First Round Scouting Reports
Here's our scouting report for the picks of the first round.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
Cole had one of the best arms in the 2008 draft, when the Yankees drafted him in the first round, but he opted to attend UCLA. In three years with the Bruins, he has matured on and off the field, becoming a clubhouse leader as well as an ace for UCLA's national runner-up team as a sophomore. This spring, he has consistently shown the best pure stuff of any pitcher in this draft, and he has pounded the strike zone, though he struggled to command the inner half during a rough three-outing stretch in April, leading to a fairly pedestrian 5-7, 3.27 mark for the season. At his best, Cole throws three pitches that rate 70 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale. His four-seam fastball sits in the 94-97 range and tops out at 99, and he shows a 92-93 two-seamer that scouts would like to see him use more. His power slider ranges from 86-90 mph with good depth, and he has developed his 85-87 changeup into a third plus to plus-plus pitch this year, though it had more tumbling action earlier than the year than it did down the stretch. In high school, some scouts were concerned about the effort in Cole's delivery, but he has smoothed it out; most scouts generally regard it as clean, repeatable and simple now. He has a physical, durable frame and a competitive but composed mound demeanor—another change from his prep days. Scouts think Cole could rocket to the majors as a closer throwing 98-100 mph, but the consensus is that he has all the makings of a frontline starter.
2. Seattle Mariners, Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
Hultzen was a late riser at St. Albans High in Washington, D.C., three years ago, but teams correctly figured they wouldn't be able to sign him away from his Virginia commitment. The Diamondbacks took a shot in the 10th round, but he headed to Charlottesville and immediately became the Friday starter. He was a Freshman All-American in 2009 as a two-way player, batting .327 and going 9-1, 2.17, and was a second team All-American in 2010, going 10-1, 2.83. Considered a first-round prospect coming into 2011, Hultzen has pitched himself into consideration for the No. 1 pick, going 9-3, 1.49 with 131 strikeouts and 15 walks in 90 innings as UVa spent much of the season at No. 1. Hultzen has a strong frame at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and offers two plus pitches and above-average command. After working mostly at 88-91 mph his first two college seasons, Hultzen now sits around 93 and touches 96. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, and he commands it well and gets good fade thanks to a low three-quarters arm slot. His slider also shows flashes of being an above-average pitch. His arm slot can make it difficult to find consistency in the pitch, but scouts say he's now closer to the higher arm slot he showed in high school than the low three-quarters he had the last two years at UVa. A good athlete, Hultzen has seen time as a first baseman and DH in all three of his college seasons, though the Cavaliers have limited his at-bats in the last two years. He could be the safest bet among the top prospects in the country and isn't likely to make it past the first five picks.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks, Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
After graduating high school early to enroll at UCLA in the spring of 2009, Bauer quickly found his way into the Bruins' weekend rotation, and went on to break school records for career wins (32 and counting) and strikeouts (432) by the middle of his junior year. Bauer is as unconventional as he is dominant. He takes an intellectual approach to his craft, studying advanced concepts like biomechanics, effective velocity and pitch tunneling. He is a long-toss devotee who works with rubber tubes before and during his starts. He idolizes and patterns himself after another slight righthander with electric stuff: Tim Lincecum. Like Lincecum, he generates premium velocity using extreme torque, and while some scouts worry about the head movement and recoil in his delivery, others say his arm action is loose and his mechanics add deception. Bauer has the deepest repertoire of any pitcher in the draft. On his worst days, he still holds 91-93 mph fastball velocity deep into games, and he often tops out at 95-96. He has exceptional feel for a sharp, downer curveball that rates as plus to plus-plus. His changeup is above-average, and he mixes in an occasional split-finger and flashes a slider. He also throws what he calls a "reverse slider," which runs in on lefthanded hitters at 85-87 mph—and some scouts say that is plus, too. Bauer relishes striking hitters out, so he throws a lot of pitches. He usually works deep into games (and threw five straight complete games in April and May). That workload concerns some scouts, but others think his arm is in exceptional shape and point out that he conditions himself to throw a lot. He has top-of-the-rotation upside and could move quickly, but he is adamant about continuing his own training regimen in pro ball, which will turn some clubs off.
