<
>
Insider

A very early top 5 for June

4/2/2010

It's too early to start connecting teams to specific players, yes; what seems like a truth now could be very different next week -- and definitely by early June.

So I'll take an early stab at the top 5 here, but it's based somewhat on educated guesses and rational thinking, rather than any confirmed interest on the part of the clubs themselves. But like the preseason top 50, remember that it's just a guess based on very little buzz and nothing else and is not an actual mock draft of any sort. It's just for conversation's sake.

1. Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, C, College of Southern Nevada

At this stage, I can't see them passing on the kid unless his bonus demands reach well beyond those of Stephen Strasburg last summer. He's still 17 and destroying the pitching of 19- to 21-year-olds to the tune of 12 homers and an OPS near 1.500 -- with the wood bat, too.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates: Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech

Ole Miss LHP Drew Pomeranz could fit here, as could LSU right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, should he put the elbow injury and its concerns well behind him. Logic leads me to believe the Bucs won't tab a prep pitcher this high.

3. Baltimore Orioles: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (Texas)

Taillon, at least in this scenario, would be the best talent remaining, but slot concerns could push the O's in another direction as it appears to have done a year ago, especially considering their organizational strength is pitching. Shortstop Manny Machado of Brito HS (Fla.) could be the first backup choice.

4. Kansas City Royals: Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (Fla.)

The Royals might also go with a college bat here, but it may be too early for any of the top college bats. Kansas City has spent money in the first round recently, so we shouldn't assume a money-saving choice here, and Whitson has been climbing the charts since his first outing of the season.

5. Cleveland Indians: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Mississippi

This is another logical landing for Ranaudo, or even for Ohio State RHP Alex Wimmers. The Tribe selected a college arm last year (RHP Alex White), and the best players on the board here appear to be prep pitchers and bats. Right-hander A.J. Cole, Cox, OF Austin Wilson and Machado could fit here, too.

In entries in late April and May, we'll tackle a legitimate mock, but we'll take a closer look at those prospects with rising stock and those who have hurt their status since the start of the year.

Around the diamond

• West Virginia infielder Jedd Gyorko singled and walked twice versus Connecticut and is up to .354/.444/.636 with six homers, 10 doubles and a sparkling 17-7 BB/K ratio in 25 games.

• Last week I was alerted that Louisville 1B Andrew Clark had entered the picture as one of the better seniors, and the left-handed hitter pounded out five hits Thursday, including two doubles and two homers. In just 12 games, Clark, who hit .350 with 32 extra-base hits in 64 games a year ago, is up to .415/.536/.878 with nine extra-base hits and a 13-5 BB/K ratio.

• In a 20-4 routing of UC Davis, Cal State Fullerton SS Christian Colon and CF Gary Brown combined for eight hits, six runs scored, six RBIs, four steals, a double and a homer. The homer came from Colon, his seventh, and three of the steals were by Brown, who is 17-of-20 on the season.

• Oregon State right-hander Greg Peavey punched out 10 over seven innings versus USC on Thursday, allowing just three hits and an earned run. He walked three, and 68 of his 113 pitches went for strikes. Peavey is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA and a 37-14 K/BB ratio in 38 innings.

• Seattle-area prospect Josh Sale of Blanchet High School returned to action Thursday and went 1-for-1 with a home run and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch twice versus Seattle Prep. One scout in attendance called the home run "a no-doubter, and what's fun is, Josh knew he got it, too." Sale could hit his way into the top-10 conversation but is generally considered a firm first-round talent.