Mock Draft: Projecting the first 20 picks
Stanford righty Appel remains choice for Astros at No. 1
A week ago, there was an attempt to project the top 10 picks in this year's First-Year Player Draft. Now it's time to stretch that out to the first 20 selections.
As of now, there's little reason to change the top 10, with the exception of Southern California high school lefty Max Fried helping himself out with a big playoff start last week. There's bound to be more shifting as the big day draws near, but there isn't enough to go on yet to make changes to the projections.
The annual Draft takes place this year on June 4-6, beginning with the first round and Compensation Round A on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. ET. The first night of the event will be broadcast live on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com. Rounds 2-40 will also be streamed live on MLB.com on June 5-6.
MLB.com's coverage, sponsored by CenturyLink, will include Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Next week, we'll take a stab at the entire first round. Feel free to peruse the Draft Top 100 to learn more about potential first-rounders.
1. Houston Astros: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
There is still a strong belief that Houston will go with a college pitcher here, with an outside chance of Florida catcher Mike Zunino getting consideration. Appel, while not running away and hiding as the top guy most of the year, has been pretty outstanding over his past four starts, allowing just five earned runs on 27 hits over 31 innings (1.45 ERA) while striking out 37 and walking just two.
2. Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (Ga.)
The Twins could go with a college pitcher, with LSU's Kevin Gausman and San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer in the mix, but Buxton's tools should be too much to pass up here.
3. Seattle Mariners: Mike Zunino, C, Florida
There have been some whispers about Zunino sliding, but it's not quite time to make it happen in the projections. The college pitchers, as well as high school shortstop Carlos Correa, could get consideration here.
4. Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU
The thinking is still that the O's will go with the best college arm available. With Appel gone, that'll be either Gausman or Zimmer.
5. Kansas City Royals: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco
College pitchers still seem to be the focus for the Royals. If Appel, Gausman and Zimmer are all gone, Kansas City could change course and look at Fried.
6. Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (Fla.)
Early talk involved high school hitters, with Almora and Correa very much in play, with the edge going to this toolsy outfielder right now. There also seems to be strong interest in Fried.
7. San Diego Padres: Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
This connection still seems to be a strong one, with the Padres interested in the high-ceiling shortstop. They'd also consider Almora should he still be here, with the resurgent Fried figuring into the mix as well. College pitchers could also still come into play.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates: Max Fried, LHP, Harvard Westlake HS (Calif.)
The talk about the Pirates and Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero hasn't gone away and Marrero did have a good weekend with the bat. But his offensive struggles this season have some concerned and the Pirates certainly have shown they like good young arms in the Draft. Fried is one of the best, bouncing back from two shaky starts with a playoff shutout last week.
9. Miami Marlins: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS (Texas)
The Marlins don't shy away from taking high school hitters, and they wouldn't mind if Almora were to fall to them. Another choice could be Alabama prep outfielder David Dahl. But the Marlins' decision-makers have been watching Hawkins and his plus raw power very closely.
10. Colorado Rockies: Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford
The Rockies are likely still looking at a number of options, from high school hitters like Hawkins, Dahl and Gavin Cecchini to college arms like any of those above or perhaps Michael Wacha. They also could go the college-bat route, deciding between the power of Clemson's Richie Shaffer or the pure hit-abilitiy of Piscotty. The Stanford product gets the nod for now.
11. Oakland A's: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
The A's certainly aren't a college-only team in the Draft anymore, but for all the talk about them selecting a high school player in the first round, they've taken a college guy in each of the past 10 years. Sure, they'll consider Fried and there's been talk about prep shortstop Addison Russell, but with some good college pitchers on the board, the thinking is they'll go with who they believe is best among Wacha, Marcus Stroman, Chris Stratton or Andrew Heaney.
12. New York Mets: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (La.)
Will the Mets go with two straight high school hitters in the first round? The buzz is that they really like Cecchini's tools and makeup, and he is more advanced than last year's pick, outfielder Brandon Nimmo. If they go with a more advanced type, any of the above pitchers would come into play, as could Marrero and Shaffer from the college-hitter ranks.
13. Chicago White Sox: Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
The White Sox might have an interest in a high school hitter like Hawkins, but they tend to go for college pitching early. They have scouted Wacha, Stratton and Heaney closely in recent weeks. The latter two have helped themselves with strong performances down the stretch, and both threw very well in conference tournament play. Some believe that they like Stratton a touch over Heaney.
14. Cincinnati Reds: Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
There are a number of pitchers the Reds could consider here, especially if one of the better college ones drops. But the Reds drafted Marrero once before, in 2009 when he was coming out of the Florida high school ranks. If he gets this far, Cincinnati might take him a second time.
15. Cleveland Indians: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State
With the large exception of Francisco Lindor a year ago, the Indians have been a very college-heavy team in the first round. Last year, they picked in the top 10, giving them a premium talent like Lindor to select. Now in the middle, going back to college may make sense. Heaney was pitching as well as anyone in the NCAA over his last couple of starts and looks like a starter who could reach the big leagues quickly.
16. Washington Nationals: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke
After spending the past few years picking at the top of the Draft -- No. 1 overall in 2009 and '10, when they got Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper -- this is a different vantage point for the Nationals. The best bet could be a college pitcher, and Stroman could get to the big leagues in a hurry if they want him to relieve.
17. Toronto Blue Jays: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (Ala.)
The Blue Jays have been as aggressive as any team in recent years, and they've shown a propensity for high-ceiling high school talent. That could mean a pitcher like Nick Travieso or Lance McCullers, but they might not want to pass on Dahl, whom some have compared to Johnny Damon.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS (Fla.)
The Dodgers do love their pitching, and this year might not be any different. More often than not, they've gone the high school route, though they did take Stanford lefty Chris Reed last June. There are some good prepsters to consider, and Travieso has helped himself as much as any high school pitcher in the country with his performance this spring.
19. St. Louis Cardinals: Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Cabarrus HS (N.C.)
The Cardinals have two picks in the first round and thus have a little flexibility should they want to be more aggressive. There are college hitters like Shaffer and some interesting ones from high school. Seager, whose older brother Kyle plays third base for the Mariners, is a shortstop now, but most see him at the hot corner as a pro.
20. San Francisco Giants: Richie Shaffer, 3B/1B, Clemson
The Giants will discuss college hitters and high school pitchers, it seems, for this pick. Travieso, McCullers and Walker Weickel should all get a look, but the "now" power of Shaffer at an infield corner position, even if he has to be a first baseman, might be too intriguing to pass up.