4. Baltimore Orioles, Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (Okla.) HS
This draft is deep in college arms, and one scouting director opined that Bundy has a better overall package than any of them. Bundy has operated at 94-97 mph for much of the spring, reaching triple digits on multiple occasions. If hitters try to sit on his fastball, he can make them look foolish with an upper-70s curveball, a high-80s cutter or a mid-80s changeup. The curveball and cutter are plus pitches, and the changeup is already an average offering. Bundy's feel for pitching is as impressive as his stuff. He has exceptional body control, allowing him to repeat his balanced, effortless delivery and locate his pitches with ease. He's not the tallest pitcher at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, but he's strong and throws downhill, so his size is not an issue. His makeup and work ethic are off the charts, too. Though he told teams in mid-May that his asking price was a six-year, $30 million contract—which would shatter Stephen Strasburg's draft-record $15.1 million deal—Bundy is too talented to fall too far in the draft. The Orioles signed his brother Bobby as an eighth-round pick in 2008 and could consider Dylan with the fourth overall choice. If Baltimore passes, he probably won't make it past the Diamondbacks at No. 7.
5. Kansas City Royals, Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.
Starling is the best athlete in the 2011 draft. As a pitcher, he'd be a potential first-round pick as a 6-foot-5, 195-pound righthander with a fastball that touches 95 mph. He's also a gifted quarterback who earned a scholarship from Nebraska after leading Gardner-Edgerton to the Kansas 5-A state semifinals as a senior. Starling ran for 2,377 yards and 31 touchdowns last fall, while passing for 790 yards and eight more scores. Despite his ability on the mound and on the gridiron, his future is as a five-tool center fielder who resembles Drew Stubbs. Starling missed nearly a month with a quad injury this spring, but that didn't dent scouts' enthusiasm, and he homered twice in his first game back. His strength, bat speed and the leverage in his righthanded swing give him above-average power. His swing got long at times on the showcase circuit, but Starling did a nice job of shortening it and making consistent hard contact later in the summer. His speed is as impressive as his power, making him a basestealing threat and giving him plenty of range in center field. He has the power and arm strength to profile as a star in right field as well. Starling has faced little in the way of challenging high school competition and will need to smooth out rough edges in his game in pro ball, but that hasn't prevented him from making the short list of candidates to go No. 1 overall to the Pirates.
6. Washington Nationals, Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
Rendon entered the season as the draft's top-rated prospect and still sits atop our rankings, but his season hasn't gone as planned. After hitting a combined .391/.497/.750 with 46 homers as BA's Freshman of the Year in 2009 and College Player of the Year in 2010, Rendon hit .323/.526/.516 with five homers in the regular season this spring. He strained his throwing shoulder in the second week of the season and has played little in the field. Rendon hadn't given teams any medical information as of mid-May, leaving them in the dark about the severity of the injury. Though it has affected his swing and bat speed, he's still the best all-around hitter in the draft. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has tremendous strength in his hands and wrists, uncanny hand-eye coordination and exceptional strike-zone discipline. Teams have pitched around him all season, and he was the runaway NCAA Division I leader with 66 walks. His bat speed and ability to barrel balls give Rendon more usable power than any player in the draft, with scouts projecting the righthanded hitter to bat .300 with 25-30 homers a year in the major leagues. When healthy, Rendon is a gifted third baseman with above-average range and arm strength. He has drawn comparisons to Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman, though he bears a closer physical resemblance to David Wright. Rendon tore ligaments in his right ankle in the 2009 NCAA regionals and broke the same ankle on a slide with Team USA last summer, but he has been running and moving as well as ever this spring. He has average speed and runs the bases well. Both ankle injuries came on fluke plays, so scouts don't consider him injury-prone. As frustrating as his season has been, Rendon remains a strong candidate to go No. 1 overall. If Pittsburgh goes in another direction, it's unlikely the Mariners would pass on him at No. 2.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks, Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
