2012 MLB Draft Preview

Wednesday May 30th, 2012

Bryan Sheehan (MLB Writer): For those who may not know, the MLB’s first-year-player draft starts June 4th. While there may not be a huge name like Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg to create excessive buzz, this year’s draft should be interesting. The first overall pick belongs to the 2011 worst Houston Astros, who surprisingly have one of the shallowest farm systems in baseball. Though the Hunter Pence trade brought in their number one and two prospects, Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton, respectively, the organization is lacking in prospect depth overall. Picking behind the ‘Stros are the Minnesota Twins, with the Mariners and Orioles following. Predicting a draft, especially where there is no clear-cut “number one” prospect is difficult, to say the least. Teams aren’t drafting to fill immediate needs, so much as to bolster a weak area in their organization. For example: it may seem logical for the Phillies to draft a power-hitting first baseman with the 40th pick since Ryan Howard is injured, but really a 2012 draftee wouldn’t be MLB ready for a few years and therefore irrelevant to Howard’s injury. Plus with the changes in this year’s draft as to salaries, teams will no longer have “recommended slots” to play with. Translation: signability will play a bigger part in this year’s draft than ever before. With that being said, here are my predictions for the first ten names to be called on Monday.

1: Houston Astros select Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

As mentioned earlier, the Astros do not have a plethora of young talent in their system. Appel, 20, is a right-handed pitcher and Junior at Stanford University. The current favorite to go first overall, his fastball sits at 93-95 MPH and occasionally touches 98. His 6-5, 215 lbs. frame projects that of a power pitcher, as he can add more muscle (translation: more velocity) with age. Being a college player, he is a bit more advanced than high school prospects who have yet to play ball on a higher level. Along with this, Appel is seen as less of a risky pick because of his proven ability in college (9-1, 2.37 ERA this year). His curveball and change-up are both potentially plus pitches, according to reports. An interesting side note, he was drafted in 2009 by the Tigers in the 15th round, but didn’t sign and went to Stanford instead.

2: Minnesota Twins select Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (GA)

All reports have this centerfielder from Georgia with plus-plus, or “top of the line”, speed on both the basepaths and in the field. Sports Illustrated named him the “Nation’s Most Talented Prospect”, and he’s already regarded as a four tool prospect. The only tool that he seems to lack is power hitting, as he has just two home runs this year against pitching that is nowhere near the level he’d be seeing in professional ball. Although he would be drafted as an outfielder, Byron has experience as a pitcher, too, and has been clocked at 94 MPH on his fastball (personally, I don’t think his 6-1, 185 frame is projectable enough to add velocity). There has been talk that Buxton may go number one to the Astros, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he does. Both he and Appel are standouts, and if Buxton goes first, Minnesota will have no problems with Appel in a Twins uniform.

3: Seattle Mariners select Mike Zunino, C, University of Florida

The M’s need hitting, and badly. While there may be other players that are more talented than Zunino, 21, he is the best power hitting prospect in the draft and is a plus two-way catcher. He is projected to be an above average everyday MLB catcher with middle-of-the-order potential offensively, and has been called “a natural leader” behind the plate by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. His dad, Greg, was also a professional ballplayer in the Yankees organization and in Italy, while his uncle Gary spent three seasons in the Cardinals’ system; Mike’s got baseball in his blood.

4: Baltimore Orioles select Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)

Giolito had the potential to be the number one pick before an elbow injury shut him down in March. He recently started throwing again on a flat surface, but hasn’t gotten back on the mound. His injury may force him out of the first round completely, but I think the O’s will take the risk based on the stuff Giolito has. Besides his extremely projectable 6-6, 230 frame, his fastball is already touching 100 on occasion and his power curve is mentioned as the “best breaking ball in the draft” by Baseball Prospectus’ writer, Kevin Goldstein. This pick rides on his health come next week, and whether or not teams will take the risk for the once projected first overall selection.

5: Kansas City Royals select Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco

Another hard thrower, Zimmer complements his high 90s fastball with great control and consistency. His 75 MPH curveball is also a plus pitch, as will his changeup (potentially) if he develops it further. Zimmer’s fastball has shown good movement, as does his curveball. Some boards have him as high as second overall, but I think fifth is a nice fit. 

6: Chicago Cubs select Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico B.A.

A shortstop to the team that already has Starlin Castro? It sounds crazy, but Correa is just too good of a pick to pass up on for the sixth team in the draft. At just 17 years old, his 6-3, 190 frame may get even bigger, lending more power in his swing. Scouting reports have him with a potential for five plus tools, as his power will go up and speed may go down when his frame fills out. An extremely raw player, his ability at shortstop (especially his plus arm strength) will actually be an advantage for the Cubs: it’s much easier to move a shortstop to another position, be it third base, second or the outfield, because of the defensive spectrum. 

7: San Diego Padres select Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU

Raw is the word on Gausman. Raw frame (a lean 185 at 6-4), raw pitches, raw command and raw control. His fastball is already plus at 93 MPH with movement, but he relies to heavily on that one pitch. That being said, Gausman offers the highest ceiling of any college arm in the draft, potentially ending up as a number one or two in a MLB rotation down the road. 

8: Pittsburgh Pirates select Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)

A teammate of Giolito’s at Harvard-Westlake, Fried has been overshadowed at times. But this 6-4, 175 lefthander is also making a name for himself with a fastball that averages 90 MPH with movement and control, as well as curveball that “could make him famous” according to one scout. Being a southpaw is tremendous for Fried, considering his above average velocity, and fantastic curveball.

9: Miami Marlins select David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountrain HS, Birmington, AL

Another potential five tool outfielder, scouts have Dahl’s ceiling as a number three with plus power. He is not as athletic as Buxton, but is  much more natural hitter: his plate discipline, contact and power potentials are among the tops of the draft. A centerfielder now, there are concerns of whether he will be able to stay because of range issues, or if he will move to a corner position. But he is still an average runner. 

10: Colorado Rockies select Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy

Though it may be a bit of an oxymoron, Almora is the “safest” choice of the high schoolers available in 2012. His years of experience in the Team USA circuit are a great plus, as are his instincts at the plate and in the field. He has also gained leadership qualities through his time on the International circuit, but will drop to the tenth pick because he doesn’t have one extremely standout tool compared to others in the draft. Also, despite his status as a safe choice, there is still some polishing to be done in every aspect of Almora’s game.

Today’s feature was prepared by  Baseball Writer, Bryan Sheehan. You canfollow Bryan on Twitter (@BaseballHipster), read his interviews with Phillies’ minor league prospects at PhightingOn.com and PhuturePhillies.com, and catch him writing the occasional article for ThroughTheFenceBaseball.com. Tweet him about this article and give him a follow and he will follow you back!

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Posted on May 30, 2012, in On the Verge: MLB Prospects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nice write up

  2. who are some of the stud dominican players that will get signed?

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