Draft 2012: Prospects 1-25
Outfielder Byron Buxton leads off the Top 25
Reports written by Jim Callis, Aaron Fitt, Conor Glassey, John Manuel and Nathan Rode.
1. Byron Buxton, of
Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga.
Buxton emerged last summer and fall as the top position player in the 2012 draft class, first with his premium, athletic body and blazing speed, then with his emerging power potential and intriguing bat. Buxton has a chance to be a true five-tool player if his bat develops as hoped. The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder has a high-waisted frame that oozes projection. He hasn't hit for big power this spring, with just two home runs, though he flashes plus raw power in batting practice and was runner-up (to Lewis Brinson) in last year's home run derby prior to the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. Buxton's speed plays more presently, as he steals bases easily and covers acres of ground in center field. Some scouts have given him top-of-the-scale grades for both his speed (others call it well above-average) and at times for his throwing arm. He's shown a low-maintenance swing with a good path and premium bat speed that should allow him to hit for both average and power. Buxton will have to adjust to quality pitching, especially breaking balls. But as an amateur, he's shown the ability to sit back on offspeed pitches and hit them with authority the other way. Comparisons for Buxton range from Matt Kemp to a hybrid of brothers B.J. and Justin. Like Justin Upton, he ranks as the top talent in his draft class.
2. Mike Zunino, c
The son of Reds scout Greg Zunino, Mike has been a three-year starter for the Gators and was the Southeastern Conference player of the year in 2011, when he ranked seventh in Division I with 19 home runs. Zunino doesn't wow scouts with tools but beats opponents steadily with his strength, solid catching ability and professional approach. Zunino's bat projects to be above-average for a major league catcher. He has excellent strength in his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame and has a short swing when he's locked in. Scouts generally give him 50-55 grades for his bat and 55-60 grades for his power on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has had some issues with breaking balls down and away this season, fairly typical for righthanded sluggers. His catch-and-throw skills are solid-average, though he'll box some balls and tends to have tailing action on his throws. Zunino grew up around the game and has superior intangibles and leadership skills, and scouts don't shrink from Jason Varitek comparisons. They rave about his feel for the game and presence as attributes that show up when you see the Gators on a consistent basis. Zunino isn't as exciting as recent top college catchers such as Buster Posey and Matt Wieters but isn't too far behind them in terms of ceiling. He figures to come off the board in the first three picks and is a candidate to go No. 1 overall.
3. Kyle Zimmer, rhp
Zimmer was one of the best surprises in this year's draft class. He put his name on the map during last year's regionals by out dueling Gerrit Cole to beat UCLA. He improved his stock over the summer in the Cape Cod League and continued to shine in a year when Northern California was already brimming with talent. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Zimmer is extremely athletic. Along with baseball, he also played basketball and water polo in high school. His father played baseball at UC San Diego and his mother ran track for San Diego State. Zimmer's little brother, Bradley, is a highly-touted outfielder for the Dons. Kyle was recruited as a position player and only pitched five innings his freshman year before transitioning into the role full-time last year and now he's a candidate to be picked first-overall. Zimmer's fastball typically sits in the 94-96 mph range and gets as high as 99 and his hammer curveball is just as good. His changeup shows flashes, giving him the chance for three future plus pitches and he'll mix in an occasional slider that could be an average offering. Zimmer pounds the strike zone and throws all four pitches for strikes. He has a business-like approach on the mound and pitches with a bit of a mean streak, which scouts love. Zimmer's athleticism also helps him on the mound. He repeats his delivery well and fields his position like an extra infielder.
4. Mark Appel, rhp
It's never happened before, but this year the NFL draft and the MLB draft may feature players picked first-overall from the same school. Quarterback Andrew Luck already went first to the Colts. His buddy Appel, who has Houston roots, is in the running to go first this year to the Astros. Appel has the ingredients to be a frontline starter. He has a pro-ready body at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds to go along with his mid-90s fastball that touches 98. He throws a hard slider that has the potential to be an out pitch and his changeup has improved. He is a solid athlete who played basketball in high school and is delivery is relatively clean. The knock on Appel is that he hasn't dominated like most highly-ranked pitchers have in the past. Hitters frequently square him up because, even with his arsenal, he's easy to see with his slow delivery, long arm action in the back, and a fastball that doesn't have a lot of movement.