Just four Oklahoma high school pitchers have been drafted in the first round prior to 2011: Ronnie Walden, Jamey Wright, Matt Roney and Chad James. Dylan Bundy and Bradley will add to that list this June, and while Bundy has separated himself from Bradley (and every other prep pitcher in the nation) this spring, Bradley still should go in the upper half of the round. After showing a 92-95 mph fastball that touched 98 last summer, he wasn't at his best at the start of the season but was back in peak form by the time the state playoffs began in May. He touched 101 mph on the scoreboard radar gun while striking out 14 and pitching a two-hit shutout in the Oklahoma 6-A state championship game against Owasso, then the nation's No. 1-ranked team. Bradley's hammer curveball can be just as devastating as his fastball, and he has some feel for a changeup. He has a clean delivery that he maintains well, though at times it can get out of whack. An athletic 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, Bradley is also a top quarterback prospect who would play both baseball and football at Oklahoma in the unlikely event that he doesn't turn pro. Teams weren't taking his five-year, $20 million asking price seriously, though he could top the $5.25 million two-sport deal the Dodgers gave righthander/quarterback Zach Lee a year ago.
8. Cleveland Indians, Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde (Fla.) HS
Lindor moved to the United States from Puerto Rico as a 12-year-old, and four years later he captained USA Baseball's 16U club to a gold-medal victory against Cuba in the World Youth Championship in Taiwan. A baseball rat, Lindor has tremendous work ethic to go with above-average tools, and he plays the game with ease and passion. He's a switch-hitter with a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate, and he has excellent hands that work both at the plate and in the field. He has the tools to play shortstop well at the highest level, with smooth actions, fluidity, instincts and good fundamentals. He's a plus runner but not a burner. Lindor's power is the biggest question about him. He has flashed more than just gap power at times, which was pushing him up draft boards. His season ended in April, and he wasn't expected to play in Florida's high school all-star game, instead working out on his own. Scouts haven't scoffed at Omar Vizquel comparisons. Scouting directors said Lindor was a legitimate candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, but more likely he'll slot in just behind that.
9. Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, SS, Arlington Country Day HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
Baez matched up with fellow Puerto Rican native and Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor in February in the season's most heavily scouted high school game, with as many as 100 scouts on hand. Baez and Lindor have more contrasts than similarities, though. Where Lindor is smooth and lauded for his makeup, Baez is explosive and scouts generally pan his makeup. He lives with his high school coach (who is also his legal guardian), though his mother remains in the picture. His bat is too good to ignore, though, and offensively he has few peers in this year's draft. He has the fastest bat in the draft, and while he has a dead-pull approach at times, he has the bat speed to let balls get deep in the zone. Baez has plus raw power as well, which may serve him well if he has to move to third base. He has the defensive tools to stay at short until he outgrows it, as at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, he doesn't have much range to spare. He has plenty of arm for either position. His tools fit the catcher profile, but his makeup does not. He plays with energy, but it's not always positive, and he turns off some scouts with emotional outbursts and an off-field demeanor some describe as aloof. He's committed to Jacksonville.
