With the draft less than a week away, we’re continuing our discussion of some of the more advanced amateur prospects — guys who’ll be popping up on your fantasy radars within the next year or two. Last week we went over Marcus Stroman, Richie Shaffer, and Kyle Zimmer. You can read that post here. Today, three more draft prospects:
Mark Appel | RHP, Stanford
At 6-5, 215, Appel sure looks like a future frontline starter. A combination of size and athleticism allows him to generate mid-90’s velocity with a seemingly effortless delivery. His fastball typically sits 92-95, and he counters with a hard slider and a work-in-progress change. The consensus on Appel is that, given his outstanding athleticism, the secondary stuff will develop nicely (and quickly) in the minors, allowing his plus fastball to play as an even deadlier weapon — he’s been knocked around at times during his collegiate career when facing more advanced lineups who sit on the straight four-seamer. Even so, Appel looks like the safest option among the elite college arms, and there’s a very good chance that Jeff Luhnow and the Astros will take him at #1.
Mike Zunino | C, Florida
While he’s not as gifted a prospect as Buster Posey was heading into the 2008 draft, Zunino reminds me of Posey in that he does everything well. He profiles average or better defensively, so there’s really no concern that he’ll be shifted elsewhere in the field. And as a catcher, his bat will be invaluable in the fantasy game. He figures to provide batting average in the neighborhood of .275 along with 20+ homers once he’s settled in the bigs. More so than any of his playing tools, Zunino is praised for his baseball acumen and leadership. These unmeasurable qualities are important to note, as they could lead to a hastier arrival for the catching prospect. Look for Zunino to be off the board within the first five picks.
Andrew Heaney | LHP, Oklahoma State
Heaney likely isn’t a top ten pick, but supreme command should allow him to develop more quickly and reach the majors sooner than most pitching prospects. At 6-2, 175, the lefty projects nicely as a starter. Since his arrival at Oklahoma State he’s pushed his fastball velocity from the high-80’s to the low-90’s, a pitch he impressively locates at both ends of the plate. He’ll certainly be able to add a few more MPH once his slight frame has had a chance to fill out. Pinpoint control on the fastball sets up his breaking ball and changeup, both of which draw plenty of whiffs. Most mockups currently have Heaney going right in the middle of the first round, but there is interest in the top 10, even as high as #3 (Seattle). Regardless of where he lands, he’ll be a safe choice to reach the big leagues, and he shouldn’t require much more than a year in minor league ball.