Projecting the Draft's top 10 picks
An early look at which players might go off the board first
The exercise of projecting the first round of the First-Year Player Draft, especially at this point, is reminiscent of that old game Mastermind.
In that family favorite, a player has to not only select the correct colored pegs but also put them in the same order that his or her opponent did.
Stretching that analogy, with this first crack at the top 10 picks of the Draft, the hope is to get the colors right. Getting the pegs in order, hopefully, will come as Draft Day approaches.
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 7-9 on MLB.com/Live. Round 1 and Compensation Round A will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, June 7, beginning with the Draft preview show at 6 p.m. ET. MLB.com will stream Rounds 2-30 on Tuesday at noon and Rounds 31-50 on Wednesday at noon.
It seems more and more likely that the No. 1 pick is the player everyone thought it would be: Bryce Harper. Until recently, it seemed that there were three players solidifying themselves as the next three on most Draft boards, but some rocky performances may have changed that.
With that in mind, here's an early look at what the top 10 might look like on June 7.
1. Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, C/OF, College of Southern Nevada
With a target on his back and the world watching, the 17-year-old had done pretty much everything expected of him, hitting .415/.504/.891 with 23 homers and 68 RBIs in 58 games and cementing himself as one of the better power-hitting prospects in memory. Will he catch? Will he play outfield? It might not matter with his bat.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS, Texas
It looked like Ole Miss lefty Drew Pomeranz could be a nice fit, but his struggles have him out of the picture. That likely leaves Taillon, the top prep arm in the class, and shortstop Manny Machado, the top prep position player. It could go either way, but we'll go with the Taillon and his front-of-the-rotation potential for now.
3. Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado, SS, Miami Brito HS, Florida
The O's are in a nice position to decide who to take based on what happens right above them, as it looks like the O's and Bucs like some of the same players. In this scenario, that means Machado, the big high school shortstop who's gotten some unfair comparisons to A-Rod. Of course, Baltimore's gone off the charts before (see Hobgood, Matt), so don't be shocked if they head in another direction.
4. Kansas City Royals: Yasmani Grandal, C, University of Miami
The Royals are looking at a large group of names and, unless Taillon happened to fall, they're all of the college variety. If they decide Grandal isn't for them, they could look at Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox, Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon, or even outfielders like Middle Tennessee State's Bryce Brentz or Texas-Arlington's Michael Choice. If it's an arm they like, Pomeranz could figure into the mix if he rights himself. Otherwise, it might be lefty Chris Sale from Florida Gulf Coast University, Georgia Tech ace Deck McGuire or even an outlier like the Citadel's Asher Wojciechowski.
5. Cleveland Indians: Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast University
Again, Pomeranz could possibly land here. Unlike him, however, Sale has done nothing but perform all year, albeit for a smaller program. Still, a 2.00 ERA, .214 batting average against, 128 K's and just 12 walks in 90 innings is nothing to sneeze at. He's not the physical guy some might be looking for, but he's beaten two ranked teams and pitched very well against the best in the Cape last summer. Cleveland has gone college bat in the past, and guys like Cox and Choice could be in the mix.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss
With his track record of success, it's hard to think the big lefty will go too much further. That could all change, of course, if he continues to struggle in his remaining starts. If that does occur, the D-backs could look at another college pitcher like McGuire or one of the aforementioned college bats.
7. New York Mets: Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State
There's been a lot of talk about the Mets and a college bat in this spot, and they've been scouting Brentz hard since he returned from his ankle injury. They'll likely take a long look at Grandal if the Royals don't take him, and perhaps Choice fits here. They also might take a look at some of the college arms who are still available at this slot.
8. Houston Astros: Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech
Last year's first-round pick was a high schooler, in Jiovanni Mier. Will they go that route again? There doesn't appear to be a bat from the prep ranks that fits here, unless they want to reach a bit for a Josh Sale or Delino DeShields Jr. If it's a high school arm they want, Ohio-area product Stetson Allie is generating some buzz, along with guys like Dylan Covey and Karsten Whitson. In the end, though, the consistent Friday starter from Tech might be what they need: a guy who can help out quickly.
9. San Diego Padres: Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State
With new people running things, from the top down, it's hard to know for certain what the Padres will do. While with the Red Sox, GM Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod were able to take the best available player and be very aggressive in terms of spending in the Draft. It's unclear what their parameters will be, but there's been talk of them looking at the group of college bats that have been mentioned. They do like Vitek and have worked him out in center field to see if that's a possibility.
10. Oakland A's: Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas
It's no longer possible to completely pigeon-hole the A's into being college-only, but more often than not, that's the direction they go early in the Draft. The last two years, that's meant a bat. And if they wanted to follow their trend by taking a middle infielder, Colon might be of interest. So would an outfielder like Choice. But Cox's approach at the plate, while perhaps not profiling perfect at third, might be right up Oakland's alley.
Next week: Picks 1-20
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.