Mock 2014 MLB draft 1.0: No time like the present
First off, I realize how ridiculous this is. The 2013 MLB draft is still resonating in our brains, especially those who sat through 40 rounds over three days. A lot of us, however, are turning the page on the 2013 class. We wish them well, but it’s time to move on. This isn’t to be taken too seriously as there are roughly 360 days until the 2014 MLB draft and, as we saw this year, many names will drop, and many more will emerge out of nowhere. The draft order will change, as well. Although, I’m pretty confident about the top two. Also, I could have easily done a boring top-30 prospect list — but we all know mocks are just so much more fun. Enjoy and go easy on me!
(Standings as of June 8)
1. Miami Marlins — Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
The 6’-4” right-hander is putting together one hell of a season for the top-ranked Commodores this year and is one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes award. Over 16 starts, he is 14-0 with a 2.20 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 101 K/60 BB over 98.1 innings, allowing just 57 hits. He has an effortless delivery and the ball jumps out of his hand. 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. The one knock on him is his control, which can get wild at times, but once he harnesses that, hitters will have no chance of getting on base. I feel with his size, stuff and fluid delivery, he has the most upside of any college pitcher in the 2014 MLB draft. He gets bonus points for his high character and was named a member of Collegiate Team USA.
2. Houston Astros — Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Rodon has pretty much everything you want in an ace. At 6’-2” and 230 pounds, the southpaw definitely has the size to carry the workload, and his legs look like tree trunks. 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. Over 16 starts so far this year, he has a 3.19 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 161 K/40 BB over 110 innings. Opponents are hitting just .190 against him. His junior season should be full of ridiculousness. The only knock I have heard on him is his size and if he will be able to maintain that kind of velocity for the long haul. He also tends to get into control issues at times.
3. Milwaukee Brewers — Trea Tuner, SS, North Carolina State
Probably the most electric and exciting player in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-2” right-hander has shown the range, arm and instincts to stick at shortstop. Offensively, his speed is his best tool and he should be a major threat on the base paths at the next level. He also has a great approach at the plate and should hit for a high average, as well. He showed developing power this season and, if he continues to do so, Troy Tulowitzki comps will be coming. Hit .336 as a freshman and led the nation in stolen bases with 57. Over 51 injury-shortened games this season, he hit .377 with 12 doubles, seven home runs, 27 stolen bases and drew 35 walks to 30 strikeouts for a .464 OBP/.578 SLG.
4. New York Mets — Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs (FL)
The 6’-2” right-hander has an electric fastball which can touch 97 mph with late life and there is still room for more as he fills out. He has a deceptive delivery which makes his plus, mid-70s, knee-buckling curveball even harder to react to. His change-up is still developing, but with two plus pitches already, he will be one of the most talked about prep pitchers next season. Never has a prep RHP gone first overall in the draft. Touki could change that.
5. Chicago Cubs — 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 this year, as well as refine his off-speed stuff, he could challenge Beede and Rodon for the top pick.
6. Toronto Blue Jays — Alex Jackson, C, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
The 6’-2”, 210-pound right-hander will be one of the top power hitters in the 2014 MLB draft. Over 35 games as a junior, he hit .343 with 14 home runs and drew 29 walks for a .479 OBP/.806 SLG. Aside from the power potential, he also has a plus arm and is very athletic, making many believe he will stick at the premium position. Like Clint Frazier this year, Jackson may be the most talked about prep player next season. Committed to Oregon.
7. Kansas City Royals — Nicholas 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.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers — 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 on his command, as well as secondary stuff, he should be a big name to watch next year.
9. Los Angeles Angels — Jacob Gatewood, OF, Clovis HS (CA)
At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, the right-hander generates a ton of power due to his excellent bat speed, and he also has a canon arm that has been clocked in the low/mid-90s. He plays shortstop now, but with his size, a move to the hot corner seems likely, and his arm and bat would more than play well there. Not fast, he is a very good athlete and there is still a good amount of projection left. Committed to USC.
