The MLB Draft is like no other entry event in professional sports.  In other sports, most first round picks will make an almost immediate impact for the team’s that select them.  In baseball, earliest picks might not even see their first Major League action for three or four years.

A draft this season won’t help a team turn around its fortunes next year the way a top quarterback might in the NFL or a point guard could in the NBA. 

The reality is that a team might not know what kind of production they truly get from a draft for a half decade or so, but if a team nails just one draft pick in the MLB they can get a number of impact talents in short order. 

Teams like the Red Sox, Rays, and Twins have maintained success this decade because they have drafted well. The Royals and Pirates are among the worst of the barrel teams because their draft skills have been highly questionable and unproductive.

The following is how the top 10 in the 2010 MLB draft could play out:


1. Washington—Bryce Harper, Community College of Southern Nevada:

No surprise here as Harper has somehow surpassed all of the hype that started swirling around him after his now legendary performance at the Under Armour Power Showcase as a 15-year-old a few seasons back. 

Harper has established one new precedent after another, becoming the first underclassmen to play in the Aflac All-America game before leaving high school early to pursue the game at the collegiate level. 

Juco pitchers and wooden bats couldn’t slow him at all, and he posted one of the most impressive seasons the college ranks have ever seen. He posted a slugging percentage upwards of 1.000 as he slugged 31 homers for CCSN and drove in almost 100 runs in 62 games.  Harper also showed his speed swiping 20 bases.  He spent time catching, playing the outfield and playing some third base in college and his bat projects to be an above average one no matter where he ends up. 

His power will be his calling card as a pro and he could be a truly elite slugger someday for the Nationals.


2. Pittsburgh—Manny Machado, Brito HS (FL)

The Pirates have a lot of holes to fill and there’s no player in this draft that will fill all of them in short order. There has been some call for the Pirates to draft one of the college players who can get to PNC and help in short order, but the best thing for the organization long-term is to draft the player they feel will be the best down the road and Machado is that guy. 

He’ll take longer than a college shortstop like Christian Colon to reach the MLB but this kid could be a very special big league player.  He could be a shortstop who hits .300 annually while also showing average to above average pop and playing a solid shortstop.  Very few shortstops can do it all and Machado could be one of those guys down the road. 

Long-term, he should be able to join Pedro Alvarez on the left side of the infield to form one of the best 3B/SS the MLB has to offer.


3. Baltimore—Jameson Taillon, The Woodlands High School

This one is somewhat of a no-brainer for the Orioles, who like the Pirates, have a lot of holes to fill.  Taillon is a pretty special right-handed pitcher that scouts like as much as a non-college arm EVER and that includes guys like Josh Beckett. 

Taillon has a great pitcher’s body at 6’5”, 225 lbs., and an even better repertoire.  His power-fastball has been clocked as high as 99, and he throws a mid-80s hammer curve ball.  He also works a quality slider and change-up, pitches that could become real weapons as they develop. 

Taillon is a rare-breed and he is head and shoulders above other arms in this draft.  The only negative for the Orioles here is the price tag he comes with as he is said to be looking to surpass Beckett’s seven million dollar big league deal about a decade ago. 

The O’s have gone toe-to-toe with high priced players before (see Matt Wieters) and will be able to draw Taillon away from his Rice commitment at the signing deadline in August.


4. Kansas City—Chris Sale, Florida Gulf Coast

There is a lot of talk that Drew Pomeranz will be the first college arm off the board, but Sale is a better pick for the Royals. 

The Royals haven’t had any significant production from their top pick since Billy Butler in 2004 (though Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer have renewed some hope so far this season) and need to find a balance of safety and high-ceiling with their pick this year as fans have to start being concerned that KC will never turn around if they miss on another pick. 

The reason Sale is the pick over Pomeranz are that his actual stuff carries less question marks.  He led Division 1 in strikeouts and walked a minuscule 12 in 83 innings this year.  His fastball and change-up are both plus pitches and his slider is at least average. 

