Mock Draft I (May 13)
Mock Draft II (May 27)
Three days before the draft is set to begin, there's no definite word as to whom the Pirates will selected with the No. 1 overall pick. This is more typical than many fans may realize, as teams don't usually lock in on the top choice months in advance like the Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Bryce Harper (2010).
Pittsburgh has narrowed its focus to three players: Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole, who entered the year as the top-rated prospects in the draft, and Virginia lefthander Danny Hultzen. The Pirates have done their due diligence on the top high school prospects, Oklahoma righthander Dylan Bundy and Kansas outfielder Bubba Starling, but are expected to go the college route.
Clubs finally have received medical reports concerning Rendon's shoulder. He strained it early in the season, and the injury has hampered his bat speed and swing while limiting him to DH for much of the spring. One scouting director whose medical staff had reviewed the report said, "Doctors are just 'yellow' on him . . . not green or red."
Though the top of the draft could unfold in several different scenarios, depending on what Pittsburgh does, the consensus six best players in the draft (the five mentioned above, plus UCLA righthander Trevor Bauer) should be the first six taken. They're also the top six players on BA's Top 200 Prospect list.
1. PIRATES: While the only thing that would dramatically affect Rendon's draft status would be a finding that would preclude him from playing third base in the future, it may be difficult for Pittsburgh to exercise the No. 1 pick on a player who clearly isn't at his best. Likewise, Cole has been inconsistent all spring, though his fastball registered in the triple digits in his most recent start, last Friday against Arizona State. The buzz today is that the Pirates are leaning toward Hultzen, though their decision may not be finalized until they get one more look at the candidates this weekend in NCAA regional play.
Projected Pick: Danny Hultzen.
2. MARINERS: Nothing new to report here. The belief is that Seattle wants a bat, and Rendon would be the obvious choice. If the Pirates take Rendon, the Mariners likely would stick to position players and go for either Starling or Florida high school shortstop Francisco Lindor over the college pitchers.
Projected Pick: Anthony Rendon.
3. DIAMONDBACKS: Hultzen to Arizona is the biggest lock in the first six picks—unless Hultzen doesn't make it to No. 3. If that happens, the Diamondbacks will choose between Bundy and Bauer. Many clubs consider Bundy just as talented and polished as any of the college pitchers.
Projected Pick: Dylan Bundy.
4. ORIOLES: Baltimore has been locked in on Bundy. If he goes off the board, the Orioles will stay with a pitcher and choose between UCLA teammates Cole and Bauer.
Projected Pick: Trevor Bauer.
5. ROYALS: A lot of disinformation has been swirling around Kansas City's pick. The Royals are strongly considering Bauer and aren't ruling him out because of his long-toss regimen. They're also not dead-set on taking local star Starling, who has the highest upside in the draft but also comes with more risk than any of the top six prospects. Kansas City would prefer a pitcher who could help them when they're ready to contend in 2013 or so, and that means Bundy, Cole or Bauer. If all three of them are gone, the Royals still might take Lindor over Starling. Cole very well could go No. 1, but if not, he probably drops to No. 5.
Projected Pick: Gerrit Cole.
6. NATIONALS: Washington will grab whichever of the top six prospects remains. The Nationals' best-case scenario looks like Bauer, but they'll have no problem adding Starling's lofty ceiling to those of Strasburg and Harper.
Projected Pick: Bubba Starling.
7. DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona wants to take the best available talent but also would prefer to have terms in place for this choice, which is unprotected and came as compensation for not signing 2010 first-rounder Barret Loux. The Diamondbacks would love to get both Bundy and Bauer, but that doesn't look possible. They're considering Florida high school shortstops Lindor and Javier Baez, but it might be easier to swing a deal with a college pitcher. Arizona likes Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) and Matt Barnes (Connecticut) more than Taylor Jungmann (Texas) and Jed Bradley (Georgia Tech).
Projected Pick: Sonny Gray.
8. INDIANS: Though Cleveland hasn't taken a high schooler in the first round since 2001, they're the first club mentioned with Oklahoma prep righthander Archie Bradley. It's more likely that they'll sort through the college pitchers remaining.
