Catcher Mike Zunino of the Florida Gators during Game Two of the men's 2011 NCAA College Baseball World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on June 28, 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
2012 Mock Draft: Matt Garrioch and John Sickels
The 2012 Baseball First-Year Player Draft is three months away, but hey, it's never too early to think about the draft. Here is a first attempt at a Mock Draft, with Matt Garrioch and I alternating picks.
This isn't a prediction or even a formal projection at this point. Too many things can change in the next few months. Players will get hurt. Some will under-perform and see their stock drop, others will thrive and see their stock rise. However, we tried to make logical choices for each team based on what we know today. Also note that with the new draft system, we paid less attention to issues of signability and affordability than we would have in the past, and we're assuming that potential first-rounders are willing to sign for slot money.
1) Astros (Matt): The Astros need talent. Their system is going the right direction and they need a top of the line pitcher. While Giolito may have a higher ceiling, history tells me that the college guy will be more of a sure thing. I have to go with more certainty and take my favorite college arm. Astros will take Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU.
2) Twins (John): From one point of view, Florida catcher Mike Zunino would be a great choice for the Twins. He is solid both offensively and defensively, and could take over the backstop job (with Joe Mauer moving to 1B) within a couple of years. On the other hand, "best player available" is usually the soundest philosophy to take, especially this early in the draft. The Twins could also use power pitching and RHP Mark Appel (Stanford) and RHP Lucas Giolito (California HS) would be attractive. Both have higher upsides than Zunino, but also a higher risk of failure. For today I'll roll the dice and go with the 100 MPH fastball of Lucas Giolito, RHP, California HS.
3) Mariners (Matt): As John stated, Zunino would be a great choice at #2, so that logic remains at #3. While the Mariners moved Michael Pineda for catcher Jesus Montero, not many look at him as a long term solution behind the dish. They could go after another high end pitcher but I think the best long term strategy for the Mariners is to draft a power hitting catcher to compliment their budding core of young hitters and to aid the development of their young pitchers. I have to take Mike Zunino, C, University of Florida.
4) Orioles (John): Tough call here; what will a new front office do? Looking for a quick impact would make Appel an appealing candidate, but a longer-term view would make Five Tool outfielder Byron Buxton a logical choice, and the Orioles (at least under the previous administration) aren't afraid to invest in high school players. I will go with the toolsy Byron Buxton, OF, Georgia HS.
5) Royals (Matt): The Royals don't have a tendency. They take the best player available. That's what has given them the depth in their farm system and set up another wave of prospects following the current wave that has made it to the Majors as well as those in the upper minors. That being said, the current best player available according to the consensus is Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford.
6) Cubs (John): Lots of appealing options here, but which way will Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer/Tim Wilken go? Most of the scouting front office was retained, so a drastic change in philosophy may not be forthcoming. High-upside pitching is a system need, the Cubs are short of lefty prospects, and prep southpaw Max Fried offers a great combination of projectability, present stuff, and command. There are some scouts who actually like Fried more than Giolito as a long-term prospect. Max Fried, LHP, California HS.
7) Padres (Matt): The Padres are an interesting case. They just traded for a lot of close-to-the-majors talent. Will that factor into their decision? They could go with a sure-fire MLB shortstop in Deven Marrero or long-term potential with one of the other high ceiling prep players. They have tended to go with high upside talent early in the draft most years and this guy would look really good lining up along side Rymer Liriano. David Dahl, OF, Alabama HS
8) Pirates (John): The Pirates haven't drafted a high school hitter with their first pick since Andrew McCutchen, but Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa is way too good for me to pass up here. He has a very impressive bat, a good chance to stick at shortstop, and terrific makeup. I could see him going as high as #2 under the right circumstances, and even under this scenario I should probably have picked him for the Cubs at #6. This is a no-brainer for me with him still on the board, and the Pirates could use an elite middle infield prospect. Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico HS.
9) Marlins (Matt): The Marlins tend to favor prep players with their top pick. This year there are plenty to choose from at this pick. They also like to target players that fit their demographic. If Carlos Correa were available here, I think they take him. Instead I think they stay close to home and select a power arm from their area. Lance McCullers is a little on the short side but at 6'6", 205 with plenty of projection and already reaching mid-90's Walker Weickel, RHP, Florida HS, seems like a good fit.
