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2012 Baseball Draft: College Prospects 1-5

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As I stated with the high school prospects, I have not seen every player in my top 100 lists. I haven't seen any of them in person. I have seen several of them multiple times on TV though. I have not seen a full game of Roache's, only edited highlights, but I have a good feel for the player that he is. I have a link to a video for each player so you can see what I am seeing for these five. I hope to see more of these guys throughout the upcoming college season and I'll let you know what I see. Without further ado, here is the first five.

Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State

Marrero is the top college shortstop in this years' draft passing predecessor Kenny Diekroger. At 6'1", 175 he shouldn't outgrow the position. Defensively he is very capable at the position and looks to be a well above average defender. He has a strong arm, quick feet and very good range. He has soft hands and can turn the double play very well. He even played 2B well in one game I watched and he showed quick feet there as well. He is not a fast player, probably average or a tick above but has the athleticism it takes to stay at a demanding defensive position.

At the plate, he has very good contact ability. He tends to be aggressive at the plate and doesn't exhibit the patience that could improve his pitch selection. When he makes contact he hits the ball well. He won't hit a ton of homers, maybe in the 10-15 range but he isn't a slap hitter and should hit more than his fair share of 2B.

Overall, he is an above average defensive shortstop with the potential to have an above average bat for the position as well. Historically, he is a lock to be a major leaguer and with the skills he possesses, he should be a very good one. He is a safe pick and could go as early as the 1st overall pick or slide to the lower half of the top 10 but it would take a very poor season to see him slide more than that.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State

Gausman was looked at as one of the better arm in the 2010 draft but he never gained anything on his secondary pitches that spring and he slid to the 6th round. He opted to go to LSU. Gausman is very much a work in progress. He is a draft eligible sophomore from Colorado, so he hasn't logged the innings that many college pitchers have.

He is a long and lean at 6'4", 175 and needs to add strength to become a great player. On the mound, he is poised and looks like he belongs. He uses his size and arm angle to work down in the zone. He has mid to upper 90's velocity from a clean, easy delivery. It shows good life tailing down and in to righties. That kind of power arm is not easy to find. The fact he could add 15-20 LBS to his wide shoulders makes me believe he could be a workhorse with dominant stuff at the next level.

His secondary pitches are impressive and flash plus-plus potential. That being said, they are inconsistent. His breaking ball looks almost unhittable sometimes and others it flattens out and gets hit. His changeup has a hard fade to it and can make hitters look silly but his command needs work. He usually is around the plate and isn't the kind of guy who doesn't know where it's going. He is refining his ability and it shows.

Gausman is a rare talent but he isn't a typical college pitcher because he is as inconsistent as a high school pitcher at times. That is the advantage of getting him as a sophomore. Considering how well he held up against SEC talent last year shows his potential. I hope he gains consistency this spring and improves his secondary pitches. That could make him a contender to be 1st overall or he could slide down to the middle of the 1st round with a poor showing or even out of it like his LSU predecessor, Anthony Ranaudo, if an injury bites him.

Michael Zunino, C, Florida

Zunino was a good prospect in high school with raw power being his biggest asset. He wasn't a great prospect. He had raw power and a strong arm but the defense behind the dish was still progressing. He was drafted in the 20th round but chose to attend Florida. He did ok in his freshman year but broke out as a sophomore.

He is 6'2", 220 lbs and built like a solid backstop is expected to be. He has a strong, accurate arm and has a quick release. He isn't exceptional defensively but the arm will play and his work ethic will keep him behind the dish. He has added 25-30 LBS since high school and it was good weight. He is a more mature well rounded player now.

At the plate is where he wins you over. He can mash the ball. He has big raw power and it translates into game power. He knows how to work a count but has some swing and miss that will lead to a fair amount of strike outs like most players who hit for power. He should hit 20-25 homers and bat in the .270-.280 range. He is not fleet of foot. He's a below average runner but he is an intelligent player who should be able to maximize the speed he has.

Zunino has all the tools to be an above average starting catcher at the major league level. His swing is a little stiff but he has shown that will not detract from his production. In a draft where catching is heavy with talent he is the top talent. Without any injury or major setback, he should be in contention for the #1 overall pick and shouldn't make it out of the top 5.

Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

Appel is considered by most to be the best pitcher in this year's class. He was a basketball player in high school so his baseball polish lagged behind. He threw 88-94 but had horrible mechanics. His time at Stanford has allowed him to gain consistency to his big 6'6" frame. He is currently 210 lbs+/- and could easily add 15-20 lbs more to add strength and durability. His command has come a long way, as has his consistency but he still needs work.

His fastball is a 93-96 mph pitch but can get up to 99. It didn't have much movement in the times I have watched him pitch. It looked rather hittable. His changeup is advanced. It can be a plus pitch and make hitters lunge at it but it didn't have a lot of movement in my viewings. It is a plus pitch that could get better with added movement. His slider is his best pitch. It has tight spin and looked very good in my viewings. His command of it wasn't advanced and he didn't locate it well. I think all 3 of his pitches could play up with more innings and confidence in locating them to all 4 quadrants. He

My concern with Appel is that he has the potential to be dominant but He tends to be around the plate. He leaves balls up in the zone and almost throws too many strikes. He suffers from "pitch to contact" syndrome; an affliction that many Minnesota Twins fans are aware of. If a team has a good defense behind him and he pitches with a little more killer instinct as well as develops more with instruction and better competition, he could be a frontline starter. If he doesn't gain those things and stays a similar pitcher, he may just be a #3 or 4 starter that you are always expecting more from. That being said, he should go in the top 5 without any complications and is likely to be the #1 or #2 pick overall.

Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern

Roache wasn't an elite follow out of high school. He came from Michigan and like many northern state players, has shown a lot of skill within a couple of years out of high school.

Defensively, Roache is an adequate corner outfielder. He doesn't have a rocket for an arm but it is strong enough to be useful and he is accurate. He covers enough ground and is a good enough athlete to be a solid outfielder. I don't see a positional change needed here although he is a big guy at 6'1", 225 lbs. I have heard he is a plus runner but I would rate him closer average.

At the plate is where the vast majority of his value is. He is a monster power hitter. He can crush the ball with wood or the weak BBCOR bats that were used last season in the NCAA. He hit 30 HR's in spring and 6 more in the Cape Cod league this summer. That is extremely impressive. The power will play. He uses his lower half well and has quick wrists and really gets good loft, but I'll get to that in a minute.

He has good plate discipline and doesn't swing at junk. The contact is where the concern lies. He has struck out a lot in his career, including 44 times this summer in about 180 plate appearances (not sure on the sacs, IBB..he had 136 AB). This is disconcerting to me. When I watch him hit, his hands are still moving downward when the ball is on its way causing him to uppercut at every pitch. This gives him good loft to his swing but makes him susceptible to good velocity, pitches up in the zone and makes him make less contact in general. That being said, players with power in college are scarce and he should be in the conversation for a top 10 pick this year. I don't see him at the same level of the top 4 due to the lack of contact ability and corner outfield status.