No one is quite sure who is going to go first-overall in the 2014 MLB draft these days. With Carlos Rodon struggling a bit, some prep arms showing incredible stuff, and the Houston Astros never tipping their cap on draft picks, it’s anyone’s guess how the first couple of picks will go — or the entire first round for that matter. Here’s my latest 2014 mock draft, with the top 41 picks, if the draft were held today:
1. Houston Astros — Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
I wanted to put Tyler Kolek here, but considering a prep right-hander has never gone first-overall in the MLB draft, I have to go with Jackson, the best prep bat in the draft and a lesser risk than an arm. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, the right-hander has explosive bat speed and tremendous raw power. I saw him at Wrigley last summer and the ball really does sound different coming off his bat. Whether he stays behind the plate or ends up in the outfield, his bat is what really makes him special and he has an advanced approach at the plate. Through his first seven games, he has gone 11-for-23 with three home runs and four walks to just one strikeout. Committed to Oregon.
2. Miami Marlins — Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Rodon may not be dominating the way many expected, and his stuff and command may not be as crisp as it has been in the past, but he still features a plus/plus slider, a plus fastball and adds a change-up and cutter. At 6’-3” and 240 pounds, he is a proven workhorse with top-of-the-rotation stuff whose delivery looks the same on pitch one as it does on pitch 130. His track record won’t allow him to fall too far, and he could still end up the best player taken from this draft down the line.
3. Chicago White Sox — Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral catholic HS (CA)
The White Sox don’t have a strong history when it comes to selecting prep arms in the first round. You have to go back to 2001 when they selected RHP Kris Honel out of Providence HS (IL) with the 16th overall pick as the last time they took one. Aiken has been rocketing up draft boards, and the White Sox have had scouts at his games recently. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, the southpaw is the most polished prep pitcher in the 2014 MLB draft and has been sitting 92-94 mph with his fastball as of late. He adds two potential plus off-speed pitches, and with his easy delivery, there is still a lot of upside left. He has 20 K/2 BB over his first 8.2 innings this season. Committed to UCLA.
4. Chicago Cubs — Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
The last two starts haven’t exactly been stellar for Beede, although he has faced some tough competition in Kentucky and Mississippi State. While the command hasn’t been that sharp lately, he still has frontline stuff with a mid-90s fastball, a plus curveball and a change-up that freezes hitters when on. Through seven starts, he has a 2.48 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 46 K/14 BB over 40 innings. Tyler Kolek would be tempting here if he was still on the board but I like the track record and overall stuff of Beede better.
5. Minnesota Twins — Tyler Kolek, RHP, Sheppard HS (TX)
Kolek has been doing exactly what he should be doing against the competition — destroying them. Over 22.1 innings, the 6’-5”, 240 pound right-hander has 48 K/1 BB and has allowed just two measly hits. He has touched 102 mph and adds a slider that shows plus potential. His change-up is still developing because, well, he doesn’t need it right now as he can just blow away his peers with the fastball. As I mentioned above, he could go first-overall, but the track record just isn’t there for me to feel confident about it.
6. Seattle Mariners — Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
Hoffman bounced back nicely against UMBC on Friday, striking out six to one walk over seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits. It’s been an inconsistent year for him but he has continued to show top-of-the-rotation stuff with one of the easiest deliveries around and four quality pitches highlighted by a mid-90s heater. Over seven starts, he has a 3.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 45 K/18 BB over 45 innings. He could easily go in the top-five based on his stuff alone.
7. Philadelphia Phillies — Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
Zimmer is playing like the best college bat in the 2014 MLB draft, and his size, athleticism and canon arm give him the edge over anyone else in college. The 6’-5” left-handed hitter is hitting .427/.476/.719 over 23 games with seven doubles, six home runs and 11 stolen bases for the Dons. The power has shown up in a big way this year, and aside from a long swing that can create some miss, there isn’t much to nitpick about him. He could stick at center field but is probably headed for right field where his arm and bat would play well.
8. Colorado Rockies — Nick Gordon, SS/RHP, Olympia HS (FL)
Maybe the best shortstop prospect in the 2014 MLB draft, Gordon added some muscle during the offseason and the results are showing up in games. Over 19 games, he is hitting .468/.632/.872 with six doubles, two triples, three home runs and 14 stolen bases. He has also drawn 16 walks to just two strikeouts, continuing to show his ability to put bat on ball. His plus arm, athleticism and instincts will allow him to stick at a premium position. He hits from the left side and the added pop in his bat gives him all the tools in the bag. Committed to Florida State.
