The 2012 MLB draft was deep on high school hitters. Twelve of the 31 first-round picks were high school position players, including seven of the first 13. In 2011, just five high school position players were selected in the first-round. With most of these players having already signed and a month into their careers, it is easy to see why they were so highly sought after. Here are some of the best prep hitters from the draft to this point.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers, RD-1A PK-39
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21 G, .343, 28 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 21 RBI, 3 SB, .516/.910/1.427
Dubbed as the best power hitter in the draft, regardless of class, Gallo has been putting on one hell of a show in the Arizona League, leading the league in R, HR, BB (23), total bases (61), SLG and OPS. He isn’t slowing down either, going 13-for-28 (.464) with 14 runs, three doubles, six home runs, 11 RBI, nine walks and all three of his stolen bases over his last games. A promotion may be coming soon, which would be followed by a collective sigh of relief from every pitcher in the league.
Andrew Velazquez, SS, Diamondbacks, RD-7 PK-243
17 G, .426, 22 R, 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 13 SB, .494/.647/1.141
Velazquez celebrated his 18th birthday by blasting his first professional home run on July 14. That came a day after reaching base six times, going 4-for-4 with two walks, a triple, two RBI and four stolen bases. He leads the Arizona League in stolen bases and is fifth in AVG, seventh in OPS. The 5’-8”, 175-pound switch-hitter has shown gap power with his 10 extra-base hits, as well as an advanced approach at the plate by drawing 12 walks to 11 strikeouts. With 242 players being selected before him, the D-Backs got the steal of the draft so far.
Addison Russell, SS, Athletics, RD-1 PK-11
15 G, .455, 19 R, 2 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 6 SB, .571/.655/1.226
Russell leads the Arizona League in OBP and is second in AVG, thanks in part to his recent assault on opposing pitchers, going 21-for-40 (.525) over his last 10 games, including eight multi-hit games. He had a career-high four hits and four RBI on July 13 and is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak. The 6’-0“, 190-pound right-hander has been displaying the defensive skills that should keep him at his current position despite some saying he will outgrow it. His excellent bat speed and approach at the plate (14 BB) has been no match for opposing pitchers.
Tyrone Taylor, OF, Brewers, RD-2 PK-92
13 G, .410. 17 R, 7 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 6 SB, .439/.721/1.161
Taylor was a two-sport star in high school as he also played running back and had a scholarship to go to Cal State Fullerton. A month into his career, his decision to play baseball looks like the right move. A raw prospect with elite speed and power, the 6’0”, 190-pound right-hander has displayed those abilities by recording 12 extra-base hits over his first 13 games to go along with six stolen bases. He went 3-for-4 on July 15 with his first two career home runs, knocking in three. Over his last three games, he has gone 8-for-13 with six runs and three stolen bases. He has only struck out six times over his first 61 at-bats, already showing a great understanding of the strike zone.
Daniel Robertson, SS, Athletics, RD-1A, PK-34
13 G, .326, 11 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, .436/.605/1.041
Robertson had himself a day on July 12, going 5-for-5 with four runs, two home runs and four RBI. That was a day after going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. He is now hitting .406 through eight July games, adding three doubles, two home runs, six RBI and five walks. Known for his intensity and approach to the game, his bat has come around quicker than some expected, especially the power. The A’s used their first two picks on shortstops, showing exactly why you don’t draft on position or need. You take the best players available and figure out the rest later.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds, RD-1A PK-49
23 G, .365, 13 R, 7 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB, .515/.459/.975
While Winker is still waiting for his first professional home run, he isn’t pressing. Over his last three games, he has drawn seven walks, showing an advanced approach at the plate and the ability to be patient, a great sign for future success. The power will come as the 6’-3”, 200-pound left-hander has foul pole-to-foul pole power. He has also shown a knack for coming through in the clutch, going 8-for-18 (.444) with four doubles, 13 RBI and 14 walks to just three strikeouts with runners in scoring position.
Stryker Trahan, C, Diamondbacks, RD-1 PK-26
18 G, .333, 8 R, 4 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB, .457/.603/1.060
Trahan went 2-for-3 with a triple, home run and five RBI on July 12, and is hitting .400 (12-for-30) over his current eight-game hitting streak. His home/road splits make you do a double-take as all of his extra-base hits and RBI have come on the road, as well as hitting .421 (16-for-38) over nine games. He is a left-handed hitting catcher, something of a rarity in baseball, and has shown a great approach at the plate by drawing 16 walks over his first 18 games to go along with his immense power.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies, RD-1 PK-10
23 G, .311, 13 R, 8 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 6 SB, .382/.533/.916
Dahl is one of the more advanced hitters in the draft, showing great plate discipline and an overall feel for the game at such a young age. He has recorded a hit in 17 of his 23 games, including seven multi-hit games, as well as drawing 10 walks to 13 strikeouts. At 6’-2” and 185 pounds, the left-hander has already showed more power than many expected this soon. Dahl is a true five-tool player with above-average tools across the board on both sides of the field and should be a top-of-the-order hitter at the next level while remaining in center field.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers, RD-1 PK-29
21 G, .280, 21 R, 8 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 4 SB, .343/.538/.881
Brinson was considered raw in many areas heading into the draft. He has five-tool talent and is similar to second-overall pick Byron Buxton in skill, however, most thought he would take more time to be a finished product. Just 21 games into his career, he has outplayed just about every one of his draft mates. His 15 extra-base hits show the kind of power he has, as well as elite speed. He hit home runs in back-to-back games on July 5-7, going 5-for-11 with two doubles and five RBI.
Timothy Lopes, SS, Mariners, RD-6 PK-191
19 G, .354, 20 R, 3 2B, 6 3B, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, .435/.544/.979
Lopes may not have great power or speed, but the kid can hit. He had a recent nine-game hitting streak and has reached base in 13 straight games. He has quick wrists and can hit the gaps with ease, as shown by his nine extra-base hits on the season. His 12 walks to 12 strikeouts show an advanced approach at the plate, and he is known for his make-up and great overall instincts for the game. His brother, Christian Lopes, was a seventh-round draft pick by the Blue Jays in 2011 and is also a shortstop.