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Crystal Ball: The Draft's top 20 picks

Crystal Ball: The Draft's top 20 picks

Here it is, fewer than three weeks before the start of the First-Year Player Draft. Things should be starting to clear up in the first round, right?

Not so much.

There remains a general consensus that the top three, in whichever order, will be Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Jameson Taillon. After that, it seems like it's still anyone's guess.

Draft Central

That doesn't mean there isn't buzz about which teams like certain players and that's what this first crack at the top 20 picks of the Draft -- which can be seen live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, June 7, at 7 p.m. ET -- tries to reflect. It's still mostly whispers as most in the industry believe this Draft might not really take shape until right before it's time to get things started. That won't keep the prognostications from coming, as the first shot at all 32 picks in the first round will come next week.

1. Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, C/OF, College of Southern Nevada
No change here, as it seems nearly certain he's the top pick. Going 6-for-6 with four homers and 10 RBIs in one postseason game certainly doesn't hurt.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates: Manny Machado, SS, Miami Brito HS, Florida
Switching things up a bit for this week, though the Pirates have certainly not made up their minds and they could still take Jameson Taillon. It could be a game-time decision between Machado and Taillon. Last week: Taillon

3. Baltimore Orioles: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS, Texas
It's still looking like the Orioles are looking at the prep player the Pirates don't take, though there's always the chance for a wild card. For now, though, Taillon's the guy. Last week: Machado

4. Kansas City Royals: Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast University
There are still many players, mostly collegians, the Royals are looking at, including hitters like Yasmani Grandal, last week's choice. Sale has arguably been the best pitcher performance-wise in this class, and that might be too much for Kansas City to pass up. Last week: Grandal

5. Cleveland Indians: Yasmani Grandal, C, University of Miami
With Sale off the board, the Indians could look for a college bat instead, with the Miami catcher and Texas-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice in the mix. They'll be heavily scouting the ACC tournament, where they can watch Grandal and perhaps even Georgia Tech ace Deck McGuire. Last week: Sale

6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss
You don't want to put too much weight into one or two starts, but how Pomeranz throws in the SEC Tournament on Wednesday and then again in a likely NCAA regional appearance could stem the tide of what could be a slide based on some recent struggles. If he does that, he could still land in this spot.

7. New York Mets: Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech
Last week's choice, Bryce Brentz, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts with Mets GM Omar Minaya reportedly in attendance. He won't tumble too far, but the Mets could go for the solid college performer who could get to the big leagues in a hurry. Last week: Brentz

8. Houston Astros: Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas
A rib-cage injury has kept Cox largely out of action the past several games, but that shouldn't hurt his Draft stock, with many believing he's the best advanced bat in the country. A guy who can get to the bigs quickly and contribute might be just what the Astros are looking for. Last week: McGuire

9. San Diego Padres: Karsten Whitson, Chipley HS, Calif.
College or high school? It's difficult to know which direction San Diego's new group will take. There's been a lot of talk about the Padres wanting to make a splash with a high school arm, and after Taillon, Whitson is probably the top prep pitcher on Draft boards. Last week: Kolbrin Vitek

10. Oakland A's: Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State
It's still looking like the college route for the A's, though it's not a slam dunk. With Cox off the board, they could go with someone like Choice, Brentz or Vitek. Last week: Cox

11. Toronto Blue Jays: Michael Choice, OF, University of Texas-Arlington
It's extremely possible that Choice will be gone by the time the Jays make the first of their many early picks. Their new scouting staff could make a splash with a high school arm if they so choose, but Choice's power could look very good in Toronto's outfield.

12. Cincinnati Reds: Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State
Like with Choice, Brentz will get some interest from the teams above and might not be there when the Reds are on the clock. If that's the case, maybe they'll look for another college player who could help an improving team get better more quickly.

13. Chicago White Sox: Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State
The White Sox have taken a college player, four of them pitchers, with their top pick in each of the past eight years. It looks like a good direction for them this year, with a few advanced arms that could fit here. Wimmers' hamstring injury won't hurt his Draft stock.

14. Milwaukee Brewers: Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Fla.
Just looking at the Brewers' big-league roster tells you they're pretty good at developing young hitters. Castellanos has garnered some interest with some top-10 teams, though some teams believe he's not quite ready. Milwaukee doesn't mind being patient with a potential big bat, though.

15. Texas Rangers: Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Cook County HS (Ga.)
This is the pick the Rangers got for not signing Matthew Purke last year, so there'll be no compensation if they can't sign this pick. If Cowart proves not to be an easy sign and they think he'll last, they could wait until pick No. 22. Allowing him to hit -- his preference -- rather than pitch, might help in persuading him to sign. If they need an easier sign, Canadian catcher Kellin Deglan might be a match.

16. Chicago Cubs: Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, The Citadel
Last year, it was a college bat. The year before, it was a college arm. That arm, Andrew Cashner, is close to big-league ready. Adding an arm for Wojciechowski could give them another quick-to-the-bigs pitcher.

17. Tampa Bay Rays: Stetson Allie, RHP, St. Edward's HS (Ohio)
The Rays haven't taken a high school arm with their top pick since 1997, but that doesn't mean they haven't had success with prep pitching (see Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson for examples). Allie's arm strength has generated some buzz above, but this looks like the first place he truly might land.

18. Los Angeles Angels: Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS, Calif.
It's likely the Angels don't think Covey will still be on the board, but if he is, they will likely jump at the chance to take him here. If not, there are several other California high school arms they'd be interested in, like Aaron Sanchez or Peter Tago.

19. Houston Astros: Delino DeShields Jr., OF, Woodward Park Academy (Ga.)
The buzz about Houston liking DeShields has been loud, to the point where some think the Astros would take him with their first pick to make sure they got him. In this scenario, they get the safe college guy up top and the high school toolsy guy here.

20. Boston Red Sox: Matt Harvey, RHP, University of North Carolina
Let's see: A North Carolina Tar Heels pitcher with some good stuff who started in college but might be a reliever at the next level. Sound familiar? Harvey doesn't throw as hard as Daniel Bard, but if starting doesn't work out for Harvey, he could be an effective bullpen piece very quickly.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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