9. Toronto Blue Jays — Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State
Turner here would be a steal, in my opinion. Over his last fives games, he has hit four home runs, showing pop that many questioned up until a week ago. He has, however, been striking out at a higher clip, substituting his incredible ability to make contact for power. His game is better when he slaps the ball to all fields and uses his plus/plus speed to wreak havoc on the base paths, but it’s nice to see he has the power in him when he needs it. Defensively, he has all the tools to remain at shortstop and is still new to the position as he mainly played third base his freshman year. Over 23 games this season, he is hitting .315/.387/.478 with three doubles, four home runs, seven stolen bases and 12 walks to nine strikeouts.
10. New York Mets — Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (CA)
Nathan Rode over at Prep Baseball Report recently noted that Gatewood has shortened his swing. It shouldn’t effect his power because he has some of the easiest raw power around and hit a near 500-ft home run a couple of weeks ago. It will, however, help with the swing-and-miss to his game. The 6’-5” right-hander has enormous potential due to his size, power, plus arm and athleticism. Will most likely end up at third base and he projects well there. Committed to USC.
11. Toronto Blue Jays — Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
The 6’-4” hard throwing southpaw has now gone 32.2 innings this season without allowing an earned run after tossing eight shutout innings against Binghamton on March 22. Over those 32.2 innings, he has 38 K/15 BB and has allowed just 14 hits, showing the ability to completely miss bats with his stuff. With a fastball that can touch 98 mph and a slider with plus potential, the only knock on him this year has been his command. With his size and power arm from the left side, there is a lot to like.
12. Milwaukee Brewers — Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
The best hitter in college with an incredible approach at the plate, the 6’-2” left-handed hitter is hitting .373/.555/.547 over 24 games with nine extra-base hits and 28 walks to just 10 strikeouts. He won’t be stealing many bases, and he will most likely end up in left field, but his bat is special and he should hit for more power down the line.
13. San Diego Padres — Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (GA)
Gettys is showing more in-game power this season with three home runs in his first 10 games, which is something scouts wanted to see. There still is a split among most on his hit tool and ability to lay off the offspeed stuff out of the zone. His potential, however, is sky high as his plus/plus arm is silly in the outfield and he also has plus speed that shows up on the base paths. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, he has raw power and some feel he just needs to let the game come to him. He also stars on the mound with a mid-90s fastball and has 39 K/8 BB over 27.2 innings this season. One of my favorites and a high-character kid. Committed to Georgia.
14. San Francisco Giants — Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
Through seven starts, Finnegan has a 13.2 K/9 ratio, ranking second in the nation among starters. His fastball is a plus offering and can touch triple-digits, and he adds another plus pitch in a wipe-out slider. His size (5’-11”, 185 pounds) is always going to cause concern as the track record for frontline starters his size, with his power, isn’t that great. There are always anomalies, however, and if a team believes in him, they could end up with quite the steal this late. Has a 1.42 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 73 K/12 BB over 50.2 innings.
15. Los Angeles Angels — Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (CA)
At 6’-3”and 220 pounds, 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. He will be almost 19 years old on draft day, making him one of the oldest players from his class, but his present stuff doesn’t need a lot more projection, just refining. Committed to Fresno State.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks — Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
Nola has been arguably the best college pitcher this year. Over six starts, he is 5-0 and has allowed just one run over 40.1 innings. He has 56 K/8 BB and opponents are hitting .141 against him. He isn’t a power arm, rather 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. I feel his draft stock will suffer a bit because of all the power arms in this year’s class. Not many can pitch a better game, however.
17. Kansas City Royals — Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC)
Yet another prep arm that has touched 98 mph this season, Holmes is a 6’-2”, 190 pound right-hander with a live arm. He adds a plus curveball and above-average change-up — rounding out a classic three-pitch mix. Some think he has maxed out physically, but when you can already hit the upper-90s, you don’t need much more projection. He has good command of his stuff and he just keeps getting better. Committed to Florida.
18. Washington Nationals — Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
The best catching prospect in the 2014 MLB draft, Pentecost’s strong, accurate arm and footwork will allow him to remain behind the plate, although he could end up in left field where the bat would play well. Offensively, he projects to a high-average hitter with developing power who can steal a dozen bases a year. Over 28 games, he is hitting .336/.410/.491 with 10 doubles, two home runs and has stolen eight bases.
19. Cincinnati Reds — Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
Foley is one of those long, lean, projectable right-handers who has been dealing this season. At 6’-4” and 210 pounds, his fastball touches 94 mph with late life and he adds a filthy, upper-70s curveball that is one of the best in this deep class of prep arms. His slider has shown flashes of plus potential and his change-up is still developing, giving him a four-pitch mix. Over 33 innings this season, he has 65 K/9 BB and has allowed just nine hits. Committed to Florida State.
