2012 Draft Top 100 Scouting Reports: 1-25

See Also:2012 Draft Top 100 Scouting Reports: 26-50
See Also:2012 Draft Top 100 Scouting Reports: 51-75
See Also:2012 Draft Top 100 Scouting Reports: 76-100

We wrote and compiled scouting reports on every player in our Early Draft Preview 2012 Draft Top 100. Here are the reports for the players ranked 1-25. . .

1. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford
Appel had both the best present stuff on the college national team and plenty of room to grow as a pitcher. The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder's arm works easily, delivering consistent 92-95 mph fastballs with good life in the strike zone. Hitters can't sit on his fastball because he throws a true slider, and he's working on developing a changeup. "He had the best arm on the team by far," Team USA pitching coach Rob Walton (Oral Roberts) said. "He touched 99 once or twice, with a bunch of 98s. The ceiling on him is unbelievable. He's a Justin Verlander-type guy. His potential is unreal. He's as good as anyone I've seen in a while." Appel did have the highest ERA on the team (5.00), in large part because he surrendered a grand slam against Japan in his lone start. Like Verlander, he hasn't dominated in college as much as his stuff should dictate, allowing 114 hits and striking out just 86 in 110 innings at Stanford last spring. Appel throws strikes but leaves his pitches over the plate and up in the zone too often, and he'll be nearly untouchable once he refines his command. —2011 Team USA Top 20

2. Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
Giolito has everything scouts look for in a high school pitching prospect. He already has the frame and physicality of a big leaguer, standing 6-foot-6, 230 pounds with broad shoulders, strong legs and a trim core. Giolito has a power arsenal that includes a fastball that sat in the low-mid 90s this summer and has been into the upper 90s this fall. He throws the pitch to both sides of the plate and is not afraid to own the inner half. His curveball is a hammer in the 81-83 mph range with tight rotation and late break. He also mixes in an occasional changeup in the 83-84 mph range with good movement. Giolito's stuff looks even faster because his calm, effortless delivery lulls hitters to sleep. If you want to nitpick, his tempo could be sped up a little bit and he could mix in his changeup a little more. Giolito is a workout machine who adheres to an impressive longtoss routine and has been practicing yoga this winter. He is also young for his class and won't turn 18 until just after the signing deadline. He is a quality student and is committed to UCLA. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

3. Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga.
Buxton, who also plays quarterback for his high school football team, is a natural athlete who makes things look easy between the lines. Buxton stands 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds. He has a lean frame with a trim waist and shows plenty of speed to handle center field. At the East Coast Pro Showcase, Buxton turned in a 6.50-second 60-yard dash, which grades out as 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. Buxton's arm would also be an asset in the outfield, as he's been clocked in the low 90s off the mound. Buxton has an open setup at the plate and exhibits fluid hitting mechanics. He shows good balance in his short swing, excellent bat speed and a knack for centering the ball—all things necessary to hit for a high average. And there's power potential too—which he showed off by finishing second in the Under Armour game home run derby—with more to come as he continues to fill out and mature physically. His explosive athleticism and five-tool potential has already led some scouts to compare the Georgia commit to a hybrid of the Upton brothers. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

4. Deven Marrero, ss, Arizona State
Marrero started his summer with Team USA (where he ranked as the No. 2 prospect behind Appel), then returned to Cotuit for 12 games, hitting .326 in 46 at-bats. His summer was cut short when he was hit by a pitch in the left hand and suffered a deep bruise. Marrero is a "complete player," as one scouting director called him, with at least average tools across the board and a grinder mentality. His simple swing, good hand-eye coordination, control of the strike zone and all-fields approach should make him a slightly above-average hitter, and he has a chance to grow into average power, though he's more of a doubles hitter presently. Marrero's slightly above-average speed plays up because of his excellent instincts on the basepaths. But he stands out most for his defense. He reads balls very well off the bat, and his smooth actions and plus arm will keep him at shortstop throughout his career, though his focus sometimes drifts, leading to errors. "He's the best defensive player I've ever seen at 19, 20 years of age," Cotuit coach Mike Roberts said. "Walt Weiss was pretty darn good, but this young man—I've never seen anybody who could get his feet in the right position almost all the time. If for any reason he doesn't get his feet in the right position, he has the ability to still get his hands in the right place, and understand the speed of the runner. I think he's Omar Vizquel at 20." —2011 Cape Cod Top 30

