Making a first-round projection is like slamming your head into an omelette -- there's no way to do it without ending up with egg on your face. So, with a towel handy, here's my stab at the first 30 picks of next week's Rule 4 draft, accompanied by notes on other directions each team might take:
1. Tampa Bay -- Buster Posey, C, Florida State
The Rays are down to Posey and Tim Beckham, equally strong choices. Posey probably will cost them more but reach the majors faster, while Beckham is the better long-term prospect.
2. Pittsburgh -- Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
The Pirates' decision also is down to Posey and Beckham, plus Alvarez, whom team president Frank Coonelly is said to covet in order to send a message to fans that the decision to pass on Matt Wieters last year won't be repeated. However, Alvarez scuffled in front of the Pirates' key decision-makers at the SEC tournament, and they might be waffling on their earlier commitment to him.