2013 MLB Draft Top 35 Prospects

THIS IS NOT A MOCK DRAFT. I repeat, this is not a mock draft. These rankings represent my personal draft board of the top talents in the 2013 MLB Draft. This draft board has been developed through my own scouting over the last couple of years as well as countless conversations with scouts, front office officials and coaches inside the game. In compiling my draft rankings I subscribe to much the same theory as I do when compiling my organizational rankings; I hold a preference for velocity and projection in pitchers, and athleticism, up-the-middle potential and power with position players.

1. Mark Appel (RHP) – Stanford University – Scouting Report (03.12.12)
Appel has entered the last two college seasons as arguably the top draft prospect in the country. After turning down a $3.8 million slot offer from the Pirates as the eighth overall pick last year, Appel did exactly what you would hope he would as he returned to school; he got better. Appel’s command, consistency and changeup all improved during his senior year and the results now match the raw stuff that has always suggested a frontline starter. Appel will be one of the fastest movers in this draft class and it is not unreasonable to see him reaching the big leagues for good in 2014. The scouting report linked above dates back to last year and has not yet been updated on this site.

2. Clint Frazier (OF) – Loganville (GA) High School – Scouting Report (04.26.12)
Yes, I realize I deviate from the prospect industry consensus in this regard, but for me, Frazier is an elite-level talent that has a case as the top prospect in this draft. There is risk involved, namely that his hitting mechanics and aggressive approach will get him in trouble at higher levels, but Frazier is a true five-tool monster that could provide a team with a serious impact talent. There are no convenient comps for Frazier and that is seemingly part of the reason he gets pushed down in rankings like this, but his talent is real and he deserves consideration as the best position player in this draft class.

3. Jonathan Gray (RHP) – University of Oklahoma – Scouting Report (04.23.12)
Gray exploded this year at Oklahoma, displaying the type of incredible raw stuff that has scouts projecting him as a frontline starter not far behind that of Mark Appel. He has the potential to move quickly through the minor leagues and could make a major impact at the big league level. Some concerns linger with Gray, including the final disposition of his thick frame and how well he can sustain his present stuff under a pro workload. The recent findings of a failed drug test (reportedly for Adderal) should not impact his draft stock.

4. Kris Bryant (3B) – University of San Diego – Scouting Report (05.16.12)
Power is always in demand and Bryant offers plenty of power. He is the best college power hitter in this year’s class and the improvements he has made to his swing mechanics and overall offensive consistency this year have made him a very strong prospect at the top of the first round. For teams that believe he can stick at third base and that he will routinely handle quality secondary stuff, he is a quick moving slugger that can impact a big league lineup within two years.

5. Kohl Stewart (RHP) – St. Pius X High School (TX) – Scouting Report (04.30.12)
Also an elite football recruit, Stewart is expected to sign and commit to baseball full time if he goes among the top few picks as expected. A superb athlete, Stewart offers plenty of physical projection and the potential to develop into a quality number two starter. It may take time for Stewart to grasp the nuances of pitching at the pro level, but the payoff could be huge.

6. Braden Shipley (RHP) – University of Nevada
Over the last twelve months, Shipley has been a serious riser on draft boards, peaking in the top ten in the weeks leading up to the draft. A raw pitcher with little mileage on his arm, Shipley can pump fastballs in the 93-94 mph range consistently and has shown the ability to touch 98 mph at times. His changeup is quite advanced given his experience level and he has shown occasional feel for a breaking ball. Shipley doesn’t fir the mold of a fast-moving college pitching product, but he offers upside not seen outside the big two college arms of Appel and Gray.

7. Trey Ball (LHP) – New Castle (IN) High School – Scouting Report (05.30.12)
Ball is one of the top two-way talents in the draft, offering excellent potential on the mound and third to fourth round potential as an outfielder. As a left-handed starter, Ball could evolve into a number two starter when all is said and done. His fastball is an above-average pitch right now and his long, lanky frame offers additional projection. His changeup is ahead of his curveball but both have at least above-average potential long term.

8. Austin Meadows (OF) – Grayson High School (GA) – Scouting Report (04.16.12)
Meadows entered the year considered one of the elite prospects in this draft, a tag his skills never really warranted. Meadows is a quality hitter that will have at least very good gap power and possibly solid over-the-fence power. His added mass doesn’t bode well for his future in center field, leaving some scouts to wonder if the power doesn’t come, does he really fit the left-field profile he will own.

9. JP Crawford (SS) – Lakewood (CA) High School
High school shortstops that project to stay at the position in pro ball tend to be a relatively rare commodity. Crawford is the best of this year’s prep crop at the position and his defensive skills are such that there is little doubt he will hold down the position long term. There are questions about his bat, both in terms of contact and power, but scouts that like him believe he will hit enough to be a solid everyday shortstop.

