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2012 MLB Draft: Jeff's Big Board

2012 MLB Draft: Jeff's Big Board
June 2, 2012
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The 2012 MLB Draft is in two days, so it is time for me to post my own personal big board.

This is based on reading scouting reports, watching games, and finding clips on the internet. I will reference stats to make a point, but for the high school kids the stats are worthless. So few high school guys ever make it to college let alone the pros, so if you are good enough in high school to be a first round pick, then even if you do have issues, your numbers are going to be brilliant.

In terms of what I look for, when it comes to hitters its power and bat speed, and a big bonus to any player who plays a hard to fill position as well. Those are the top three things I judge on, but any plus skill is going to earn points as well. With pitchers I like to see a guy who has three pitches and the ability to have one or more of those as plus pitches. Pen arms are severely downgraded, as is anyone with mechanics and consistency problems.

Also counted in is just how far someone is from helping a major league team. Talent being equal or near equal the closer a player is to the majors is going to break a lot of ties. I mean would you rather have Shaffer’s power now or someone like Corey Seagar who projects to that level of power in two to three years? When it comes to evaluating players it’s a lot like evaluating beauty: it’s all in the eyes of the bolder.

I am going 35 deep for my big board....so here goes. 

1.       Byron Buxton OF Georgia HS

I love Buxton and I like him better than last year’s prep superstar Bubba Starling. He has the ability to do it all for a team, and I think he has a Matt Kemp type of ceiling.  Whatever team drafts him will have to be patient as he is a ways off, but he will be worth the wait.  

2.       Carlos Correa SS Puerto Rico HS

If I thought Correa could stick at SS, he would be the top player on my board. I don’t see the ARod comps, and frankly they feel unfair to me. I still see all star potential, and a guy who has the best likelihood of hitting the most home runs of any player in this draft.

3.       Kevin Gausman RHP LSU

Gausman is my favorite pitcher this year. His high velocity is going to excite a lot of teams. He has been a strikeout machine in college and while he might not end up one of the top ten pitchers in baseball, I would be shocked if he is not one of the top five in this draft.

4.       Mike Zunino C Florida

Take a big look at the majors right now. Who are the elite catchers? Well, according to fantasy baseball its Yader Molina, Carlos Ruiz, and AJ Pierzyski. It might be the weakest position in the game, which is a reason why a player like Zunino has such great value. His bat could play at multiple positions and his power is a plus tool. Yet he is going to be a guy who in 2-3 years might be on that list for the most productive catchers with a bat.

5.       Mark Appel RHP Stanford

Appel is one of the safer picks in this draft. He is going to develop into a good pitcher, with some top of the rotation upside. He really has the lowest floor of any pick in the top ten. The worst case for him is a 4 starter.

6.       Kyle Zimmer RHP University of San Francisco

Zimmer does not excite some because of his lower velocity, comparatively. He is almost always ranked 3rd when listing the big three college arms. He has great breaking stuff, and while he might not throw as hard as Gausman or Appel, he still can get it up there.

7.       Lucas Giolito RHP California HS

The biggest risk in the whole draft is Lucas Giolito. He also has the highest ceiling to me and if he had not hurt his elbow he would be number one on the board. The question is who is willing to make a big investment in an elbow recovering from injury. With the new slotting system a team that takes him outside of the top ten is going to have to punt later picks to sign him. He is the biggest kink in this draft, not just because of injury but because of the effect he will have on the entire draft class.

8.       Albert Almora OF Florida HS

I have compared Almora to Beltran before. He is a potential plus defender in center who profiles to have plus power and a plus bat. He is barely 18, which means the team that gets him gets more time to develop him.

9.       Richie Shaffer 3B Clemson

The best college bat in this draft. He is not the best position player as that is Zunino, but the best bat alone is Shaffer. He should end up being a solid to good defender. He has 25-30 HR pop with a good average, some walks and a lot of strikeouts.

10.   Stephen Piscotty 3B/OF Stanford

I don’t get why a lot of people have him 5 to 10 spots behind Shaffer when I see guys who bring similar skill sets. They are both right handed, should hit for power, hit for average, can play 3B, and are 6’3”. Shaffer does have slightly better power, and will be a much better defender at 3B, which is why I have Shaffer higher. Yet Piscotty might end up posting a better OBP and will strikeout much less, so he should still be a top 20 pick to me.