10. San Diego Padres: Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Indian River (Fla.) JC
Spangenberg emerged as one of the draft's best pure hitters and should be the first college player drafted out of Florida. He's a Pennsylvania prep product who raked for one year at Virginia Military Institute in 2010, transferring after winning Big South Conference freshman of the year honors. He's a late bloomer physically, with a body type that defies easy categorization. While he isn't lean and athletic, he's also not stocky at 6-foot, 185 pounds. He produces well above-average speed, earning 70 grades on the 20-80 scale and posting 80 times on drag bunts (3.5 seconds from the left side). He also owns a pure lefthanded swing and is an above-average hitter. Spangenberg has hand-eye coordination, patience and the ability to manipulate the barrel, squaring balls up and lacing line drives to all fields. His swing lacks loft, but he has the feel for hitting to add power down the line, which would improve his profile. He has average arm strength, and scouts are mixed on his future position while often comparing him to versatile Marlins regular Chris Coghlan. He may lack the fluidity and footwork to stay in the infield. He played third base this spring at Indian River, but even those who like him at the hot corner admit he probably lacks the power to profile there. He played second base at VMI and shortstop in the Valley League last summer, where he was the MVP after hitting .399. His speed should allow him to play center field. Heavily scouted down the stretch, Spangenberg wasn't expected to make it out of the first round.
11. Houston Astros: George Springer, OF, Connecticut
Springer was largely overlooked in high school, taking a back seat to higher-profile New England draftees like Anthony Hewitt, Ryan Westmoreland and Chris Dwyer. The Twins took a 48th-round flier on him in 2008 but he went to Connecticut, and three years later he may have the best all-around tools of any college player in the last decade. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Springer has a skill set rarely seen among college players. He generates plus raw power with explosive bat speed. He has a plus arm and is a plus runner, and he's a smooth defender in center field. He struggled early in 2011, when his hands were tight to his body and his stance was narrow, and he collapsed on his back side. But he made adjustments and returned to form when Big East play started, showing scouts why he was the Cape Cod League's No. 2 prospect last summer. His early-season struggles scared some scouts who question Springer's swing mechanics, as he can be exposed with velocity on the inner half. He's raw for a college first-round pick, but Springer may have the highest ceiling in the draft.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
As a freshman in 2009, Jungmann won 11 games and pitched a complete-game five-hitter against Louisiana State in the College World Series finals. As a sophomore, he was the ace of a Texas staff that led NCAA Division I with a 2.45 ERA. Jungmann has taken another step this spring, leading all D-I pitchers with 12 victories and three shutouts and ranking second with a 0.95 ERA at the end of the regular season. He pitches at 91-93 mph and tops out at 95 with his fastball, and he has done a better job of using his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame to command his heater down in the strike zone. He has improved the sharpness and command of his slider as well. His changeup is average at times but more of a work in progress, though he can get lefthanders out with the sink and life on his fastball. Jungmann excels under pressure—he's 6-0 in NCAA tournament play—and has demonstrated the ability to win without his best stuff. He has some effort and a short stride in his delivery, but he has cleaned it up since high school and it doesn't impede his ability to throw strikes.
13. New York Mets: Brandon Nimmo, OF, East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Simply getting drafted out of Wyoming is an accomplishment in itself—the state does not have high school baseball and has produced just two draft picks the past decade. Nimmo should become the state's highest pick ever. With a lean, 6-foot-3 frame with projection remaining, he's a good athlete and one of the best sprinters in the state. He tore his right ACL playing football during his junior year in 2009 and spent most of last summer playing with a brace on his knee. He's an above-average runner when he's healthy, which helps him on the basepaths and in center field, and there's more to his game than just speed. Nimmo has a pretty, efficient lefthanded swing. He's short to the ball and has outstanding barrel awareness, consistently squaring balls up and shooting line drives to all fields. He has a good eye at the plate and should be an above-average hitter. As he gets stronger, he could add loft to his swing to turn doubles into home runs. Nimmo worked out for teams in Arizona this spring and had some tendinitis in his knee. His American Legion team started playing in mid-April and their schedule goes right up to the signing deadline, and he has an Arkansas commitment to fall back on. The team that drafts him will likely follow him throughout the summer and make a call at the deadline.
