1. Houston Astros – RHP Mark Appel – Stanford – Word around (also stated by John Manuel from Baseball America in the interview he did with me) is that Houston is considering Byron Buxton, Appel and Kevin Gausman for the #1 pick. They are talking trying to get a guy for as much as $2M under slot for the #1 pick so they have more money to spread out to their other picks. Appel could be a guy willing to give a hometown discount as he has plenty of ties to the area and he’s certainly deserving of being the #1 pick talent wise.
2. Minnesota Twins – OF Byron Buxton – Appling County HS (GA) – The Twins are likely considering the same 3 guys as Houston is for #1. I do not think they’d pass on Appel if he were to fall to them. But with Appel off the board I cannot imagine the Twins passing on a potential star like Buxton. There are plenty of scouts who like him better than Bubba Starling who went #5 to Kansas City last year with much hype. This is a quality upside pick for Minnesota.
3. Seattle Mariners – C Mike Zunino – Florida – I think Seattle would take Buxton if he were here. I don’t believe they are heavy in on any of the college arms and unless they are truly convinced of Lucas Giolito’s health I cannot see the pick going any way other than Zunino at this point. He is the top catcher in the draft and fits the value at #3. He can be fast tracked through the minors to catch up with some of their top pitchers like last year’s #2 overall pick Danny Hultzen and righty Taijuan Walker.
4. Baltimore Orioles – RHP Kevin Gausman – LSU – The Orioles could consider Giolito if they are comfortable with his health to pair him with Dylan Bundy to be a possible dominant long term 1-2 for Baltimore. I stay with arms and give them in my personal opinion the best college arm in this draft in Kevin Gausman. He can touch 99 and shows a nice feel for a curve and slider. Given what seems like a potential fast tracking of Bundy you can see him and Gausman coming up together for the O’s.
5. Kansas City Royals – RHP Lance McCullers Jr – Jesuit HS (FL) – Time for the drafts first spin. There are people who question if McCullers is a starter or not. I personally think he is and is being underrated by some. Remember just this time last year McCullers was considered the outright favorite to go #1 overall in this draft. McCullers possesses the best pure stuff in this draft and I think if he falls with the right organization that develops him correctly you are looking at a potential star #1 pitcher. Kansas City has been well represented at games in which McCullers has pitched this year so I think they may pull the trigger if Appel or Gausman are off the board.
6. Chicago Cubs – OF Albert Almora – Mater HS (FL) – As of now I believe the Cubs pick will come down to Almora or prep left hander Max Fried who’s stock has slipped some. Almora shows a real high upside bat and the ability to stick as a plus center fielder in pro ball. If the bat matures some he can end up being an All Star in this league. I don’t like to play comparisons but when there are multiple scouts who float the name Carlos Beltran in regards to Almora it gets your attention.
7. San Diego Padres – SS Carlos Correa – Puerto Rico Baseball Academy – You will hear some people say Correa is arguably the best player in this draft. I just didn’t find a pure fit for him in the first 6 picks. The Padres get a great value in a kid who can rake and also play the field with a big time arm. He is likely to end up at third base at some point in pro ball but his bat and arm will play there. Big time upside here and San Diego adds to their already stacked system with another premier talent.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates – SS Deven Marrero – Arizona State – The Pirates have spent like wild men the last couple years in the draft. I think this year you are going to see them look to spread out their money so they can acquire more talent throughout. I think you are looking at a situation here where they may work out a pre-draft deal with Marrero to ensure they get him at a below slot value. His bat is a bit of a question mark but he shows a good eye at the plate and definitely will stick at short long term which is extremely valuable in this league.
9. Miami Marlins – RHP Marcus Stroman – Duke – Could they go prep like outfielder Courtney Hawkins or Fried? Certainly possible but I am having Miami working out a pre-draft under-slot deal with a real fast riser type arm in Stroman. Stroman could be in the Major Leagues Opening Day 2013 and before long become a very good closer in this league if the team chooses to choose that route. You are going to have trouble finding anyone who feels Stroman can start long term given his very small frame and effort in his delivery. I believe the Marlins are going to be looking at spending more in some other rounds so I can see them getting a guy like Stroman who would certainly sign for below slot at #9.
