May 11, 2011

Rivals.com Prospect Rankings: Top 100 High School Prospects

Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

You can't always see a make-or-break moment in a franchise, but the Diamondbacks have a chance of a generation staring them in the face as brightly as the Arizona sun.

For the first time ever, one team has two picks in the top seven of the MLB draft - a pitching-heavy MLB draft.

Get both picks right on June 6, and you've used an hour to pick up a top half of a rotation conceivably good enough to keep you in contention for a playoff spot every year for a decade.

Get them wrong, and be ready for some annual what-could-have-been handwringing from your fans.

Our latest mock draft has the Diamondbacks grabbing the two best left-handed starters in the draft: Virginia's Danny Hultzen at No. 3 and Georgia Tech's Jed Bradley at No. 7.

And since both pitchers are college juniors, a spot in a major-league rotation could be just a few years away.

With that, our latest mock draft:

1. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pick: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
The Buzz: The Pirates have gone back and forth with the pick, and by the time the Draft is here, the Buccos could go back again. Cole has a big arm and has shown plenty of poise on the mound in both the College World Series and with Team USA. His front-of-the-rotation ability is a little safer than Rendon at this point.
Last Mock: Anthony Rendon, 3b, Rice
2. Seattle Mariners
The Pick: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
The Buzz: This draft is incredibly deep but Rendon and Cole are the prizes, so the Mariners are not disappointed with having the No. 2 pick. Taking Rendon, who projects to pace through the minors quickly, could give Seattle a future infield of Rendon, Nick Franklin, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak. His production has been slowed with ankle and shoulder injuries but neither appear to be long-term issues.
Last Mock: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Pick: Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
The Buzz: Hultzen has been skyrocketing up draft boards with his stellar season. The rumor is that his pricetag is also on a steady rise; being labeled as the pitcher with the most polish in the draft helped that. With another pick at No. 7, the Diamondbacks stick with the plan of adding quality arms. In 75 innings pitched this season, Hultzen has 112 strikeouts to just 12 walks.
Last Mock: Matt Purke, RHP, TCU
4. Baltimore Orioles
The Pick: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Buzz: Baltimore is in a great spot here with any number of very solid pitching options to target. Gray gets the nod over Dylan Bundy and Jed Bradley based on his ability to help the big league club more immediately. The undersized righty can crank it up into the 90s with his fastball and possesses a nasty curveball that he can use as an out-pitch on some outings.
Last Mock: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (Okla.) High
5. Kansas City Royals
The Pick: Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner (Kan.) Gardner-Edgerton
The Buzz: The Royals are playing smoke-and-mirrors with their interest in Starling and using the depth of the draft as a reason, it could pass on the local product. The Scott Boras client is going to be asking in the neighborhood of $6 million to buy him out of the opportunity to compete at Nebraska as a quarterback; the Royals will likely pay it to bring in the very talented outfielder.
Last Mock: George Springer, OF, UConn
6. Washington Nationals
The Pick: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde (Fla.) Academy
The Buzz: The Nationals seem happy with Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa at middle infield right now, but in a draft with very limited options at shortstop (read: Lindor is pretty much it), it is going to be hard to pass up a player that is being compared to Omar Vizquel. The No. 1 high school prospect will still need a few years of seasoning in the minors but projects without many holes in his game.
Last Mock: Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner (Kan.) Gardner-Edgerton
7. Arizona Diamondbacks - For Failure to sign Barrett Loux
The Pick: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
The Buzz: For the first time in the history of the draft, a team has two picks inside the first seven. It presents the Diamondbacks a fantastic opportunity to land two very high-quality picks early; with this being a compensation pick, though, signability is a premium as Arizona would not get another pick for missing on this selection. While the upside is with one of the high school arms on the board, the safe pick is grabbing Bradley. Bradley has great stuff but will need to learn how to control it.
Last Mock: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
8. Cleveland Indians
The Pick: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (Okla.) High
The Buzz: Cleveland will be hoping that Washington passes on Lindor as its system has been a wasteland for shortstops. While the Tribe has not selected a high school player in the first round since 2001, it appears the organization is poised to do so here. Grabbing either Bundy or Taylor Guerrieri makes the most sense. Bundy is the first prep pitcher to come off the board.
Last Mock: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde (Fla.) Academy
9. Chicago Cubs
The Pick: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, North Augusta (S.C.) Spring Valley
The Buzz: Guerrieri has been on a steady climb up rankings boards since he was flirting with triple digits on the radar gun - and the Cubs like the power pitcher. He is currently committed to South Carolina so a signing bonus in the $2 million range is not out of the question.
Last Mock: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
10. San Diego Padres - For failure to sign Karsten Whitson
The Pick: Matt Purke, LHP, TCU