Projected Pick: Jed Bradley.
9. CUBS: Bank on a high-ceiling player for Chicago. The Cubs have little chance to get Bundy or Starling, but they likely can pick between the next-best high school arm (Archie Bradley) or overall athlete (Connecticut outfielder George Springer) in the draft.
Projected Pick: Archie Bradley.
10. PADRES: With an unprotected pick received for failing to sign 2010 first-rounder Karsten Whitson, San Diego is leaning toward a college player. The Padres have been spotted at several Connecticut games in recent weeks, and Barnes' star was on the rise before he was rocked in regional play by Coastal Carolina. If they want someone who will sign quickly and easily, they could pop Indian River (Fla.) JC third baseman Cory Spangenberg.
Projected Pick: Matt Barnes.
11. ASTROS: Houston could go in several directions here. The Astros have scouted college lefties Jed Bradley and Tyler Anderson (Oregon) heavily; Archie Bradley has a huge ceiling; Lindor is the draft's best surefire shortstop and he's still on the board. The best option could be Jungmann, a homestate star who could shore up the big league rotation quickly.
Projected Pick: Taylor Jungmann.
12. BREWERS: Milwaukee likes Baez and his electrifying bat speed, and New York might grab him with the next choice. The Brewers do need shortstops, and Lindor will definitely stick there. Milwaukee also needs pitching, but they should be able to get a quality arm three picks later at No. 15.
Projected Pick: Javier Baez.
13. METS: New York has interest in Baez, South Carolina prep righthander Taylor Guerrieri and Wyoming high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo but probably will select a collegian instead. Most of the college arms will have been picked over at this point, which would push the Mets toward a position player such as Springer, Louisiana State outfielder Mikie Mahtook or North Carolina shortstop Levi Michael. Mahtook may seek a major league contract, which could make things interesting.
Projected Pick: Mikie Mahtook.
14. MARLINS: Florida continues to be associated with college position players, including Springer, Mahtook (its 39th-round pick three years ago), Michael and Spangenberg. The Marlins usually stick to MLB's slot recommendations, and Spangenberg's signability adds to his appeal.
Projected Pick: Cory Spangenberg.
15. BREWERS: If Milwaukee wants a pitcher, it can choose between a polished college lefthander in Anderson, a power college righthander in Kentucky's Alex Meyer or one of several high school options, starting with Guerrieri.
Projected Pick: Taylor Guerrieri.
16. DODGERS: Los Angeles has an affinity for prep pitchers and seems to have the most interest in Guerrieri and Robert Stephenson, a California product. But owner Frank McCourt is financially strapped, to put it mildly, so there's little chance Los Angeles will pay an over-slot bonus here. That may rule out the best high schoolers and point the Dodgers toward Anderson.
Projected Pick: Tyler Anderson.
17. ANGELS: Lindor could go as high as No. 2 to Seattle. While it's unlikely that he'll fall this far, it's even more implausible that he'd get past Los Angeles. The Angels are the highest-picking team linked to Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong.
Projected Pick: Francisco Lindor.
18. ATHLETICS: Oakland is associated with every possible college bat. Rendon will be long gone, but the A's could have a chance at all the rest of them, including Springer, Mahtook, Michael, Spangenberg, Utah first baseman C.J. Cron and Indiana outfielder Alex Dickerson. A projected top-five pick to start 2011, Springer won't drop any lower than No. 18
Projected Pick: George Springer.
19. RED SOX: Though Boston usually adheres to slot recommendations in the first round and gets aggressive as any club afterward, it could start spending early this year. Though Texas high school outfielder Josh Bell wrote a letter to the Major League Scouting Bureau, indicating that he wished to attend the University of Texas rather than turn pro, he might have the most dangerous bat in the high school ranks and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein scouted him personally. Like Boston, Toronto has interest in Bell and extra draft picks to afford the gamble, so the Red Sox might have to grab him here. They offered Meyer $2 million out of high school, and he might still be on the board.
