Welcome to DRaysBay's continuing draft coverage. If you missed them yesterday, Jonathan wrote about some college bats that could be available to the Rays in the first round, and I wrote about the organization's track record in the Pacific Northwest. This is the first of a three part series where six writers: myself, Imperialism32, JCMitchell, John Gregg, mr. maniac and Whelk all take turns making picks as we move through the draft. When we reach the Rays in part three, several of us offer an opinion before advancing to the final few picks. We hope you enjoy. This has taken a bit over a week to complete, but I don't think anyone's stock has changed significantly enough for any of these picks to look out of place.
1. Houston Astros select RHP Mark Appel (Stanford): Appel, a RHP from Stanford, may have only been rated the fourth best 2012 draft prospect by Baseball America, but he is the favorite to be the top pick come June 4th. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a strong slider, Appel has the makings of a top of the rotation pitcher. The main concern with Appel is that he hasn't dominated his college competition as much as the top pick should have. There is a chance that the Astros could select the consensus (but not by a wide margin) top player in HS OF Byron Buxton, but, as of now, the indications are that Appel will be the top pick. -mr. maniac2. Minnesota Twins select CF Byron Buxton (Appling HS, GA): The Twins have shown in the past that they have no issue with drafting prep bats early. Buxton is being compared to the likes of the Upton brothers and Andrew McCutchen. While a college pitcher like Kyle Zimmer (who they have been rumored to have been heavily scouting this spring) makes sense here too, getting a potential 5 tool franchise-cornerstone-type player in Buxton will be too much for Minnesota to resist. It may be safer to pick a college player, but getting the best high school player in the country with his enormous talent and up-side will be just fine with the Twins. -John Gregg
3. Seattle Mariners select SS Carlos Correa (P.R. Baseball Academy): While Mike Zunino's name has been penciled in this spot for weeks, his suspect play during SEC season combined with Correa's rising stock makes him the pick here. For now, he's a five tool player, although he may lose a step when his 6'3, 185 pound frame fills out more, but that's not an issue. He's a plus hitter with a great feel for contact and bat speed, and he has the approach to match. His swing already generates power, and he'll get even more as he gets stronger. He may have to move from shortstop to third base down the road, but his arm and actions could make him an above average defender at the hot corner. He's one of the youngest players in the draft, and he has the high potential a team like Seattle needs. -SGrauer
4. Baltimore Orioles select RHP Kevin Gausman (Louisiana State): The Orioles are likely going with the best player available and that is where I will go with this pick. Gausman has ace potential with a fastball that has been clocked at 99 mph, a potentially plus change-up, and a breaking ball that can be above-average. He has an ideal frame and could move fast through Baltimore's system with Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado. I simply do not see Zunino as an option here and I think the Orioles would love for one of Buxton or Correa to fall to them here. -JCMitchell
5. Kansas City Royals select RHP Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco): For a team whose big hitting prospects (Hosmer, Moustakas, Myers) have far outpaced their big pitching prospects (Montgomery, Lamb, Duffy), a college pitcher who could make an impact relatively quickly fits perfectly, and any of the top three will do. With Appel and Gausman off the board, that leaves San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer. He's got an ideal 6-4/220 frame with athleticism and the fastball to match, working 94-96 and touching the upper-90s. He also throws a plus curveball and flashes a decent changeup, and he can control his full arsenal (96 strikeouts, 15 walks in 83.1 innings this spring). -Imperialism32
6. Chicago Cubs select C Mike Zunino (Florida): With the Red Sox, Theo Epstein strictly adhered to a best player available strategy, regardless of cost. He was able to acquire talent despite picking near the end of the first round by scooping up players who dropped due to signablity concerns and then paying them. Under the new rules, he won't be able to do that, but with the Cubs' high draft position, he won't have to. Zunino, a junior catcher out of the University of Florida, is the best college hitter in the draft, with good bat speed and some projected power. He might not be a great defensive catcher, but he won't need to move off the position, either. -Whelk
7. San Diego Padres select RHP Lucas Giolito (Harvard-Westlake HS, CA): Look for the Padres to be aggressive with this pick. While they could go with some high upside bats (Almore, Dahl, Hawkins), Giolito perhaps has the highest upside of any player in the draft. and should be sign-able at this range. When healthy, Gilioto possesses dominant stuff, including a mid to high-90s fastball, a plus-plus curveball, and even a plus changeup (rare for a HS pitcher). Giolito uses the long toss program to an extremity. The only thing preventing him from being the first HS RHP ever selected with the first overall pick is a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow during early March. Selecting Giolito would present the Padres with a high boom or bust guy. -mr. maniac
8. Pittsburgh Pirates select CF Albert Almora (Mater Academy, FL): The Pirates have been heavily linked to Zunino and Correa, but with both of them off the board and Almora available, he is the pick here. There are some scouts who think that Almora is every bit as talented as Buxton and a safer bet to develop as well. He oozes athleticism and is already very strong with plenty of room to grow into his wiry frame. He also has plus bat speed and plenty of raw power. He'll need plenty of polishing, but he has all of the tools that scouts drool over and Pittsburgh would be glad to grab him here. -John Gregg
9. Miami Marlins select LHP Max Fried (Harvard-Westlake HS, CA): A year after two UCLA starters were taken in the top three, two of their recruits could be taken in the top 10. While the Marlins haven't been able to activate their bizarre home run sculpture as much as they hoped, ultimately I think this group of players will score more than enough runs in the future. Fried offers Miami some badly needed pitching depth behind last year's first rounder Jose Fernandez. Although he's tailed off at the end of spring, Fried offers the potential for three plus pitches with a nice 6'4, 180 pound projectable frame. He has average velocity now, but he should be able to add to it as he grows into his frame. His curveball and changeup are already pretty effective weapons for him, and he has a good athleticism and a feel for pitching. The Marlins have taken a high schooler in the first round five years in a row, and I see no reason for that trend to end. -SGrauer
10. Colorado Rockies select OF Courtney Hawkins (Carroll HS, Texas): Spoke to a team scout who has seen a lot of Hawkins and he said Hawkins has 70 raw power right now and extremely good makeup to go along with a plus arm which is good since he is likely moving to right field in pro ball. He does struggle against offspeed stuff but who doesn't at his age? There is too much potential to pass up here. I could see any of McCullers, Dahl, Wacha, or even Shaffer go here. -JCMitchell
11. Oakland Athletics select RHP Marcus Stroman (Duke): It's the ten-year anniversary of the famed Moneyball draft, and while Oakland's strategy has changed, Stroman would've fit in perfectly with that crop. He doesn't fit with scouts' image of a starting pitcher at 5-9/185, but he sure has the stuff: A 92-94 mph fastball, touching 96, and a plus slider. That arsenal helped him easily strike out better than a batter per inning this spring for Duke. He holds velocity deep into games, but he'll have to silence doubts about his future role. Whether a starter or reliever, he's a good bet to make it to the majors quickly. -Imperialism32
Come back tomorrow morning for the next set of picks.