Thanks for your patience over the weekend as I was out of town. I'm back in town and ready to go for the final two weeks before the draft.
Those of you who have purchased the 2010 MLB Draft Notebook will be receiving a short preview in your inbox shortly, so stay tuned for that.
As for now, take in the latest iteration of my mock draft series. There are a lot of changes this time, as things are much more fluid as teams are getting in final looks before the draft takes place. Follow the jump for more picks after #1 overall.
1. Washington Nationals - Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada - I wish writers would stop talking about teams and evaluators that wouldn't put Harper at the top of their draft list. That's easy to report, and I could do it without any fact-checking, because there is a notable team or two that strikes Boras clients off their lists entirely. Harper is the easy best talent in this class, and if an evaluator has seen him in person on a good day this year and still doesn't believe he's the best player in this class, then they need to look for a new job.2. Pittsburgh Pirates - Manny Machado, SS, Brito Private HS (FL) - The Pirates have been put in a good position to have their pick of the draft class behind Harper, and with Drew Pomeranz struggling lately, I think their decision has been made easier. They're likely going to spend their draft meetings choosing between Jameson Taillon and Machado, and I think the hitter wins out in the end.
3. Baltimore Orioles - Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX) - Though there is the off chance that the Orioles will get their pick of either Taillon or Machado, the most likely scenario is that they get the player that the Pirates don't want as much. It's looking like the Orioles will go best player available this year after jumping on Matt Hobgood a little early last year, so Taillon is the perfect target here.
4. Kansas City Royals - Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami - I think the Royals have been pulling for Pomeranz or some other high profile player to perform better than either Machado or Taillon lately, but that simply hasn't happened. Since the two picks above look pretty much set, the Royals are likely to go for the best player remaining on their board. Grandal could easily represent that, as he has done everything to answer questions about his game this spring.
5. Cleveland Indians - Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast - I've locked into this pick for quite some time, but it's hard to say with any sort of certainty whether this pick is correct or not. I suspect, with some direction, that the Indians are looking hard at all their college options, all at or near slot, and pitching is relatively high on their radar, as well. Sale represents a nice overall fit, and his upside is good for a college arm.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks - Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss - There's only so far that Pomeranz can slide as long as he's still pitching and doesn't have an arm injury. He is the prototypical lefty starter with a nice frame, good mechanics when healthy, and two above-average to plus pitches, and teams don't pass that up very often. Arizona is typically a team that favors slot picks in recent years.
7. New York Mets - Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech - There are a number of teams early in this year's draft order that favor picking players that will sign for slot money, and the Mets are very easily one of them. They're likely to go after the top college pitcher remaining or the top college bat available, and McGuire fits in the former category. Mets fans shouldn't expect anything more than slot money for this pick.
8. Houston Astros - Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas - This represents three in a row for me linking Cox to the Astros. It just makes sense. However, there are indications that the Astros will prefer a more athletic bat or even a pitcher in this slot, though I see them going after another bat to complement the cornerstones of Jason Castro and Jiovanni Mier, picked under the first two years of the new regime.
9. San Diego Padres - Michael Choice, OF, UT Arlington - The Padres continue to throw out different messages about which direction they're headed in this draft, and I have to say that they have done a great job of hiding what their true target is. They've been linked to Kolbrin Vitek, Nick Castellanos, college pitching, and prep pitching, but Choice makes plenty of sense for a new regime that will favor big tools.
10. Oakland Athletics - Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina - This is where things start to get confusing. The A's lean heavily on the college ranks for players with their early picks, and the only high school player I can see them targeting here is Dylan Covey. Harvey represents the highest upside of the remaining college pitching ranks, and with a good showing or two between now and the draft, he'll go higher than some people think.
11. Toronto Blue Jays - Stetson Allie, RHP, St. Edward HS (OH) - Though I still think the Blue Jays will play the draft much more conservatively than their fans care to admit, I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a splash or two with their protected picks. Allie would represent that, as there's been a huge, recent shift in the scouting community's opinion of which direction he's headed. He has true number one starter upside, and the only question now is how much his North Carolina commitment will cost.
12. Cincinnati Reds - Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State - Though Vitek has been linked exclusively to the Padres three picks earlier, I think he's a natural fit for the Reds. He's athletic enough to move to center field, or they can choose to keep him in the infield at second or third, whichever one fits best for them. They could easily go for college pitching early in the draft for the second year in a row, but don't rule out Vitek from their potential pick list.
13. Chicago White Sox - Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas - Like Allie, Workman has changed the minds of the scouting community quite recently in a positive direction. After scuffling through a few starts early in the season, he's turned it on over the last month, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him off the board in the top half of the first round. The White Sox aren't being clear about their direction, except to point out that they're likely to stick to slot again.
14. Milwaukee Brewers - Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (WA) - I get the feeling that Sale will be a backup plan for multiple teams above this pick, starting with the Mets at #7 overall. However, if things line up this way, then the Brewers and Sale are a likely match, due to his power and hitting prowess. The Brewers pick best player available almost every year, and this year shouldn't be any different.
15. Texas Rangers - Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State - Wimmers returned from his hamstring injury this past weekend, and that likely means he's secured a spot somewhere in the 10-20 range. He has mid-rotation stuff, good polish, and he's likely to be quite affordable, making him a natural fit for the Rangers in this slot, as this pick is unprotected for not signing Matt Purke a year ago.
16. Chicago Cubs - Brett Eibner, RHP, Arkansas - Though Eibner might fit somewhere in the back third of the first round for natural talent, his athleticism and comparatively fresh arm on the mound might move him up further than expected. The Cubs don't mind taking chances on pitchers that don't fit the traditional college mold, as both Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija have shown.