10. Seattle Mariners — Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
The 6’-4”, 190-pound right-hander is a workhorse who could have a Jonathan Gray-like rise next season with continued development on his curveball and change-up, both of which are solid offerings right now. His fastball is a plus pitch already and touches 97 mph. Over 15 starts this season, 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.
11. Chicago White Sox — 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 decent speed but isn’t a guy who is going to steal many bases. Playing for a national powerhouse, he will get plenty of attention next year. Committed to North Carolina.
12. San Diego Padres — Kel Johnson, OF, Home School (GA)
A 6’-4”, 210-pound right-hander who has been a fixture on Perfect Game tournaments, Johnson is home schooled by his parents and plays for the East Cobb Braves — one of the premiere youth baseball operations in the country. Power would be his best tool right now as he generates a ton of it with his strong wrists and bat speed. A player who you come to watch hit batting practice. Committed to Georgia Tech.
13. Minnesota Twins — Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State
A 6’-2”, 180-pound right-hander, Weaver has enjoyed an outstanding season for the Seminoles this year. Over 15 starts, he has 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.
14. Philadelphia Phillies — Braxton Davidson, OF, T C 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.
15. Washington Nationals — Justin Smith, OF, Bartram Trail HS (FL)
The 6’-2”, 200-pound right-hander has all five tools, including a canon arm in the outfield (92 mph) and plus speed (6.69/60). He is still considered raw in some areas, but his excellent bat speed, along with his frame, make for a huge upside. Many are expecting a huge senior season.
16. Colorado Rockies — Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
Maybe the best control artist available in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-2” 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. This season, he has been lights-out so far. Over 15 starts, he is 11-0 with a 1.82 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 111 K/17 BB over 109 innings. His size limits his upside, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better pitcher in the true sense of the word out there.
17. San Francisco Giants — 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.
18. Cleveland Indians — Kyle Schwarber, C, Indiana
While he may not have enough to stick behind the plate, the 6’-0”, 230-pound left-handed hitter does have a strong arm and makes for a big target. His footwork needs work, however, and most think he will eventually end up at first base. That shouldn’t hurt his stock that much because the kid can flat out destroy a baseball. Over 57 games, he is hitting .374 with 10 doubles, 18 home runs and has drawn 39 walks to just 30 strikeouts for a .462 OBP/.676 SLG. He should be a leading candidate to lead the nation in home runs next season and, with that kind of power and patience from the left side, he may be too hard to pass up in the first round. He was also named to the 2013 Collegiate Team USA.
19. Detroit Tigers — Justin Bellinger, 1B, St. Sebastian’s HS (MA)
At 6’-5” and 235 pounds, the power potential is massive with the left-handed hitter. His patient approach at the plate, along with his strong wrists, allows him to wait on any pitch and drive it into the stratosphere. He has been a fixture at all of the summer events and showcases and is always one of the top performers. He doesn’t have a lot of speed (7.1/60) but he does project to a solid defender at first base.
20. Tampa Bay Rays — Liam Sabino, SS, Blair Academy (PA)
A very good defensive shortstop — maybe the best in the 2014 MLB draft — the 6’-1” right-hander has a strong arm (90 mph), soft hands and makes it look effortless in the field. His bat is behind the defense but his bat speed and approach project well. More power should come as he matures, but he profiles as more of a top-of-the-order hitter. He also isn’t a base stealer, but with the premium put on up-the-middle talent, he has a strong chance to go in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft.
21. Arizona Diamondbacks — Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
After an incredible freshman season in which he hit .349 over 58 games with 14 doubles, 13 home runs, 76 RBI and a .438 OBP/.601 SLG, the 6’-1”, 215-pound left-hander has regressed a bit his sophomore year. Over 58 games, he is hitting .326 with nine home runs, 42 RBI and a .450 OBP/.501 SLG. While he has improved his walk rate and approach, the power numbers are down. A great talent, he should be among the better college bats available in the 2014 MLB draft. He has been a little inconsistent in the outfield this season but shows enough to hold down a corner outfield spot.