5. Kevin Gausman, rhp
Gausman ranked No. 50 on the Top 200 Prospects list in 2010 coming out of Grandview High in Centennial, Colo., but an uneven senior season, he slipped to the sixth round. The Dodgers failed to sign him, and Gausman headed to LSU, where he's made a leap forward after pitching for USA Baseball's College National Team last summer. New pitching coach Alan Dunn also has made some subtle tweaks to Gausman's repertoire this spring, shelving his slider earlier in the season in favor of a curveball before bringing back his slider later in the season. At his best, Gausman has two premium pitches with a fastball that sits 94-96 mph, touching 98, and he mixes in a low-90s two-seamer to get something with some armside run. Gausman's 85-86 mph changeup is a second plus pitch, but scouts do have significant questions about the development of his breaking pitches. He throws an upper-70s curve as an early-count offering and throws his inconsistent mid-80s slider as a chase pitch. An eligible sophomore, Gausman has made strides in his two college seasons and should go out in the first five to seven picks.
6. Carlos Correa, ss
Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R.
With the record now at 17th overall, Correa should become the highest-drafted player ever to come from Puerto Rico. He already has a big league body at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, yet he's light on his feet and shows fluid actions with a cannon for an arm. For those reasons, the team that drafts him will allow him to stay at shortstop. While he may get a little bigger, his tools would also allow him to be a premium defender at third base. Correa has garnered comparisons to both Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Zimmerman. At the plate, Correa shows excellent balance and rhythm, as well as patience, to go along with exciting bat speed and natural loft. His swing can get a little long at times, leaving him exposed to quality fastballs inside, but he's learning how to make adjustments and projects to hit for average and power. Correa is a plus runner now, but he could lose a step or two as he fills out. He is one of the youngest players in the draft class and shows excellent work ethic, dedication and maturity. Correa is committed to Miami, but it would be a shock if he winds up on campus.
7. Albert Almora, of
Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
Almora is a latter-day A.J. Hinch in
that he has become a go-to player for USA Baseball national teams from a
young age. Almora was USA Baseball's 2011 athlete of the year after
being MVP of the 18-and-under Pan American Championships in Colombia in
November 2011. He tied Hinch's USA Baseball record by playing on his
sixth national team, and scouts love his grinder approach and in-game
savvy. What's more, Almora has outstanding tools. The Miami signee, in
one scout's words, "has no issues. He's got above-average tools
everywhere, and they all play. He has tools and he uses them." He
doesn't turn in blazing times when he runs in showcases (generally he's a
6.8-second runner in the 60), but his game instincts help him steal
bases and cover plenty of ground in center field. Scouts consider his
defense major league-ready right now, with plus grades for his accurate
throwing arm. With natural hitting rhythm and plenty of bat speed,
Almora is a line-drive machine with a loose swing who stays inside the
ball, relishes velocity and handles spin. He should have 20-homer power
down the line, sufficient if he slows down and can't play center, and a
definite bonus if (as expected) he stays in the middle garden. He plays
the game with both ease and energy and may have some projection left in
his athletic 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame. The Miami signee is considered
one of the draft's safer picks and could sneak into the first 10
8. Michael Wacha, rhp
After the consensus top three college pitchers (Stanford's Mark Appel, Louisiana State's Kevin Gausman, San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer) go off the board, Wacha could be the next one selected. He owns the best changeup in the draft, a pitch that can be devastating when he sets it up with a 90-93 mph fastball that peaks at 96. His command also is as good as any pitcher in this crop, as is his competitiveness. He also has an athletic 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame and delivers his pitches on a tough angle to the plate. The only thing keeping him from being considered on the top tier of college arms is the lack of a plus breaking ball. Wacha made progress with a slider last summer under the tutelage of Team USA pitching coach Rob Walton, and he also throws a curveball. Wacha generally sticks with whichever breaking pitch is working best on a given day. Both pitches can get loose at times and project as no better than average at the big league level. Despite that one shortcoming, he still could find his way into the first 10 picks. He may not have the ceiling of Appel, Gausman or Zimmer, but Wacha has a higher floor.
