1) Houston Astros- Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
For all the talk of Appel slipping out of the top spot, we offer this: everyone was picking on Gerrit Cole this time last season for under-performing, and the draft “geniuses” had the Pirates going in another direction. To their credit, Pittsburgh tuned out the critics and went after their guy. Houston will do the same.
2) Minnesota Twins- Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State
This works out for Minnesota, who would probably prefer Gausman to Appel anyways.
3) Seattle Mariners- Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (GA)
Despite each team’s hesitancy to draft a HS outfielder, especially with the recent track records of Donovan Tate and Aaron Hicks, there’s no way Buxton slips past Seattle at three.
4) Baltimore Orioles- Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco
The O’s need position players, but they have enough young position talent at the big-league level to continue to bolster their rotation. Zimmer could hold the number one spot until Dylan Bundy arrives, and then he’ll slot in nicely as a number two.
5) Kansas City Royals- Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke
Probably too high for a small-frame pitcher who has only one season of starting under his belt, but this is what the Tim Lincecum-effect has done. Stroman has electric stuff and could be a number two.
6) Chicago Cubs- Mike Zunino, C, Florida Gators
Pittsburgh (Tony Sanchez), Baltimore (Matt Wieters) and even Houston (Jason Castro) began their rebuilding process with a franchise catcher. So it begins in Chicago.
7) San Diego Padres- Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana HS (LA)
The Padres went off the board last year for Cory Spangenberg and they have to be pleased with his start. Trahan is a unique player who would give the Padres a true offensive force at catcher.
8) Pittsburgh Pirates- Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy
The Pirates will be gunning for one of the top shortstop prospects, be it Deven Marrero, Gavin Cecchini or Correa, who has drawn some pretty impressive comparisons.
9) Miami Marlins- Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
The Marlins tend to favor high schoolers, and Fried likely has the highest ceiling of any HS pitcher not named Lucas Giolito. Fortunately, he doesn’t have Giolito’s injury scare.
10) Colorado Rockies- Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (FL)
Almora has drawn comps to a young Carlos Beltran. His power-speed combo will appear to many teams in the top ten, and there’s very little chance he slips past Colorado.
11) Oakland Athletics- David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (AL)
Dahl hasn’t had the most impressive spring, but you can’t question his tools. The A’s tend to be more about results than potential, hence their tendency towards college players, but Dahl’s ceiling is so high they’ll make an exception.
12) New York Mets- Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
In Marrero, the Mets can find a beautiful merger of need and best-player-available. If he can figure things out at the plate, he could be a perennial All-Star, in addition to all the Gold Gloves he’s likely to take home.
13) Chicago White Sox- Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
The massive under-performance of the big-league club has masked the inadequacies of Chicago’s farm system, which is without a doubt one of the worst in baseball. Adding Wacha would give them a nice boost, although they’re going to need to go cheap enough to add more talent in later rounds.
14) Cincinnati Reds- Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS (TX)
Hawkins has been the darling of the 2012 season, rocketing from two-way player to first-round stud. His bat oozes power and his arm strength is a plus-plus tool.
15) Cleveland Indians- Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State
The Indians had luck with a college lefty a few years ago in Drew Pomeranz, but they erred in dealing him away to Colorado. Heaney doesn’t have as high a ceiling, but he should be a solid mid-rotation starter.
16) Washington Nationals- Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Giolito has arguably the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft class, but concerns about his injured arm as well as the throwing motion and high velocity that caused the ailment, will cause him to slide on draft day. Washington has the stones to go hard after Giolito, who very well may choose to head to UCLA.
17) Toronto Blue Jays- Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (LA)
Cecchini is the most well-rounded shortstop in this year’s crop, offering above-average defense and a quick bat. Toronto values HS talent more than most organizations and Cecchini could be a perfect fit.
18) Los Angeles Dodgers- Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
The Dodgers went cheap last year, but with new management they’ll return to their drafting ways of old, and that means Stratton, a four-pitch right-hander who could reach the majors faster than most from this class.
19) St. Louis Cardinals (for Pujols)- Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern
The Cards have been undyingly loyal to the college ranks. Beck is the top college arm left on the board and could be a big-time steal after showing three offerings with above-average potential before the season.
20) San Francisco Giants- Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit Prep (FL)
The Giants have quietly built one of the finest pitching development systems in baseball, so who better to take a chance on McCullers, a guy who might not be able to stick in the rotation without proper development.
21) Atlanta Braves- Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook
Jankowski has had a phenomenal spring, showing two plus tools (hit and speed). He could give the Braves a dynamic top-of-the-order presence they’ve previously been lacking before this year and the addition of Michael Bourn.
22) Toronto Blue Jays (for Beede)- Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo HS (CA)
The Jays love projectable lefties from the HS ranks, and aside from Fried, Virant is the best. He offers to plus pitches with a chance for a third.
23) St. Louis Cardinals- Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M
The Cards struck gold with Kolten Wong in 2011, arguably the most seasoned hitter from the college crop. Naquin fits that same profile and features another plus tool in his arm strength.
24) Boston Red Sox- Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
The Sox have been trending more towards the HS class the past few years. Weickel would be a steal this late, as reports of his less than inspiring spring have been widely exaggerated.
25) Tampa Bay Rays- Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)
Few from the HS class can offer better sustained velocity than Travieso. The Rays are the perfect organization to hone the rest of his repertoire.
26) Arizona Diamondbacks- Zach Elfin, RHP, Hagerty HS (FL)
The D-Backs have put together the finest collection of pitching talent in quite some time. Elfin would be icing on the cake.
27) Milwaukee Brewers (for Fielder)- Richie Shaffer, 1B, Clemson
He doesn’t offer Fielder’s power, but Shaffer is a solid all-around first baseman who offers power and good defense.
28) Milwaukee Brewers- Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe HS (OK)
Hensley is the pride and joy of Oklahoma’s 2012 class, and while he’s not of the same caliber as Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley, he’s a better talent than Michael Fulmer, who went in the compensation round last June.
29) Texas Rangers- Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon HS (OH)
The Rangers love them some lefty pitching, and Smoral represents a giant risk with a gigantic ceiling.
30) New York Yankees- Joey Gallo, 1B, Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
The Yankees struck gold with last year’s top pure prep hitter, Dante Bichette Jr., and would be wise to do so again with Gallo.
31) Boston Red Sox (for Papelbon)- Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (FL)
Xander Bogaerts is headed to third base long term and the Sox don’t have a shortstop with a bat as good as Russell’s. He offers value and fits a need.