Major League Baseball's amateur draft will be held from June 7th-9th, so we're going to introduce you to some of the top players available during the next few weeks.
College hitters are a hot commodity in the draft because of the perception that they're a safe pick, and this year's top bat from a four-year college is Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox. A 20th round pick of the Angels in 2008 (607th overall), Cox didn't sign and is draft eligible again this year as a sophomore because he turns 21 within 45 days of the draft.
ESPN's Keith Law ranked Cox as the 6th best player available in the draft while Baseball America had him 7th (subs. req'd for both). MLB.com's Draft Report says that he has "a great, compact swing with excellent bat speed" and "will be a plus hitter in the future." His defense isn't as promising as his bat, though he has a strong arm and recently spent some time at second base, where he reportedly looks more comfortable. The MLB.com link also includes video.
Cox was hitting .432/.524/.606 with a 29/33 K/BB ratio and 11 steals in 12 attempts coming into this weekend's games. The lefty swinger actually has a reverse platoon split on the season, hitting .456/.542/.632 against southpaws according to CollegeSplits.com. Cox recently dealt with a strained muscle in his back, but the injury doesn't carry any long-term concerns.
As a draft eligible sophomore, Cox has more negotiating leverage than most draftees because he'll be able to return to school for his junior season and enter next year's draft. Baseball America's Jim Callis projected the Indians to draft him 5th overall in his latest mock draft, which would be the third college hitter they've selected with their top pick in the last four years.