10) Rockies (John): Exciting options here include Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero, high school lefty Matt Smoral, and high school infielders Joey Gallo and Gavin Cecchini. My gut feeling says a hitter is the best choice. Yes, the Rockies have Troy Tulowitzki in the majors plus hot prospects Nolan Arenado (3B) and Trevor Story (SS), but you can always have someone switch positions and drafting the best athlete (who can hit) seems like a good plan to me. Being strong up the middle is a good strategy and I think I'll go with Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State.
11) Athletics(Matt): Marrero was the one of the top tier college talents that I thought that the A's would jump at. There are two players remaining that I could see them choosing though. Marcus Stroman is a short right handed pitcher with an electric arm out of Duke who has received Flash Gordon comps. Kyle Zimmer is the other. He is already in the Bay Area at San Francisco and has started of the season with a bang hitting 99 on multiple occasions. It would be hard to pass that kind of arm at 11. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco.
12) Mets (John): The Mets went with Brandon Nimmo last year, looking to add an impact bat to the system, and I can see them going the same route this year. Victor Roache and his enormous power would be an option, but the wrist injury clouds his spring. Looking at the high school ranks, I'll take an up-the-middle theme and go with Gavin Cecchini, a high school infielder with a strong bat, great makeup, and a chance to stick at short. Gavin Cecchini, SS, Louisiana HS.
13) White Sox (Matt): Man, why do I have to do the White Sox? They need help everywhere, from the top to the bottom. While looking at prep players is one way to go, there is more room for failure there. Let's try to avoid more of that. They seem to like college pitchers that are close to the majors more than anything else. A player that is deserving of this spot and fits that role is the aforementioned Marcus Stoman, RHP, Duke.
14) Reds (John): The Reds seem to like very tall high-upside left-handed pitchers, and Matt Smoral fits the theme. The 6-8, 225 pound lefty is even a home-state kid from high school in Solon, Ohio, so there's a nice local connection as well. He's seen as a mid-first-round talent by scouts, so this wouldn't even qualify as an overdraft or publicity stunt. It seems very plausible if he has a good spring. Matt Smoral, LHP, Ohio HS.
15) Indians (Matt): After trading away several young pitchers to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez and typically drafting college players at the top of their draft, I think a college arm is the way to go. None of the H.S. players are taunting me into taking them, while both Williams', Trey and Nick as well as Stryker Trahan and Lance McCullers are worth looking at. Last year Francisco Lindor was taken very early, ahead of where I expected, so I looked at a few deeper high school players. None grabbed me enough to shake me from my first instinct: college pitcher Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M.
16) Nationals (John): The Nationals traded off a big chunk of their farm system this winter, including three promising arms, and recharging the pitching stock seems wise. For me this comes down to prep fireballer Lance McCullers or college ace Chris Beck. You can make a case for either but Beck has come a long way in the last two years and he seems the logical selection to me as a right-hander with three strong pitches. Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern.
17) Blue Jays (Matt): The Blue Jays have been commended for having good drafts the last couple of years but the have also had a lot of pick high in the draft. This year is no different as they have 14 picks in the top 10 rounds and with that comes the 5th highest draft bonus pool. That gives them plenty of room to go after elite talent. I don't see them taking a college player at all at this point. I really like Trey Williams, Stryker Trahan and Lance McCullers still on the board at this stage but the guy with the highest potential here may be Nick Williams, OF, Texas HS.
18) Dodgers (John): The Dodgers farm system has some solid pitching but is thin on the offensive side. However, we know that scouting director Logan White likes to concentrate on pitching and isn't afraid of high schoolers. Additionally, they haven't picked a hitter with their first choice since James Loney back in 2002. The Dodgers are also pretty big on emphasizing bloodlines and it would be hard for them to pass on the quality arm of Lance McCullers, RHP, Florida HS.
19) Cardinals (Matt): The Cardinals typically take college hitters with their first pick, unless an arm like Shelby Miller gets to them. There are a few very good college hitters on the board but none that have elite talent. Victor Roache, Brian Johnson, Christian Walker and Preston Tucker could all be looked at here but the player I have in mind is a 3B with a long, lean frame, unlike Zack Cox. He should be able to stick and have the bat to be an average MLB 3B. Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford
20) Giants (John): The Giants system has thinned out a bit and could use both impact arms and bats. Two power prep bats that should be attractive are Trey Williams and Joey Gallo. Williams has great bloodlines and a better chance to stick at third base, and while he'll need some development time, he'd add some upside thunder to the organization. Trey Williams, 3B, California HS.
