UCLA starting pitcher Gerrit Cole is expected to go Number One overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2011 MLB Draft. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The 2011 MLB Draft looks like one of the strongest classes in the last 20 years. Although there is no off-the-charts prospects like Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper towering above their peers, this draft is quite deep, especially in pitching.
The hard-throwing UCLA tandem of Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer headlines a large group of advanced college pitchers with high ceilings, and the high-school class is impressive as well, led by fire-balling Oklahomans Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley. The class of hitters isn't as deep as the pitching, especially on the college side, but there are some elite talents available, headlined by Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Kansas high school uber-athlete Bubba Starling. Long-time draft observers say that this class is so strong that many players who will be picked in the third or fourth round would be first-round candidates in some classes.
The draft begins at on Monday evening at 6 p.m. ET, with the first and supplemental first rounds. It continues during the day on Tuesday and Wednesday, running to 50 rounds altogether. Baseball Nation will provide pick-by-pick coverage on Monday evening, with additional SB Nation coverage available at Minor League Ball and MLB Bonus Baby.
Here is a look at 40 MLB Draft prospects for the first round. The list is organized alphabetically.
Tyler Anderson, LHP, University of Oregon: Polished lefty with a 90-93 MPH fastball and a robust secondary arsenal (slider, curve, changeup) along with sharp control. Great feel for pitching. 8-3, 2.17 ERA with 114/35 K/BB in 108 innings. Target: Mid-to-late first round.
Javier Baez, SS, Arlington Country Day School, Jacksonville, Florida: Originally from Puerto Rico, Baez features explosive bat speed with plus power. Main issues are doubtful makeup and long-term defense, but has arm for third if he outgrows short. Target: Mid first round.
Matt Barnes, RHP, University of Connecticut: Throws mid-90s heat along with plus curveball and solid changeup. Has size (6-4, 205), stuff, and command to anchor a major league rotation. 11-4, 1.62 ERA with 111/31 K/BB in 117 innings. Target: Early-to-mid first round.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA: Advanced student of pitching with mid-90s fastball, nasty curve, and strong changeup. Outpitched teammate Gerrit Cole, draws Lincecum comparisons, and has held up under big workload. 13-2, 1.25 ERA with 203/36 K/BB in 137 innings. Target: Early first round.
Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy HS, Groton, Massachusetts: Advanced cold-weather high school pitcher with low-90s heat and potential for much more, also shows good curve and change. Strong commitment to Vanderbilt will scare some teams away. Target: Late first round.
Josh Bell, OF, Dallas Jesuit HS, Dallas, Texas: Outstanding home-run potential from both sides of the plate, draws Jason Heyward comparisons due to power and patience. Extremely strong University of Texas commitment clouds draft position. Target: Mid first round if signable.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow HS, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma: Mid-90s fastball with plus curveball and developing change, with strong athleticism. Has Univ. of Oklahoma quarterback commitment to use as bonus leverage but is expected to sign. Target: Early-to-mid first round.
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, University of South Carolina: Disappointing season (.259/.361/.468) ended early with wrist problems, but track record keeps him in the picture. Excellent defense, left-handed pop, and strong intangibles still attractive. Target: Supplemental round.
Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech: Polished lefty offers three pitches (88-94 fastball, plus slider, solid change) with excellent command, though stock dropped somewhat late this spring. Allowed just one homer so far. 7-3, 3.49 ERA with 106/31 K/BB in 98 innings. Target: Mid first round.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS, Owasso, Oklahoma: Best available prep pitcher, with 95-100 MPH fastball, strong curveball, strong cutter, solid changeup, and superior control, won't need much development time. Brother Bobby pitches in Orioles system. Target: Early first round.
Andrew Chafin, LHP, Kent State University: Tommy John survivor showed no ill effects this year, with 90-95 MPH fastball, plus slider, improved change, and sharp command. Stock rising as draft approaches. 8-1, 2.02, 105/23 K/BB in 89 innings. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA: Could go No. 1 overall despite erratic season, with 95-99 MPH heat, power slider, and excellent change. Volatile personality in high school but matured into hard worker with strong makeup. 6-8, 3.31 ERA, 119/24 K/BB in 114 innings. Target: Early first round.
