MLB Draft Primer: An early look at the 2012 draft
By Jeff Ellis
March 6, 2012
With just about three months to go until the 2012 MLB Draft, it seems like a good time to do our first write up on it.
This year’s draft is not as exciting for Indians fans as they do not have a top 10 pick; instead the Tribe is picking 15th (It is kind of funny to look back at how fans were excited the Indians got a protected first rounder so they would not lose their pick to free agency, but it looks like that was a needless worry). The last time the Indians had the 15th pick it went pretty well as they had it in 2009 when they snagged right-handed pitcher Alex White.
The draft this year has the new rules, which is basically hard slotting (instead of actual hard slotting there are just very severe penalties where I can’t see any team really going over slot). This means players can no longer hold a team ransom and we should not see top talent fall unless the player is dead set on going to school. While this might seem good for the Indians, long term it’s not, but that’s another article in itself.
This draft is vastly different from 2011. I would go so far to say that seven out of eight of the top picks taken in last year’s draft, to me, would have the chance to be the top pick this year, including last year's Tribe number one pick shortstop Francisco Lindor. This is just based on my own perceived evaluations and views. The 2011 draft was extremely special, and since I have started covering these drafts in the past five years, to me this is the weakest crop at the top yet.
So to me the big names in this draft are in no particular order Mark Appel, Lucas Giolito, Byron Buxton, Deven Marrero, and Kevin Gausman. I am going to give each player a quick rundown and then because of the volatility of draft ranks, I will mention if I think they will trend down or up as the draft approaches.
Lucas Giolito, RHP
His name has gained huge buzz as he hit 100 MPH last week in a game. I do not think he is as good as Bundy last year or Tallion the year before, or heck even Matzek was in 2009 (Yes I know Matzek looks like a bust now, but he looked like ace to me before that draft). This is not a knock on Giolito, but just a way to reinforce how this draft is weaker. I think Giolito will be the first high school arm to ever go number one, barring an injury. He is big at 6’6”, throws hard, and has a solid breaking pitch. He certainly has ace potential, and people will be mesmerized by the fact he hits 100 now and what might he might hit as he matures. It’s all about upside, and he is a guy teams can draft and dream on.
Trending: I think he will trend up. He is in the top three discussion, and I expect him to trend up to number one.
Byron Buxton, OF
Buxton is a five tool outfielder. Keith Law recently compared him to the Upton’s and made him the number one player on his board. Buxton is this year’s Bubba Starling and is an extremely toolsy player whose mammoth upside could make him a perenniel MVP candidate. Still the past few drafts have shown a greater importance based on upside over polish, so I expect Buxton to stay near the top of the board all year long.
Trending: I think he will stay where he is in terms of trending which is in the top five players.
Mark Appel, RHP
Appel is one of the safer picks this year and has pitched well at Stanford. He has size and has shown a high velocity fastball, though he mostly sits in the low 90s. He is a guy that you should see in the majors within two to three years of being drafted. He might even make an All Star game or two, but for the most part should be a solid pitcher in a big league rotation. He is considered by most to be the favorite for the top pick in the draft, but in the end I just can’t see him there.
Trending: I think he will trend down, which is natural when you consider he has been a favorite to go first overall.
Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero is a legit shortstop and can play there with a solid arm. He should hit well and is a smart player. He reminds me of Christian Colon, but I like Marrero better and like his defense a lot. Legit shortstop prospects have a ton of value; a player with less offensive upside was the centerpiece in the Greinke deal (Alcides Escobar). Marrero might be a pretty safe pick, but I like what he does. The team that does draft him gets a guy who will play a solid shortstop and be an ideal number two hitter.
Trending: I think he ends up trending down, just because he is not flashy and the upside is low.
Kevin Gausman, RHP
This guy reminds me a bit of Jed Bradley last year, who was riding high thanks to his velocity but had come control issues. I placed him five, just because I feel like I have heard the most buzz about him over the past year than the other guys in top five contention. He is big and powerful, but at the end of the day I think the lack of polish will hurt. This also shows the degree of drop off this year, as Gasman is not really a franchise guy or even close to such a player but he is uniformly a top eight guy on every board.
Trending: Ultimately at this point I think he trends down. I like his stuff, but I am not sure about the results.
Now I want to throw out same names of note for Indians fans who might be guys they would consider going after that might be there around the 15th pick. I'm going to throw out five more names with a short bio and why they might fit in as Tribe targets.
Max Fried, LHP
Giolito’s high school teammate and he is a good lefty with nice projection. He sits in the low 90’s, but there is a decent chance he trends up out of the Indians' reach. The Indians were linked to a lot of the top high school arms last year and ended up taking Dillon Howard, so they would not be afraid to take an upside high school arm again.
Stephen Piscotty, 3B
Piscotty is a polished right handed bat out of Stanford. He played well in the Cape and has shown some power potential. He could end up at first base or in the outfield, but there is a decent chance he sticks at third base. You never draft for need, but he would have value at #15 and would fill a system need. He is more a guy they would have targeted a few years ago when they only drafted college players, but I think what he can do makes him a possible pick.
Matthew Smoral, LHP
Smoral is huge at 6’8”, which means he could potentially get even bigger, although his size is actually a negative at this point as bigger pitchers tend to have injury concerns. Smoral is a lefty who throws hard and has good movement. He is from Solon, and the Indians have liked to take players from Ohio.
Gavin Cecchini, SS
Cecchini is a legit shortstop prospect and should be able to stay there long term as his bat profiles as plus for the position. The Indians have been collecting up the middle players the last few years, and there is no reason to think they will stop any time soon. His brother is a prospect with the Red Sox and bloodlines have become a major bonus within every organization.
Victor Roache, OF
Roache is the definition of the diamond in the rough type of player. He comes from a small school and is extremely toolsy. He has plus power, but has mechanical issues. If you draft him you’re looking all at the potential upside and banking on better coaching being able to correct his issues. He is a boom or bust pick as he might never reach AAA, or he could end up a multi time All Star. The last few years we have seen the Indians take more risks on athleticism and Roache is a great athlete.
It is still extremely early, but there is my primer on the 2012 MLB Draft. At this point last year very few people were talking up Trevor Bauer, and he went on to be the fourth pick in the draft. This means a guy I mentioned as a possible top pick could end up being who the Indians select or vice versa. It is extremely early, and really impossible to say anything for sure. In any case, there are a few names to watch and players to look for as college and high school seasons begin.
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