Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MLB First Year Draft 2014 Preview

MLB First Year Draft 2014 Preview

I really wish Drake included someone from the MLB draft into his song Draft Day, but anyway, it's almost here! This year's draft is considered to be deeper than last years, even considering the injuries to Hoffman, Fedde, and other top talent. The top talent are largely pitchers this year. The draft begins June 5 and lasts until June 7. I really don't know what else to say before I post player pictures/breakdowns, so I'll just list draft order.

1. Astros
2. Marlins
3. White Sox
4. Cubs
5. Twins
6. Mariners
7. Phillies
8. Rockies
9. Blue Jays
10. Mets
11. Blue Jays (Compensation pick for failing to sign Phil Bickford last year)
12. Brewers
13. Padres
14. Giants
15. Angels
16. Diamondbacks
17. Royals
18. Nationals
19. Reds
20. Rays
21. Indians
22. Dodgers
23. Tigers
24. Pirates
25. Athletics
26. Red Sox
27. Cardinals
28. Royals
29. Reds
30. Rangers
31. Indians
32. Braves
33. Red Sox
34. Cardinals

The Potiential Top Picks:

LHP Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic High School)

Generally considered the best prospect in this draft, Brady Aiken is a lefty prep arm standing a massive 6'4" and a listed weight of 205lbs. Jumped up to the top of the pack when his velocity increased his senior year, with his fastball topping out at 97 and being clocked in at around 91-93 regularly. Easy plus curveball, which apparently is his best pitch, but isn't quite the dominator you want from a major league ace yet. Throws a slider and changeup, both with plus potential, but not there yet. Great command. Pitch counts have been kept low throughout high school, separating him from the rest of the top tier pitchers in the draft. If there's one arm that's lower risk, high reward in this draft, it's Aiken. Draft Position:1-3

LHP Carlos Rodon (NC State)

Poor Carlos Rodon. NC State is a school you do not want to attend if you value your pitching arm. A little year ago 6'3", 234lb Rodon was viewed as the best pitching draft prospect since Strasburg and since then he's been on a roller coaster of a ride. Mid-late last season for NC State, Rodon showed some concerns when he went through a rough period where his velocity dropped a bit. Most people didn't seem too concerned at the time, but this year everyone noticed it as a major concern. NC State is full of assholes who will pitch you until your arm falls off. In consecutive starts this season, look at his pitch count: 115, 116, 121, 125, 132. He's had some back problems in the past, which also concerns some teams. As a freshman at NC State he hit 97 regularly, but during the first half of this past season his fastball was 89-92. Things looked up as he apparently fixed some of his pitching woes, getting back up into the 93-95 range late into the season. He really did look like the Rodon of old. Some people are willing to say he's fixed after the revival late in the season, but I'm still cautious. Plus plus slider, the best pitch of the entire draft. High risk (how destroyed is his arm after that usage? And the back injury?) and high reward (potential ace). Draft Position:1-4

RHP Tyler Kolek (Shepherd High School)

Freefallin! Kolek is one of the more interesting guys in this entire draft as his positives are also his negatives. Kolek is a mammoth at 6'5", 245lbs at 18 years old. Is that a good thing? Nobody knows! I've heard that it's bad and I've heard that it's good. I probably wouldn't be concerned about size with Kolek, but rather his arm. The hardest throwing pitcher in the draft is this prep arm, regularly hitting 100 in a few starts this past season. This is also a negative as top teams seem to be talking themselves out of Kolek because they see him as an arm injury waiting to happen. Fastball is described as "groundball inducing," as it sinks a bit. Slider and curveball round Kolek out, with the slider sitting in the 83-85 range. I can't find his entire senior season statline, but he had a great K/BB ratio. He could turn out great, I just don't know what the hell to make of him. Draft Position:2-5

C/OF Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo High School)

Polished right handed power bat from a prep bat. Jackson is a little big for his age at 6'2", 215lbs, which might end up as a bad thing. Jackson's question marks lie in what position will he play. He wants to stick at catcher, but could advance quicker in the OF and might be too big to catch one day. It's less of a problem than some would figure as his arm has been described as either plus or plus plus. He has that bat speed that make some people drool over him. 70 raw power bat, which projects to be ~30 dingers a year from scouts. Clear as day he's the best bat, even by just watching videos. Draft Position:2-7

SS Nick Gordon (Olympia High School)

