blessed with instincts that should allow him to be a plus defender at shortstop with ease.  Marrero won't be the liability in the lineup a plus defensive shortstop often is either.  He probably will never be a batting champion due to some length in his swing, but he will be able to post good on-base percentages.  Marrero also has good line-drive power and I wouldn't be surprised if he could hit 15 or more HR's when he peaks in the major leagues.  Marrero is as safe a bet as you can get to be at least an average shortstop, and if things go right he has the solid ceiling of a well-above average shorstop who may make an all-star game or two.

#4 - Baltimore Orioles
Lucas Giolito 

Position: P
School: Harvard-Westlake HS (California)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'6, 230
DOB: 07/14/1994 

This one is pretty simple.  Giolito is the best player here and is in fact the best player in the draft in my opinion.  I'd tentatively rank Giolito ahead of both recent right-handed high school pitching phenoms, Dylan Bundy and Jameson Taillon.  He also fits into what Baltimore is doing, which is adding extremely high-upside high school players.  A trio of Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, and Lucas Giolito is enough to make anyone salivate, especially Baltimore fans.  If all three pan out, the O's may find themselves as a contender in the AL East in a few years.  

Simply put, Giolito is a monster.  Physically he stands at 6'6, 230 pounds, so he even has room to add muscle to his frame.  That's scary, considering rumors are already swirling about Giolito hitting triple-digits with his fastball.  Even if those are unfounded, Giolito can touch the high 90's and his fastball sits comfortably in the 95-96 range already.  In addition, Giolito has impressive secondaries, especially for a high school kid.  His throws a curveball and a changeup, both of which are already above-average.  Combine that with impressive command for a high school junior and Giolito has a superb arsenal to go along with a workhorse body and the potential to move quickly through a farm system.  That package is what makes Giolito my best draft prospect right now. 

#5 - Kansas City Royals
Kevin Gausman    

Position: P
School: LSU (Sophomore)
Throws: R; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'4, 185
DOB: 01/26/1991 

The Royals are creeping up on contention and they are not short of positional players.  Some combination of Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers and more will provide enough of a batting lineup to be a contender in the AL Central.  On the other hand, the Royals do need pitching and they need pitching that will be ready soon.  Kevin Gausman fits that bill.  

Gausman throws a very good  fastball that he can run up to the mid 90's fairly easily.  More importantly, he still has plenty of room on his frame to add muscle, so presumably he may be able to add a tick or two on his fastball.  In addition, Gausman shows a curveball that has promise, although it probably won't be more than an above-average pitch barring substantial improvement.  Gausman other secondary, a changeup, is the better of his two offspeed offerings, and could be a plus pitch in time.  To reach his potential, that of a top-of-the-rotation starter, Gausman will need to tighten his command, but Gausman's package is impressive in its entirety and makes him worth of a top 5 selection. 

#6 - Chicago Cubs
Byron Buxton 

Position: OF
School: Appling County HS (Georgia)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'2, 190
DOB: 12/18/1993 

The Cubs, with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer at the helm, have essentially admitted they are in need of a rebuild.  Rumors continue to swirl about Prince Fielder, but assuming he does not sign with the Cubs, Epstein will have to turn the Cubs around via the farm system.  To do that, upside never hurts and Byron Buxton fits the upside mold.  In fact, he might have the highest ceiling of any prospect in this years draft and will fit in nicely with last year's #1 pick Javier Baez as two positional players with potentially elite bats at a premium defensive position (if Baez is able to stick at SS, which is iffy).  

Buxton is an absolute gazelle.  The dude can run and will easily stick at CF where he will cover plenty of ground.  He also has an above-average arm, so he should be an elite defensive asset.  Buxton's bat is also intriguing.  Right now, he is raw at the plate but displays gap-to-gap line drive power.  Over time, as he adds muscle and learns to add some loft to his swing, Buxton could end up with plus power to go along with his plus-plus speed.  That package, highlighted by an unfathomable ceiling, should allow Cubs fans to dream if Buxton comes off the draft board at #6.
  
#7 - San Diego Padres
Chris Beck 

Position: P
School: Georgia Southern (Junior)
Throws: R ; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'3, 220
DOB: 09/04/1990 

The Padres, who after the Mat Latos trade have arguably the best farm system in baseball, could go several directions with this pick.  They could go with a high upside prep player to continue to stock the pipeline that the farm system should become soon.  However, I think Padres brass will decide to try and contend sooner rather than later building around guys they just traded for, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani GrandalTherefore, a college guy makes sense and a good pitcher in Petco is never a bad thing.  Enter Chris Beck.

