1. Washington Nationals: This is now a no-brainer. Over the course of the spring, we've slowly gone from "Will they take Harper?" to "Will they sign Haper?" to "How much will they pay Harper?" He's going No. 1, and you could even end up seeing a creative deal that, on paper, gets him more than Stephen Strasburg received.
Pick: Bryce Harper, C/OF, College of Southern Nevada
2. Pittsburgh Pirates: What was once a race that involved several players, including some of the top college arms, looks like it's been whittled down to two. Prep right-hander Jameson Taillon is the best non-Harper player in the country, but the Pirates fear what his price tag might be, and as ironic as it might sound they prefer Scott Boras client Manny Machado. Machado is the best high school position player in the country, and he projects to hit for both average and power. The only knock against him is average speed and a body that will thicken up, likely leading to a position change down the road.
Pick: Manny Machado, SS, Brito Private HS (FL)
3. Baltimore Orioles: With a number of high-ceiling teenage power arms to pick from last year, the Orioles instead went the safe route by choosing Matt Hobgood with the fifth overall pick. They won't make the same mistake again. Taillon is a relative steal at No. 3 regardless of the price. Between his size (6-foot-7, 230 pounds), upper-90s fastball, and plus-plus power curve, he's the best high school arm scouts have seen in the last few years.
Pick: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX)
4. Kansas City Royals: It's a rare year when the top three talents in the draft actually go with the first three picks, and that leaves the Royals with the first tough decision. Nearly all of their focus has been on college talent, and it could come down to a coin flip between Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz. Sale has the edge on both of performance and scouting level, and his May 1 start against Clemson, when he struck out 10 over eight innings while giving up just four hits, eliminated concerns about his level of competition. This could go either way, still.
Pick: Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast
5. Cleveland Indians: The Indians are still working off a large list. After years of safe college choices, they were hoping to find some big upside with this pick, but nobody fitting that profile really makes sense here. One rumor gaining steam has them connected to high school righty Stetson Allie, a Cleveland-area product with better pure stuff than arguably anyone in the draft. However, an expected high price tag and extremely limited track record of success are scaring teams this high up more than they are being intrigued. Six weeks ago, Cleveland couldn't have dreamed of Pomeranz being available here, and they'll be happy to scoop him up.
Pick: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Mississippi
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Arizona has been focused on pitching all spring, specifically on the college type that can help quickly. Georgia Tech's Deck McGuire certainly fits that profile, but while he offers arguably more certainly than any pitcher in the draft, he doesn't rank high when it comes to upside. North Carolina's Matt Harvey has been surging up draft boards of late, and could land as high as No. 6 after looking like a mid-to-late first-round pick a month ago.
Pick: Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina
7. New York Mets: The Mets have been focused primarily on the college hitting class, with Michael Choice, Christian Colon, and Kolbrin Vitek all in play. Zach Cox might be best pure hitter in the entire draft, and if the Mets think he can become just acceptable at second base, his questionable power ceiling becomes less of an issue.
Pick: Zack Cox, 3B/2B, Arkansas
8. Houston Astros: Houston is focused on upside in the first round, but at the same time, the Astros wouldn't mind something that could help them a little quicker than your standard high-school toolshed. In a system with virtually no power, Choice offers a mature college bat with a huge power ceiling, as well as impressive right field tools that allow for some upside. He's the perfect fit here, but Houston still could end up tempted by a pure dream machine like high school outfielder Austin Wilson.
Pick: Michael Choice, OF, UT-Arlington
9. San Diego Padres: The Padres have no one focus other than adding talent, and that's a commendable approach. They're looking at college arms who might drop to them, college hitters like Cox, Choice and Vitek, and some of the top high school pitchers like Karsten Whitson. They're very high on Vitek, but the Ball State infielder did himself few favors with a poor showing at the Mid-American Conference tournament, and Florida high schooler Nick Castellanos has been surging up various draft boards. He's a big, athletic third baseman with hitting skills and plenty of power potential, and he offers more upside than Vitek, with a bat that earns consensus high grades that lets the Padres feel a bit more comfortable with the risk.
