mlb mock draft

The first round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft is scheduled to start on June 6th, but it’s not too early to start looking at some of the players that may be targeted by each team.  The MLB draft doesn’t nearly the publicity of the NFL or NBA drafts.  This is for several reasons.

Very rarely do you see a Major League draft pick play in the big leagues in his first few years after being drafted. There are several layers to the Minor Leagues, and most players must prove that they are ready to move on from each.  Most drafted players start in the Rookie League.  Once players have proved themselves they may move to Class A-Short Season ball, Class A-Advanced or simply Class A.  From here players move to Double A, and finally Triple A, which is the last stop before the Majors.  A lot of players taken in the first round won’t reach the Major league team, and the draft loses a lot of it’s draw because there can be a long wait for a star player to work his way up.

Another reason the MLB draft isn’t as popular is that many of the picks come straight out of high school, meaning they aren’t as well known as say a star college football player.  Even those players who do come out of college aren’t well-known to the casual baseball fan because college baseball just isn’t that popular.

The draft also suffers because, unlike the NFL or NBA, many players don’t end up signing with the team that drafts them.  This is especially common for high school players who would rather go to college and try to improve their draft stock instead of grinding it out in the Minors for several years.

With all of that being said, we still wanted to look at some of the best prospects in this year’s draft class and see where they might best fit on a Major League team.

Update (5/28/2013) – Oklahoma junior right-handed pitcher Jonathan Gray has declared for the draft since this article was originally written.  He will likely go first or second overall, moving many of these picks around.  My best guess is that Jonathan Crawford will get bumped out of the top ten, while most of the rest of the picks will simply move down one spot after Gray is selected.

No. 1 Pick – Houston Astros

Mark Appel, RHP (Stanford) – It will be hard for the Astros to pass on Appel with the first overall pick.  He’s the most MLB-ready pitcher in the draft, whose throws in the upper 90s, has a great slider and strong change up as his setup pitch.

No. 2 Pick – Chicago Cubs

Austin Meadows, OF (Grayson HS) – If Meadows doesn’t get snagged by the Astros at number one overall, the Cubs should grab him here.  He has a great arm, good speed for a guy his size (6′-“4, 200 lbs.) and hits to all fields.  The Cubs have a lot of needs, but Meadows could easily be a future star in Chicago.

No. 3 Pick – Colorado Rockies

Ryne Stanek, RHP (Arkansas) – This righty out of Arkansas has the best slider in the draft to go along with a mid-90s fastball.  The Rockies are in desperate need of a top-of-the-rotation starter and Stanek has all of the markings to be just that.

No. 4 Pick – Minnesota Twins

Kris Bryant, 3B/1B (San Diego) – Bryant is probably the best offensive player in the draft.  The Twins really need help everywhere, but he can play 1B, 3B or OF and hits with power.  Minnesota will easily find a place for him in the lineup.

No. 5 Pick – Cleveland Indians

Sean Manaea, LHP (Indiana State) – Manaea is a bit raw, but has shown flashes of greatness and has a large frame (6’5”, 215 lbs.) that scouts think will fill out even more in his mid 20s.  He throws consistently in the low 90s and has a wicked slider that, once he learns to control it, will be a big-league strikeout pitch.

No. 6 Pick – Miami Marlins

Clint Frazier, OF (Loganville HS) - The Marlins have been pretty good at stock-piling young talent in the past and Frazier fits the bill perfectly.  He’s a five-tool player with a rocket arm and tremendous bat speed.  He has verbally committed to Georgia, but might be worth the Marlins’ 6th overall pick.

No. 7 Pick – Boston Red Sox

Bobby Wahl, RHP (Ole Miss) – Has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Red Sox in the near future.  Throws his fastball in the high 90s, has a good change up and a great slider.  The Red Sox will likely be rebuilding for the next few years and Wahl may end up being a big part of their future.

No. 8 Pick – Kansas City Royals

Austin Wilson, OF (Stanford) – The Royals have built quite a farm system over the last few years and Austin Wilson has the potential to be another great part of it.  He has a huge upside, particularly in the power department behind the plate.  The Royals have been missing a true big bat in their lineup for some time now and Wilson could definitely fill that need.

No. 9 Pick – Pittsburgh Pirates

Jonathon Crawford, RHP (Florida) – The Pirates received this selection because they were unable to sign Appel in the first round of last year’s draft, but they ended up with what looks like a good pick in Gerrit Cole anyway.  My guess is they’ll continue building their staff of the future and Crawford is one of the most polished pitchers in the draft.  He has a plus slider and throws a low 90s fastball with movement.  He’ll likely need to develop at least another pitch at the Major League level, but he has a ton of potential.

No. 10 Pick – Toronto Blue Jays

Ian Clarkin, LHP (James Madison HS) – Clarkin would be a great addition to the Blue Jays farm system as he might have the most upside of any lefty starter in the draft.  He has a deceptive delivery to go along with a low-90s fastball and a nasty curve.

No. 11 Pick – New York Mets

Ryan Boldt, OF (Red Wing HS) – The Mets have youth in the outfield, but not a ton of talent.  Boldt could be their center fielder and lead-off man of the future with his speed and patience at the plate.

No. 12 Pick – Seattle Mariners

J.P. Crawford, SS (Lakewood HS) – Seattle needs a top of the lineup hitter, as well as a long-term solution at short.  It may be a few years, but Crawford is the best shortstop prospect in the draft by a mile.  The big issue here is that the Mariners may not be willing to take a chance on him as he is still undecided between heading to the pros or playing at USC for a few years before making a decision.