Beck has three solid pitches that should all be average or better.  He starts with a fastball that sits in the low 90's and can touch the mid 90's.  He has solid control and command of his fastball and it has plenty of movement when thrown correctly, although that can be an issue for Beck.  Beck compliments his fastball with a slider that could be plus in time.  His slider is only slightly trailed in effectiveness by his changeup, which should be an above-average pitch as it develops.  If Beck can add a bit to his arsenal and learn to use his secondaries more intelligently, he could be a #2 starter.  Even if he doesn't reach that potential, Beck has a very good chance of becoming a middle-of-the-rotation innings eater.  The Padres could do worse at #7, even if this could be construed as a slight reach.  

#8 - Pittsburgh Pirates
Carlos Correa 

Position: SS
School: Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'4, 190
DOB: 09/22/1994 

This is more of a personal hope than what I believe what will happen, but it does make some sense.  The Pirates claim they had Josh Bell at #6 on their big board last year and had Tony Sanchez at #4 on their board in 2009 (They also claim they had Taillon ahead of Harper in 2010, so take that info with a grain of salt).  Therefore, it wouldn't be crazy to see them take a guy like Correa, who Neal Huntington may really like, at #8.  With Victor Roache still on the board, the Pirates might go that direction, but for now I'm taking Correa..

Correa is a great athlete who has a good chance to stick at SS despite his frame.  He also has significant potential with his bat and he's super young.  Read more about him here. 

#9 - Miami Marlins
Victor Roache 

Position: 1B/OF
School: Georgia Southern (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'1, 225
DOB: 09/17/1991

Speaking of Victor Roache, he goes off my board next.  The Marlins are in win now (or very soon) mode, with their signings of veterans Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. Homegrown guys such as Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, and Josh Johnson complement the Marlins recent free agent class.  A pitcher would probably be the best option, but I don't think the Marlins reach for Brian Johnson or Michael Wacha with Roache still available.  Even if he can't stick at a corner outfield spot, his bat will definitely play at 1B, making him or Gaby Sanchez trade bait.

Roache has adequate athleticism and the instincts that may allow him to stick in the outfield.  If so, that gives him a boost in value as his bat could turn him into an all-star in the outfield.  Roache has a solid approach that should allow him to post passable batting averages and very good on-base percentages as a pro.  His calling card will definitely be his power though.  Roache has impressive bat speed and raw power that makes the ball leap of his bat when struck well, and Roache has the hand-eye coordination to strike it well in games and not just batting practice.  All in all, Roache has the skills with a bat in his hand to be an elite hitter for several years and as such he shouldn't fall out of the top 10 come June. 

#10 - Colorado Rockies
Walker Weickel  

Position: P
School: Olympia HS (Florida)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'6, 195
DOB: 11/14/1993 

The Rockies are in an interesting spot.  They just traded away Ubaldo Jimenez this past season, which was an interesting move from a team that simply had a bad year and had the talent to rebound with a playoff berth the following, and this coming, year.  A trade like that may signal a rebuild, but the Rockies still have elite players in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, and Tulo just signed a big contract extension.  Therefore, they should look to contend soon, but I believe the Rockies will avoid trying to reach and draft a player that will be ready to help soon.  Instead I see them trying to reverse their fortunes on high school pitchers (Tyler Matzek) by selecting Walker Weickel.

Weickel has impressive size at 6'6, and has the room to add plenty of muscle and presumably plenty of fastball velocity.  That is exciting considering Weickel's fastball already can touch the lower portion of the mid 90's and sits in the low 90's.  The pitch also has solid movement, both sink and cut.  Weickel adds to his fastball with a curveball that shows promise and that he can already command better than most high school pitchers.  The changeup, Weickel's third pitch in his arsenal, may actually be better than the curveball, which is impressive for a high school kid.  The other secondary already produces great deception and Weickel shows a solid feel for throwing it.  There are some concerns about Weickel's delivery, which is perceived as stiff at times, but those concerns aren't enough to knock him out of my top 10. 

#11 - Oakland Athletics
Lance McCullers Jr. 

Position: P
School: Jesuit HS (Florida)
Throws: R; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'1, 190
DOB: 10/02/1993

To borrow from Matt Garrioch over at mlbbonusbaby, "Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker. Beane's new market inefficiency is short righties with a plus fastball and breaking ball." Like the Mariners, the Athletics will need high ceiling talent to compete in the AL West.  McCullers fits that bill, even if he doesn't seem like a standard Billy Beane pick.