The Buzz: Purke's draft stock has slipped with an injury-plagued sophomore campaign. Purke was the No. 1 player in his high school class and entered this season as the No. 3 draft prospect. So long as his shoulder checks out, there is nothing to indicate Purke will not be a top of the rotation pitcher.
Last Mock: Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) High
11. Houston Astros
The Pick: Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) High
The Buzz: The Astros reached on all three first round picks last season and may be stretching themselves again with Bradley at No. 11. The talent is certainly there, but so is the pricetag as the Astros will need to buy him out of the opportunity to compete to be the quarterback at Oklahoma. The benefit is that the team can use his dual-sport ability to stretch his signing bonus over five years.
Last Mock: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
12. Milwaukee Brewers
The Pick: George Springer, OF, Connecticut
The Buzz: By most reports, the Brewers look to be targeting an outfielder in the draft and there may not be one better at this spot than Springer. He is among the best college athletes in the draft and is leading the Huskies in batting average, home runs, runs batted in and stolen bases. His ability to stay in center field has to excite the Brewer organization.
Last Mock: Jackie Bradley, OF, South Carolina
13. New York Mets
The Pick: Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU
The Buzz: Mahtook has been glowingly reviewed as a player having solid all-around skills. He has used a solid season to push his draft stock up into the Top 15. The Mets have been all over the board with ties to several pitchers and a couple more college position players. The decision is not made yet.
Last Mock: Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
14. Florida Marlins
The Pick: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
The Buzz: The Marlins are in a great spot to grab a player that has graded out to be a Top 10 pick but is likely falling into their laps. Despite a quirky pitching regimen and awkward mechanics, Bauer led the NCAA in strikeouts in 2010 and is on pace to do the same again this year. Fairly or unfairly, the name Tim Lincecum gets tossed around with Bauer.
Last Mock: Nicky Delmonico, C, Knoxville (Tenn.) Farragut
15. Milwaukee Brewers - For failure to sign Dylan Covey
The Pick: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
The Buzz: An unprotected pick for the Brewers leads the team to grab a safer college arm than an upsided high school prospect. In this case, the Brewers are likely happy to turn in this pick as Jungmann has become a workhorse at Texas. The 6-foot-6 hurler is now 10-0 on the season and has a sub-1.0 earned run average.
Last Mock: Henry Owens, LHP, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison
16. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Pick: Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut
The Buzz: The financial state of the Dodgers makes this pick a mess. While the team did take a high schooler last year in Zac Lee, it was able to spread out his bonus over five years - and backload it. This year, the organization takes a little less risk but keeps the reward as Barnes has Top 10 potential if he can continue to develop secondary pitches.
Last Mock: Josh Tobia, 2B, Greensboro (N.C.) Southeast Guilford
17. LA Angels of Anaheim
The Pick: Blake Swihart, C, Rio Rancho (N.M.) Cleveland
The Buzz: The Angels had five first round picks in 2010 and went with high school talent at each pick. This year, the team only has one first rounder but stays the course with young talent. Swihart has one of the best young bats in the draft and can call his own game already - the Angels brass has to love that combination. Signing him away from Texas could be a challenge but not impossible.
Last Mock: Blake Swihart, C, Rio Rancho (N.M.) Cleveland
18. Oakland Athletics
The Pick: Daniel Norris, LHP, Johnson City (Tenn.) Science Hill
The Buzz: Norris may be sliding slightly down draft boards, but it doesn't have anything to do with his evaluations but rather the rise of other prep pitchers. Scouts have said Norris has flashed Matt Purke-type stuff but has a more fluid delivery that doesn't appear to have the potential to create the injury risks. Oakland has not used its top pick on a high schooler since Eric Chavez in 1996 and the team could use a bat; this pick is still very fluid.
Last Mock: Josh Bell, OF, Irving (Texas) Jesuit College Prep
19. Boston Red Sox - Compensation for Detroit signing Victor Martinez
The Pick: Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State
The Buzz: The Red Sox would love if Josh Bell falls to them and it may tempt them to take the outfielder in this spot. However, the opportunity to land the best college catching prospect with its second pick (No. 26) will not be there, and so the organization fills the need instead of taking the greedy pick. Susac's stock dipped slightly with a broken hamate bone ending his season, but his performance in the Cape Cod league built his credibility.
Last Mock: Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut
20. Colorado Rockies
The Pick: Henry Owens, LHP, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison
The Buzz: Owens is climbing the boards and could overtake Norris as the No. 1 high school lefty in this draft. He is 10-0 on the season and has been nearly unhittable every time on the mound. He has big game performances under his belt and projects well. The Rockies could also go after a sliding Jackie Bradley to fill its centerfield need in the minors.
Last Mock: Daniel Norris, LHP, Johnson City (Tenn.) Science Hill
21. Toronto Blue Jays
The Pick: Jackie Bradley, OF, South Carolina
The Buzz: If he falls beyond the Rockies, it looks like Toronto will jump on Bradley. Even with the wrist injury, Bradley is a solid value pick in this spot. He does not have one measurable attribute to rank above the other but his collection of tools and instincts make him a very good pick. His defensive ability in center field also makes him attractive.
