Minor Developments: 2011 MLB Mock Draft, Part 1

With the Rule 4 Draft fast approaching (June 6-8), and various mocks popping up all over the place, I’ve decided to do the exercise myself and see how the first round ends up. This is much more challenging than it looks, and I tip my cap to anyone who takes the time to do this each year. My basis for each selection was organizational need, draft history, and club finances. Using this rationale and a list of the current top 200 draft prospects with full scouting reports, here is what I’ve come up with. We’ll unveil picks 1-17 this week, with selections 18-33 coming next week.

1. Pirates: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice: The top position prospect in the draft, he draws comparisons to Evan Longoria(notes) and Ryan Zimmerman(notes). Pedro Alvarez(notes) moves across the diamond in two years, filling the void at first base.
Organizational Needs: SP, 1B
Top Prospects: SP-Jameson Taillon, SP-Stetson Allie, C-Tony Sanchez

2. Mariners: Gerrit Cole, SP, UCLA: Although not the best college performance of ’11, he has an arsenal that best translates to the major leagues. Should move quickly through the Mariners organization, possibly debuting by 2012. A notch below Strasburg, as far as stuff goes.
Organizational Needs: 3B, OF, SP
Top Prospects: 2B-Dustin Ackley(notes), SS-Nick Franklin, OF-Guillermo Pimentel

3. Diamondbacks: Danny Hultzen, SP, Virgina: He’s been one of the highest risers of this year’s draft class, and has even worked his way into some No. 1 pick discussions. His improved stuff makes him a future top of the rotation arm.
Organizational Needs: SP, 1B, OF
Top Prospects: SP-Jarrod Parker, SP-Tyler Skaggs, 3B-Matt Davidson

4. Orioles: Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS: One of the highest ceilings in the draft, Starling profiles as a five-tool center fielder. A great scouting report on him by Mike Diaz can be found over at Project Prospect.
Organizational Needs: 1B, OF
Top Prospects: SS-Manny Machado, 2B-LJ Hoes, OF-Xavier Avery

5. Royals: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy: This is a loaded system, so they can afford to pick the best available player. The rationale behind Lindor is that it would eventually allow Christian Colon to move to second base, where his range would play better. Lindor is the best shortstop prospect in the draft, with huge upside.
Organizational Needs: C, 2B
Top Prospects: 3B-Mike Moustakas(notes), C-Wil Myers(notes), SP-Mike Montgomery(notes)

6. Nationals: Trevor Bauer, SP, UCLA: He’s been arguably the most dominant pitcher in college this year, and his performance has moved him into the top 10. His polished arm should help quicker than one of the top prep pitching prospects (Bundy, Bradley).
Organizational Needs: 1B, SP
Top Prospects: OF-Bryce Harper(notes), C-Derek Norris(notes), SP-A.J. Cole

7. Diamondbacks: Sonny Gray, SP, Vanderbilt: Scouts rave about his make-up, and his stuff is pretty good too. Although he’s undersized, he throws as hard as any pitcher in the draft, and could move quickly through the Arizona system.

8. Indians: Jed Bradley, SP, Georgia Tech: Keeping with the recent trend of selecting polished college arms (Alex White(notes), Drew Pomeranz), the Indians would be thrilled to land Bradley here, who could slip slightly due to bonus demands.
Organizational Needs: SS, SP
Top Prospects: SP-Drew Pomeranz, 3B-Lonnie Chisenhall(notes), 2B-Jason Kipnis(notes)

9. Cubs: Dylan Bundy, SP, Owasso HS: Also sliding due to bonus demands, Bundy is the best prep pitcher in the draft. He could be the ace the Cubs have been in search of for years, although he’ll need 2-3 years in the minors first.
Organizational Needs: SP, 1B, 2B
Top Prospects: OF-Brett Jackson(notes), SP-Trey McNutt

10. Padres: George Springer, OF, Connecticut: I considered catcher Blake Swihart here, but the polish and tools of Springer win out. With a wave of young players nearly ready (Rizzo, James Darnell, Kelly, Castro), the Pads will look to add someone who won’t need a ton of time to develop.
Organizational Needs: SS, OF, C
Top Prospects: SP-Casey Kelly(notes), 1B-Anthony Rizzo(notes), SP-Simon Castro(notes)

11. Astros: Alex Meyer, SP, Kentucky: Meyer reminds me of Alex White, a pitcher who took a few years to put things together, but now looks like an outstanding prospect. The Astros need a frontline pitcher badly, and Meyer has the tools and imposing presence to be just that.
Organizational Needs: SP, 3B, OF
Top Prospects: SP-Jordan Lyles(notes), 2B/OF-Delino DeShields Jr., SS-Jonathan Villar

12. Brewers: Daniel Norris, SP, Science Hill HS: The Brewers are in need of a big time lefty starter in their system, and Norris fits the bill. He has an exciting arsenal and makeup that could make him a future ace. Francisco Lindor would be an ideal fit here if he falls on draft day.
Organizational Needs: SP, SS, OF
Top Prospects: SP-Mark Rogers(notes), SP-Wily Peralta, SP-Cody Scarpetta

13. Mets: Levi Michael, SS, North Carolina: This is a reach, but the Mets could be in the market for a replacement for Jose Reyes(notes) if he is traded or leaves via free agency. Michael also won’t break the bank, which is a determining factor for a club in a financial bind. Wilmer Flores most likely won’t stick at short long term.
Organizational Needs: SS, SP, C
Top Prospects: SP-Jenrry Mejia(notes), OF-Ceasar Puello, SS-Wilmer Flores

14. Marlins: Taylor Jungmann, SP, Texas: A talented starter with an excellent body of work is the obvious choice here. The Marlins are in desperate need for a compliment to Josh Johnson(notes), and would rather not wait 2-3 years for a high school arm to develop.
Organizational Needs: SP, C, 2B
Top Prospects: SP-Chad James, 3B-Matt Dominguez(notes), OF-Christian Yelich

15. Brewers: Javier Baez, SS, Arlington Country Day School: The Brewers get their shortstop in Baez, who is an extremely toolsy player. He was compared to former Brewers farmhand Brett Lawrie(notes) by Baseball America.

16. Dodgers: Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU: The Dodgers, much like the Mets, are looking for a player that fills a need and won’t break the bank. Mahtook does both, and isn’t that much of a reach, making him a perfect selection.
Organizational Needs: OF, 1B, C
Top Prospects: SP-Zach Lee, SS-Dee Gordon(notes), SP-Ruby de la Rosa

17. Angels: Archie Bradley, SP, Broken Arrow HS: The Angels have deep enough pockets to sign Bradley, and can afford to develop him as their future ace. He was the top prep pitcher heading into the season, but inconsistency this spring dropped his stock.

Organizational Needs: SP, 3B

Top Prospects: OF-Mike Trout(notes), 2B-Jean Segura, 3B- Kaleb Cowart

I’ll be happy to answer any questions in the comment section regarding any pick I’ve made, and welcome discussion on individual players and organizations as well.

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Have a prospect question? A player you want to see covered? Send it to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com

Rob Steingall is a nationally syndicated fantasy analyst whose work has appeared in newspapers including The Providence Journal.

Updated Wednesday, May 18, 2011