Despite his rather diminutive size, at least for a pitcher, McCullers can bring the heat.  His fastball routinely hits numbers in the high 90's.  McCullers adds a slider that is already above-average, with plenty of velocity and bite.  McCullers third pitch, his changeup, is raw and will need plenty of work.  Command is also another issue for McCullers, as his needs refinement.  Still, McCullers stuff, especially his raw velocity, almost guarantees he will be picked in the top half of the first round. 

#12 - New York Mets
Trey Williams 

Position: 3B
School: Valencia HS (California)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'1, 210
DOB: 03/09/1994 

The Mets are a mess.  Financially and ownership-wise who knows exactly what is going to happen.  On the baseball side of things, what is clear is that the Mets were unable to retain Jose Reyes and so a rebuild is probably on.  Carlos Beltran netted Zach Wheeler last year at the trade deadline and then the Mets drafted Brandon Nimmo.  Those two, along with Matt Harvey give the Mets some high-upside talent in the minor leagues.  Add Trey Williams, a potential all-star at 3B with a great bat and a great glove, and the Mets farm system will begin to look very healthy.  As an aside, I think the Mets should try to trade David Wright while he still has value, along with entertaining the idea of moving guys like Ruben Tejada, Jon Niese and even Ike Davis.

Anyway, back to Trey Williams.  Williams is athletic, but his stocky build makes him a candidate for 3B rather than the OF or SS.  That same build is indicative Williams's power, which is impressive.  Williams combines that raw, muscular power with elite bat speed that should allow him to be a premium homerun threat as a pro.  Williams also has an advanced approach for a high schooler that should allow him to be a complete hitter.  The kid isn't a slouch in the field either.  Williams has quick reactions and plenty of arm that should allow him to be an above-average or better defensive 3B.  Glove and bat, Williams should be a complete, two-way player, and should be a welcome addition to any farm system.

 #13 - Chicago White Sox
Albert Almora 

Position: OF
School: Mater Academy (Florida)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'2, 180
DOB: 04/06/1994 

Death, Taxes, the Bama-LSU game being boring. There are a few things that can always be counted on.  Kenny Williams doing something in the draft that raises eyebrows is another one.  Almora isn't that much of a reach, but it'd be at least a mild surprise here.  For the record, I actually like Almora, so I wouldn't mind seeing Williams picking him.  Ultimately, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the #13 pick, so I'm going with Almora.

Call me crazy, but Almora reminds me a bit of former Florida prep product Andrew McCutchen.  He should be a superb defensive CF, who projects to have enough bat to be a very good player.  Almora has a good approach like McCutchen, and I think he could show surprising power as he physically mature.  My gut also views Almora as a guy who gets the most out of tools; a "the sum is greater than the parts" type of guy.  In addition, Almora has a very good ceiling and ultimately the White Sox could do much worse.   

#14 - Cincinnati Reds
Brian Johnson  

Position: P
School: Florida (Junior)
Throws: L; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'3, 225
DOB: 12/07/1990 

After winning the Central division in 2010, they didn't even make the playoffs last year.  They plan on remedying that this year, especially as Albert Pujols and presumably Prince Fielder will be playing outside the division this coming season.  To do that, the Reds went out and traded for Mat Latos and Sean Marshall and signed Ryan Madson to a one-year deal with a second-year option.  The message is clear, "win now (or at least win soon)." Therefore, adding a college pitcher like Brian Johnson, who can move quickly and help a weak rotation (at least compared to the Reds bats) makes sense.

Johnson has a solid arsenal, led by a fastball that sits in the low 90's with quality movement.  The lefty from Florida also has an above-average slider and an above-average changeup, but that is probably the limit of his ceiling.  Johnson also displays good pitchability and mound presence and also has the frame to be an innings-eater as a pro in the middle of a good rotation, which is always valuable.  Furthermore, Johnson's arsenal should allow him to rack up a solid amount of groundballs which is always good in Great American Ball Park.  Overall, Johnson is a quality pick for the Reds. 

#15 - Cleveland Indians
Richie Shaffer 

Position: 1B/3B/OF
School: Clemson (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'4, 195
DOB: 03/15/1991

The Cleveland Indians love college guys.  Until they picked Francisco Lindor last year with the #8 pick, they had drafted a college player in the first round three straight years.  In 2008, it was Lonnie Chisenhall, in 2009 it was Alex White, and in 2010 it was Drew Pomeranz.  This year, I've got the Indians drafting Clemson Junior Richie Shaffer.