Do you ever find yourself asking "What if Dee Gordon had a brother who was a little bit better than Dee?" If so, then this is your man. For whatever reason he's being talked about as a potential top five pick, but I just don't see it. Good bat speed from a left handed batter, but he doesn't generate power. I've read a few reports that he'll develop power for some mysterious reason. His defense at SS has been described anywhere from average at best to great. His arm is really good though! It's so good he can also pitch, throwing a 92-94 fastball and some breaking stuff, but he's better as a position prospect. He's got plus speed, which he'll desperately need if he doesn't magically develop power in his bat. I wish I knew of another average to slightly above average SS who was supposed to magically develop power...Draft Position:3-10

C Max Pentecost (Kennesaw State)

Kiley McDaniel hype project Max Pentecost has been a fast riser on the draft board, going from late teens/early twenties to a top ten pick or better. At 6'2" ,191lbs, Pentecost is arguably the best catcher in this draft, in part due to being able to actually play the position in the majors. Has great plate patience and makes good contact. Played well in the Cape League a year ago with an OPS of .898 and six dingers (146 PAs). Finished the college season like a madman, hitting .529/.577/.722. It's questionable whether he'll develop league average power. Average runner with good speed. Fun fact: he has already had TJS! Draft Position:4-10

LHP Kyle Freeland (Evansville)

One of the more underrated players in the draft, Freeland has had an absolutely phenomenal college season in 2014, sporting a 1.90 ERA in 99.2IP and a K/BB ratio of 128/13. Had a few 15k games this year, which is impressive. Fastball tops out at 95, which he hits on occasion even late into games. Easy plus slider (85-86) that a ton of batters bite on and swing and miss. He stands at 6'4", weighing in at 190lbs. Has a good changeup and above average curveball that he rarely uses. Scouts complain about his delivery, calling it Chris Sale-esque, but it's not quite as bad. I remember seeing someone complain that he spins too much towards 3B after his delivery, but he's corrected it because I didn't really notice it later in the season. He hasn't been worked to death unlike other college arms like Rodon. Possibly the most major league ready arm, with one scout saying that he could come out of the bullpen this year. Whatever team gets him is going to be very, very happy. Draft Position:5-12

RHP Aaron Nola (LSU)

Like Max Pentecost, Nola has been rising up the board late after a late season surge and the death of Jeff Hoffman's arm. At 6'2" and 170lbs, Nola is probably the second most refined arm in this year's draft. He possesses the second best curve in the draft (behind the wild Touki Toussaint), which sits at around 77-80 and has resulted in a quite a few swing and misses for Nola this year. Fastball tops out at 95 and sits in the mid-low 90s (93-94). Was throwing 93-94 in the eighth last week. Potential plus changup at 82-85. Like Freeland, possesses great command. Has shown the ability to recover from rocky starts. Very minor mechanical concerns. Pitch count issue is nowhere near as bad as Rodon's. He'll be up in the majors fairly quick. Draft Position:3-9

The First Rounders:

RHP Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina)

Jeff Hoffman was a consensus top five pick. He then blew out his arm and had Tommy John surgery. He's 6'4", 180lbs and had a fastball that topped out at 98, sitting regularly in the mid 90s. Plus Curveball at 78-81 and potential plus slider. High K rate in the Cape League last summer. He's probably going to end up going in the mid-late first round (ala Giolito), so I'm not going to write anymore about him. Draft Position:10-32

SS Trea Turner (NC State)

Much like his teammate Rodon, Trea Turner's stock has fallen since a little over a year ago as he suffered a high ankle sprain and he no longer has the same speed he once showed. The numbers would indicate his speed is back (high success rate of stolen bases), but more than one scout has commented on his slight tick down in speed, so show some caution. I don't mean to make him sound like he's Miguel Cabrera speedwise, but he probably isn't Billy Hamilton 2.0 anymore. Had an OPS of .947 this year, which is pretty good as a SS, but he might have to slide over to 3B down the road. Doesn't really have power, but he'll magically fill out since he's listed at 170lbs and hit dingers, right?! Draft Position:5-24

LHP Sean Newcomb (Hartford)

I actually haven't seen Sean Newcomb pitch a game, just clips like high school guys, so stick with me. Like Kolek, Newcomb is a big dude at 6'5", 240lbs. Fastball that touches 97 rarely and sits 92-94. Plus changeup at 83-85. Has a curveball and slider, but they are below-average to average. I think he has the best ERA in Division I baseball at 1.25, but don't quote me on that. In 93.1 IP this year he gave up zero home runs. The negative on Newcomb is his command can be poor at times, which is something you don't want to hear about a college arm. I saw someone suggest that the Hartford weather might play a part in his weak command, but that's a big risk to take for someone projected going high. [b]Draft Position:5-16[/b]

