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Late in baseball's draft, scouting directors start choosing offspring of various baseball people. Most of these players will never play in the major leagues. But some of the names might amuse you.
In the newest collective bargaining agreement, Major League Baseball cut down on the amount of money teams could invest in the amateur draft. It was intended as a step toward greater parity, but lots of people disagreed with that, as it wasn't always the high-spending teams spending more than the rest in the draft. Anyway, the new draft rules meant less money for amateur players. You know who's upset? A guy who represents a lot of amateur players. Scott Boras, via Bob Nightengale:
"There was all forms of artificial behavior in the draft,'' Boras told USA TODAY Sports. "The purpose of the draft is that it's supposed to create parity in the game. You want teams with the greatest needs to get the best available talent.
"That has not been achieved in this draft.
"It's created a mockery.''
Boras client Mark Appel was expected to go first overall, but slipped to eighth, while Carlos Correa climbed to the top. One is free to declare that Scott Boras is biased, and indeed, he is biased, because he's pulling for the players. But much of Boras' argument also isn't wrong. The new rules clearly changed the way that players were drafted, and not necessarily for the better.
It'll be some time before we can truly examine the consequences of the new rules. They might work out as intended, they might backfire, or they might accomplish nothing. For now, you can go ahead and consider Scott Boras displeased. I should have asked you to sit down before reading that sentence. I'm so, so sorry.
The son of a famous Baltimore Oriole was one of the team's choices on the third day of the 2012 draft.
With a limited budget in place, teams have looked to college seniors in order to re-organize their early-draft spending.
The draft ends on Wednesday, but the interesting parts of the draft are just beginning.
Day 2 of the 2012 MLB draft answered some questions about how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would impact amateur player acquisition. The early rounds went, more or less, as expected: a mixture of college and high school picks distributed, more or less, as they should be along talent lines.
However, after the fifth round more teams began bargain hunting, picking players (often college seniors) with little bargaining power. The idea here was to find players who were certain to sign, especially those who would sign for less than slot value. Teams could then pocket that money to help sign players who might require over-slot bonuses without breaking through the club's absolute limit of bonus money allocated under the new system.
Signability was also critical: teams lose the bonus allocation for players drafted in the 10th round or earlier who don't sign. Interestingly teams were more aggressive in rounds 11 through 15. Players earning $100,000 bonuses or less after the 10th round don't count against the team's bonus pool. Bonuses over $100,000 after the 10th round do count against the bonus pool, however, a team that saved a lot of money in the middle rounds could then allocate that money to help sign a guy drafted in the 11th round or later.
Here is a look at some notable picks in the second round or later. This is not a "best of each round" list, but rather a look at interesting players that demonstrate the variety of backgrounds available. For more information about the draft, including an analysis of each draft class in the coming days, check in at Minorleagueball.com.
Nolan Fontana, SS, Houston Astros: Drafted in the second round, 61st overall, this University of Florida shortstop doesn't have superior tools but is extremely polished, with an impressive glove at shortstop as well as a good feel for the strike zone.
Bruce Maxwell, C-1B, Oakland Athletics: Drafted in the second round, 62nd overall from Birmingham Southern University, this slugger hit .471/.619/.928 with 59 walks and just 11 strikeouts this spring. It was Division III competition, but scouts feel his bat is for real and Oakland is optimistic he can catch.
Carson Kelly, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals: Drafted in the second round and 86th overall, Kelly is a high school infielder from Portland, Oregon, who has strong tools in all categories except speed. He has power, a reasonably polished approach at the plate, good actions at third, and a strong throwing arm. He is also one of the youngest players in the class at age 17.
Kieran Lovegrove, RHP, Cleveland Indians: Selected in the third round and 110th overall, this California high school pitcher was born in South Africa. Lanky and projectable, he's inconsistent with his velocity but shows a good feel for pitching and isn't likely to end up at Arizona State.
Onelkis Garcia, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Drafted in the third round 113th overall, Garcia is a Cuban defector who was declared draft-eligible in January. He has a low-90s fastball and an impressive curve, but was floating huge bonus demands last week. It will be interesting to see how those negotiations go.
Patrick Kivlehan, 3B, Seattle Mariners: Selected in the fourth round, 131st overall, this third baseman from Rutgers was unknown six months ago, but decided to play baseball after four years of college football. The results were stunning: he hit .399/.484/.710 with 14 homers and showed solid tools. Plus, he's smart enough to pick baseball over football.
Damien Magnifico, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers: Chosen in the fifth round, 185th overall, from the University of Oklahoma, Magnifico burns radar with a 96-99 MPH fastball and has been clocked over 100 many times. Despite the velocity, he was only moderately successful in college and has a history of elbow problems, which knocked his stock down.
Damion Carroll, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays: Selected in the sixth round, 212th overall, Carroll is a high school pitcher from King George, Virginia. Athletic but raw, he can hit 95 MPH but needs help with his secondary pitches. The Rays have a strong pitching development system and seem like a great fit for him.
Wilfredo Rodriguez, C, Colorado Rockies: Nabbed in the seventh round, 228th overall, this high school catcher from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy is short but strong at 5-10, 210, features a good arm, power potential in his bat, and impressive makeup.
