We're just two weeks from the 2010 Rule 4 MLB draft, close enough that the teams selecting in the top half of the first round are narrowing their preference lists to the point where we can talk intelligently about who their likely targets will be. Teams in the top 10 are telling me they're more confident that they know who will be available at their picks. Teams in Round 1's second half, meanwhile, still see a ton of variability to the point where a typical team in the 20s might see a guy it thought would have no shot to fall to it actually drop to its pick. I'm guessing that by this time next week we'll be clearer through at least Picks 20-25, once the college conference tournaments are behind us and scouting departments begin convening their final pre-draft meetings.
Both Austin Wilson and Zach Lee are absent from this projection, but I think both would go in the first round if they were clearly willing to sign. Wilson has a strong commitment to Stanford, and Lee has a commitment not just to LSU but also to football. Anthony Ranaudo, at one point the presumptive No. 2 pick in the draft, also is missing, as he hasn't been the same pitcher since returning from a minor elbow injury.
I'll update this list several times before the draft, including a final update on the morning of June 7. I'll also update my top 100 rankings while adding reports on more players. One other resource: the full 2010 MLB draft order.
Bryce Harper, C, College of Southern Nevada
Harper just blitzed his way through the district finals, ending the finals 12-for-13 with four homers -- again while facing pitchers two or three years older. There's no argument left for taking anyone else, if there ever was one in the first place. Scouting video of Harper can be viewed here.
Manny Machado, SS, Brito Miami Private High School (Fla.)
The Pirates' mix includes four or five serious candidates, with Machado and Ole Miss lefty Drew Pomeranz at the top of the list. Pomeranz would cost less and get to the majors much faster, but the big lefty doesn't have Machado's ceiling and hasn't thrown well since he strained a pectoral muscle several weeks ago. Scouting video of Machado can be viewed here.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands High School (Texas)
There had been some word that Orioles GM Andy MacPhail wanted to take a college player after last year's first-rounder, Matt Hobgood, took a while to sign and then showed up in less-than-perfect conditioning this spring. However, the scouting department's ardor for Taillon's electric arm seems to have won out. Scouting video of Taillon can be viewed here.
Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast University
Similar to the situation in Baltimore, the Royals were supposedly told by ownership to take a college player after Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer (both top-four picks out of high school) had disappointing 2009 seasons, but I imagine that's changed because those might be the two best-hitting prospects in the minors right now. Royals scouting director J.J. Picollo went to see Sale three consecutive Fridays in April, and that's not something a scouting director typically does unless it's for a top candidate for his first pick. The Royals also have been linked to switch-hitting Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal and have interest in Pomeranz.
Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss
If Pom Pom is gone, I expect Cleveland to take Texas-Arlington slugger Michael Choice. The Indians have conducted background checks on both players as well as Sale.