20. Tampa Bay Rays — Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State
Weaver tossed a one-hit shutout against Boston College on Friday, and I’m not sure there is a better pitcher in college who gets through the lineup the first time better than him as he always seems to have a no-hitter going early. He now has a 2.53 ERA, 1.04 WHIP over seven starts with 38 K/11 BB over 46.1 innings. He features a low/mid-90s fastball with late life and his change-up flashes plus. At 6’-2” and 185 pounds, there is still room for added velocity as he matures.
21. Cleveland Indians — 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. He adds a sinker that he has been using to induce a ton of groundouts this season, as well. Through seven starts, he has a 1.98 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 50 K/15 BB over 50 innings. At 6’-4” and 180 pounds, he has the frame to add more velocity as he fills out and he has great mound presence.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers — Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs HS (FL)
Toussaint showed just how electric he is at the NHSI in Cary, North Carolina. Over six innings, he allowed one hit and struck out 12 batters as he sat 91-93 with his fastball and showed his potential plus curveball. He did, however, walk five batters and hit two more, showing the wildness he can get himself into. Still relatively new to pitching, he is a raw product with a ton of upside at 6’-3” and 200 pounds. He can touch 97 mph with explosive life and his delivery is smooth.
23. Detroit Tigers — Braxton Davidson, 1B/OF, Roberson HS (NC)
Maybe the best prep hitter available in the 2014 MLB draft, Davidson is a 6’-3”, 220 pound left-hander with huge power potential and a man’s body already. His excellent bat speed allows him to wait on pitches and not get cheated. Even if he ends up at first base, his bat will more than play well. Over 11 games, he is hitting .469/.564/.688 with four doubles, a home run and three swiped bases. He also has 32 strikeouts over 19 innings on the mound, showing off his strong arm. Committed to North Carolina.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates — Jack Flaherty, RHP/3B, Harvard Westlake HS (CA)
In his last start, Flaherty struck out 14 over seven innings, allowing two hits. He has been nearly untouchable all season and has been touching 93 mph with his fastball along with flashing a plus slider. Still somewhat raw as a pitcher as he has split his time focusing on hitting as well, he has shown higher upside on the mound this year, even though his upside as a power hitting third baseman is huge. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, he has been clocked at 6.37 in the 60 and is a great athlete. Committed to North Carolina.
25. Oakland Athletics — Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly
The way Imhof is pitching this season, I may be putting him too low, even if I have him higher than others already. At 6’-5” and 220 pounds, the left-hander just knows how to miss bats, even though he doesn’t have the power of guys like Finnegan, Rodon and Hoffman. 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. With another strong performance on Friday, in which he struck out 13 to no walks over nine shutout innings against UC Davis, he now leads the nation in strikeouts with 77, as well as K/9 with 13.43. Over 51.2 innings, he has a 1.05 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and has allowed just 27 hits.
26. Boston Red Sox — Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
Freeland, a 6’-4” southpaw, put together another impressive performance on Friday, striking out 10 to one walk over eight innings. He now has 45 K/3 BB over 40 innings after striking out 48 to four walks over 40 innings at the Cape Cod League last summer. 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. He isn’t facing quite the competition as guys like Rodon, Beede and Nola, but the stuff is legit.
27. St. Louis Cardinals– Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (GA)
Cease hit 100 mph this season — which is great. He also has been sidelined with a tender shoulder — which is not great. Hopefully, it is nothing serious and just some soreness because he should go way higher than this if fully healthy. The 6’-2” right-hander 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. Committed to Vanderbilt.
28. Kansas City Royals — Michael Chavis, 3B, Sprayberry HS (GA)
Chavis packs a lot of punch into his frame. At 5’-11” and 190 pounds, he generates a ton of power due to his excellent bat speed and strong legs. He has been absolutely mashing the baseball this season, hitting .617/.700/1.213 over 16 games with eight home runs, and he also has stolen 11 bases, showing his athleticism. He is playing shortstop now but should make the move over to third base at the next level where his arm, footwork and silly power will play well. Committed to Clemson.
29. Cincinnati Reds — Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
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 42 walks to just 37 strikeouts. He then hit .308/.396/.436 over 21 games for the Collegiate National Team with 11 walks. Over 22 games this season, he is hitting .310/.429/.517 with five doubles, three home runs and 17 walks to nine strikeouts.
30. Detroit Tigers — Mike Papi, OF, Virginia
When Derek Fisher went out with a broken hamate bone a couple of weeks ago, it was Papi’s time to shine. The next game, he hit two home runs and has been showing the kind of power he possesses at 6’-3” and 215 pounds, along with his advanced approach. Over 24 games, he is hitting .325/.477/.542 with three doubles, five home runs and 22 walks to 16 strikeouts. He has the arm and athleticism to hold down a corner outfield spot.