Projected Pick: Josh Bell.
20. ROCKIES: Colorado has shown significant interest in college bats. Cron could be Todd Helton's heir apparent, while Michael or Wong could be Troy Tulowitzki's double-play partner. The Rockies also could take a look at Mahtook or Springer if they slid to here.
Projected Pick: C.J. Cron.
21. BLUE JAYS: Bell could tempt Toronto if Boston passes on him, yet most of the names mentioned here are college players. If the draft plays out like this, the choice probably comes down to Michael or Wong.
Projected Pick: Levi Michael.
22. CARDINALS: St. Louis has fared quite well pouncing on a talented player who fell further than expected in the first round with Shelby Miller (2009) and Zack Cox (2010). If that situation doesn't present itself this time around and the college bats are flying off the board, the best value looks like high school arms. Top candidates would include lefthander Daniel Norris (Tennessee) and righties Stephenson, Jose Fernandez (Florida), Dillon Howard (Arkansas) and Joe Ross (California).
Projected Pick: Jose Fernandez.
23. NATIONALS: Meyer boosted his stock considerably down the stretch, to the point where Washington might consider him with its No. 6 pick. It's uncertain whether he would last this long, but the Nationals wouldn't pass on him if he did. Otherwise, they'll hope that Anderson or one of the college bats sneaks through.
Projected Pick: Alex Meyer.
24. RAYS: Tampa Bay has a record 12 picks in the first two rounds and can take a portfolio approach. With college bats dwindling quickly, the Rays could snag Wong here and target athletes and pitchers later.
Projected Pick: Kolten Wong.
25. PADRES: San Diego would love to have Springer or Spangenberg get down here, but that's a pipe dream. The best college position-player options in this scenario would be catcher Andrew Susac and outfielders Brian Goodwin (Miami-Dade JC) and Jackie Bradley (South Carolina). The high school pitching crop could offer more upside.
Projected Pick: Dillon Howard.
26. RED SOX: Boston has an obvious need for a catcher, and the two best in this draft are high schoolers Austin Hedges (California) and Blake Swihart (New Mexico), whose high price tags could drive them out of the first round. The Red Sox scout their backyard well and have interest in Massachusetts prep righthander Tyler Beede, who also won't come cheap. Ross is another possibility.
Projected Pick: Austin Hedges.
27. REDS: Cincinnati could go in several directions, depending on the best available player who'll sign for close to slot. It could be a college lefthander (Florida State's Sean Gilmartin, Oregon State's Josh Osich, Vanderbilt's Grayson Garvin), a college bat (Goodwin) or a high school arm (Norris, Stephenson, Ross).
Projected Pick: Robert Stephenson.
28. BRAVES: Scouting director Tony DeMacio always has liked lefthanders, so high schoolers Norris and Henry Owens (California) and collegians Gilmartin, Osich, Garvin and Chris Reed (Stanford) all could be in play. Atlanta appears to be the high-water mark for Reed and Texas prep shortstop Trevor Story.
Projected Pick: Daniel Norris.
29. GIANTS: San Francisco is known for developing pitchers and mining Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, which makes Stephenson, Ross and Osich natural fits.
Projected Pick: Joe Ross.
30. TWINS: Unless someone falls, it looks like more strike-throwers (Gilmartin) or athletic outfielders (Bradley, Goodwin) for Minnesota.
Projected Pick: Sean Gilmartin.
31. RAYS: Tampa Bay usually focuses on athletes, and Goodwin and Bradley fit that mold. If the Rays want to shoot for high ceiling with higher price tags, Swihart or Nimmo are possibilities.
Projected Pick: Brian Goodwin.
32. RAYS: If Tampa Bay grabs positions players with its first two choices, selecting a pitcher here would make sense. Owens and Beede are the best high school pitchers available.
Projected Pick: Henry Owens.
33. RANGERS: Texas usually zeroes in on athletes and new ownership has the money to pay for Swihart or Nimmo. The Rangers also have interest in slugging California prep third baseman Travis Harrison.
Projected Pick: Blake Swihart.