FanGraphs 2012 Amateur Draft Selections

Major League Baseball’s 2012 amateur draft is less than a week away. The first round is scheduled for June 4, beginning at 7 p.m. EST, and the next 39 rounds will be on June 5 (rounds two through 15) and June 6 (rounds 16 through 40), beginning at noon EST on both days.

The draft will be interesting for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the overall talent is considered one of the weakest in recent memory; second, new rules have been implemented by MLB in an effort to control draft spending. Among many other changes, each team will be given a pool of money to spend (based on the number and position of their picks) and penalties can be assessed for exceeding the “recommended” funds.

Because teams are limited by the amount of money they can spend, you’re likely to see a lot of good prep players, who are not consensus first-round talents, head to college because they won’t be able to sign above-slot deals after being selected later in the draft, like in the past. As well, junior college enrollement could skyrocket because that route allows players to re-enter the draft after just one year, rather than wait three seasons with the four-year college route.

Below is my take on the first round selections. It is not a guess of what teams will do; it’s a ranking of what I would do if I were running the draft war room for each team. I drafted without considering each club’s willingness to spend money on the draft, and I looked to take who I considered the best player available — based on scouting reports, word of mouth and first-hand observation.

For actual mock drafts and what experts predicting teams should do, I highly recommend checking out Keith Law at (subscription required), Perfect Game (subscription required, although some material is free) and Baseball America (subscription required, although some material is free).

1. Houston Astros: Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico HS – The consensus around scouting circles seems to favor toolsy but raw Georgia outfielder Byron Buxton in this spot but I love Correa’s overall package and offensive potential. He has a simple load and repeatable swing that’s quick to the ball. He generates power with outstanding bat speed.

2. Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton, OF, Georgia HS – Buxton oozes athleticism and has an effortless, smooth swing. He’s raw, though, and has holes in his game. He’s just a tick below Correa, for me; I see similar ceilings with the Puerto Rican shortstop having a better chance of reaching his.

3. Seattle Mariners: Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State U – Gausman edges Mark Appel because he’s been a little more consistent and flashes dominating stuff. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he has an outstanding changeup. The right-hander also features two breaking balls with the curveball currently ahead of the slider.

4. Baltimore Orioles: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford U – Appel, who has been considered for the first overall pick, would be an outstanding player to get at No. 4. His stuff sits in the low-to-mid-90s and he has a very promising slider. The changeup is a work-in-progress. He has an outstanding pitcher’s frame with room to fill out even more. On the downside, Appel has been inconsistent and struggles with his fastball command.

5. Kansas City Royals: Mike Zunino, C, U Florida – From an organizational standpoint, the club would probably prefer a college arm but Zunino is the best player available and has a much higher ceiling than current (injured) starting catcher Salvador Perez. He’s a strong leader with solid all-around skills, including above-average power.

6. Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora, OF, Florida HS – A potential five-tool player, Almora is polished for his age and skill level. He’s already a plus defender in the outfield and could provide 15-20 home run power as he develops. He also has very good makeup.

7. San Diego Padres: Max Fried, LHP, California HS – For me, Fried is the best prep pitcher available. The southpaw commands three pitches: an 88-93 mph fastball that can touch the mid-90s, an outstanding curveball and a very promising changeup. Fried has an impressive pitcher’s frame with a ton of projection left; his combination of present skill and future potential is enticing.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, U San Francisco – Zimmer is a strike thrower that can touch the upper 90s with his fastball. He also features a very good curveball and changeup. He has a strong pitcher’s frame and should be very durable.

9. Miami Marlins: Lucas Giolito, RHP, California HS – Fried’s high school teammate, Giolito would have ranked higher on this list but he suffered an elbow injury earlier this year and there are concerns that he could eventually need Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has a big strong pitcher’s frame and could provide plenty of innings if his elbow holds up. His heater sits in the mid-90s and hits the the upper-90s. He also has two outstanding secondary pitches in a curveball and changeup.

10. Colorado Rockies: Lance McCullers, RHP, Florida HS – McCullers is no where near as polished as Fried but he has perhaps the best fastball of any high schooler. The son of a former Padres reliever of the same name, he’s been on the prospect radar for a long time. McCullers has a power fastball and slider and has been mostly projected as a reliever in pro ball. Recent performances, though, have convinced more and more people that he has the stuff to stick in a big league starting rotation.

11. Oakland Athletics: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Texas HS – A powerful hitter, Hawkins has plus raw potential but may not hit for average unless he tweaks his approach. In the field he shows a strong arm and good range. He’ll likely play right field as a pro.

12. New York Mets: Joey Gallo, 3B/RHP, Las Vegas HS – The toughest decision with Gallo is whether to make him hitter or a pitcher. He has some of the best raw power in the draft but also flashes mid-to-upper-90s heat and a potentially-plus slider. Because he has a lot of holes in his swing I would try him on the mound before handing him a bat. Gallo has shown a lot of promise as a pitcher and could really take off if he focuses on it full time.

13. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State U – Heaney is a strike-throwing southpaw with outstanding command of his three pitches: an 88-93 mph fastball, curveball and changeup. He should move quickly through the minor leagues.

14. Cincinnati Reds: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Louisiana HS – The brother of Boston prospect Garin Cecchini, Gavin is a smooth-fielding shortstop with baseball savvy and good makeup. He should have no issues sticking at shortstop but his bat has some question marks. He has a simple swing and the ball jumps off his bat when he makes good contact. He’s not overly physical and will likely never hit for power. If he develops as hoped, Gecchini could be a solid No. 2 hitter.

15. Cleveland Indians: David Dahl, OF, Alabama HS – Dahl has a solid all-around approach and looks good on both defense and at the plate. In the field he shows good range and speed in center field and has a strong arm. At the plate he flashes 15-20 home run potential. He stands at the plate with a wide base and utilizes almost no stride. Dahl turns off some scouts because of his low-energy approach to the game.

16. Washington Nationals: Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson U – Shaffer shows the ability to hit for both average and power. On defense he shows a strong arm but his range is average and he struggles with his foot work. He might be better suited for right field.

17. Toronto Blue Jays: Cory Seager, 3B, North Carolina HS – The brother of Seattle’s Kyle Seager, Cory has the potential to develop into a big, strong third baseman at the big league level. He is already fairly polished for his age and could move relatively quickly through the system for a prep player.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M – Wacha’s arm is not as dynamic as the college arms at the top of this list but he knows how to pitch and flashes two very good pitches in a low-90s moving fastball and plus changeup. He has both a slider and a curveball but both are inconsistent. He has a big, strong pitcher’s frame.

19. St. Louis Cardinals: D.J. Davis, OF, Mississippi HS – One of the fastest player in the draft, Davis could steal 40+ bases will playing above-average defense (although his arm is below average). At the plate he shows some gap pop but I’m not a huge fan of his swing.

20. San Francisco Giants: Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State U – Marrero has gone backwards this year after entering the season as a potential top-of-the-draft player. He’s still a very steady player in the field who should have no issues sticking at shortstop. His bat has some question marks after a disappointing junior year in college.

21. Atlanta Braves: Stephen Piscotty, 3B/OF, Stanford U – A solid college hitter, Piscotty should hit for average but he’s more of a line-drive hitter and lacks the power that teams typically covet at third base or the corner outfield.

22. Toronto Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke U – Stroman has the stuff to go much higher in the draft but he stands just 5’9” and there are concerns over his durability. The right-hander has a low-to-mid-90s fastball, slider, cutter and changeup. His strong athleticism helps him make up for his lack of size.

23. St. Louis Cardinals: Lucas Sims, RHP, Georgia HS – Sims has a solid frame and shows a low-to-mid-90s fastball, as well as two good breaking balls: a slider and a curveball.

24. Boston Red Sox: Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State U – Stratton is a solid college pitcher with a low-90s fastball and two good breaking balls. His slider is currently ahead of his curveball and he’ll likely need to develop a changeup.

25. Tampa Bay Rays: Mitch Brown, RHP, Minnesota HS – I have him ranked higher than a lot of people but I love his easy, fluid delivery. Brown has a big, strong, durable pitcher’s frame. He works in the upper 80s and low 90s and could easily add a few ticks as he matures. He also has a cutter, curveball and changeup. Coming from a cold-weather state, I expect him to really blossom with regular workouts.

26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Zach Eflin, RHP, Florida HS – Eflin’s fastball velocity ranges anywhere from the low to upper 90s but there are some concerns over the health of his arm/elbow. He has a very good changeup but his curveball is below average.

27. Milwaukee Brewers: Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern – One of the top talents in the draft, Roache suffered a badly broken wrist earlier this year. When he’s healthy he shows plus raw power.

28. Milwaukee Brewers: Lewis Brinson, OF, Florida HS – Brinson is a very good athlete but he’s had inconsistent performances on the field. He should develop into a plus defender but he currently has a lot of wholes in his swing. He uses a leg kick at the plate but has a nice, uncomplicated swing that should allow him to make adjustments easily with professional coaching. He has a low floor but a huge ceiling.

29. Texas Rangers: Stryker Trahan, C, Louisiana HS – Trahan is a prep catcher who will likely need to move to the outfield as a pro. He has plus power potential but his swing is stiff and might preclude him from hitting for average. Trahan uses his upper body in his swing and whips the bat through zone. I’d like to see him use his lower half more.

30. New York Yankees: J.O. Berrios, RHP, Puerto Rico HS – Berrios has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and shows promise with both his slider and changeup. He has a solid delivery but loses his arm slot at times.

31. Boston Red Sox: Matt Smoral, LHP, Ohio HS – Standing 6’7” Smoral pitches with a low three-quarter arm and has fairly simply mechanics for a big pitcher. He has a low-90s fastball and a promising slider. His changeup needs a fair bit of work. Smoral has projectability to spare.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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