5. Mike Zunino, c, Florida
The Southeastern Conference player of the year, Zunino was a beast against elite SEC competition. In conference games, he led the league in slugging (.750), runs (36), RBIs (33) and doubles (14) and ranked second in batting (.422), OBP (.477) and homers (eight). "Certain guys are 2-for-16 and you know it, but other guys, it's like, I didn't even know that," O'Sullivan said. "It's just quality at-bats, presence in the box. He never gives in, he's going to battle. He's got really good disposition . . . He's always been strong. He's 6-2, 220 pounds, he's put together well. I went back and told the guys at the beginning of the year when he started hitting well, I said, 'The last month of the season last year, he was our best hitter.' He hit more balls hard than anybody in our lineup, and he carried it over into this year. Like most good hitters, he tries to use the middle of the field. He doesn't get pull happy. That's what got him going last year: He used both sides of the field. He likes to pull the ball like most hitters, but when he learned to stay back and see the breaking ball better, not chase the one down, that really helped him." Zunino is also a standout defender—he has a .998 fielding percentage and has thrown out about a third of opposing basestealers. His all-around package makes him a possible first-round pick in the 2012 draft. "I think Mike's special behind the plate," O'Sullivan said. "He throws good, blocks good, receives well, but he's just got good leadership skills, and he knows how to handle a staff . . . I think he's just a baseball player." —May 16, 2011 Three Strikes Blog Post (Aaron Fitt)

6. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana State
Gausman's homestate Rockies considered drafting him in the first round two years ago out of high school, and he's expected to go that high as a draft-eligible sophomore next year. Tall and slender at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, he shows the potential for three plus pitches. Gausman features armside run and sink on his 92-96 mph fastball, though his tendency to tilt his shoulder in his delivery affects his ability to work the corners and pitch down in the zone. He throws both a curveball and slider, which both have their moments. His changeup is a weapon because he sells it so well with his arm speed, and he added more depth to it this summer. —2011 Team USA Top 20

7. Chris Beck, rhp, Georgia Southern
Beck was a key piece of Georgia Southern's banner recruiting class in 2009, and after going 2-4, 8.31 as a freshman, he turned a corner as a sophomore, going 9-5, 3.23 with 109 strikeouts in 103 innings. He kept that momentum going into the summer, posting a 2.12 ERA and ranking fifth in the Cape League with 41 strikeouts in 51 innings. Physical and durable at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Beck attacks hitters with a 91-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 on occasion. His power breaking ball—which he throws at 81-84 mph with some bite to it—is between a curveball and a slider, but it has a chance to be a plus pitch if he can learn to repeat it more consistently. He also knows how to use his fading, sinking 83-84 changeup, giving him a chance for three plus pitches in time. Beck is generally around the strike zone, but his control is ahead of his command at this stage. Still, his easy arm action and fairly clean delivery lead scouts to believe he'll be able to improve his command as he matures. —2011 Cape Cod Top 30

