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With the college season in full swing, and the high school seasons getting underway, we are starting to see some movement on draft boards. With the 2014 MLB draft just under three months away, here is how I see the first round, comp round and Lottery A round going today:
1. Houston Astros — Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
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Rodon hasn’t been as dominant as many expected in the early going. Having said that, he still has a 2.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 30 K/7 BB over 30 innings. No one is worried, and he should start getting into a groove very soon. He owns one of the best amateur sliders anyone has ever seen, he adds a mid-90s fastball with movement, a change-up with nice fade, an above-average curveball and he’ll also mix in a cutter.
2. Miami Marlins — Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
The 6’-4”, 200 pound right-hander has had an up and down season so far. After striking out 14 to one walk over eight innings on February 28, he only lasted 3.1 innings against Marshall on March 8, walking six batters. He did strikeout seven, however, so the stuff was there even if the command wasn’t. Still, he has four quality pitches, a clean delivery and there is still projection left as he fills out his frame. I’m keeping him here for now based on his stuff, but if the command continues to be an issue, he could get leapfrogged by others.
3. Chicago White Sox — Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
As a sophomore, Beede had a 5.6 BB/9 ratio over 101 innings. That was the only knock on him as he features a four-pitch mix headlined by a plus, mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball. The 6’-4”, right-hander worked on his release point and the results have been amazing. After striking out nine to no walks over seven innings against Winthrop on Friday, he now has 33 K/5 BB over 25 innings, good for a 1.8 BB/9 ratio. He has only allowed 11 hits on the season and has arguably the best swing-and-miss stuff in the 2014 MLB draft.
4. Chicago Cubs — Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State
With the Cubs badly in need of an ace in their organization, I would be a bit heartbroken if Rodon, Beede and Hoffman were already off the board at this point. And while I really like Tyler Kolek, prep arms are so risky and I think the Cubs have to hit here. Turner, one of my favorites in the 2014 MLB draft, makes sense and gives the organization something they are lacking — blazing speed at the top of the order. He may never hit more than 10 home runs in a year, but he can get on base in a variety of ways at a high clip, is a great base stealer with plus/plus speed and plays very good defense at a premium position.
5. Minnesota Twins — Tyler Kolek, RHP, Sheppard HS (TX)
In his debut this season, the 6’-6”, 240 pound right-hander was touching 97 mph with his fastball and maintained 90’s throughout. Over six innings, he had 11 strikeouts and walked one batter. He shows a good feel for a slider but still needs to refine his secondary stuff. Timed at 4.8 in the 40, he also shows very good athleticism for his size. Not much projection left, but you don’t need it when you can hit 100 mph. Committed to TCU.
6. Seattle Mariners — Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
Tremendous raw power, a canon arm and excellent bat speed give Jackson the edge as far as prep bats go. While he has the defensive abilities to remain behind the plate, some have said that he wants to make a move to the outfield. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, the right-hander still has projection and the Mariners are always looking for hitting. Committed to Oregon.
7. Philadelphia Phillies — Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (CA)
Scouts and draft experts seem to be all over the place when ranking Gatewood. One thing they can all agree on, however, is his potential. At 6’-5”, the right-hander has enormous raw power and uses little effort in launching balls out of the yard, as he did when he launched one approximately 500-feet in a game last week. Despite his size, some think he can stick at shortstop — which says a lot about his athleticism. His strong arm and footwork would play well at third base, as well. He won just about every home run derby he entered last summer and I was in awe when I saw him at Wrigley Field at the Under Armour All American Game. Committed to USC.
8. Colorado Rockies — Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (GA)
Like Gatewood, people are all over the place with Gettys. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, the right-hander has silly tools, including a plus arm, plus speed and a quick bat. He gets mixed reviews for his hit tool but has been smacking the ball around this year so far. Over his first three games, he has gone 7-for-10 with a double, home run and has added five stolen bases. His talent can’t be denied and some think he just needs to relax a bit and let the game come to him. One of my favorites in the 2014 MLB draft and I think he’ll convince his critics by year’s end.
9. Toronto Blue Jays — Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
Nola has been masterful all season for the Tigers. In his last start against Purdue on March 7, he tossed eight shutout innings, allowing four hits while striking out 12 to no walks. Over four starts, he hasn’t allowed a run in 27 innings. He has 36 K/2 BB and has allowed just 13 hits. In fact, going back to last season, Nola now has a streak of 53 innings without allowing an earned run. A control artist extraordinaire, 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. On March 14, he is set to match-up against Tyler Beede and Vanderbilt in what should be a great game.