Josh Ludy, C, Philadelphia Phillies: Selected in the eighth round, 278th overall, Ludy was Big 12 Player of the Year following an outstanding season for the Baylor Bears. He hit .368/.453/.637 with 15 homers, while demonstrating decent defense behind the plate. Scouts don't love his 5-10, 210 pound body but his bat draws respect, and he's a potential bargain as a senior.
Jamodrick McGruder, 2B, Seattle Mariners: Drafted in the ninth round, 281st overall, McGruder was outstanding for Texas Tech, posting a .358/.500/.503 line with 39 steals. He's a decent defender and packs a lot of speed, athleticism, and some wiry strength into his 5-7, 170 pound body.
Joe Bircher, LHP, Houston Astros: Picked in the 10th round, 309th overall, Bircher is a lefty from Bradley University who led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts last summer and was similarly brilliant this spring (2.70 ERA, 113/21 K/BB in 110 innings), despite a fastball that seldom exceeds 87 MPH. His command is outstanding.
Hunter Virant, LHP, Houston Astros: Selected in the 11th round, 339th overall, Virant was expected to be a second-round pick and it will cost a lot of money to buy him away from UCLA. Can the Astros find the money without breaking their bonus budget limits? Good question, but they lose nothing by trying except an 11th round pick.
Ryan Kellogg, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays: Picked in the 12th round, 385th overall, Kellogg is a high school pitcher from Ontario with average velocity but a very projectable frame. He also has an Arizona State scholarship, but just like the Astros with Virant, the Blue Jays lose nothing by trying to sign him, and perhaps the local connection will help.
Brett Wiley, SS, St. Louis Cardinals: Picked in the 13th round, 420th overall, from Jefferson Community College in Missouri, Wiley is a JC star with speed, doubles power, decent plate discipline and the defensive tools for shortstop.
Tyler Hollick, OF, San Francisco Giants: Picked in the 14th round, 448th overall, from Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona, Hollick is a center fielder with speed (61 steals), good plate discipline and an outstanding statistical track record.
Jameis Winston, OF, Texas Rangers: Selected in the 15th round, 486th overall, from high school in Hueytown, Alabama, Winston is an outstanding athlete and the top quarterback recruit in the country. Scouts would love to see how his speed, strength and throwing arm would work in pro baseball, but by all accounts he's heading to college. The Rangers don't lose anything by drafting him in the 15th round and seeing what happens.
If you watched the MLB Network's coverage of the amateur draft Monday night, you might think that everybody drafted will become a big star. Which is possible, but unlikely.
32) Minnesota Twins: J.O. Berrios, RHP, Papa Juan XXIII HS, Bayamon, PR: Listed at 6'2", 180, Berrios added 20 pounds to his frame in the last 12 months, boosting his fastball as high as 97-98 MPH. He also has a very good slider and changeup, and should be easily signable away from Miami Dade JC in this slot.
33) San Diego Padres: Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty HS, Oviedo, FL: Eflin was a certain first-round pick until missing time with a triceps strain and elbow soreness, although tests revealed no significant injury. At full strength, he works at 90-96 MPH while showing an average breaking ball and a very good changeup. Scouts like his 6'5", 200-pound body, and he should still go early enough in the draft to forgo Central Florida.
34) Oakland Athletics: Daniel Robertson, 3B, Upland HS, Upland, CA: Listed at 6'2", 185, Robertson is a right-handed hitter with significant bat speed and doubles power. Scouts are uncertain about his home run development, but his glove will play well at third base, with above-average arm strength and very good range. He is committed to UCLA.
35) New York Mets: Kevin Plawecki, C, Purdue University: Plawicki hit .359/.445/.578 with 26 walks and just eight strikeouts in 223 at-bats for the Boilermakers this spring. A fine overall athlete, he has pop to all fields and should hit for a decent average as well. He is a very good defensive catcher with leadership skills, mobility, and reliability that helps compensate for an average arm.
36) St. Louis Cardinals: Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford: Piscotty is a 6'3", 215-pound right-handed hitter. Scouts like his pure hitting skills, he excels at making contact, and he won the batting title in the wooden bat Cape Cod League last summer. He hit .320/.405/.463 through 231 at-bats this spring, with 27 walks and 21 strikeouts. The main problem here is defense: his glove at third is nothing special and many scouts expect a move to the outfield.
37) Boston Red Sox: Pat Light, RHP, Monmouth University: Tall and lean at 6'6", 200, Light throws a 90-96 MPH fastball from an easy delivery. His slider and changeup need refinement, but his fastball command is excellent and his statistical performance was quite strong: a 2.40 ERA with a 102/16 K/BB in 101 innings with just 84 hits allowed.
38) Milwaukee Brewers: Mitch Haniger, OF, Cal Poly: Well-built at 6'2", 215, Haniger hit .346/.438/.626 with 13 homers, 36 walks, and 32 strikeouts in 211 at-bats this year. The right-handed hitter has a strong throwing arm and runs reasonably well. He took a large step forward offensively this spring by improving his strike-zone judgment.
39) Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo, 3B-RHP, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas, NV: The 6'5", 205-pound Gallo may have more power than any other hitter in the draft, and it comes from the left side of the plate. He strikes out a lot, needs more refinement as a hitter, and his long-term position is unclear. He is also a prospect as a pitcher, featuring a 93-98 MPH fastball, but most teams prefer his bat. Gallo is committed to Louisiana State.