21) Braves (Matt): I never can tell who the Braves are going to take. They don't follow the pack that is for sure. I would expect that they would take a college player. This really could go a lot of ways with the talent on the board. Preston Tucker, Tyler Naquin, Victor Roache and Nolan Fontana could be worth looking at but I think Peter O'Brien, C, Miami could be an excellent choice.
22) Blue Jays (John): The Jays have gone all-in on pitching, tools, and youth in recent drafts and I don't think that focus is going to change. Looking at the high school ranks, a logical pitcher would be prep right-hander Lucas Sims, who offers premium athleticism in addition to his arm strength and a solid fastball/curve/changeup arsenal. Lucas Sims, RHP, Georgia HS.
23) Cardinals (Matt): The Cardinals already have a corner bat in this draft and while college bats help at the majors quicker, high school picks offer more potential at this point. Joey Gallo could be an impact bat at the major league level with upper end of the scale power. He has a great arm and has been looked at on the mound as well but I'll take him as a 3B and hope he doesn't end up at 1B too quickly. Joey Gallo, 3B, Nevada HS.
24) Red Sox (John): Although there was some talk about him enrolling at the University of Texas this spring, Texas prep C.J. Hinojosa is taking the normal career route instead and his tools could get him into the first round. He's not huge at 5-11, 185, but he has excellent bat speed and an advanced approach for a high school hitter. Another option could be fellow Texas prep Courtney Hawkins, who has tremendous power potential. C.J. Hinojosa, SS, Texas HS.
25) Rays (Matt): The highest player on my draft board can't continue to get passed over. He just has too much talent. He is 6'1", 215 pounds and has solid average speed. He can crush the ball, has good contact ability and a rocket arm. He has plus pop times, yep, he's a catcher. A potential Six-Tool catcher. The sixth tool is his name. Stryker Trahan, C, Louisiana HS
26) Diamondbacks (John): Never underestimate the value of a good name! For the next pick, it comes down to another pair of prep position players for me in this slot for Arizona, either the aforementioned Hawkins or outfielder Albert Almora. Hawkins is a bit ahead on pure tools, but Almora is no slouch and is extremely polished for a prep hitter with good power and a long track record of success. Albert Almora, OF, Florida HS.
27) Brewers (Matt): Thee Brewers have an improving system and with two first round picks back to back, they could get some impact. A player that reminds me some of their ace, Zach Greinke, is Clate Schmidt. He has a easy delivery with good command and very good stuff. I think he has been a little over-looked and the Brewers should be happy with him at 27. Clate Schmidt, RHP, Georgia HS
28) Brewers (John): Schmidt hasn't received as much attention as some guys, but I agree, he could easily shoot up draft boards this spring. I keep considering Courtney Hawkins, and it's time to pull the trigger on him with Milwaukee's next choice. He features tremendous power potential and the other tools are good, too, plus he adds a potential impact outfield bat to a system that needs one. Courtney Hawkins, OF, Texas HS.
29) Rangers (Matt): I keep looking at college players and none of them jump out to me as good choices right now. Victor Roache has the injury issues. Brian Johnson is a tweener at 1B and LHP. Jake Barrett and Christian Walker have their limitations, so I am going to choose a player that is just scraping the surface of his ability. Hunter Virant, LHP, California HS.
30) Yankees (John): I agree, the college ranks look awfully thin, especially with Roache's injury. The Yankees often pull surprises in the draft, and they've been very tool-oriented the last few years. Among the college guys, Johnson is interesting and maybe we're not giving him his just due, and Stony Brook outfielder Travis Jankowski would provide some local flavor (which the Yankees seem to like), although he looks more like a supplemental round talent to me. For this exercise, let's assume that Taylore Cherry, RHP, Ohio HS has a good spring and lives up to the potential in his 6-9, 260 pound frame. Maybe he can be the pitcher than Andrew Brackman isn't.
31) Red Sox (Matt): I'm excited for this pick. The Red Sox often take high ceiling players and this tends to lean toward prep prospects. A great one is still on the board. Another high ceiling Outfielder that has the tools to develop into a star and is in their back yard is Rhett Wiseman. The only problem here is a commitment to Vanderbilt. That could make signability an issue, but since he is a local kid, that might help. Rhett Wiseman, OF, Massachusetts