2012 MLB mock draft 2.0: Lucas Giolito projects first

Lance McCullers could be the next power arm to join the Seattle Mariners. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

The 2012 MLB amateur draft will be held on June 4-6.While most college players will have to wait until spring to play again, many high school players have seen their stock rise and fall over the course of summer leagues and tournaments. And with U18 Team USA back in full swing again, some of the best prep prospects have a chance to show their abilities on one of the game’s biggest stages.

Every couple of months, I will update this mock draft and slot players based on their progress and team needs. Here is the link for the first mock.

1. Astros: Lucas Giolito, 6’-6”, RHP, Harvard Westlake HS (CA)

A right-handed high school pitcher has never gone first overall in the draft, and Giolito is looking to end that streak. The Astros are a team that can wait on him as they appear to be out of any kind of contention for awhile. His big frame, poise and control on the mound all point to a future ace. His fastball hits 98 mph with movement, both his slider and curve are already plus-pitches and he also mixes in a changeup and split-finger for good measure. With another year of development and maturing, he could be the clear cut number-one pick come June 6.

2. Twins: Mark Appel, 6’-5”, RHP, Stanford

The Twins suddenly find themselves in the cellar as injuries took a massive toll on the organization this season. The good news is they get the most polished pitcher in the draft in Appel, a power arm with outstanding command and finesse for a player his size. His fastball hits 95 mph, his circle change has late fade and sits in the mid-80s, and his slider is tight and a wipe-out pitch.

3. Mariners: Lance McCullers, 6’-2”, RHP, Jesuit HS (FL)

McCullers is another right-handed high school pitcher who could go first overall. The Mariners have been loading up on starting pitching through the draft in recent years, with last year’s pick, Danny Hultzen blowing away hitters at the Arizona Fall League, and 2010 first-round pick Taijuan Walker on the fast track to the majors. McCullers would give them another future ace and is a power arm who was clocked at 96 mph as a sophomore. He also has a hammer curve to go along with a developing change-up. His poise and control on the mound make him one of the top prep pitchers in the country.

4. Orioles: Nick Williams, 6’-3”, OF, Ball HS (TX)

The Orioles need a little bit of everything and go with the best available player. Williams is an incredible athlete who draws comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr. because of his left-handed power stroke and defensive abilities. His arm has been clocked at 90 mph and he has the speed to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. The power is legit and often jaw-dropping.

5. Royals: Michael Wacha, 6’-6”, RHP, Texas A&M

The Royals have developed a stellar offensive core through the draft in recent years. With Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas already being major contributors at the major-league level, and Bubba Starling just getting his professional career started, the Royals are set on the offensive side. Wacha gives them a front-of-the-rotation power arm who shouldn’t need much time to get to the majors. A superb command pitcher, Wacha had 123 K/30 BB over 129 innings for the Aggies last season. Mixes a mid-90s fastball with late break with a plus-curveball. His change up is still developing but should be a frontline starter at the next level.

6. Cubs: Gavin Cecchini, 6’-1”, SS, Barbe HS (LA)

Theo Epstein is very familiar with Gavin, as he drafted his brother, Garin Cecchini, in the fourth round of the 2010 draft with the Red Sox. Gavin has one of the best bats in the draft and elite speed. As a junior last season, he hit .402 with 6 HR, 43 RBI and 53 stolen bases. Has all the tools to be a great defensive shortstop and could push Starlin Castro to second base when he arrives. The Cubs get a high character kid who could be a franchise-type player.

7. Padres: Deven Marrero, 6’-1”, SS, Arizona State

The Padres need a shortstop and get the most major-league-ready one in the draft. Marrero excels on both sides of the field. He was Pac-10 defensive player of the year last season and could contend for a Gold Glove in the future. Hit .397 in 2010 and became the first Stanford freshman to lead the team in RBI (43). Also shows a great approach at the plate, as he has only struck out 54 times in 96 career games. Brother Chris Marrero plays for the Nationals.

8. Pirates: Kevin Gausman, 6’-4”, RHP, LSU

The Pirates select the best college pitcher available. Gausman has one of the best arms in the draft and his fastball hits 99 mph. Held opponents to a .213 average while striking out 86 over 89 innings last season. Could team up with the Pirates last two number-one picks, Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole, to form a formidable trio at the top of the rotation.

9. Marlins: Mike Zunino, 6’-2”, C, Florida

The new look Miami Marlins would love for the local product to fall into their laps. Zunino was the SEC player of the year after hitting .371 with 19 HR and 67 RBI, and he is also a standout defensive catcher. He has a strong and accurate arm, and he moves well behind the plate. Offensively, he takes walks and has tremendous pull power. Could be a quick riser to the major leagues.

