Here is the start of the third installment of my mock draft series. The first round starts today, followed by the following rounds beginning tomorrow.
1. Washington Nationals – Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada – This is increasingly becoming a no-brainer as Harper puts his tools into action on the field. The cost for Harper might be becoming increasingly expensive, but there would be no excuse for passing over what I consider the top talent in the draft by a solid margin. Previously: #1.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates – Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech – I know this one will bring plenty of wailing from the Pittsburgh community, but I simply don’t see any connection between the Pirates and Jameson Taillon. With Anthony Ranaudo out right now, McGuire has stepped up to become the best draft-eligible college pitcher in the country, and he offers solid stuff with some projection remaining. Previously: #10.
3. Baltimore Orioles – Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX) – If Taillon does fall into the laps of the Orioles, this will be another no-brainer type of selection. There was a little bit of worry a couple of weeks ago when Taillon’s velocity dipped a bit in a start, but it was back up in his most recent start. Cost is the big factor here, considering Taillon might be the most expensive prep arm ever. Previously: #3.
4. Kansas City Royals – Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss – I have just been extremely impressed with Pomeranz this spring, as he’s really taken another step forward. There are still some slight concerns about his motion, but with #2 potential from the left side, it will be hard seeing him drop out of the top ten if he’s healthy and dealing. Previously: #16.
5. Cleveland Indians – Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast – Right behind Pomeranz is Sale, especially since Sale is considered the more signable of the two. The much-anticipated matchup of Sale and the U. of Miami hitters in a midweek game was rained out, but Sale has flat-out dominated the competition so far, though that’s to be expected. Previously: #12.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks – A.J. Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL) – This is reminiscent of the Diamondbacks’ pick of Jarrod Parker a few years ago. Cole hasn’t been as heralded this spring, but he still offers the best projection of anyone in the class and one of the few arms that project to be a true number one starter. Arizona may have their pick of the best prep arms behind Taillon. Previously: #6.
7. New York Mets – Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (CA) – Covey has been solid so far in early season action, and his fastball-curveball combination is considered the most polished pair of offerings in the prep class. He offers #2/3 upside with better current polish than pretty much anyone in the prep class, and he shouldn’t be as expensive as some of the other names. Previously: #7.
8. Houston Astros – Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas – I had Cox here in my first mock draft for 2010, and even though he doesn’t fit Bobby Heck’s traditional mold for up-the-middle athleticism, he’s emerged as one of the few available impact bats in the college class. I expect this pick to be a hitter as it stands, so Cox is simply the best available hitter here for an affordable price. Previously: #5.
9. San Diego Padres – Manny Machado, SS, Brito HS (FL) – Machado is one of those players that is hard to gauge, because so much of his value is wrapped up in projectability, yet he still produces on the field in a body that doesn’t offer many of the same attributes that scouts project him to have. If he can stick at short, he’s the best middle infielder available in this class, and the Padres’ new scouting focus should lead to him for numerous reasons. Previously: #11.
10. Oakland Athletics – Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) – The rumors of the Athletics being heavy on Donavan Tate last year lead me to believe that they’re really looking for impact center field talent in the prep ranks if the right player is available. They’ve proven they have the budget, and Wilson, fully recovered from a back ailment in the fall, could be an impact player there if he can prove he’s a long-term center fielder. Previously: #13.
11. Toronto Blue Jays – Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (FL) – Whitson’s not necessarily behind either Cole or Covey right now, but this is the de facto order that those pitchers come in at this moment. Whitson offers as much upside as anyone, though there’s a tad more risk here than in his counterparts. The Blue Jays are likely looking to build with more high school talent, so this is a good fit. Previously: #9.
12. Cincinnati Reds – Micah Gibbs, C, LSU – I know a lot of Red fans would be upset with this pick, but I think this is a solid fit. The Reds generally push for slot with their early pick, and they’re without an impact catcher throughout, so this is a similar situation to the Astros when they picked Jason Castro in 2008. Gibbs has had a great start to his junior year. Previously: #49.
13. Chicago White Sox – Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas – Workman’s transition to the rotation at Texas has been an unqualified success, and the questions about his ability to start are slowly starting to fade away. He should be an affordable arm with good upside and a solid pitch mix, and the White Sox are one of a few possibilities for his landing. Previously: #31.
14. Milwaukee Brewers – Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU – Say what you want about Ranaudo getting a mulligan so far, but with all the missed time, there is plenty of concern about his durability, one of his better attributes before his injury. He needs to come back and pitch well, especially with his newfound Scott Boras connection. The Brewers are one of a few landing spots on the way down. Previously: #4.
15. Texas Rangers – Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State – Wimmers has been excellent in his first five stars, and he’s really setting himself up to be a solid first round candidate for June. He’s always been in the conversation, but the consensus was that he had to continue to blow away the weak competition he faces to stay in the first round. The Rangers need a pretty signable pick here, and Wimmers would be a solid addition to a farm system deep in arms. Previously: #15.
16. Chicago Cubs – Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virginia Tech – The Cubs have a pretty solid history of taking college arms that have experience closing and turning them into starters, though Hahn has already made the transition this year, and it’s been very successful. He’s still learning to pitch, but his raw stuff and returns early this year have been great. Previously: #35.
17. Tampa Bay Rays – Yordy Cabrera, SS, Lakeland HS (FL) – I had Cabrera here last time, and it still continues to make sense. Cabrera has the sort of elite power potential that teams look for, but he still has to answer how his age relative to his competition affects his performance. As it is, though, he could be a power-hitting right fielder for years to come. Previously: #17.
