That's a question teams are asking themselves about junior college right-hander Nate Pearson. Pearson's season at Central Florida Junior College is over, but he threw for scores of scouts who were in Florida for the state's high school all-star game. To say he impressed would be a huge understatement. Pearson lit up radar guns, hitting triple digits consistently and touching as high as 102 mph on some guns.
The resulting buzz has been the talk of the scouting industry. Evaluators don't want to put too much stock in one bullpen session, but it also can't be ignored. In our mock drafts to date, Pearson had shown up at the back end of the first round. I've moved him up some to reflect where he's entered more firmly into conversations.
The top of this mock is the same as last week's effort by Jim Callis. That doesn't mean there is any certainty, but there also isn't any concrete information to make a change seem necessary. The one thing that seems somewhat certain is that if the Twins don't take Hunter Greene, the Reds will.
The Draft begins June 12 with broadcast coverage on MLB Network and MLB.com, and continues on June 13-14 on MLB.com. The first round consists of 30 picks, 27 regular choices and three compensatory selections. The Blue Jays, Rangers and Cubs each added a second first-rounder when free agents Edwin Encarnacion, Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler signed with the Indians, Rockies and Cardinals (each of whom forfeited their first-rounder).
The Twins continue to look at a number of candidates, with Wright seeming to be the front-runner among those handicapping from behind. Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay, Royce Lewis, MacKenzie Gore and Pavin Smith are all still in the conversation.
As stated above, it seems very likely at this point that if the Twins don't take Greene, the Reds will. Wright and McKay are still in the mix.
3. Padres: Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)
Assuming Greene doesn't get here, most feel the Padres will go with the upside pick here. On the mound, that's Gore. In the field and at the plate, that's Lewis, the toolsy shortstop and center fielder.
4. Rays: Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville
The Rays might be in "who falls to them" mode. They could go high ceiling with Gore if the top three goes as listed.
There's still plenty of talk about the Braves here with a number of players, and they'd love for Wright to get here, but Gore's upside is hard to ignore and Atlanta does love young arms.
6. Athletics: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
Gore and outfielder Austin Beck are high schoolers the A's are looking at. On the college side, it looks like Smith is favored over North Carolina right-hander J.B. Bukauskas as of now.
7. D-backs: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
The D-backs wouldn't mind if the A's passed on Smith and they could still consider his teammate, Adam Haseley, but it sounds like they might favor the right-hander currently.
8. Phillies: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia
The ceiling vs. floor debate rages on here, with Beck in one corner and a college performer like Hasely on the other. For now, the college guy wins.
9. Brewers: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
The Brewers have largely been associated with toolsy high schoolers like Beck or Jo Adell, but Faedo, Florida's Friday night starter, is in the mix as well.
10. Angels: Jo Adell, OF, Ballard HS (Louisville, Ky.)
Adell's name has come up consistently with the Angels, so he stays this week, but given the advanced metric pick of Matt Thaiss, it's easy to think a return to the college ranks could be the final projection.
11. White Sox: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
We've written about the swing-and-miss ad nauseum, but the tools are undeniable, and Kendall has the track record to base a pick like this on.
The New Mexico prep lefty's name creeps into some top 10 conversations, but it's around here where it starts sounding like a real possibility. High school bats like Beck and Nick Pratto, as well as fellow prep arm Shane Baz, are in the conversation.
13. Marlins: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta (Ga.) HS
All the talk here has been about high school arms, with Rogers and Hall topping the lefty list and Baz atop the right-hander group.
This has been a popular landing spot for Rogers, and he might not get past here. But with him gone, we'll have the Royals take the top prep arm still on the board.
15. Astros: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
Houston could look at college arms like Griffin Canning from UCLA and Peterson, who has pitched his way into mid first-round conversations. Pratto and Beck will certainly be discussed as will Missouri State's Jake Burger.
16. Yankees: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (Lexington, N.C.)
Beck is mentioned in a host of places above this spot, so there's still a good chance he's gone by the time the Yankees pick. But it's hard to imagine he gets past this point.
17. Mariners: Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA
It seems like the Mariners are in on college pitching here if it fits, and Canning, UCLA's consistently good, albeit not flashy, Friday night starter certainly would.
18. Tigers: Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS
This could be the first spot Pearson leaps up to, given the Tigers' past penchant for arm strength. Missouri's Tanner Houck could fit as well, but if they go bat, Pratto's is one of the best in the class.
19. Giants: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
White's name gets mentioned a lot here, and the Giants do like him, but they might hope someone from above gets down to them. They'd have an interest in Adell, who, if he doesn't go 9 or 10, could get to here.
20. Mets: Nate Pearson, RHP, JC of Central Florida
Pearson's bullpen session was attended by Mets scouts (among many others) and there is no question he has jumped more firmly into their conversation.
21. Orioles: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
The Orioles continue to be associated with college bats. At this point, that's either Burger and his power or perhaps North Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth.
22. Blue Jays: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina
Toronto gets mentioned with college hitters as well. If Warmoth is gone, Keston Hiura's pure bat, elbow injury and all, could be in play.
23. Dodgers: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
If the Dodgers want to go ceiling, Bubba Thompson's name often gets mentioned, but we'll look arm for now. That could be Houck, who did not throw well in his SEC Tournament start, or perhaps LSU's Alex Lange.
24. Red Sox: Keston Hiura, OF/2B, UC Irvine
Hiura might need Tommy John surgery, and his lack of a true defensive home has been well chronicled, but there is no question he can hit.
25. Nationals: Alex Lange, RHP, Louisiana State
Lange's last start was a seven-inning shutout in the SEC Tournament. That was a continuation of a string of strong outings from LSU's ace, which could place him a bit higher than this.
Thompson's name does get sprinkled in various places in this part of the first round, and the Rangers do like high-upside talent.
27. Cubs: Nick Allen, SS, Parker HS (San Diego)
It might seem odd to have one player and one team so frequently associated with each other this late in the first round, but the Cubs do like Allen and could fear that he doesn't last to their second pick.
28. Blue Jays: Matt Sauer, RHP, Ernest Righetti HS (Santa Maria, Calif.) (Compensation pick for Edwin Encarnacion signing with the Indians)
It's quite possible the Jays are leaning toward another college player here, but the idea of balancing out the college hitter with a projectable high school arm sounds good.
29. Rangers: Jeter Downs, SS, Monsignor Edward Pace HS (Miami Gardens, Fla.) (Compensation pick for Ian Desmond signing with the Rockies)
Could the Rangers go after two high-upside high school position players in the first round? Absolutely. Downs' name has started to creep into first-round conversations after a very strong spring.
30. Cubs: Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville (Minn.) HS (Compensation pick for Dexter Fowler signing with the Cardinals)
It was tempting to go with another hitter here, since the Cubs are so good at that. But they do need pitching and getting Carlson at the close of the round could be a steal.