40) Philadelphia Phillies: Shane Watson, RHP, Lakewood HS, Lakewood, CA: Watson is another impressive high school right-hander, generating 90-94 MPH heat along with a strong curve and cutter. Like most preps, his changeup needs work and he needs to get more consistent in general, but he has ideal size at 6'4", 200. He is committed to baseball at Southern Cal.
41) Houston Astros: Lance McCullers, Jr, RHP, Jesuit HS, Tampa, FL: The son of former major leaguer Lance McCullers, Junior showed improved command of his 93-100 MPH fastball this spring, along with an impressive slider. Many scouts believe he’ll relieve at higher levels, but he’s shown enough command this year that he deserves a chance to start. Listed at 6'2", 205, he will need to refine a changeup. He is committed to the University of Florida.
42) Minnesota Twins: Luke Bard, RHP, Georgia Tech: The younger brother of Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard, Luke was limited to 27 innings this spring by a torn lat muscle. He was excellent in those 27 innings, posting a 0.99 ERA with a 26/6 K/BB ratio, showing a 93-95 MPH fastball and a good breaking ball. He could move quickly in relief.
43) Chicago Cubs: Pierce Johnson, RHP, Missouri State University: This 6'3", 185-pound right-hander had a breakthrough campaign, posting a 2.53 ERA with a 119/28 K/BB in 100 innings, allowing 85 hits. He has a 90-96 MPH fastball, an effective slider, a cutter, and a changeup. He also has a history of forearm problems, and concerns about his durability hurt his stock compared with the other top college arms.
44) San Diego Padres: Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook: Jankowski hit .412/.477/.632 this spring with 34 steals in 40 attempts. An excellent athlete, he is a line drive hitter with very good speed and defensive ability. Lack of power kept him out of the first round, but he should hit for average while providing steals and impressive defense.
45) Pittsburgh Pirates: Barrett Barnes, OF, Texas Tech University: Listed at 6'1", 210, the right-handed hitting Barnes has one of the more potent speed/power combinations available this year, although his track record is inconsistent. He’s hitting .325/.491/.597 with nine homers and 19 steals in 20 attempts, drawing 32 walks against 37 strikeouts in 206 at-bats. Opinions differ on if he can play center at higher levels, but he stands out as an intriguing talent in a weak college class.
46) Colorado Rockies: Eddie Butler, RHP, Radford: Butler posted a 2.20 ERA with a 95/23 K/BB in 98 innings this spring, allowing 78 hits. A 6'2", 165-pound right-hander, he throws a 90-95 MPH sinker, an erratic slider and a fringy changeup. He’s a small college guy and needs refinement, but has considerable upside, and a guy who keeps the ball down is useful in Colorado.
47) Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson, 1B, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Georgia: Olson is a power hitter from the left side who didn’t receive a lot of pre-draft press due to a very strong commitment to Vanderbilt. Oakland has a good read on his signability, however, and, assuming they’re correct, his combination of power, patience, and pure hitting skills will add a booming bat to the organization.
48) Chicago White Sox: Keon Barnum, 1B, King HS, Tampa, Florida: Barnum is an enormous power hitter (6'4", 225) with outstanding power potential, although his swing is long and he probably won’t hit for a high average. He is committed to the University of Miami and was seen as a third- or fourth-round talent with questionable signability by most teams, although going this early in the draft makes it much more likely that he’ll sign.
49) Cincinnati Reds: Jesse Winker, OF, Olympia HS, Orlando, Florida: Winker is a solid hitter with good power and a refined approach for a high schooler, but his physical tools are otherwise average. Scouts have been watching him play for years, meaning he’s been nitpicked a bit in favor of shiny new toys. If the bat develops as expected, he can be a solid regular at an outfield corner or first base. He is committed to the University of Florida.
50) Toronto Blue Jays: Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon HS, Solon, OH: Listed at 6'7", 225, Smoral missed almost the entire spring with a broken foot. When healthy, he features a low-90s heater and a nasty breaking ball, although he’s still working on his changeup and command. He has a scholarship to the University of North Carolina and may be a tough sign.
51) Los Angeles Dodgers: Jesmuel Valentin, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, Puerto Rico: Son of former major league infielder Jose Valentin, Jesmuel is a switch-hitter with line drive power and good defensive actions, although opinion is split on his long-term defensive position. He is committed to LSU but should be signable in this slot.
52) St. Louis Cardinals: Patrick Wisdom, 3B, St. Mary’s College: Wisdom showed power by hitting nine homers this spring, but overall his season was a disappointment, with a .262 average and 43 strikeouts in 191 at-bats. On the other hand, he has a good glove at third base, and has a strong track record of success with wooden bats in summer leagues. It is possible that his spring performance this year was an aberration.
53) Texas Rangers: Collin Wiles, RHP, Blue Valley West HS, Overland Park, Kansas: A surprise choice in the supplemental round, Wiles was strongly committed to Vanderbilt and was considered unsignable as recently as a week ago. Projectable at 6'3", 190, he throws 87-92 MPH but has a chance for more velocity as he matures. His curve is promising, and he throws strikes.
54) Philadelphia Phillies: Mitch Gueller, RHP, West HS, Chehalis, Washington: A late riser on draft boards, Gueller is a 6'3", 205-pounder with a 92-96 MPH fastball and a promising curve. He’s very athletic and still somewhat raw as a pitcher, but his stock rose once scouts realized he was signable away from his college commitment at Washington State.
