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With all the summer/fall tournaments in the books, as well as the Cape Cod League, we are starting to get a good idea of who the best of the best is. We also know there is a lot of baseball to be played between now and June, so nothing is decided as of yet. This is how I see the first round going if it were held today:
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1. Houston Astros — Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
The Astros can continue to improve one of the best farm systems in baseball by selecting the best available player in the draft. Rodon is a power lefty with a mid-90s fastball and a plus/plus wipeout slider. At 6’-3” and 245 pounds, he has the ideal size for a future workhorse ace and could join last year’s number-one overall pick, Mark Appel, to help form quite the dominant rotation in the near future. As a sophomore for the Wolfpack, he posted a 2.99 ERA, 1.05 WHIP with 184 K/45 BB over 132.1 innings. He then went out and dominated for the Collegiate National Team, going 3-0 with 21 K/4 BB over 17 shutout innings, allowing just five hits. He also adds a cutter, an above-average curveball and a change-up with nice fade.
2. Miami Marlins — 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 7.2 innings-per-start show the kind of stamina he has, and he maintains velocity deep in games. A strong showing his junior season could propel him in talks for the number-one spot.
3. Chicago White Sox — Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (CA)
The White Sox need all kinds of help in their system and could go a number of ways here. The 6’-5” right-hander has some of the highest upside in the draft due to his size and plus raw power. He likely won’t stick at short but has a canon for an arm, as well as the athletic abilities, which could allow him to stick at third base. He won the Junior Home Run Derby at Citi Field, slugging 13 home runs — three of them reaching the third deck. I also got to see him launch several bombs out of Wrigley Field as he won the home run derby at the 2013 Under Armour All American Game. Committed to USC.
4. Chicago Cubs — Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State
The Cubs may still lack pitching in their farm system, but Turner is the type of player they also lack: a burner who can get on base while playing stellar defense at a premium position. Some have questioned his hit tool, but all he has done is hit and has shown no signs of not continuing to do so. 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. He was slowed by an ankle injury over the summer, which might have led to some dropping him in their rankings.
5. Minnesota Twins — Tyler Kolek, RHP, Sheppard HS (TX)
I still like Kolek here for now. The Twins have shown they are not shy about taking prep arms early, and the 6’-6”, 240-pound flame thrower can touch triple-digits with his fastball. He also shows a good feel for a slider that has plus potential. 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 for his size. With guys like Kohl Stewart, Jose Berrios and Lewis Thorpe already in their system, the Twins can start stockpiling young power arms to back Mr. Buxton and Mr. Sano.
6. Seattle Mariners — Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
One of the better power bats in the 2014 MLB draft, many believe Jackson’s future is in the outfield where his plus arm would play well. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, the right-hander has excellent bat speed, and the ball jumps off his bat. He hit .343/.479/.806 over 35 games as a junior with 14 home runs and 29 walks. Committed to Oregon.
7. Philadelphia Phillies — Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
There is no questioning Beede’s stuff. The 6’-4” right-hander has a plus, mid-90s fastball to go along with a plus, knee-buckling curveball. He also adds a deceptive change-up that freezes hitters when on and opposing hitters batted just .187 against him his sophomore season. His control can get the best of him at times as he walked 63 over 101 innings. If he can work on the release point, he could challenge Rodon for the top spot. An alumni of Team USA Baseball, Beede comes from a baseball family and is a high-character kid with ace potential.
8. Colorado Rockies — Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (GA)
Traditionally, the state of Georgia has a boatload of talent, and the 6’-2”, 200 pound right-hander may be the best of the bunch. He has plus speed, a plus/plus arm and serious raw power potential — I saw him launch one out to dead center at Wrigley with minimal effort. He didn’t have the greatest showing over the summer, which has led some to drop him in their rankings, but I expect a big senior season, and he should be one of the best prep players available in the 2014 MLB draft as his tools speak for themselves.
9. Toronto Blue Jays — Braxton Davidson, OF, TC Roberson HS (NC)
Plus power from the left side is always a hot commodity, and the 6’-3” Davidson has plenty of it due to his excellent bat speed. He also has an advanced approach at the plate and should hit for a high average at the next level. Over 31 games as a junior, he hit .403 with seven doubles, eight home runs, and he drew 30 walks for a .600 OBP/.831 SLG. His strong arm would play well in a corner outfield spot.
10. New York Mets — 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.
11. Toronto Blue Jays — Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC)
(Toronto receives this pick for failing to sign Phil Bickford.)
One of the better performers over the summer, the 6’-2” right-hander wowed scouts with a plus fastball, plus curveball and great command. He sat in the mid-90s all summer with his fastball and showed an above-average change-up to round out a three-pitch mix. The one knock: Many believe he has maxed out physically and there isn’t much projection left. Still, he projects to a mid-rotation starter who should miss a lot of bats.
12. Milwaukee Brewers — Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Academy (FL)
The 6’-2” right-hander showed explosive stuff all summer, striking out seemingly every batter he faced at every tournament. He has a plus, mid-90s fastball with movement and late life, a mid-70s curveball that most consider the best in the draft and he has a lot of deception in his delivery. He also adds a slider and change-up to his arsenal. He can get wild at times but the stuff is electric.
13. San Diego Padres — Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
The 6’-3”, right-hander is a great athlete whose power is still developing. He 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. He hit .333 in the Cape Cod League and drew 25 walks to just 19 strikeouts, again showing his improvement in his approach. I feel a breakout season coming, and he should be one of the better college bats available.
14. San Francisco Giants — Nick Gordon, SS/RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
Bloodlines always seems to be a big thing in the MLB draft, and the 6’-2” right-hander can sling it on the mound like his dad, Tom “Flash” Gordon. His future seems brighter at shortstop, where his athleticism, soft hands and arm could play well. 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.
