Harper's The Highlight

Catcher leads the way, but 2010 draft is filled with pitchers

Before the 2009 draft was even over, Baseball America was already looking to the future. After attending numerous high school showcase events and researching 18 summer college leagues and the collegiate national team, our picture of the 2010 draft class began to take shape.

Like this year, when 11 of the first 15 players selected were pitchers, the strength of next year's class appears to be on the mound. Over the past 20 years, there have been just four drafts where 10 or more pitchers were taken within the first 15 picks, and the 2010 draft could mark the first time it's happened back-to-back.

"I think there's some righthanded pitching," a National League scouting director said. "There are some guys there that have the chance to be big-time arms. (Karsten) Whitson, (Robbie) Aviles has a good arm, (Jameson) Taillon down in Texas. There has a chance to be some power arms."

But most of the top pitchers, especially on the prep side, are righthanders.

"I don't see any lefthanded pitching," the scouting director said. "Last year there were three (high school lefthanders) taken in the top 18, and I just haven't seen that this year. It's probably never really a strength of the draft, but I think it's one of the weaker lefthanded years."

The consensus is that the high school class is stronger than the college crop.

"I'm just not that excited about the college class in any direction," the scouting director said. "I think there's some college arms, but the college bats are a little bit down from what I've seen. I didn't think the Cape had a lot of real strong bat guys. There were some power arms, but more bullpen guys than starter guys, and not a lot of athletic position players."

Harper Hoopla

Last year, the spotlight was on San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg. He lived up to the massive hype and became the first overall pick by the Nationals, signing for a record $7.5 million bonus as part of a $15.1 million guaranteed contract. If 2009 was known as the Stephen Strasburg draft, prepare yourself for Bryce Harper mania.

Harper, a catcher from Las Vegas, was the first-ever sophomore to win Baseball America's High School Player of the Year award after he hit .626 with 14 home runs and 36 stolen bases. He's already half teenager, half legend, capable of hitting 570-foot home runs or throwing 96 mph. A cover of Sports Illustrated called him, "The Most Exciting Prodigy Since LeBron."

With nothing left to prove in high school, Harper opted to forego his junior and senior seasons at Las Vegas High by enrolling at CC of Southern Nevada, where he's scheduled to play next season once he passes his GED test.

Playing college ball as a 17-year-old will be a challenge, but Harper will have a strong support system in place. He will be able to live at home, and his brother Bryan—a pitcher—will join him on the team as a transfer from Cal State Northridge.

The 2010 draft is still nine months away and many things can (and will) change between now and then, but the charts above provide the first snapshot of the top talent for next year's class.

1. Bryce Harper, c CC of Southern Nevada
2. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp Louisiana State
3. Deck McGuire, rhp Georgia Tech
4. LeVon Washington, of Chipola (Fla.) JC
5. Chris Sale, lhp Florida Gulf Coast
6. Christian Colon, ss Cal State Fullerton
7. James Paxton, lhp Kentucky^
8. Zack Cox, 3b Arkansas*
9. Alex Wimmers, rhp Ohio State
10. Rick Hague, ss Rice
11. Drew Pomeranz, lhp Mississippi
12. Jedd Gyorko, 3b/2b West Virginia
13. Bryan Morgado, lhp Tennessee
14. Chad Bettis, rhp Texas Tech
15. Bryce Brentz, of Middle Tennessee State
16. Brandon Workman, rhp
17. Sam Dyson, rhp South Carolina
18. Jesse Hahn, rhp Virginia Tech
19. Brett Eibner, of/rhp Arkansas
20. Todd Cunningham, of Jacksonville State
21. Kyle Blair, rhp San Diego
22. Jarrett Parker, of Virginia
23. Justin Grimm, rhp Georgia
24. Gary Brown, of Cal State Fullerton
25. Rob Brantly, c UC Riverside*
* Draft-eligible sophomore,
^ Senior 

1. Jameson Taillon, rhp The Woodlands (Texas) HS
2. A.J. Cole, rhp Oviedo (Fla.) HS
3. Karsten Whitson, rhp Chipley (Fla.) HS
4. Manny Machado, ss Brito HS, Miami
5. Stetson Allie, rhp/3b St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio
6. Austin Wilson, of Harvard-Westlake HS, Los Angeles
7. Kris Bryant, 3b Bonanza HS, Las Vegas
8. Nick Castellanos, 3b Archbishop McCarthy HS, SW Ranches, Fla.
9. Kevin Gausman, rhp Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo.
10. Josh Sale, of Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle
11. Chavez Clarke, of Marietta (Ga.) HS
12. Yordy Cabrera, ss/rhp Lakeland (Fla.) HS
13. Garin Cecchini, ss Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.
14. Dylan Covey, rhp Maranatha HS, Pasadena, Calif.
15. Stefan Sabol, c/of Aliso Niquel HS, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
16. Brian Ragira, of Martin HS, Arlington, Texas
17. Kaleb Cowart, 3b/rhp Cook HS, Adel, Ga.
18. Justin O'Conner, ss/rhp Cowan HS, Muncie, Ind.
19. Drew Cisco, rhp, Wando HS Mount Pleasant, S.C.
20. A.J. Vanegas, rhp Redwood Christian HS, San Lorenzo, Calif.
21. Cameron Bedrosian, rhp
East Coweta HS, Sharpsburg, Ga.
22. Robbie Aviles, rhp Suffern (N.Y.) HS
23. Aaron Sanchez, rhp Barstow (Calif.) HS
24. Michael Lorenzen, of/rhp Union HS, Fullerton, Calif.
25. Drew Vettleson, of/rhp/lhp Central Kitsap HS, Silverdale, Wash.