In just two days, all of the research and scouting conducted by each of Major League Baseball’s 30 clubs will come to a head, as each team will commence the selection of the top amateur players they feel will offer the best tools available for their respective organization.
At both the high school and college levels, players have been hard at work improving and perfecting their skills and draft stock throughout the spring, while professional teams have done their part in analyzing and determining which prospects will fit the needs and desires of their club.
The first round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft will feature the selection of 34 player picks, 27 of which are true first-round picks, to be followed by 7 compensatory picks given to those teams that were on the losing end of retaining qualifying free agents this past offseason.
Without further a do, below is our 2014 MLB Mock Draft of all 34 first round picks in this year’s draft with a brief rational behind each selection.
1. Houston Astros: Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Although he was not as dominant at times this season and his workload can be of concern, there is no denying that Rodon is the best arm in this field. Rodon has the ability to move quickly through any system and with an impressive pitch arsenal highlighted by a devastating slider, the thought of both Rodon and Appel in the same rotation is quite scary.
2. Miami Marlins: Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
If Rodon if not selected by Houston, more than likely it’s because Aiken was given the nod. But for the sake of this mock draft, Aiken goes to Miami. The big-bodied southpaw has the polish and what many scouts point to as the best talent in this field, already drawing comparisons to big leaguers Cole Hamels and Clayton Kershaw.
3. Chicago White Sox: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (TX)
Perhaps no other starting pitcher in this draft class throws harder than this Texas flame-thrower. Kolek is a big-bodied right-hander who can touch triple digits and boasts a plus curve. He has some work to do in terms of command and control, but his ceiling is the sky, which may serve well for a Chicago club that hasn’t really addressed starting pitching in recent first rounds.
4. Chicago Cubs: Aaron Nola, RHP, Louisiana State
This may be considered a little high for Nola, but think about it: a strong four-pitch mix with a pair of plus pitches in his fastball and change, not to mention unwavering control and the ability to be a quick mover to the majors – all of this sounds like the ideal pick for a Cubs organization that needs pitching.
5. Minnesota Twins: Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (FL)
The Twins have picked wisely in the past couple of drafts, going for players with high upside talent (see Buxton and Stewart). Going off of that notion, then Gordon is a wise choice, as he has the tools to stick at short and brings a talented bat that has some decent pop.
6. Seattle Mariners: Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
Seattle has been rumored to be big on Jackson and his raw power potential, despite the fact that his hitting ability as been of concern. He may not last this long down the draft board, but if so, expect the Mariners to jump all over him – if not, don’t be surprised to see Seattle go after a college starter that can move fast.
Philadelphia would be a great match for Nola, as they desire a pitcher who can move quickly, but the LSU starter may not be around by this selection. In that event, Newcomb provides Philadelphia with a big-time college arm with plenty of upside and is arguably the best college left-hander after Rodon in this draft.
8. Colorado Rockies: Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
Speaking of college left-handers, Freeland may have something to say about that. He had Tommy John surgery in high school, but his arm has been sound throughout college. His mechanics may relegate him to the bullpen at the next level, but Colorado appears to be intrigued by the Colorado-native.
9. Toronto Blue Jays: Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State
Turner is one of the better college athletes available, displaying impressive speed on the base paths, a great glove at short, and his bat has solid pop. He may not be available for Toronto, but if so, expect them to scoop him up.
10. New York Mets: Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
The Mets will most likely be looking for a bat on Thursday and to be honest, there’s probably not a better pure hitter in this draft than Conforto. He brings a patient approach to the plate and great hitting ability, which should allow him to move quickly to the majors.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Christian Academy (FL)
Toussaint fits the bill of what Toronto likes to see in their draft picks, high ceiling pitchers with a powerful arm. He has improved his mechanics and arsenal this spring and is a sure bet not to slip past Toronto.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
Milwaukee’s farm system needs help and Pentecost may be one of the answers to the questionable state of that system. He has the ability to remain behind the plate and while he doesn’t flash overwhelming tools, he has the all-around skills to succeed at the next level (hitting ability, pop, speed, defense).
13. San Diego Padres: Kyle Schwarber, C, Indiana
San Diego may be looking at taking a seasoned college bat, and while Conforto is more than likely to be off the boards by this pick, Schwarber is the no-brainer in terms of quality college bats. Schwarber has torn apart college pitching with his plus power and has the transferrable ceiling to keep doing so at the next level.
A big-armed right-hander is rumored to be at the top of the Giants’ draft list and while Beede has been inconsistent this season, his raw talent and pitchability is still impressive, which is why Beede may be that big-armed right-hander. Hoffman or Holmes may be of interest, but Beede is the best bet in terms of talent and upside.
15. Los Angeles Angels: Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
Zimmer was a little inconsistent down the stretch, but he remains one of the better athletes in this draft. The USF outfielder brings a seasoned bat and solid glove to the table, and with both Conforto and Schwarber already off the board, Zimmer is the obvious choice for a team wanting a strong college bat.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian
With Archie Bradley on the disabled list, strengthening their starting pitching may be of importance for the Diamondbacks. Finnegan is a power pitcher and has the ability to move quickly, although he may be more suited to a bullpen role. If Arizona desires to keep him in a starting role, a potential rotation with Bradley, Shipley, and Finnegan is quite desirable.
