This is a list of the top-50 draft prospects from high school and college. This by no means is a projected draft order, just a ranking by talent and potential. With all of these players having another season to work on their games, a lot can change come draft time. This is the way I see it right now.
50. Adam Brett-Walker — 6’-5”, OF/1B, Jacksonville
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One of the top power hitters in the draft, Walker hit .409 with 13 home runs and 73 RBI over 61 games as a sophomore in 2011. Has a long swing that leads to a lot of strikeouts, but he isn’t afraid to take a walk either. Struggled at the Cape Cod League hitting .216 with 56 strikeouts over 38 games. Still, at 6’-5” and 220 lbs, his power and hitting ability will draw a lot of interest come draft time.
49. Courtney Hawkins — 6’-3”, OF, Carroll HS (TX)
Hawkins is a five-tool prospect with tremendous power to all fields. He hit .410 with 15 home runs and 22 stolen bases as a junior. His plus arm (clocked at 92 mph from the outfield), mixed with his 6.6/60 speed, project him as a future right fielder in the majors. Still raw with his plate discipline, but that can be said about most high school players. Committed to Texas and could be a tough sign.
48. Jeremy Baltz — 6’-3”, OF, St. John’s
Baltz has one of the most polished bats in the draft. He hit .396 with 24 home runs and 85 RBI as a freshman in 2011, earning him NCAA Freshman of the Year honors. He then tore up the Cape Cod League hitting .321 with two home runs and 23 RBI over 42 games, including a league-leading 13 doubles. He also showed off his advanced plate discipline by walking 25 times while only striking out 22 times over that span. With another impressive sophomore campaign, Baltz could shoot up draft boards come June.
47. Jesmuel Valentin-Diaz — 5’-11”, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (PR)
Jesmuel has a strong knowledge of the game having grown up around it. His father, Jose Valentin, was a 16-year, major-league veteran and taught his son well. He is also built like his dad — 5’-11” and 180 lbs — and he’s a switch hitter. Has the range, soft hands and strong arm to be a very good defensive shortstop in the majors. At the plate, his short stroke generates gap-to-gap power and could develop more when he matures. Timed at 6.68/60, so should steal some bases as well. Gained a reputation as a clutch hitter throughout summer-league tournaments and his stock is soaring right now.
46. Stephen Piscotty — 6’-3”, 3B, Stanford
With his smooth swing and excellent bat speed, Piscotty is one of the purest hitters in the draft, able to spray the ball to all fields. He hit .364 with three home runs and 40 RBI over 57 games as a sophomore in 2011. He then led the Cape Cod League with a .349 average. His lack of power could force a move to left field where his strong and accurate arm could play well.
45. Carson Kelly — 6’-2”, 3B/RHP, Westview HS (OR)
Kelly, the top prep player in Oregon, is an athlete who excels both on the mound and at the plate. He hit .473 with 14 home runs as a junior and is a line-drive hitter with power to all fields. Has very good bat speed and a solid approach at the plate. His strong arm and athleticism should allow him to stick at third base, if he chooses. As a pitcher, his curve, sinker and 93 mph fastball are all quality pitches with the ability to get better with more time and focus on the mound. Was outstanding at the Pan Am Championships for Team USA, going 2-0 1.29 ERA and 12 K/1 BB over 14 innings.
44. Jesse Winker — 6’-3”, OF, Olympia HS (CA)
Winker is a left-handed hitter with excellent bat speed and an impressive approach at the plate. Hit .509 with seven home runs as a junior. At 6’-3” and 200 lbs, he has raw power to all fields and gets good reads on pitches. Was named most outstanding pitcher at the Pan Am Championships, going 2-0 with 10.1 scoreless innings for gold-medal-winning Team USA. His bat, however, is what scouts are in love with, and with another strong senior season, could be a first-round draft pick.
