2014 MLB draft: Top 50 prospects
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With about 50 games left in the 2013 MLB season, I decided to skip a mock until the draft order is set because too many teams are bunched up and positions are changing everyday. With many of the summer events and tournaments behind us, the elite prep players are starting to separate themselves in a class that is loaded with talent — especially on the mound. For the college players, we got to see some great talent at The Cape Cod League, as well as the Collegiate National team. This will no doubt change, but for now, here are my top-50 prospects for the 2014 MLB draft:
1. Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State
The prize of the draft, the 6’-3” southpaw continued to demonstrate his silly array of abilities against the rest of the world after posting a 2.99 ERA, 1.05 WHIP with 184 K/45 BB over 132.1 innings for the Wolfpack this year. Pitching for The Collegiate National Team, he went 3-0 with 21 K/4 BB over 17 shutout innings, allowing just five hits. He has a five-pitch arsenal that includes a mid-90s heater, a power slider, a lethal cutter, an above-average curveball and a change-up with nice fade. He commands all of them well and is comfortable throwing any of them in any situation. There may not be much projection left but what more do you want?
2. Trea Turner, SS, NC State
The 2013 MLB draft lacked depth up the middle. Turner, a 6’-1” right-hander, is a fantastic defender with outstanding range and a strong arm. His elite speed, advanced approach at the plate and ability to drive the ball to all fields make him one of the more exciting players in college and, once he gets on base, don’t blink. Over 56 games as a sophomore, he hit .368/.455/.553 with 30 stolen bases and drew 38 walks to just 30 strikeouts. He also hit seven home runs, showing developing power. As a freshman, he led the nation in stolen bases with 57 and was only thrown out four times.
3. Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
At 6’-4” and 215 pounds, the right-hander has the size, along with the stuff, to be an ace at the next level. He features a classic three-pitch mix with a mid-90s plus fastball with great movement, a plus power curveball and a deceptive change-up that freezes hitters. Opponents hit just .187 against him as a sophomore as his ability to miss bats is something to see. The one knock on him is that he also has a tendency to miss the strike zone. His stuff and make-up are top notch, however, and if he can harness his control as a junior, he could challenge Rodon for the top pick. Posted a 2.32 ERA, 1.26 with 103 K/63 BB over 101 innings for the Commodores.
4. Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (CA)
Gatewood is quickly becoming the most drooled over prep prospect in the 2014 MLB draft. At 6’-5” and 190 pounds, the right-hander shows big-time power potential and excellent bat speed. He won the Junior Home Run Derby at Citi Field, slugging 13 home runs — three of them reaching the third deck. He also has a canon arm and has been clocked in the low/mid 90s. A shortstop now, his size and power could move him to third where all of his tools would play well. He could go first overall with his upside. Committed to USC.
5. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
The 6’-4”, 200-pound right-hander was dominate at the Cape Cod League this year. Over 24.1 innings, he had 33 K/5 BB and allowed 20 hits for Hyannis. His fastball can touch 98 mph, and both his curveball and change-up are solid offerings and getting better. Over 15 starts as a sophomore, he had a 3.20 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 84 K/39 BB over 109.2 innings. His 7.3 innings-per-start show the kind of stamina he has, and he maintains velocity deep in games. We all saw Jonathan Gray rocket up draft boards this past year, and Hoffman could enjoy the same ride.
6. Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (TX)
Just days after I put out my first mock, the 6’-6” right-hander hit 100 mph at the Area Code tryouts. He then sat in the mid-90s at the Perfect Game Nationals with a good feel for a slider that has plus potential. Then, at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, he hit 99 mph, setting a record for the event. His size suggests even more velocity could be coming, and he has great body control considering his frame. He has been timed at 4.8 in the 40, showing great athleticism. Texas is known for producing big, hard-throwing right-handers, but Kolek definitely fits the mold.
7. Alex Jackson, C, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
The best catching prospect in the draft, the 6’-2”, 210-pound right-hander has a plus arm and, mixed with his footwork and athleticism, should stick at the premium position. His power is some of the best in the class, and he should hit for a high average with his approach and plus bat speed. He hit .343/.479/.806 over 35 games as a junior with 14 home runs and 29 walks. Committed to Oregon.
8. Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
The 6’-5”, 240-pound southpaw was among the leaders in K/9 with a 11.5 mark this season thanks to a fastball that can touch 95 mph. Over 13 starts, he had a 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 92 K/37 BB over 72 innings while holding hitters to a .213 batting average. With increased improvement of his command, as well as secondary stuff, he should be a big name to watch next year.
9. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Academy (FL)
One of the most electric arms in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-2”, 190-pound right-hander has touched 97 mph with his fastball and adds one of the best curveballs in the draft; a knee-buckling hammer that sits in the mid 70s. He adds a lot of deception to his delivery, making his stuff that much harder to pick up. The only knock on him right now is his command, which can get the best of him at times. He walked three and struck out three in one inning at the PG Classic. His stuff is outstanding.
10. Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State
He is 6′-6“, 210 pounds and can touch 100 mph with his fastball. Shall I go on? He also adds a mid-80s slider, as well as a mid-80s change-up that is more of an out pitch. His command can be shaky at times as he is still learning how to be a pitcher instead of just running his overpowering fastball. Over 15 starts this year, he had a 4.25 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 109 K/48 BB over 95.1 innings. If he works on his command the way Jonathan Gray did last year, as well as refine his off-speed stuff, he should be one of the first college pitchers off the board.
11. Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
Maybe the best pure hitter available in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-2”, 215-pound right-hander uses the whole field and has a great approach at the plate. I got a chance to see him hit when the Collegiate National team played at Kane County, and I was extremely impressed by the way he handles himself at the plate — waiting for his pitch and driving it to the gaps with ease. He hit .328/.447/.526 over 65 games as a sophomore with 11 home runs and 41 walks. He’s not going to steal many bases, and he will most likely end up in left field. His bat is what will land him in the first round.
12. Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State
A 6’-2”, 180-pound right-hander, Weaver enjoyed an outstanding season for the Seminoles this year. Over 15 starts, he had a 2.29 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 119 K/19 BB over 98.1 innings. His 10.9 K/9 and 6.3 K/BB ratios show the kind of power/command pitcher he is. His fastball sits in the low/mid 90s and he adds a change-up that shows plus potential. There is still room for projection and added velocity as he fills out. Over 21 innings for Team USA, he had 17 K/5 BB.
13. Michael Gettys, OF/RHP, Gainesville HS (GA)
Maybe the most all-around talented prep player in the draft, the 6’-2” right-hander excels at just about everything on the baseball field. He plays the game at breakneck speed, much like fellow Georgia native, and fifth-overall pick in last year’s draft, Clint Frazier. He may have higher upside as an offensive player where his plus speed, plus bat speed and power rank him at the top among outfield prospects. He can also sling it 100 mph from the outfield, which would allow him to play all three outfield spots at the next level. On the mound, his fastball can touch 95 mph and he adds a mid-70s curveball. He posted a 0.99 ERA, 0.74 WHIP with 114 K/18 BB over 73 innings as a junior. Frazier told me he was the toughest pitcher he faced all season.
14. Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC)
A Florida Gator commit, the 6’-2”, 190-pound right-hander hit 96 mph at the Perfect Game Nationals and flashed a plus curveball with excellent command. He also hit 95 mph at the PG Classic, showing one of the better fastballs in the prep class. He adds an above-average change-up, rounding out a solid three-pitch mix. Some scouts think he has maxed out physically, limiting his upside, but as it is, he profiles to a mid-rotation starter and possibly as high as a two. He is a very good athlete with a sound delivery and one of the best prep arms in the draft.
15. Braxton Davidson, OF, TC Roberson HS (NC)
The 6’-3”, 215-pound left-hander will be one of the best prep bats in the 2014 MLB draft due to his bat speed, advanced approach at the plate and raw power. He shows good pitch recognition, and his strong wrists allow him to wait on any pitch. Over 31 games as a junior, he hit .403 with seven doubles, eight home runs, and drew 30 walks for a .600 OBP/.831 SLG. His strong arm would play well in a corner outfield spot.
