The 2010 MLB Draft is just around the corner, as the 50-round marathon kicks off Monday evening. I've been submerging myself in draft coverage over the past month or so, reading up on the scouting reports, news and predictions from many experts around the web, and have used that to put together a well-rounded view of how the first round might go down. While in no way do I consider myself a draft expert, I'd say you can consider this a true Front Office Fans projection for how the cards will get dealt on Monday.
1 – Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, C
Harper has been the presumed #1 pick since before the 2009 draft, and there have been no reasons to think that the young phenom once called "Baseball’s Lebron" will be taken by the Nationals. While the young Harper is still quite a while away from joining forces with Stephen Strasburg, there’s no question he’s the top talent in this draft.
2 – Pittsburgh Pirates: Manny Machado, SS
When you get mentioned in comparisons to Alex Rodriguez (on a talent level) – you’re in great shape. While it’s extreme to put that kind of ceiling on Machado, he does have the potential to hit for power and average while playing good defense. The Pirates could surprise everyone and stick to a safer college pick, but the high school talent in this draft class seems to be much stronger.
The rest of the first round is projected after the jump!
3 – Baltimore Orioles: Jameson Taillon, RHP
Taillon is the best pitcher in the draft class, and while it’s possible they’ll swap players with the Pirates, this seems like the scenario most experts project we’ll see. Taillon gets compared frequently to Josh Beckett, and would join a team hoping take down Beckett and the Red Sox a few years down the road.
4 – Kansas City Royals: Chris Sale, LHP
In a somewhat shallow draft class, most the super-high upside prospects are likely to be off the board by the time Kansas City makes their pick. Not likely to take a big risk here, it seems like the pick will be between two lefty pitchers in Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz. While both have similar potential, most word has been that Sale has performed a bit better down than the stretch than Pomeranz, making him the favorite to go here.
5 – Cleveland Indians: Drew Pomeranz, LHP
It seems likely that Kansas City will do much of the decision-making for Cleveland this year, as they are likely to select the pitcher Kansas passes up on. There have been rumors of Cleveland being interested in outfielder Michael Choice, but it seems like that would be the surprise pick, rather than the likely outcome.
6 – Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt Harvey, RHP
Harvey was a player high atop draft boards early on, before falling in recent months. His strong showings lately have sent him storming up the draft boards, and Fanhouse’s Frankie Piliere has even bluntly said that it is "likely" Harvey would go in this spot.
7 – New York Mets: Deck McGuire, RHP
The Mets have been attached to a bunch of names as of late, but are known to try to stick to MLB’s slotting system for draft bonuses, which often means taking a college player. While drafting for organizational need isn’t generally a bright idea, the Mets have a big need for pitching, and McGuire is one of the safest picks available in this draft class.
8 – Houston Astros: Zack Cox, 3B
Cox is the most polished college hitter in this draft, and sounds a lot to me like Brett Wallace, one of the key pieces that went in the Roy Halladay trade. Cox is probably more athletic of a guy, and can probably play third base or second in the majors, but may lack a bit of the power Wallace has. Nonetheless, for a team that looks like they may soon sell off a bunch of assets and rebuild, Cox could be a key piece of their future core.
9 – San Diego Padres: Christian Colon, SS
Colon is one of the most polarizing players in this draft, which is ironic as he’s also one of the most consistent performers, with few doubting that he’ll be a quality big-leaguer. The controversy with Colon surrounds him being a "safe" pick, without a ton of upside that teams typically want in first round picks. Still, unless you’re stuck in the AL East, having a quality all-around shortstop is a great asset, and that’s why Colon fits in well as a pick for a team like the Padres.
10 – Oakland Athletics: Michael Choice, OF
While Oakland has been attached to a lot of names in this draft class, Choice just seems like the perfect fit for them if he falls this far. As a player, he seems to fit a similar profile as Michael Taylor, a player Billy Beane traded for in December, and whom he described himself as having a bit of an obsession over. Choice has huge power and big walk-rates, though some question his real patience and wonder if pitcher’s just pitch around him, as he plays in a weaker league than other college prospects.
11 – Toronto Blue Jays: Austin Wilson, OF
With their massive scouting department, it seems like the Jays have been linked to half the names in this draft class. The picture became a bit clearer today when Keith Law made mention that sources have told him it’s unlikely that the Jays take a prep pitcher in the first round, eliminating options like Stetson Allie and Karsten Whitson. Since taking over as GM, Alex Anthopoulos has focused on finding high upside players with superstar potential, and Wilson has perhaps as much potential as any hitter in the draft, after Bryce Harper. He’s raw, risky, and should have a huge price tag, but his upside and tools seem to be a perfect fit for Anthopoulos’ philosophy.