55) San Diego Padres: Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS, Orlando, FL: An inconsistent spring and a velocity dip knocked Weickel’s stock back a notch, but he still interests scouts with his 6'6", 200-pound body, 88-93 MPH fastball and solid curveball and changeup. He is committed to the University of Miami. Scouts have been familiar with him for years, and he might have been nitpicked a bit this spring.
56) Chicago Cubs: Paul Blackburn, RHP, Heritage HS, Brentwood, CA: Blackburn isn’t big at 6'1", 180, but he’s quite refined for a high schooler, throwing 88-92 MPH with strong command, mixing it with a plus curveball and a solid changeup. He should be signable away from Arizona State with this draft slot, and projects as a mid-rotation starter.
57) Cincinnati Reds: Jeff Gelalich, OF, UCLA: The leading offensive force for the Bruins this spring, Gelalich hit .372/.462/.566 with 11 homers, 15 steals, 32 walks, and 41 strikeouts in 226 at-bats. Featuring good power from the left side, he also runs well and has greatly improved his plate discipline. He is a solid, low-risk pick with decent upside.
58) Toronto Blue Jays: Mitch Nay, 3B, Hamilton HS, Chandler, AZ: Nay is a 6'3", 195-pound right-handed hitter with above-average power. He’s convinced scouts that his hitting skills are sound, and as a result has been moving up draft boards at the last minute. He also has a strong throwing arm and reasonable actions around the bag at third. Nay is committed to local baseball power Arizona State University.
59) St. Louis Cardinals: Steve Bean, C, Rockwall HS, Rockwall, Texas: A University of Texas recruit, Bean is an impressive defensive catcher with a strong throwing arm. He makes contact and has a sound swing, but so far he hasn’t tapped into much power. That could come with time, and left-handed hitting catchers who can field are always in demand.
60) Toronto Blue Jays: Tyler Gonzales, RHP, Madison HS, San Antonio, TX: Another University of Texas recruit, Gonzales stands at 6'2", 180, but generates a 93-96 MPH fastball, along with a nasty slider. He has some command issues and his delivery isn’t perfect, but his upside is considerable, especially if he can refine a changeup to go with his power stuff.
Brian Johnson, LHP, University of Florida: A two-way threat in college, Johnson is also a prospect as a first baseman, although scouts prefer him on the mound. Listed at 6-3, 235, he has average velocity for a lefty in the upper-80s, but mixes it well with a curveball, slider, and changeup. He went 7-4, 3.67 in 15 starts for the Gators, with a 64/15 K/BB in 81 innings and 76 hits allowed. Scouts think he could be more dominant once he moves to pitching full-time. He represents a fairly low upside pick for the Red Sox, but has a very good chance to get to the majors at least as an inning-eating starter. At worst, he can help in the bullpen. Unlike most two-way players, he’s not an especially good athlete, although he repeats his delivery well. Command is his best attribute, but we’ll have to see how he adjusts to faster competition once he reaches Double-A.
Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe HS, Edmond, OK: Featuring a workhorse 6-4, 220 pound body, Hensley is a prototypical hard-throwing high schooler with a 92-96 MPH heater and a plus curveball. He needs innings to refine his changeup and his command, but his upside is as high as any of the other prep pitchers not named Giolito. He is committed to the University of Mississippi but should be signable here. The Yankees have gone against consensus with their early selections in recent drafts, but Hensley is a perfect fit here and was under consideration by teams 10-15 spots higher than this. His father Mike was a minor league player, so he has baseball in his blood. He is a strong overall athlete who is also a prospect as a hitter. He also has background as a quarterback, demonstrating some leadership skills on the field. Overall, he’s a good risk as high school pitchers go.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Coral Springs HS, Coral Springs, FL: An outstanding athlete, the 6-4, 180-pound Brinson is already an excellent defensive outfielder, but is rather unrefined with the bat. He has plenty of bat speed but is still learning the finer points of hitting, including plate discipline. He is committed to the University of Florida, but considered signable for first-round money. The Rangers have a good track record helping similar hitters refine their swings and develop a feel for the strike zone, but it won’t be a rapid process and the organization will need to be patient with Brinson. His upside is a 20/20 player with excellent defense, but we’ll have to see how his other skills develop. His work ethic and makeup are well-regarded, which helps of course. He was seen as a supplemental-round pick by most experts, but this isn’t really an overdraft, given his raw tools.
Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern University: Roache hit 30 home runs as a sophomore last year, but missed almost this entire spring with a broken wrist, putting his draft status in doubt. He isn’t just a slugger and shows a good work ethic, but his track record with wooden bats is mixed. Any team that drafts him is banking on a full recovery from a significant injury that required insertion of screws, pins, and a metal plate. Obviously, the Brewers are encouraged by their medical reports. Roache is a right-handed hitter listed at 6-1 and 235 pounds, with solid tools across the board, though power is the obvious draw. Adding Roache and Clint Coulter to the system provides an immediate boost for an organization that lacks hitting talent in the minor leagues. Roache may not fully unleash his power until next year, given how long it takes wrist injuries to fully health, but if health allows this pick is a steal.