10. Colorado Rockies – OF Courtney Hawkins – Carroll HS (TX) – Colorado is looking for bats to add to the system. At this point in the draft you probably aren’t drafting a better fit than Hawkins. Even if Hawkins has to transition to right field in pro ball his bat will certainly carry at that spot. He has probably the best raw power outside of Joey Gallo and has shown an improved approach at the plate this spring. He has great upside and what will prove very important in this draft is likely signable at this spot despite a scholarship to the University of Texas.
11. Oakland Athletics – RHP Kyle Zimmer – San Francisco – The A’s reportedly are interested in the group of college arms that would be around in this part of the draft (Michael Wacha, Andrew Heaney, Chris Stratton) but they luck out in a potential top 5 selection in Kyle Zimmer falls to them. Zimmer’s stock flew up this spring when he was reportedly hitting 98 on the gun to go with a quality breaking ball. His velocity is fallen back and he pulled a hamstring which is putting a hair of caution in teams. It’s certainly possible Zimmer is long gone by this spot but if he is here I cannot possibly see the A’s passing. Not unlike last year when Sonny Gray fell to them and they snagged him up.
12. New York Mets – LHP Max Fried – Harvard Westlake HS (CA) – I will preface this by saying it is entirely possible that Fried is long gone by time the Mets pick at 12. But I think given what some teams are looking to do it is a possibility that Fried falls to 12. I asked this to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo on Twitter and he said he thought it was possible that he could be available for the Mets. The Mets have seen a lot of Fried this spring through his ups and downs. The upside is undeniable and I think if Fried falls to 12 the Mets would be ecstatic to select him. Latest I am hearing in regards to the Mets is unless someone falls (ala Fried) they are looking at some prep bats and would also consider Texas A+M righty Michael Wacha.
13. Chicago White Sox – RHP Michael Wacha – Texas A+M – The White Sox are a team that typically stays around slot or below. I do not expect this to change. This time around they get themselves a solid right hander in Wacha who projects as a quality #3 starter with possibility to be a #2. He is the perfect fit for them: a guy who won’t break the bank and a guy who can help them quickly.
14. Cincinnati Reds – LHP Andrew Heaney – Oklahoma State – Heaney is really come on and is meriting a mid-first round pick this year. He is a lefty who gets it up to 93 on his fastball with a slider and change-up too. He looks like someone who will pitch in the middle of a MLB rotation for years to come and I think that is undervalued. You can’t go for pure upside with every first round pick, sometimes it makes sense to grab a guy who you are pretty certain will be a quality guy for you.
15. Cleveland Indians – 3B Richie Shaffer – Clemson – Cleveland can certainly use some legitimate power bats in their system and unless they are believers in Joey Gallo they aren’t going to get a better one at this stage than Shaffer. He has the most power, the best bat speed among college guys. He has shown improved abilities at 3rd base but it is still uncertain if he will play there long term. Regardless of position his bat will play anywhere. This is a good pick by the Indians at this stage.
16. Washington Nationals – RHP Chris Stratton – Mississippi State
17. Toronto Blue Jays – RHP Nick Travieso – Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)
18. Los Angeles Dodgers – RHP Zach Eflin – Hagerty HS (FL)
19. St Louis Cardinals – 3B Stephen Piscotty – Stanford
20. San Francisco Giants – RHP Walker Weickel – Olympia HS (FL)
21. Atlanta Braves – OF D.J. Davis – Stone County HS (Miss.)
22. Toronto Blue Jays – OF David Dahl – Oak Mountain HS (AL)
23. St Louis Cardinals – SS Corey Seager – Northwest Carrabus HS (NC)
24. Boston Red Sox – SS Gavin Cecchini – Barbe HS (LA)
25. Tampa Bay Rays – RHP Ty Hensley – Edmond Santa Fe HS (OK)
26. Arizona Diamondbacks – 3B Joey Gallo – Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
27. Milwaukee Brewers – OF Tyler Naquin – Texas A+M
28. Milwaukee Brewers – C Stryker Trahan – Acadiana HS (LA)
29. Texas Rangers – RHP Duane Underwood – Pope HS (GA)
30. New York Yankees – SS Addison Russell – Pace HS (FL)
31. Boston Red Sox – OF Victor Roache – Georgia Southern