14. Florida Marlins: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS, Tampa
Even in a strong year in Florida last year, Fernandez stood out, and opposing hitters were measured by how they fared against him. He almost didn't get to pitch this season, as he was temporarily suspended pending an investigation into how much high school baseball he played in Cuba. It took two attempts for Fernandez, his mother and his sister to escape the island nation, and he's motivated on and off the field. One scout termed his demeanor as "high-level confidence." Fernandez has those who doubt his age, and he'll be 19 before the mid-August signing date. He throws three swing-and-miss pitches: a fastball that sits 90-95 mph with heavy sink at times and a pair of breaking balls. Scouts aren't sure if Fernandez means to throw both a slider and a curve, but his slider can be sharp and his curve at times has 12-to-6 break. He's shown flashes of a changeup as well and could wind up as a four-pitch workhorse. Sturdy at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Fernandez has a mature body and will have to work to maintain his conditioning.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
Bradley was not drafted out of high school in Huntsville, Ala., but has pitched in the Yellow Jackets weekend rotation for the better part of the last three seasons as he has filled out his 6-foot-4 frame, going from 180-190 pounds when he came to school to a sturdy 224. A rotation stalwart his last two seasons, Bradley was at his best last summer, when he ranked as the Cape Cod League's No. 4 prospect while tying for the league lead in strikeouts. While he's not generally thought of as overpowering, Bradley knows how to miss bats. Scouts love his pitcher's frame, and he has a clean, loose arm. Bradley's fastball sits anywhere from 88-94 mph. In better starts, he's at the higher end of that range, touching 95. His low 80s slider gives him a second plus pitch, and his changeup sits around 80 mph with fade. He earns high marks for his confidence and work ethic. Bradley's performance (6-3, 3.71) has slipped as the draft has neared. Scouts have noticed Bradley's stuff has not been as sharp out of the stretch this spring, and his changeup has lacked consistency, but he's still expected to be drafted among the first 15 picks.
16. Los Angeles Dodgers: Chris Reed, LHP, Stanford
Last year was the first time since 1999 that Stanford didn't have a player selected in the first five rounds of the draft. That won't happen again this year because of Reed, who could go as high as the sandwich round. Reed is listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, but scouts say he has grown and gained strength from last year to this year. His fastball varies from 89-91 mph some nights to 92-94 on others, and he has touched 96. He'll show a power slider and above-average changeup, but all of his stuff needs more consistency. That should come with experience. Reed has totaled just 68 innings at Stanford and has started only one game. His size, athleticism and three-pitch mix will tempt teams to give him a shot as a starter in pro ball.
17. Los Angeles Angels: C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah
Power numbers are way down in college baseball this year because of less-potent bats, but don't tell that to Cron, who hit .444/.522/.829 with 15 home runs in 187 regular-season at-bats for Utah. His father Chris played in the big leagues and has managed in the minor leagues since 1995, so C.J. has grown up around the game. He has come through the amateur ranks as a catcher, but he's just serviceable behind the plate and has not played there this season because of an injury to his throwing shoulder and his days as a catcher may be over. He doesn't move well at first base and is a bottom-of-the-scale runner, but that's all right because he's the best all-around hitter in the country and should have no problem producing the numbers teams expect from a first baseman. Cron has the unique combination of pure hitting ability and power. He projects to be an above-average hitter and has legitimate 80 raw power on the 20-80 scale that translates into at least above-average usable power. He has great hand-eye coordination and the strength in his hands to drive good pitches for singles and doubles. He uses a good approach at the plate and makes adjustments well, so he should move quickly through a team's system.