Last Mock: Jason Esposito, 3B, Vanderbilt
22. St. Louis Cardinals
The Pick: Josh Bell, OF, Irving (Texas) Jesuit College Prep
The Buzz: One of the top prep bats in the entire draft falls down to St. Louis at No. 22. It would be a bit of a surprise for the Red Birds to have a chance to land Bell here; it may not be the original plan but it would make sense to grab him. His defense will likely force a move from center to a corner outfield position, but his bat will easily hold that spot.
Last Mock: Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy (Ark.) High
23. Washington Nationals - Compensation for Chicago signing Adam Dunn
The Pick: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
The Buzz: Although Oregon has been a bit of a disappointment this season, Anderson has seen his stock improve. His stuff is getting a lot of positive reviews about upside as well as reliability. Those are two things that are music to the ears of whichever team lands the southpaw.
Last Mock: Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami Dade Junior College
24. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Boston signing Carl Crawford
The Pick: Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy (Ark.) High
The Buzz: Tampa Bay generally loads up on high school talent in the draft, as it used all three picks on high schoolers last year. This year, the process begins again, landing Howard. With three plus pitches at his disposal, the 6-foot-2 Arkansas commit has plenty of ways to get batters out. His change-up may become his best pitch, and that includes his mid-90s fastball.
Last Mock: Tyler Beede, RHP, Auburn (Mass.) Lawrence Academy
25. San Diego Padres
The Pick: Levi Michael, IF, North Carolina
The Buzz: The Padres need a little bit of everything in the farm system and so it is a spot to land Michael who has played 2B, 3B, and shortstop in his three years at Chapel Hill. While most likely projecting as a major league second baseman, his versatility provides options. His approach at the plate is drawing rave reviews.
Last Mock: Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
26. Boston Red Sox - Compensation for Texas signing Adrian Beltre
The Pick: Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami Dade Junior College
The Buzz: After passing on Bell and grabbing Susac with its first pick, Boston goes to the outfield in this pick. The Red Sox could opt to go the high school route with Lebanon (Pa.) Cedar Crest's Derek Fisher or Cheyenne (Wyo.) East's Brandon Nimmo, but Goodwin is too good to pass on this pick. He could turn into a Mike Cameron-like player.
Last Mock: Travis Harrison, 3B/OF, Aliso Viejo (Calif.) Tustin
27. Cincinnati Reds
The Pick: Jason Esposito, 3B, Vanderbilt
The Buzz: There are plenty of options at the bottom of the first round that could have been middle of the round picks. That is fantastic for the Reds, which can use this pick to land the slick-fielding Esposito. His bat is above average and could benefit from landing in Cincinnati.
Last Mock: Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU
28. Atlanta Braves
The Pick: Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
The Buzz: Meyer is starting to learn to pitch and not just throw. His radar gun readings have impressed plenty of teams - and his stuff matches - but the youthful lack of control has plagued him. His 6-foot-9 frame is a little outside of the usual Braves pitcher mold, but he has ability to be a nasty pitcher.
Last Mock: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
29. San Francisco Giants
The Pick: Kolton Wong, 2B, Hawaii
The Buzz: Wong has come on strong, building from his MVP performance in Cape Cod last summer hitting around .400 all season for Hawaii. A rare quality and pure second baseman, Wong could develop quickly in the minors and give the team a long term answer at the position as early as mid-2013.
Last Mock: Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State
30. Minnesota Twins
The Pick: John Stinson, RHP, Texas A&M
The Buzz: The love affair continues in the Twin Cities as the organization drafted Stinson out of Texarkana (Texas) Junior College in the 19th round two years ago. The question will be where to put him, as his stuff is on par with anyone on the current staff. He could also develop into a long term solution as a closer.
Last Mock: Alex Dickerson, OF, Indiana
31. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for New York signing Rafael Soriano
The Pick: Nick Delmonico, C, Knoxville (Tenn.) Farragut
The Buzz: Delmonico takes a fall from the mid-first round nearly into the compensation picks, but the Rays grab one of the most athletic of the high school catchers. Delmonico played mostly shortstop until this year and his knowledge of the rest of the position players is an added benefit. His bat has room to develop; at this point, he goes from reach to a value pick.
Last Mock: Austin Hedges, C, San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra Catholic
32. Tampa Bay Rays
The Pick: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Tampa (Fla.) Alonso
The Buzz: The Rays have been rumored to like Fernandez at the No. 24 pick, but being able to grab the hometown player at No. 32 is great. One of the best remaining prep arms, Fernandez can easily pitch into the 90s with movement on his fastball.
Last Mock: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
33. Texas Rangers - Compensation for Philadelphia signing Cliff Lee
The Pick: Javier Baez, 3b/SS, Jacksonville (Fla.) Arlington Country Day
The Buzz: Texas will likely grab the best available player at this point and not be pegged as looking for anything in particular. That is a great spot for Baez to come off the board as he has moved to shortstop with mixed reviews but has the ability to play SS, third, second or even catcher. He is currently commited to Chipola (Fla.) Community College so signing should be easy to nail down as well.
Last Mock: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, North Augusta (S.C.) Spring Valley

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