2014 MLB Mock Draft: Early First-Round Projections for All 30 Teams
Even though the Major League Baseball season ended earlier in the month, it's never too early to look ahead at the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft next June.
The 2014 draft class is noticeably better than last year’s class, headlined by a pair of college pitchers in Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State) and Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) who both project as front-of-the-rotation starters in the major leagues.
However, there are guaranteed to be endless changes in the class’ player rankings between now and next June, as countless players will fall out of the standings and be replaced by other up-and-coming draft prospects.
Though this is technically a mock draft, it’s nearly impossible to get a feel for which teams are interested in certain players this early in the process. Using MLB’s set first-round draft order for 2014, I designed this mock draft on the assumption that each team will be interested in the best player still on the board rather than getting too cute with a perfect pick; I’m more concerned with getting the key names to know out there.
With that said, I present to you Prospect Pipeline’s first 2014 MLB mock draft.
Picks: Nos. 1-3
1. Houston Astros: Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft even before the start of the 2013 season, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Carlos Rodon doesn’t fulfill that prophecy.
At 6’3", 234 pounds, the left-hander has a smooth and repeatable delivery in which he utilizes his strong core and lower half, but he also lacks physical projection and has a concerning medical history. Regardless, Rodon’s stuff is as good as his video-game numbers from the last two seasons suggest.
Rodon features an explosive fastball in the low- to mid-90s and can reach back for more ticks when needed, and he backs it up with a plus-plus slider that ranges from 85-90 mph and currently grades as the best secondary offering among his peers. The southpaw also has a changeup that flashes above-average potential at his disposal, though it’s considerably less advanced than his other two pitches.
Rodon has the ceiling of a No. 1 starter in the major leagues and, if all goes as planned regarding his future development, he’ll have a legitimate chance at reaching it within a few years.
2. Miami Marlins: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
A 6’4”, 183-pound right-hander, Jeff Hoffman has a very projectable frame that will allow him to add considerable strength, especially to his lower half, as he develops.
Throwing on a consistent downhill plane, Hoffman will usually sit in the 92-97 mph range with his fastball and more toward the high end of that range when he’s at his best. While he does a decent job of working the pitch to both sides of the plate, his overall command leaves room for improvement.
In terms of his secondary arsenal, Hoffman features a plus curveball in the 78-83 mph range with tight, top-to-bottom rotation and late downer bite. The offering has plus-plus potential at maturity.
Hoffman also throws a mid-80s slider that already grades as at least an average offering when on, though it’s less consistent than the true curveball. The right-hander has a changeup with average fading action that should develop into another weapon during his rise to the major leagues.
3. Chicago White Sox: Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State
At 6’2”, 175 pounds, Turner is excellent athlete with legitimate 80-grade speed—yes, he’s fully healthy after dealing with a severe ankle sprain for most of the 2013 season—and the defensive chops to stick at shortstop long term.
At the plate, the right-handed hitter shows above-average bat speed with a smooth swing but lacks consistent over-the-fence pop. Still, his wheels and baserunning savvy should make him a consistent extra-base threat at the highest level.
Turner’s plate discipline and approach are both highly advanced for his age and should give him the chance to reach his hit-tool ceiling at the next level. And with a strong junior campaign alongside teammate Carlos Rodon, he has the potential to be the first position player to come off the board.
Picks: Nos. 4-6
4. Chicago Cubs: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (Texas)
At 6’6”, 245 pounds, Tyler Kolek is a big, physical right-hander who boasts the best fastball velocity in the class.
Working on a downhill plane with a tough three-quarters arm slot, Kolek works comfortably in the mid-90s and shown the ability to bump 99-100 mph this summer. He also throws a slider that flashes plus potential, as well as an average curveball and undeveloped changeup.
5. Minnesota Twins: Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
Alex Jackson draws comparisons to Bryce Harper for his catcher-outfielder defensive profile and plus bat speed. Spending most of is time behind the dish, the 6’2”, 215-pounder is an advanced defender with excellent catch-and-throw skills and a cannon for an arm.