18. Oakland Athletics: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt, Tenn.,
Gray was BA's No. 52 draft prospect as a high school senior in 2008, but a broken ankle, 5-foot-11 frame and Vanderbilt commitment pushed him down the draft until the Cubs took him in the 27th round. He figures to go 26 rounds higher after three seasons with the Commodores. He has added plenty of polish, throwing higher-quality strikes with similar stuff as he showed as a high schooler. His fastball often gets better during games, sitting from 90-95 mph, touching 97 when he needs it. His size keeps him from getting tremendous plane on his fastball, but he has the velocity to pitch up in the zone. High fastballs help set up his best pitch, a power curveball at 82-84 with downer action. His changeup has come along but remains a distant third pitch. Scouts laud his preparation and competitiveness, so while he's tempting as a closer for his two-pitch mix, many scouts expect him to remain a starter. He could stand to repeat his delivery more regularly, and scouts haven't seen much of his change as they'd like. Those are the only chinks in Gray's otherwise impressive armor.
19. Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut
Barnes was an under-the-radar prospect and went undrafted coming out of high school in Connecticut, but after three years at UConn he has firmly established himself as a first-round talent. Barnes shined last summer, ranking as the Cape Cod League's No. 3 prospect during a stint with Wareham and going 3-0, 1.42 with 26 strikeouts in 19 innings for Team USA. Barnes added 6-8 mph on his fastball before his sophomore year, jumping his velocity to its current 92-96 mph range and 98 peak, which he holds deep into games. He has a loose arm and minimal effort in his delivery. Barnes gets good armside run on his two-seamer, and he also throws a cutter. He throws a sharp-breaking curveball that's plus at times and an average mid-80s changeup. Barnes is at his best when he eliminates his slider from his repertoire. His secondary stuff, along with his command and mechanics, need work, as he tends to alter his release point and miss high in the zone. Scouts love Barnes' 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, and they still think he could add about 20 pounds.
20. Colorado Rockies: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
Anderson came to Oregon from Spring Valley High in Las Vegas in 2009, the Ducks' first season back after a 29-year hiatus, and stepped right into the rotation. He became Oregon's all-time leader in strikeouts this season. He's a good athlete who has gotten bigger and stronger and now stands 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. Anderson's biggest selling point is his feel for pitching. He takes a businesslike approach to carving up hitters and commands five pitches for strikes. He throws both a two- and four-seam fastball, and it sits in the 89-93 mph range with above-average movement. His slider is his best breaking pitch, and he'll mix in a curveball. His bread-and-butter secondary offering is an above-average changeup. Anderson has a funky leg kick in his delivery. It doesn't affect his ability to throw strikes and adds deception for the batter. After being drafted in the 50th round in 2008 by the Twins, Anderson should be a first-rounder this time around and has the polish and work ethic to move quickly.
21. Toronto Blue Jays: Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass.
Beede won a state championship as a sophomore at Auburn (Mass.) High, and then transferred to Lawrence, one of the top prep schools in the state. Since then, he has been all over the showcase circuit and developed into New England's best prep prospect. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Beede has an ideal pitcher's frame. Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, he pitches at 88-93 mph and touches 95. He has good arm speed on his changeup, and he has a firm curveball that's average but has good shape. Beede is also developing a slider, though he hasn't used it in game action. There were concerns about his mechanics and arm action in the past, but he has smoothed them out this year, repeating his delivery well and getting good extension out front. His father, Walter, was a 13th-round pick of the Cubs out of a Massachusetts high school in 1981 and had a short stint in the minor leagues, when he played with Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid. Beede has advanced command, feel and offspeed stuff, and scouts are impressed with his approach to the game. He has committed to Vanderbilt and could be a tough sign.
22. St. Louis Cardinals: Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Wong will likely be the smallest first rounder this year. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in tools, with his hitting ability standing out the most. With a compact lefthanded swing and good bat sped, Wong profiles as an above-average hitter who will spray line drives from foul pole to foul pole. He hadn't been pitched to much this year but hasn't gotten anxious or expanded the zone. He has a professional approach at the plate and a good understanding of the strike zone. He has surprising pop for his size and should hit 10-15 home runs a year as a pro. He's also willing to do the little things—he can bunt for a base hit and hit-and-run with the best of them. Wong has average speed and good instincts and is fearless on the basepaths. He's just as versatile defensively as he is with the bat. He profiles best at second base but could become a Chone Figgins type who moves around the field. He played center field as a freshman and has also started games at catcher and shortstop.