Pick: Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)
10. Oakland Athletics: Like San Diego, Oakland is a bit of a wild card without a specific focus, as it has been attached to players in every quadrant of the draft map except college pitching, with some late focus on high school catcher Justin O'Conner. Choice and Cox are the players they seem to most desire, but with them off the board, things get a bit complicated. Colon provides up-the-middle skills, a great performance record, and as a bonus, he added an impressive power aspect to his game this year. The A's proved last year that they will no longer shy away from Boras clients, and Colon could be their man.
Pick: Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Half of my sources think the Jays will make a big splash with this pick, and the other half think they'll play it safe and hope that one of the top college players slips to them. High school outfielder Josh Sale could actually go as high as No. 8 to Houston, and he's a backup choice for many teams between eight and 15. Some feel he's the best high school hitter in the draft, and he offers considerable raw power, but he's not an athlete and will likely be limited to left field. The Jays will also look at some high school arms here, but Sale could be too good to pass up.
Pick: Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchett HS (WA)
12. Cincinnati Reds: The Reds have been attached to Miami catcher Yasmini Grandal throughout the spring, but two things could stand in the way of the selection. Grandal shares the same agent with the Reds' 2008 first-round pick, Yonder Alonso, and that negotiation created more animosity than friendship. Further complicating matters is the recent development of Grandal floating a huge price tag that virtually no team thinks he is worth. By coincidence more than design, Cincinnati has had a focus on Midwest talent like Ohio State righty Alex Wimmers and Vitek, but the college arms left offer nothing more than third starter-level upside at best, while Vitek has teams waiting to put him in center field where his bat becomes even more valuable.
Pick: Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State
13. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox have been focused on college pitching all spring, and nothing has occurred to knock them off that position. Right-handers like Texas' Brandon Workman and The Citadel's Asher Wojciechowski have been in their sights over the past few months, but they probably didn't imagine McGuire falling to them. The Georgia Tech righty could go much higher, as he's the safest pitcher in the draft, but anything but an upside guy.
Pick: Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech
14. Milwaukee Brewers: The biggest wild card of the spring has been LSU right-hander Anthony Ranaudo. Seen by many as the top college arm entering the year, Ranaudo went into a tailspin following some elbow problems, leaving some to believe that he could fall completely out of the first round if a rich team in the 20s didn't take a chance on him. A strong showing in the SEC tournament has brought his stock back, and while his price tag is high, he could be a perfect fit here. Milwaukee is downright desperate for pitching help, and while the Scott Boras client won't come cheap, he could end up being a bargain similar to the Twins finding an injured Kyle Gibson available at No. 18 last year. If the team ends up uncomfortable with Ranaudo's health status, Workman could be the backup plan, and they'd love to see Harvey still on the board.
Pick: Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU
15. Texas Rangers: This pick is surrounded by a swirl of rumors, most of which revolve around the fact that the Rangers can't be too risky here, as this is the pick they received as compensation for not signing Matt Purke last year, and there is no second compensation for a pick like this. As opposed to going cheap, they'll instead look for someone who should sign quickly for slot. The Rangers have a longstanding affinity for big power pitchers, and Wojchiechowski is just that, consistently getting into the mid-90s all spring. Indiana high school catcher Justin O'Conner could also be in the mix here.
Pick: Asher Wojchiechowski, RHP, The Citadel
16. Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are very hard to predict, as some rumors have them focusing on tooly upside high school talent like Allie and O'Conner, but there's also pressure from above to get something that can help quickly. After McGuire, Wimmers is arguably the most polished college arm, and his plus fastball, average curve, and plus-plus change is a combination that could rocket through the minors.
Pick: Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State
17. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays love athletes and upside, and with a system so rich in talent, they can afford to take some risks here. While some of the top college talent still on the board will be tempting, after losing LeVon Washington in last year's draft, they'll look to make up for it here. While this choice is going to require extra money, and he's a classic high-risk/high-reward type, nobody in this draft can match Wilson's combination of size and athleticism.
