Mock Draft 2012: Final Mock
By Jeff Ellis
June 3, 2012
This will be the final IPI mock draft before the real deal. The first-year player draft begins on Monday night at 6 PM, with the first round, with the lower rounds taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Join Tony Lastoria, myself, and the rest of the IPI crew all next week with full-length coverage. It’s a website assault on the Indians’ draft, and nobody will cover it better than us.
Unlike the past few years the top of the draft seems to be in flux. Most major league draft experts look at the 2012 pool of players as weaker than the past few drafts. The theory is that over the past few seasons more and more teams are signing guys out of high school. In turn this has led to a lessening of talent in the college level. This explains why the majority of this draft is high school players. The weakest group in this draft is college bats, and the strongest is high school arms.
1. Houston – Mark Appel, RHP Stanford
There is some talk that this pick is still undecided. It could be Appel, Buxton, Correa, and even Giolito. Appel has the lowest floor of any player in the top ten. He is going to be a solid pitcher, as he throws in the mid 90’s, and has hit 99. I wonder if he might even sign for under slot, giving Houston more money to use later.
2. Minnesota- Byron Buxton, OF, Georgia HS
Buxton has the biggest upside of anyone in this draft. He could be a complete five-tool outfielder. He might have 80 speed right now. I stand by his ceiling being Matt Kemp, and I have heard Keith Law say Eric Davis. Either way, he is a guy who can become a franchise player. Minnesota is in a rebuild mode, and Buxton gives them a player with massive talent, who is far away from helping. They are a team that can afford to wait.
3. Seattle - Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico
I have seen a multitude of guys here. I think they still take Correa because of what he brings to them. Their minors are stocked with arms, and a high upside bat like Correa would be ideal for system depth. Last year they feel in love with Lindor, and nearly drafted him. I think this year they take the shortstop from Puerto Rico with huge upside.
4. Baltimore – Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU
Baltimore has the top prospect in all of baseball right now in Dylan Bundy. They have failed to develop a lot of their young arms (Britton, Tillman, etc); this means they still need to add more arms to the system. Gausman can really bring it up there with high velocity. He has racked up huge strike out totals at LSU. He and Bundy would match up with any teams top two pitching prospects in the game, only Seattle would be close.
5. Kansas City - Kyle Zimmer, RHP, University of San Francisco
The Royals had the 5th spot last year, and were supposedly targeting college arms. The problem was the arms were off the board, so they went with the local star in Bubba Starling. This year they get the last of the upper tier of college arms in Kyle Zimmer. Zimmer is a great athlete, and he will field the position extremely well, can bring it in the mid-90’s, and looks to have plus potential secondary pitches. Kansas City minors have produced a lot of hitters, but have not had as much luck with young pitchers. It makes a lot of sense for them to take a college arm that is near ready.
6. Chicago Cubs - Albert Almora, OF, Florida HS
Almora is really starting to gain a lot of steam late in the process. He is a legit centerfield prospect who could be the next Carlos Beltran. He is a few notches behind Buxton in terms of upside, but still has all-star potential. The Cubs are in full rebuild and seem to be aiming for upside. The highest upside bat at this point is Almora. He has been on the showcase circuit and dominated since he was 12. He has a lot of experience with wood bats, and I think even though he is younger than Buxton, he will make it to the majors first because he has already experienced the grind to a degree.
7. San Diego – Lucas Giolito, RHP, California HS
I have seen a few places having Giolito going to Toronto because they have a big slotting pool. Yet the Blue Jays pool is fifth, and the Padres pool is third. If anyone can sign him, I still think its San Diego. He has the upside to be an ace type. The question is, are they comfortable with his elbow? He is a California kid, who is committed to UCLA, and a chance to stay in California with the Padres might help get him signed.
8. Pittsburgh – Mike Zunino, catcher, Florida
Every mock has Marrero here, but all those mocks also have Zunino gone. I think if he is there, they will take Zunino. They seem to be set on college players who can help soon. Zunino is considered the best college bat in the draft. The reason is he is a catcher, who can stay there and hit for a solid average with some power potential.
9. Miami – Andrew Heaney, LHP, OSU
Miami has a long history of taking arms from Oklahoma. They often take prep arms from there, but I think they might grab Heaney this year. The reason is they are a team whose window is open for the next few years. They might be aiming to grab a player who can help contribute in the next few years. He is the top college lefty in this draft. He might have the best numbers this year of any pitcher in college this year.
10. Colorado – Courtney Hawkins, OF, Texas HS
Colorado has not had a problem drafting prep players. Hawkins pure athletic mix would be him a very interesting player for Colorado. He can already hit tape measure home runs and has the speed to cause havoc on the bases. He is a step down from the Buxton/Almora group of major athlete type outfielders. He has the skills to be someone special, but the risk is considered higher with him.
