The start of college and high school baseball means we are officially on the road to the 2012 MLB Rule 4 Draft. ESPN MLB analyst Keith Law put together his first breakdown of the top 50 prospects one week into the season and described this year's class of players as wide open for the top pick. As players step up in the coming weeks, this top 50 list could very well change quite dramatically.
Law currently has high school center fielder Byron Buxton as his number one player and high school right handed pitcher Lucas Giolito at number two. Stanford Cardinal ace Mark Appel is sitting at number three at this point. Law is not yet sold on Appel as the number one overall pick in part because of some inconsistencies in his pitches and missing bats. In describing Appel, Law said:
He's an athletic right-hander who has touched 99 mph with his fastball but sits more low- to mid-90s while flashing an occasionally plus breaking ball; hitters see the ball well out of his hand and he doesn't miss as many bats as you'd like.
Appel has a long season ahead of him to prove his viability as the number one pick. The only people he has to convince are Houston Astros scouts and executives. As they hold the number one pick, their vote is all that matters. He has one win under his belt against Vanderbilt already and gets a second high profile matchup against the Texas Longhorns this weekend.