8. Brian Johnson, lhp/1b, Florida
After helping Florida reach the CWS Finals in June, Johnson started his summer with Team USA, where he was the national team's top power hitter during his short stint. He hit .280 with two long balls in 50 at-bats for Y-D, continuing to flash mammoth power potential from the left side, while also posting a 19-4 strikeout-walk mark in 15 innings on the mound. Johnson is the top two-way talent for the 2012 draft, a player with legitimate professional potential with the bat and off the mound. Scouts are divided about where he fits best, although three scouting directors who spent extensive time in the Cape all said they liked him a bit better as a pitcher. Johnson has a workhorse build at 6-foot-4, 227 pounds, and his delivery is clean and easy. At his best, he pitches with a solid-average fastball that touches 94, but he was just 87-90 this summer at the end of a long season. He has advanced feel for his entire three-pitch repertoire, which also includes a solid-average breaking ball with good depth and a quality changeup. At the plate, Johnson has good balance and can punish mistakes up in the zone, and some scouts think he has a good feel for hitting, but others aren't sold on his ability to make adjustments. Though he's a good athlete, he's a below-average runner who will be tied to first base as a position player, but his plus to plus-plus power potential should carry him regardless.  Johnson was Team USA's most effective reliever (0.63 ERA) in 2010, but this time around he pitched only sparingly and stood out more with his bat after arriving late from the College World Series. Though he played just four games, he led the squad with three homers after hitting just five in the spring. Team USA assistant Rob Walton compared him to Ryan Howard. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has plenty of strength and makes consistent hard contact to all fields. He'll need to improve defensively at first base.An AL crosschecker preferred Johnson on the mound, however. He has the build to be a workhorse starter and fills the strike zone with 90-93 mph fastballs. His short slider can be a plus pitch at times but needs more bite, and he also has a decent changeup. —Team USA Top 20/Cape Cod Top 30

9. Victor Roache, of, Georgia Southern
An unrefined Michigan prep product, Roache had an up-and-down freshman year at Georgia Southern, then exploded for 30 home runs with the less-potent BBCOR bats as a sophomore—the most homers by a Division I player since 2003. He got off to a torrid start in the Cape, hitting .397/.529/.667 with five homers and just 13 strikeouts through his first 25 games, but he struggled mightily in his final 18 games, hitting .183 with one homer and 31 strikeouts. During his funk, Roache saw a steady diet of breaking balls, which he struggled to recognize and repeatedly chased out of the zone. But scouts who saw Roache in the first half of the summer came away satisfied with his improving approach and dazzled by his well above-average raw power from the right side. The muscular 6-foot-1, 225-pounder has a quick, compact swing, though some scouts questioned his looseness. He split time between DH and the corner outfield spots for Cotuit, which was loaded with athletes in the outfield, but his fringe-average speed and average arm should make him an adequate defender. Roache comes with some risk, but his plate approach has already come a long way since he arrived in college, and if it continues to improve he could blossom into a dangerous big league slugger down the road. —2011 Cape Cod Top 30

10. David Dahl, of, Oak Mountain HS, Birmingham
With his beautiful lefthanded stroke and five-tool potential, Dahl earned comparisons to Colby Rasmus this summer. He shows excellent balance with a wide stance and his bat speed is evident in his fluid, compact swing. He consistently squares the ball up and projects to hit for both average and power. Dahl has a keen eye at the plate, showing good patience in his at-bats and quiet takes on pitches narrowly out of the strike zone. He's an above-average runner who is smart on the bases, though he's not a burner and it's possible he may wind up fitting better in a corner outfield spot, but he'll at least get the chance to stick in center field. Right field would be an option, as he has a strong arm. Dahl is committed to Auburn. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

11. Walker Weickel, rhp, Olympia HS, Orlando
With a long and lanky 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame, Weickel offers plenty of projection and his stuff is already very good. He uses a full windup and takes advantage of his height on the mound, throwing his fastball downhill in the 89-92 mph range and toping out at 95. Weickel shows good body control and fills up the strike zone with his fastball. While he usually throws the pitch with steep downward plane, it can sometimes flatten out on him, and that's when it becomes hittable. Weickel's curveball showed improvement this summer, going from a loopy 68-70 mph offering to a tighter, firmer pitch in the 73-75 mph range with 12—to-6 break and good depth. The Miami recruit also mixes in a changeup between 80-81 mph. Weickel shows very good maturity and was Team USA's ace on the mound during its gold-medal run in the 2011 COPABE Pan Am Championships, going 3-0, 0.46 with 23 strikeouts and four walks over 20 innings. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

