Mock First Round Of The MLB Amateur Draft
By Conor Duffy
Draft-mania is setting in with the first 60 picks of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft set for tonight at 7:00 ET. Unlike in years past, there is no clear cut first round candidate with high school outfielder Byron Buxton, Stanford pitcher Mark Appel, LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman, and San Francisco pitcher Kyle Zimmer each potential first round picks. However, it’s most likely to come down to Buxton and Appel for the first overall selection in this year’s draft– a pair of players who each will impact a ball club tremendously in the coming years. To help give Red Sox and baseball fans alike an idea of how the draft could shape up, I’m going to do my predictions here.
- Houston Astros: Byron Buxton- The Astros are nowhere near competing so they aren’t going to need a whole lot of help for the next few years. In three or four years, however, Buxton should become a franchise cornerstone for this team. He is a five-tool player that should shape into a Matt Kemp type player.
- Minnesota Twins: Mark Appel- With Buxton off the table, the Twins will go to the Stanford righty with the second overall pick. Appel has had a fine career at Stanford and should become a very good major league pitcher very soon. He throws in the mid 90’s and has three above average pitches that could lead to him becoming a dominant force at the big league level
- Seattle Mariners: Mike Zunino- The Mariners need offense and fast– and the catcher from Florida will provide both of those. He is a very good all around hitter and should hit for both a good average and good power. The Mariners do have Jesus Montero as their catcher, but he could move to first base or DH for Zunino– who is a good catcher as well.
- Baltimore Orioles: Kyle Zimmer– Like most of the teams here early in the first round, the Orioles are in a rebuilding phase. However, they are closer to contending than some other teams so they may opt for the college pitcher Zimmer rather than high schoolers Max Fried or Lucas Giolito. And who’s blaming them as Zimmer throws in the high 90’s with three other good pitches.
- Kansas City Royals: Kevin Gausman– Gausman probably has similar potential to Appel and Zimmer, and the Royals, who also could be close to contending, should pick up the college righty. Like Appel, he reaches the mid 90’s and throws a slider and change which can develop into above average pitches for the Royals.
- Chicago Cubs: Max Fried- The gap between Max Fried and Lucas Giolito– two high school pitches– seemed to be very small earlier this year. However, Giolito had some healthy issues and that, coupled with the fact that Fried is a lefty gives me reason to predict him going to Chicago. He throws a low 90’s fastball plus a good change and curve that make him very projectable and a top prospect certainly.
- San Diego Padres: Carlos Correa- The Padres have always had trouble with hitting since they moved to Petco Park which makes me think they’ll turn to high school shortstop Carlos Correa in the first round. For a shortstop, Correa has excellent power and can drive the ball to all fields. The 6’4″ shortstop also is very speedy and should be able to stay at shortstop– all positives for Correa and the Padres.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Albert Almora- The Pirates also have had trouble his offense over recent years, but if they select Almora in the first round, things could change. Almora is a high school outfielder who can drive the ball to all fields and should possess great power at the big league level. He’s a five tool player of caliber just short of Buxton and the Pirates should pick up on that.
- Miami Marlins: Lucas Giolito- The Marlins are rounding into a very good team, and they could be helped even more if they select Giolito. Despite some injury issues during his senior year of high school this year, he still is very highly ranked and should be a top prospect. He throws in the mid 90’s with a good curve and change and has been compared to Roy Halladay— all things pointing in his favor.
- Colorado Rockies: Courtney Hawkins- Considering the power numbers that average hitters have put up in Coors Field, just imagine what Courtney Hawkins could do. He is a high school outfielder with power to die for, as well as a good arm and the ability to play well in a corner outfield position. However, it’s his power that would attract the Rockies as we could see Hawkins put on a show if drafted by Colorado.
- Oakland Athletics: Lance McCullers- The A’s are in a rebuilding phase like so many other teams listed so far, and are a long way away from contending. To bide their time, they may as well watch high schooler Lance McCullers sail through their farm system. The righty can touch the high 90’s and throws a good slider as well, and he should be very highly ranked among prospects in due time.
- New York Mets: David Dahl- Dahl is the kind of guy who could help out any team, as he is probably a four-tool player (he doesn’t have much power) and has great potential as an 18 year old out of high school. The outfielder has been compared to Johnny Damon and should be able to move through the minor leagues and become a very good all around player for the Mets.
- Chicago White Sox: Andrew Heaney- The White Sox are entering what appears to be a long rebuilding phase and one of the first names they should consider taking is Andrew Heaney. The high school left hander throws a low 90’s fastball coupled with a pair of good off speed pitches with an above average curve and change.
- Cincinnati Reds: Deven Marrero- The Reds have a pretty good team this year with a good pitching staff, so it looks like they’ll be trying to get some offense in this year’s draft. Marrero is a good all around shortstop for Arizona State who is a great fielder who hits for contact and has power potential. He could be a five tool player in some time and the Reds will probably be willing to wait for Marrero.
- Cleveland Indians: Chris Stratton- It’s looking like the Indians will be a very good team in a few year’s time, and what they need most to ensure that is pitching. A college pitcher who throws a mid 90’s fastball plus an above average curve and slider, Stratton will find a home in this draft. He has been consistently good at Mississippi State, and the Indians should hope he lasts to them.