Defensively, Shaffer has an impressive arm.  That arm could certainly play at 3B, although he may not have the range or reactions to play the hot corner.  If not the hot corner, Shaffer has the athleticism to deserve a shot at RF where he can showcase that arm.  If neither of those positions work out, Shaffer has the bat to play at 1B regardless.  Shaffer's calling card is his impressive power, which is already plus to all fields.  Shaffer does have a few holes in his swing and he will be prone to strikeouts but that sometimes comes with the type of power that Shaffer provides.  It's that power that will help make sure Shaffer is a coveted draft pick in the first round come this June. 

#16 - Washington Nationals
Michael Wacha
 

Position: P
School: Texas A&M (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'6, 195
DOB: 07/01/1991 

Washington Nationals fans could probably care less who they will pick come this June and rightfully so, mainly for two reasons.  First is the rumor that Prince Fielder will be heading to Washington as a free agent signing.  Second, the Nationals are no longer drafting near or at the top of draft, making it less "exciting."  Ultimately, drafting last in the first round is the goal and the Nationals are showing progress in reaching that goal.  Those two reasons also are indicative of Washington's current situation, which is to win now or at least win soon.  Led by Strasburg, the two Zimmerman(n)'s, Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez, and Bryce Harper, and possibly Prince Fielder, the Nats would benefit from quick help from this year's draft.  Michael Wacha should be able to move quickly and should end up as a innings-eating starter to fit in behind the Nats now impressive rotation trio.

Wacha, who has an impressive mount presence due to his large 6'6 frame, has plenty of room to add muscle.  That muscle could add a tick of velocity to his already solid fastball that sits in the low 90's and can touch the mid 90's.  Wacha shows promise with either a curveball or a slider for his breaking ball, depending on a team's preference and Wacha also has a solid changeup that will be an effective pitch at the major league level.  Wacha should be ready quickly and has surprising upside for a college pitcher, making him a solid pick and a solid addition to a very good Nationals farm system.

#17 - Toronto Blue Jays
Max Fried 

Position: P
School: Harvard-Westlake HS (California)
Throws: L; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'4, 170
DOB: 01/18/1994 

Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos loves high school pitchers and they apparently love him back.  The Blue Jays's farm system is one of the best in the game, largely on the strength of impressive pitching depth including multiple prep pitchers that the Blue Jays drafted early in previous drafts.  All that said, it makes sense for the Blue Jays to procure another prep pitcher with their protected pick (say that five times fast).  I'll take a stab and say Max Fried.

Max Fried is a lefty with impressive size.  Standing at 6'4 and only 170 lbs, Fried oozes project-ability.  That's particularly impressive considering Fried can already run his fastball up to 94 and it generally sits in the low 90's.  Fried also knows how to throw a cutter which is always useful.  In addition, Fried has a solid curveball and promising changeup.  Possibly Fried's most exciting attribute is his already excellent command, which should allow him to develop quickly, making this prep pitcher a very good pick for the Toronto Blue Jays. 

#18 - Los Angeles Dodgers
Nick Williams 

Position: OF
School: Galveston Ball HS (Louisiana)
Throws: L; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'3, 195
DOB: 09/08/1993 

A few months ago, Nick Williams was the sexy name in draft circles.  He's since been replaced by Byron Buxton, but Williams outside the top 10 shows his stock as dropped a bit.  The Dodgers won't complain if they are able to draft Williams and his considerable ceiling and add him to their farm system which could use an infusion of upside.   

The term "5 tools" could have been made for Williams.  The baseball concept of "raw" could also have been coined for Williams.  In workouts, Williams shows impressive power, tremendous speed, a well above-average arm and the bat speed to be able to hit for a solid average.   If he can learn to translate that power to hitting the ball, his speed to using it on the basepaths, and refine his arm accuracy to make it a defense weapon, his ceiling is seemingly unlimited.  High-risk and high-reward that some team will decide to take and then pray for the best. 

#19 - St. Louis Cardinals
Jake Barrett 

Position: P
School: Arizona State (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'4, 220
DOB: 07/22/1991 

The Cardinals will have the #19 pick as compensation for losing Albert Pujols to the Angels.  St. Louis they have a fine stable of high-ceiling,, prep arms - Miller, Martinez, Jenkins, and Rosenthal - so a college arm with a higher floor to balance that out seems logical.  Jake Barrett would be that guy at this point in the draft.

