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Posted: Monday June 4, 2012 11:34AM ; Updated: Monday June 4, 2012 1:09PM

Buxton, Zunino follow Appel in SI.com's 2012 MLB mock draft

Story Highlights

The Astros will go with Mark Appel at No. 1 in hopes he can join their team soon

Byron Buxton, the top high school player available, could go as high as No. 2

The Cardinals, Brewers, Red Sox and Blue Jays have two first-round picks

By Dave Perkin, Special to SI.com

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Mark Appel
Mark Appel will be the second straight college righthander taken first overall, and the third in the past four years.
AP

On Sunday, it was reported that the Houston Astros will select Stanford righthander Mark Appel with the first pick in Monday's MLB Draft. How will the rest of the first round break down? Dave Perkin, a former major league scout and SI.com's draft analyst, makes his selections below. For more from Perkin, follow his live analysis of the first-round starting at 7 p.m. Monday night.

NOTE: The Cardinals, Brewers and Red Sox received additional first-round picks as compensation for losing free-agents during the offseason. The Blue Jays received a second first round pick, at No. 22, for failing to sign last year's No. 21 overall selection, Tyler Beede.

1: Houston Astros -- Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

Appel has a terrific arm, is close to the majors and is a potential staff ace. Recent high schoolers picked "1-1" have fared poorly (infielders Matt Bush in 2004 and Tim Beckham in 2008, for instance) and prepsters usually take awhile to reach the big leagues. Appel is Houston's safest option.

2: Minnesota Twins -- Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga.

The Twins are known as an extremely patient, perhaps too patient, organization. If they choose the lavishly talented Buxton, this draft's top talent, Minnesota will provide him ample time to develop.

CHEN: Buxton is draft's best and most intriguing player

3: Seattle Mariners -- Mike Zunino, C, Florida

The Mariners are a "BPA" club -- Best Player Available. Also, their system is chock full of excellent pitching. Those facts would indicate picking Carlos Correa, but Seattle needs a quality long-term catching solution and Zunino is the best fit.

4: Baltimore Orioles -- Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco

The O's may be gun shy in selecting a hurler with their first pick, since Matt Hobgood and Brian Matusz have struggled. However, Baltimore's luck may have changed last year because Dylan Bundy, whom Baltimore took fourth overall in 2011, looks like a superstar. The Birds are reportedly very enthusiastic regarding Zimmer.

5: Kansas City Royals -- Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU

The Royals are weary of all the "team of the future" hype; they want to win games now. Once he fixes some mechanical and command issues, Gausman could slip into the Kansas City rotation quickly, particularly with Luke Hochevar underachieving and Danny Duffy hurt.

6: Chicago Cubs -- Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M

The Cubs have a scouting director, of course, but make no mistake who is running the show here: Theo Epstein, His Royal Highness. Epstein, the Cubs' first-year president of baseball operations, favors college players and the Cubs have had a depressingly bad track record with recent first-round picks. Wacha is a mature college starter who could provide quick help to a talent starved Cubs staff.

7: San Diego Padres -- Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.

The best arm available before being sidelined early in the season, Giolito is the biggest X factor in the draft. Believed to carry a huge price tag, Giolito's injury may have reduced some of his bargaining leverage, plus the Padres could entice him with the prospect of playing close to his Southern California home.

8: Pittsburgh Pirates -- Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

The Pirates will be exceptionally lucky -- not to mention supremely grateful -- if Correa, this year's second-best overall talent, drops to them at this spot. Correa is a franchise cornerstone-type player who will fit perfectly into the Bucs rebuilding scheme.

9: Miami Marlins -- Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy Charter, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.

The Marlins may zero in on Almora, and the match appears to be ideal. A Florida high schooler, the talented Almora is a multi-tooled athlete who would pair perfectly in Miami's outfield alongside Giancarlo Stanton.

10: Colorado Rockies -- Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.

The Rockies, disappointing so far in 2012, need both pitchers and hitters, but the former appear to be the more pressing need. Scouts whisper that Colorado does a poor job of developing pitchers, but the Rox may take another crack at it with Fried. The young lefty is a possible No. 1 starter.

11: Oakland Athletics -- Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State

Forget the "Moneyball" drafting philosophy -- it's passť in Oakland. The A's have gone athletic in recent drafts (see Weeks, Jemile and Choice, Michael). Marrero can shore up the A's infield. He's a fine defender with speed and a strong arm, despite questions about his bat and laid-back playing style.

12: New York Mets -- Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke

The Amazin's have been severely hampered by bad personnel decisions and massive turnover in their scouting department in the past 10 years. Paul DePodesta, the club's de facto scouting director, runs each prospect through a computer and analyzes them with his secret formula. Stroman, an undersized righty with electric stuff, could reach Citi Field quickly.

13: Chicago White Sox -- Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana HS, Lafayette, La.

The Pale Hose have a reputation for financial stinginess toward draftees. In a unique quirk, Chicago's scouting philosophy downplays speed; in fact, their scouts are encouraged, sometimes ordered, not to time prospects when they run. Trahan could replace A.J. Pierzynski behind the dish or morph into a power hitting corner outfielder.

14: Cincinnati Reds -- Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State

With Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman aboard, the Reds feel they have the talent to replace St. Louis as the dominant team in the NL Central. A key addition could be Heaney, a gifted lefty with excellent stuff and advanced pitching guile.

15: Cleveland Indians: Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS, Corpus Christi, Texas

Surprise early season contenders in the AL Central for the second consecutive season, the Indians display a distinct lack of pop from their outfielders. Hawkins has the strong arm and power bat to hold down a corner outfield spot for the Tribe for many years.

16: Washington Nationals: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS, Birmingham, Ala.