OF Michael Conforto (Oregon State)

Arguably the second best bat in the draft, Michael Conforto has really heated up in draft talks, going from late first to a potential top ten pick. Has developed plate patience at Oregon State, ranking very high in the nation in walks. While known for having a power bat, Conforto regressed, only hitting five dingers during his junior season. His previous two years had double digit dinger seasons, so maybe this year was a fluke? Average defensively in LF, with average to slightly above average arm strength. Below average speed. Draft Position:4(underslot);6-18

RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian Academy)

Baseball's Joel Embiid is Touki Toussaint in the sense that he has been playing baseball for a few years and displays tremendous potential. Fastball tops out at 98 and sits at 92-94.He has without a doubt the best curveball in the draft, which is in the high 70s/80. It's really a potential plus plus pitch. He also has a slider and a cutter as secondary pitches. There's a ton of concern in regards to Touki command and delivery. His command has improved slightly from his junior to senior year, but there's still major cocern there. He can be quite wild at times (Ankiel-esque in some videos I've seen), which really scares me off I were to draft in the top ten. Woodman663 does a better job detailing the problematic delivery here than I care to. I know I've mentioned high risk/high reward a few times already, but this is the true high risk/high reward candidate in the 2014 MLB draft and I'm not a fan. Draft Position:7-19

OF Bradley Zimmer (San Francisco)

Don't know much about him, so bear with me. Needs work on plate patience. Should be able to stick in CF because of his arm and speed, which is pretty good for a guy his size (6'5", 205lbs, but I've seen different height/weight measurements all over the place so who knows). Honestly, everything about Zimmer seems average to slighly above average. He doesn't stand out big in any category. He put up an OPS of 1.034 his junior year at San Francisco, hitting seven dingers. I'm kind of mystified why he gets mid-first round talk after looking everything over. Draft Position:10-24

RHP Grant Holmes (Conway High School)

Holmes projects to be big league ready quicker than other prep arms like Toussaint. Fastball tops out at 97, but sits in the low-mid 90s. Plus curveball that could end up plus plus, but currently sits 82-84. Changeup rates to about average to above average. Red flag on the fastball as it tends flatten at times, which would of course lead to him getting smashed in the majors if changes aren't made. Besides some mechanical changes, Holmes doesn't really project to get much better, but that's fine because he's a pretty good pitcher already. Draft Position:7-19

RHP Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt)

Here's another guy who has fallen faster than you can snap your fingers. You may as well use a magic eight ball to predict Beede's starts these days. During his tenure at Vanderbilt he walked 4.65 batters per nine. In 2013 he walked 5.6 per nine innings. That improved to 4.08 walks per nine, still not a good number. Plus fastball that sits in the low-mid 90s. Also possesses a potential plus curveball and plus changeup. With erratic command issues, Beede still strikes out a little over one batter an inning. Should a team trust Beede enough to use a high draft pick on him? Nope. Could he potentially develop into a quality 2/3 starter? Yes, but it will take time and effort to work on his command. Draft Position:18- Early Second Round

RHP Sean Reid-Foley (Sandlewood High School)

Reid-Foley's fastball topped out at 95, but sat consistantly at 92-94 throughout the past season. He also possesses a potential plus slider and a decent curveball. Could be a real steal for someone in the mid-late first round, but has a strong commit to Florida State and this is the type of guy the Blue Jays would be all over, so don't be surprised if he goes to college, although I'm not sure how much more he can develop there. Draft Position:9-31

SS Jacob Gatewood (Clovis High School)

Another SS that won't play SS (He's 6'5"). I hate to say he's nothing more than a power bat, but that's his main appeal to teams. Projects to hit 30+ dingers at the major league level. Good arm, but defense at SS is sub-par. Projects to have below average speed. Has sort of a strange early step when batting that will probably need to be fixed. He's certainly an interesting project, just not someone to take early in the draft. Draft Position:7-25

1B Casey Gillaspie (Wichita State)

I saw two games of his in person and wasn't really impressed, but it was just two games as opposed to a season's worth of data. Most scouts say he'll be fine at 1B, but boy did he have one rough game at 1B defensively. His bat is the only thing that keeps him going. Put up an OPS of 1.203, which is pretty impressive. Fifteen dingers for the year. His power should translate to north of 30 dingers a year. Displays great plate patience. He's also a switch hitter, which probably helps his stock a bit. Draft Position:20-33


Draft positions are just rough estimates as mock drafts are too fluid and inaccurate, so it's safer just to make a range of teams that would be interested. Might do more writeups in the coming week, so stay tuned~!

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