Our final mock draft looks startlingly similar to the previous, and for good reason. There’s no reason to doubt any of the predicted picks. Only the top three-to-five picks seem truly predictable, so after that it’s anyone’s guess.
1) Houston Astros- Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
Much like last year’s top selection, there’s simply no reason to risk taking anyone other than Appel. The Astros seem to prefer him to the other college arms, and see him as the “MVP caliber player” that GM Jeff Luhnow seeks.
2) Minnesota Twins- Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (GA)
In any other year, Buxton would, and should be the number one pick. The Astros, however, want an immediate impact, which means the Twins likely scoop up the top overall player, and the one with the highest ceiling.
3) Seattle Mariners- Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy
The Mariners pulled a fast one last year, and with everyone predicting them to select Mike Zunino, we’re guessing they do it again. Correa has a higher ceiling than Zunino.
4) Baltimore Orioles- Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State
The O’s are seemingly interested in four players: Max Fried, Kyle Zimmer, Carlos Correa and Gausman, who has put forth the best performance this season. He has gotten better each season since he was drafted back in 2010, and could be just the player to slot behind Dylan Bundy in the rotation.
5) Kansas City Royals- Mike Zunino, C, Florida
Word on the street is that the Royals also want a college pitcher, and Zimmer is the best available, but there’s no way they could have predicted that Zunino would fall to them. He’s a better option than anyone in their system.
6) Chicago Cubs- Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (FL)
Almora to the Cubs seems to be as sure-fire a selection as there is in the top ten. The Cubs have few franchise type players and Almora would give them one of the highest ceilings in this draft.
7) San Diego Padres- Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Who would have thunk this earlier in the season that Fried would have been selected before his teammate Lucas Giolito, but that’s the reality we face heading into the final hours before the draft. He wasn’t as consistent as teams would have liked to see this spring, but he still has the chance for three above-average pitches, making him the top high school arm in this class.
8) Pittsburgh Pirates- Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco
Zimmer was once upon a time considered with the number one overall pick, and now might find himself as the one player sliding down the first-round if the picks above unfold like we predict. The Pirates would gladly scoop him up if he falls this far.
9) Miami Marlins- Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
The Marlins would have loved to have a chance at Zimmer, but getting Stratton is a nice consolation prize. He has four pitches that grade out as at least average, and could be one of the top surprises from this class.
10) Colorado Rockies- Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS (TX)
Hawkins to the Rockies seems to be a solid lock, and a a perfect meeting of minds. Hawkins is all about power, with his bat and his arm, and the Rockies love nothing more.
11) Oakland Athletics- Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
The A’s love college players, and in Wacha they get the best remaining college arm. There have been doubts about his breaking ball, but he’s had no problems this season.
12) New York Mets- Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (LA)
It seems to be a lock for the Mets to go the high school route and there’s no doubt they could use a shortstop to replace Jose Reyes. Cecchini will take some seasoning, but it will be worth it if his bat is real.
13) Chicago White Sox- Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State
The Sox would love a player they could rush to the Majors quickly, and Heaney has as much polish as any of the top college arms. He could reach the big leagues this season as a reliever, and maybe at the end of next year as a starter.
14) Cincinnati Reds- Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
The Reds picked Marrero once, and will likely do so again if he’s still available, which he should be after another disappointing season at the plate. Luckily he has elite defensive skills to offset his offensive shortcomings.
15) Cleveland Indians- Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke
The run on college pitching continues with Stroman, another player who should be quick to the Majors. The Indians could rush him to Cleveland if they’re still in contention come August.
16) Washington Nationals- Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
The Nats would also prefer a college arm, but all of the top ones are gone, leaving them looking at Giolito, who could have the highest ceiling of any player in this class.
17) Toronto Blue Jays- David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (AL)
The Jays would love to go after one of the top pitchers, but Dahl unexpectedly slides out of the top ten, and then tumbles down to pick 17. He has impressive tools, but lacks the polish of Buxton.
18) Los Angeles Dodgers- Joey Gallo, 1B/3B, Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
The Dodgers have scouted Gallo heavily, and could use his bat at either position, first or third.
19) St. Louis Cardinals (for Pujols)- Richie Shaffer, 1B/3B, Clemson
The Cards are loyal to the college ranks, and for the third consecutive season pick up arguably the top college hitter. Shaffer has more power in his bat than he’s shown in college and could be a cornerstone player at first or third.
20) San Francisco Giants- Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe HS (OK)
An absolute beast, Hensley has massive potential. He has a great fastball, a solid breaking ball and a promising changeup. He comes from great lineage (his father Mike pitched nearly a decade in the minors) and a state with a solid recent track record.
21) Atlanta Braves- D.J. Davis, OF, Stone HS (MS)
In Davis, the Braves get an heir apparent to Michael Bourn atop the lineup. Davis has Bourn’s tools, including elite speed and solid small-ball hitting ability.
22) Toronto Blue Jays (for Beede)- Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Cabarrus HS (WA)
The Jays have made public their intentions to go after some hitters early, and Seager is one of the best left on the board. Getting Dahl and Seager could be a major coup.
23) St. Louis Cardinals- Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M
Pairing Naquin with Shaffer gives the Cards two of the top collegiate players in terms of performance. That path has faired well for them with both Zack Cox and Kolten Wong, their top picks from the past two seasons. Both should be relatively quick to the Majors.
24) Boston Red Sox- Alex Wood, LHP, Georgia
Wood could sneak into the first-round based on his impressive performance in 2012. He appears to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery two years ago and looks better than ever.
25) Tampa Bay Rays- Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)
The Rays love high school picks, moreso than nearly every other team in the A.L., and in Travieso they also get a Floridian, which they are usually keen on. Travieso has arguably the best velocity of any pitcher not named Giolito.
26) Arizona Diamondbacks- Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook
Jankowski has had a phenomenal season, racking up steals (34), hits (.411 average) and showing sterling defense in centerfield. He guided Stony Brook through a tough regional matchup and nearly has them in the super-regionals.
27) Milwaukee Brewers (for Fielder)- Lewis Brinson, OF, Coral Gables HS (FL)
The Brewers scout Florida well, and could find a gem in Brinson, whose tools are explosive and whose flaws could be corrected with the proper development.
28) Milwaukee Brewers- Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (FL)
Russell has the best power of any shortstop not named Carlos Correa, and his improved defensive play in 2012 has him ticketed for the first-round.
29) Texas Rangers- Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo HS (CA)
The Rangers will take a long look at a couple of high school arms, including Mitchell Traver and Matt Smora, but Virant’s polish sets him apart, making him their top choice.
30) New York Yankees- Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
Weickel’s stock has dropped dramatically since the beginning of the 2012 season, and now it seems likely that he won’t even be selected in the first-round. The Yankees could find a nice meeting of price and talent here with the second to last pick in the draft.
31) Boston Red Sox (for Papelbon)- Ty Buttrey, RHP, Providence HS (NC)
Buttrey has also experienced a drop in stock due to a decrease in his velocity and the less than impressive improvement of his curveball. He’s still a high-ceiling guy and he’ll sign for what the Sox have to spend.