10. Rockies: Victor Roache, 6’-1”, OF, Georgia Southern

The Rockies need help in the outfield and Roache has a swing built for Coors Field. He led the nation in home runs with 30 this season. As he showed no problems adjusting to the new NCAA bats designed to help the pitchers. Not going to win any Gold Gloves, or steal any bases, but the bat is what will keep him in the majors for a long time.

11. Athletics: Byron Buxton, 6’-1”, OF, Appling County HS (GA)

Buxton is the classic combination of speed and power. One of the better overall athletes in the draft, his stock soared over the summer and could go even higher come June. Tremendous pull power from the right side, and elite speed on the base paths and outfield, Buxton gives the A’s a franchise center fielder to build around.

12. Mets: Hunter Virant, 6’-4”, LHP, Camarillo HS (CA)

The Mets opt for the most polished left-handed high school pitcher in the draft. Has a fluid, easy delivery and his long frame makes pitching look effortless. His fastball hits 94 mph with plenty of room for added velocity as he matures. Mixes in a power curve and change-up that both project to plus-pitches. The National League suits him best as he is also a great hitter and unbelievable athlete with elite speed.

13. White Sox: Joey Gallo, 6’-5”, RHP/3B, Bishop Gorman HS (OK)

Gallo will have a tough decision to make come draft day. One of the best power bats in high school, Gallo sprays the ball to all fields and projects to a middle-of-the-lineup run producer. A canon arm, mixed with his size and agility, make him a top third base prospect. But he also excels on the mound and seems to favor pitching. Has a fastball that touches 95 mph, and both his curve and change-up are quality pitches. Whichever route he chooses, the White Sox get a high-character kid and a future All-Star.

14. Reds: Kayden Porter, 6’-5”, RHP/1B, Spanish Fork HS (UT)

Like Gallo, Porter has the tools to be a major power hitter, or a frontline rotation guy. Porter showed his immense power at the triple-A home run derby this year. Going up against professional players, he stole the show by making it to the final round while launching several 450-f00t+ home runs, including a 474-f00t shot to dead center field. On the mound, his fastball reaches 93 mph with room for more velocity. His curveball sits in the low 80s with sharp break and is a nice compliment to his fastball.

15. Indians: Trey Williams, 6’-1”, 3B, Valencia HS (CA)

Williams may have the quickest bat in the draft. Blessed with tremendous power to all fields, the ball jumps off his bat with ease. Was once intentionally walked with the bases loaded, showing the kind of respect people have for his hitting ability. Also is a plus-defender at third with a strong and accurate arm to go along with great footwork.

16. Nationals: Stryker Trahan, 6’-2”, C, Arcadiana HS (LA)

The Nationals grab the best high school catcher in the draft in Trahan. Left-handed hitting catchers are rare, and Trahan is an offensive powerhouse. With his short stroke and excellent bat speed, he generates incredible power and should hit for a high average. His strong arm and footwork make him a solid defender and he has been clocked at 6.64 in the 60. Phenomenal athlete who could be a standout right fielder if he chooses.

17. Blue Jays: Jake Barrett, 6’-3”, RHP, Arizona State

The Blue Jays get one of the more polished pitchers in the draft. A player they actually drafted in the third round in 2010, and a player who could contribute right away. Features a mid-90s fastball with late movement and a plus-curveball. Has struck out 115 batters over 105 innings at ASU while walking only 31, showing great command of his pitches. Very aggressive on the mound and not afraid to attack hitters inside.

18. Dodgers: Max Fried, 6’-4”, LHP, Harvard Westlake HS (CA)

Fried, a teammate of Giolito, has seen his stock soar over the summer. Owner of arguably the best curveball in the draft, he has been honing it since he was 12 and modeled it after Sandy Koufax. His fastball hits 94 mph with late break and his change-up is a developing plus-pitch. The Dodgers love their pitching and Fried is a tall, lanky lefty with a ton of potential. Could find himself in the top 10 come June.

19. Angels: Ty Hensley, 6’-5”, RHP, Santa Fe HS (OK)

At 6’-5” and 225 lbs, Hensley is a future workhorse at the next level. His curveball is a plus/plus-pitch with sharp break and arguably the best in the draft. Change-up is still developing but projects to a solid offering, not just a show-me pitch. Fastball can hit 95 mph with ease and compares to a Justin Verlander-type starter.

20. Giants: Brian Johnson, 6’-4”, LHP, Florida

The pitching-rich Giants add more depth to their future rotation as they take the best left-handed college pitcher in the draft. Johnson is one of the best control pitchers in the draft having walked only 29 batters over 152 career innings, striking out 125 in that span. A ground-ball pitcher, he keeps his fastball down while keeping hitters off balance with a plus curveball that breaks late.

21. Braves: Walker Weickel, 6’-6”, RHP, Olympia HS (FL)

The Braves always seem to find gold in the draft, and if Weickel is still on the board, they probably found it again. A big, tall projectable power arm, Weickel’s fastball touches 94 mph and both his curve and change-up have plus potential. His long arms and downhill motion make his delivery very deceptive. Could shoot up the board with a strong senior season.

