Los Angeles Angels
When you go out and sign CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols during the offseason, you probably aren’t going to have very many early picks in the draft. That was the case with the Angels this year as they didn’t pick until #114 in the third round.
Top pick RJ Alvarez has premium arm strength that has worked exceptionally well in relief. He can dial it up to 97 mph at times and his hard slider has a tendency to play up in relief as well. Alvarez could be a quick-moving prospect that fits in the back of a big league bullpen by the end of 2013.
In the fourth and sixth rounds the Angels popped two college middle infielders with very different profiles. Second baseman Alex Yarbrough is an offensive-minded guy that can hit for a high average and could pick up some doubles as well. He is solid in the field but doesn’t stand out.
Sixth rounder Eric Stamets out of Evansville is more of a defense-first player with the ability to stick at shortstop long term. He has great range and very good hands in the field and could probably defend at the upper levels of the minor leagues immediately. Stamets has some offensive questions but does offer 70-grade speed.
Two college pitchers that offer a little more intrigue than your typical collegiate arms are right-hander Mark Sappington and left-hander Austin Adams.
Sappington is a big-bodied guy that shows a good low-90s fastball but struggles to command the ball and mix in any successful secondary pitches. He could move to the bullpen if starting doesn’t work out and his fastball could play up a touch more in that role.
Adams is another potential reliever but he is much more of an unknown despite three years on campus. Though he has flashed a fastball in the low-90s and a curveball with plus potential, his command and control very rough.
Though the Angels drafted several other modest relievers and underwhelming college players, there were some high-ceiling talents sprinkled in throughout the draft. Right-handed pitcher Reid Scoggins has big time velocity and closer potential.
Still unsigned in the 17th round, right-hander Yency Almonte has good bloodlines and a very projectable frame. If the Angels can convince him to sign, he has a chance to add to his average fastball and could be an intriguing arm to watch in a couple of years.
The A’s draft has the potential to be a monster one when looking back in a few years. With a system that has seen an infusion of talent over the last twelve months, they will be able to be patient with many of the youngsters they just picked, and this crop of kids could begin showing up on prospect lists over the next few years.
Though I remain unconvinced of first rounder Addison Russell’s ability to stick at shortstop, he has enough potential with the bat to profile at less demanding defensive positions. Russell will need patience, but he could be an All-Star caliber player down the line.
The supplemental round could give the A’s the future of their infield corners. Third baseman Daniel Robertson has a chance to be a .280-.290 hitter with a good line drive swing that produces plenty of doubles and could result in 15-20 home runs. First baseman Matt Olson is another good hitter with power potential that could fit in the middle of the order.
Bruce Maxwell may be a catcher in name but he could end up at first base must like Olson. He is an advanced hitter with a good feel for his offensive game. He has a chance to hit for average and power and could move quickly to the upper levels.
Right-handers Nolan Sanburn, Kris Hall and Dakota Bacus can all run their fastball up to or past 94 mph. Sanburn has the biggest heat, touching 97 in short bursts and he could be a high-leverage arm with more experience.
The A’s also added a couple of under-sized outfielders with some potential in BJ Boyd and Brett Vertigan. Boyd is a major project but he has natural strength, some raw hitting ability and he flashes plus speed. Vertigan is a little faster than Boyd but lacks the strength and is more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter with a solid approach and good defense in center field.
The Mariners got their guy with the number three overall pick, snapping up polished Florida catcher Mike Zunino without hesitation. Zunino offers power from both sides of the plate, above-average defensive potential and exceptional leadership ability. He can move quickly once signed and could reach the big leagues within two years.
Second rounder Joe DeCarlo required almost $500,000 over slot to sign but his excellent hitting ability and plus power potential make him an enticing prospect. DeCarlo will need some time to develop at third base, having moved there from shortstop in high school, but he has a chance to be a very good defender.
Third rounders Edwin Diaz and Tyler Pike are both very projectable prep arms. Diaz, a Puerto Rican native, has plenty of room to add strength and mature physically and he can already reach 92-93 mph with his fastball consistently.
Pike was bought out of his commitment to Florida State and while he doesn’t have the extreme projection of Diaz, there are plenty of scouts that still believe he can add to his 87-88 mph fastball that touches 91. He has a very advanced feel for pitching and shows the potential for three average pitches with above-average command.
Fourth round pick Patrick Kivlehan is the ultimate boom or bust pick. An inexperienced baseball player, Kivlehan played college football and then played just one year of college baseball at Rutgers. He can run and has tons of strength that gives him plenty of power projection. Despite his inexperience, scouts in the Mid-Atlantic were very impressed with how quickly his hitting skills returned. There’s work to be done here but Kivlehan has a chance to be a big time prospect.
Ninth round pick Jamodrick McGruder should be a fan favorite at every stop of the minor leagues. He is a fast player that can steal bases and make things happen at the top of the lineup. He’s a solid, if unspectacular hitter with an excellent approach at the plate.
The Mariners added more speed with Mike Faulkner and Brock Hebert outside of the top ten rounds. Faulkner is a burner that has a lot of work to do to be a baseball player, but his speed is of the impact variety. If he can become a better hitter and defender, he could be interesting.
Virginia Commonwealth reliever Blake Hauser is a reliever that relies heavily on his plus slider. Some scouts I spoke to noted that he threw it more than 50% of the time in many outings. His fastball can flash at 92-93 mph with some life. If he pitches off his fastball more in pro ball, the slider could be even more of a weapon and he could have seventh or eighth inning potential.
If there’s one thing the Rangers 2012 draft will be synonymous for, it is the addition of multiple premium athletes.
First rounder Lewis Brinson may be the best athlete in the entire 2012 draft and he is an absolute tool shed of a prospect. He is a plus runner with good bat speed and plenty of power potential. His speed should ultimately play in center field and his arm is another plus tool. The big question is whether Brinson will ever hit. If he does, he could be an absolute monster!
Second rounder Jamie Jarmon and Nick Williams are also premium athletes, and while neither has raw tools as loud as Brinson’s both are extremely talented and extremely raw in their own right. Jarmon had a chance to play two sports at South Carolina before opting to sign with the Rangers.
Popped in the supplemental first round, Joey Gallo had some of the best power potential in the prep draft class. Whether it’s on the mound or at the plate, Gallo’s game is power. He has easy plus-plus power to all fields and can reach 94 mph off the mound.
Over the last few years the Rangers have shown a willingness to tackle developmental projects on the mound, with much success. Right-hander Colin Wiles is another pitcher that will need some work but has considerable upside in his 6-foot-4 frame. He is a good athlete that can already top out at 90 mph and most scouts think he could add several miles per hour to that in time. His slider and change-up both show promise as well.
Though the Rangers did save some money in the back half of the first ten rounds, much of that money has already been used in the upper rounds. That could leave 24th round pick Chase Mullins out of the mix and heading to Kentucky. An enormous 6-foot-9 left-handed pitcher, Mullins can work in the low-90s at times and leaves scouts wondering just how good he could be if everything comes together. Don’t be surprised if the Rangers make a run at him, but it could be a fruitless effort in the end.