Barrett can bring the heat - his fastball can touch the upper 90's - but he also has a a slider and a changeup, two pitches that will need refinement.  If he is able to refine those pitches, Barrett could be a #2 starter and he certainly has the frame to be a workhorse starter.  If his secondaries don't catch up to his fastball, Barrett has the mound presence and enough command to be a great or even elite bullpen arm.  Eventually, he has the stuff to close, which could be valuable for a Cardinals team that has had bullpen issues lately. 

#20 - San Francisco Giants
Matt Smoral

Position: P
School: Solon HS (Ohio)
Throws: L; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'8, 220
DOB: 03/18/1994 

Like Alex Anthopoulos above, Brian Sabean loves his prep pitchers, especially in the first round.  The last six years, half of the Giants first round picks have been prep pitchers, including Tim Alderson, Madison Bumgarner, and most recently Zack Wheeler.  It's been two years since Wheeler, so I'm predicting the Giants to go back to their recent trend and pick super project-able Matt Smoral.  

Smoral towers basically everyone, including most NBA players.  The lefty stands at 6'8 and only weighs 220 pounds, so he has plenty of room to fill out.  If he does add the velocity one would expect, Smoral could truly be something special.  His fastball already sits in the low 90's and Smoral also throws a changeup with plenty of promise.  Smoral does have a third pitch, but his slider is well behind his other two offerings and can be at best characterized as fringe.  Surprisingly, Smoral displays good mechanics and a fluid delivery, a rarity for a man his size. Smoral will fight an uphill battle not to bust, but the kid's substantial ceiling will force someone to take a chance on him.  I wrote more about Smoral here. 

#21 - Atlanta Braves
Marcus Stroman 

Position: P
School: Duke (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 5'9, 185
DOB:05/01/1991 

The Braves always make unexpected picks and they always seem to work out brilliantly, at least of late.  I expect this year to be no exception and I look for the Braves to draft reliever Marcus Stroman, even if the Braves have two elite and young relievers and plenty of pitching depth.  If they do, I won't doubt them.

Stroman's stature is tiny - he only stands in at 5'9 and according to some that may be generous - but his arm isn't.  The Duke junior can run his electric fastball up to the high 90's and it has plenty of life.  Stroman also has a nasty curveball, but those are his only two pitches.  That limited arsenal and his size should mean Stroman will immediately be a reliever but he should move quickly, despite somewhat shaky command.  Of course, the Braves could try him as a starter - they do seem to think outside the box when it comes to pitchers - despite his alleged shortcomings.  I wouldn't put it past them and I wouldn't be too surprised if they were successful.  

#22 - Toronto Blue Jays
Kenny Diekroeger 

Position: SS
School: Stanford (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'2, 200
DOB: 11/05/1990

Diekroeger is another favorite of mine.  I remember leading up to the season in 2011, I figured the Pirates wouldn't be any good and so I did some research on who was the extremely early favorite to go #1 and Diekorger was the man at the time.  Lackluster production and concerns about a potential move to 2B have hurt the Stanford Junior's stock.  Assuming he has another decent, but not stellar year, he should be looking at the back end of the 1st round.  The Blue Jays have the 22nd pick because they were unable to come to terms with last year's first rounder Tyler Beede and thus the pick is either unprotected or will only be protected for one more year (the new CBA is unclear as to 2012 from what I can tell).  College is always the safer route in such a scenario and I believe the Blue Jays wouldn't hesitate to take Diekroeger if he's still available at #22 as a compliment to Max Fried.

Diekroeger was a top prospect out of high school, mainly due to his elite athleticism and impressive bat speed, but he chose to go to Stanford rather than sign with the Rays as an early round draft pick a few years ago.  Diekroeger's substantial tools - he was actually objectively rated as a better athlete than Mike Trout according to the Nike SPARQ test coming out of high school - haven't yet translated to the success that some expected.  Depending on the source, Diekroeger could be projected as an above-average defensive shortstop with elite bat speed, a good approach, and a chance to develop above-average or better power, an impressive overall package.  However, other sources see Diekroger as a future second baseman who's bat won't play well at that position.  Overall, Diekroeger is more of a gamble than your typical college player.  He has a very high ceiling, but could turn into nothing more than a utility player if he doesn't improve as a hitter.  That's not a bad risk for the Blue Jays at #22.

 #23 - St. Louis Cardinals
Stryker Trahan 

Position: C
School: Acadiana HS (Louisiana)
Throws: R; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'1, 215
DOB: 04/25/1994 

This pick, #23, is the Cardinals natural pick and thus it's protected.  As such, they might look to go with a high school kid to compliment Jake Barrett earlier in the round. I know I said I don't like mentioning specific positions/holes, but indulge me.  Yadier Molina won't play forever and the Cardinals don't really have any catching depth in the minor leagues, at least that jumps out.  By drafting Stryker Trahan the Cardinals could change that. 

