2012 MLB Mock Draft: The Top 15 picks
By Jeff Ellis
April 30, 2012
The NFL draft is in the books and people are already going through mock draft withdrawal. So here is something to help those suffering from the shakes: my first partial mock for the 2012 MLB Draft.
Since the Indians are picking at #15, for today's mock I did the picks up to #15. As the draft gets closer I will expand out to a full mock for the first round.
I have previously warned that this is a much weaker draft than last year. The top players in this year's draft would have lasted to the Indians pick, so there are not a ton of blue chip guys, but still some very interesting talent.
1. Houston Astros - Mike Zunino, C, Florida
There is a rumor that they plan to go with a college player with the first pick. Their new GM is from the Cardinals who tend to draft both college and prep players. There is a lot of talk about the 2008 draft right now with Zunino filling the role of Posey and Buxton the role of Beckham. This is not fair, and it's just pundits and not teams talking. Zunino is a very good catcher who can hit and he will be quick to the majors and should be bust proof. He is a top three player in this draft and I doubt that anyone would call this a reach. If the rumor is true and Houston wants a college player then Zunino is the best college player in the draft.
2. Minnesota Twins - Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU
The Twins have typically taken arms in the draft, though Gausman is not their typical type of command/control arm. Gausman is the definition of a power arm, he gets it up there at 99 MPH and not just on rare occasions. He has some control issues, but the power arm will be too good to pass on.
3. Seattle Mariners - Byron Buxton, OF, Georgia HS
Seattle might have taken the college player last year, but I have to believe this is Buxton's floor. Seattle nearly took Lindor last year and no one in this draft has the ceiling of Buxton. He is a five tool player and has been compared to the top high school positions players from the past few drafts. He is the consensus top overall prospect from the places I look, but the fact that that his floor is much lower along with the time to develop means he could still not go number one in spite of his overall talent.
4. Baltimore Orioles - Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico
I know they drafted Machado a few years ago, but that doesn't matter when it comes to the draft. Secondly, there is a very good chance Correa moves to 3B. For years people have been moaning about the death of Puerto Rican baseball since they became a part of the draft process. Then Correa comes around and shows that there is a spark. He has a plus hit tool along with plus power. The Orioles have invested heavily in younger players, and Correa would join the young core, which would allow the talent to hit the big league team in waves a few years from now.
5. Kansas City Royals - Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
Once considered the favorite to go number one, he should still go in the top five picks. Last year the word was the Royals wanted to take a college pitcher, but then local talent fell to them and the top college arms were all gone. Appel has really good stuff and excellent velocity, but the refinement is still missing and if he keeps his trend up of leaving pitches up in the zone he might not ever live up to his ability.
6. Chicago Cubs - Lucas Giolito, RHP, California HS
The Cubs are in their rebuild for the long term. They are doing a scorched Earth approach where everyone of value will be traded and they are rebuilding from scratch. Giolito pre injury was a slam dunk top three player. I had him at number one myself. The Cubs are going to take the best player and the best player is Giolito. He has front of the rotation stuff, and even with an injury it is hard to see him not going in the top 10 picks.
7. San Diego Padres - Kyle Zimmer, SP, University of San Francisco
No fancy logic here, just the top player on the board, and a kid from a local school as well. Zimmer has even passed Appel on some boards, but for now he is still here at seven. He doesn't have the over-powering velocity of the earlier pitchers taken, but good secondary stuff should get him taken in the top ten picks.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates - Albert Almora, OF, Florida HS
This was supposed to be Deven Marrero's floor, yet his continued struggles have hurt him. This leaves Pittsburgh to take another high upside player. Almora has been hot of late and his mix of defense and power potential has drawn Carlos Beltran comps.
9. Florida Marlins - Max Fried, LHP, California HS
Most places have Almora here, but since he is gone the Marlins would more than likely target a high upside high schooler as they tend to take high school arms early, especially if there are any from Oklahoma. While Fried is not from Oklahoma, he is the top high school arm after his teammate Lucas Giolito and is the top lefty in this draft. He is a great athlete with a plus curve, and while his velocity might not spike as he gets older the potential for a front of the line starter is there.
10. Colorado Rockies - Joey Gallo, 3B/RHP, Nevada HS
Gallo seems to be getting things back together. His power would be hard to pass on for Colorado. He has the best power in the draft, and even as a high school kid can hit just absolute bombs. Or you could make him a pitcher where his velocity hits the upper 90's and he can blow it past people. He can be a power arm or a power bat, and that is what makes him an intriguing talent that will go very early.
11. Oakland Athletics -Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
I have a hard time dropping Marrero farther than here. He was supposed to contend to be the number one pick, but a bad year along with some concerns about a lack of effort (he was supposed to be high character) have caused a major fall by Marrero. Even still he is a legit shortstop and he has shown he can hit. Oakland would have to consider him in spite of his troubles because how well he fits for them and because he is a polished up the middle talent.
12. New York Mets - Courtney Hawkins, OF, Texas HS
Last year the Mets showed a change in approach when they drafted a high upside, extremely raw high school athlete type in Nimmo. The player who also has that type of upside this year is Courtney Hawkins, who has Grady Sizemore or Curtis Granderson type potential. They could also consider Lance McCullers, but right now the highest rank upside player is Hawkins, who has power and speed to share. He might have the second best pure power behind Gallo in this draft.
13. Chicago White Sox - Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma St.
The White Sox tend to go after college players, and Heaney is the best college lefty in the draft. He should be quick to the majors, and has very good secondary stuff. The combination of fast moving and being a lefty should make him too tempting for the Sox' who have shopped most of their pitchers this year.
14. Cincinnati Reds - Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
Until last year the Reds have been taking mostly college players. Wacha reminds me a bit of the Reds former high pick Mike Leake, a low upside right hander who should quickly make the majors. Wacha is arguably the safest pick in this draft, and seems pretty bust proof. He should pitch in the majors and might be the first player to make it to the majors.
15. Cleveland Indians - Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson
Shaffer is a solid defensive third baseman who is having a breakout year. There is a very good chance he could end up going as high as 7th to San Diego, but if he does fall I have to believe Cleveland is his floor. He has plus power, solid defense, and in spite of the new bats has destroyed college pitching. He might have the best bat speed of any college bat. He was well thought of coming out of high school, but an injury killed his stock. As a bonus for Indians fans, he is also right handed. His polish and power will make him an intriguing prospect for the Indians to consider throughout the process.
There is really only about five weeks until the draft, so it will be very interesting to see how things continue to develop. The Indians minor league system was weakened last year by trades and graduation, so this draft is extra important to help reestablish the talent level so the Tribe's system can be the place where they are able to find talent for the big league team.
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