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MLB Draft Preview: Top Five Projected Picks

The MLB First Year Player Draft is finally upon us. On Monday, all 30 teams across the league will be hoping to bolster, or in some cases completely rebuild, their farm systems. As we have seen with the success of the Tampa Bay Rays, and more recently with the stockpile of young talent the Kansas City Royals feature, the draft is and should be the primary way through which teams build their future.

There are several schools of thought on how to draft successfully. Some GMs will tell you that drafting high school position players with upside is the smartest thing to do in the early rounds, because given proper time to develop, those players represent the greatest chance for a high-ceiling and high-reward talent. Others will tell you that college pitchers are the way to go, as they develop quicker, and are usually more polished than their high school counterparts. To each his own.

After doing some extensive research on the draft here at the MLB Fan Cave, here are my Top 5 available prospects, in no particular order, for this year's draft. Obviously, other players could sneak into the Top 5, but I wouldn't be surprised if these guys were off the board by the time the Washington Nationals pick at number six.

Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA

Cole was a first-round pick of the New York Yankees back in 2008 as a high school senior. The Yankees tried desperately to sign him, but, as the deadline neared, Cole decided to follow through with his plan to attend UCLA. He has since proven that staying in school was a wise decision, making the All-Pac 10 team in both his freshman and sophomore seasons while emerging as a projected fast-riser with front-of-the rotation stuff. Numerous sources indicate that Cole could be the number one overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team in need of pitching help and an infusion of high-impact talent into its farm system.

Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso H.S., Oklahoma

Bundy represents the prototypical high-ceiling, high-risk high school pitcher with tremendous upside. At just 18, he already has two plus pitches; one a heavy, sinking fastball, and the other a tight-spinning curve. He also has a change-up, but that pitch will require work to be serviceable at the next level. One thing scouts love about him is his easy, repeatable delivery that could help him avoid injury. Also, scouts love Bundy’s make-up, one of the reasons that they have projected him as a future number one starter. Given that potential number one starters are so rare to find, it is unlikely that he will last too long on the draft board.

Danny Hultzen, LHP, University of Virginia

Hultzen is a polished left-handed pitcher with the same sort of make-up as Baltimore Orioles rising star Brian Matusz, another lefty who rose quickly because of the ability to throw four pitches with pinpoint accuracy. Hultzen’s repertoire features a four-seam fastball, with late life, that sits in the low-to-mid-90's. He then relies on his slider, already considered above Major League average, as his out pitch. The Cavaliers star also has a change-up that has a lot of late movement, and he will throw at any time, in any count. To round out a diverse group of pitch offerings, he also mixes in a curveball from time to time. Hultzen is the type of prospect who will rise quickly, he may be one of the safer choices at the top of the draft.

Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA

While he may not have the projected upside or flash of his UCLA teammate Cole, Bauer may be, at this point, the better pitcher. He throws somewhere in the neighborhood of six pitches, including two different kinds of curveballs and sliders. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90's, and his mental make-up is that of a frontline starter in the Major Leagues. It will be interesting to see who goes first, he or Cole. If there is one knock on Bauer, it's that he's got an awful lot of mileage on his arm, and scouts might be turned off by his frequent “long-toss” habits. However, with proper care and caution during his development, I see no reason why it should be a problem. Plus, his warm-up antics on the mound and Tim Lincecum-esque mechanics make him a treat to watch.

Anthony Rendon, 3rd Baseman, Rice

Rendon, considered by many the top bat in the draft, is seen by many scouts as a five-tool player with the potential to become a perennial All-Star once he reaches the Major Leagues. The Owls slugger also has a tremendous glove at third base, a strong, accurate arm, and solid instincts. He runs well, too, and has plus-awareness on the base paths. By far his most marketable tool, however, is his bat. Rendon has tremendous bat speed, generating great torque in his swing, and also features a highly developed plate discipline that is arguably his most Major League-ready tool. Overall, Rendon is the best position player in this draft by a wide margin, and he could provide help at the Major League level in just a year or two. He's a lock to go in the Top 5.

Put your GM hat on and decide which player you would select number one overall. Tweet me @rwags614 your pick.