10. New York Mets — Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
The 6’-4” right-hander is soaring up draft boards. Reports are that he cleaned up his mechanics and he has been blowing away hitters this year. Over 16 innings, he has 37 K/1 BB and has allowed just two hits. His fastball touches 94 mph with late life and he features a filthy, upper-70s curveball that may be the best in his class. His slider has also shown plus potential and his change-up is still developing, giving four pitches. With his loose frame and easy delivery, he has a ton of upside. Committed to Florida State.
11. Toronto Blue Jays* — Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
Maybe the most polished prep pitcher available, the 6’-4” southpaw is an alumni of Team USA Baseball and was the winning pitcher in the gold-medal game against Japan in the World Cup Championship in Taiwan, allowing just one run over seven innings while striking out 10. His fastball sits in the low 90s, although Kiley McDaniel at Scout.com reported that he was hitting 96 mph this week, 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. Still has some projection left and room for more velocity. Committed to UCLA.
12. Milwaukee Brewers — Nick Gordon, SS/RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
While Gordon hasn’t pitched yet this season, he has shown more pop in his bat. Over his first eight games, he has gone 11-for-22 (.500) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs and has swiped three bases. He has drawn five walks and been plunked four times already, showing he’ll do whatever it takes to help his team win. He has the range, glove and instincts to remain at shortstop and he also has a plus arm. He hits from the left side and has an advanced approach at the plate. He has the bloodlines thing, too, as his dad is former closer Tom “Flash” Gordon. Committed to Florida State.
13. San Diego Padres — Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
Being the best catching prospect in your class helps your draft stock a lot. Defensively, he has all the tools to remain at a premium position, although his strong arm and athleticism would allow him to stick at a corner outfield position. He has been in a bit of a funk lately at the plate and is now hitting .296/.333/.385 over 17 games with five doubles, a home run and has drawn seven walks to 11 strikeouts. He has excellent bat speed and, along with his advanced approach, he is able to wait on his pitch and drive it to all fields. Most believe more power will come but he hasn’t shown it yet this year yet.
14. San Francisco Giants — Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
The 6’-5” left-handed hitter has been very impressive offensively this season. Over 12 games, he is hitting .396/.439/.604 with three doubles, two home runs and has stolen four bases. With his speed, canon arm and instincts, he should be able to remain in center field. If he keeps displaying the power this year, he could go higher than here. His brother is Kansas City Royals top prospect Kyle Zimmer.
15. Los Angeles Angels — Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC)
Reports are that Holmes hit triple digits on the radar gun last week. At 6’-2” and 190 pounds, many feel that he has maxed-out physically. Like Kolek, however, you don’t need much projection when you already have that kind of velocity. He adds a plus curveball and his change-up projects to an above-average pitch, rounding out a classic three-pitch mix — all of which he commands well. He has been impressing scouts for the past year and just keeps getting better. Committed to Florida.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks — Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal State Fullerton
Chapman has been displaying the power many hoped would show up this season. Over 11 games, he is hitting .312/.404/.521 with four doubles, two home runs and has drawn six walks to nine strikeouts. With a canon arm and good footwork, he should be able to stick at the hot corner. If he continues to show more power, he could go higher.
17. Kansas City Royals — Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs HS (FL)
Touki is one of the hardest players to rank because, while his stuff hasn’t been as dominant as it was over the summer, he still oozes potential. His fastball, once clocked at 97 mph, has been down a tick or two lately, but still has plus potential due to the life it has. His curveball is already a plus pitch — a mid 70-s hammer that some consider the best in his class. At 6’-2” and 195 pounds, the right-hander has a wiry frame with a lot of upside. Committed to Vanderbilt.
18. Washington Nationals — Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
A very good athlete, the 6’-3” left-handed hitter has some issues defensively but most believe he can iron those out because of his athleticism. Offensively, he is one of the better college bats and is hitting .375/.432/.500 over 11 games with three doubles, a triple and has drawn four walks to three strikeouts. Like Pentecost, most believe more power will come, although it hasn’t shown up in games yet.
19. Cincinnati Reds — Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
Another guy who is hard to rank, Finnegan has been dominant this year, posting 13.7 K/9 and 7.5 K/BB ratios. As great as he is, his size (5’-11”, 185 pounds) doesn’t scream frontline starter. He is, however, doing everything he can to convince people he can be that type of starter as he has averaged 7.4 innings per start. On the year, he has a 2.12 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 45 K/6 BB over 29.2 innings. His fastball can touch triple-digits and he adds a plus slider.