9. Lucas Giolito, rhp
Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
Giolito established himself as the nation's premier prep prospect long ago, and by the fall and winter of his senior year many scouts were clamoring that he could be the best high school righthander in draft history. He came out of the chute in December and January throwing 95-99 mph and showing off a long-toss regimen that "makes Trevor Bauer's long toss look like kid stuff," in the words of one scout. He pitched between 92-99 through February, sitting comfortably at 94-96. Then he sprained his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow in early March, ending his season and turning him into something of a wild card for the draft. Doctors worked with him on strengthening target areas during his rehabilitation, and he started throwing on flat ground by early May, with a plan to start throwing from 90 and 120 feet in the weeks leading up to the draft. The son of Hollywood actor/producer Rick Giolito, Lucas is expected to require a hefty bonus to sign him away from a commitment to UCLA, and a team will likely have to take him in the top 10 picks to have a chance to sign him under the new draft rules. His talent certainly merits that kind of investment; he has true No. 1 starter upside, with a premium fastball, a plus-plus curveball in the 82-86 range with depth and bite, and even a plus changeup at 82-84 that gives him a third swing-and-miss offering. Scouts are in love with his 6-foot-6 frame and easy delivery. He a tireless worker with a tenacious approach on the mound and a similar approach to his between-starts work. His injury may create a bit of risk, but the potential reward he offers is unparalleled in this draft.
10. Marcus Stroman, rhp
An 18th-round pick out of a New York high school in 2009, Stroman's commitment to Duke and his size scared teams off. He was a two-way player in high school, but scouts always preferred him on the mound because of his low-90s fastball and compared him to Tom Gordon. After three years at Duke, Stroman has become one of the most electric arms in the country despite being 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds. He was 5-4, 2.36 with 119 strikeouts and 22 walks in 84 innings this spring for a bad Duke team. He is athletic and now sits at 92-94 mph as a starter and can touch 95-96. His best secondary offering is a nasty slider with depth. He has also mixed in a good changeup and a cutter that sits 88-90 mph. He can hold his velocity deep into games, but most scouts say he could be the first 2012 draftee to reach the big leagues if he goes to the bullpen. He worked as the closer for Team USA last summer and was 93-96 mph consistently, pitching 8 1/3 innings without giving up a hit while striking out 17 and walking one.
11. Max Fried, lhp
Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
Fried transferred to Harvard-Westlake
for his senior season after his Montclair College Prep team eliminated
its athletic program, and with teammate Lucas Giolito sidelined, Fried
has carried the load as the Wolverines' ace and a key hitter. Lean,
athletic and projectable at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, Fried has a fluid
delivery and advanced feel for three pitches that all have a chance to
be plus or better. At his best, he adds and subtracts from a fastball
that ranges from 88-95 mph, generally pitching with solid-average
velocity, though he has the ability to reach back for more when he needs
to. His best pitch is a tight downer curveball in the 74-78 range that
rates conservatively as a plus pitch and flashes plus-plus. He can
manipulate the shape and velocity of the curveball depending on the
situation, throwing it for a strike or a chase pitch. His low-80s
changeup is already at least average and projects as another plus pitch.
Fried looked like a good bet to be drafted in the top five to 10 picks
for most of the spring, but his stock slipped a bit down the stretch as
fatigue has evidently set in. In his most recent starts, Fried showed a
90-92 mph fastball and 79 curveball in the first, but dropped into the
86-88 range with a 69 mph curve by the third inning. A UCLA signee,
Fried is cerebral and determined; his late-season dip notwithstanding,
he projects as a potential No. 2 starter in the big leagues with a
chance to be a No. 1.
12. David Dahl, of
Oak Mountain HS, Birmingham
In terms of tools, Dahl rivals South Florida prep Albert Almora in many ways, though Almora's intangibles give him an edge over Dahl, an Auburn signee. A lefthanded hitter, Dahl fits the center-field profile with plus speed, an athletic 6-foot-2, 185-pound body and a cannon arm that earns above-average grades. His overall package elicits comparisons to Jeremy Hermida (as an amateur) and Andy Van Slyke. Dahl shined during the East Coast Pro Showcase, where his balanced, smooth swing and above-average bat speed helped him handle quality pitching, and teamed with Mississippi prep outfielder D.J. Davis on a travel team that played fall games against junior-college competition, at times dominating older pitching. He showed opposite-field power throughout the showcase circuit, though some scouts question how much usable, game power he has and would have doubts if he moved to a corner. They also aren't all sold on his instincts to be a center fielder, though most believe he'll stick in the position. Dahl's biggest weakness is his low-energy demeanor. Some scouts consider him simply unmotivated by middling high school competition, while others see a low motor and question his desire to be great. The tools are all there for a first-round power/speed center fielder.