No. 13 Pick – San Diego Padres

Clinton Hollon, RHP (Woodford County HS) – The Padres are another team with a lot of needs, but good pitching can hide a lot of flaws.  Hollon is young, but he’s made impressive improvements over the last few years and should develop into a solid starter at the Major League level.  He has verbally committed to Kentucky to play ball, but if he goes this high in the draft he may have no choice but to sign with San Diego.

No. 14 Pick – Pittsburgh Pirates

Dominic Smith, OF/1B (Serra HS) – Smith will probably end up playing first base at the next level and he has all of the makings of a great hitter.  Reminds me a lot of Adrain Gonzalez with his ability to hit for average and power.

No. 15 Pick – Arizona Diamondbacks

Colin Moran, 3B/1B (North Carolina) – Moran may not be here, but if he is I have to think the Diamondback will snag him.  He’s a good defender and a natural hitter.  He has a thin build but at 6′-4” has room to fill out and develop power.

No. 16 Pick – Philadelphia Phillies

Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (Cathedral Catholic HS) – The Phillies aren’t getting any younger, particularly in their rotation, so adding some great potential to their farm system now would be wise.  Gonsalves is a hard-throwing lefty with a sinking fastball and developing curve.  He is someone the Phillies can mold for the future.

No. 17 Pick – Milwaukee Brewers

Jordan Sheffield, RHP (Tullahoma HS) – Sheffield has developed three very strong pitches – fastball, slider, power curve – and is quite polished for a kid out of high school, but he has technically already committed to Vanderbilt, so it’s possible the Brewers will pass on him here.

No. 18 Pick – Chicago White Sox

Zack Collins, C/1B (American Heritage HS) – This would be a bit of a reach for the White Sox, but I think Collins would fit well with the organization.  He’s a power-hitting lefty who could become their first baseman of the future.

No. 19 Pick – Los Angeles Dodgers

Cavan Biggio, 2B (St. Thomas HS) - Former Astros’ 2B Craig Biggio’s son is projecting to be a great player in his own right.  The Dodgers have a lot of good things going for them, but the middle of the infield is probably where they are weakest.  Biggio has the pedigree and skill to work his way up to the Majors and be a solid contributor.

No. 20 Pick – St. Louis Cardinals

Willie Abreu, OF (Mater HS) – The Cardinals already have a lot of talent stockpiled at in the Minors, but adding another quality outfielder wouldn’t be a bad thing.  Abreu fits the Cardinal mold of a line-drive hitter with power potential, good defensive skills and a high character.

No. 21 Pick – Detroit Tigers

Andy McGuire, INF (James Madison HS) – What do you get for a team that seems like they have everything?  How about a quality middle infielder who hits for average?  That’s what they’ll get if they can snag Andy McGuire, but they’ll need to make a strong offer as he has verbally committed to Texas already.

No. 22 Pick – Tampa Bay Rays

Dustin Driver, RHP (Wenatchee HS) – Most scouts don’t project Driver to be a #1 starter and neither do I, but he has a durable arm and three or four good pitches.  He could eat up a lot of quality innings, which is more valuable than you might think.  Diver is currently committed to UCLA, but the right offer could probably coax him away.

No. 23 Pick – Baltimore Orioles

Jonah Wesely, LHP (Tracy HS) – Baltimore is a team that hasn’t had much luck with pitching prospects in their recent past, but someone like Wesely could change that.  He has a great cutter and curveball and should continue to develop his changeup.

No. 24 Pick – Texas Rangers

Rob Kaminsky, LHP (St. Joseph HS) – If Kaminsky falls this far he could end up being the steal of the draft.  He throws his fastball in the low 90s, but has the best curveball of any high schooler in the draft.

No. 25 Pick – Oakland Athletics

Chris Okey, C (Eustis HS) – Okey is a good defensive catcher with a lot of offensive potential.  A’s are hard to project as they often go outside of the box in the draft, but wouldn’t be surprised if they took Okey a little sooner than most experts have him projected.

No. 26 Pick – San Francisco Giants

Carlos Salazar, RHP (Kerman HS) – Raw talent and huge arm (already throwing in the upper 90s).  Giants could develop him over the next few years and be pleasantly surprised.

No. 27 Pick – New York Yankees

Justin Williams, OF (Terrebone HS) – The Yankees have one of the better farm systems in baseball and I think Williams would only bolster that reputation.  He already has great power and with some adjustments could be a monster at plate.

No. 28 Pick – Cincinnati Reds

Marco Gonzalez, LHP (Gonzaga) – Gonzalez is a great overall athlete that will likely stick to pitching, where he has been the most impressive in his career at Gonzaga.  Has great control and has continued to improve his game.

No. 29 Pick – New York Yankees

Rowdy Tellez, 1B (Elk Grove HS) – Tellez could be the power-hitting first baseman of the future for the Yankees or whoever snags him (though he is verbally committed to USC).  Measures in at 6′-5”, 250 lbs. and has a smooth swing.  Probably the premier power hitter of the draft.

No. 30 Pick – Tampa Bay Rays

Aaron Judge (Fresno State) - Great athlete with a power/speed potential in the outfield.  Exactly the kind of player that seems to get the Rays’ attention.

No. 31 Pick – Texas Rangers

Karsten Whitson, RHP (Florida) – Whitson has been on the MLB radar for some time now (drafted 9th overall by the Padres in 2010).  He’s now played two full seasons at Florida, one great, the other tainted with a groin injury.  He obviously has the potential to be a top-10 pick, but I’m not sure teams will be willing to take the risk less than a year removed from the injury.

No. 32 Pick – New York Yankees

Reese McGuire, C (Kentwood HS) – The Yankees do have young talent at catcher, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take McGuire if he’s available at No. 32.  He’s already considered the best defensive catcher in this season’s draft and he also has plenty of potential at the plate.