- Washington Nationals: Stephen Piscotty- The Nationals have had one of the best pitching staffs in the game this year, so they should be looking to improve on offense in this year’s draft. Piscotty, a natural hitter and third baseman out of Stanford, should be a name they’ll consider looking at. Piscotty doesn’t have great power, but is a good defender at third and batted .349 at Stanford this year.
- Toronto Blue Jays: Michael Wacha- The Blue Jays are the classic American League team, with great offense and not so great pitching. To improve on the latter, Michael Wacha should be a guy they’re looking at. He throws a low-mid 90’s fastball with a good breaking ball and average change. The righty from Texas A&M should be a strong middle of the rotation starter, and that’s about as much as you can ask for.
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Marcus Stroman- The Dodgers have excelled at every facet of the game, but a bit of relief pitching never hurts. College closers who could move through the minors very quickly, like Stroman, are a hot commodity at the draft and the Dodgers could pick him out. Stroman throws a mid 90’s fastball and great curve– he doesn’t have great command, but that’s ok for a closer.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Richie Shaffer- With a pretty good all around team this year, the Cardinals should just be looking to pick the best available player. At this point in the draft, that may be Shaffer– the Clemson corner infielder who can hit for great power. Along with power, Shaffer also has a good arm and can hit the balls to all fields; he is a raw prospect, but a good one nonetheless.
- San Francisco Giants: Addison Russell- It’s been no secret that the Giants have struggled offensively in recent years. One guy who could help with that is high school shortstop/third baseman Addison Russell. Russell is a very advanced hitter for both contact and power and is a good fielder with both glove and arm. He doesn’t have great speed, which could move him to third, but he’s a good option regardless.
- Atlanta Braves: D.J. Davis- Like the Cardinals, the Braves have a good all around team and should just draft one of the best players available. That could mean drafting high school outfielder D.J. Davis. Davis runs well and around much ground in center field, as well as hitting for contact with gap power. Besides that, his tools aren’t too advanced with average-to-below average power and arm, but he’s worth a look.
- Toronto Blue Jays: Lucas Sims- Much like in their last (projected) pick, the Blue Jays should go for pitching and a guy they should consider is high schooler Lucas Sims. Sims may have to move to the bullpen if he doesn’t develop his change, but he is a good option anyway. He throws in the low-mid 90’s fastball with a good curve that could help the Blue Jays pitching staff, whether from the rotation or bullpen.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Zach Eflin- After taking a hitter with their first pick (by my calculations), the Cards should go for a pitcher with their second and Zach Eflin would be a good option. A few days ago, I mentioned Eflin as a guy the Red Sox may take, as he throws in the mid 90’s with a good change and breaking ball; however, he’ll have to get past St. Louis first.
- Boston Red Sox: Victor Roache- Even though the Red Sox have had bad pitching this year, their management preaches taking the best available player regardless of need. Roache may be just that, as he is certainly one of the most advanced hitters in the draft. He hits well for both power and average plus the college outfielder has good defensive instincts and should handle a corner outfield spot.
- Tampa Bay Rays: Corey Seager- The Rays have a history of drafting smartly, and Seager could be another pawn in their plan of domination. Seager is an infielder who has potential to be a four-tool player (not much speed) at the major league level. He doesn’t strike out often and hits the ball hard to all fields, something that could really help the Rays in future years.
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Gavin Cecchini- The D-Backs have not really been great or bad at any facet of the game this year, so they’ll be in a position of drafting the best available option who may be Cecchini. Cecchini’s older brother (Garin) was drafted by the Red Sox two years ago, and Gavin has potential to be just as good. He could be a five-tool player, but doesn’t have a great arm, so four tools seems most likely.
- Milwaukee Brewers: Matthew Smoral- The Brewers are in an ominous position of having a bad team and a late round selection this year. They have struggled at both hitting and pitching, but in a few years, high school lefty Matthew Smoral could change that. Smoral throws a low 90’s fastball and good change to go with a below average slider. However, high school lefties like Smoral will always be ranked highly and he’s no exception.
- Milwaukee Brewers: Stryker Trahan- The Brewers have back to back picks in this draft, and with the second of them, we could see them take high school catcher Stryker Trahan. He possesses three above average tools with great power potential, a good glove, and a good arm– and could develop as a good average hitter as well. Regardless, he should be a good catching prospect with those three tools.
- Texas Rangers: Ty Hensley- The Rangers have never really had a problem with offense and are winning now, so taking a high school pitcher could be a route they could take. At this point in the draft, righty Ty Hensley could be the best option with a low 90’s fastball and good curve, plus a below average change. Hensley could be a future middle of the rotation starter, and with the Rangers’ offense, that’s all they can really ask.
- New York Yankees: Walker Weickel- Weickel is another guy I predicted going to Boston in my last post, but with the Yanks focused on pitching, he may not last. Weickel is an advanced high school pitcher with a low-mid 90’s fastball and a good 12-6 curve to go with a good change. He’s a mature pitcher with good command that fits the Yankees’ style.
- Boston Red Sox: Joey Gallo- If he lasts this long in real life, the Red Sox should snatch Gallo up in an instant. He hits for fantastic power that has scouts drooling over him, and that’s about it. He doesn’t have any other standout tools, he is a good defender, but it’s the power that really makes things click.
There you go, I hope you’ve enjoyed my mock draft and I hope it’s accurate!