Where will the best prospects from the 2010 draft class factor into my top-100 list? It’s a fair question, but I won’t be able to give a straight answer until each individual player signs his contract. Until then, it’s fun to speculate. The following players are ordered as they were drafted.
What’s interesting is the trio of players drafted Nos. 6-8, Barret Loux, Matt Harvey and Delino Deshields Jr., are overdrafts and will simply have to earn their way onto the list. But I’ve been wrong before. Last year’s No. 7 and No. 8 picks, Mike Minor and Mike Leake, had no problem earning their place.
1. Bryce Harper. Harper is arguably the best high school position player draft prospect to come along since Alex Rodriguez. Or at least Justin Upton. Washington has let it be known that they are immediately converting him to the outfield. I’m not a fan of the position switch, but maybe it will allow his bat to reach its full potential at a faster rate. Expect Harper to fit firmly in my top-10 prospects, and at the very top of Washington’s prospect heap, as soon as he signs.
2. Jameson Taillon. Dare I say that Taillon is the best high school pitching prospect in nearly two decades? Last year’s batch of high schoolers was the best in recent memory, yet I would take Taillon over any one of them. You could make a case for Clayton Kershaw in 2006 or Homer Bailey in 2004, but, for me, we have to go all the way back to No. 1 overall pick Brien Taylor in 1991 or Todd Van Poppel in 1990 to draw a talent comparison. Odds are that Taillon signs, and he will immediately become a top-20 prospect when he does, and perhaps even Pittsburgh’s top talent overall. Only two things give me pause and prevent a higher ranking. One, the general uncertainty of high school pitching. And two, the two guys that I’m comparing him to. For various reasons those guys didn’t turn out. But if Taillon proves it on the pro level he will move up accordingly.
3. Manny Machado. Machado has a polished bat and is a relatively safe bet to have future success, despite being a high schooler. His ultimate upside is in question, however, due to a possible position switch and power in his bat that may or may not materialize. I’ve compared him to Mike Moustakas before, but I like Machado even more coming right of high school. Machado should be Baltimore’s very best prospect at year’s end and should fit in as a top-40 prospect overall from the get-go.
4. Christian Colon. Colon isn’t a prospect who makes you stand up and say “wow,” especially from a fantasy perspective. He isn’t a toolsy player, but he is heady, hardworking and instinctive. Honestly, if he was drafted where I thought he deserved to go, in the 15-25 range, he wouldn’t have much of a shot at cracking my top-100. Being drafted No. 4 overall enhances his stock for no other reason than he will always have the aura of a top-five pick around him, which people, like your competing keeper league owners, are suckers for. He may not deserve it in my mind, but he will fit somewhere in the 80-100 range of my top-100 list. But, just like last year’s No. 4 pick, Tony Sanchez, he will have to earn his way into my upper echelon.
5. Drew Pomeranz. For a college pitcher who is a top-five selection, Pomeranz’s lack of consistency and polish has to be a concern. To make a recent comparison, his faults give me an Aaron Crow vibe at this point. I envision him fitting in the 50-70 range when he signs, but I feel like I won’t hesitate to move him down if he struggles, much like Crow.
9. Karsten Whitson. Whitson has that classic first-round high school pitcher feel about him. The low-90s fastball, feel for his secondary offerings, strong frame, work ethic, upside and proven success, albeit at the high school level, equal up to a firm top-10 pick. He should fit in among the top 50 prospects in baseball immediately.
10. Michael Choice. Choice represents a rare commodity in this year’s draft. There is a lack of power hitters, and he is taking advantage. He was a great value at No. 10 overall, and with some work, being a brute-force slugger may not be the only thing he is known for. Choice could have a well-rounded game when all is said and done. He is a shoo-in for the top 50 and may even be Oakland’s new No. 1.
11. Deck McGuire. As far as safe-bet pitchers go, McGuire is as close as you can get this year. He doesn’t blow hitters away, but he is a respected competitor and has great polish and mound presence, a true pitcher rather than a thrower. He’s another probable top-50 player when he signs.
12. Yasmani Grandal. I’m not a big fan of Grandal’s, but he lasted longer than I expected. His best tool is his plus power for a catcher, but he grades out unfavorably in many other categories. I feel like he may struggle out of the gate more so than a couple of recent first-round college catchers, Jason Castro and Tony Sanchez, due to a lack of comparable bat speed and plate discipline. Nevertheless, he should fit in the 70-90 range when he signs.
13. Chris Sale. Sale fell from a projected top-five pick all the way to No. 13, providing the White Sox farm system with a much-needed stud prospect. When you watch him pitch, it’s like he knows what nearly every hitter is thinking, and he then uses any one of his three pitches to his advantage. It’s an uncanny ability that could translate to the next level with the proper work. Sale is a top-40 prospect and possibly Chicago’s new No. 1.
14. Dylan Covey. Covey has the best curveball in the 2010 draft, and Milwaukee’s deprived pitching outlook needs the boost. Every other aspect of his game needs work, but he should immediately fit in near the bottom of the top-100 list, near Milwaukee’s current top pitching prospect, Jacob Odorizzi, if Milwaukee can buy him away from his University of San Diego commitment.
20. Kolbrin Vitek. Vitek should make for an excellent professional hitter, as his bat speed, swing consistency and plate approach are major assets. His power and speed flash on occasion, but they are questionable aspects to his game at this point. Nevertheless, he is another immediate top-50 prospect from the 2010 draft class.
25. Zack Cox. Cox somehow managed to fall all the way to No. 25, where St. Louis was happy to scoop up another falling blue-chip prospect for the second year in a row. He was a strong college hitter whose bat speed and plate approach should translate with little issue to the professional ranks. Cox belongs in the outer regions of the top 50 prospects in baseball.