17. Kansas City Royals: Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (CA)
Gatewood’s stock is not as high as it once was as his bat still has plenty of questions to be answered, but his raw power potential is still rather impressive, especially for a middle infielder who can play his position.
18. Washington Nationals: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
Before Tommy John surgery cut his season short, Hoffman was a surefire Top 5 pick. As such, his stock has taken a hit, but a team like Washington may be more than happy to pick up the East Carolina product as he may very well turn out to be the steal of the draft – that is if another team doesn’t gamble and scoop him up at an earlier slot.
19. Cincinnati Reds: Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (CA)
Hill has received a lot of buzz lately and rightfully so, as he has a great deal of potential to go with his athleticism and toolsy skill set. Cincinnati may wish to take a quality bat with one of their two first round picks and if Hill is available at this point, the Reds should be inclined to jump on him.
Tampa needs offensive help at the lower levels and Kentucky’s A.J. Reed may be a solid fit. Reed may not have the polish and bat speed of other college sluggers like Conforto and Schwarber, but his raw power is impressive.
21. Cleveland Indians: Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC)
A big-armed pitcher is something the Indians need to address, as they may need to transition toward power pitching that can stick in the rotation. Holmes may be that power pitcher, as he boasts polished stuff that may only be matched by Brady Aiken.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers: Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
Reid-Foley is one of the premier prep arms in this class and next to Holmes, is one of the more polished prep arms behind Aiken. His mid-90s fastball and slider are both plus pitches, but whether or not his commitment to Florida State will be a deterrent is yet to be determined.
23. Detroit Tigers: Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
Burdi is pure gas, as the Louisville closer can hit triple digits with ease. Along with his plus heater, Burdi utilizes a wipeout slider and should move quickly to the majors. Detroit loves big arms and with his potential to possibly work out of the bullpen by this season’s end, expect Detroit (and other teams) to go after Burdi.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates: Monte Harrison, OF, Lee’s Summit West HS (MO)
Pittsburgh likes toolsy players and will more than likely go after those with such qualifications, like that of Monte Harrison. Harrison may very well be a great steal for Pittsburgh, as he boasts bat speed, power, and a good glove in the outfield.
25. Oakland Athletics: Michael Chavis, INF, Sprayberry HS (GA)
Oakland has done a solid job of building up their farm system in recent years with quality prospects, whether it is through transactions or by way of the draft. Chavis is a high-ceiling player with an advanced hit tool and solid power potential, which should certainly grab Oakland’s attention.
26. Boston Red Sox: Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
At one point Fedde was a potential Top-10 pick, but now that he has to undergo Tommy John surgery, his stock has fallen some. However, if all goes well with surgery, Boston may have a steal on their hands as Fedde brings plenty of upside with plus options in his fastball and slider.
27. St. Louis Cardinals: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (CA)
Ortiz is a big-time right-hander who consistently sits in the mid-90s and works in a mean breaking ball option. He started the season with some forearm soreness, but has appeared to regain his original form as of late – and as such, St. Louis may wish to stock up on quality arms such as Ortiz.
28. Kansas City Royals: Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Walakea HS (HI)
Medeiros is a big-time arm who sits in the mid-90s with relative ease and like their previous selections of pitchers with great upside (i.e. Zimmer and Manaea), Medeiros may very well follow suit – the only thing keeping him lower than what his stuff warrants is his smaller size.
29. Cincinnati Reds: Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy (FL)
Cincinnati has a tendency to favor young prep arms and Griffin is a prep arm with plenty of upside. The 6’5’’ southpaw displays good command and should compliment Stephenson and Travieso quite well, both former prep arms who have been successful assets in their system.
30. Texas Rangers: Forest Wall, 2B, Orangewood Christian HS (FL)
At this point in the first round, a team may typically look to the best available athlete and in Texas’ case that is Wall. He shows striking similarities to Odor, which should make Texas feel at ease with selecting the talented second baseman, as he boasts impressive hitting ability and an overall toolsy skill set.
31. Cleveland Indians: Mike Papi, 1B, Virginia
After selecting Holmes with their first pick, the Indians may feel inclined to dip their toes in the market for a big-time bat – and Mike Papi is certainly that bat. Papi has been a force at the plate for Virginia all season, combining power and plate discipline that Cleveland will hope translates over to the next level.
32. Atlanta Braves: Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (GA)
Although Atlanta is set in the outfield on the big league level, the future is of question as the lower levels are in need of outfield talent. A Georgia product, Gettys would fill that role for the Braves, as he is an impressive athlete who can stick in the outfield with a strong glove and has the ability to improve at the plate.
33. Boston Red Sox: Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
Boston has a fairly strong farm system and will only become stronger with the addition of a quality bat like that of Fisher’s. The Virginia outfielder has arguably one of the purest swings in college ball and at this point in the first-round, teams may not want to miss out on picking up this seasoned bat.
34. St. Louis Cardinals: Ti’quan Forbes, SS, Columbia HS (MS)
St. Louis is in great need of a shortstop and may go after the all-around prep talent that is Forbes, who brings a great combo of offense and defense to the table. Forbes may be a solid steal for the Cardinals.