The 2013 Major League Baseball Amateur draft begins June 6th and all 30 clubs are hoping that their early round selections will transfer to become quality starters at the professional level. The San Diego Padres have the same aspirations and believe that their number 13 overall pick has the potential to be a contributing member to the franchise in the near future.
According to Baseball America, the Padres are currently slotted to select, Phil Bickford, a right-handed pitcher from Ventura, CA.
Bickford, a senior at Oaks Christian High School, has garnered a lot of national attention in the past few months as the velocity on his fastball has increased 6-7 miles per hour in a very short time frame according to scouts.
In addition to his hard, sinking fastball, the tall right-hander also has other pitches in his repertoire. His development of a slider and a changeup have also made him more attractive to be selected as a high first round pick, but the main question regarding Bickford is whether or not he will sign a professional contract since he is committed to attend Cal State Fullerton in the fall.
Baseball America projects that Bickford will fall to the Padres at number 13 overall in next Thursday's draft, but MLB.com has San Diego selecting the Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge.
Judge is a physical specimen, drawing comparisons in size and in power to Frank Howard. The California native was selected in the 31st round in 2010 by the Oakland Athletics but turned down the offer to attend college at Fresno State.
He finished his junior season batting .369 with 12 homeruns and 36 RBI's. He also boasted an impressive .655 slugging percentage as well as winning the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby last summer.
Scouts believe he has the potential to be a consistent slugger at the professional level and his raw talent makes him a very intriguing prospect.
As is the case with mock drafts, there is rarely consistency in the picks, but this year both Baseball America MLB.com have the same top three. While pitchers Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray are interchangeable depending on what draft you look at, the consensus number three pick appears to be Kris Bryant.
Widely regarded by many pro scouts to be the best arm in this years draft class, Mark Appel is anticipated to go number one overall to the Houston Astros, however, the Astros had the number one pick last year and passed on the Stanford pitcher.
The Cardinal pitcher from Houston, Texas, was drafted number 8 overall last year by the Pittsburgh Pirates but decided to return to school to complete his degree in Management, Science and Engineering.
After being the only unsigned player selected in the first round last year, Appel earned his degree in March and returned to Palo Alto for his final year of collegiate baseball.
He currently holds the record for career strikeouts at Stanford and is number four on the career innings pitched list as well. While some believe he hurt his bargaining position returning for his senior year for the Cardinal, most scouts are in consensus that he is one of the top arms in this year's class.
The Chicago Cubs sit in the number two slot in this years draft and most sources have them projected to take Jonathan Gray, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Oklahoma.
Gray and Appel are considered to be the top two pitchers in this year's draft class, with Appel being the more polished pitcher and Gray being more of a longer-term project. Gray does not lack the ability to be a top tier starter; he can touch 100 mph's with his fastball and is developing a slider as well.
This year, Gray is 9-2 for the Sooners and sporting a 1.55 ERA.
Kris Bryant, the third baseman for the University of San Diego Toreros, is thought of as the best offensive prospect in the draft and many believe he will be taken number three overall by the Colorado Rockies.
Originally drafted in the eighteenth round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, Bryant decided to head to school and has turned into one of the best hitters in college baseball in the past few years.
He is the far and away leader in homeruns in college baseball this year and scouts believe he has the talent and physical frame to be a consistent, middle of the order player for years to come.
If a team wanted to, Bryant also has the versatility to move from the infield and be an effective outfielder as well.
The first two rounds of the MLB draft will be televised on the MLB Network, and the entirety of the draft is available to watch on MLB.com.