13. Lance McCullers Jr., rhp
Jesuit HS, Tampa
McCullers' father was a
second-round pick in 1982 out of Tampa's Catholic High and had a
seven-year major league career, primarily as a reliever. His son emerged
early on as one of the top members of the 2012 draft class and at one
time rated as the class' top player. Built similarly to his father but
bigger at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, McCullers has a strong, athletic body
and pitches with power and aggression. He was used mostly as a reliever
the last two years in high school and had his outings limited to two- or
three-innings regularly prior to this season. Now starting, he's
learned to go through a lineup repeatedly and has improved his
strike-throwing ability with both his fastball and his slider. Some
scouts put 70 grades on both pitches, and that might be selling
McCullers short. His fastball sits 94-96 mph deep into games, with
reports that he's hit 100 several times this spring. His slider, also
thrown with power in the mid-80s, has good bite and depth. McCullers has
thrown a changeup but it's an unnecessary third pitch in high school.
Most evaluators believed McCullers had no shot to stay in a rotation as a
professional, but he's started to change some minds this spring with
his improved pitchability. The majority of scouts still believe he's a
future reliever, though, which makes it harder to find a first-round
fit. McCullers has committed to hit and pitch at Florida if he slides
14. Deven Marrero, ss
As a junior in high school, Marrero played on a loaded American Heritage High (Plantation, Fla.) team that included third baseman Nick Castellanos, now with the Tigers, and first baseman Eric Hosmer, now with the Royals. Like Hosmer, Marrero committed to Arizona State, and after he slipped to the 17th round of the 2009 draft he headed to campus. Marrero has always been able to flash the leather, and he is this year's surest bet to stay at shortstop, with great range, easy actions and above-average arm strength. He shows promise with the bat, but he has been inconsistent this year and was batting .276/.335/.414 over his first 174 at-bats. Marrero has been frustrating for scouts this spring, not just because he has underperformed but because he has looked so nonchalant doing it. Scouts say Marrero has played without energy this year and has shown off his above-average arm strength only when he needs to. He has above-average raw speed but doesn't always go at full speed on the bases. Marrero shows power in batting practice, but profiles more as a gap hitter at the next level. While there questions about his bat, he still figures to be a first-rounder because there are so few surefire shortstops in the draft.
15. Courtney Hawkins, of
Carroll HS, Corpus Christi, Texas
Scouts have coveted Hawkins since his performance as a sophomore in the 2010 Texas 5-A state playoffs. He bombed a ball into the upper-deck home run porch at Round Rock's Dell Diamond, then earned MVP honors in the clincher as a starting pitcher. Though he can run his fastball into the low 90s, he definitely will make his living in the batter's box. Hawkins is loaded with bat speed and uses his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame to generate exceptional leverage from the right side of the plate. He'll need to tame his maximum-effort swing, stop sitting on fastballs and improve his pitch recognition. He'll rack up some strikeouts, though they'll be a worthwhile tradeoff for his home runs. More physical than most high school players, Hawkins also brings a plus arm and solid speed to the table. A center fielder in high school, he'll likely wind up in right field as a pro. Scouts praise his instincts and makeup as well as his tools. He's the most talented member of a University of Texas recruiting class that features the five best high school prospects in the state, and a lock to sign as a mid-first-round pick.
16. Gavin Cecchini, ss
Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.
Cecchini's family occupies a unique place in Louisiana baseball, as his father and mother both coached him and his older brother Garin at Barbe High. Garin signed with the Red Sox for a $1.31 million bonus as a fourth-round pick in 2010. Gavin is likely to be drafted higher, in the first round, even though he's not as physical and his bat is much more in question. Wiry at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Cecchini's best attributes are his steadiness and defensive skills at shortstop. He has good hands and feet as well as the infield actions to stay at short, and excels at cutoff throws and being in the right spot defensively. His arm strength is a tick above-average and unfailingly accurate. His speed is about the same and plays up like his arm—he's a skilled baserunner who takes extra bases and steals bases intelligently. Cecchini's bat involves some projection, though. Some scouts believe he will be a bottom-of-the-order hitter despite his polished approach because of a lack of strength and impact bat speed. Cecchini is one of the safer bets in the high school class due to his polish, but scouts are mixed on his true upside.