10. Hunter Renfroe (OF) – Mississippi State University
Renfroe has really improved during his three years on campus, maxing out as a legit power threat with a classic right-field profile. Renfroe could hit 25-30 home runs at the big league level if he can hone his hit tool enough to make contact more frequently and post a .250-.260 average. Renfroe has a strong arm and is a good athlete in right field, giving him a good defensive profile.

11. Colin Moran (3B) – University of North Carolina – Scouting Report (05.24.12)
I will admit, I don’t get the top ten hype with Moran. While he does own an excellent approach at the plate and a decent feel for contact, the power profile is questionable and his defense at third base must still improve at least a full grade to play the position at the big league level. Moran could be a solid player but despite his collegiate success and relative polish at the plate, his two major weaknesses will have to make significant strides for him to fit the prototype at the hot corner.

12. Reese McGuire (C) – Kentwood High School (WA) – Scouting Report (05.31.12)
Defensively gifted prep catchers are almost as rare as true prep shortstop prospects. McGuire works well behind the plate and projects as an above-average defender overall with strong catch-and-throw skills. He has strength in his swing and could have average power potential long term, but scouts wonder just how much he will hit against premium professional pitching.

13. Ryne Stanek (RHP) – University of Arkansas
For a team that believes they can make slight alterations and improve Stanek’s consistency with command and his secondary pitches, he could be a top ten pick. As is, Stanek has plus-plus velocity and the potential for a plus changeup. At worst, scouts project him as a lights out late-inning reliever, but there are plenty of teams that still believe he can start with a little work on the rough edges.

14. Phil Bickford (RHP) – Oaks Christian High School (CA)
Bickford has had serious helium in the weeks approaching draft day with some scouts and crosscheckers speculating he could come off the board in the top fifteen picks. His fastball has ticked up this spring and now regularly reaches 94-95 mph with some hope he could sit there in the future thanks to his projectable body. He needs work on his slider and changeup but with an ideal frame and good present velocity, Bickford could be good gamble for a club looking for high ceiling talent in a weak draft class.

15. DJ Peterson (3B) – University of New Mexico
Peterson is a bat-first prospect that could go anywhere in the first round depending on how teams value some of the late risers and higher ceiling high school prospects. With a solid offensive approach, excellent natural hitting ability and the potential for solid-average power to all fields, Peterson has the bat to profile at third base. That said, his defense is rough and more and more scouts seem convinced he will end up on an outfield corner or at first base, putting more pressure on the bat.

16. Iak Clarkin (LHP) – Madison High School (CA)
Clarkin competes extremely well on the mound and backs his attacking style up with a quality arsenal. His fastball will sit in the low-90s and has been up to 94 mph this spring. His curveball could give him a second above-average pitch and there are scouts that believe the changeup will be average down the line.

17. Dominic Smith (1B) – Serra High School (CA)
I know I should be higher on a prep player with Smith’s hitting ability and power potential but I historically struggle mightily with prep players limited to first base as their only defensive option. Smith has the potential to hit for average and power while also offering very good defense at first base, a profile that many teams will like, but his risk comes from the fact that he has to max out the entire profile to be a Major Leaguer.

18. Alex Gonzalez (RHP) – Oral Roberts University
A less-heralded college arm, Gonzalez has flown under the radar throughout much of the spring. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range and he has touched higher in many outings this year. His slider has swing-and-miss potential in the plus range and his feel for a changeup shows occasional promise. Gonzalez isn’t a high-ceiling arm but he could be a fast-moving number three starter.

19. Eric Jagielo (3B) – University of Notre Dame
Jagielo has a profile that includes the ability to hit for average and power but it comes with serious questions about his offensive approach and how that will play against more advanced professional pitchers. If he can hone his approach, Jagielo could be a middle-of-the-order threat. His defense needs work but he has some of the basics necessary to handle the position if a team is willing to give him time to develop.

20. Billy McKinney (OF) – Plano West High School (TX)
One of the best pure high school hitters in this draft, McKinney has the potential to hit .290+ at his peak. He makes routine, easy contact on all types of pitches and has the strength and bat speed to project for at least average power down the line. He will likely be limited to left field defensively, but he is a gamer who can maximize all of his tools, including his superior offensive gifts.

21. Jonathon Crawford (RHP) – University of Florida
One of the best starters in the SEC, Crawford should go in the middle of the first round and could develop into a mid-rotation starter with good stuff. His fastball can reach 96-97 mph in bursts and he sits in the 93-94 mph range most nights. His slider has plus potential and there are scouts that see potential in his presently below-average changeup. Crawford is a bit of a divisive prospect, with some scouts believing his destined for the bullpen, but his arm strength and potential make him a legitimate first-round target.

22. Hunter Green (LHP) – Warren East High School (KY)
Hailing from an area not known for producing serious baseball prospects, Green has flown under the radar and may surprise many by going a little earlier than expected. A prep lefty with good size (6-4, 180) and projection will always be in demand, and Green backs that up with a fastball that already reaches 95 mph and feel for both a curveball and changeup.

