The MLB Draft is the most unscientific of the professional sports drafts. But, hey, if you're gonna be unscientific, might as well try and go 31-for-31. Here's a look at who the teams might just pick when their time comes in the Rule 4 Amateur Draft today:
1. Houston Astros – Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford – It has actually been reported across the board that the Astros would take Appel simply due to him being as close to a sure thing as there is in this draft, and while Byron Buxton might have a higher ceiling as a true five-tool prospect, his time table is not as gauranteed as Appel's is, who at this point could craft his own path.
2. Minnesota Twins – Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (GA) – The Twins already are long into the development of their young talent (Miguel Sano being the centerpiece) and having another guy with high end offensive capabilities to join with Sano would be a great thing to have. Buxton had really seen his stock rise over the past couple of weeks, but the Twins should be happy to see him here.
3. Seattle Mariners – Michael Zunino, C, Florida – There has been talk about Carlos Correa here due to the fact that the Mariners passed up on Francisco Lindor last year, but I like the idea of Zunino as a fast-rising catcher to solidify a spot of dire need for the Mariners relatively quickly.
4. Baltimore Orioles – Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico – Yes, the Orioles have Manny Machado waiting in the wings, but if Machado has to move off shortstop and Correa is much like his Puerto Rican brethren in Lindor, the Orioles could have a left side of the infield that could be the best in baseball come 2016.
5. Kansas City Royals – Kyle Zimmer, RHP, University of San Francisco – This might as well be written in stone as well, as some have Zimmer above Appel in some mock drafts and the Royal are absolutely drooling over the prospect of Zimmer being here. Appel still has the better stuff, but Zimmer has a chance to advance quickly due to his repetoire and his control.
6. Chicago Cubs – Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (FL) – Both Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha, two proven college starters, could be here for the taking, but knowing how much Theo Epstein likes to build up teams with young players, I think he'll take a chance on Almora, who has a shorter ceiling than Buxton but still a lot to offer.
7. San Diego Padres – Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU – The Padres could use a pitcher to quickly solidify their rotation as they have a plethora of positional talent in the minors right now. Gausman has a chance to move quickly, as well.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates – Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M – If Wacha can continue to improve like he showed this season as an Aggie, his arrival could coincide with both Gerrit Cole's and Jameson Tallion's meaning that the Pirates could have one hell of a rotation as soon as 2014. There's also a chance that he could be a quick sign, which could speed up the development process. The one name that could come up as well is Deven Marrero of ASU, but pitching is hard to come by, even in a weak draft like this one.
9. Miami Marlins – Max Fried – LHP – Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) – He's the other H-W pitcher in this draft, with Lucas Giolito getting a lot of ink coming into this season, but Giolito's arm issues have actually seen him out of the first round all together in some pundits' eyes. The Marlins are actually in desperate need of starting pitching talent, so a Chris Stratton might be someone Miami could go do for a quicker development, but a high school lefty with projection is hard to pass up.
10. Colorado Rockies – David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (AL) – The Rockies have a pretty decent young pitching staff to play with at this point, and investing in some talent to help out Carlos Gonzalez in the second half of his extension is always a good thing to bet on.
11. Oakland A's – Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State – Like I said above, Pittsburgh will think long and hard about Marrero, but if he falls to Oakland, they'll have no choice, as Grant Green has moved to the outfield and the team is without a shortstop prospect. He could also move quickly, which might be good for the team if their move to San Jose ever gets finalized.
12. New York Mets – Courtney Hawkins, OF, Caroll HS (TX) – With a couple of strong arms on the up and up, the Mets could use an offensive charge to their farm system, and Hawkins is yet another toolsy outfield with potential.
13. Chicago White Sox – Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke – I go with Stroman because Addison Reed's success might make Ken Williams think about doubling up on potential closers. (You see, I have to use the backwards logic here.)
14. Cincinnati Reds – Lance McCullers, Jr., RHP, Jesuit HS (FL) – The Reds could use a good pitching prospect after the Mat Latos trade and McCullers would be a great selection for them here.
15. Cleveland Indians – Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State – This is a really good chance for the Indians to find a southpaw to put into that rotation, and Heaney might be able to develop somewhat quickly, albeit as a middle of the pack rotation guy. Those pitchers stay Major Leaguers for a long time to say the least.
