2014 MLB Draft Day One Review/Analysis Part One
Houston Astros: LHP Brady Aiken (1), OF Derek Fisher (37), 1B AJ Reed (42)
Houston did pretty well for themselves. As I previously gushed about in my pre-draft writeups, Brady Aiken is pretty much the closest thing to a perfect guy there is in this draft. At only 17, Aiken shows polish, skill, and size. Fastball, curveball, slider, changeup, all out pitches at the high school level and it is likely they will translate to R or Low-A ball, wherever he starts. The Astros must put a stop to Aiken doing crossfit, but that’s another article about pitchers doing dumb things. Fisher worries me a bit with his flat bat, which translates to ground balls, which, of course, translates to getting out. He might reach league average power, but it’s not there yet. Fisher’s biggest strength is his easy plus speed, which some say may become plus plus down the road, but I will not jump on that gun at this point. He will probably have to spend some time in the minors sorting things out, despite being a college bat. Like the AJ Reed pick for its value, but not for the organization. Reed, a college power bat, is only a year younger than current Astros 1B Jon Singleton. Reed undoubted has much better power than Singleton, but with the recent contract, the Astros have shown some commitment to Singleton for the near-future. Reed can pitch, but just about everyone sees him as a bat. Tough conundrum for the Astros there, as I hate to hold back potential elite power, even with Singleton.
Miami Marlins: RHP Tyler Kolek (2), C Blake Anderson (36), SS Justin Twine (43)
I did a writeup on Kolek, so please go read that for detail. There has not been a hard throwing prep arm like Kolek before, so we do not really have history to look at for indicators. Taking him over Rodon and Jackson was a bit of a shock. If I am being honest here, I think Kolek is going to blow his arm out sooner, rather than later. This isn’t just because of the 103 fastball he can throw, but because of the workouts he’s been doing. A pitcher shouldn’t workout using heavy weights, but the MLB Network package showcased him doing that. How much damage has that done to his arm already? Anderson is probably a slight underslot here for Twine. Anderson can catch and has developed a frame, but his hit tool is still questionable. He might not be able to hit off of big league pitchers and has no power. Justin Twine is probably a slight overslot I’m guessing, with the TCU commitment. Toolsy, two-way player. Plus speed, big arm, can hit, potential power, but he’s very young and will have to be developed. He is likely to stick at SS for the time being too. Very good pickup by the Marlins if they can sign him.
Chicago White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon (3), RHP Spencer Adams (44)
I wrote a ton on Rodon, so just go back and read that as nothing has really changed since that writeup. The Sox did well picking him here. Now, Spencer Adams is seemingly a very good pick also. Adams stands 6’5” despite being a prep arm. Adams was projected to go much higher, being linked to the Dodgers at 22 at highest. Plus fastball and plus slider on Adams. The slider is so good it could become a plus plus slider. Some command issues on secondary pitches. He’s a project, but one I would love to have play for my organization. Good job, White Sox.
Chicago Cubs: C Kyle Schwarber (4), RHP Jake Stinnett (45)
The Chicago Cubs likely had the worst draft of day one. Before the Cubs caught Schwarber fever, he was projected to go in the 8-24 range, with the lower half of that range probably being more accurate. I compared Schwarber to Dan Vogelbach, also of the Chicago Cubs, in my writeup. He might be slightly better than Vogelbach because it is likely he can hit closer to average, which Vogelbach is currently struggling with. Ignore the talk that he will play catcher. Ignore the talk that he will play left fielder. He’s a first baseman or designated hitter only. He is a first baseman that is 21. Anthony Rizzo, one of the supposed cornerstones of the franchise, is only 24. Where does Kyle Schwarber play exactly? Do they platoon first base with Schwarber and Rizzo? You’re drafting a guy to platoon at first base with the fourth overall pick? I still feel like this is a big prank on me. I could make some peace with it if it were like the AJ Reed situation in Houston, but this was the fourth overall pick, not forty-second. The Cubs literally wasted the fourth overall pick in the draft unless they somehow trade him down the road for another prospect and that’s only possible if Schwarber continues to put up numbers like he did in college. I’ll revisit this in a year, not to see if Schwarber will prove me wrong, but just if he will put up better numbers than Daniel Vogelbach. 6’4” Stinnett was also a reach at 45, roughly ranked as the seventy-something best player in the draft. Fastball touches 97, but sits at 92-95. Has a potential plus slider. Changeup needs improvement if used regularly. Good command. Stinnett has good upside, so I would not be too upset with this one, even though it was a slight reach. Have to keep in mind Sean Reid-Foley was still here, who is undoubtedly the better prospect. Has to be hard to be excited if you are a Chicago Cubs fan.
