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MLB Draft: High School Bats To Watch

The 2012 MLB Draft is largely considered to be a prep-heavy draft. Many of the impact players will not be drafted out of the college ranks. Instead, they will come from various high schools across the country.

While it’s certainly not uncommon to have a prep-heavy draft class, the concentration of talent on the high school side of the board provides an intriguing backdrop to the draft as a whole. How will teams draft and sign the best talent — which appears to be prep talent — and yet adhere to the spending restrictions imposed by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement? Will teams be more budget-conscious and draft collegiate players to lessen leverage, or will teams simply draft the best players available (as they have in the past) and deal with the monetary ramifications as they come?

Certainly something to watch as the draft moves closer.

Last week, we profiled a handful of high school pitchers who could potentially be drafted in the first round of this year’s MLB Draft. This week, we shift gears and focus on the high school position players and which prep bats could be selected throughout the early rounds in early June.

Here are ten bats to keep tabs on this spring, in no particular order (these short scouting reports are an aggregate of watching video and reading various online scouting reports):

OF Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, GA)

Buxton continues to draw lofty comparisons to both Justin and B.J. Upton. While it is always difficult for such a young player to be saddled with such high expectations, the outfielder possesses the similar potential to develop five above-average tools across the board. Some scouts believe he can stick in center, while others see him settling in right field down the road. Teams love his power potential, his quick wrists, and his overall athleticism. Many see right-hander Lucas Giolito going first overall in the 2012 Draft, but ESPN’s Keith Law ranks Buxton as the number one draft prospect this year.

SS Carlos Correa, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, PR)

If a team believes Correa has the potential to stick at shortstop in the big leagues, the young man should be a Top 10 pick. He possesses intriguing power potential and a bat that profiles to be well above-average at shortstop. At third base, the skills become a bit less appealing, but he projects to have enough power in the swing to profile well enough at the hot corner, as well. Correa is committed to Miami, but should go high enough in the draft that he never sets foot on campus this fall.

C Stryker Trahan, Acadiana (Layfayette, LA)

Largely considered one of the best prep catching prospects in the past half decade, Trahan should have no problem finding a home in the first round. He is a surprising athlete for a power-hitting catcher, displaying above-average speed on the basepaths and quickness behind the plate to block pitches in the dirt. His raw strength gives him coveted power potential from the left side and should have no problems sticking behind the plate as he matures.

1B Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)

Gallo already has plus-power and has shown it in game action with wooden bats. He is 6-foot-5 and is country strong, though his swing gets long and has plenty of holes. Defensively, he will likely be limited to first base by the time he reaches the big leagues. The young man has a chance to go in the first round of the June draft if he produces better contact rates over the next couple of months, or if an organization believes they can close the holes in his swing and truly believes in the raw power.

SS Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, LA)

Cecchini is solid across the board. He has sound swing mechanics, a good hit tool, and the potential for average power. His defensive chops at shortstop are largely considered average, though the majority of scouting reports suggest he should be able to stick at shortstop throughout his career. Scouts talk up his makeup, intelligence, and athleticism. He is also the younger brother of Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini.

OF David Dahl, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, AL)

A potential Top 10 selection in the upcoming draft, Dahl has above-average tools and a chance to be above-average at the big league level someday. He can run, throw, and hit for average. His swing and body also indicate that the young man has plus-power potential. The one attribute that sets Dahl apart from his prep counterparts, however, is that he understands the strike zone and already shows good plate discipline. That is not common in a high school player. Scouts believe he will eventually end up in right field.

SS Addison Russell, Pace (Pace, FL)

Russell is an interesting shortstop prospect. Scouts talk up his athleticism and his instincts at shortstop, but his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame does not fit at short. Accordingly, many believe the young man will eventually transition to third base as he ages. That should not be a problem, however, as his power still projects to be above-average at third base. He has quick hands and raw strength. If a team believes he can cut it at shortstop in pro ball, he could go high in the draft. If teams see him as a third baseman, though, he will probably slip to the lower end of the first round.

OF Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, TX)

Whichever team drafts Courtney Hawkins will be getting a project. He does not project to be a good defensive outfielder, and he has not shown an ability to handle offspeed stuff at the plate. Still, when he does connect with the baseball, it travels a great distance and has a different sound off the bat. His power potential is well above-average. He could develop into an impact bat in a major league batting order if he reaches his ceiling. The problem, though, is that his ceiling is far, far away from his present skill set. Even for a high school player. Although, if things begin to come together this spring, Hawkins could be one of the fastest-rising names in the entire draft.

3B Corey Seager, Northwest Cabarrus (Concord, NC)

The younger brother of Mariners prospect Kyle Seager, Corey has the bloodlines for success in professional baseball. The young man has largely played shortstop in high school, though every scouting report that I read believes a move to third base will happen in short order. He possesses a short, simple stroke at the plate. Plus-power is not currently in his swing, but the home runs should come as he fills out and becomes stronger.

OF Albert Almora, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, FL)

Almora projects to stick in center field and may be one of the best prep center field prospects in the entire ’12 draft class. He has above-average speed and very good defensive instincts already. Most scouts also believe that Almora will eventually grow stronger and hit double-digit home runs. Almora was the tournament MVP in the Pan American Games and is currently thought to be a first-round talent.