High School catchers often aren't able to stay behind the plate, but Trahan has a solid chance.  He has the athleticism to be at least average defensively, but he will need to refine his ability to pick balls and improve his footwork.  On the offensive side of the ball, Trahan shows raw power, although his stroke is a bit long.   There are no major red flags about pitch recognition, so Trahan should hopefully develop into a hitter who can post an acceptable average and plus power.  As an added bonus, Trahan runs very well for a catcher and should be an asset on the basepaths.  Overall, Trahan is the best backstop option in the draft behind Zunino and probably has a better ceiling than Zunino, although he also has a much higher bust rate.  That is enough to almost ensure Trahan is drafted in the first round if he has a solid senior year. 

#24 - Boston Red Sox
Gavin Cecchini 

Position: SS/2B
School: Barbe HS (Louisiana)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'0, 175
DOB: 12/22/1993 

This one is fairly simple.  Gavin's older brother, Garin, is already in the Red Sox farm system.  If he's available this late, the Red Sox will have no reason to pass on the younger Cecchini.  Obviously the Red Sox brass has changed, but Cecchini also fits the mold of several current Red Sox players.  Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis lack stand-out tools, but both are very good players.  Cecchini could follow in their footsteps.

As mentioned above, Cecchini doesn't have elite tools.  What Cecchini does have is no glaring holes in his game.  In addition, he also has extraordinary instincts that help improve his range in the field and his effectiveness on the bases.  Furthermore, Cecchini does certain things to impress with the bat in his hands.  His stroke is short and compact, which could allow him to be an elite hitter for average and Cecchini also has gap-to-gap power that will serve him adequately as a middle infielder.  Cecchini may have to move to second base if you listen to some, but overall Cecchini is a guy who will get more out of his tools than one might expect at first glance.  Add that to his work ethic and a team like the Red Sox could pick him in the first round.  Additional note: Different positions and tool sets, but Cecchini's overall package reminds me of Christian Yelich, who I'm very high on. 

#25 - Tampa Bay Rays
Lucas Sims 

Position: P
School: Brookwood HS (Georgia)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'3, 190
DOB: 05/10/1994 

The Rays under Andrew Friedman are fans of high school pitchers.  Considering Lucas Sims is found inside the top 15 on some draft boards, I doubt the Rays would pass on him here if Sims is available.

Sims already has two pitchers that are above-average.  His curveball shows tight spin in a three-quarters fashion.  His fastball shows good life, hitting the mid 90's on occasion.  Sims also throws a changeup, but only in practice and warm-ups.  It will require vast improvement to be effective.  Sims also has plenty of room to grow into his frame, which is never a bad thing when projecting pitchers.  Sims also has plus athleticism, which should help him develop. 

#26 - Arizona Diamondbacks
Josh Elander  

Position: C
School: TCU (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'0, 215
DOB: 03/19/1991 

This is a gut call on a reach more than anything else.  The Diamondbacks don't really need more arms and none of the prep bats stand out.  The few college bats that could make sense ahead of Elander are outfielders with potential red flags.  Therefore, I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict the Diamondbacks to take TCU backstop Josh Elander.

Elander's calling card is his offense, that includes excellent bat speed, good raw power, and above-average running ability.  Elander's potential weakness is on the defensive side of the ball.  His instincts and footwork could use some work, and he may have to move.  Luckily, Elander is probably athletic enough to move to a corner outfield spot than 1B, preserving his value a small amount.  However, Elander will drop down boards if he has a poor spring with the glove in his hands. Still, Elander's complete package is intriguing enough he could sneak into the first round if a team really likes him. 

#27 - Detroit Tigers
Lewis Brinson 

Position: OF
School: Coral Springs HS (Florida)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'3, 170
DOB: 05/08/1994 

One report I read compared Lewis Brinson to former Tigers farmhand Cameron Maybin.  The Tigers love toolsy, athletic prep outfielders and this pick just fits perfectly.  In fact, if I had to rank them, Brinson to the Tigers is my second most confident prediction behind Appel to the Astros.

Brinson is extremely raw, but also extremely toolsy.  He displays above-average or better proficiency in virtually every category.  Brinson has gap power right now that could become above-average as he gets older and stronger.  Brinson can run with above-average speed on the bases and above-average range in the outfield.  His arm will also be an asset in center.  Ultimately, Brinson could end up as an all-star a decade from now or he could never make it past AA.  That's the type of risk the Tigers will probably be willing to take. 