Media darlings Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper have transformed a moribund franchise into a contender. Dahl, who is only slightly younger than the 19-year-old Harper, can play centerfield and bat second, which in time would permit Harper to move to rightfield and bat third, both more natural spots for Boy Wonder.

17: Toronto Blue Jays -- Richie Shaffer, 1B, Clemson

Perennial AL East contenders Boston and New York always boast power hitting first baseman; it's a prerequisite to win the division. David Cooper and Adam Lind have yet to provide the answer for the Blue Jays. The solution could be Shaffer, a power hitter who would provide a perfect cross diamond counterpart to Toronto's budding star, third baseman Brett Lawrie.

18: Los Angeles Dodgers -- Addison Russell, SS, Pace (Fla.) HS

Reenergized by new ownership and a contending ball club, this draft is the Dodgers first opportunity to make a huge splash in the regime of their new ownership group. Los Angeles always opts for pitching in the first round, but the club is starving for a long term quality third baseman. With his outstanding power, arm and glove, Russell could move to the hot corner and provide the solution. So Cal high school third baseman Daniel Robertson is a longshot candidate for this pick.

19: St. Louis Cardinals -- Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M
NOTE:
Compensation from Angels for losing free-agent Albert Pujols

New Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz (known as "DK" to scouts) is armed with an Ivy League statistics degree and the desire to make an immediate impact. Naquin shines in both tools and sabermetric evaluations. He has a quick, opposite field oriented bat and a cannon arm, plus he records a high on-base percentage.

20: San Francsico Giants -- Stephen Piscotty, OF/3B/1B, Stanford

Currently ranked 13th in home runs in the NL, the Giants are desperate for power. Nearby Stanford may provide at least part of the answer in Piscotty, a slugger whose easy, sweeping power swing would fit comfortably in the middle of the San Francisco lineup.

21: Atlanta Braves: Lance McCullers, Jr., RHP, Jesuit HS, Tampa, Fla.

For 20 years, the Braves have been a model of intelligent drafting and superior player development, targeting local prospects early in the draft and focusing on tools, not mathematical formulas. McCullers, the son of a former big league pitcher, has tremendous stuff and fits as a starter or closer.

22: Toronto Blue Jays -- Matthew Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio) HS
NOTE:
Compensation for not signing last year's first-round pick, Tyler Beede

Recently the Jays have switched to a unique scouting system, dividing up territories into smaller portions in high profile areas and thoroughly charting pitches for amateur hurlers. Smoral has struggled with injuries this spring, but his stuff and potential to physically fill out (called "projectability" in scout jargon) is substantial.

23: St. Louis: Cardinals -- Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.

Drafted in 2007, Peter Kozma was tabbed as the Cardinals shortstop of the future but he has not yet panned out. St. Louis could choose Cecchini to form a future double play combination with their first round pick of last year, the brilliant second baseman Kolten Wong.

24: Boston Red Sox -- Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State

A draft pick can't tamp down the talk show yapping and internal dissension that has plagued the BoSox since last year's collapse. Still, a strong pick may give Boston a temporary respite from the screeching. A late bloomer, Stratton has developed into one of the nation's finest Division I righties this spring.

25: Tampa Bay Rays -- Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe HS, Edmond, Okla.

A prime example of thoughtful and meticulous team construction, Tampa has drafted well recently (Matt Moore, David Price, Evan Longoria). The Rays hope to follow up last year's unique haul in which they had 12 picks in the first two rounds. A bevy of high school righthanders will be available at this stage and Hensley is the best of the lot.

26: Arizona Diamondbacks -- DJ Davis, OF, Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss.

Accustomed to picking at the front of the draft but not the back, the D-backs hope to continue their sensational run of draft success. Recent picks have included Justin Upton, Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley. In Davis, Arizona could strike late first round speed/power magic just as the Angels did in 2009 with Mike Trout.

27: Milwaukee Brewers -- J.O. Berrios, RHP, Papa Juan XXIII HS, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
NOTE:
Compensation from Tigers for free-agent Prince Fielder

Free agent defections have hurt the Brewers, who were poised for long term pennant contention prior to this year. They will seek to make the most of bookend late first round picks. Berrios has a loose, easy delivery and significant projectability.

28: Milwaukee Brewers -- Shane Watson, RHP, Lakewood (Calif.) HS

The Brewers do an excellent job of mining Southern California talent, selecting and sponsoring summer Area Code teams and Fall Scout ball clubs. Watson was a member of Milwaukee's AC summer team and provides a young, exciting power arm.

29: Texas Rangers -- Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood (Ga.) HS

Baseball's best organization favors Lone Star prospects in the first round. If Courtney Hawkins, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, is gone, the Rangers may have to break tradition. Top-notch hitting prospects should be few at this point, so most draftees in the second half of the first round figure to be pitchers. Sims, a Georgia native., features a swift fastball and terrific curve.

30: New York Yankees -- Joey Gallo, 1B, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas, Nev.

All versions of Yankee Stadium have favored lefthanded power hitters. Gallo would be a perfect fit in the Bronx, and, if chosen here, could be groomed to eventually replace Mark Teixeira at first base. Yankee tradition dictates that they not "skip a beat" in player replacement.

31: Boston Red Sox -- Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS, SW Ranches, Fla.
NOTE:
Compensation from Phillies for free-agent Jonathan Papelbon

Boston gets a much-needed second chance to nail a first round pick, and Travieso is an advanced high school hurler with a dominating repertoire.

Dave Perkin was a correspondent for Baseball America, scouted for the New York Mets and worked in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is the author of the book 'Five Plus Tools' set to be published in hardcover this fall.

 
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