22. Blue Jays: Addison Russell, 6’-1”, SS, Pace HS (GA)

The Blue Jays receive this pick as compensation for not signing Tyler Beede, their first-round pick last year. After adding a frontline pitcher in Barrett, they grab the best defensive high school shortstop in the draft. Russell has a fluidity to his game that makes everything look easy.  He has the hands, speed and footwork to compete for Gold Gloves down the line. His arm is a rocket, and even though he has a funky throwing motion, it works for him. At the plate, his short compact swing generates gap-to-gap power and he should be a high-average hitter because of his plate discipline. Could be a steal for the Blue Jays here.

23. Cardinals: Lucas Sims, 6’-2”, RHP, Brookfield HS (GA)

Sims’ fastball has been clocked at 98 mph with late, sinking movement. His curveball has 12-6 potential and his mid-80s change-up projects to a plus-pitch. He struck out 52 in 32 innings as a junior and has a toughness and aggressiveness on the mound not seen in many high school players. Another kid with a very high ceiling.

24. Red Sox: Rock Rucker, 6’-5”, LHP/OF, Redan HS (GA)

Big left-handed pitchers who can zip it 95 mph are always a hot commodity. Add in a plus-hammer curve, and the Red Sox might end up with quite a gem. Once Rucker commits full time to the mound, and develops a more consistent third pitch, his ceiling is as high as anyone in the draft. If he decides to play the field, he could become one hell of a defensive outfielder with his speed and canon arm. Also generates a ton of power at the plate. Committed to Auburn.

25. Rays: Taylore Cherry, 6’-9”, RHP, Vandalia Butler HS (OH)

Cherry can get his fastball up to 98 mph thanks, in most part, to his 6’-9” frame. His delivery is easy and fluid, and he looks like he could pitch a doubleheader without tiring. Went 6-1 with a 1.38 ERA and 94 K over 56 innings as a junior, earning him Gatorade Player of the Year honors in the state of Ohio. Has been climbing up the draft board with his projectability.

26. Diamondbacks: David Dahl, 6’-2”, OF, Oak Mountain HS (AL)

The Diamondbacks get one of the purest hitters in the draft. A sweet swinging lefty, Dahl has a short, level swing which allows him to make consistent contact. His 6.5/60 speed makes him a threat on the base paths at all times. He is also a plus-defender with his speed and strong arm. Could be a high average number two hitter in the lineup who steals 30-40 bases a year while playing stellar defense. Jacoby Ellsbury-type player.

27. Tigers: Kenny Diekroeger, 6’-2”, SS, Stanford

Diekroeger is a remarkable athlete who can play just about anywhere on the field. Was Pac-10 freshman of the year as he hit .356 with 41 RBI, becoming the first freshman to lead the team in RBI. Average slipped to .293 this year as he was still adjusting to the new NCAA bats that favor pitchers. A very intelligent player, the Tigers get a professional in every sense of the word.

28. Brewers: Albert Almora, 6’-2”, OF, Marion Christian Academy (FL)

Almora is a leader in the mold of a Derek Jeter. He does everything right on and off the field and has been a member of Team USA 6 times, showing the character and ability he possesses. While he doesn’t standout in one particular area, he has above average tools in every category and should put up very good numbers across the board. Could shoot up the board with a strong showing this year.

29. Rangers: Jake Cosart, 6’-1”, RHP, Clear Creek HS (TX)

At 6’-1” and 150 lbs, the velocity he generates from his frame is incredible. He hit 99 mph on the radar gun at the National Power Showcase and has seen his stock soar ever since. Also shows a curveball that should be devastating in the future. Still raw, but the Rangers are stockpiled with pitchers, so they can wait on him to mature and develop. Comes from good bloodlines as his brother, Jarred Cosart, is a top pitching prospect for the Astros.

30. Yankees: Tanner Rahier, 6’-2”, SS, Desert HS (CA)

The Yankees are going to need an heir to the throne at shortstop soon. Rahier is the kind of kid who is up for that enormous challenge. One of the hardest working players out there, he has the dedication and drive to be the best, on and off the field. The talent is also outstanding. His arm has been clocked at 93 mph, can run a 6.6/60 and has the footwork to become a Gold Glove caliber player. Quick wrists and excellent bat speed project to a high-average hitter with gap-to-gap power.

31. Red Sox: Jesmuel Valentin-Diaz, 5’-11”, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (PR)

The Red Sox get the Phillies first-round pick as compensation for losing Jonathan Papelbon. Valentin is a switch-hitting shortstop who defends his position smooth and effortlessly. A short, quick stroke allows him to generate a lot of power and also has the speed to swipe 15-20 bases a year. Comes from very good bloodline as his father, Jose Valentin, was a 16-year major leaguer. Hustle player who leaves it all on the field.

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