1. Houston Astros- RHP Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma)
It’s between two right handed pitchers for the Astros right now, Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, but I think Gray’s signability gets him the nod here given the state of the Astros’ organization. They can’t really go wrong with either and need as many talented prospects as they can get with a major league worst roster and a middling farm system.
2. Chicago Cubs- RHP Mark Appel (Stanford)
The Cubs will probably take whichever right hander the Astros don’t and in this case that’s Appel. Appel might be the superior prospect, but Scott Boras is his agent and he didn’t sign after being drafted 8th overall by the Pirates last year. The Cubs have money to spend and don’t seem scared off as they are widely known to be interested in both of the top two pitchers.
3. Colorado Rockies- 1B Kris Bryant (San Diego)
Bryant is a power hitter who can really play any of the corner infield or outfield spots. He is widely projected to the Rockies as the top offensive player in this draft and to them he makes the most sense as a 1st baseman. Todd Helton is aging and they don’t have a 1st baseman in the pipe among their top prospects.
4. Minnesota Twins- RHP Braden Shipley (Nevada)
This is where the draft really gets interesting as there’s no clear pick. The Twins have a bunch of high upside high schoolers to choose from and they’ve certainly gone in that direction often in the past, taking high schoolers in the 1st round 9 out of 15 times since 2001, including both times they’ve had a top-5 pick. However, after taking a huge chance on Bryon Buxton 2nd overall last year, they may want a safer alternative this year.
5. Cleveland Indians- 3B Colin Moran (North Carolina)
While the Twins love high schoolers, the Indians are the complete opposite. Prior to selecting Francisco Lindor in 2011, they hadn’t used a 1st round pick on a high schooler since 2001, so it makes sense that they are widely expected to take the best available college bat and that’s Moran in this case. They don’t have a 3rd baseman in the pipe among their top prospects and they don’t have a good one in the major league roster either, which is why they’ve been forced Mark Reynolds to play there when he’s a natural 1st baseman.
6. Miami Marlins- OF Clint Frazier (High School-GA)
The Marlins have no issue taking a high schooler early as the selection of Oklahoma State’s Andrew Heaney last year snapped a 5-year long streak of high schoolers. Frazier has the most upside of any prospect in this class and with the Marlins in the position they are, they really need to swing for the fences and they need help everywhere they can get it.
7. Boston Red Sox- RHP Kohl Stewart (High School-TX)
You can go back and forth between Stewart and Frazier for top high school prospect, but Frazier is the consensus top high school hitter and Stewart is the consensus top high school pitcher. He’d go earlier if it were known he’d sign, but he has a scholarship from Texas A&M to play quarterback. The Red Sox have the resources and the cachet to get the deal done though.
8. Kansas City Royals- LHP Sean Manaea (Indiana State)
The Royals gave away a lot of their farm in the James Shields/Wade Davis deal so they can really go in any direction here. Manaea would seem to be the best available, however. He’s the top lefty in this class and has an outside shot at the top-5 for that reason. If the Twins decide on a lefty college pitcher over a righty or the Indians decide to go pitcher over hitter, Manaea is the obvious choice. The Red Sox could have interest too if they want a safer pick.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates- C Reese McGuire (High School-WA)
The Pirates’ top two prospects are former top-2 pick pitchers and among the best prospects in baseball so I doubt they go with another pitcher here. Catcher is a needy position as they don’t have a highly rated catching prospect and on the big league roster Russell Martin is just on a 2 year deal. Last year’s 2nd round pick, Wyatt Mathisen, is having a lot of trouble with his defense and could be converted back into a shortstop. McGuire is another prospect that could go higher than this as catchers are reached for because of need more often than any other position. He also offers signability which the Pirates could put a greater value on after losing Appel last year.
10. Toronto Blue Jays- OF Austin Meadows (High School-GA)
The Blue Jays spent a lot of their farm bringing in Jose Reyes and RA Dickey and all them and it hasn’t really worked out, at least not yet. Because of this, they can really go anywhere and they are widely projected to take a high upside high schooler. Meadows looks like the favorite, with two way kid Trey Ball as the runner up.
11. New York Mets- 1B DJ Peterson (New Mexico)
Before last year, the Mets hadn’t drafted a high schooler since 2003 so expect them to focus on college players again this year. How they feel about Ike Davis, who has shown plenty of promise, but should be farther along than this at age 26, will impact this choice a lot. With Davis currently hitting .148 at 1st base, DJ Peterson seems awfully tempting as a 1st baseman of the future. He’s projects as a righty middle of the order power hitter and he’s one of the more MLB ready players in this class. The other option is Arkansas right handed pitcher Ryne Stanek, with Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe as the dark horse.