12. Stryker Trahan, c, Acadiana HS, Lafayette, La.
At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Trahan is built like a fullback, but runs like a tailback. Deceptively fast for his size, Trahan offers solid-average speed—exceptional for a catcher. He ran a 6.54-second 60-yard dash at the Perfect Game National Showcase, turned in a 6.80 time at Tournament of Stars and then clocked a 7.06 at East Coast Pro. He also gets out of the box quickly, generally posting home-first times in the 4.15 to 4.25 second range. The son of two former catchers who is named after Burt Reynolds' character in the show "B.L. Stryker," Trahan was born to catch. In addition to his strong build, he has massive, strong hands that help him on both offense and defense. He's a quality receiver with average arm strength. A lefthanded hitter, Trahan hits from a relaxed, narrow stance. He shows good rhythm at the plate and is a very selective hitter. Trahan has a natural uphill bat path with a high finish that gives him good loft and power potential. He shows above-average bat speed and the ball explodes off his bat. It's a rare combination of tools for a catcher, which is why the Mississippi commit is expected to be a first round pick in June. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

13. Matthew Smoral, lhp, Solon (Ohio) HS
Smoral has an imposing presence on the mound, standing 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds. His height along with his low three-quarter arm slot from the left side makes him tough to pick up. His stuff doesn't make it any easier for hitters. Smoral throws a fastball in the 89-92 mph range and tops out at 94. Smoral also throws a slider in the 81-84 mph range and a changeup with similar velocity. His low arm slot causes him to sometimes get around his slider, but when he stays on top of it, it's a tight pitch with late break. Like many big pitchers, Smoral is still growing into his frame and learning how to control his delivery. He currently lands a little open and a little stiff, sometimes stumbling off the mound in his follow through. This causes his control to come and go, but when he's on, his stuff is dominating. Smoral has the athleticism to smooth things out. His father, Steve, was a basketball player at North Carolina State, but Matt is committed to North Carolina. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

14. Albert Almora, of, Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
Almora is USA Baseball's most decorated alumnus, winning gold medals with the 2007 and 2008 14-and-under teams, the 2009 and 2010 16U team and the 2010 and 2011 18U teams. With all that big-game experience, it's no wonder that Almora is one of the most polished players in this year's class. Scouts have to project on his power, but Almora has above-average tools across the board, with stellar defense in center field and a knack for pure hitting standing out the most. Everything comes easy to Almora, velocity doesn't faze him and he plays with a lot of energy. Almora is a cousin of Orioles prospect Manny Machado and is committed to Miami. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

15. Max Fried, lhp, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
When Fried's Montclair College Prep eliminated its storied athletic program, Fried transferred to Harvard-Westlake to join righthander Lucas Giolito to become the best prep pitching duo in the country. Fried has prototypical projection in his lanky 6-foot-4, 170-pound frame. He has long arms and a free and easy delivery. He's also an above-average athlete who fills up the strike zone with all of his pitches. His fastball sits in the 88-92 mph range with good armside run and his 73-75 mph curveball is one of the best in the country. Fried can get a little long to the plate, but does vary his looks with runners on base, incorporating a slide step when necessary. He also has an excellent pickoff move. Like Giolito, Fried is also committed to UCLA. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