However, because his right-handed bat has the potential to be that good, Jackson is expected to move to the outfield full time as a professional so as to save his knees and hopefully elongate his career.
6. Seattle Mariners: Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian
While Brandon Finnegan doesn’t require much physical projection at 5’11”, 190 pounds, the left-handed pitcher boasts one of the better fastballs in the draft class, sitting consistently in the mid-90s and even flirting with triple digits at times.
More importantly, he’s already shown the ability to hold the velocity deep into games. His breaking ball is slurvey, registering in the low-80s with a deceptive shape and projects as an above-average offering at maturity. His changeup is another solid pitch with good fading action out of the zone. Beyond the stuff, Finnegan stands out in the draft class for his feel for sequencing and overall confidence on the mound.
Picks: Nos. 7-9
7. Philadelphia Phillies: Michael Gettys, OF/RHP, Gainesville HS (Ga.)
Even though he’s capable of pumping low-90s fastballs off the mound, Michael Gettys' most realistic future is as a center fielder. Possessing plenty of strength at 6’2”, 200 pounds, Gettys is one of the top runners in the 2014 draft class, showcasing plus-plus speed on both sides of the ball.
At the dish, the right-handed hitter has shown improved bat speed over the summer and is expected to offer at least average power at maturity. His secondary skills and pitch recognition are both raw but figure to improve as he continues to gain experience.
8. Colorado Rockies: Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Tyler Beede decided not to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays as a first-round pick in 2011, turning down a seven-figure bonus to continue his amateur career at Vanderbilt. While his upside is still tantalizing, the 6’4”, 215-pound right-hander hasn’t put everything together as quickly as people hoped.
Specifically, Beede struggles to keep his delivery in sync and goes through bouts where he comes nowhere close to the strike zone. He features a live fastball in the low-90s that tops out at 94-95 mph, as well as an above-average curveball in the upper-70s and potential plus changeup that registers in the same velocity range.
Once Beede’s mechanical issues are ironed out, he should have a chance to reach his high ceiling as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the major leagues.
9. Toronto Blue Jays: Braxton Davidson, 1B-OF, Roberson HS (N.C.)
Braxton Davidson is an arguably the best pure hitter among prep prospects. A 6’2”, 215-pound left-handed hitter, the North Carolina commit has a smooth, balanced swing that already produces above-average raw power and will likely develop into a plus attribute as he adds strength.
In general, Davidson has an advanced feel for hitting, with the ability to barrel the ball to all fields and collect extra-base hits as though it’s about to go out of style.
Picks: Nos. 10-12
10. New York Mets: Derek Fisher, LF, Virginia
Viewed as one of the more polished hitters in the 2014 draft class, Derek Fisher stands out for his mature approach and compact, left-handed swing. He’s a line-drive machine who drives the ball across the entire field with a knack for peppering the gaps.
While Fisher’s hit tool projects to be above average at the highest level, there’s some concern about his power potential. However, given the nature of his swing and patient approach at the dish, there’s reason to believe he has untapped raw pop. Working against Fisher is the fact that he’s basically a left-field-only prospect due to his below-average defense and lack of arm strength.
11. Toronto Blue Jays*: Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
There’s a lot to like about Sean Newcomb. He’s a 6’5”, 240-pound left-hander with plus fastball velocity and a potential four-pitch mix. His fastball registers in the 90-94 mph range and bumps 95-96, and there’s reason to believe he’s going to naturally add a few ticks as a professional.
Newcomb’s curveball is currently his best secondary offering, though some problems with his mechanics prevent the southpaw from throwing it with consistency. The same goes for his changeup and slider, both of which will require considerable refinement at the next level.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (S.C.)
Grant Holmes has a thick, durable build at 6’2”, 210 pounds with broad shoulders and strong lower half. Even though he has impressive present athleticism for his size, the right-hander is seemingly maxed out physically.
However, that doesn’t make his pure stuff any less impressive, as he already showcases two plus pitches in a 93-96 mph fastball with late life and wipeout curveball with sharp break in the low- to mid-80s.