11.   Max Fried LHP California HS

I am not as high on Fried, and part of me wanted to rank Heaney higher. I understand the love for Fried as he is a very athletic lefty with a nice outlook in terms of his offspeed pitches. Yet it is his fastball that worries me a bit since it looks to be an average pitch. His secondary stuff is what makes him the top lefty in this draft, but the drop off between him and the earlier arms to me is significant.  

12.   Andrew Heaney LHP OSU

Heaney is a lot like Fried where he has an average fastball that is really used to set up his secondary stuff. His slider is almost a plus pitch, and the command he showed this year makes him seem like one of the lowest floor guys in this draft. The worst case for him is a back of the rotation starter, and best case he could be a two starter.

13.   Marcus Stroman RHP Duke

Stroman would be a top 5 talent to me if he was 6’3” and not 5’8”. Height is always a major concern, but often it can be over blown. The team that drafts Stroman could have him in the majors this year in their pen and then try and transition him back as a starter for the future. Everyone talks about how if he fails the team will end up worst case with an all star closer, yet he has a good three pitch mix. The only reason people are still predicting failure is again thanks to his size.

14.   Courtney Hawkins OF Texas OF

Hawkins scares the crap out of me. Behind Gallo, he might have the best power in this draft. He is a major athlete, and shows a great mix of tools. Yet I always find it scary whenever a player’s hit tool is questioned. This is why Hawkins is such a boom/bust player. He could be Curtis Granderson, but he might never make AAA.

15.   Deven Marrero SS ASU

Marrero has had a very rough year. The question is if he is more like the player we say last year or this year, because the player we saw last year had all star potential. He was a guy who could have gone number one overall. He showed a plus hit tool, cannon at SS, and a guy who is most definitely going to stay at SS.

16.    Chris Stratton RHP Miss St.

Stratton is viewed to be a old in terms of the draft because he is almost 22 years old, which means that he has no time to develop. Yet Lonnie Chisenhall is only 23, so you have to love the hypocrisy of baseball scouting sometimes.(I'm not a knocking Chiz, I think he has time and so does Stratton). Stratton went head to head all year with Kevin Gausman for the SEC strikeout title. He has a near plus slider which is a relatively new pitch for him, so one would think there is room for even more development. I will admit to liking Stratton more than most, but I think his stats do tell an interesting tale, and that there is more growth potential here than others seem to think.

17.   Joey Gallo OF Nevada HS

I have Gallo ranked near 20, even though he does have superstar potential. He has the best power in this draft bar none. He is already hitting tape measure shots. He won’t even consider pitching for teams in spite of the fact he hits triple digits on the gun. The reason he is not going higher is that his hit tool does not look good. He might be a pitcher long term, but he would have to fail as a hitter before a change can happen. So you draft him as a hitter, hope he can hit, and then know that if he fails he could be a legit pitcher as well.

18.   Michael Wacha RHP Texas AM

Wacha has dominated college baseball. He throws a great sinker, which has allowed him to be so effective. In spite of a throw away slider as his third pitch he is viewed as a safer pitcher because of his sinker, which is what he will rely on as a pro. The team that takes him is betting on him competing for a spot within the next two years.

19.   David Dahl OF Alabama HS

I kind of want to call Dahl a five tool lite player. He doesn’t project to have any plus plus skills, but might be a solid jack of all trades type who does everything well but nothing at the top of the league. I have compared that type of skill set to be a lot like Hunter Pence’s to me, who always manages to do a little bit of everything.

20.   DJ Davis OF Mississippi HS

As an Indians fan you have to love a guy who has been compared by many outlets to Kenny Lofton. He has come on of late, and as people start to see some power potential he is flying up boards. He might have the best speed in this draft, and someone will fall in love with his athletic potential.

21.   Ty Hensley RHP Oklahoma HS

The son of a minor leaguer, Hensley is what you would expect out of the top arm from Oklahoma. He is big and throws hard. I like him more than the other HS arms left because I think he has the best potential upside. He could end up being a 2/3 type down the road.