16. Ti’Quan Forbes, SS, Columbia HS (MS)
At 6’-4” and 180 pounds, the right-hander oozes potential due to his defensive abilities, strong arm, plus speed (6.4/60) and developing raw power. He has shown a patient approach at the plate, driving the ball to all fields, and his size suggests more power will come. He hit .391/.447/.758 as a junior with only seven strikeouts over 103 plate appearances. If teams believe he can stick at shortstop, he could shoot up draft boards.
17. Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (HI)
Medeiros was the talk of the PG Classic. Some people described his stuff as filthy, nasty and some players tweeted he had some of the best stuff they have ever seen. He hit 95 mph with his fastball and added a nasty, filthy slider that sat in the low 80s. What really makes him nasty and filthy, however, is his delivery. He throws from low three-quarters — almost sidearm. You don’t see a lot of sidearm, frontline starters in the majors so it will be interesting to watch him his senior season. Also, at 6’-0” and 185 pounds, his size may limit his upside. Nonetheless, he established himself as one of the most exciting players in the country.
18. Nick Gordon, SS/RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
The son of Tom “Flash” Gordon, Nick also can sling it on the mound (92 mph) but may have a brighter future at shortstop, where his strong arm, range and instincts will make him one of the better defensive shortstops in the 2014 MLB draft. Offensively, he hits from the left side and projects to a top-of-the-order hitter with speed and a very good approach at the plate. Over 30 games as a junior, he hit .505 with 15 doubles, six triples and 12 stolen bases. Committed to Florida State.
19. Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (GA)
With a fastball that sits in the 93-96 mph range, the 6’-2” right-hander is another hard throwing prepster in a class deep on them. He adds an above-average curveball and is a very athletic player who also shines on the offensive end. The mound is where he dominates, however, and he still has projection left. Plus, he plays in Georgia where they grow elite players on a farm somewhere.
20. Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
Maybe the best control artist available in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-1” right-hander features a plus, low-90s fastball with nasty sink to it. He offsets his fastball with a deceptive change-up that freezes hitters. As a freshman, he had 89 K/7 BB over 89.2 innings and 40 of those strikeouts were looking. He was lights-out as a sophomore for LSU, going 12-1 over 17 starts with a 1.57 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 122 K/18 BB over 126 innings. His size limits his upside a bit, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better pitcher, in the true sense of the word, out there.
21. Jack Flaherty, 3B/RHP, Harvard Westlake HS (CA)
Like Gatewood, Flaherty is a 6’-4”, 200-pound right-hander with massive power potential. The ball jumps off his bat and his plus bat speed suggests he should hit for a high average, as well. He doesn’t have quite the arm of Gatewood, but he should be able to stick at third due to his range and instincts. He has shown above-average speed but probably isn’t a guy who is going to steal many bases. Playing for a national powerhouse, he will get plenty of attention this year. He is a baseball player in every sense of the word. Committed to North Carolina.
22. Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (CA)
The 6’-3”, 220-pound right-hander will be almost 19 on draft day, making him one of the older players in his class. Because of this, his upside isn’t as high as others on this list. That said, his stuff is really good and his fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range. He adds a developing plus slider that sits in the mid-80s and his offspeed stuff is still in the developmental stages. He has great mound presence and feel for his pitches, and he also is a good athlete.
23. Kyle Schwarber, C, Indiana
Maybe the best power bat in college, the 6’-0”, 230-pound left-hander also has a great approach at the plate and should hit for a high average at the next level. His ability to remain behind the plate is still up for debate, but he wants to stay there and has been working hard on his defense. Over 61 games as a sophomore, he hit .366/.456/.647 with 10 doubles, 18 home runs and drew 42 walks to just 37 strikeouts. He then hit .308/.396/.436 over 21 games for The Collegiate National Team with 11 walks. We all saw the premium put on college bats in this year’s draft, and Schwarber should benefit from that next year.
24. Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
A great athlete, the 6’-3”, 210-pound left-hander greatly improved his approach this season cutting down his strikeouts from 61 to 38 over roughly the same number of plate appearances while upping his walks from 22 to 28. Over 53 games, he hit .306 with 12 doubles, seven home runs, stole eight bases and had a .420 OBP/.505 SLG. His size suggests more power will come and, if it does, he will be one of the better all-around college bats available in the 2014 MLB draft.
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