The 2012 MLB Entry Draft is only a few hours away, and after months of pouring over scouting reports I still don't feel comfortable with any of my predictions. Unlike the previous few drafts with Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole, there is no consensus No. 1 pick this year.
Adding to the intrigue are the new rules implemented by the CBA that don't allow teams to sign players to over-slot money without risking massive fines and even the loss of future picks.
How will that affect the approach of teams when deciding between high school players or prep stars and college kids? It seems that college kids will become a more popular choice early, as they should be the easiest to sign. However, teams may reach for the potential of a high school player, as they can offer more money with a higher draft slot as opposed to waiting until later rounds.
Either way, it's gearing up to be a real barn-burner on Monday.
With six picks in the first two rounds (17th, 22nd, 50th, 58th, 60th and 81st), Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has once again positioned himself to heap another bounty of talent into his already stacked minor league system.
There are rumors that the rule changes (via Sportsnet) have forced Anthopoulos and Director of Amateur Scouting Andrew Tinnish to change their approach. I'm not buying it. If anything, I could see the team draft even more aggressively by taking nothing but kids with signability red flags and then get creative with their contract offers.
Or, perhaps I prove once and for all that I have no idea what I'm talking about and the ghost of J.P. Ricciardi returns to draft a bunch of polished, low-ceiling college players. To be followed by a very audible thud as I hurl myself off the top of the nearest tall building.
Moving on, here is a wish list for Anthopoulos and Tinnish as they head into the draft.
Lucas Giolito - RHP
Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.), Senior - Height: 6'6", Weight: 230 lbs
Early mock drafts had Giolito going as high as first overall, but an injury (non-tear) to his ulnar collateral ligament wiped out his senior year and cast a dark cloud over his draft prospects.
Regardless, this kid is a beast on the mound at 6'6", 230 pounds, and he has very good command of three pitches that are already close to MLB ready. Headlined by a hammer curve with dirty late break, Giolito also throws a mid-90s fastball that comes in heavy with good movement.
However, it's his changeup that tells me that this kid is what the Jays are looking for early in the draft. Toronto places a premium on off-speed pitches, and the fact that Giolito has arguably the best change in the draft has me looking to get G I O L I T O stitched on a jersey as soon as next week.
Lance McCullers - RHP
Jesuit HS (Fla.), Senior - Height: 6'1", Weight: 190 lbs
Two things stand in the way of Lance getting selected by Toronto. The first would be if indeed the Jays took Giolito at 17, as I can't see them taking right-handed pitchers with their top two picks. Toronto has the highest ratio of left-handed pitchers drafted in the first four rounds over the past three years at 25 percent.
The second is the fear that McCullers' commitment to Florida is iron clad.
However, if there's one thing for which Alex Anthopoulos can be counted on, it's his consistent ability to be wholly unpredictable (which seems to render this entire article a useless effort, doesn't it?).
Be that as it may, I love this Lance McMullers kid. Perhaps more than any other pitcher in this draft, L-Mac is a pure power pitcher. With an electric fastball thrown in the high 90s and a tight breaking slider, McCullers is death to right-handed hitters.
Although he can throw a decent changeup, he hasn't bothered with it since his nasty fastball-slider combo has been more than adequate. He'll need to develop that pitch as he progresses and harness his control. He's a tad wild, but he's the type of projectable pitcher the Jays love.
Addison Russell - SS/3B
Pace HS (Fla.), Senior - Height: 6'0", Weight: 215 lbs
Before you get on me about Russell being the third straight high school kid on this list, I wish to direct your attention to the height and weight stats above. Addison may be a kid, but he's already built like a man.
It's this reason that has a majority of scouts speculating that a move to third base is logical, since he has a plus arm and quick reflexes to go with his thick frame. A pull hitter at this stage in his development, Russell has incredible bat speed, a good eye and already shows plus power.
As a hitter, Addison is better at 18 than current Jays three-bagger Brett Lawrie.
Victor Roache - OF
Georgia Southern, Junior - Height: 6'1", Weight: 225 lbs
Roache is a bit of a mixed bag as a prospect, but the delights that may lurk within are tantalizing. In only 230 at-bats in 2011, Roache hit 30 home runs and 84 RBI, but a lot of scouts feel that his .326 batting average is a mirage.
It's unclear why this is because Roache hits the ball everywhere (i.e. not an easily defended pull hitter) and has great bat speed.
Regardless, a home run for every 7.6 at-bats cannot be ignored. If Adam Dunn can have a 12-year career with a .243 lifetime batting average, then drafting a prospect with the raw power of Victor Roache can't be that much of a risk.
Travis Jankowski - OF
SUNY Stony Brook, Junior - Height: 6'3", Weight: 190 lbs
This kid reminds me of Reed Johnson, although a much better base-stealer. Jankowski brings his lunch pail to work every day and plays with a vigor that would make him an instant fan favorite wherever he ends up.
Oh yeah, and he can actually play.
He's a low-wattage hitter so don't expect many home runs, but he'll get on base with a walk, a bunt or an opposite field line drive. And once there, pitchers better be prepared because this kid can fly.
In only 53 games played this year, Jankowski swiped 34 bags. That extrapolates to roughly 100 stolen bases in a full MLB season.
He's also a dynamite defender out in center field and could be ready to play in the majors full-time as early as September 2014.
Adam Brett Walker - 1B/OF
Jacksonville, Jr - Height: 6'5", Weight: 222 lbs
Some ambitious scouts (per MLB.com) have compared Walker to Giancarlo Stanton because of his prodigious power (an 80 on the 20-80 scale), but the consensus is that he may never develop the eye and swinging mechanics to tap into it.
Hogwash. This kid has the long legs, high hips and swooping uppercut swing of a right-handed Fred McGriff. The only concern is a lack of aggression at the plate and below-average defense.
However, in 2012 he cut back on his strikeouts to the tune of 18 percent per at-bat and walked at 13 percent. Those closely resemble Matt Kemp's ratios last year with a 23/12 split.
Also, with Adam Lind's struggles and resulting demotion and a dearth of MLB-ready first basemen in the system (apologies to Mike McDade and David Cooper), this pick just makes sense.
To clarify, I'm not claiming that Toronto should draft all these guys. They are all consensus top-50 ranked players so the odds of that happening are slim to none. However, if the Jays do in fact draft any of these players, then I will feel slightly vindicated.
If they draft two, I'll be taking my talents to Atlantic City.
Are there any prospects that you have a man-crush on? Let me know in the comments section.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter @TheDelgadoShift
Update: 15 minutes to go and the most recent mocks have the 17th and 22nd picks as follows:
B/R: Giolito and high school OF David Dahl
Baseball America: Giolito and high school 1B Joey Gallo
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com: McCullers and high school OF DJ Davis
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus: McCullers and high school C Clint Coulter