Minnesota Twins: SS Nick Gordon (5), RHP Nick Burdi (46)
About average job, if that, for the twins. I have never been a fan of Gordon and am still not sold on him. Twins should have gone best player available and grabbed Alex Jackson or even Aaron Nola or Kyle Freeland. Big big fan of the Burdi pick at 46. He’s struggled with command, but he’s got insane stuff and had nearly a 16K/9 this past year at Louisville. Burdi is the closer of the future, no doubt. I did writeups on both Gordon and Burdi, so check those out, Twins fans.
Seattle Mariners: C Alex Jackson (6)
The Mariners lone pick was Alex Jackson, as they lost the second pick to compensation with Robinson Cano. While I thought they would go arm, I also did not expect Jackson here. Alex Jackson is the most advanced prep bat in a few years. To use a cheesy pun, the Seattle Mariners hit a home run with the pick. I have a writeup on Jackson in my initial pre-draft post, so go read that.
Philadelphia Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (7), LHP Matt Imhof (47)
Maybe I put too much consideration into the NCAA turn-in debacle that occurred last year, as I think Nola will sign with the Phillies after Nola laughed at the notion of returning to LSU for another season. The White Sox board has not been released yet, but I am curious as to how interested they really were in Nola. They supposedly were scouting hard these past few weeks, but he somehow fell to Philly. Good pick by the Phillies, as him and Freeland were the two best arms remaining. Easy plus curve only behind Toussaint in this draft. Expect him in the majors in August 2015, as he’s ready for the show. I did the bigger writeup in the intial pre-draft post, so, again, check it out. 6’5” Imhof I didn’t get around to writing about, even though he is intriguing and possibly a good pick at 47. There are mechanical red flags all over Imhof with his Sale and Freeland-esque delivery (weird overhand motion with starting and stopping, then moving feet). Fastball tops out only at 94. Potential plus slider, but it needs some work. He’s a big guy who struck out a ton of people in college and is only twenty years old. There’s potential there as a 3/4/5 starter, but he’ll likely end up as a bullpen guy.
Colorado Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (8), 2B Forrest Wall (35), RHP Ryan Castellani (48)
I’m not going to write about Freeland here because I wrote a ton on him earlier so go back and look at it, but perfect fit. The Colorado native was the best remaining player on my board. Many see him as a reliever, but I think he can start and be a #2 starter. Forrest Wall falling to 35 is interesting, as he was projected to go as high as ten to the New York Mets. Great speed, great bat, and they got him at a good spot. I have a more detailed writeup already up with video on the site, so check it out, but he’s a good fit. At 18, Castellani is already 6’4”, 200lbs. Fastball that touches 92, which I expect to go a bit higher as he becomes more refined, but sits at 89-91. Three potential plus pitches in his curveball, slider, and changeup. He’s another guy who is pure potential, but if he reaches that potential he’s a front-line starter. Questionable if he’ll sign, as he’s committed to UCLA. Rockies should try to overslot and get him, he’s worth working with.
Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Jeff Hoffman (9), C Max Pentecost (11), RHP Sean Reid-Foley (49)
Just an awesome job by the Blue Jays front office staff in getting three very good guys. Jeff Hoffman was unquestionably a top four arm in this draft until he had to get the dreaded Tommy John surgery, ending his season early. Fastball that touches 97. He has a potentially plus slider. Hoffman has a 12-6 curveball, akin to Adam Wainwright, that runs from 78-82. Changeup is either plus or potential plus. This past week there were people saying how Hoffman might have had the best arm going into the draft, had he not had the UCL injury. 6’4” with a good stride that can produce power. All of this is put into question because of the UCL injury, so it’s a risk pick, but previous TJS successes have made the Blue Jays and me less concerned. Blue Jays will probably underslot Hoffman as he doesn’t really have any other options after the Tommy John surgery. I already wrote fairly in-depth about Pentecost (so read it!), but he’s got a proven hit tool, has plus speed, and will play catcher in the majors. Great pick which might be a slight underslot (he was a big underslot when considered at four for the Cubs). Shocked Reid-Foley fell this far. Just read my writeup on him. With Hoffman and Pentecost, they may be able to persuade Reid-Foley from going to Florida State. Great job Toronto Blue Jays!
