The top Class of 2012 high school baseball players are just weeks away from starting their seasons. It will also be the time when those elite prospects will begin jockeying for draft position.
Each week from now until early March, we’ll take a look at those elite prospects by ranking our Top 10 players by position. This week, we kick it off with a look at right-handed pitchers.
1. Lucas Giolito, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
Giolito, a UCLA recruit, is the top prep arm in the class and could land in the top five come June. His arsenal features a plus fastball that brushes the mid-90s, and the velocity comes easy.
2. Lance McCullers Jr., Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
McCullers may end up in the bullpen down the line, but most pro clubs seem optimistic enough that he'd start early in his pro career. His fastball threatens triple digits and his power breaking ball has been devastating to prep bats.
3. Walker Weickel, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)
Weickel, like Giolito, is a projectable arm at 6-foot-6. He creates good plane on the fastball, which sits in the low-90s, and has a curveball with good depth. He's committed to Miami but figures to warrant a first-round look.
4. Lucas Sims, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.)
Sims could head to Clemson, but he could also land in the top half of the first round of the draft thanks to a plus fastball and curveball. The breaking ball sits in the low-80s with good shape, depth and late break.
5. Mitchell Traver, Houston Christian (Houston)
Traver, a TCU commit, offers size (6-foot-7, 250 pounds), easy velocity in the 91-95 mph range and the occasional above-average curveball that has some promise. His arm action isn't clean and he'll need to throw more strikes, but he could land late in the first round if he answers a few questions.
6. Ty Hensley, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.)
Hensley, an Ole Miss commit who was up to 94 mph at the Area Code Games in August, could pitch his way into the first round. Like McCullers, Hensley could end up pitching in relief, but he has a shot to start long term.
7. Freddy Avis, Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.)
Avis was among the more impressive arms on the summer circuit, but he isn't being discussed much because his commitment to Stanford is considered extremely strong. His delivery is smooth and clean and he sat 90-93 in Long Beach. His curveball is among the better breaking pitches in the class.
8. Duane Underwood, Pope (Marietta, Ga.)
The Georgia commit has hit 97 mph on the radar gun and one scout I spoke to this fall said Underwood was sitting at 93-94 even after 75 pitches. He also offers deception in his delivery as he whips his arm through from a high three-quarter arm slot.
9. Nick Travieso, Archbishop McCarthy (Lakewood Ranches, Fla.)
Built like a prototypical MLB starting pitcher, Travieso has touched 95 mph with his fastball and impressed over the summer with a strong assortment of pitches. There is some effort in his delivery, but the Miami commit shows a good feel for pitching and a willingness to throw his changeup.
10. Taylore Cherry, Vandalia-Butler (Vandalia, Ohio)
This 6-foot-9, 260-pound beast sits 92-94 mph with a four-seam heater that shows sink, setting up a changeup that has caught above-average to plus grades. He throws strikes and holds his delivery together. Cherry is committed to North Carolina.
Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB Draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.