22. Baltimore Orioles — Grant Hockin, RHP, Damien HS (CA)
Hockin is an athletic 6’-4” right-hander whose fastball has touched 95 mph with late life. He also adds two solid secondary offerings in a curveball and change-up, and he locates his pitches well. He repeats his delivery well and still has some projection left. He is the grandson of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.
23. New York Yankees — Michael Kopech, Mount Pleasant HS (TX)
Another one of those loose arm, projectable right-handers, the 6’-4” Kopech has an electric fastball that can touch 93 mph and he has some deception to his delivery. His mechanics need some refining and he needs to command his secondary stuff better, but the size and stuff is already there.
24. Oakland Athletics — Joey Pankake, SS, South Carolina
He should get drafted in the first round on his name alone. With a real chance to stick at shortstop, the 6’-1”, 200-pound right-hander has also come a long way with the bat. He has an advanced approach at the plate, great bat speed and has shown good power this season. Over 60 games, he is hitting .314 with 11 home runs, 40 RBI and has drawn 28 walks to 28 strikeouts for a .390 OBP/.502 SLG. Shortstops who can get on base and hit for power are high on everyone’s wish list. And think of the jersey sales.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates — Mike Papi, OF, Virginia
The 6’-3”, 200-pound left-hander wasn’t even a starter until the 11th game of the season. Since then, he has been one of the best hitters in college, including leading the nation in OBP. Over 53 games, he hit .393 with 15 doubles, six home runs, 55 RBI and drew 43 walks to just 22 strikeouts for a .527 OBP/.625 SLG. With an advanced approach at the plate, and the size that suggests more power will come, Papi could erupt next season. He can also flash the leather in the outfield.
26. Boston Red Sox — Michael Gettys, RHP, Gainesville HS (GA)
An athletic right-hander who has touched 95 mph with his fastball, the 6’-2” Gettys is one of the more exciting players to watch in the 2014 prep class. As a junior, he hit .406 and stole 38 bases over 32 games. On the mound, he had a 0.99 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 114 K/18 BB over 73 innings. He tossed two no-hitters and struck out 2013 fifth-overall pick Clint Frazier twice in their match-up on April 12. In an interview I did with Frazier, he said Gettys was the best pitcher he faced all season.
27. Atlanta Braves — Zach Shannon, 3B, Moeller HS (OH)
A two-way prospect who may have more upside as a hitter, the 6’-3”, 220-pound right-hander has a canon arm (93 mph) and his power bat would play well in right. He has shown the ability to hit to all fields and has good bat speed. On the mound, he also has an upper-70s curveball that shows plus potential to go along with his above-average fastball. He hails from the same school that produced Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin and Buddy Bell.
28. Cincinnati Reds — Gareth Morgan, OF, North Toronto Collegiate (ON)
The 2014 prep class is full of big-time power bats and Morgan, a 6’-4”, 210-pound right-hander, has as much of it as anyone else on this list. He is more raw than the players listed above, and he has had mixed results when he has faced elite competition. All of the tools are there, however, including excellent bat speed and a good approach, he just needs to refine it.
29. Texas Rangers — Bryce Montes De Oca, RHP, Lawrence HS (MO)
This one is all about upside. At 6’-8” and 265 pounds, the right-hander can run his fastball up to 95 mph with ease. Add in the fact that it his release point is probably halfway to home plate, it is near impossible to pick it up as a hitter. His secondary stuff is still developing and he is still learning to pitch, but it’s hard to pass on a kid with his size and arm strength.
30. St. Louis Cardinals — Alex Lange, RHP, Lee’s Summit West HS (MO)
With three potential plus pitches in his arsenal, the 6’-3” right-hander has that classic mix you look for in a starter. His fastball sits in the low-90s with room for more as he continues to refine his mechanics. His mid-80s split change-up already shows plus, and his upper-70s curveball could be a dominant pitch down the road.
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