New York Mets: OF Michael Conforto (10)
There were a ton of potential options for the Mets’ lone pick at ten, but they chose Michael Conforto which does not excite nor depress Mets’ fans. The lukewarm feeling is due to Conforto’s past season in which he regressed some. He showed enough his first two years at Oregon State, mainly his hit tool, to make me feel okay with this pick. I did a complete writeup on him in my initial pre-draft piece. Best case scenario for him is LF in the majors. This pick is just sort of there, not much to say really.
Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Kodi Medeiros (12), SS Jacob Gatewood (41), OF Monte Harrison (50)
On paper the Brewers had a great draft if you love prospects, but it concerns me that they take three high schoolers, two of which are going to require an overslot, Harrison specifically wants a ransom to sign. Everyone loves Medeiros and I like watching him pitch, but there’s a ton of red flags on him. Some mechanical issues, delivery issues, health issues, all of which I wrote up on in a previous article. He has an easy plus slider. Great movement on his pitches. Like I have previously stated he’s a project and I would not take him this high, but teams flocked to him, so they must know something I do not. How in the world Gatewood fell that far is beyond me. He might be asking for a massive overslot. Gatewood is a power bat that will likely play 3B. He’s going to need work, just as Medeiros does, but I think he can get there. I was a big fan of Monte Harrison and was shocked when the Pirates passed on him at 24. I am also a big fan of five tool players, which Monte Harrison appears to be. He is committed to Nebraska football and seems to want to go to college, but the Brewers should do everything they can to sign him. Read my writeup on Harrison and watch the video and fall in love! In reality this is a hard group to judge, especially with the latter two being tossups on signing with the Brewers. I’ll have to go through the math when the draft is over.
San Diego Padres: SS Trea Turner (13), OF Michael Gettys (51)
I’ve warmed up on Turner’s speed since my writeup of him (read it!). I actually think Turner is and will end up better than 1.5 pick Nick Gordon. Not sure if he’ll play 3B or SS in the majors. He’s certainly got a better bat than Gordon and has the edge on speed, with easy plus speed. Good pick for the Padres there. I thought Gettys would be a late-first rounder and him winding up at pick 51 is pretty surprising. Big fan of Gettys, as he has plus speed easy, a plus plus arm, and some power potential. Hit tool needs development, as he might not be able to recognize pitches at a higher level. Might have to overslot a bit for him, but I think he’s worth it. I have a full writeup a few posts back on Gettys. Overall a very good day one for the Padres.
San Francisco Giants: RHP Tyler Beede (14), C Aramis Garcia (52)
I went back and forth on whether Beede would go top fifteen in the draft and decided he would not due to his extreme inconsistency this past season, but his last outing showed glimmers of what he could be, leading the Giants to draft him. Read the writeup on Beede, but essentially this is the perfect fit because the Giants organization will give him time to develop, which he needs before he makes it to the majors. Good bat and potential power for Aramis Garcia. He will need time if they plan on keeping him at catcher, because he’s shown quite a few defensive mistakes there. I think they give him time and he sticks at catcher. He would be a wonderful backup catcher for Buster Posey if Posey sticks to the position down the road. Good day one for the San Francisco Giants.
Los Angeles Angels: LHP Sean Newcomb (15), RHP Joe Gatto (53)
Newcomb is a big guy who throws his fastball at 97. He is a pitcher from the northeast, so there are questions as to if his secondary stuff (curveball and slider) could be improved in better weather. In past years, teams have slept on guys from the northeast for a number of reasons, but I’m not sure Newcomb is the guy to wake up for. He will reach the majors faster than other prep arms. Risk/reward guy. Joe Gatto is 6’5” as a high school senior, which gives him a physical advantage over other prep arms. Gatto has deceptive delivery, but command is not all there for him yet. Plus fastball and plus curveball. Gatto is a great pick at 53, but has a commitment to North Carolina, so they may have to overslot to keep him. Interesting day one of the MLB draft for the Angels. Pitching certainly is an issue with them and I think Newcomb and Gatto are potential rotation guys.