22.   Tyler Naquin OF Texas AM

Naquin has a potential plus hit tool to go along with good speed. He might not have much power, but if he can work in center, which is where he has been playing of late, then he should be a regular in this league for awhile.

23.   Victor Roache OF Georgia Southern

Roache is a risk as he mashed last year, but got hurt this year. He has shown power few can touch, and when you add in his athletic ability one would think he should be a top ten pick. Yet even before injury there were questions and concerns about his consistency from his time in the Cape and at Georgia Southern. Even still he hit 30 home runs last year and did it in spite of the new college bats.

24.   Gavin Cecchini SS Mississippi HS

I understand the love for Cecchini. He has good bloodlines and is a legitimate shortstop prospect. My only concern is that he doesn’t really bring any plus skill. He is going to play a solid short, and be an alright bat. I think some people having him in the top 15 says more about the lack of shortstop prospects than about Cecchini’s overall skills.

25.   Lance McCullers RHP Florida HS

McCullers is another player with great bloodlines who can bring major heat. He has hit triple digits, but his secondary pitches need some work and there are major concerns about his command. Of any pitcher mentioned in my top 35, McCuller’s has the greatest likelihood of ending up in the pen. Yet he could also be a pitcher a ton of teams regret passing on in a few years. 

26. Matthew Smoral LHP Ohio HS

Smoral got hurt, otherwise he would have had a chance to be over 10 to 15 spots higher. I did not get many looks at him, but his scouting report is a lot like Heaney and Fried. His slider is a potential plus pitch. Yet what made him different were his ¾ slot and the fact he had started to be able to get his fastball up there at 95 MPH. Yet to be honest I would have a very hard time drafting him early. The reason is simple: the latest injury was yet another in a long line for him.

27.   Stryker Trahan C Louisiana HS

Trahan’s bat would profile at a lot of positions. He has plus power potential, and if he sticks at catcher then his value is huge. In the outfield his bat would be enough to profile as an above average regular, and at catcher he would be an almost all star level. The question of course is can he stay at catcher or will his so-so receiver skills hasten a move to a new position.

28.   Walter Weickel RHP Florida HS

Weickel was viewed as one of the top 3 high school arms before the year began in many circles. He is 6’6”, has a mid-90s fastball with good movement, and his curve has looked improved. Yet his inconsistent year has caused him to drop in the eyes of some. The potential is still there, and someone will take the risk early on.  

29.   Cory Seagar 3B North Carolina HS

Seagar is yet another player with bloodlines. His brother is in the majors with Seattle, and Cory is already the same size. His plus power potential and potential defense at 3B should make him one of the more intriguing late first round choices.

30.    Zach Elfin  RHP Florida HS

Elfin is another big 6’5” prep arm that got hurt this year and missed some time. In spite of his size his fastball is in the low-90s, though there is hope that he might end up picking up some more velocity.

31.   Addison Russell SS Florida HS

There is debate if Russell will stay at short. Yet I think whatever team drafts him has to try him there first. He has plus power, possibly plus plus power. His hit tool is a long way off and will end up being around average. Yet the power and the possible ability to stay at short will make him a player who gets drafted in round one.

32.   Lucas Sims RHP Georgia HS

Sims' mid-90s velocity is what is going to catch some eyes. The fact he can maintain it throughout games is what then keeps people interested. Both of his secondary pitches are viewed as potential plus pitches and in spite of some inconsistencies this year he is still a first round talent.

33.   Carson Kelly 3B Mississippi HS

He has plus bat speed and plus power potential as well. His power is the major attraction for him, as his hit tool is average. He made the list as my final prep bat because of this power potential.

34.   Pete O’Brien C Miami

The major bonus with O’Brien is that he is a senior. Whoever drafts him might get to save a few bucks that they can use later. He has mashed this year showing good power, and he is going to be able to stay at catcher. I think he might be undervalued because he is a senior, and people see limited growth. I think O’Brien should be a solid catcher down the road with some power.

35.   Brian Johnson LHP Florida

Johnson has underperformed this year, but he is another high probability pitcher from the left side. He is going to be a back of the rotation starter, but he should move quickly and lefty arms are always valued.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at jellis121@yahoo.com

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