31. Cleveland Indians — Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview HS (GA)
One of the better prep southpaws in the 2014 MLB draft, Marshall’s fastball sits in the low 90s and he adds a curveball that shows plus potential. He has been extremely impressive this season striking out 38 to seven walks over 27 scoreless innings, allowing 10 hits. At 6’-2” and 185 pounds, he is a great athlete who has been clocked at 6.7 in the 60. Committed to LSU.
32. Atlanta Braves — 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. A strong senior season could propel him higher.
33. Boston Red Sox — Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
Fisher went down with a broken hamate bone a couple of weeks ago. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks and now his draft status is up in the air since that injury could linger. Through 14 games, he was hitting .333/.393/.451 but had yet to hit a home run. A great athlete, the 6’-3” right-hander is considered one of the better bats in the 2014 MLB draft and is likely going to end up in left field at the next level. It will be interesting to see how he performs once he gets back in action and he could go a lot higher than this.
34. St. Louis Cardinals — Michael Kopech, RHP, Mount Pleasant HS (TX)
I’m higher on Kopech than most and feel like he is first-round material due to his size (6’-4”) and ability to touch 98 mph with his fastball. He also adds a filthy slider with hard bite that wipes out hitters. People point to his mechanics but he has worked on them, and I don’t see it as an issue, especially with pro instruction. On the season, he has 59 K/7 BB over 29 innings, allowing just 11 hits. Committed to Arizona.
Lottery Round A
35. Colorado Rockies — Ti’Quan Forbes, SS, Columbia HS (MS)
One of the better shortstops available in the 2014 MLB draft, scouts wanted to see more from his bat this year. Defensively, his strong arm, plus speed (6.4/60) and instincts should allow him to stick at a premium position. Offensively, he shows raw power and a patient approach at the plate but wasn’t consistent, and some mentioned some mechanical issues with his swing. Over 10 games this year, he was hitting .400/.488/.600 with a double, two home runs and five stolen bases. He has already showed more pop in his bat than he did last year and, at 6’-4” and 180 pounds, there is a lot of upside. Committed to Ole Miss.
36. Miami Marlins — Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (HI)
Medeiros made a name for himself over the summer by showing two plus pitches — a low/mid-90s fastball with a ton of life and a wipe-out slider that destroys left-handed hitters. The southpaw has a unique delivery — almost sidearm — and some question how that will translate at the next level. At 6’-0” and 170 pounds, his upside is limited but if a team believes in him, he could go higher. In his last start, he struck out 10 to no walks over five innings, allowing one hit. Committed to Pepperdine.
37. Houston Astros — Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy (FL)
Griffin has been touching 94 mph with his fastball lately and a much improved breaking ball. With his size (6’-5”, 190 pounds) the left-hander has a lot of upside and he has a smooth delivery. He has been generating first-round buzz lately. Over 28.2 innings, he has 47 K/10 BB. Committed to Ole Miss.
38. Cleveland Indians — Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal State Fullerton
Chapman has been in a bit of a slump as of late but he has shown the power that many wanted to see if he is going to stick at the hot corner at the next level. Over 21 games, he is hitting .262/.356/.440 with six doubles and three home runs. Defensively, he has the arm, footwork and instincts to play third, and he could go a lot higher if he starts to heat it up at the plate.
39. Miami Marlins — Zech Lemond, RHP, Rice
Since being inserted into the starting role as the Friday-night starter for Rice, Lemond has been better than advertised. Through four starts, he has a 1.22 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 32 K/9 BB over 29.1 innings. His fastball can touch 95 mph and he has shown the ability to maintain velocity deep into games. He adds a slider and curveball — both in the low 80s — and both are quality offerings. His change-up still needs refining, but with his 6’-4”, 190 pound frame and easy mechanics, there is a ton to like about him.
40. Kansas City Royals — Marcus Wilson, OF, 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 who gets better every time out. One of those quick-twitch athletes scouts love. Committed to Arizona State.
41. Milwaukee Brewers — Chase Vallot, C/OF, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
I don’t think anyone in the country is mashing the ball quite like Vallot is this season. Over 18 games, he is hitting .583/.672/1.270 (1.943 OPS) with 10 doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 36 RBI. He has also drawn 17 walks, and I’m not really sure why he wouldn’t get a free pass every time going forward. One of the youngest players in the draft, the 6’-0”, 205-pound right-hander generates a ton of raw power due to his bat speed and strong wrists. His strong arm, size and footwork could allow him to stick at a premium position but some believe a move to a corner outfield position is likely where the power would play well. Another player I got to see at Wrigley, he hit a couple bombs out of the park with ease and showed a polished approach at the plate during the game. Committed to Mississippi State.
Next 10: Derek Hill, Forrest Wall, Jordan Brink, Nick Burdi, Milton Ramos, Cobi Johnson, Adam Haseley, Cameron Varga, Jakson Reetz, Monte’ Harrison.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2014 MLB draft updates, 2014 MLB mock drafts, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.