12 – Cincinnati Reds: Alex Wimmers, RHP
The Reds have to be thrilled with their selection of Mike Leake last year, and Wimmers often draws comparison’s to him in that he’s a player who could quickly (but not quite immediately) rise through the minor league ranks. I feel obligated to point out that after coming out of nowhere to be the team willing to pay and sign international phenom Aroldis Chapman, we shouldn’t rule out a surprise here by the Reds.
13 – Chicago White Sox: Asher Wojciechowski, RHP
The White Sox are another team that is likely to stick to MLB’s slot recommendations for bonuses, and thus likely to look to the college ranks. Wojciechowski is another player who has risen up the draft ranks as of late, and offers solid upside to go with his polish coming out of The Citadel. After years of me not being able to properly spell Buehrle, the White Sox may add a much more difficult name to their ranks.
14 – Milwaukee Brewers: Karsten Whitson, RHP
The Brewers are a pitching-starved team, and while they may feel the need to solve that with a college pitcher, the prep arm of Whitson provides much better upside to them. For a high school player, Whitson is known for solid command of a few good, plus pitches, and could become a true ace for the team down the road.
15 – Texas Rangers: Brandon Workman, RHP
Continuing the trend of right-handed relievers coming off the board, the Rangers have an unprotected pick for failure to sign their first round choice last year. That leads me to believe they’ll go to the college ranks, and a solid, but not spectacular, pitcher like Workman fits the bill.
16 – Chicago Cubs: Stetson Allie, RHP
After Jameson Taillon, Allie may be the second-highest upside arm in the draft, and that’s why it seems hard to see him slipping far past here. Allie has a strongest arm of everyone on the board, with the ability to reach the upper-90s with his fastball and a hard slider to go with it. Being a high school pitcher though, there is always a chance his command fails to develop or that he winds up a reliever, earning a Jonathan Papelbon comparison.
17 – Tampa Bay Rays: Josh Sale, OF
Josh Sale, no relation to Chris Sale, is a left-handed high school bat that seems to draw almost unanimous comparisons to Blue Jays youngster Travis Snider, in that he could rise through the minors quickly and develop into a strong hitter for average and power. The Rays typically love taking toolsy, more athletic players, the likes of BJ Upton and prospect Desmond Jennings, but the upside Sale provides in a pretty different way would make him a great counterpart to the rest of the Rays core.
18 – Los Angeles Angels: Nick Castellanos, 3B
The Angels kick off their series of three first round picks here and are expected to have money to play with. They receive this pick from the Seattle Mariners as a result of their third basemen, Chone Figgins, this off-season, and I see it as a good fit to grab this high-upside third basemen for their system. So long as they aren’t put off by the struggles of Brandon Wood at the Major League level, Castellanos represents a good gamble for the team that could be a middle-of-the-order bat down the road.
19 – Houston Astros: Delino DeShields Jr., 2B/OF
The Astros have been connected to the toolsy and speedy son of the former major leaguer for quite a while now, with some even thinking they may take him with their pick at #8. His talent doesn’t quite fit in up there, but wouldn’t be a big reach in this spot.
As Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein pointed out, this one just makes a lot of sense. Grandal fits a big organizational need for the Red Sox, and while his talent has pushed him into conversations for the top-10 picks, his expected price tag has knocked him down far enough to where the Red Sox may be able to get their hands on him. The Red Sox were willing to trade a bunch of prospects for Victor Martinez, and Grandal seems to fit a similar profile, with an expectation for far better defense.
21 – Minnesota Twins: Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
Ranaudo was once expected to go within the first three picks of this draft, but a tough year and injury concerns have sent him spiralling down the draft charts. Still, as a college arm with huge upside, he may easily become one of the best picks in this draft. He is likely to have a big price tag as a Scott Boras client, but with revenues from their new stadium and a history of doing so, the Twins may make another big splash and surprise us by taking their chances on Ranaudo.