Clint Coulter, C, Union HS, Camas, WA: This former high-school wrestler has a strong 6-3, 210 build. He is a fairly polished hitter with power and plate discipline from the right side, and has the tools to be a strong defender with more experience. He isn’t quite as athletic as Wyatt Mathisen, a Texas high-school catcher who was Coulter’s main competitor among the prep backstop ranks, but the general consensus is that he has a decent chance to stay behind the plate if a) he doesn’t get too big, and b) he puts in the work, which he will. He has a confident personality, along with a reputation as a hard worker and team leader. Coulter is committed to Arizona State but is signable for first-round money. The Brewers went heavy for pitching in the draft last year, so adding a powerful backstop provides some positional balance for the organization.
Stryker Trahan, C-OF, Acadiana HS, Lafayette, LA: Listed at 6-1, 215, Trahan features a strong bat from the left side, particularly in the power department. His overall tools project well, with good speed and above-average arm strength, but he is raw as a defensive catcher and many scouts think he’ll wind up in right field. Trahan is committed to the University of Mississippi, but is signable for first round money. Few scouts doubt Trahan’s bat, and his stock would be higher if they were more certain of his defensive position. He has the athleticism and arm strength to catch, along with the emotional leadership makeup needed for the position, but he needs a lot of work improving his blocking and throwing. He has unusual speed for a catcher, which is another reason that scouts think he could wind up in the outfield. Area scouts have liked him for a long time due to his impressive makeup.
Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson University: Shaffer is one of the best college bats available, featuring above-average power and sound plate discipline, hitting to all fields and getting the most out of his 6-3, 210-pound frame. He has a strong arm, but not everyone is sold on his ability to stay at third base, although his defensive stats are fine this year. Many scouts think he’ll end up at first base, or perhaps right field since he runs well for a big guy. Shaffer is hitting .338/.483/.579 with 10 homers and 63 walks through 228 at-bats. His strike-zone judgment is very impressive, and he wasn’t impacted by the switch in bats last year. He handles fastballs well, and has learned to lay off breaking pitches that he can’t handle. Shaffer would have gone sooner in the round if teams were more certain about his long-term defensive position, but then again the Rays already have a pretty good third baseman. He’s a good value here.
Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State University: Marrero was considered one of the top amateur talents last winter, but he didn’t live up to expectations with the bat, hitting just .268/.329/.396 in 149 at-bats. That said, his glove at shortstop is highly regarded, and he’s one of the few shortstops available this year who can handle the position in the majors. A right-handed hitter, he’s listed at 6-1 and 195 pounds. He lacks power and hasn’t shown much offensively since college baseball switched to the less-potent bats last year, but even so he was expected to hit more effectively than this. However, Marrero is the best defensive shortstop in the draft this year, and with a fresh start in pro ball he might rediscover some of those hitting skills. His track record with wooden bats isn’t bad, and while it doesn’t look like he will be a star, he still has a decent chance to become a regular.
James Ramsey, OF, Florida State University: Ramsey is a rare bird, a college senior who went in the first round. Hitting .388/.520/.689 with 13 homers and 55 walks in 206 at-bats this year, Ramsey hits from the left side and has average tools across the board. He is also considered a safe pick with few weaknesses and has a reputation for thriving under pressure. He was a 22nd-round pick by the Minnesota Twins last year, but turned down more than $500,000 to return to college. He’ll get a lot more than that this year. Some teams like Ramsey as a potential second baseman, and it remains to be seen if his range will work in center field, but even if he ends up in a corner, his on-base skills and his power will play. He has an excellent work ethic and plays above his tools due to his excellent instincts for the game.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke University: There is a long-standing scouting bias against short right-handers, but the 5-9, 185-pound Stroman is so good that scouts projected him as a first-rounder anyway. He throws 92-95 MPH, has a good change-up, and dominates hitters with one of the best sliders in the draft. He went 6-5 in 14 starts for a 21-34 team, but posted a 2.39 ERA with a 136/26 K/BB in 98 innings. Many scouts think he’ll be ready for the majors by September. The main question is his long-term role. His arsenal is diverse enough to start and he’s had nothing but success as a starter, but many scouts think he’ll fit best as a reliever, due to his size. If so, he could help in a bullpen later this year. However, given his track record and his high-quality mix of pitches, others believe he deserves a shot as a starter. Either way, he’s got a great arm.
Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood HS, Snellville, GA: Sims is a 6-2, 195-pound right-hander with a 90-96 MPH fastball, a very good slider, and a useful curve. His command is erratic and he needs to work on his change-up, but his mechanics are solid and should help him stay healthy. He is committed to Clemson but should be signable as a first-rounder, especially for his home-state Braves, who have a long-standing habit of vacuuming up the local talent. They have been college-oriented in recent drafts for monetary reasons, so this is a return to their old tradition of focusing on pitching and long-term upside. Sims is a particularly good athlete, which in theory will help him stay healthy and repeat his mechanics more efficiently as he gains innings and experience. He projects as a number-two starter and already has two breaking pitches, which is not the norm for a high-schooler.
Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State University: Dominant this spring on the strength of his low-90s fastball and a plus slider, Stratton went 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA, with a 127/25 K/BB in 110 innings. He also has a solid curveball and change-up, plus an easy, relatively stress-free delivery that gets the most from his 6-3, 200-pound body. He won’t need much minor-league development time. One scout described Stratton’s slider to me as the best breaking pitch he had seen all season, whether in the high-school or college ranks.There are no holes in Stratton’s statistical performance, and with four pitches at his disposal, he’s well-prepared for pro ball. He could be one of the first 2012 draftees to reach the major leagues, projecting as a number-three starter, or perhaps even a number two. Stratton represents excellent value at this point in the draft, and he thrived against solid competition in college.
Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M University: The 6-6, 200-pound Wacha dominates with a 90-95 MPH fastball and a wicked change-up, going 9-1, 2.06 with a 116/20 K/BB in 113 innings for the Aggies this spring. His curveball and slider aren’t as impressive, but he still projects as a workhorse mid-rotation starter. At one point he was in consideration for the top six in this draft. His stock slipped, but not for any fault of his own: he was effective all spring, but some guys simply moved ahead of him. The thing he needs to do most is refine his breaking ball, but the Cardinals have helped pitchers with similar issues develop their skills in that department. He’s been quite durable in college, and it is possible that scouts nitpicked him a bit. His statistical performance has always been terrific, and it will be interesting to see how Big 12 success translates into pro ball.
Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Cabarrus HS, Concord, NC: The younger brother of Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey is a 6-3, 200-pound left-handed hitter with power, a refined approach, and a good chance to be an above-average fielder at third base, although he is currently a shortstop. He’ll need first-round money to pass up the University of South Carolina, but should be signable in this spot. The Dodgers usually look for pitching this early in the draft, especially from the high-school ranks, but Seager’s bat was too good to pass up. He isn’t just a hitter; his overall tools are quite solid. His makeup (like his brother’s) is extremely well-regarded, and was part of the reason he moved up draft boards so quickly in recent weeks. His brother’s success this spring may also have had something to do with it, by highlighting the baseball instincts they both possess.
D.J. Davis, OF, Stone HS, Wiggins, MS: The fastest man in the draft, with 80 speed on the 20-80 scale, Davis shot up boards when he started to show more power and an improved hitting approach this spring. A 6-0, 17- pound left-handed hitter, he has the range to stick in center, which is fortunate because he doesn't have the arm for right field. He is committed to Meridian Community College, not a Division I program, and should definitely sign in this slot. Davis was known to scouts for his superb speed entering the spring, but surprised them by showing more power and a better feel for the strike zone. Davis has been linked to the Blue Jays for a couple of weeks, and he fits with the tools/upside approach that the front office has adopted in recent years. Davis might become a leadoff man with outstanding speed, impressive on-base skills, respectable pop, and a sound glove.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, CA: The 6-6, 225 pound Giolito had a chance to be the first high school pitcher ever selected first-overall, until he sprained an ulnar collateral ligament in March. When healthy, he features a 95-99 MPH fastball, an outstanding curve, and a very strong changeup, along with advanced control for his age. He has a UCLA commitment to fall back on if he isn’t satisfied financially this year, but it seems unlikely that the Nationals would have pulled the trigger on this if they didn’t think they could get a deal done. His elbow injury makes it a big gamble, but with a potentially huge payoff: he has everything needed to be a genuine rotation anchor if his arm can hold up to the workload. The Nationals needed to boost pitching in the farm system following winter trades, and Giolito certainly fits that need.
Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M University: The left-handed-hitting Naquin is batting .382/.461/.542 with 21 steals, 25 walks, and 37 strikeouts in 238 at-bats this spring. Considered a terrific pure hitter, the 6-2, 175 pound outfielder lacks home-run power, but runs very well and has an outstanding throwing arm, one of the best in the draft. Most scouts don’t see him as a future star, but they do consider him a safe bet to reach the majors and contribute in multiple ways. There is some concern that he could be a “tweener,” lacking the power for a corner but perhaps not quite running well enough to play center. This seems like a pick that could be a slight overdraft, but given the relative lack of college hitting in the class, it isn’t a surprise that Naquin was selected early. The Indians prefer college talent with a certain level of polish, and Naquin certainly fits that profile.
Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, FL: Owning one of the best power arms in the high-school class, Travieso can hit 97-99 MPH and works consistently at 90-95. He has a good slider but is still working on his changeup. Some teams see him as a reliever, but others think his strong 6-2, 200 pound frame will work just fine in a starting rotation, once he refines his little-used changeup. He is committed to the University of Miami but is signable in the first round. Travieso has made substantial progress over the last nine months refining his command and smoothing out his mechanics, resulting in “helium” for his draft status as the spring progressed. Travieso won’t move as quickly through the minor leagues as some of the other available picks, but his upside is as high as any of the other high school arms available in the class this year.
Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS, Corpus Christi, TX: Hawkins is a 6-2, 210-pound right-handed hitter with enormous power potential, 30-plus homers per year if he develops to his maximal extent. He features a strong throwing arm, ideal for right field, and runs well enough to steal some bases. He also swings and misses a lot, and scouts say he needs a lot of work on his plate discipline. Hawkins is a high-risk/high-reward investment who could turn into an All-Star, a decent regular, a Double-A bust, or anything in between. He is committed to the University of Texas but is certainly signable here, and the White Sox wouldn’t have selected him if they felt there was a money issue. They have preferred college talent in recent drafts, but Hawkins’ upside was simply too much to pass up. He won’t move through the minors quickly, and it will be interesting to see how the organization handles him.