#28 - Milwaukee Brewers
Joey Gallo 

Position: 1B
School: Bishop Gorman (HS)
Throws: R; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'4, 200
DOB: 11/19/1993 

The Brewers farm system is so bare right now, they could go almost any direction.  Being somewhat hypocritical again, they lost Prince Fielder and thus lost a lot of power production.  Down the road, a guy like Joey Gallo could replace that.

Gallo's scouting report is fairly simple.   He's not a great runner, he's already destined for 1B and he actually has some concerns about holes in his swing, namely his swing's length.  However, he does have one tool that is always in demand, power.  Gallo has absolutely mammoth power and it's power to all fields.  When it's easy to realistically project a guy to hit 35 or 40 HR's in the big leagues, he won't last long in a draft, regardless of other issues.  That's what the Brewers would be drafting in Gallo. 

#29 - Texas Rangers
David Dahl 

Position: OF
School: Oak Mountain HS (Alabama)
Throws: R; Bats: L
Measurables: 6'2, 185
DOB: 04/01/1994 

David Dahl probably won't last this long, so if he does, I'd be surprised if the Rangers don't pounce on the prep outfielder from Alabama. Plus, the Rangers have an excellent farm system, but it's mostly because of their pitching and their infield positional players, so Dahl would help provide balance.  Furthermore, who doesn't want to dream way down the road of an outfield with Dahl in the middle and recent international signees Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman on the corners.

I said dream, because Dahl may not be able to stick at CF.  He's a solid athlete, but not elite.  However, Dahl's instincts allow his athleticism to play up, so he may be able to stick at CF.  Offensively, Dahl's calling card will be his ability to hit for average, which will be plus or better.  Dahl also has gap power and could be an above-average power hitter as a finished product.  Speed on the basepaths and batting approach are also solid aspects of Dahl's game.  Dahl is another guy who reminds of Christian Yelich, and someone will be more than happy to gobble him up at the end of the first round. 

#30 - New York Yankees
Duane Underwood
  
Position: P
School: Pope HS (Georgia)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'2, 205
DOB: 07/20/1994 

The Yankees love athletes.  Recently they've drafted guys such as Cito Culver, Danny Bichette, Angelo Gumbs, and Mason Williams.  Duane Underwood is also very athletic, although he's a pitcher.  That could help balance the Yankees farm system, so he makes sense here.

Underwood is already fairly filled out, so he lacks elite project-ability typically seen in prep pitchers.  However, that's not a significant issue because Underwood already hits the mid to upper 90's with his fastball and sits in the 92-94 range.  Underwood has two secondaries, a changeup and a curveball that lag behind his fastball, but both also show promise.  Underwood has some command issues, but he has plenty of upside because his present arsenal and his smooth delivery that's a result of his great athleticism. 

#31 - Boston Red Sox
Kyle Zimmer 

Position: P
School: San Francisco
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'3, 210
DOB: 09/13/1991 

This is the pick the Red Sox got as a result of losing Jonathon Papelbon. After taking high school middle infielder Cecchini earlier, I predict the Red Sox will take a college guy and that guy is Kyle Zimmer.  If nothing else, he should be a fairly easy sign.

Zimmer can run his fastball to 97 mph and routinely sits in the mid 90's.  He also has three other pitches, which bodes well for his chance to be a starter as a pro.  Zimmer's slider and curveball are both very inconsistent, but both flash plus.  His fourth pitch, a changeup, is a major work in progress.  Zimmer maintains his velocity deep into his starts, another good sign that he can start, but if he's moved to the bullpen he should move quickly due to his fastball and the solid command he has of the pitch.  He's not a bad choice at all to round out the first round.
 

28 comments:

  1. I think you don't know pitching and should watch some of these guys vs trying to figure out who can pitch via these draft boards.

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    1. Thanks man? You mind being more specific on what you are talking about?

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  2. I think your wrong about the direction the Nats go in the draft this year. Rizzo's early drafts with the Nat's were college heavy because the system was so weak and there wasn't any talent on the major league roster. Now that we do have talent in the majors and a farm system that isn't completely empty we can afford to take a risk on a high upside HS player.

    Plus the Nats already have the top 3 locked up for the next 5 years and Purke, Solis, Meyer, Rosenbaum developing in the minors. We need more high upside guys in the lower minors.

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    1. That's a good point. Maybe a Nick Williams or Max Fried.