16. Gavin Cecchini, ss, Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.
Gavin is the younger brother of Red Sox third base prospect Garin, and the two brothers' parents are both coaches at Barbe High, as well as for the SE Texas Sun Devils travel team. Gavin is leaner than his brother, with a 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. The increased mobility gives him a legitimate chance to stay at shortstop, and he's the best all-around prospect at the position in this year's high school class. Cecchini shows good range at shortstop with above-average instincts, fluid fielding mechanics and a strong arm. He's a leader on the field who always plays hard and goes about the game the right way. Cecchini is an above-average runner and is smart on the bases. At the plate, Gavin is also different from his brother, as he hits righthanded. He hits everything on the screws and hits the ball hard to all fields. While Cecchini has a good eye at the plate, he's up there to hit and is often aggressive early in the count. Cecchini has strength in his wrists and will hit for power as he continues to get stronger. One of the most impressive batting practice home runs on the showcase circuit this summer was Cecchini's a mammoth shot during the workout day before the Under Armour game, a 400-plus foot bomb that bounced off the gym beyond the left field wall at Illinois-Chicago's campus. Along with his close friend Stryker Trahan, Cecchini is committed to Mississippi. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

17. Carlos Correa, ss, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R.
The second-youngest player in Baseball America's High School Top 100, Correa won't turn 18 until September after the signing deadline. That makes his physical build and present tools even more impressive. Correa has a pro body at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds with a high waist and room to fill out. Despite his large frame, he's light on his feet and shows fluid actions at shortstop with soft hands and above-average arm strength. Correa is a little raw at the plate and is currently a free swinger, but has some strength and hits the ball hard when he makes contact. He's an above-average runner now but may slow down as he fills out. Being a first-round pick this June could keep him away from his Miami commitment. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

18. Stephen Piscotty, 3b, Stanford
Many Pacific-10 Conference coaches thought Piscotty was the best hitter in their league this spring, when he batted .364/.423/.471 and helped lead Stanford to super regionals. He hit .349 in 106 at-bats this summer to win the Cape League batting title on the final day of the season, edging Dane Phillips by percentage points. "He's very consistent—I compare him to (former Cape Leaguer and current big leaguer) Garrett Atkins," Y-D coach Scott Pickler said. "He hit in the middle of the order all year, and he only will get better when he puts on his man strength. I thought he was one of the more consistent hitters in the league—he handled the change, handled the breaking ball, handled the fastball on both sides of the plate. Right now it's a gap-to-gap approach, but I think there will be some power in there if he uses his legs a little more." Piscotty stung hard line drives to all fields in all four of his at-bats in the Cape League all-star game, a performance that typified his all-fields approach and showcased his smooth righthanded swing. Scouts expect him to develop average or slightly better power as he grows into his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame. He played both corner infield spots and in the outfield for Y-D, and scouts are divided about his ability to stick at third base down the road, but the consensus is that his actions and range are good enough to at least give him a shot there. He has a strong arm and even flashed 93-94 mph gas in five relief appearances for Y-D. —2011 Cape Cod Top 30

19. Jake Barrett, rhp, Arizona State
Barrett was a third-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2009 and did not sign. After working as a reliever as a freshman, he made 14 starts as a sophomore, going 7-4, 4.14. He's a physical workhorse at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and could either wind up as a front-rotation starter with more polish or wind up in the bullpen. Scouts always like power arms, and Barrett works comfortably in the 93-96 mph range with his fastball. Moreover, he's improved his breaking ball since his high school days, flashing a quality slider that he can throw for strikes. He also employs a splitter as a swing-and-miss pitch. Barrett's upside is tantalizing, but he has rough edges to smooth out. —John Manuel (Jan. 2012)

20. Lance McCullers Jr., rhp, Jesuit HS, Tampa
McCullers has been known as one of the top prospects in this class for a few years thanks to the fact that he's always shown premium arm strength and has a father with the same name who pitched in the big leagues for seven seasons. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, McCullers has a similar build to his dad when he played. He also has similar stuff, including a fastball that sits in the 93-96 mph range and a nasty slider with hard and late break in the 83-87 mph range. McCullers also mixes in a good changeup and a curveball. While he'll likely get a chance to start as a pro, he has some effort in his delivery, very limited experience on the mound and sometimes has bouts with wildness that could lead to a relief role. McCullers is committed to Florida. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