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS, Lake Charles, LA: The younger brother of Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini, Gavin is a 6-1, 185 pound right-handed hitter. His glove is ahead of his bat at this point and scouts think he’ll remain at shortstop, but opinions differ about what kind of hitter he will become, and he may take considerable time to develop his offense. His instincts are very well regarded. He is committed to the University of Mississippi, but is certainly signable at this stage in the draft. The Mets will have to be patient while he develops but he comes from a baseball family and scouts have been familiar with him for years. His best physical tool is speed, but there’s a chance Gavin can develop some decent pop to go with it. Up-the-middle players seem to be a common theme in the draft so far, and the Mets have shown more of a willingness to take chances in recent drafts.
Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS, Pace, FL: Russell lost 20 pounds over the last year and has convinced most scouts that he can remain at shortstop, at least in the short run. His hitting is erratic, but at his best he shows the ability to hit for both average and power from the right side. Listed at 6-1, 185, Russell is committed to Auburn University, but is very unlikely to go to college at this slot in the draft. He was considered just a borderline first-rounder or a supplemental pick until he rose up draft boards quickly in the last two weeks. There is still some uncertainty about his future defensive position, but his bat should be good enough for third base if he ends up there in the long run. For now, he’s still a shortstop, with a strong throwing arm and at least average range. His hitting can be inconsistent, but his potential is obvious.
David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS, Birmingham, Alabama: A 6-2, 185 pound lefty hitter, Dahl has some of the best tools in the draft, particularly his speed and throwing arm. He also has a clean swing and very good plate discipline, but scouts aren’t sure how much home run power he will develop. He should stick in center field and is committed to Auburn. Dahl is considered more refined than previous Alabama high school picks, particularly with his approach at the plate. Some scouts have complained that he plays with low energy, but his backers say that he’s merely a quiet kid who lets his bat and glove do the talking, and was still shaking off the effects of a energy-sapping virus. It is unlikely that he’ll head off to college with this slot in the draft. His on-base skills will certainly look good in Coors Field, but we’ll have to see about the power.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State University: Listed at 6-2, 175, Heaney saw his fastball bump as high as 95 MPH this spring, to go with his already-strong slider and changeup. He went 8-2 in 15 starts this spring, with a 1.60 ERA and a 140/22 K/BB in 118 innings. His velocity boost convinced scouts that he can be more than just a strike-throwing efficiency expert., and he was considered the top left-hander available from the college ranks. He instantly becomes the most advanced pitching prospect in the Marlins' farm system, and should be ready to contribute in the majors within two years. He projects as a number-three starter, but a reliable one. Heaney was projected anywhere from ninth to 20th on pre-draft mock boards by the various experts. Oklahoma State isn’t the easiest environment in which to pitch, but Heaney certainly proved his moxie and mound presence in the Big 12.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University: Appel was something of an enigma entering this spring, having not quite lived up to his full potential in the past. He’s answered the doubters with a 10-1 record, 2.27 ERA, 127/26 K/BB and 92 hits allowed in 119 innings this spring, showing an improved slider and change-up to go with a 94-98 MPH fastball. His 6-5, 215-pound body looks like it should be durable, and he has the best combination of current stuff and pitchability available this year, according to most draft experts.
He was expected to go first overall to the Astros, so his slide to the Pirates is a bit of a surprise and possibly related to bonus demands. Still, this is early enough that signability shouldn’t be an issue. The Pirates have hoarded pitching in recent drafts, and adding Appel to the stable that includes Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole follows the principle of concentration of force.
Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, CA: The best lefty in the draft, the 6-4, 180-pound Fried offers both projection and present skill, throwing strikes with an 88-94 MPH fastball, a nasty curve, and an effective change-up. His feel for pitching is excellent and he will require less development time than most high-school pitchers. Like his teammate Lucas Giolito, Fried is committed to UCLA, but it is unlikely he will attend college with this draft slot. Scouts compare him to Cole Hamels or a young Barry Zito. His personality and mound presence are very well-regarded, which will help him maximize his full potential. Fried has few weaknesses, at least as high-school pitchers go.
Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, FL: Almora has been well-known to scouts for years. Although his tools aren’t quite as impressive as Buxton’s, he is a much more polished player with no real weaknesses. He’s an excellent defensive outfielder, runs well, hits for power, hits for average, and has an unusual combination of high upside with reasonably low risk. He is listed at 6-2, 170 pounds. Committed to the University of Miami. Almora has been linked to the Cubs for some time, so this pick is not exactly a surprise. In theory he will need less development time than most high schoolers, having extensive experience in amateur ball against top competition. His makeup and work ethic are also extremely well regarded, and his tools are better than almost every other high-school player in the draft. The Cubs hope he can become the new face of the franchise.
Kyle Zimmer, RHP, University of San Francisco: A virtual unknown two years ago, Zimmer has developed into a terrific prospect, posting a 2.85 ERA with a 104/17 K/BB in 88 innings for the Dons this spring, allowing 75 hits. With an athletic 6-4, 215 build, Zimmer throws 93-98 MPH and has developed a strong curveball. His changeup needs some work and his location isn’t perfect, but his mechanics are solid and his arm is fresh for a college product. He occasionally leaves balls too high in the strike zone, which didn’t hurt him in college ball but might need some adjustment in the majors. The former third baseman is very athletic and still physically projectable. Some scouts (and the Royals, obviously) felt he was a better pitching prospect than Mark Appel and Kevin Gausman. He may need a bit more development than the average college pitcher drafted this high, but his upside is very impressive.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State University: Gausman was an unsigned sixth-round pick of the Dodgers in the 2010 draft. He’s had an excellent season, going 11-1 in 16 starts for LSU, posting a 2.72 ERA with a 128 strikeouts and only 27 walks in 115 innings, with 100 hits allowed. Gausman fires mid-90s heat from a 6-5, 190 frame, mixing it with an excellent change-up. His breaking ball is still a work in progress but has strong moments, and his upside is as high as anyone’s. He projects as a number-one starter, and would make a terrific one-two punch with phenom Dylan Bundy, already in the farm system. Gausman is a draft-eligible sophomore and should be signable this early in the draft. He was a sixth-round pick back in 2010 from a Colorado high school. He still has some remaining physical projection, unusual for a college pitcher with his sort of experience.