*Compensation for not signing 2013 first-round pick Phillip Bickford
Picks: Nos. 13-15
13. San Diego Padres: Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (Calif.)
Jacob Gatewood has an athletic and projectable frame at 6’3”, 175 pounds that will allow him to add considerable strength as he matures physically. He’s a right-handed hitter with lightning-quick wrists and explosive bat speed that yield effortless plus raw power—especially to the pull side.
Currently a shortstop, Gatewood is expected to outgrow the position and eventually slide over to third base.
14. San Francisco Giants: Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
Max Pentecost’s draft stock took off this summer when he was named MVP of the Cape Cod League after hitting .346/.424/.538 with six home runs. A 6’1”, 190-pound right-handed hitter with lightning-quick wrists, Pentecost has a compact but powerful swing that yields consistent hard contact, and he’s likely to feature at least average power at maturity.
Defensively, his athleticism is apparent behind the plate, while his specific skill sets are more of a work in progress. Pentecost also stands out for his average speed, so it’s conceivable that he could handle a position change if need be.
15. Los Angeles Angels: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (Calif.)
At 6’3”, 220 pounds, Luis Ortiz lacks the physical projection one targets in a high school pitcher. Additionally, the right-hander is one of the older prep prospects in the draft class, set to turn 19 next fall.
However, neither of those concerns can discount the fact that he boasts an explosive 92-95 mph fastball from an easy delivery, complemented by a sharp slider in the low- to mid-80s that profiles as at least an above-average offering at maturity.
Picks: Nos. 16-18
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
Possessing arguably the best raw power in the 2014 draft class, Kyle Schwarber is loaded with strength at 6’0”, 235 pounds—and it shows when he hits the ball. Furthermore, because he has a relative flat bat path and keeps the barrel in the zone for an extended period of time, he projects to hit for a decent average at the highest level.
Even though he’s currently a catcher, Schwarber is adequate at best defensively, lacking the agility and athleticism needed to be a full-time regular in the majors. So while he’s likely ticketed for a career at first base, his potent bat has the potential to support the position change.
17. Baltimore Orioles: Chris Ellis, RHP, Mississippi
Chris Ellis, a 6’5”, 205-pound right-hander, didn’t receive much exposure last spring while working out of Ole Miss’s bullpen. However, after a dominant showing in the Cape Cod League this past summer, he now ranks among the top pitching prospects in the 2014 draft class.
Ellis has a heavy fastball in the low- to mid-90s with late life, and he complements it with an impressive changeup in the mid-80s with plus potential. The right-hander throws his slider in the 80-83 mph range, though it’s an inconsistent pitch and lags behind his fastball-changeup combo. He profiles as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in the major leagues.
18. New York Yankees: Nick Gordon, SS/RHP, Olympia HS (Fla.)
The son of former MLB closer Tom Gordon and brother to Dodgers shortstop Dee, Nick Gordon is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft class due to his high upside on both sides of the ball. At 6’1”, 170 pounds, Gordon is an outstanding athlete with the speed and defensive chops to likely remain at shortstop long term.
At the plate, the left-handed hitter has good bat speed and barrel control but lacks projectable over-the-fence pop. On the mound, the right-handed pitcher can pop 92-94 mph with his fastball and spin an above-average curve.
Picks: Nos. 19-21
19. Kansas City Royals: Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (Ga.)
At 6’2”, 180 pounds, Dylan Cease doesn’t have a monster frame like Kolek, but demonstrates similar body control and balance throughout his delivery.
The right-hander also boasts a big arm that pumps heavy, sinking fastballs consistently in the 92-95 mph range, topping out around 96-97 mph early in games. Cease has also opened eyes with a slurvey breaking ball in the low-70s featuring with impressive tilt and two-plane break.
20. Washington Nationals: Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (Hawaii)
Hailing from Hawaii, Kodi Medeiros seemingly has already emerged as this year’s polarizing high school left-hander. One of the younger players in the class—he turns 18 shortly after the draft—the 6’0”, 180-pound left-hander lacks physical projection.