11. Oakland – Lance McCullers, RHP, Florida HS
The money ball days are near done. They seem to be in on a lot of prep players. McCullers is maybe the biggest enigma in this draft. He was viewed as a Stetson Allie type pitcher earlier in the year. I myself gave him the comp as well based on the stories I read about. As year as gone on McCullers has been slowly gaining command, and turning into a very interesting prospect. He has great bloodlines, throws hard, and could have 3 plus pitches. The A’s have the 6th biggest draft pool, so they could take a risk on a guy who you hope is going to continue to figure it out and become a top end pitcher.
12. NY Mets – Max Fried, LHP, California HS
Fried is the consensus top lefty in this draft. He falls a bit in this draft, as while he is a good player, he just seems to lack the excitement factor. Still he has 2/3 potential, great athletic ability, and should be an excellent lefty. He might end up with a mid 90’s fastball, two plus off speed pitches, and a great feel. He is just too good of a talent to get past 12 at this point.
13. Chicago White Sox – Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke
Stroman is 5’8”, but he will claim to be 5’10”. If he was 6’2” he would be the top pick in this draft. The White Sox are in on a lot of college arms. Stroman is a guy who could pitch in the majors this year in the pen. I think Chicago could take the same approach they have taken with Sale. There is a lot to be said about a guy with his stuff, who has dominated how he has (136 K’s, 22 BB’s), and who has a major chip on his shoulder due to all the talk about his height. He is going to be majorly motivated. Did I mention this is his first year exclusively as a pitcher? He could be very special.
14. Cincinnati – Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas AM
I still think Wacha is a major target for the Indians, thanks to their love of sinkerball type pitchers. I think Cincinnati will grab him though because he will be quick to the majors, as soon as next year. Hs ground ball approach is ideal for a hitter’s haven like Great America. Even his change has great sink to it, he is going to be able to keep his pitches down in the pros and keep the ball in the park.
15. Cleveland - Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson
Shaffer has the ability to be an above average defender at third. He has the best bat speed of any college bat, and also brings plus power potential. He is going to strike out a bunch, but he will balance it by walking a bunch as well. He has been pitched around this year and has still managed to put up numbers. He has the best bat of any college player, and his right handed power would be a boon to the system. I have him at 9th on my big board, so he is also the best player on the board. He is a consensus top 15 player in this draft, and by many he is ranked in the top 9-12.
16. Washington – Chris Stratton, RHP, MISS ST
The Nationals are scouting a lot of college arms. Stratton has gone strike out for strike out with Kevin Gausman for the SEC leader this year. He has developed a plus slider, this season, which has lead to his break out numbers. In spite of the fact he is nearly 22, which is old for the draft, I think there is some development in there. I consider him the top college arm left by a significant margin at this point.
17. Toronto – Joey Gallo, OF, Nevada HS
Toronto has gone for high upside prep players of late. They have a ton of picks this year and the fifth highest draft pool. They could afford to take a risk on Gallo. Gallo has the consensus best power in this entire draft. He has hit tape measure shots all year. In spite of his awesome power, he slides because of the fear that his hit tool might be lacking. He might actually be a better prospect as a pitcher; he can bring it at up to 100. The Blue Jays can take a risk on a player who has super star potential this late.
18. Los Angeles - Ty Hensley, RHP, Oklahoma HS
I saw that the last 8 drafts the Dodgers have taken a pitcher in round one. This means, anyone who does not have a pitcher to the Dodgers either has great information or might be way off. The Dodgers have taken a mix of college and prep players, but I think they would take the prep arm. Hensley is the top pitcher on my board. He has excellent bloodlines and size. His only real knock is on his consistency and polish, which are common problems with young arms.
19. St. Louis – Deven Marrero, SS, ASU
This is the compensation pick for losing Albert Pujols. Marrero was thought to be a top five player heading into the year, and for whatever reason, he has fallen apart mechanically. Defensively he is still there, he can and will be able to handle shortstop. He has a cannon at shortstop, and his hit tool has the potential to be plus. He could be the replacement for Furcal very soon.
20. San Francisco – Brian Johnson, LHP, Florida
It seems right to put Johnson and Marrero back to back, as both have failed to live up to their draft stocks this year. San Francisco is a team that since they have drafted later, basically since they became good, they have drafted exclusively college players. They seem to be more in on pitchers then hitters, as I really wanted to put Piscotty here. Johnson is the top college pitcher on my board. Johnson is going to be a solid back of the rotation starter with the potential to get there quickly.
21. Atlanta – Stephen Piscotty, 3B/OF, Stanford
I have seen Atlanta linked to a lot of high school players, but they have become very conservative drafters over the past few seasons. Piscotty is the top player by far on my board. He is a great hitter, who rarely strikes out. The issue with him is that whoever drafts him will have to rework his mechanics. Stanford discourages pull hitting, and this has cut out some of Piscotty’s power. He is a good enough hitter that he should be able to adapt and produce power. He is too good a hitter to not end up finding a place for him in the pros. He might end up being Chipper’s long term replacement.