Pick: Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard Westlake HS (CA)
18. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Mike Trout looks like the pick of the 2009 draft, and while the Angels are kicking the tires of some college talent like Bryce Brentz and Brent Eibner, they've traditionally gone the high school route, with a focus on upside. Allie has better raw stuff than anyone in this draft, even Taillon, as he's been consistently touching 98-99 mph with his fastball and showcasing a wipeout upper-80s slider. He comes with huge risk, as he's only been throwing strikes for about six weeks, and has a huge price tag, as he's represented by the Hendricks Brothers and has a college commitment to North Carolina.
Pick: Stetson Allie, RHP, St. Edward HS (OH)
19. Houston Astros: The Astros are still going to be looking at tools at No. 19, and would be thrilled to make a run at Wilson if he falls to them, but they also could hedge their bet with a high-upside young arm who is a bit more affordable. After Taillon, Whitson has sperated himself from the rest of the pack for some due to a combination of right now velocity and a body that screams projection.
Pick: Karston Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (FL)
20. Boston Red Sox: With Grandal floating the big price tag, he becomes a big wild card this late. The Mets at No. 7 had shown some interest, but they're unlikely to spend big, and while teams like the Reds (12), Brewers (14), and Rays (17) could call the bluff, the Red Sox just make too much sense here, especially with Ranaudo off the board. While they won't meet Grandal's initial price, they will go over slot, and they've been a fan for years, drafting him out of high school three years ago.
Pick: Yasmini Grandal, C, Miami
21. Minnesota Twins: The Twins have been on Wimmers all spring, as well as college arms like Workman and Eibner, but they're known for their first-round surprises as well, and we could be in line for another one on Monday. Right in the Twins' backyard, Mike Kvasnicka has a ton of helium going into the draft as a switch-hitting catcher with power, patience and good athleticism, and you could see the Twins move him to the outfield with Joe Mauer signed long term. They also drafted Kvasnicka's father 22 years ago, and if they pass, he won't last much longer.
Pick: Mike Kvasnicka, OF/C, Minnesota
22. Texas Rangers: The Rangers have been looking at a number of catchers in the draft, and might be looking at Canada's Kellin Deglan for their cost-control pick at No. 15. If that doesn't happen, they'll be thrilled to see O'Conner still around this late. He might have the best catcher's arm in the minors the second he signs, and while there are some big holes in his swing, his raw power is equally large as far as worthy consideration.
Pick: Justin O'Conner, C, Cowan HS (IN)
23. Florida Marlins: While the Marlins have interest in plenty of college talent, in particular Brentz, an outfielder from Middle Tennessee State, their history of focusing on high school picks with upside still plays a factor here. Right-hander A.J. Cole is in their home state, getting into the mid-90s at times, and just as importantly, seemingly getting better throughout the spring. They'll need to gauge his signabilitiy before they're comfortable with the selection, however, and another Florida prep player, slugger Yordy Cabrera, could be a factor here.
Pick: A.J. Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL)
24. San Francisco Giants: The Giants are notoriously difficult to pin down, but they seem to be focusing on offense. Brentz has a few possible landing spots in the late teens, but in this scenario, he falls a bit. Teams love his power, but some question his ability to translate it to wood, because at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds he hardly has the classic power hitter's size, and his approach could use some improvement.
Pick: Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State
25. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals will be in "best available player" mode, but they also tend to have a tinge of conservatism in their selections. Eibner, Arkansas' two-way star, has created some confusion for teams, as they prefer him as a pitcher, but he's an excellent outfielder, and might want to start his career as an everyday player. Either way, he's a first-round selection.
Pick: Brett Eibner, OF/RHP, Arkansas
26. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies love to wait and see what falls in their lap, and this year, it could be Dylan Covey. Earlier, Covey was attached to picks as high as No. 9 (San Diego) and No. 10 (Oakland), but some rough late outings has him slipping in the draft. He could be another steal here.
