The 2012 draft order is getting closer to completion. Type B free agent Carlos Pena left the Cubs for the Rays, giving Chicago a supplemental first-round pick (currently No. 53 overall). Six more compensation free agents remain unsigned, with Prince Fielder the lone Type A on the market. He's the only player who could result in a change to the first round, and if the Nationals sign him as rumored, the Brewers would get Washington's No. 16 pick as well as a sandwich-rounder (No. 38).
Below is the up-to-the-minute draft order. With the changes to the draft rules in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 2012 draft will be the last one with such a lengthy supplemental first round. This year's sandwich round could feature up to 31 selections, but future drafts figure to have less than half as many.
13. White Sox
17. Blue Jays
19. Cardinals (from Angels for Albert Pujols, Type A)
22. Blue Jays (for failure to sign 2011 first-rounder Tyler Beede)
24. Red Sox
31. Red Sox (from Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon, Type A)
Supplemental First Round
32. Twins (for Michael Cuddyer, modified Type A, to Rockies)
33. Padres (for Heath Bell, modified Type A, to Marlins)
34. Athletics (for Josh Willingham, modified Type A, to Twins)
35. Mets (for Jose Reyes, Type A, to Marlins)
36. Cardinals (for Pujols)
37. Red Sox (for Papelbon)
38. Rangers (for C.J. Wilson, Type A, to Angels)
39. Phillies (for Ryan Madson, modified Type A, to Reds)
40. Astros (for Clint Barmes, Type B, to Pirates)
41. Twins (for Jason Kubel, Type B, to Diamondbacks)
42. Cubs (for Aramis Ramirez, Type B, to Brewers)
43. Padres (for Aaron Harang, Type B, to Dodgers)
44. Pirates (for Ryan Doumit, Type B, to Twins)
45. Rockies (for Mark Ellis, Type B, to Dodgers)
46. Athletics (for David DeJesus, Type B, to Cubs)
47. White Sox (for Mark Buehrle, Type B, to Marlins)
48. Reds (for Ramon Hernandez, Type B, to Rockies)
49. Blue Jays (for Frank Francisco, Type B, to Mets)
50. Dodgers (for Rod Barajas, Type B, to Pirates)
51. Cardinals (for Octavio Dotel, Type B, to Tigers)
52. Rangers (for Darren Oliver, Type B, to Blue Jays)
53. Cubs (for Carlos Pena, Type B, to Rays)
54. Blue Jays (for Jon Rauch, Type B, to Mets)
55. Padres (for failure to sign 2011 sandwich-rounder Brett Austin)
56. Blue Jays (for Jose Molina, Type B, to Rays)
58. Athletics (for Willingham)
66. Padres (for Bell)
67. Mets (from Marlins for Reyes)
68. Twins (for Cuddyer)
73. Phillies (for Madson)
79. Rangers (from Angels for Wilson)
89. Yankees (for failure to sign 2011 second-rounder Sam Stafford)
Supplemental Third Round
122. Mariners (for failure to sign 2011 third-rounder Kevin Cron)
123. Marlins (for failure to sign 2011 third-rounder Connor Barron)
124. Rockies (for failure to sign 2011 third-rounder Peter O'Brien)
Remaining Compensation Free Agents
Brewers: Prince Fielder (A).
Cardinals: Edwin Jackson (B).
Phillies: Raul Ibanez (B).
Pirates: Derrek Lee (B).
Red Sox: Dan Wheeler (B).
Reds: Francisco Cordero (B).
Though I'm still leery of the track record of Japanese imports, I'd take Darvish over Pineda. Darvish has a better body (6-foot-5 and 225 pounds vs. 6-foot-7 and 260), better fastball life and command and a deeper repertoire.
Pineda isn't far behind Darvish, however, and at 23 he's two-plus years younger. He throws a consistent mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider, and he struck out 173 in 171 innings as a rookie last year. He also will cost a lot less, as he won't be eligible for arbitration until after the 2013 season. Meanwhile, the Rangers will spend $107.7 million on Darvish over the next six years (between his posting fee and major league contract).
That said, if I ran the Yankees and had their financial resources at my disposal, I'd prefer to spend the money on Darvish and keep Jesus Montero rather than saving cash by using Montero to get Pineda from the Mariners. New York did make an astute move by getting hard-throwing teenager Jose Campos in the Montero/Pineda trade.
The Mariners already had Miguel Olivo at catcher and made a November trade to bolster the position with John Jaso. There still are significant questions about Montero's throwing and receiving skills, and he's not ready to handle No. 1 catching duties in the major leagues. I suspect his role this year in Seattle will be what it would have been in New York: Montero will catch 40-50 games, serve as a backup at first base and get most of his at-bats at DH.
Though it may be easier for Montero to get at-bats with a lesser team, his stock remains the same. He may never make it as a regular catcher, but with his bat, it won't matter. He has the ability to become a devastating righthanded hitter in the mold of Miguel Cabrera, which is why I ranked Montero as the game's sixth-best prospect (before the Darvish signing) in the 2012 Prospect Handbook.
The White Sox spend less on the draft than any team, but they invested $1.2 million in Mitchell as a 2009 first-round pick and gave rare (for them) above-slot bonuses to Thompson ($625,000 in the second round in 2009) and Walker ($795,000 in the sandwich round last year). All three are high-risk, high-reward prospects and their inability to make consistent contact could cause them all to go bust rather than boom.
Thompson is the best bet to be a useful big leaguer, because he has the broadest base of tools. He may always strike out and never hit for a high average, but he has a lot more power potential than Mitchell or Walker. Thompson is an average runner with good instincts on the bases and in center field, and he has enough arm strength to be a legitimate right fielder.
Walker has the speed to make an impact on the bases and in center field, but he's going to have to make significant strides with his on-base ability. Mitchell, who won national titles in baseball and football (as a wide receiver) at Louisiana State, is the best all-around athlete of the trio. But he hasn't been the same player since he tore a tendon in his left ankle when he ran into an outfield fence in the spring of 2010.
Walker is the best defender of the three, followed by Mitchell and Thompson in that order. None of them is the top defensive outfielder in Chicago's system, however. That distinction belongs to Jordan Danks.