2012 MLB Mock Draft V 1.0

02/09/2012

Last September we put out A Way-Too-Early Mock Top Ten, and now it’s time for a full run through of the first round. The top 6 to 8 college pitchers are an interesting bunch, there are a handful of interesting prep middle infielders, and the prep outfield class is shaping up to be chock full of upside. It was the case last fall, and it continues to be so in the new year- the high school class is where the majority of talent can be found. By no means is the college class terrible, it’s just more solid and deep than anything else.

Keep in mind that it’s still far too early to be attaching teams to prospects. This list is based on the idea that you take the best player available, and also tries to follow the trends that teams have tended to fall into the past few years. There’s already a decent sized, strong group of players from this list that look very likely to go in the first round, but some of the less-seasoned college arms and fast-rising prep players could lose their momentum by June and fall a few rounds. The rest of the first round follows the break.

  1. Astros - Mark Appel, RHP (Stanford): He’s both projectable, and could end up with a decently high floor. A safe choice at #1, but it’s not hard to argue he should continue to be in the running all the way until June barring a complete loss of command or injury troubles.
  2. Twins - Mike Zunino, C (Florida): For all he did in 2011, there still seem to be questions about his overall ceiling. Offensively, he should be a talent, it’s really a question of how valuable he can be as a catcher. If the answer is not that much, then he may take a Jeff Clement-like slide in value.
  3. Mariners - Byron Buxton, OF (Georgia HS): He has to have one of the highest ceilings in this class. Raw, but plenty of tools, and could at turn out to be a big value on defense and the bases, not to say that his bat is anything to ignore.
  4. Orioles – Luc Giolito, RHP (California HS): Another easy candidate to possibly go #1, even as a HS arm, he projects to have a much higher floor than most prep arms. His frame and his stuff is far beyond even the best of pitchers his age.
  5. Royals - Kevin Gausman, RHP (LSU): The sophomore-eligible arm could catapult himself past Appel as the best college pitcher with improved secondary stuff. He has a little less mileage on his arm than the third year pitchers, so that may be a draw to some teams.
  6. Cubs - Deven Marrero, SS (ASU): Right along with Appel, he might be one of the safest players available. With more value on defense than at the plate, all signs point to him staying at shortstop throughout his playing career. He’s a solid hitter, and can barrel up the ball with regularity, but just doesn’t project for tons of power, nor is he patient. Nevertheless, he has the tools to be a useful regular at the plate.
  7. Padres - Carlos Correa, SS (Puerto Rico): With loud tools, it only seems a matter of projecting his ultimate position. Most think a move to third is inevitable. Though Correa’s a raw hitter, his tools at the plate would make him a fantastic value at either position if everything works out. Plenty of risk here.
  8. Pirates – David Dahl, OF (Alabama HS): Not quite as toolsy as other prep position prospects, he may just be the best overall hitter though come June. Dahl’s left-handed swing is compact and his bat speed is great; he certainly never gets cheated at the plate. If a team thinks he can stick in center, there’s no telling how high he’ll go.
  9. Rockies – Lance McCullers, RHP (California HS): If he was more of a guarantee to stick as a starter, he would probably project to go higher. His pure stuff has matched Giolito’s at many different times in the showcase circuit.
  10. Athletics - Chris Beck, RHP (Georgia Southern): After Appel, he’s be the safest college arm available. He has both the frame and stuff to quickly adapt to the transition out of college ball. Though his curve is on the cusp of becoming a great pitch, more work on his change could solidify a top 15 spot for him.
  11. Mets - Walker Weikel, RHP (Florida HS): One of the faster rising names in the high school ranks, Weikel is very projectable, while already showing great pure stuff. He could quickly become the #2 high school arm selected in June.
  12. White Sox - Stryker Trahan, C (Louisiana HS): A very unique skill set for a catcher. Though raw, he has a lot of the tools you want in a catcher, defensively-speaking. On top of the traditional skills, he also displays surprising speed for the position. Most importantly, he’s a patient, powerful left-handed hitter, giving him a number of above-average tools, position considered.
  13. Reds - Victor Roache, OF (Georgia Southern): He might be a little prone to the strikeout, and his defense won’t ever be a big value (unless he works at it), but he can rake. Roache’s power is impressive, and he is capable of drawing a walk. Perhaps proper coaching is all he needs to develop into a complete threat at the plate.
  14. Indians - Brian Johnson LHP/1st (Florida): Very much reminds me of a left-handed Chris Beck in terms of build and major league readiness on the mound. What separates him from the righty is his potential with the bat. It still remains a possibility his power could convince a team to draft him as a hitter.