12. Seattle Mariners- 1B Dominic Smith (High School-CA)
The Mariners are once again a light hitting team, ranking 25th in the majors in runs scored and 4 of their top 6 prospects are pitchers, so they’re probably thinking hitter here. Smith offers significantly more long term upside than light hitting 1st baseman Justin Smoak, who has not panned out as the Mariners would have liked when they traded Cliff Lee to the Rangers for him. The Mariners are without a power hitting 1st base prospect on their farm.
13. San Diego Padres- LHP Trey Ball (High School-IN)
The Padres have taken high schoolers with 4 of their last 5 first round picks and they do so again here. Ball is this draft class’ top two way player as he can play both shortstop and pitch left handed. Expect him to be a pitcher long term as lefties that can hit 94 like him are a rarity. Either way, he might be too good for the Padres to pass on.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates- RHP Ryne Stanek (Arkansas)
While the Pirates do have two of the top pitching prospects in baseball, you can’t completely rule out a pitcher for them with one of their two first round picks, especially if one like Stanek falls to them. After all, they drafted Appel 9th last year (before losing him) despite having two top pitching prospects. Stanek is one of the most MLB ready pitchers in this draft class and could have an impact as soon as 2015.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks- OF Hunter Renfroe (Mississippi State)
The Diamondbacks could go in a number of different directions with this pick. However, after trading Justin Upton and not receiving an outfield prospect in return, they don’t really have a top outfield prospect unless you count Adam Eaton, who is still rookie eligible, but is currently at the major league level on the DL with a serious elbow injury. He’s a different type of outfielder than Renfroe anyway.
16. Philadelphia Phillies- OF Austin Wilson (Stanford)
The Phillies have a real shortage of top outfield prospects at the moment as they are without one in their top-10. This is a problem because Delmon Young is currently playing right field and he’s not a long term solution. The Phillies go with a more MLB ready outfielder here in Austin Wilson, who is likely going to be seen as the top outfield prospect available ahead of high schooler Ryan Boldt.
17. Chicago White Sox- LHP Marco Gonzalez (Gonzaga)
Before breaking the trend last year, the White Sox had drafted only college players in the first round since 2001 so they’ll probably take a college player here. Gonzalez would seem to be the best available and he could instantly be the top left handed pitching prospect in an organization that lacks an elite one. Their farm system is also much more hitter heavy than pitcher heavy.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers- C Jonathan Denney (High School-OK)
The Dodgers have gone to the high school level for 8 of their last 10 first round picks and figure to look there again. The Dodgers don’t have a top catching prospect and while AJ Ellis is currently getting the job done now at the big league level, he’s already 32. Backup Ramon Hernandez is even older, just turning 37 in May. Youth desperately needs to be added.
19. St. Louis Cardinals- SS JP Crawford (High School-CA)
The Cardinals’ farm system is widely regarded as the best in baseball, but the one thing they lack is an elite shortstop prospect. They can afford to wait on the young Crawford and he might just be too good to pass on, despite their preference to draft college players. After all, their last high school 1st round pick, Shelby Miller in 2009, has worked out pretty well. Crawford could definitely go a lot earlier than this as the top middle infielder in the draft class.
20. Detroit Tigers- RHP Chris Anderson (Jacksonville)
The Tigers like taking power arms early and are widely expected to do so again this year considering their farm system is a little lighter on power arms than they’re used to. Anderson is a very MLB ready prospect and would instantly bolster what is seen as one of the worst farm systems in the majors. As good as their starting rotation and their major league team as a whole is right now, you always have to be looking towards the future.
21. Tampa Bay Rays- OF Ryan Boldt (High School-MN)
The Rays have the 2nd best farm system in the majors behind the Cardinals and their off-season trade of James Shields only made it better. They love drafting high upside high schoolers, going to that level with 7 of their last 9 1st round picks and they have time to wait on Boldt, who fits what they look for and has as much upside as anyone in this draft class. He’s got all 5 tools.
22. Baltimore Orioles- OF Aaron Judge (Fresno State)
The Orioles’ farm system lacks an elite outfield prospect and major league left fielder Nate McLouth is a journeyman who has bounced all over. Judge’s game has holes, but the 6-7 outfielder has as much power as anyone in this draft and won’t fall much farther than this. With Adam Jones and Nick Markakis already excelling in the majors, Judge could give them one of the best outfields in the majors if he develops by 2015, as some expect.