23. Washington Nationals: Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
The Red Sox offered Meyer $2 million as a 20th-round pick out of high school three years ago. While he had the arm strength to merit first-round money, most scouts believed he would need time to improve his secondary pitches, command and maturity. They were proven correct when he went 6-7, 6.34 in his first two seasons at Kentucky. Meyer started making the transition from pitcher to thrower this year, and as a result he could go in the first 10 picks. He's as intimidating as ever, a 6-foot-9, 220-pounder who works at 95-96 mph and can scrape triple digits with his fastball. His slider gives him a second plus-plus pitch at times, though it's still more of a chase pitch than a true strike. He also has unveiled an effective changeup. The Wildcats have helped Meyer repeat his delivery better, though that's still an issue at times because his levers are so long. His command may never be more than average, but it's a lot better than it was in high school. So too is his ability to compete. Meyer still isn't a finished product, but the huge strides he has made this spring have been encouraging. He finished strong, outdueling projected Vanderbilt first-rounder Sonny Gray with a five-hit shutout in early May and beating then-No. 6 ranked Florida in his final start of the year.
24. Tampa Bay Rays: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C.
Guerrieri will be one of the toughest calls for clubs in the first round. He has one of the draft's best arms, and among preps he ranks behind only Oklahomans Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley in pure stuff. Guerrieri has a pitcher's body at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds with long arms, coat-hanger shoulders and present strength. Getting his "man strength," to use the scouting term, has allowed him to maintain his delivery better, and his stuff has improved as a result. At his best, Guerrieri's fastball touches 98 mph and sits in the 93-96 range. He throws his curveball with power as well at 80-83 mph. He flashes a changeup and a cutter in side sessions but rarely uses them in games. Like most high school pitchers, his velocity can vary from start to start, but he still sits 91-93 on his off days. His athleticism and strength allow him to repeat his delivery well, though his command is a question. A South Carolina signee, Guerrieri could go in the first 10 picks if teams are sold on his makeup, but many are not. He's on his second high school thanks to off-field incidents at North Augusta (S.C.) High, and scouts continue to research his decision-making.
25. San Diego Padres: Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O'Dowd HS, Oakland
Like Robert Stephenson, Ross' stuff has also been a little bit better this spring than it was on the showcase circuit this summer. Ross, whose older brother Tyson is a righthander for the Athletics, sat in the 91-93 mph range with his fastball this summer. This spring he's been as high as 96. The pitch has good life and comes out easily from Ross' smooth delivery. He has a hard curveball in the 78-80 mph range with 11-5 break and flashes a good changeup. While he doesn't have his brother's size, he still has a nice pitcher's frame at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. Ross is the total package—he is a quality athlete and he's also a very good student, so he'll likely be a tough pry away from his UCLA commitment.
26. Boston Red Sox: Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho, N.M.
Swihart spent most of last summer with Team USA, and he led the team by batting .448/.492/.845 with six doubles and five home runs. The natural righthander picked up switch-hitting during his sophomore year of high school and started catching seriously just last summer. This spring he has split time between third base and behind the plate. Swihart is a good athlete who is an above-average hitter with average power potential. He hadn't put up gaudy numbers against inferior competition this spring, but he is clearly focused on the future: Swihart works on both of his swings by switching back and forth between hitting lefthanded and righthanded, regardless of the pitcher he's facing. Swihart's athleticism shows up behind the plate. He receives well and shows good footwork. He has a strong arm and has shortened his arm stroke this spring. He obviously would have more value at catcher, but his athleticism and potent bat may tempt a team to move him to another position. Swihart is 6 feet and 175 pounds and baby-faced, so some scouts think he'll get taller and stronger as he matures. He is committed to Texas, and would be eligible for the draft again as a sophomore if he goes to college.