He has ideal height at 6’6”, and plenty of room to grow as he is only 180-pounds.  As he fills out his fastball, which will already be effective at the professional level, could get even better.


5. Cleveland—Drew Pomeranz, Mississippi

When he’s on, Pomeranz has been an effective college pitcher and the Indians need an advanced arm like his that can move quickly and help at the big level. 

There is a lot to like about him including his fastball, which can reach 94, and his 12-to-6 curve that some scouts and coaches have said is near impossible to hit at the college level. 

If a team believes they can correct the biggest concern that surrounds him (4.5 BB/9 this season), Pomeranz could ultimately be a steal at five as he could be in the big leagues by the end of 2011.


6. Arizona—Stetson Allie, Lakewood HS (Ohio)

This is the first spot in the draft where more than one or two players could go.  Arizona has been linked to Deck McGuire by a number of analysts but Allie seems to more up their alley here. 

No player left in the draft will have more of an upside here than Allie and his price tag won’t be enough to scare the D’Backs away.  They’ve been known to go over-slot in the past and dealt with high-profile guys like Justin Upton, Stephen Drew and Max Scherzer. 

Allie has as good a chance as anyone (including Taillon) in the draft this year and would own the best fastball in Arizona’s system, which is pretty impressive given that top prospect Jarrod Parker’s is a plus-offering that sits mid-90s and touches 97. 

Allie has a powerful right-handed arm with a good frame that at worst projects as a knock out reliever.  His fastball can reach 99 and his slider is a devastating high 80s offering. 

Allie has worked to shake the label of just a thrower this year and has honed command to try and become a true pitcher.  He is able to maintain his effectiveness and velocity late into games and once bought out of his UNC commitment would give Arizona some of the most powerful starters in the minor leagues.


7. New York Mets—Deck McGuire, Georgia Tech

The Mets need to develop an arm in short order to help the big club so McGuire makes the most sense here. 

The team has reportedly showed interest in some of the top college bats like Zach Cox or Yasmani Grandal, and even though both will be on the board the Mets will ultimately be pleased that McGuire is still around.  They lack any real depth of pitching in the minor leagues and McGuire’s 4-pitch arsenal and winning reputation pedigree at GT will make him the guy they choose to start to replenish a depleted system. 

He might not have the ace-ceiling of some of the other first round arms but past performance and durability make him a safe bet to have big-league success in the future, something the Mets front office drastically needs from their top choice this year.


8. Houston—Zach Cox, Arkansas

This pick could not work out any better for the Astros as they have arguably the worst minor league system in the MLB.  They lack infield prospects, and the only non-outfielders or pitchers that crack their top 10 prospects are C-Jason Castro and SS-Jiovanni Mier. 

Castro could up at some point this year, but Mier is currently struggling in LoA.  Cox, who is the best pure hitter in the draft, would become the system’s best bat as soon as he signed. 

He’s already shown he can handle a wooden bat hitting .344 as a freshman in the Cape League last summer.  He should be able to handle 3B as a pro but will hit enough no matter where in the infield he ends up.


9. San Diego—Michael Choice, Texas Arlington

The Padres have been linked to a number of hitters, both high school and college, with this pick. 

The hitters left at this point all bring different things to the table and Choice offers the best total package.  He can hit for average and power as he is Texas Arlington’s all-time leader in hitting (.398) and homers (34) and his career was more productive than Hunter Pence’s. 

Choice is already capable of drawing walks even though he’s just 21-years-old and leads the NCAA in bases on balls.  He has the speed to play centerfield and if he can better his routes he will be able to play at the big league level.


10. Oakland—Nick Castellanos, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)

Oakland has been able to develop a number of impressive pitchers over the years, which will allow them to look towards a bat with their earliest picks this year.  Castellanos will come as a surprise to many here because of the A’s history of drafting college players who can move fast. 

Some scouts question whether he’ll truly be a plus-hitter while others believe he has a better than average bat and impact power.  He should transition easily from SS to 3B and the Athletics will hope to develop him as a middle of the order bat.

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