20. Tampa Bay Rays — Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (CA)
One of the older players in his class as he will be almost 19 on draft day, the 6’-3”, 220 pound right-hander flashes two plus pitches in a 92-96 mph fastball and a low-80s slider. Like most prep pitchers, his change-up is still developing and his clean delivery is a good sign for further development. A good athlete, he has great mound presence and feel for his stuff. Committed to Fresno State.
21. Cleveland Indians — Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
Freeland has been showing the stuff that put him on everyone’s radar after an impressive Cape Cod League in which he had 48 K/4 BB over 40 innings. The 6’-4” southpaw has 20 K/1 BB over 18 innings this year, allowing 14 hits. While he isn’t going to be facing elite competition this year, his stuff is legit. His fastball sits in the low/mid 90s and he adds a plus slider. His change-up still needs work but there’s a lot to like about him due to his size and stuff from the left side.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers — Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
Fedde has been rising since he wowed scouts at the Cape Cod League, showing off a plus slider and a fastball that touches the mid-90s. Over his first four starts this season, he has a 2.00 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 30 K/9 BB over 27 innings, holding opponents to a .174 average. At 6’-4” and 180 pounds, he has the frame to add more velocity as he fills out and he has great mound presence.
23. Detroit Tigers — Braxton Davidson, 1B/OF, Roberson HS (NC)
While he may end up at first base — putting extra pressure on his bat to produce — his power from the left side and approach at the plate are very enticing to scouts. At 6’-3” and 215 pounds, he is already a man but still has room for projection as he is one of the younger players in his class. His excellent bat speed allows him to wait on pitches and not get cheated. 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. Committed to North Carolina.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates — Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
While his command has been a bit shaky so far, the stuff has been there and opponents haven’t been able to put bat on ball very much. Over 17.2 shutout innings, he has allowed just eight hits while striking out 23 to nine walks. The 6’-5”, 220 pound southpaw has a fastball that can touch 96 mph and his slider shows plus potential as a future wipe-out pitch but is still inconsistent. His change-up is still developing but he has upside due to his size, power arm from the left side and clean delivery.
25. Oakland Athletics — Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (GA)
With a fastball that can touch 97 mph, the 6’-2” right-hander is one of the best prep power arms in a class deep on them. He adds a mid-70s curveball that flashes plus potential and his change-up is still developing. He has a clean delivery and there is still projection left as he refines his secondary stuff. He hasn’t shown great command this year with 20 K/8 BB over 12 innings but I wouldn’t put too much stock into it. Committed to Vanderbilt.
26. Atlanta Braves — Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State
Weaver hasn’t been as dominant as he was in his first start of the season as he held Niagara hitless over six innings. Over four starts, he has a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 19 K/6 BB over 24 innings. His fastball sits in the low/mid 90s and he adds a change-up that shows plus potential. At 6’-2” and 180 pounds there is still room for projection and added velocity as he fills out.
27. Boston Red Sox — Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
Schwarber has been heating up lately and is now hitting .333/.423/.622 over 11 games with seven extra-base hits. He has drawn six walks to four strikeouts and has an advanced approach at the plate. The 6’-0”, 230 pound right-hander has tremendous power and is also one of the better hitters available in the 2014 MLB draft. 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.
28. St. Louis Cardinals — Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly
On March 7 against Seattle, Imhof struck out a career-high 15 over eight shutout innings. He allowed four hits and walked three in a 4-0 win. He now has a 1.33 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 41 K/9 BB over 27 innings on the season and has been making bats miss as good as anyone. At 6’-5” and 220 pounds, the southpaw has the size you want in a workhorse. He will only be 20 years old come draft day, making him one of the youngest college players in the draft. His fastball sits in the 89-92 mph range and can touch 94 due to his smooth, effortless delivery. He adds solid secondary stuff and knows how to mix his pitches well.
29. Cincinnati Reds — Cobi Johnson, RHP, Mitchell HS (FL)
At 6’-4” and 180 pounds, the right-hander has the ideal size for a frontline starter. His fastball has touched 93 mph, and he adds a solid curveball that could be a plus pitch. His change-up, like most prep pitchers, is still developing, but he shows a good feel for pitching, and his athleticism will help with his progression. He has shown very good command of his stuff and had 103 K/14 BB over 71 innings as a junior. He also hit .426/.508/.703 over 30 games with 18 stolen bases. His velocity does drop off in later innings, but he should gain more stamina as he fills out his frame. He struck out three in one perfect inning at the PG Classic. Committed to Florida State.