  15. Nationals -  Kenny Diekroger, SS (Stanford): Before his sophomore campaign, it looked like a strong possibility that the infielder would be a sure-fire top 5 pick. After an underwhelming 2011 showing with the bat, and the strong likelihood that he may not be a shortstop as a pro, his stock has fallen a lot. In an average draft class like this though, his loud tools will still land him in the first round.
  16. Marlins - Gavin Cecchini, SS (Louisiana HS): Even with his older brother already being an above-average bat in the Red Sox organization, Cecchini could possibly surpass him with an improved power display in his final year of high school. He’s already the stronger defensive player, so even more upside at the plate could make him a fantastic selection.
  17. Blue Jays - Max Fried, LHP (California HS): Projectable, and already touching the mid-90s occasionally with his fastball, the left-hander is one of a trio of strong prep lefties. How well he holds his velocity, and the state of his secondary stuff should dictate his 2012 stock.
  18. Dodgers - Albert Almora, OF (Florida HS): He’s been around the game for a while now, playing for a number of different teams at a high level. As such, he’s as mature a high school bat as you’ll find in this class. Almora doesn’t blow you away with one single tool, but he does a lot of things much better than most his age. A pretty safe pick as prep bats go, especially considering he may very well stick in center field.
  19. Cardinals – Stephen Piscotty, 3rd (Stanford): Not your traditional third baseman, he’s more about high average and big arm strength than big power. Even so, he should develop into a quality pro hitter if his most recent Cape Cod-leading display was any indication of his future talent level.
  20. Giants – Matt Smoral, LHP (Ohio HS): He’s already much more physically developed than fellow prep lefties Fried and Virant, and his stuff seems to be right around the same grade. The fact that he’s closer to being maxed-out physically may leave some teams wanting more, but he’s shown much better body control and command than most other 6-foot-8 prep pitchers.
  21. Braves – Jake Barrett, RHP (ASU): With the potential to easily jump into the top 10, his stock should be all over the place as June approaches. He’s got a great fastball and his breaking ball may be one of the better ones coming out of college this year. I’m sure teams hope that he recovers from a disappointing 2011.
  22. Blue Jays – Nolan Sanburn, RHP (Arkansas): Quietly throwing gas out of the Arkansas ‘pen in 2011, he has the stuff to dominate as a starter in 2012. Add on to that his sophomore-eligible status, and you have yourself quite an interesting college arm to follow this spring. Love the upside here.
  23. Cardinals - Marcus Stroman, RHP (Duke): With his frame it seems everyone has deemed him a bullpen arm in the future. Even so, he should be a great high-leverage option with big velocity and swing-and-miss breaking stuff. He was one of the few bright spots on Team USA this summer. The Cards could pair him up nicely with the #19 pick to save at least a little money for the rest of the draft.
  24. Red Sox - Hunter Virant, LHP (California HS): The least experienced of the lefty trio, I’m very curious how he develops in 2012. I think he could fly by Fried and Smoral if things go right.
  25. Rays - Joey Gallo, 1st/RHP (Nevada HS): It’s still uncertain if his future is on the mound or at the plate. He boast big velocity and big power, but the former may very well win out, mainly because his hit tool may be lacking for a guy limited to first. If a team thinks he can stick at third, he may turn out to be a hitting prospect after all.
  26. Diamondbacks - Trey Williams, 3rd (California HS): He has some massive potential, though it also comes with a ton of risk. The picture on him is unclear. If he continues to show that massive potential, especially with more consistency, he can be a top 10 pick very easily. Even if he does not, it doesn’t seem likely that Williams goes to Pepperdine.
  27. Brewers - Rio Ruiz, 3rd/RHP (California HS): Ruiz looks like he could be a great hitter in time with great left-handed power potential, and a ton of arm strength. The infielder could pair nicely with the Brewers very next pick. Not the flashiest pick, but it could be very safe.
  28. Brewers - Josh Elander, C (Texas Christian): The TCU catcher took big steps forward in the spring, and even more in the summer. I think he still needs to prove a little more as a hitter in 2012, as he’s more of a worker than a purely talented bat. Even still, he could be a great alternative to Zunino considering he may stand a better chance of sticking at catcher.
  29. Rangers - Kyle Zimmer, RHP (San Francisco): Zimmer has one of the best two-pitch mixes in the draft. Even more important, he should be able to start in pro ball. The righty did quite well against quality hitting in the Cape Cod league in 2011.
  30. Yankees – Rhett Wiseman, OF (Massachusetts HS): He’s one of the more raw high school bats out there. Even so, he’s got the tools to be a great center field prospect. What’s more, he should have the hitting potential to settle into a corner if need be.
  31. Red Sox - Michael Wacha, RHP (Texas A&M): I don’t think he gets enough attention among the other college arms considering the great potential Wacha’s already shown in his change-up, and the projectability in his frame at 6-foot-6.