16. Washington Nationals – Lucas Giolotio, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) – This would be the most perfect pick in the draft by a long shot. Even if Giolito is having arm troubles, his talent is so great that with Washington's current team and Anthony Rendon waiting in the wings that they can be patient with Giolito as he comes up. And if it pays off? The Nationals get a potential Top 5 talent (some even had him as the #1 guy in this draft) as a steal in the middle of the first round. Being able to draft Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in consecutive drafts has its perks.
17. Toronto Blue Jays – Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (LA) – I'd copy word for word above for the Blue Jays when it comes to Giolito but they might get beaten to the punch. Toronto isn't afraid to take chances on high school talent and their development record is starting to churn out some pretty dynamic young arms. But Cecchini could solidify the shortstop position for the team if he comes through for them just in time for Yunel Escobar's contract to run up. This would be pitch perfect for Alex Anthopolous if Giolotio is there, because considering he has a pick at #22, getting a top-flight prospect on the cheap due to injury would match up incredibly well.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers – Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State – Ned Colleti wants some immediate help considering the new ownership group and needs to address some holes in the rotation relatively quickly. He'll hope Stratton gets the job done.
19. St. Louis Cardinals – Corey Seager, 1B/3B, Northwest Carabbus HS (NC) – The Cardinals get this pick from Los Angeles due to the Albert Pujols signing and they might just use it on Seager, who could end up at an infield corner in case Mat Adams or David Freese don't re-sign.
20. San Francisco Giants – Richie Shaeffer, 3B, Clemson – The Giants might not be liking Pablo Sandoval long term at 3B after his most recent off the field troubles (even if it was somewhat minor) but Shaeffer gives them an insurance plan just in case.
21. Atlanta Braves – D.J. Davis, OF, Stone HS (MS) – Young outfield prospect that the Braves can bring along with one of the best development systems in baseball? Yes, please.
22. Toronto Blue Jays – Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe HS (OK) – This pick stems from the Jays being unable to sign Tyler Beedle last year. Understanding their need for positional prospects, the Jays love developing pitching and have a knack for it. If they can figure out how to turn some of those prospects into either players or trade bait, they figure out a value for them. Hensley would just add to their stack of pitching prospects.
23. St. Louis Cardinals – Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern – This is the old trick of going with a sure thing as the #2 pick, as they can take a chance with someone like Seager and see what happens with Roache.
24. Boston Red Sox – Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon HS (OH) – Boston need to rebuild its farm system with projectable pitching talent and starting out with a lefty they can craft in the image of Jon Lester or Felix Dubrount is a good start.
25. Tampa Bay Rays – Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson – Let's be honest here: Evan Longoria's contract was the type that won't gaurantee him being a Tampa Bay Ray come the end of it, and if Shaffer is still here, the Rays might grab him just to use him as an insurance policy against Longoria walking once his contract is up in a few years.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks – Joey Gallo, 3B/RHP, Bishop Gorman HS (NV) – If that HS looks familiar, it should (Hi, Bryce) and the Diamondbacks need a guy who is athletic enough to play multiple positions. Letting Gallo figure out what he wants to do could either build up their extensive pitching collection or maybe see if his bat could play at the professional level.
27 and 28. Milwaukee Brewers – Stephen Piscotty, 3B/OF, Stanford and Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (FL) – The Brewers get back-to-back picks thanks to the Prince Fielder signing, and can help bring along some talent on the left side of the infield. Piscotty lines up perfectly with Aramis Ramirez's current deal.
29. Texas Rangers – Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood HS (GA) – Nolan Ryan loves drafting pitchers. I repeat: Nolan Ryan loves drafting pitchers.
30. New York Yankees – Tanner Rahier, SS, Palm Desert HS (CA) – Here's your Derek Jeter heir apparent. (Yes, that was tongue-in-cheek) In all honesty, the Yankees will need a replacement for him in the next couple of years, and Rahier is a good candidate to at least be average at the position.
31. Boston Red Sox – Brian Johnson, 1B/LHP, Florida – Boston gets Philadelphia's pick thanks to the Jonathan Papelbon signing. Johnson played well for the top-ranked Gators this year and Boston likes those two-way players. They were all about Casey Kelly as a converted shortstop, but might want to see what Johnson can do on the mound first considering that Adrian Gonzalez will be there for a long time to come.