Just a couple of years ago, nobody knew who Stephen Strausburg, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout were. Now that these young guns are the talk of the league, we’re seeing how bright their star really is. With the 2012 MLB Draft taking place tonight at 7 PM (EST), it’s time to take a deeper look at some of the most incredible future all-stars out there. All of the prospects below are under 20, some have been drafted, while some will go tonight. These are names that aren’t yet known except by the baseball die-hards, but you can definitely expect to be rooting for or against them soon.
Dylan Bundy, (Orioles)- The Baltimore Orioles are surprising everyone and having their best season in a decade. Just how good could they be with the addition of one of the top pitching prospects in the game? Just 19 years old, Bundy may already be big league ready. The #1 pick of the 2011 draft only just suffered his first minor league loss last week. He can touch 99 MPH on the radar gun, and has a glistening .68 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 40 innings this season. The Orioles are babying him, but it’ll be tough to keep him down if he keeps performing the way he is.
Taijuan Walker, (Mariners)- If it wasn’t for Bundy, Walker would be the talk of the league; he too is only a teenager. The minor league system starts at single A, and goes to AAA before players reach the majors. A teenage Walker skipped single A and has been dominating older and better competition in double A. His phenom status has drawn comparisons to Strausburg. His fastball has a lot of motion and he is a strikeout machine; leading to an ERA around two this year. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus says of Walker, “with a 92-97 mph fastball, mid-70s curveball and impressive changeup, he certainly has the stuff to be a No. 1 starter.”
Lucas Giolito- A guy to look out for this evening. According to Keith Law of ESPN.com, Giolito is the only pitcher in tonight’s draft with “true number one starter potential”. Injuries have recently been a concern, causing his stock to drop, but he is an absolute man-child. The 17 year old Giolito just got his driver’s license, and is 6’6″ and 230 pounds. He’s already touched 100 MPH on his fastball. Once healthy, he’s a guy with incredible upside to keep an eye on.
Albert Almora, Outfielder- Here’s another name to look for tonight. Almora is is one of the most polished high school players to come out in a long time. He’s a natural outfielder who started playing Varsity in Florida in 8th grade. His coach, Eddie Gorriz, said of Almora “When you watched him play center field, your jaw dropped. I wanted to start him in the 7th grade.” MLB.com’s Walter Villa says of Almora, “he has tremendous instincts to track fly balls and exceptional power, especially considering he has yet to fill out his 6-foot-2, 172-pound frame.” Almora has played for a record six USA national teams. His cousin, Manny Machado, is also a top prospect in the Orioles organization.
Jorge Soler, Outfielder- This is a guy who can’t be drafted as he recently defected from Cuba, but is now free to sign with any team in the MLB. He possesses an incredible skill set, and will be highly sought after. Although raw, the 20 year old Soler has “explosive bat speed and power potential” according to Baseball America. He’s already big at 6’3″, 220 pounds, and is a potential five tool player. It’s expected that Soler will sign with a team sometime before July at a rumored price of around $25-35 million. The Marlins, Cubs, and Yankees are expected to be among his top suitors.
Byron Buxton, Outfielder- Described by ESPN’s Keith Law as the #1 prospect in this years draft, Buxton has drawn comparisons to Matt Kemp of the L.A. Dodgers and Hall of Famer Willie Mays. Sports Illustrated says that he’s the fastest prospect since Bo Jackson. In high school, he started at pitcher, outfielder, quarterback and defensive back. Law says the 18 year old has “by far the best upside in this year’s draft, (based on) his body and off-the-charts athleticism.” Albert Chen says there “isn’t a player more talented, and more intriguing” than Buxton.
The future of the MLB looks bright. These six players are some of the most talented athletes on the planet, and they’re not even old enough to have a beer. Keep an eye on these names, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll featured at a ballpark near you.
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