22. Toronto – Gavin Cecchini, SS, Louisiana HS
This is the compensation pick from Toronto failing to sign their first round pick Tyler Beede a year ago. Bloodlines might be the hottest word in sports over the last five years, there is a gained value from having good genes and family members who also play professional sports. Cecchini’s brother is a prospect in the Red Sox’s system. His brother was also a SS, but the consensus view is that this Cecchini will be able to stay there. Since they would not have to go highly over slot for Gallo, they can take another high school player here. If they do grab an expansive talent at 17 then they grab a more sign able player here to save some cash.
23. St. Louis - David Dahl, OF, Alabama HS
Dahl is a player who has been talked about as a possible top ten pick. He doesn’t have a major weakness in his game, he just don’t have an eye popping talent either. He should be an above average player who is going to do a bit of everything. His lack of one eye popping skill is what might keep him out of the top 20. Still I would not be shocked to see him go as high as 10 to Colorado.
24. Boston Red Sox – DJ Davis, OF, Mississippi HS
Davis has a lot of comps to Kenny Lofton. He has shown some late power, which in turn has made some teams think he might end up with some pop as well as having lightening speed. I think it might be fairer to expect Lofton type power out of him, 10-15 homeruns. Yet with his hit tool and speed I can’t see him not going in the top 25.
25. Tampa Bay – Matthew Smoral, LHP, Ohio HS
I kept trying to find a place for Smoral, but a lot of teams seem to be more intent on taking college players which caused a talented high school player to slide. Smoral was looked at as a possible top ten pick before he got hurt (broken bone in his foot). The bigger problem is that this is the last in a long list of injuries for Smoral. He is considered too tall 6’8”, and this might be what has lead to injuries. Much like Stroman has to fight an image because he is too short; Smoral is going to have to fight the image of pitchers who are too tall and the injuries that go with them. If any team can develop young pitching of late it’s been the Rays, so this might be the best place for Smoral.
26. Arizona – Zach Elfin, RHP, Florida HS
The Diamondbacks seem to be looking at high school pitchers according to sites. This is not a huge surprise since it’s the depth of the draft. Elfin is a huge right hander at 6’5”. He sits in the low 90’s, but the hope is that with development and growth that he will end up being able to throw in the mid 90’s. The Diamondbacks have been drafting and developing pitching talent extremely well for the last few years. They have a lot of depth and talent in their system, but this should not block them from taking a player with this size and potential of Elfin, who if not for injury would not have even lasted this long.
27. Milwaukee - Addison Russell, SS, Florida HS
This pick is compensation for the loss of Prince Fielder in free agency. Russell is another player who should be able to stick at shortstop. He has some power potential in him as well, so even if he did have to move off shortstop he would transition fine. They have to try him at shortstop, because of what he brings to the position. He is another player who might surprise, as he seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder after constantly hearing what people thought he can’t do.
28. Milwaukee – Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas AM
Milwaukee with these two picks back to back, might look to grab one safe pick and one high school guy. Naquin would be the safe pick. He has put up great numbers in college, and he is a natural hitter. He would be a certain first round pick, if teams thought that he could play centerfield. He has played there this year, but the jury is still out. He has continued to hit, up to 384. He is up to 21 SB this year almost twice what he had racked up the previous two years combined. He might be an ideal top of the order hitter who is going to work hard to get the majors as quickly as he can.
29. Texas – Lucas Sims, RHP, Georgia HS
Sims is a guy who might be in play as early as Atlanta’s pick. He has gotten up to the mid 90’s, and the hope is that he will be able to maintain it as he matures. His fastball shows good life, and his curve could be a plus pitch. The hope is that he will continue to develop his change and turn into a solid starter down the road. It’s hard to find a better talent this late.
30. New York Yankees – Stryker Trahan, C, Louisiana HS
Trahan is too good to pass on at this point. His bat is going to get him drafted, and could play at any number of positions. He has some good power potential and above average speed. If it was a guarantee he would be able to stay at catcher he would be going 15-20 spots higher in this draft. His arm is a tool for the catcher position as well, yet his receiving skills still need a lot of work. His arm does mean that if catcher does not work out that he will be a solid right fielder.
31. Boston Red Sox- Cory Seager, 3B, North Carolina HS
Seager is another player with good bloodlines. His brother has plays for Seattle in the majors. He is already bigger than his brother at 6’3”, 190. I like the power and defensive potential that he shows. His brother’s calling card to a degree has been defense, and Cory seems to have same defensive potential. He might be a few years away, but the value he brings is too good to pass on.
So there it is, the last mock draft of the year. For all your draft needs make sure to return to the site this week. We will have everything you could want rumors, information, and response to the picks as they happen. As always this will be the go to site for information about the Indians and the draft.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org