15. Los Angeles Angels — Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
Few can match the kind of control Nola possesses. 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, and he isn’t a power arm, but not many can toss a game like he can.
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16. Arizona Diamondbacks — Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
The younger brother of Royals top prospect Kyle Zimmer, Bradley is a 6’-5” right-hander with plus speed and developing power. Over 58 games as a sophomore, he hit .320/.437/.512 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and stole 19 bases. He also shows a great approach at the plate as he drew 29 walks to 31 strikeouts and was hit by a pitch a whopping 16 times, proving he’ll do whatever it takes to get on base. He showed off his wheels for the Collegiate National Team, swiping 11 of 12 bases over 21 games while also hitting an even .300. His speed and plus arm should allow him to remain in center field at the next level.
17. Baltimore Orioles — Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
One of the better bats 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.
18. New York Yankees — Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
One of the youngest players in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-4” southpaw is an alumni of Team USA Baseball and is very polished on the mound. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and both his curveball and change-up are above-average offerings with still room for more. He has great control of his pitches and dominated at The Tournament of Stars, striking out seven over three scoreless innings. He then earned the win in the gold-medal game against Japan at the World Cup Championships in Taiwan, striking out 10 over seven innings, allowing just one run. He had a 1.18 ERA and 80 K/25 BB over 53.1 innings as a junior for a team that included 2013 fourth-round pick Stephen Gonsalves. Committed to UCLA.
19. Kansas City Royals — 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.
20. Washington Nationals — Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State
At 6’-6” and 210 pounds, the right-hander can sling it up to 99 mph and sits in the mid-90s. 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.
21. Cincinnati Reds — Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, 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.
22. Texas Rangers — 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. He had a very good showing this summer, keeping him in first round talks.
23. Tampa Bay Rays — Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (GA)
Another kid who had an impressive summer, the 6’-2” right-hander can dial his fastball up to 97 mph and he adds an above-average curveball. Very athletic, he also shines on the offensive end but he dominates on the mound. He has an easy delivery but can get into control issues at times. Still has projection and he hails from Georgia, so, you know …
24. Cleveland Indians — Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
The 6’-3”, 210-pound right-hander flashes a plus fastball that touches 94 mph with late life, thanks to his easy delivery and strong build. He also features a filthy, upper-70s curveball that may be one of the best in his class, as well as a slider that looked like a future plus pitch at the Tournament of Stars in North Carolina. He has put his name on the map with an impressive summer and has huge upside due to his size, easy delivery and stuff. Committed to Florida State.
25. Los Angeles Dodgers — Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview HS (GA)
One of the better southpaws in the 2014 MLB draft, Marshall’s fastball sits in the low/mid-90s, and he has worked hard on his delivery and command over the past year. He also flashed a potential plus curveball at the Perfect Game Nationals. At 6’-2” and 185 pounds, he is a great athlete who has been clocked at 6.7 in the 60. As a junior, he had 80 K/32 BB over 46 innings for one of the premiere programs in the country. Committed to Georgia because he is from there.
26. Detroit Tigers — Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
Maybe the highest riser in the draft so far, the 6’-1” right-hander was the MVP of the Cape Cod League after hitting .346 over 35 games with six home runs, 29 RBI and five stolen bases. He also drew 16 walks to 22 strikeouts, showing off a solid approach at the plate. Going this high is dependent on scouts believing he can remain behind the plate. In a class weak on catchers, he brings a lot of offense and athleticism to a premium position. Also, he is from Georgia.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates — Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
The 6’-4” southpaw is one of those loose, projectable pitchers scouts love. His fastball sits in the low-90s and he adds a plus, power slider that lefties can’t handle when on. His change-up is still developing but should be solid enough to remain a starter. He dominated the Cape Cod League, striking out 48 to four walks over 40 innings.
28. Oakland Athletics — Jakson Reetz, C, Norris HS (NE)
A terrific athlete and two-way player who was a star for U18 Team USA, the 6’-1”, 200-pound right-hander’s ability to stick behind the plate make him a highly touted prospect. More of a line-drive hitter now, more power should come as he matures, and he has the bat speed to back it up. Can hit the low-90s on the mound so his arm plays well behind the plate and he makes for a big target. Committed to Nebraska.
29. Atlanta Braves — Michael Kopech, RHP, Mount Pleasant HS (TX)
The 6’-3” right-hander worked on his mechanics over the summer and it showed at the 2013 Under Armour Game at Wrigley Field. His fastball was popping the mitt, hitting the mid-90s with explosive life. He also showed his plus slider with hard bite as he worked a quick inning. There is still projection there and his frame suggests more velocity could still come. Had 129 K/33 BB over 80.1 innings as a junior. Quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the 2014 MLB draft.
30. Boston Red Sox — Monte’ Harrison, OF, Lee’s Summit HS (MO)
A two-sport star, the 6’-2”, 200 pound right-hander may be a tough sign as he is one of the top wide receivers in the country and has a scholarship to play at Nebraska. On the diamond, he has plus speed (6.65/60), a plus arm (97 mph from the outfield) and has developed into a solid hitter, and his size suggests more power will come. Over 83 at-bats as a junior, he hit .457 with 12 doubles, three triples and six home runs. One of the more exciting players available with a ton of upside.
31. St. Louis Cardinals — Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (HI)
He is unorthodox. He also has two plus pitches already in his back pocket — an electric fastball that can touch 96 mph and a plus slider that wipes out lefties. 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, and if any team can develop him, it’s the Cardinals.
Next five: Alex Verdugo, Jack Flaherty, Erick Fedde, Justus Sheffield, Cobi Johnson
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