17. Tampa Bay Rays - A.J. Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL) - One of the remaining questions to answer over the final couple of weeks is where the prep pitchers will go. There seems to be too many teams headed in the cheaper direction early this year, so they're all likely to fall. Cole represents immense upside and is a prototypical Tampa Bay pick for their system.
18. Los Angeles Angels - Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (CA) - With the Angels having spent their top two picks on hitters last year, I wouldn't be surprised to see them start a stockpile of pitching with their early picks this year. Though Covey isn't as projectable as his fellow prep arms, he's polished and represents good enough natural stuff to warrant a top 20 selection.
19. Houston Astros - Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (FL) - Though I personally think that Whitson is still the best of the prep pitching bunch behind Taillon, that's by no means a reflection of the consensus in the scouting community. A late-season fade has worried a few teams, and that's all it takes for teams to pass over expensive prep arms for more affordable arms early. The Astros have to ask themselves if they're ready to spend some money in this draft.
20. Boston Red Sox - Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL) - Castellanos and his team secured a state title over the weekend, and while he's somewhat of a lock for the first round, he's in the same boat as the prep pitchers this year. Teams are looking a little cheaper this year, and while Castellanos will get paid, it's going to take a club with a bigger budget to sign him up, which doesn't open up until this pick.
21. Minnesota Twins - Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, The Citadel - The Twins are in a rough position when it comes to their traditional drafting. There's no one projected to be here that fits their development system too well, so it's likely they go with an arm like Wojciechowski that has shown an ability to throw strikes and command both a plus fastball and a breaking ball.
22. Texas Rangers - Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Cook County HS (GA) - Count me convinced that whoever drafts Cowart will have to give him a legitimate shot to be a third baseman. He probably won't sign otherwise. However, he's shown enough promise with the bat that he is a legitimate first rounder as a hitter, so a team like Texas that continually tries to develop a third baseman with no success might give him a shot.
23. Florida Marlins - Yordy Cabrera, SS, Lakeland HS (FL) - Cabrera has seen a late-season revival in pure scouting interest, as he's one of the rare prep bats that is expected to be quite signable. All it takes is plus-plus power and solid athleticism to draw attention, and his plus arm helps with that, too. The Marlins might be looking at him long and hard right now, as they try to answer questions about his price tag and long-term upside.
24. San Francisco Giants - Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton - I'm sure plenty of you have wondered where Colon went as you've read this list down. Let me make it clear that it is nothing that Colon has done to drop him here. There just doesn't seem to be a fit with a team that would want him as a first option anywhere along the line, especially if the prep pitchers drop or his price tag is more than slot money. He represents a good fit here, though, so that's why he shouldn't drop further than this.
25. St. Louis Cardinals - Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee - While some scouts have gone up on Brentz lately, an equal number have gone down, saying the same things I've been saying for quite some time. His plate discipline and pitch recognition just isn't top of the first round material. The Cardinals have a history of drafting and developing bats that aren't great with those traits, and scouts still love his power potential.
26. Colorado Rockies - Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU - This was another tough decision, as it's hard to really find anyone that might want to take on Ranaudo and his Boras price tag. I'm getting the feeling that his tag might come down somewhat as he's being used as a reliever, and the Rockies have shown a willingness to accept what the draft brings them, having secured three players a year ago that should have been off the board before they picked in Tyler Matzek, Tim Wheeler, and Rex Brothers.
27. Philadelphia Phillies - Delino DeShields, OF, Woodward Academy (GA) - I like to just put random athletes in this slot sometimes. It makes as much sense as anything else. The Phillies love their players with athleticism, and while DeShields isn't a no-brainer first rounder in any circles, he wouldn't be a gross overdraft this far back in the first round if he's signable for slot money, which is not a guarantee.
28. Los Angeles Dodgers - Sammy Solis, LHP, San Diego - The Dodgers look increasingly like a team hamstrung by their owner this year, and that means one thing: college players. They did it last year with early picks of Aaron Miller and Blake Smith, and Solis would be a nice pick that fits their development system and wouldn't be much of an overdraft here.
29. Los Angeles Angels - Peter Tago, RHP, Dana Hills HS (CA) - Any time a high school player changes his college commitment this late in the game from one big program to another, it's worrisome. That's what Tago did when he switched from UCLA to Cal State Fullerton, but I'm sure that if the Angels pick him this high, he's a likely addition for something close to slot money. He'd fit well in their development system.
30. Los Angeles Angels - Seth Blair, RHP, Arizona State - Remember what I said about stockpiling pitching? The Angels are in a perfect position to take from the multiple tiers of quality pitching in this draft, and they're not afraid of pitching college arms with big stuff, as Garrett Richards proved a year ago. Blair has had an excellent season, and while I place him in the second round personally, this wouldn't be a bad pick if he took slot money in short order.
31. Tampa Bay Rays - Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virginia Tech - If you couldn't tell already, pitching is going to be a big factor in this draft, and the Rays are a team that loves to capitalize on the strengths of a particular draft class. They practically took a year off from drafting pitching last year, and I don't see that happening again. Hahn represents good upside from the college ranks, but his late-season injury and the unprotected pick status here means he's a solid fit this far back.
32. New York Yankees - Zach Lee, RHP, McKinney HS (TX) - I see the Yankees as the wild card in this draft, as this is the first protected first round pick they've had in two years. With multiple signability questions likely available here for them to choose from, they could go any direction, but I think they've reached the point in their system that they're going to be aggressive in pursuing high-end talent. Lee fits that desire perfectly, and it doesn't deviate from their history at all.
What do you think?