23. Rob Kaminsky (LHP) – St. Joseph Regional High School (NJ)
Lacking prototypical size, Kaminsky has yet to fly up draft boards like his stuff and success suggest he should. Sitting in the average velocity range, Kaminsky will flash 92-93 mph heat at times and he can hold his velocity deep into games. His hard curveball is his best pitch and gives him a chance to miss bats consistently. For a team willing to look past his size, Kaminsky could be a steal as a potential mid-rotation starter.

24. Jonathan Denney (C) – Yukon High School (OK)
If not for questions about his hit tool, Denney would rate in the same zip code as fellow prep catcher Reese McGuire. Denney’s power potential is legitimate and he just has to demonstrate he can reach his raw power in games. Defensively he needs work, but he has the raw tools to be serviceable behind the dish; particularly with is power potential.

25. Tim Anderson (SS) – East Central Community College (MS)
A rare JUCO position player with first-round aspirations, Anderson is a tremendous athlete that can run at a plus-plus level, play shortstop with quality actions and has some juice in his bat. He has to prove he can hit against better competition and there are some questions about whether he fits better in center field long term, but Anderson is a legit first-round talent, despite his JUCO pedigree.

26. Alex Balog (RHP) – University of San Francisco
Balog pitched well down the stretch this spring, cementing himself as a potential first round pick. With a fastball that sits in the 93-94 mph range and good slider, he only needs modest showings from his curveball and changeup to profile as a mid-rotation workhorse.

27. Nick Ciuffo (C) – Lexington High School (SC)
Compared to McGuire and Denney, Ciuffo lacks a carrying tool. He is a solid defender that should stick behind the plate and he is a decent hitter with the potential for fringy power. All told, he should be a solid all-around backstop but he lacks the firepower and raw ceiling of his high school catching classmates.

28. Aaron Judge (OF) – Fresno State University
Judge is a complete physical specimen with the body of an NFL or NBA star rather than a baseball player. His athleticism matches his physicality and that is at least in part what entices scouts. With his physicality, Judge offers prodigious power and the potential for 30-plus bombs a year. He has serious questions surrounding his hit tool and may never hit better than .250-.260 with plenty of strikeouts, but his athleticism and power will make him a first-round target.

29. Austin Wilson (OF) – Stanford University
Another physical specimen, Wilson is loaded with tools and potential. He has the athleticism, speed and instincts to handle center field but may fit better in right field long term, where his huge arm strength will be a weapon. He has a ton of swing and miss in his game, leading to questions about how the hit and power tools ultimately play. The tools are loud and will make him an intriguing draft choice, but he carries an immense amount of risk.

30. Riley Unroe (SS) – Desert Ridge High School (AZ)
Unroe is another of the rare high school shortstops with a chance to stick at the position as a pro. He has the hands and arm for the position and his instincts and savvy in the field are nearly unmatched in this draft class. He has excellent bat speed and intriguing potential at the plate, including the potential for average hitting ability and power. Unroe seems a bit underrated heading into the draft and he could surprise down the line.

31. Bobby Wahl (RHP) – University of Mississippi
As the ace of Mississippie’s staff the last two years, Wahl entered the year with high expectations and the potential to go in the middle of the first round. However, injuries (though minor) have plagued him this year and his stock has slipped. For a team that believes he can regain the bite on his slider and the lost velocity, he could still be considered a quality late first pick with the potential to be a number three or four starter.

32. Phillip Ervin (OF) – Samford University
Ervin is a smaller grinder with surprising tools and he could be a budget-minded pick for a team in the 20s. He doesn’t profile well in center field for me, forcing him to maximize his offensive potential. He is a solid hitter with good gap power and some speed, giving him a chance to contribute at the Major League level.

33. Hunter Harvey (RHP) – Bandys High School (NC)
Still very raw, Harvey has big league bloodlines (son of Bryan Harvey) and a big-league fastball that can sit in the 90-92 mph range and has reached as high as 96 mph this spring. His curveball could be a second plus pitch and scouts believe he has the potential to gain feel for command and a changeup. Not without risk, Harvey could be a nice find for a team willing to gamble on his bloodlines and raw arm strength.

34. Oscar Mercado (SS) – Gaither High School (FL)
Have I demonstrated my affinity for players with the potential to play shortstop at the big league level yet? Mercado has that potential with at least an above-average defensive profile at the position. He hasn’t always hit as much as scouts would like but he has a sound swing, some feel for the barrel and projects for gap power, making him a potentially solid all-around shortstop.

35. Cord Sandberg (OF) – Manatee High School (FL)
A raw athlete, Sandberg could make huge strides once he gives up football (Mississippi State recruit) and focuses on baseball for the first time in his career. His athleticism stands out in this draft class and it gives him the chance for a broad collection of at least average tools. He could be a solid hitter with plus power down the line and there are scouts that think he can make the strides necessary to stick in center field.