Adam Conley, LHP, Washington State: Closed in '10 but converted to rotation this year, may revert to pen in pros. 89-92 MPH in rotation, 92-95 in relief, mixing with strong changeup. Needs better breaking ball. 6-7, 3.50 with 83/27 K/BB in 108 innings. Target: Supplemental.
C.J. Cron, 1B, University of Utah: Enormous raw power mixed with polished hitting skills resulted in .434/.517/.803 mark with 15 homers, 31/21 BB/K in 198 at-bats, despite NCAA switch to less-potent bats this year. Best college power bat available. Target: Mid first round.
Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS, Tampa, Florida: Cuban defector blew through prep ranks with 95 MPH sinker, solid curveball and slider, decent change. Big body should help durability if weight kept under control. Could be closer or workhorse starter. Target: Mid-to-late first round.
Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State: Excellent command of 88-91 MPH fastball, terrific changeup, and solid breaking ball led to 12-1, 1.83 ERA with 122/20 K/BB in 113 innings. Moving up draft boards and won't need long in minors. Target: Late first round /supplemental.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami-Dade Junior College: Good athlete with speed, patience, and at least moderate power potential from left side. North Carolina transfer hit .382 with .492 OBP, 37 walks, eight homers and 16 steals in 157 at-bats this year. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt: Commodore ace stands just 5'11" but has arm strength: 90-96 MPH fastball and outstanding curve. Needs to sharpen changeup but should have the aptitude to do it. Great makeup. 11-3, 2.01 ERA, 115/39 K/BB in 108 innings. Target: Early first round.
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, South Carolina: Fast-riser this spring has mid-to-upper-90s fastball along with power curve, hasn't needed third pitch yet but has the aptitude to develop it. Doubts about makeup hurt stock with some clubs. Target: Mid first round.
Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy HS, Searcy, Arkansas: University of Arkansas commitment and big bonus demands make him a wild card, but 90-94 MPH sinker, decent curve and change, plus strong athleticism will make him attractive to someone. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia: Cavalier ace with 92-96 MPH fastball, strong changeup and improving slider, combine that with sharp control and you have a pitcher who will move quickly through any system. 11-3, 1.57 ERA, 148/17 K/BB in 103 innings. Target: Early first round.
Taylor Jungmann, RHP, University of Texas: Longhorn ace dominates with 90-95 MPH fastball, slider, and changeup. Mechanics aren't textbook but he's been very durable and has sharp command. 13-1, 1.40 ERA, 119/29 K/BB in 128 innings. Target: Early to mid first round.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy, Clermont, Florida: Originally from Puerto Rico, line-drive hitter with slick actions at short, can stick there and provide some hitting to go with glove. Main concern is lack of power, but still a premium talent. Target: Early first round.
Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU: The new college bats were no hindrance for Mahtook, as his .383/.496/.709 line with 14 homers, 41/32 BB/K in 196 at-bats line shows. Solid athlete stole 29 bases. Plate discipline has improved dramatically over three years. Target: Mid first round.
Anthony Meo, RHP, Coastal Carolina: Another dominating college arm, 10-3, 2.16 ERA, 115/31 K/BB in 108 innings. Throws 92-96 MPH, nasty curve, control improved this year. Will need a better changeup and might close eventually. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Alex Meyer, RHP, University of Kentucky: 6-foot-9 Meyer improved rough mechanics this year, giving him a 7-5, 2.94 ERA with a 110/46 K/BB in 101 innings. Touches 100 MPH at times, has good slider and changeup, command needs more work. Target: Mid first round.
Levi Michael, SS, University of North Carolina: Solid contact hitter with good baseball skills and instincts, hit .300/.446/.456 with 47/41 BB/K in 217 at-bats, 15 steals. Reliable glove, but does he have the range to stick at shortstop long-term? Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Cheyenne East HS, Cheyenne, Wyoming: Athlete with above average speed and power. Good plate discipline and surprising polish, given his state lacks high school ball. Big bonus demands to skip college ball at Arkansas. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS, Johnson City, Tennessee: Best high-school lefty in the class, improved command of low-to-mid-90s fastball this year along with strong curve and change. Quite athletic and made progress harnessing his stuff this spring. Target: Mid first round.
Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS, Huntington Beach, California: Fastball not a blazer at 88-92, but control is superb and he has a curve, slider, cutter, and changeup. Feel for pitching is outstanding but lack of heat hurts his stock a little. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Matthew Purke, LHP, Texas Christian: Wild card, 5-1, 1.71 ERA with 61/20 K/BB in 53 innings, but nagged by arm problems all spring and quality of stuff down from last year. Hefty price tag and sophomore status makes draft slot hard to pin down. Target: Supplemental.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice University: Consensus best hitter in draft hampered by shoulder problems all spring, still hit .332/.522/.531 with 79 walks, 32 strikeouts in 211 at-bats. Fine defender at third base if his arm is healthy. Target: Early first round, one or two overall.
Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O'Dowd HS, Oakland, California: Brother of Athletics pitcher Tyson Ross, Joe hits the mid-90s and has a strong curve, decent changeup, and good control. May be expensive to buy away from UCLA but someone will try. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Cory Spangenberg, 3B, Indian River Junior College: May be best pure hitter in draft. Power limited, but sprays line drives everywhere, gets on base, and is blazing fast. Long-term position will likely be second base. Hit .477 with .553 OBP and 33 steals. Target: Late first round.
George Springer, OF, University of Connecticut: Best athlete of the college crop, improving skills to go with tools, could be a 20/20 player. Swing mechanics have been questioned, but few flaws in the stats: .351/.451/.632, 30/37 BB/K in 228 at-bats, 31 steals. Target: Mid-first round.
Derek "Bubba" Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kansas: Five Tool player, above-average-to-excellent in all respects but lacks experience against high-level competition. Nebraska quarterback recruit won't be cheap but huge upside. Target: Early first round.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS, Martinez, California: Mid-90s heat with improved curve and great athleticism would make him a top ten pick some years, but he has lots of competition in ‘11. Could throw harder as he matures physically. Target: Mid-to-late first round.
Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State University: Recovered rapidly from broken hamate; shows power bat with solid defensive skills when fully healthy. Hit .318/.451/.550 with 27/32 BB/K in 129 at-bats. Sophomore status gives him some leverage. Target: Late first round/supplemental.
Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho, New Mexico: Strong University of Texas commitment clouds draft position, but Swihart's switch-hitting power bat and overall athleticism means someone will invest. Main question: can he stick at catcher? Target: Late first round.
Kolten Wong, 2B, University of Hawaii: Pure hitter with plate discipline and plenty of pop despite 5-9 size, hit .378/.492/.560 with 42/20 BB/K in 209 at-bats. Excellent makeup, solid defender at second base but can also play the outfield if needed. Target: Late first round.
OTHER POSSIBLE EARLY PICKS: Dante Bichette Jr., 3B-OF; Orangewood Christian HS, Orangewood, Florida; Hudson Boyd, RHP, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Florida; Kes Carter, OF, Western Kentucky; Alex Dickerson, OF, Indiana; Jason Esposito, 3B, Vanderbilt; Granden Goetzman, OF, Palmetto HS, Palmetto, Florida; Austin Hedges, C, Junipero Serra HS, San Juan Capistrano, California; Travis Harrison, 3B-1B, Tustin HS, Aliso Viejo, California; Wiliams Jerez, OF, Grand Street HS, Brooklyn, New York; Jorge Lopez, RHP, Academia de Milagrosa, Puerto Rico; Brad Miller, SS, Clemson; Ricky Oropesa, 1B, Southern Cal; Josh Osich, LHP, Oregon State; Joe Panik, SS, St. John's; Chris Reed, LHP, Stanford; Dwight Smith, Jr., OF, McIntosh HS, Peachtree City, Georgia; John Stilson, RHP, Texas A&M; Trevor Story, SS, Irving HS, Irving, Texas; Aaron Westlake, 1B, Vanderbilt.