43. Richie Shaffer — 6’-4”, 3B/1B, Clemson
Shaffer is a big-time power hitter who won the home run derby at the Cap Cod League this year by hitting six home runs in a one round contest — two of them landing on Lansdowne street. Over 36 games in the league, he hit .263 with six home runs, 11 doubles and 22 RBI. His lack of range at third will most likely keep him at first, but his strong arm could play as a corner outfielder. His long swing leads to a lot of strikeouts but his power potential will make him a high draft pick come June.
42. Alex Bregman — 5’-11”, C/INF, Albuquerque Academy (NM)
Bregman is an advanced hitter with an easy swing and power to all fields. As a junior, he hit .678 with 19 home runs, and his 6.8/60 speed allowed him to steal 23 bases as well. He is still raw as a catcher but has shown the ability to stay at the position at the next level. Hit .417 with seven RBI and five stolen bases for Team USA at the Pan Am Championships, coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit. Plays the game very hard and has a high understanding of the game.
41. Josh Elander — 6’-0”, C, TCU
Elander is an offensive catcher with great plate discipline. He hit .333 with five home runs, 38 RBI and nine stolen bases over 48 games for TCU in 2011. He also added 28 walks, showing his advanced approach at the plate. Just average defensively, Elander is athletic enough to improve enough behind the dish to stay at his position. A strong 2012 could push him to a late-first-round pick.
40. Travis Jankowski — 6’-3”, OF, 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 center field. Hit .329 over 44 games at the Cape Cod League, ranking among the stolen base leaders with 15.
39. Kyle Zimmer — 6’-3”, RHP, San Francisco
Zimmer is a power righty whose fastball has been clocked at 97 mph with late sink. He also features a power curve that projects to a wipe-out pitch at the next level. His slider is above average, his change-up is still developing, and he has excellent command of all four pitches. He had a 3.38 ERA at the Cape Cod League with 37K/14 BB over 48 innings. At 6’-3”and 200 lbs, he has the frame to be a workhorse.
38. Clate Schmidt — 6’-1”, RHP, Allatoona HS (GA)
A fast-rising prospect, Schmidt’s fastball has been clocked at 96 mph and his low-80s curve is a plus pitch already. Needs to add another off-speed pitch if he wants to remain a starting pitcher, but his work ethic shows a third pitch will come. His delivery has some effort to it but his athleticism makes up for it. With another year to add that third pitch, and room for more added velocity, Schmidt could continue to rise up draft boards come June.
37. Jake Cosart — 6’-1”, RHP, Clear Creek HS (TX)
When you can throw 99 mph, you are going to get some attention. At 6’-1” and 165 lbs, the power Cosart generates from his arm is scary. At the 2011 Perfect Game National Showcase, he hit 99 mph on the radar gun, easily the fastest time at the event. It must run in the family bloodline — his brother Jarred Cosart, a top prospect for the Astros, hit 102 mph at the 2008 Perfect Game World Showcase. Jake shows signs of a future devastating curve but is still inconsistent with his command. A strong senior season, and added weight, could see him sky rocket when the draft comes around.
36. Cody Poteet — 6’-1”, RHP, Christian HS (CA)
Poteet is seen as undersized by some scouts, but his arm strength leaves little concern. He can crank his fastball up to 96 mph, and his hard mid-70s curve is one of the best in the country. His change-up is still developing but is very deceptive at times and projects to an above-average offering. He has an easy delivery and is very aggressive on the mound, attacking hitters with superb command. He keeps the ball down, showing good signs of a ground-ball pitcher. Has been a member of Team USA since he was 14.
35. Duane Underwood — 6’-2”, RHP, Pope HS (GA)
Underwood is a hard-throwing righty whose fastball can hit 97 mph with ease. He also features a hard curve that projects to a plus pitch and a deceptive change-up that is still developing. His command can get away from him at times, but his strong arm, athleticism and high baseball IQ will have many teams flocking to Georgia to see his talents.
