May 29, 2012
Top 30 Draft Prospects: Part One
To be clear, this is a talent ranking based on numerous conversations with a wide variety of scouts and team officials. This is not a mock draft; this is simply how I would line up the magnets on the board based on what I know. I don't think this will be the order in which the players will be selected, as bonus demands, risk (or safety) and obviously a team's own scouting reports will certainly change everything, and the biggest wild card is still how the new rules will affect how picks come off the board.
1. Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (PR)
Who he is: A big athletic shortstop with remarkable presence at the plate, quick hands, outstanding bat control and the potential for plus power. He's a plus runner who is graceful in the field and has one of the best infielder arms in the draft. The only concern is with his size, as he’s already 6-foot-3 and approaching 200 pounds, but he has more than enough ability to be a star at third base as well, and one scout believes he'd actually get to the big leagues quicker at that position. It's important to note that he is only 17, and multiple teams have cited Rany Jazayerli's draft/age study as entering into their evaluations this year.
Draft skinny: Correa has been inching his way up draft boards all spring, and while it's unlikely he'll go number one, he's at least in Houston's mix. Once seen as a prime target for the Cubs at No. 6 overall, now many teams don't think he'll last that long.
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Who he is: Among the best high school righties in recent memory, as he has everything scouts look for. He's 6-foot-6 with long levers, throws in the mid-to-upper 90s while touching 100, and he's much more than just a pure arm, as many teams also saw his power curveball as one of if not the best breaking ball in the draft. He also has an advanced changeup for his age.
Draft skinny: Giolito is the biggest enigma in the draft after an elbow injury shut him down in March. While there is no structural damage, he's only to the point of throwing off flat ground, and his UCLA commitment is considered stronger than ever because he had a chance to be the first high school right-hander ever taken at No. 1 overall before the injury, and teams assumed he'll still want to be paid like one. If he goes in the top five picks, I will not be shocked. If nobody touches him in the first round due to signability fears, I will not be surprised.
3. Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (GA)
Who he is: The best all-around athlete in the draft. He's a plus-plus (or more) runner who projects to steal plenty of bases and cover a ton of ground in center field to go with a rocket for an arm. He has fantastic bat speed, but reviews on his power are wide-ranging. To believe he'll be a home run hitter right now requires significant projection, but while many are convinced it's in him, others wonder how that can be when he's not showing it against sub-par competition in rural Georgia.
Draft skinny: Power or no, it's hard to match Buxton's tools and upside. He's firmly in the mix for Houston at No. 1, and it would be surprising for the Twins to pass him up at No. 2.
4. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
Who he is: There are three big college arms in this draft, and Appel is generally seen as the best. He certainly passes the sniff test, due to a 6-foot-5 power frame and a 93-95 mph fastball that can touch 98. His breaking ball is a bit of a hybrid, but is effective and misses plenty of bats, and his changeup is average. He's excellent, but for some, he lacks the wow factor of a potential 1-1 pick. One scout commented, “The parts are greater than the sum,” as he can be surprisingly hittable at times.
Draft skinny: Currently the favorite to go No. 1 to Houston, but not yet a lock. He should get through the minors quickly, but he's also the top prospect being advised by Scott Boras, and teams are unsure as to what those negotiations will be like under the new rules.
5. Kyle Zimmer RHP, San Francisco
Who he is: There are many teams who have Zimmer ahead of Appel on their boards. He has size and extreme athleticism for a pitcher, along with plus command and control of a bigtime fastball that consistently touches the upper 90s while touching 98-99 mph. His curveball is a plus pitch, and while his changeup needs consistency, it has potential. With two dominant offerings in a non-elite conference, he's been able to blow hitters away, and will need to learn how to sequence as a pro.
Draft skinny: Zimmer could go as high as No. 2 overall to Minnesota, and it's hard to see him falling out of the top five picks.