22 – Texas Rangers: Kaleb Cowart, 3B/RHP
With their second pick in the first round, the Rangers have the chance to take a bit more risk and go for a high upside player. With talents on the mound and at the plate, Cowart is one of the best athletes in the draft, though his preference to hit as opposed to pitch in professional baseball is dropping his stock a slight bit, as most scouts prefer him on the mound. The Rangers have been connected to Cowart recently, and balances the conservatism of their projected earlier pick.
23 – Florida Marlins: Dylan Covey, RHP
Covey is another high upside high school pitcher, though he likely profiles more as a strong workhorse, with comparisons to Matt Cain, then a dominant ace. Regardless, he fits in with the Marlins preference for high school players, and could one day make a great sidekick for the Marlins current ace, Josh Johnson.
24 – San Francisco Giants, Bryce Brentz, OF
Again, despite the common criticisms of the drafting for organizational need approach, it’s clear that the Giants pitching is going to bed pretty solid over the coming years, and drafting bats that could rise quickly to the majors would be a big asset to the team. Brentz is a college corner outfielder that doesn’t have a huge upside, though he has been linked up and down the first round, as high as the Mets at #7. He could certainly benefit the Giants and their star hurlers in a relatively short time.
25 – St. Louis Cardinals, Kolbrin Vitek, 2B
Vitek is a player that has flown up draft boards in the last few weeks, and is also considered to have a shot of going within the top ten. Many experts note the Cardinals willingness to see who falls to them and take the best player available, and that looks to be Kolbrin Vitek in this scenario. Vitek could end up playing all over the field, perhaps sticking at second base, moving to third base, or most likely, moving to center field. He’s a strong gap hitter that would look great in a lineup hitting in front of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.
26 – Colorado Rockies, Jesse Hahn, RHP
Hahn can be a hard thrower with a strong curve ball that would likely have gone higher in the first round if not for recent health trouble, though some of that is an issue with kidney stones that won’t affect him long-term. The Rockies have built from within better than any other team in baseball, and it comes with picking high upside players like Hahn.
27 – Philadelphia Phillies, Justin O’Connor, C/SS
The Phillies like athletes, and while those typically come in the outfield, at least in recent years, O’Connor is one that could wind up playing anywhere on the field. As a high school player, he offers big upside, and has also been linked with teams drafting much earlier, like Oakland and Toronto. Asides from O’Connor, word is that the Phillies have been linked to Austin Wilson, who they would love to take a chance on if the Blue Jays pass up on him and he manages to fall this far.
28 – Los Angeles Dodgers, Aaron Sanchez, RHP
This is a pick I’ve seen predicted by a lot of draft experts, and really, who am I to disagree with their consensus? The Dodgers, as an organization, seem to be financially strapped by the divorce of their owner, making them likely to look for a slot player, though they’d like to find someone with some upside too. Sanchez seems to fit both descriptions.
29 – Los Angeles Angels, Brett Eibner, OF/RHP
Eibner is a name that has been linked to the Angels as of late, and is another player who, like Kaleb Cowart, has seen their stock fall lately due to a perceived preference to hit, rather than pitch. With this compensation pick for the loss of John Lackey to the Red Sox, Eibner is a pitcher that may one day fill a rotation hole for the Angels, or could become a power bat in the outfield.
30 – Los Angeles Angels, Kellin Deglan, C
With this third pick in the first round, and second in a row, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the Angels to try and make a deal for a player that they can be sure they can sign at a price that fits their pocket-books. Deglan also provides good upside for the team, and has even received loose, dream-world comparisons to Joe Mauer. For a safe choice, the Angels could do far worse than Deglan.
31 – Tampa Bay Rays, Mike Kvasnicka, C
The Rays have an unprotected pick here, for failing to sign OF Levon Washington last year. I could see Deglan making a lot of sense in this spot too, and could see the Rays making a similar play with Kvasnicka. He offers solid upside and has also made a charge up draft boards recently, and shouldn’t be all that difficult of a sign for Tampa Bay.
32 – New York Yankees, Jedd Gyorko, SS/3B
This is another prediction that I have to credit to Fanhouse’s Frankie Piliere, who reported this week that the Yankees are showing strong interest in Gyorko. I could see them taking a high upside pitcher in this spot too, like Tyrell Jenkins or AJ Cole, but I could also see them looking for shortstop depth in their system to prepare for possible hole that may one day occur when Derek Jeter needs to move off the position.
And that concludes the first round! Feel free to share your feedback on where you think I went right or wrong, how this projection plays out for your team, and how you'd rather see the draft play out to get the best talent to your team.