The college baseball season kicked off last Friday and high schools are underway across the southern U.S., making this a good time for my first ranking of the top 50 prospects for the 2012 Rule 4 draft. Last year, we had a surfeit of candidates for the first overall pick, as many as six by my reckoning, on top of two straight years where the first overall pick was clear before the first pitch of the spring was thrown. This year, on the other hand, there's no one who would have gone first in any of the last three drafts, and no clear cut first overall pick, which means there's an opportunity for someone here to seize the reins over the course of the next 12 weeks.
These lists change dramatically each over the course of the spring as players improve or regress, suffer injuries, or perform (or fail to perform) on critical nights when more eyes are watching. I'll update the list in a few weeks after scouts have had a few more looks at these players -- and after I've had a few more looks too.
Analysis: Buxton, who's committed to Georgia, earns comparisons to the Upton brothers for his fast-twitch actions and potential for five above-average or plus tools. However, he won't face a lot of great competition this spring at Appling County HS in Baxley, Ga., which will make it difficult for scouts to determine how polished he is with the bat.