17. Andrew Heaney, lhp
Scouts have raved about Heaney's quick arm and clean, effortless delivery since he was at Putnam City (Okla.) High. He beat Marlins first-rounder Chad James in a head-to-head matchup as a senior in 2009 and would have gone higher than the 24th round to the Rays had he not been intent on attending Oklahoma State. Heaney has led the Cowboys in wins in each of his three college seasons and has seen his stuff improve as a junior this spring. The 6-foot-2, 174-pounder has added 2-3 mph to his fastball, which now sits at 90-92 mph and touches 95 mph. He's not afraid to pitch inside with his heater and can spot it to both sides of the plate. Heaney's three-quarters breaking ball and his changeup are both solid pitches that play up because of his plus command. He not only throws strikes but also generates swings and misses, and in mid-May he trailed only projected Duke first-rounder Marcus Stroman in the NCAA Division I strikeout race. In a down year for lefthanded pitching, Heaney is clearly the best college southpaw available and should go off the board in the middle of the first round.
18. Chris Stratton, rhp
Undrafted out of high school, Stratton just missed being eligible as a sophomore last year; he'll turn 22 in August, so he's a bit old for his class. Stratton went just 10-10, 5.25 in his first two seasons but gained needed confidence last summer in the Cape Cod League. He has a perfect pitcher's frame at 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, and has shown flashes of three above-average pitches this spring. He had everything working in a mid-March start against LSU, striking out 17, and has maintained a similar quality of stuff since then. His fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range with his fastball, regularly touching 95 and at times reaching back for a bit more. His fastball also features natural, late tailing action that he has learned to harness. His slider is his best secondary pitch, a true plus offering, but Stratton also throws a solid-average curve that at times is above-average as well, if a bit shy of plus. Scouts laud his poise and improved feel for pitching. He's able to throw his slider both for strikes and as a chase pitch, leading scouts to give him average to slightly above-average grades for his overall command.
19. Corey Seager, 3b
Northwest Cabarrus HS, Concord, N.C.
The younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey has been on scouts' radar for a couple of years, but he started moving up draft boards this spring. He has a big, physical frame at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds with plenty of strength. He plays shortstop now and is a good defender, but scouts see him shifting to third base as a pro, where he could provide above-average defense. A lefthanded hitter, he has a simple swing and can go the other way with power. The game comes easy to him and scouts find it easy to see his upside, considering his brother was a third-round pick out of North Carolina and made the big leagues after just 279 minor league at-bats. The younger Seager has a strong commitment to South Carolina, but is likely to be picked in the first round.
20. D.J. Davis, of
Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss.
Davis is fighting a difficult profile out of Mississippi. The state has produced 32 first-round and supplemental first-round picks since the draft's inception. But the only players drafted out of the Magnolia State in the first round who signed out of high school and reached the majors are outfielder Don Castle (1968 draft), who played four games in 1973, and Steve Pegues (1987 draft), who had a 100-game career. In fact, infielders Charlie Hayes (1983) and Bill Hall (1998) have had the best careers of Mississippi prep products in draft history. That history may move Davis down some draft boards, but his talent puts him squarely in the first round. He's faster even than Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, the state's current standard-bearer, turning in 6.4-second 60 times, and has more than enough range for center field, with below-average but playable arm strength. Moreover, Davis has good strength in his hands and forearms, with a real chance to hit for average. He's fast enough to be a slap hitter but isn't one. He has an old-fashioned handsy, whippy swing and has shown gap power and consistent hard contact against good competition, such as at East Coast Showcase and playing for the Mets scout team in the fall. He has better instincts more polish than the average Mississippi prep player, which gives some ammunition to counter the state's track record in the first round. He's considered signable, having committed to Meridian (Miss.) CC.
21. Richie Shaffer, 3b
Shaffer was a candidate for the first two rounds of the 2009 coming out of high school in Charlotte, and he dazzled scouts with his batting practice sessions because of his leveraged swing and plus raw power. But a broken hamate bone dropped him to the 25th round, and he declined to sign with the Dodgers and headed to Clemson. Three years later he was leading Clemson's offense with a .351/.481/.600 line and nine home runs, and more walks (47) than strikeouts (39), so his bat should get him into the first round. From a lean, 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, Shaffer has big-time power that hasn't been affected by college baseball's less-potent bats. He also hits for average, succeeding even against premium velocity, and can use the whole field. He has a chance to stay at third and has the arm strength for the position, but most teams see him moving to first base. His arm and power would also profile in right field, and some teams like him better there.