Mike Zunino, C, University of Florida: A 6-2, 220 pound backstop, Zunino is an impressive defensive catcher with a strong arm and standout leadership skills. He has a strong power bat, but his performance this spring was uneven at times and his stock slipped slightly in the weeks before the draft. Nevertheless, Zunino is still the best college position player available. He was hitting .318/.392/.655 with 16 homers, 27 walks, and 43 strikeouts through 223 at-bats. Zunino is very advanced and he won’t need as much minor league time as most draftees. The idea here may be for Zunino to be the long-term catcher, with Jesus Montero eventually moving to DH or first base full time. The Mariners have a lot of strong pitching prospects, and adding a top defensive backstop to help bring them to fruition makes sense.
Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS, Baxley, GA: Listed at 6-1 and 175 pounds, Buxton is a spectacular athlete with blazing speed and an outstanding throwing arm. Opinions differ about his bat; he’s strong enough to hit for considerable power, but his swing is still a work in progress and his plate discipline needs improvement. He is a prototype high-risk/high-reward player who could develop into a superstar, a bust, or anything in between. Buxton has committed to the University of Georgia. The Twins need pitching in the system, but this multi-tooled talent was too much to pass up. He will need considerable development time, particularly with the bat, but he has the physical talents to be an All-Star.
Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, Puerto Rico: A 6-4, 190-pound shortstop, Correa has the most advanced bat of any high-school player in the draft, despite being just 17 years old. He should hit for power and average, and has a chance to stick at shortstop, at least in the short run. Even if he eventually moves to third base, his hitting will stand out. He also possesses a cannon throwing arm and excellent makeup. He is a University of Miami recruit. This is an unexpected choice, with the Astros widely expected to draft Stanford right-hander Mark Appel.
Put your mock drafts away! Late rumors have multiple teams attempting to negotiate below-slot bonuses. Aside from the first couple of choices, everything is in flux.
The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft begins at 7PM Eastern time. Standby for analysis of all the first round picks.
It used to be that when a team spent money on mediocre bench veterans or middle relievers, they were unwittingly chipping away at their minor-league system. That's because $1 million spent on the bench was $1 million less to buy out a college commitment in the draft. Big money teams like the Boston Red Sox used this strategy often, and in recent years, the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates did as well.
But no more. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement took care of that, as the owners found a way to save money that didn't involve the current members of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Bonuses will be regulated with an iron fist this year, and teams are expected to spend far, far less money. For a fantastic recap, Alex Speier has you covered at WEEI.com:
If a team doesn’t sign a pick in the top 10 rounds, it "forfeits" that slot in its bonus pool. So, if the Red Sox do not sign their second first-round pick (No. 31 overall), their pool would be diminished by the $1.575 million slot for that pick.
As such, figuring out a draftee’s signability will prove more important than ever. Teams won’t have the option of simply reallocating money that had been earmarked for one player and giving it to another if they fail to find middle ground with him.
The primer is Red Sox-centric, but it's one of the best I've read. The draft will be interesting; the weeks that follow will be even more interesting. There will be lots of gamesmanship as agents and teams figure out what's going on under the new rules.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to overcome a horror-filled draft history in this week's First-Year Player Draft.
Current rumors have the Houston Astros taking Stanford University right-hander Mark Appel with the first-overall pick, followed by the Minnesota Twins taking Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton with the second choice. After that, no one seems to have a feel for what the Seattle Mariners will do with the third-overall choice. Baseball Nation will have full updates on each player selected beginning with the start of the draft.
That's the scuttlebutt, anyway. A note on the Twins' second-overall pick, from Jon Heyman:
Early word: astros take stanford rhp mark appel and twins take Ga. prep CF byron buxton. unconfirmed but that's scuttlebutt— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) June 4, 2012
Scuttlebutt is a true 80 on the 20-to-80 English-language scouting scale. And it's used here to describe high-school outfielder Byron Buxton, a five-tool player. Buxton's potential is impressive enough to make him the first-overall pick in some mock drafts, with a ceiling matched by few, if any, hitters from this draft class. Bullpen Banter has more on him:
Buxton is probably the guy in this top part of the draft that I've gone back and forth on the most. His offensive upside is absolutely undeniable, but he's done little to demonstrate it so far. Still, with his frame, athleticism, and BP shows, you have to think there's a monster lurking in there somewhere that'll give pitchers nightmares for years to come. He has a solid foundation of defense and baserunning to build on, which certainly helps, and while a lot could go wrong with him at the plate, if it goes (right), it should go very, very right for whichever team winds up with him.
The Twins haven't picked this high since 2001, when they selected Joe Mauer first overall, and they're looking for a similar face-of-the-franchise talent.
The Houston Astros are reportedly selecting Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the first-overall pick of the 2012 first-year player draft.
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