Top 2012 draft prospects: outfielders

Byron Buxton may be the best outfield prospect in next year's draft. (

If you are looking for true five-tool players, you usually find them in the outfield. Power defines a corner spot, and speed defines centerfield. A strong and accurate arm, mixed with good instincts, goes a long way in securing a spot in the outfield. If you can get all of those abilities in one player, you have struck gold. The 2012 draft is filled with projectable five-tool players. Most of them are high school players, and most of them play the outfield. Here are some of the best outfield prospects for the 2012 amateur draft.

Byron Buxton — 6’-2”   R/R   Appling County HS (GA)

Georgia is a hotbed for baseball talent, and Buxton may be the best of the bunch this year. His elite speed and strong, accurate arm will allow him to stay in center field at the next level. Has extremely quick wrists and an easy, fluid swing. Mainly a pull hitter right now, the power should develop with time. Buxton is one of those players with so much talent that his body isn’t ready for it yet. Committed to Georgia.

Albert Almora — 6’-2”   R/R   Mater Academy (FL)

Aside from his five-tool abilities, Almora has leadership qualities not seen in many players his age. Those qualities were on full display during this year’s Pan-Am Championship games in Colombia. The six-time member of Team USA won MVP honors as the under-18 team brought home the gold by annihilating the competition. Almora hit .421 (16 for 38) with a team leading 11 runs, five doubles, 11 RBI and nine stolen bases as Team USA went 9-0, outscoring opponents 88-8. He has a plus arm and his speed should allow him to play center field at the next level. A total package of offense, defense, speed and an extremely high understanding and passion for the game, Almora should hear his name called in the upper half of next year’s draft.

David Dahl — 6’-2”   L/R   Oak Mountain HS (AL)

Dahl is another member of U18 Team USA, and his recent play has his stock soaring up draft boards. He hit .364 with 11 runs, nine RBI and seven stolen bases batting leadoff for Team USA, while also playing stellar defense in the outfield at the Pan Am Championships. The lefty is one of the purest hitters in the draft, and his short, level swing allows for consistent contact, which projects to a high average hitter. Runs a 6.5/60 and should be a real threat on the base paths. Aside from his offensive prowess, Dahl also has a plus arm, and coupled with his speed and high baseball IQ, should be among the top 15 picks in the draft.

Nick Williams — 6’-3”   L/L   Ball HS (TX)

Jaw-dropping power is something every GM likes to hear. Williams has it and then some. The 6’-3″ lefty generates incredible pull power and makes it look effortless with his short swing. He also has excellent speed, which should make him a threat on the base paths once he becomes a better base runner. His arm has been clocked at 93 mph, and mixed with his speed, makes him a plus defender as well. Williams has as much talent as anyone in the draft. He just needs some refining as he is still considered raw as a prospect.

Victor Roache — 6’-1”   R/R   Georgia Southern

Roache led the nation in home runs last year with 30. One of the best power hitters in the draft, he can hit the ball out to all fields with his superb bat speed. Not going to steal many bases, but the bat is what scouts and GM’s will fall in love with. Has a strong enough arm and footwork to hold down a corner outfield position. His approach at the plate is getting better and more refined every year, so he should be a good average hitter to go along with all of the home runs he is going to hit. Hit .316 with six home runs and 28 RBIs over 42 games at the Cape Cod League, leading the league with a 1.004 OPS as well. He struck out 44 times, but also had 30 walks, showing improvement at the plate.

Jeremy Baltz — 6’-3”   R/R   St. John’s

Baltz was the NCAA Freshman of the Year after hitting .396 with 24 HR and 85 RBI for the Storm last season. He then turned more heads at the Cape Cod league by hitting .321 with two home runs, 23 RBIs and a league-leading 13 doubles over 42 games. He showed off his advanced approach at the plate by drawing 25 walks while only striking out 23 times. With added weight, which should come as he matures, the power will continue to get better and he should be a first-round draft pick come June.

Lewis Brinson — 6’-3”   R/R   Coral Springs HS (FL)

Brinson hit .473 with four home runs, 23 RBIs and a 1.496 OPS over 20 games as a junior. He was 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts and had 16 walks, leading to a .623 OBP. His stock is soaring after more than holding his own at summer tournaments, establishing himself as one of the best all-around players in the country. Has plus bat speed and gap-to-gap power, which could turn into home-run power as he matures. His speed and strong arm make him a solid defensive player as well. With a strong senior season, could be first-round material.

Jesse Winker — 6’-3”   L/L   Olympia HS (CA)

Winker was also a member of the gold winning U18 Team USA. He was actually named the most outstanding pitcher as he went 2-0 while tossing 10.1 scoreless innings during the tournament. As good as he is on the mound, the bat is what major-league teams will be looking at come draft time. A very patient hitter from the left side, the ball jumps off his bat to all fields, and the power should get better as he matures. He has one of the fastest bats in the draft and should be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter and a big-time run producer. Not very fast, but his arm is good enough to hold down a corner outfield spot at the next level. Committed to Florida and first-round material.

Adam Brett-Walker — 6’-5”   R/R   Jacksonville

Big and strong, Brett-Walker is one of the top power hitters in the draft. Hit .409 with 13 home runs and 73 RBIs over 61 games as a sophomore last season.  His long swing leads to a lot of strikeouts and it showed at the Cape Cod League; he led the league with 56 strikeouts over 38 games, while only taking eight walks. At 6’-5” and 225 lbs, he remains an intriguing prospect based on his immense power potential.

Travis Jankowski — 6’-3”   L/R   Stony Brook

Jankowski is the prototypical leadoff hitter. He hit .355 with three home runs, 38 RBI and 30 stolen bases last season. He also showed a great approach at the plate by taking 20 walks while only striking out 22 times over 54 games. The left handed hitter is just as aggressive at the plate as he is on the base paths and will be an immediate fan favorite because of his hustle. Has great instincts in the outfield, and with his speed and strong arm, will be able to stay in centerfield. Hit .329 over 44 games at the Cape Cod League, ranking among the stolen base leaders with 15.

Stephen Piscotty — 6’-3”   R/R   Stanford

Piscotty plays third base for Stanford, but his lack of power could push him to left field at the major-league level. One of the best hitters in the draft, he hit .364 with three home runs and 40 RBI over 57 games as a sophomore, then went out and led the Cape Cod League with a .349 average. Can hit the ball to all fields with his smooth swing and plus bat speed. Defensively, he has a strong and accurate arm which will play well in a move to the outfield. His ceiling isn’t as high as many players on this list, but he is a safe bet to be a high-average hitter with decent pop.

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