05/17/12 10:00 AM ET
Mock Draft: Projecting the first 10 picks
Appel, Buxton, Zunino currently look like top three selections
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
While MLB.com's Top 100 Draft prospects list has been live for some time, that's a ranking based on talent. Now, it's time to try to figure out who is going to go where in the first round. Starting with the first 10 picks, then increasing by 10 each week to get to a full first-round projection in the week prior to the Draft, here is a projection of how those selections might go on the big first night.
The annual Draft takes place this year on June 4-6, beginning with the first round and Compensation Round A on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. ET. The first night of the event will be broadcast live on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com. Rounds 2-40 will also be streamed live on MLB.com on June 5-6.
MLB.com's coverage, sponsored by CenturyLink, will include: Draft Central; the Top 100 Draft Prospects list; Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player; and the Draft itself. You also can keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. Get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Projections always light up the Twitterverse, and here's hoping this first crack at the top 10 is no different.
1. Houston Astros: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
By no means a slam dunk, Appel is one of five apparent candidates for the top overall pick, along with fellow college pitchers Kevin Gausman and Kyle Zimmer, college catcher Mike Zunino and high school outfielder Byron Buxton. Appel has Houston roots, and while there's been some inconsistencies, he has the stuff to get to the big leagues quickly and eventually front a rotation.
2. Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (Ga.)
The last time the Twins went the high school route, it was for toolsy outfielder Aaron Hicks in 2008. Assuming Buxton, whose skill set has drawn comparisons to the Upton brothers, doesn't go to the Astros, he could be too tough for Minnesota to pass up.
3. Seattle Mariners: Mike Zunino, C, Florida
Most of the talk surrounding the Mariners has involved hitters, and Zunino is the best advanced hitter in the class. He also will stick behind the plate, meaning Jesus Montero could focus more on hitting and less on catching in the near future. If the Mariners shift gears and decide to add to their pitching depth, one of the college pitchers named above could come into play.
4. Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State
There's a new general manager and new scouting director in Baltimore, so it's more difficult to predict what the Orioles will do based on their history. Any of the players associated with the Astros could come into play and they could take whomever they think is the best college pitcher available, with Appel, Gausman or Zimmer being the choices.
5. Kansas City Royals: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco
The Royals appear to be honing in on pitching, and going the advanced college route makes the most sense. They like Zimmer and his four-pitch mix quite a bit. But if he goes in the first four picks, they'd certainly look at Appel or Gausman should either still be available.
6. Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (Fla.)
With Theo Epstein and company now running the show, it will be interesting to see in what direction the Cubs go. There's been talk about high-end high school hitters. Assuming Buxton is gone, that leaves Almora, a heady yet toolsy outfielder from the Miami area, or Carlos Correa, a high school shortstop from Puerto Rico.
7. San Diego Padres: Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Scouts from other teams have been talking about Correa and Almora quite a bit, with Correa impressing many decision-makers in a recent tournament in Puerto Rico. If he goes one spot ahead, then Almora could be the choice here. The Padres could also switch gears and look at college pitchers like Marcus Stroman or Michael Wacha.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates: Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
Marrero has struggled offensively this spring, but he has hit more consistently in the past. He can also flat-out play shortstop, and draftees who can stay at that premium position aren't abundant. The Pirates have drafted a lot of pitching in the past, so they could look at the college arms listed above or perhaps high school lefty Max Fried.
9. Miami Marlins: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS (Texas)
The Marlins don't shy away from taking high school hitters and they wouldn't mind if Almora were to get to them. Another choice could be Alabama prep outfielder David Dahl. But the Marlins' decision-makers have been watching Hawkins and his plus raw power very closely.
10. Colorado Rockies: Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, (Calif.)
The Rockies could be in on a number of the high school hitters projected to go in the top 10, and there's also been talk of their interest in a college hitter like Clemson's Richie Shaffer or a college pitcher like Wacha (if none of the other advanced pitchers named above are available). But they haven't been afraid to go for pitching in the first round, and Fried should be there after a couple of shaky outings that perhaps has taken him out of consideration for the top nine.