The Major League Baseball First Year Player Selection Draft is just less than two weeks away and approximately 20 high school players have a chance to go in the first round, based on the multitude of mock drafts that proliferate the internet.
While the mock drafts tend to have a variety of high school players going among the first 31 picks (Boston received an extra first round choice in exchange for losing reliever Jonathan Papelbon), there is a core of about 10 players who appear to be locks for the first round and another 10 who could be first-rounders or might fall into the compensatory picks that directly follow the first round.
There are also a handful of players who have been on the rise over the past three months while other players have seen their stock fall. However the consensus going into the draft is that Appling County's Byron Buxton is the top overall high school pick in the country.
Here's a list of the Top 20 high school players expected to be selected in the MLB Draft in the general order that they are projected to be picked. The list does not include any high school players from outside the United States and also does not account for any college players that may also be selected.1. Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
Every mock draft that has been released in the month of May has Buxton as the overall No. 1 high school pick. While some have Buxton going as low as No. 4 among all players selected, a number of the mock drafts now have Buxton going No. 1 overall to the Astros. The five-tool player has had a sensational senior season, showing plenty of speed on the basepaths, a strong arm and an ability to make contact. Buxton was nowhere to be found in mock drafts from last summer and a mock draft in December had Buxton as only the 15th high school player chosen. Feature story2. Albert Almora, Mater Academy Charter (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
Almora is another rising talent. The outfield prospect was ranked 16th last December, but has risen to No. 2 with a strong senior season. He also had a strong showing over the fall with Team USA 18U. A number of mock drafts have a four to five college players going before Almora, leaving him as the seventh or eighth player chosen overall. Feature story
3. Max Fried, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)
The draft's top high school lefthander is consistently listed as the No. 3 high school player overall. His stock has not changed much since the winter, however he has passed teammate Lucas Giolito on the list, due in part to Giolito's elbow injury that forced him to miss the season. Look for Fried to go around No. 8 or 9. Feature story4. Lucas Giolito, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)
Giolito's stock has dipped only slightly despite the elbow injury. While a couple of mock drafts don't have Giolito even listed as a first round pick, most have him as the No. 2 or 3 overall player and the top right-handed pitcher. 5. Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Hawkins consistently ranks as the fifth-best high school player among the mock drafts and most drafts have him going around the No. 10 spot on the board. He's shown good power this year with double-digit home runs. 6. Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
One of the highest risers on the board, Cecchini has emerged as the top high school shortstop from the United States (Carlos Correa of Puerto Rico is considered the top overall high school shortstop). Cecchini, who recently led his team to a state championship, has risen 14 spots since the winter, when he was listed as the 20th-best high school player in the mock drafts. Feature story7. Lance McCullers, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
McCullers' drop from the No. 1 prospect from last summer and winter to the No. 7 overall high school player is a bit of a mystery. He has had an outstanding senior year with a 13-0 record and a 0.15 ERA. His velocity has also topped out in the high 90s. Feature story8. Zach Eflin, Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.)
Not even on the first-round radar six months ago, the 6-5 Eflin has established himself as one of the top right-handed pitchers. He missed about a month of action this season due to an injury but he has thrown around 95 and hit 94 after returning from injury.9. David Dahl, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)
Dahl is all over the place when it comes to his draft position. Some have him as high as the fourth-best high school player available, while others don't have him going in the first round. He ranks just behind Buxton and Hawkins, but he has been sidelined with mononucleosis this spring, which could account for his draft stock slipping among some predictors. Feature story10. Matthew Smoral, Solon (Ohio)
Like Giolito, Smoral has been hampered by the injury bug, which has caused him to miss the season. At times, Smoral was ranked as the best left-handed high school pitcher in the draft, but since the injury he has ceded that mantle back to Fried. Feature story11. Addison Russell, Pace (Fla.)
At one time listed as the top shortstop prospect, Russell has fallen below Cecchini in the draft order. Russell has shown power with his 37 career home runs. However his batting average did fall a bit during his senior year, coming in around .370. Feature story12. Corey Seagar, Northwest Cabarrus (Concord, N.C.)
Seager has emerged as a hot corner infield prospect. Not listed among the first-round picks six months ago, Seager is ranked as high as No. 2 on one draft board.13. Stryker Trahan, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)
Expected to be the top high school catcher chosen, look for Trahan to go near the end of the first round. His stock has fallen just a bit, but he has consistently been tagged as the 13th-15th best high school prospect. Feature story14. Carson Kelly, Westview (Portland, Ore.)
He doesn't appear in every mock draft, but enough to make this list. He can hit and pitch, which makes him an attractive prospect. Feature story15. Ty Hensley, Edmond Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.)
Oklahoma provided several first-round pitching selections last year and Hensley could find his way into the top 31 near the end of the first round. He had one of the top fastballs in the country this year. Feature story
16. Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Gallo is consistently listed as the No. 31 pick in the first round, going to the Red Sox. He has plenty of power with a Nevada state record 70 career home runs. Feature story17. DJ Davis, Stone (Wiggins, Miss.)
A newcomer, Davis was not among the top players listed six months ago. A strong spring has vaulted Davis up among the top five high school outfielders and a potential low first-round pick.18. Hunter Virant, Camarillo (Calif.)
Virant has pitched well this spring and was listed on a handful of drafts near the end of the first round.19. Walker Weickel, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)
Weickel's stock has dropped some, from No. 11 to No. 19. He had an outstanding season (12-1) while keeping his team at the top spot in the national rankings much of the season. Feature story20. Lucas Sims, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.)
Sims pitched extremely well for Brookwood this year. Named in a couple of drafts, but like Weickel, Sims' stock has dropped from 12 to No. 20 since December.
Note: Among those who have dropped out of the top 20 include: Trey Williams, Valencia; Nick Williams, Ball; Rio Ruiz, Bishop Amat; Duane Underwood, Pope.