21. Joey Gallo, 3b/rhp, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
Gallo hit 25 home runs last year for Bishop Gorman High and has some of the most impressive power in this year's class. That towering power was on full display when Gallo hit the 10th-longest home run in Petco Park history at the Perfect Game All-America Game. Gallo's downside is that he swings and misses a lot and, though he plays third base in high school, will probably move to first base as a pro. The move won't be for a lack of arm strength. He also sees time on the mound and sits in the 88-92 mph range, topping out at 95. Gallo will put his talent on display at the USA Baseball/Baseball America National High School Invitational this March and he is committed to Louisiana State. —Conor Glassey (Jan. 2012)

22. Marcus Stroman, rhp, Duke
Stroman may have been the smallest player on the college national team at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, but he was also its most dynamic. He struck out 17 and allowed just two baserunners (no hits) in eight innings with Team USA, continuing to draw Tom Gordon comparisons that started last summer in the Cape Cod League. A quick-twitch athlete who is both a starting pitcher and shortstop at Duke, Stroman generates quality arm speed. As a reliever, he works at 93-96 mph with his fastball and can throw it by hitters up in the zone. He also can embarrass lefties and righties alike with a nasty slider he commands to both sides of the plate. "He's so much fun to watch," said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball's general manager of national teams. "He was our most electric guy. When he came into a game to pitch for us, it was the most exciting thing to happen with our college national team this summer. There was a buzz about him." —2011 Team USA Top 20

23. Michael Wacha, rhp, Texas A&M
After throwing 130 innings in the spring and leading Texas A&M to the College World Series, Wacha still had enough left in the tank to allow just one earned run in two starts for Team USA. He relies on his changeup and his command, both of which were as good as anyone's on the national team. Wacha uses his 6-foot-6, 195-pound frame to throw his pitches on a steep downhill plane. His straight changeup is more notable for its deception than its action, and he sets it up by locating his 90-93 mph fastball. His ultimate ceiling depends on whether he can come up with a solid breaking ball, and he made progress with a cutter/slider this summer. —2011 Team USA Top 20

24. Travis Jankowski, of, Stony Brook
After hitting .355 with 30 steals in 34 tries during his breakout sophomore year at Stony Brook, Jankowski exploded onto the prospect landscape this summer, hitting .329 with 15 steals and a league-best seven triples to win the Cape's MVP award. "He was one of the best players in the Cape," the AL scouting director said. "He's a guy that jumped out. He took really good at-bats, had really good barrel control, the ability to stay behind the ball and drive the ball. He could run, had a little bit of pop and a good-looking body." The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Jankowski is a live athlete with plus speed that plays on the basepaths and in center field, where he has good instincts, excellent range and an average arm. His swing is a bit uphill, but he still showed a knack for squaring up a lot of hard line drives and sharp grounders. He made enough adjustments to hold his own against premium stuff, and he flashed a bit of pull power during batting practice, though he figures to have below-average power. He doesn't give away at-bats and could be a plus hitter down the road, particularly if he can flatten out his swing just a bit. —2011 Cape Cod Top 30

25. Josh Elander, c, Texas Christian
Elander started just 38 games behind the plate in his first two seasons at Texas Christian, but he became Team USA's regular catcher when Florida catcher Michael Zunino opted not to join the team after the Gators made it to the finals of the College World Series. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound righthanded hitter showed the second-best pop on the team behind Johnson, driving the ball to all fields. Elander also got the job done defensively, receiving and blocking well and combating the running game with an average arm and quick release. "He has close to Johnson's power and matched him in batting practice." head coach Tim Jamieson (Missouri) said. "We thought he'd be the backup to Zunino but he wound up being more than that and did a great job with out staff. He did it all well." —2011 Team USA Top 20

See Also:2012 Draft Top 100 Scouting Reports: 26-50
See Also:2012 Draft Top 100 Scouting Reports: 51-75
See Also:2012 Draft Top 100 Scouting Reports: 76-100