28. Oakland Athletics: Michael Conforto, OF/1B, Oregon State University
A 6’1”, 215-pound left-hander hitter, Michael Conforto stands out for his power potential—but unfortunately not much else. Conforto is a mature hitter with plus raw power thanks to above-average bat speed and an ability to consistently drive the ball with backspin carry.
Because he’s gradually adjusted his approach over the last year to produce more in-game power, the utility of his hit tool may be tied to his strikeout rate. Defensively, Conforto is limited to left field due to below-average arm strength and speed, as well as his shaky instincts and stiff actions. And if he eventually moves to first base, well, there will be even more pressure for his power to develop.
29. Atlanta Braves: Cobi Johnson, RHP, Mitchell HS (Fla.)
As the son of Blue Jays pitching coordinator Dane Johnson, Cobi’s workload has been limited as an amateur as he’s presumably saving his arm strength to make a strong impression in the spring.
At 6’4”, 185-pound right-hander, Johnson’s frame is the epitome of projectable with room to fill out physically and add strength. His fastball registers at 90-93 mph, and he’s reportedly popped up to 95 mph, while his curveball already flashes plus potential despite its overall immaturity. He’ll require considerable time to develop in the minor leagues, but the huge upside could be worth the wait.
30. Boston Red Sox: Nick Burdi, RHP, University of Louisville
After appearing in only 14 games as a true freshman in 2012, Nick Burdi was absolutely dominating this past season as Louisville’s closer, posting a 0.76 ERA with 16 saves and a 62-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35.2 innings.
The 6’4”, 218-pound right-hander has grown into his frame over the last year and has seen his velocity jump as a result. Out of the bullpen, his fastball sits in the upper-90s and frequently eclipses triple digits. Meanwhile, his slider represents a second plus offering with devastating, wipeout break.
If he’s ultimately moved into the starting rotation next year at Louisville—or when he turns pro after the season—Burdi may have to adjust his current low-three-quarters arm angle for durability reasons.
However, part of his allure stems from the movement on all his pitches generated by said arm angle. Regardless of his role, Burdi’s arm strength and ability to miss bats has already made him one of the more talked about prospects in the 2014 draft class.
31. St. Louis Cardinals: Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (Calif.)
Already considered by scouts to be the fastest player in the 2014 draft class with legitimate top-of-the-order, plus-plus speed, Derek Hill’s prospect stock should continue to climb next spring with the improvement of his baseball skills.
At 6’2”, 170 pounds, Hill’s wheels are obvious on both sides of the ball, especially in center field where he’s a plus defender who should be able to stick at the position. At the dish, the right-handed hitter has a smooth swing and knows how to get the barrel on the ball. He’s already drawn rave reviews for the present in-game utility of his hit tool, and it should only improve as he continues to develop.