Pick: Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (CA)
27. Philadelphia Phillies: Phillies = tools, right? That seems to always be the case, and this year is no different. If there's a player with big tools, he's been linked to this pick at some point. Georgia high school star Kaleb Cowart fits the bill as good as any of them. He's a first-round talent as either a third baseman with power and speed, or a righty with 91-94 mph heat and a plus curveball, which speaks to how special an athlete he is.
Pick: Kaleb Cowart, 3B/RHP, Cook County HS (GA)
28. Los Angeles Dodgers: The financial instability with the Dodgers' ownership means the team will play it exceptionally safe with this pick, looking for someone they are sure will sign for slot with little hassle. With those limitations, the Dodgers are thinking safe talent-wise as well, looking at a number of college talents. Workman projects as a reliever for many due to his mechanics and a fringy changeup, but his fastball and curve are both easy plus pitches, and could get him through the minors in short order.
Pick: Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas
29. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: After focusing on hitting with their multiple first-round picks in 2009, they Angels have their sights on the mound, and they're certainly not afraid to take risks. He's no Allie, but Ryne Stanek shocked the world by consistently touching 96 mph this spring after sitting in the upper 80s with his heat a year ago, and scouts love his upside but are still a bit leery of his track record and lack of secondary pitches.
Pick: Ryne Stanek, RHP, Blue Valley HS (KS)
30. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: With two big-velo/high-risk high school arms already selected, the Angels will go a bit more conservative with their third first-round pick, but still seem to be completely focused on pitchers. A safe pick could be University of San Diego lefty Sammy Solis, who had a successful return after missing nearly all of 2009 with back problems. He'll never light up a radar gun, but he has fringe-plus velocity for a southpaw, one of the better changeups in the draft, and is a highly advanced product who just knows how to pitch.
Pick: Sammy Solis, LHP, San Diego
31. Tampa Bay Rays: If the Rays go big at No. 17, they could end up playing it safe with their second first-round selection. Deglan has been rumored in many first-round slots as a pre-draft deal for some of the more conservative selections, but he's still a premium talent with athleticism, a plus arm, and good power potential. If he doesn't go here, it's unlikely he'll get past No. 34, where the Blue Jays would love to add a Canadian player to the mix.
32. New York Yankees: The Yankees are happy to go over slot here if something falls in their lap, but that's unlikely. They'll look at plenty of high school players with leverage and signability issues, but one college player that could enter the mix is Gary Brown. The Boras client missed the end of the season with a broken finger, but he might be the fastest player in the draft while also offering size, strength, and outstanding defense. The fact the he rarely walks (or strikes out) concern some, but for others he's a bigger, stronger version of Brett Gardner.
Pick: Gary Brown, OF, Cal State Fullerton
Dart Throws for the Teams Without First-Round Picks
35. Atlanta Braves: The Braves like to go with local talent, usually of the high school variety, but they need some infielders who can help an aging team quickly. Their Chipper Jones replacement might just be in their back yard.
Pick: Derek Dietrich, SS/3B, Georgia Tech
43. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners are desperate to add some power to their system, and with no first-round pick, they could be willing to spend a little extra here. Kyle Parker will need some additional cash to buy him out of football (he's Clemson's starting quarterback) and even though he is a bat-only player, the raw power is tremendous.
Pick: Kyle Parker, OF, Clemson
44. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers love big guys who throw hard, and they're reportedly intrigued by Zach Lee, a Texas high school righty who is considered by many to be undraftable due to strong commitment to play football at LSU. They could be interested in Stanek as well if he's here, but an intriguing selection could be Toronto's unsigned pick from last year, James Paxton. He's big, he throws hard, he's left-handed to boot, and the Tigers aren't afraid to negotiate with Boras.
Pick: James Paxton, LHP, Grand Prarie (Independent)
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