27. Cincinnati Reds: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS, Martinez, Calif.
Stephenson has a long and loose 6-foot-2 frame, and he's not done growing yet so scouts see projection as he matures. He had a busy summer on the showcase circuit and then started off his senior season by throwing back-to-back no-hitters. His fastball sat in the the 90-92 mph range last summer, and he took things up a notch this spring, sitting 93-95 and touching 97. Stephenson has a smooth, athletic delivery and produces good hand speed. This has helped his curveball improve along with his fastball, and he's now throwing the pitch in the 78-80 mph range and commanding it well. He also mixes in an occasional changeup. Stephenson is just as gifted in the classroom as he is on the pitcher's mound, and he's Washington's biggest recruit in a long time. He has been working with Huskies assistant coach Jordon Twohig since he was 13, but the program's recent struggles and Stephenson's status as a possible first rounder make it unlikely he winds up on campus.
28. Atlanta Braves: Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State
Gilmartin isn't flashy, but his total package should take him off the board in the first 50 picks as one of the draft's safest selections. A two-way talent out of a California high school, he attended a camp at Florida State and wound up being one of the Seminoles' rare cross-country recruits. He has pitched on Fridays for three seasons and helped lead Florida State to the College World Series last season, though he struggled putting hitters away in the second half of the season and last summer with USA Baseball's college national team. Gilmartin has improved significantly in the last year and become a scouts' darling with his combination of good size (6-foot-2, 192 pounds), clean arm action and solid athleticism. He has pushed his fastball into the average velocity range at 88-91 mph, his changeup remains a plus pitch and his slider has improved to average. Gilmartin knows how to use his stuff, particularly his changeup, how to set up hitters and how to keep them off-balance. His 10-1, 1.35 season includes four double-digit strikeout efforts. Scouts compare Gilmartin favorably to Vanderbilt southpaw Mike Minor, who went seventh overall to the Braves in 2009 and reached the majors a season later.
29. San Francisco Giants: Joe Panik, SS, St. John's
The phrase scouts use most often when describing Panik says a lot about the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder from Yonkers, N.Y.: "He's just a good baseball player who can hit." His bat is his only plus tool, but he plays the game the right way and makes the most of his ability. Panik thrived in the Cape Cod League last summer and was the circuit's No. 24 prospect after hitting .297 with eight doubles and two home runs for Yarmouth-Dennis. He manipulates the barrel well and has a short, compact lefthanded swing that generates gap power and consistent hard contact. Scouts rave about Panik's disciplined, polished approach and strike-zone awareness. He had labrum surgery after his freshman year, and he has difficulty with throws deep in the hole, but his hands work well. He profiles best as a bat-first second baseman, though he could play short in a pinch because of his instincts. A thin crop of college middle infielders puts Panik in prime position to get popped in the first few rounds.
30. Minnesota Twins: Levi Michael, SS, North Carolina
Michael was a solid high school prospect in Lexington, N.C., but he graduated early in order to join the Tar Heels for the 2009 season. He has played a new position each season, moving from second base as a freshman to third base as a sophomore, before settling in at shortstop this year. He's been a reliable defender at all three spots, and scouts are warming up to the idea that he could stay at shortstop at the pro level. He missed a couple of games with an ankle injury and was still getting back to 100 percent, but he still showed ability in all facets of the game and was hitting .311/.461/.464 with 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts in 196 at-bats. He is a patient hitter with a good eye for the strike zone from both sides of the plate, with a 43-27 walk-strikeout ratio. He hits to all fields and could hit at the top of the batting order, though he shows pop and is naturally stronger from the right side. He's an above-average runner, though he hadn't quite returned to that level since the injury. Scouts don't view the ankle as a long-term concern. Defensively, he has good actions and enough arm strength for shortstop. The only concern is his range, but he'll get every chance to prove himself before potentially sliding to second base.