18. Los Angeles Angels – Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (WA) – This one was tough, because the Angels don’t have a long history of taking corner outfielders, especially ones that are viewed as somewhat questionable on the athletic side of evaluation. However, Sale’s bat is just so good that it compares favorably with Hank Conger, the all-bat prep catcher taken by the Angels a few years ago. Previously: #14.
19. Houston Astros – Kevin Gausman, RHP, Grandview HS (CO) – It’s hard to change this pick from the last mock draft I did, simply because Gausman just started his season this past weekend. The Astros love the projectable workout arms, and Gausman certainly fits those criteria. He’s a definite first round option for a lot of teams, and the question is how much his LSU commitment is worth. Previously: #19.
20. Boston Red Sox – Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL) – Castellanos has come out on fire this year, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that he’s a legitimate first round candidate. He put on shows on the showcase circuit over the summer, and the main question he has to answer is whether he can stick at third base. The Red Sox like power bats or athletic bats, and Castellanos fits in category number one. Previously: #18.
21. Minnesota Twins – Kaleb Cowart, RHP, Cook County HS (GA) – I still go back and forth on Cowart, just as a number of scouts are going back and forth. Cowart has the pure talent to go in the first round as either a bat or an arm, but the early returns on his arm are quite good. If a team believes he has Ethan Martin potential with the arm, he is a lock for the first round. Previously: #21.
22. Texas Rangers – Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami – Most that know my evaluation of Grandal believe I have a bias against him. However, he’s come out and answered most of my questions so far, hitting well, playing solid defense, and improving his stock. The Rangers still need catching in their system, and Grandal is fighting with Gibbs for the place of the top collegiate catcher. Previously: NR.
23. Florida Marlins – Justin O’Conner, SS/C, Cowan HS (IN) – O’Conner is in a similar situation to Gausman in that he gets started so late that any changes in mock drafts are more about players around him than his play. If the catching transition is successful, I see this as a solid fit, and even if it isn’t, O’Conner’s the best bat to stay at shortstop among the top prep shortstops in the class. Previously: #30.
24. San Francisco Giants – Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton – O how the mighty have fallen. Colon has come out extremely flat so far this year, and it brings back bad memories of Grant Green’s rough start for USC last year. However, Colon doesn’t have the tools to fall back on that Green has, so the fall is faster and deeper. Previously: #2.
25. St. Louis Cardinals – Stetson Allie, RHP, St. Edwards HS (OH) – Another cold-weather player, Allie still offers the most electric arm in the entire class, Taillon included. However, the lack of refinement and probable bullpen destination makes Allie a more questionable first round candidate, and I seriously considered dropping him out altogether. Previously: #20.
26. Colorado Rockies – Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State – Scouts flocked to see Brentz play a midweek matchup against Tennessee a few weeks ago, and they were treated to a nice display of the power of Brentz. However, with the concerns of his competition still being out there, he needs to put up the video game numbers of 2009 to be an early pick. Previously: #22.
27. Philadelphia Phillies – Chevez Clarke, OF, Marietta HS (GA) – Clarke still has some problems with pitch recognition, but he is a much more improved player than who he was last summer. He still has the excellent athleticism that the Phillies seek, but he also offers better refinement and effort, and he just looks more mature. Previously: #28.
28. Los Angeles Dodgers – Sammy Solis, LHP, San Diego – Whereas teammate Kyle Blair has slowly started dropping off the radar as a first round candidate, Solis has stepped up after missing last year with a back injury. The Dodgers love their left-handed arms, and I have to think that Solis is right near the top of the board, being a Southern Californian and having a great comeback season. Previously: #37.
29. Los Angeles Angels – Stefan Sabol, C, Aliso Niguel HS (CA) – This one is getting tougher, because the early reads on Sabol’s catching continue to be mixed. His athleticism is still never in question, so whichever team picks him has the alternative of developing him as a premium defender in the outfield. However, if the Angels pick him this early, it will be as a catcher. Previously: #23.
30. Los Angeles Angels – Scott Frazier, RHP, Upland HS (CA) – Frazier has jumped on to the early round scene with an excellent early round of games, including a no-hitter that featured plus stuff and results. He offers premium projection and a big frame, both things the Angels love, and the most important thing in this pick is that they get upside with signability, and Frazier is expected to be signable for slot this early. Previously: NR.
31. Tampa Bay Rays – Robbie Aviles, RHP, Suffern HS (NY) – There is still no conclusive read on how Aviles’ Florida commitment affects his signability, and that will play a big part in his draft position come June. Being a cold-weather pitcher, teams are going to have limited looks on him, so his signability is a big factor, since he’ll be a little behind as it is. He’s quite projectable, though, and the Rays could get premium talent for their buck here, since this pick is compensation for not signing LeVon Washington a year ago. Previously: #42.
32. New York Yankees – LeVon Washington, OF, Chipola JC (FL) – I defended Washington early on when scouts were saying that he lost a step, but it’s gotten far enough into the season for me to start worrying. His plus-plus elite speed just isn’t there right now, and he doesn’t offer enough other tools to be a top ten or even top twenty pick. I do still like his bat, but this is as far as I can go. Previously: #8.
Stay tuned for the next part tomorrow, when I’ll give you my latest supplemental first round mock draft.