The MLB First Year Player Draft is finally upon us. On Monday, all 30 teams across the league will be hoping to bolster, or in some cases completely rebuild, their farm systems. As we have seen with the success of the Tampa Bay Rays, and more recently with the stockpile of young talent the Kansas City Royals feature, the draft is and should be the primary way through which teams build their future.

There are several schools of thought on how to draft successfully. Some GMs will tell you that drafting high school position players with upside is the smartest thing to do in the early rounds, because given proper time to develop, those players represent the greatest chance for a high-ceiling and high-reward talent. Others will tell you that college pitchers are the way to go, as they develop quicker, and are usually more polished than their high school counterparts. To each his own.

After doing some extensive research on the draft here at the MLB Fan Cave, here are my Top 5 available prospects, in no particular order, for this year's draft. Obviously, other players could sneak into the Top 5, but I wouldn't be surprised if these guys were off the board by the time the Washington Nationals pick at number six.

Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA

Cole was a first-round pick of the New York Yankees back in 2008 as a high school senior. The Yankees tried desperately to sign him, but, as the deadline neared, Cole decided to follow through with his plan to attend UCLA. He has since proven that staying in school was a wise decision, making the All-Pac 10 team in both his freshman and sophomore seasons while emerging as a projected fast-riser with front-of-the rotation stuff. Numerous sources indicate that Cole could be the number one overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team in need of pitching help and an infusion of high-impact talent into its farm system.

Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso H.S., Oklahoma

Bundy represents the prototypical high-ceiling, high-risk high school pitcher with tremendous upside. At just 18, he already has two plus pitches; one a heavy, sinking fastball, and the other a tight-spinning curve. He also has a change-up, but that pitch will require work to be serviceable at the next level. One thing scouts love about him is his easy, repeatable delivery that could help him avoid injury. Also, scouts love Bundy’s make-up, one of the reasons that they have projected him as a future number one starter. Given that potential number one starters are so rare to find, it is unlikely that he will last too long on the draft board.

Danny Hultzen, LHP, University of Virginia

Hultzen is a polished left-handed pitcher with the same sort of make-up as Baltimore Orioles rising star Brian Matusz, another lefty who rose quickly because of the ability to throw four pitches with pinpoint accuracy. Hultzen’s repertoire features a four-seam fastball, with late life, that sits in the low-to-mid-90's. He then relies on his slider, already considered above Major League average, as his out pitch. The Cavaliers star also has a change-up that has a lot of late movement, and he will throw at any time, in any count. To round out a diverse group of pitch offerings, he also mixes in a curveball from time to time. Hultzen is the type of prospect who will rise quickly, he may be one of the safer choices at the top of the draft.

Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA

While he may not have the projected upside or flash of his UCLA teammate Cole, Bauer may be, at this point, the better pitcher. He throws somewhere in the neighborhood of six pitches, including two different kinds of curveballs and sliders. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90's, and his mental make-up is that of a frontline starter in the Major Leagues. It will be interesting to see who goes first, he or Cole. If there is one knock on Bauer, it's that he's got an awful lot of mileage on his arm, and scouts might be turned off by his frequent “long-toss” habits. However, with proper care and caution during his development, I see no reason why it should be a problem. Plus, his warm-up antics on the mound and Tim Lincecum-esque mechanics make him a treat to watch.

Anthony Rendon, 3rd Baseman, Rice

Rendon, considered by many the top bat in the draft, is seen by many scouts as a five-tool player with the potential to become a perennial All-Star once he reaches the Major Leagues. The Owls slugger also has a tremendous glove at third base, a strong, accurate arm, and solid instincts. He runs well, too, and has plus-awareness on the base paths. By far his most marketable tool, however, is his bat. Rendon has tremendous bat speed, generating great torque in his swing, and also features a highly developed plate discipline that is arguably his most Major League-ready tool. Overall, Rendon is the best position player in this draft by a wide margin, and he could provide help at the Major League level in just a year or two. He's a lock to go in the Top 5.

Put your GM hat on and decide which player you would select number one overall. Tweet me @rwags614 your pick.