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  3. Good effort. Looks like you did some homework. I don't see Gallo Or Dahl falling that far though. I think that you might also have considered Christian Walker, who IMO is the best available college bat, for the Jays instead of Diekroeger. Also think you have Beck going a little high but I might be nitpicking there. We'll see. Enjoyed reading your thoughts.

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  4. picks remain protected for an additional year, referring to the jays second pick.

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  5. Fried and Giolito on the same HS Team...wowza.

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  6. BTW...Giolito is now sitting 95-98 consistently since November. He's up to 240lbs. I talked with some scouts who've seen him. Greatly improved command. Plus CB & Plus Change. Throws everything for strikes. I think ur right that he's the top talent in the draft. Not sure anyone passes on him.

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  7. From a Jays perspective I would want either Dahl or Cechinni at 22 over Diekroeder. Although we are somewhat thin at shortstop at the minor league level with only Hechavarria, Thon Jr. Shane Opitz, and Dawel Lugo, I think that either Dahl or Cechinni will be the better talent in the long run, and Cechinni can probably stick at ss as well.

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  8. M i t t,

    cuz, you need to fix the bucs pick. you say your going with vr. you list cc as your pick. congrats on your sponsor.

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  9. Great Mock Mc!

    Though I don't agree with all picks your writeups are good and your reasoning makes sense. I personally don't see the Diekroger love, especially for the Jays who "should" have picked Kolton Wong last year and chose to pass

    Dahl I think will become a hugely sought after guy like Nimmo did and will probably come off the board very early.

    I think more then anything Im more interested to see how many unsigned picks come out of the first round this year. I don't see Fried, Dahl, Trahan or Cecchini signing for the 1 mill plus that they will be getting at the end of the first round.

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  10. I think the Padres will go in a different direction personally. I think they stick to the plan the past couple years and draft high upside players like Carlos Correa ( sorry I know how much you like him).

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  11. As I watch these Mock drafts and everyone taking high school players - Adam Brett Walker from Jacksonville University hit over .400 last year and has 5 tool potential. He is the youngest college player in the Top 100 of anyones Mock draft and I would suspect, he will only get better with MLB coaching. Despite K's - he was ranked top 3 Athlete in Cape and Type 3 Power Hitter in Cape. He was the youngest player on his Cape team (Hyannis) and one of the youngest players in the entire Cape this past summer despite being a JR in 2012. Why do teams draft high school kids over young college players with equal upside?

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    1. Thanks for the heads-up. I'll do some research on him and now tentatively plan on making him part of my next draft player profile.

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    2. 'Cause he's a 6'5" kid who projects to be a first-basemen. Scouts go ga-ga over obviously (not potentially) toolsy guys and big-time power arms (HS or not) over power hitting big-men who are position-limited and K alot. Yes, he can cut down on the K's and if he wants to move up he should work on that by shortening up and trusting that the power will be there. It really doesn't get any easier at the next level and scouts are paid to know that. Btw, this isn't to say he's not good or better as a prospect in comparison. Lot's of people have him projected as a 1st Rounder so I'm not quite sure why you think he may be underrated. Looks like he's getting tons of love.

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    3. BTW - He plays 1B (Pre-season 1st Team All American @ 1B) - but is expected to play OF according to various mocks (timed @ 6.68 in the 60). Not bad for 6'5 - 225 lbs. - My question was about age preference with scouts as opposed to him getting drafted. Young 20 year old college kids or older 19 year old high school seniors? Victor Roache is young for 2012 college crop too.

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  12. Williams does have quite the impressive package.

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  13. My concern was not that he won't get drafted, but why scouts rarely speak on the benefit of drafting a young college kid. You would think they have a greater and/ or faster learning curve having been through a more regimented daily college schedule. Victor Roache is super young too. These seem like better picks to me based on age and recent higher level competition. As opposed to a high school kid who is maybe a year younger and slightly more immature?

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  14. I don't see Seattle taking a SS. One of their highest rated prospects is SS Nick Franklin and have two other shortstops in their top 15 prospects. I think they'll take Buxton.

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  15. As a Cardinal fan- I'd be very happy w/ the Trahan selection (Not so much on the Seth Blair clone in Jake Barrett)-- but it would be too hard for me to pass on either: Dahl or Brinson. Enjoyed your opinion.

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  16. Nice job,,,thanks for the read. If nothing else comes of this,,,,we readers get an idea of the high school and college talent coming this spring.

    I think the Yankees select position players being they are fairly deep in pitching,loaded @ catcher,weak in outfield, and limited @ SS. But who knows ??? They are limited lefty pitching wise overall,,,Manban being their #1 lefty who should join the show in 2013 full time.

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