It's that time of year. Time for FanHouse to roll out its MLB Mock Draft. The Rule 4 Draft is less than three weeks away, and the first round picture should be getting a bit more clear, right? Well, not exactly. This year more than ever, with few players separating themselves from the pack, the first round figures to be wide open.
At this stage, even the scouting directors for each team don't have a great idea of how the first 10 picks will unfold, let alone the entire first round. But, ever so slowly, things are beginning to take shape. So, after weeks of working the phones with scouts and scouting directors, here is my take on how those first 10 picks in the first round could go down in our initial 2010 mock draft.
- 1. Nationals | Bryce Harper (C) | College of Southern Nevada
It's tough to feel safe about anything in this first round, but right now Harper is the one thing we can bank on. Barring a case of cold feet on the part of Washington with regard to his price tag, this will be your No. 1 overall pick in 2010.
- 2. Pirates | Manny Machado (SS) | Brito H.S. (Miami, Fla.)
As usual, the Pirates are a tough team to get a feel for when it comes to their draft intentions. Drew Pomeranz was a natural fit here, but given his performance of late, the Pirates are turning their attention elsewhere, according to my sources. They are not as in love with Jameson Taillon as other clubs, so I'd expect them to turn to the potentially pricey Machado. A wild card to keep in mind here is Michael Choice.
- 3. Orioles | Jameson Taillon (RHP) | The Woodlands (Texas) H.S.
Sorry, Royals fans but if Taillon gets to the Orioles, he will not slide any further -- that's the word in the industry. The O's aren't afraid of high school arms, and there's little reason to be with Taillon. He's given up a few more runs than scouts feel he should have this spring, but for the most part, he's as good as they come. They are heavily scouting Machado as well, and that would likely be their fallback plan.
- 4. Royals | Chris Sale (LHP) | Florida Gulf Coast
The Royals are one club that has done particularly well not to tip its hand, at least yet. They have been on Sale all spring, but there are a number of directions they could go here. Michael Choice, Pomeranz and Yasmani Grandal are all options.
- 5. Indians | Drew Pomeranz (LHP) | Ole Miss
It's becoming clearer by the minute that unless Pomeranz can regain his stuff and get back to his peak form soon, he's going to slide. Even with his poor performance, most scouts I've spoken to don't see him getting beyond the sixth pick. Cleveland has been all over Michael Choice this spring, so the Indians could go that route, but I'm going to go on the assumption that Pomeranz shows some signs of improvement. If that's the case, Cleveland would be glad to have him.
- 6. Diamondbacks | Deck McGuire (RHP) | Georgia Tech
Sources say Arizona is locked in on landing a college starter, so there are a couple places the D'backs could turn. They like Pomeranz, and it is very possible he could slide to them with Cleveland considering many other options. They've been on McGuire all spring, though, and he figures to be there for them to take.
- 7. Mets | Zack Cox (3B) | Arkansas
I was all set to call this the landing spot for Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal, but, the past few days I've been told by scouting sources that the Mets will not be going after him. They are not expected to break the bank, and would like to land a bat. Choice could get a look here but the Mets like the polished bat of Cox.
- 8. Astros | Michael Choice (OF) | Texas-Arlington
No team in the top 10 has been as tight-lipped about its intentions as the Houston Astros. A college bat seems logical here; I don't see them grabbing a high school arm. If Cox is available I can see them going there. It's hard to see Choice sliding any further than this spot.
- 9. Padres | Karsten Whitson (RHP) | Chipley (Fla.) H.S.
San Diego has been looking in a lot of different spots with the ninth overall selection, but the Padres are reportedly especially fond of the prep right-hander Whitson. They'd like to have one of the college bats, but in this scenario players like Cox and Choice will be off the board.
- 10. Athletics | Dylan Covey (RHP) | Maranatha H.S. (Pasadena, Calif.)
Word is that A's general manager Billy Beane has been out to see Covey recently, and that the prep right-hander is very high on their radar screen. Oakland is expecting the premier college bats like Cox and Choice to be gone, and as such is willing to turn its attention to a prep arm. Right now, Covey appears to the guy they prefer among the ones that figure to be available.