22. Victor Roache, of
Roache was the fourth-ranked player in the state of Michigan out of high school in 2009, and wound up heading South when he didn't sign as the homestate Tigers' 25th-round pick. After hitting .252/.408/.464 as a freshman, Roache exploded as a sophomore hitting 30 home runs to lead the nation and become the first Division I player to reach 30 since 2003. He did it despite the introduction of the less-potent BBCOR bats, in a year when offense in college baseball plunged by 50 percent, while slicing his strikeout rate. Roache struggled in the second half of the Cape Cod League last summer, then broke his left wrist diving to make a catch on Feb. 25. The complicated surgery required the insertion of six screws, two pins and a metal plate to repair the damage; as one scout put it, "This was closer to Cliff Floyd than a regular broken wrist." Roache has average speed and arm strength and plays hard. Teams ultimately are investing on a corner bat power profile, having to do so based more on what they saw last year than the six games (with two homers) Roache played in this season before the injury. Roache had indicated he would try to come back for the Southern Conference tournament, which could help determine whether or not he goes in the first round.
23. Ty Hensley, rhp
Santa Fe HS, Edmond, Okla.
The Cardinals made Mike Hensley the 53rd overall selection in the 1988 draft, and his son Ty will beat him by about 30 picks this June. While several of this draft crop's high school righthanders have been injured or regressed this spring, Hensley has done nothing but help his cause. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder has sat at 92-95 mph and touched 96-97 with his fastball all season—and it's not even his best pitch. That would be a 12-to-6 curveball that he spins in the upper 70s. Hensley's command isn't as impressive as his pure stuff, and he still needs to add some life and work down in the zone more often with his fastball. Before his velocity spiked, he showed a promising changeup as a sophomore, but he hasn't needed it this spring. A quality athlete, Hensley played quarterback at Santa Fe High before giving up football before his senior year. He's also a power-hitting switch-hitter who could get the opportunity to play both way in the unlikely event that he follows through on his commitment to the University of Mississippi.
24. Matt Smoral, lhp
Solon (Ohio) HS
Smoral entered 2012 projected to go in the top half of the first round, and only enhanced his status in his first appearance of the season. In a March scrimmage on Solon High's football field, he worked off a portable mound in front of four dozen scouts. He sat at 90-93 mph with his fastball for three innings, then bumped it up to 94 mph in the fourth. He also showed a plus low-80s slider and command that day. But Smoral would make only one regular-season appearance, during which he was hampered by blisters, before being diagnosed with a broken fourth metatarsal bone in his right foot. He had surgery April 6 and isn't expected to be able to pitch before the July 13 signing deadline. Nevertheless, he still figures to land somewhere in the first round and forego a scholarship from North Carolina. A lanky 6-foot-7, 225-pounder, Smoral throw from a low three-quarters angle that presents difficult angle for hitters. He's still growing into his body and learning how to stay on top of his pitches, but he's athletic enough to eventually figure that out. He'll also have to improve his changeup, a pitch he had little use for against Ohio high school competition.
25. Tyler Naquin, of
Naquin is the best pure hitter in the entire 2012 draft. He won the Big 12 Conference batting title (.381) and topped NCAA Division I in hits (104) as a sophomore, and he's leading the Big 12 in hitting (.397) again this spring. He has a quick lefthanded bat and a controlled approach at the plate, focusing on staying inside the ball and employing the opposite field. He also has the best throwing arm among college outfielders, earning 65-70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale and a don't-run-on-him reputation in the Big 12. Additionally, he's a solid runner who flashes plus speed at times. Despite all those attributes, Naquin will last until the second half of the first round because most teams view him as a tweener who lacks the power for right field and the defensive chops for center. He has a 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame with narrow shoulders, and his ability to add strength and develop average power remains in question. He can drive the ball in batting practice but doesn't show the same kind of pop in games, hitting just seven homers in 173 college contests. His ability to play center field is undetermined because the Aggies use speedster Krey Bratsen there, and some scouts don't love Naquin's routes on fly balls.