23. Texas Rangers- RHP Hunter Harvey (High School-NC)
The Rangers have gone with a high schooler with their last 6 first round picks and go there again. Harvey is a power arm who fits the Rangers’ bill and his name has been tied to them on several occasions for obvious reasons. The Rangers can afford to wait on him and he could eventually be a top end of the rotation starter as he has as much upside as any pitcher in this draft class.
24. Oakland Athletics- RHP Andrew Thurman (UC Irvine)
As anyone who has watched or read Moneyball can tell you, Billy Beane hates drafting raw high school players with a passion, due in large part to the fact that he was once one and totally flamed out. He must have seen something different last year when he took Addison Russell out of high school in the first, but before that it was a string of 15 straight college players in the first round. I expect him to get back to that. Thurman doesn’t have the best upside or velocity, but he has command of all of his pitches and he’s very MLB ready.
25. San Francisco Giants- SS Oscar Mercado (High School-FL)
The Giants’ farm system is awfully light on offensive prospects, which is an issue because that’s what their major league roster lacks of the most. Mercado’s bat needs improvement, but he’s young and he’s got a great glove. The Giants will have to wait on him, but he could end up being the best middle infielder from a draft class weak at the shortstop and 2nd base positions. The Giants need both and Mercado projects best to shortstop long term.
26. New York Yankees- LHP Matt Krook (High School-CA)
The Yankees’ last 4 first round picks have been high schoolers and they go there again to grab a high upside lefty. This makes a lot of sense because the Yankees’ position as perennial contenders allows them to sit back in the bottom of the 1st round and wait for the prospects to fall to them and they don’t have to force things and draft for need or draft for someone who can provide more immediate help.
27. Cincinnati Reds- C Nick Ciuffo (High School-SC)
The Reds lack a top catching prospect or a solidified major league level catcher so they could definitely focus on the position. Ciuffo has plenty of upside and a great bat, but he’s got a scholarship waiting at South Carolina and he needs a lot of work behind the plate. Still, the Reds take the risk and should be able to buy him out of his commitment.
28. St. Louis Cardinals- RHP Jonathan Crawford (Florida)
It doesn’t seem fair that the Cardinals get another two first round picks to add to their #1 rated farm system and their major league best squad, but they get this pick for losing Kyle Lohse this off-season. After going high school with their first pick, the Cardinals are likely to look at college with this one and they have a few collegiate arms to pick from, the likely highest rated of whom is Florida’s Jonathan Crawford.
29. Tampa Bay Rays- LHP Rob Kaminsky (High School-NJ)
As I mentioned during their first pick’s writeup, the Rays love high schoolers. After taking a hitter with their first pick, they add a pitcher into their 2nd ranked farm system with this one. Kaminsky is technically a two way player who can play the outfield, but his arm is much better than his bat so his long term future appears to be on the mound.
30. Texas Rangers- OF Michael Lorenzen (Cal State-Fullerton)
The Rangers add one of the draft’s most intriguing players to the fold in Lorenzen here with their 2nd pick of the first round. Lorenzen can play all over the field and he also was Cal State-Fullerton’s closer last year and tops out at 96 MPH with his fastball. The Rangers will find somewhere for him and his future right now seems to be as a cannon armed outfielder.
31. Atlanta Braves- RHP Bobby Wahl (Missouri)
Wahl is one of the more major league ready pitchers in this class and could have gone as many as ten picks earlier, but it didn’t work out that way. The Braves take him here and add him to a farm system that is already heavy on pitching prospects. Still, he might just be too good to pass on for a team without obvious needs.
32. New York Yankees- RHP Phil Bickford (High School-CA)
With three first round picks, the Yankees double up on high school arms. Like Krook, Bickford comes from California and has a big time upside. Bickford is a righty, while Krook is a lefty. The Yankees’ farm system is very hitter heavy right now so pitching figures to be the focus of their draft as they somehow ended up with three picks in the first round this year.
33. New York Yankees- RHP Alex Gonzalez (Oral Roberts)
I thought about a hitter here, but I really wanted to get Gonzalez into the first round and the Yankees have a big enough need for young pitchers that this does make sense. Like Wahl who went 31st, Gonzalez could have gone ten picks earlier, but it just didn’t work out that way for him. The Yankees gladly add him to the fold here.