30. Texas Rangers — Marcus Wilson, OF, J-Serra HS (CA)
Wilson will still be 17 on draft day, making him one of the youngest players in his class, as well as having more upside because of it. At 6’-3” and 180 pounds, the right-hander is raw in areas but has a lot of upside based on his plus speed and ability to drive the ball to all fields. His size implies more power will come. He also has a plus arm and is one of those players that gets better every time out. One of those quick-twitch athletes that scouts love. Committed to Arizona State.
31. Cleveland Indians — Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
The 6’-2” right-hander has been displaying his offensive abilities once again this season. While he hasn’t showed much power this year, he has shown his advanced approach at the plate and his ability to wait on any pitch and drive it to all fields. Over 14 games, he is hitting .364/.538/.500 with four doubles, a triple and 23 RBI. He has drawn 17 walks to just four strikeouts. He isn’t going to steal many bases, and he is most likely relegated to left field, but his bat is what will land him in the first round.
32. Atlanta Braves — Milton Ramos, SS, American Heritage HS (FL)
Maybe the best defensive shortstop available in the 2014 MLB draft, Ramos is a 6’-2”, 170 pound right-hander with fluid motions in the field and a strong arm. He has been timed at 6.53 in the 60 and his arm at 88 mph in the infield. He has shown some pop in his bat this year as he has hit two home runs through his first seven games while hitting .478. If he continues to impress offensively, he could go higher as he should remain at a premium position.
33. Boston Red Sox — 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 LSU.
34. St. Louis Cardinals — Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
Burdi hasn’t gotten a lot of work this year so far. He has made four appearances and has 6 K/2 BB over four scoreless innings. He is the best closer available in the 2014 MLB draft due to a plus/plus fastball that routinely touches triple-digits and a wipe-out slider. The Cardinals have a bullpen full of power arms and the 6’-4” right-hander would only add to an already deep stable.
35. Colorado Rockies — Scott Blewett, RHP, Baker HS (NY)
The 6’-6” right-hander was extremely impressive during the fall, hitting 97 mph and showing a sound delivery at the perfect Game WWBW in Jupiter, Florida. His curveball is still developing but he shows a good feel for it and it could be a plus pitch. With his size and arm strength, his upside is sky high and a strong senior season could propel him higher.
36. Miami Marlins — Jordan Brink, RHP, Fresno State
Brink saw his stock rise after an impressive fall in which he was hitting 96 mph with his fastball while showing a plus, mid-80s slider. At 6’-1” and 200 pounds, he may not have the ideal size for a frontline starter but his stuff, along with his fresh arm, have some talking first round. He has a 1.88 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 21 K/11 BB over 28.2 innings, holding opponents to a .162 batting average.
37. Houston Astros — Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (HI)
With two plus pitches already in his back pocket, the southpaw who throws from a low-three quarters slot has some of the filthiest stuff in the country — just ask anyone who faced him this year. His fastball can touch 96 mph with late movement and life and his slider is nasty and wipes out lefties. You don’t see many sidearm starters in the majors so it will be interesting to watch his development. Also, at 6’-0” and 185 pounds, his projection is limited. Still, he has established himself as one of best arms available in the 2014 MLB draft. Committed to Pepperdine.
38. Cleveland Indians — 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.
39. Miami Marlins — Forrest Wall, 2B, Orangewood Christian HS (FL)
One of the best pure hitters in his class, the 6’-0”, 175 pound right-hander has excellent bat speed and an advanced approach at the plate. He also has plus speed (6.55/60) and projects to a top of the order hitter with pop. His bat speed and patience allow him to go to all fields and he is an excellent two-strike hitter. Defensively, his range, glove, arm and instincts should keep him up the middle. Committed to North Carolina.
40. Kansas City Royals — Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (CA)
A great defender in the outfield due to his plus speed (6.44/60), strong arm (93 mph from outfield), instincts and route running, Hill also shows a lot of promise at the plate. With a line-drive swing, the 6’-2”, 180 pond right-hander makes consistent contact and has a quick bat. Committed to Oregon.
41. Milwaukee Brewers — Chris Ellis, RHP, Ole Miss
The 6’-5”, 210 pound right-hander has still yet to allow an earned this season. Over 27.2 innings, he has 20 K/10 BB and has allowed just 12 hits. His command hasn’t been that sharp thus far, but he has been effectively wild holding opponents to a .138 batting average. He features a low/mid-90s fastball that he commands better in the low 90s. His change-up is much improved and he adds a solid curveball to round out a classic three-pitch mix.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2014 MLB draft updates, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.