34. Tanner Rahier — 6’-2”, SS, Desert HS (CA)
Rahier attends Palm Desert high school but doesn’t play for the team. Instead, he plays for a spring league that uses wood bats to better prepare him for the majors. He is an extremely hard-working player who has a workout regimen Rocky Balboa would be embarrassed by. His arm has been clocked at 93 mph, and his plus-range at footwork make him a legitimate shortstop at the next level. His short, compact swing generates plus-power, and his bat speed allows him to catch up to any pitch, making him a great contact hitter. Has elite speed as he runs a 6.6/60. Overall, the kid has very few holes to his game, and playing in the ABCL has given him a leg up on his peers. The talent is off the charts, but the drive is what really separates him from the rest.
33. Kenny Diekroeger — 6’-2”, SS, Stanford
Diekroeger is an extremely intelligent baseball player. Able to play any position on the field, shortstop is his natural position, and he should be able to stay there at the next level due to his remarkable athleticism. Was a second-round pick by the Rays in 2009 after hitting .586 with a .688 OBP but chose to attend Stanford. 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. The team that drafts him will get a professional in every sense of the word, on and off the field.
32. Jake Barrett — 6’-3”, RHP, Arizona State
Barrett is a very hard-throwing righty and one of the most major-league ready prospects in the draft. At 6’-3” and 220 lbs, he throws a heavy fastball that sits in the mid-90s with late life. He also has a power curve that projects to plus, and his change-up is above average. Went 7-4 with a 4.14 ERA and 72 K/21 BB as a sophomore for Arizona State in 2011. Has great command, and mixed with his aggressiveness, he could be an excellent closer at the next level.
31. Ty Hensley — 6’-5”, RHP, Santa Fe HS (OK)
At 6’-5” and 225 lbs, Hensley is a future workhorse at the next level. He can dial his fastball up to 95 mph, and his curve is a potential plus/plus pitch. As with most high-school pitchers, his change-up is still developing but should be an average pitch at least. Has some mechanics issues, but those can be fixed with proper coaching and experience.
30. Kayden Porter — 6’-5”, RHP/1B, Spanish Fork HS (UT)
If Porter chooses to be a pitcher, a National League team needs to grab him. Unbelievable power at the plate, Porter can routinely launch 450-foot+ home runs. On the mound, his fastball reaches 93 mph with room for more velocity. His curve sits in the low 80s with sharp break and is a nice compliment to his fastball. With full-time duties on the mound, Porter has as high a ceiling as anyone on this list.
29. Rio Ruiz 6’-1”, 3B, Bishop Amat HS (CA)
Ruiz has been on the radar for years, and for good reason. Defensively, his soft hands, range and strong accurate arm make him one of the best at third base. At the plate, his plus bat speed from the left side allows him to make consistent contact to all fields. Hit .455 with 19 extra base hits in 101 at bats as a junior. Not going to steal many bases but his defense and ability to be a run producing hitter will make him a high draft pick in 2012.
28. Marcus Stroman — 5’-9”, RHP, Duke
Stroman could close for most major-league teams tomorrow if needed. With a fastball that touches 95 mph, and a tight slider that can be ridiculously mesmerizing at times, he is one of the most ready pitchers available in the draft. Went 8.1 scoreless innings for the collegiate Team USA, striking out 17, while walking just one. At the 2010 Cape Cod League, he tossed 25 scoreless innings, striking out 32 while walking just three, including registering 10 saves.
27. 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. Both his curve and change-up look to be above-average pitches at the major-league level, and his durability is something all teams will covet.
26. Chris Beck — 6’-3”, RHP, Georgia Southern
With Beck, it is all about potential. At 6’-3” and 220 lbs, he is a big righty with a power arm. His fastball hits 96 mph, and both his slider and change are quality pitches. He posted a 2.12 ERA with 41 K/13 BB over 51 innings at the Cape Cod League, showing good command of his pitches. With fellow teammate Victor Roache being a projected high draft pick, Beck should get a lot of attention this year at Georgia Southern.