Working from a unique low-three-quarters arm slot, Medeiros has some life to his fastball at 90-94 mph, and it tends to jump on opposing hitters due to his release point and smooth delivery. His breaking ball is nasty with huge horizontal break capable of deceiving hitters and missing bats at any level. The southpaw has a changeup, but it’s a raw pitch that will need to be developed thoroughly as a professional.
21. Cincinnati Reds: Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State
Michael Cederoth made a name for himself last season by sitting 95-99 mph with his fastball as a starter and maxing out at 101 mph. However, as a 6’6”, 210-pound right-hander, Cederoth has some uneasiness to his delivery and appears almost uncoordinated at times. That said, it’s not as though near-elite velocity grows on trees.
Cederoth’s secondary arsenal is comprised of a slider and changeup, both of which register in the mid-80s but lack consistency. The slider is the better pitch at the present, though they both flash above-average potential.
Picks: Nos. 22-24
22. Texas Rangers: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Christian HS (Fla.)
A well-known commodity in the scouting community, Touki Toussaint has been on the radar for the last two seasons thanks to a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and has bumped 97 in the past.
The 6’3”, 185-pound right-hander’s curveball ranks as one of the best in the class, as he throws the pitch in the low-70s with exceptional depth and a sharp, two-plane break that induces whiffs. Toussaint is also one of the younger hurlers in the 2014 class, as he doesn’t turn 18 until after the June draft.
23. Tampa Bay Rays: Aaron Nola, RHP, Louisiana State
Aaron Nola burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2012, registering a 3.61 ERA with 89/7 K/BB in 89.2 innings while serving as LSU’s No. 2 starter behind Kevin Gausman. The 6’1”, 183-pound right-hander has been even more impressive this season as the Friday starter and, more significantly, has emerged as one of the top college arms in the 2014 draft class.
Working from a low three-quarter arm slot, Nola will comfortably sit in the low-90s with his heavy fastball that induces both whiffs and weak contact. His curveball has really improved compared to last season and is an above-average pitch with tight spin and depth.
The right-hander also does a nice job of keeping hitters off balance with his changeup, which registers in the 83-85 mph range. And as Nola has demonstrated in each of the last two seasons, his stuff tends to play up thanks to a plus command profile.
24. Cleveland Indians: Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State
Although Luke Weaver lacks physical projection at 6’2”, 175 pounds, he’s one of the younger college players in the 2014 draft class and won’t turn 21 until next August. Pitching for Team USA this past summer, the right-hander’s fastball sat 91-95 mph and registered as high as 97 toward the end of the year.
Weaver’s above-average changeup in the low-80s currently represents his best secondary offering and could develop into a plus with experience. His inconsistent and slurvey breaking ball leaves something to be desired, though it’ll presumably be cleaned up as a professional and likely converted into more of a true slider.
Picks: Nos. 25-27
25. Los Angeles Dodgers: Ti’Quan Forbes, SS, Columbia HS (Miss.)
The youngest prospect in the draft class, Ti'Quan Forbes, who scouts knew little to nothing about heading into the summer, stands out for his impressive blend of athleticism and tools. At 6’4”, 175 pounds, the Ole Miss commit has plenty of room to fill out and should have plenty of strength at maturity.
At the dish, Forbes, a right-handed hitter, showcases above-average bat speed with some pop to the gaps and utilizes his plus speed to leg out countless infield knocks. Meanwhile, at shortstop, he projects to remain at the position long term with exceptional range, smooth and fluid actions, and plenty of arm strength.
26. Detroit Tigers: Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (Fla.)
At 6’3”, 205 pounds, Sean Reid-Foley is an athletic right-hander with fluid delivery and a fastball that sits in the low-90s and scrapes 95 mph. Although his arm action—particularly his elbow positioning prior to shifting his momentum toward the plate—isn’t ideal, it’s hard to argue against his consistent plus velocity.
Also one of the older prep prospects in the 2014 draft class, Reid-Foley features an above-average breaking ball in the upper-70s that offers significant contrast relative to his heater.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates: Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
Kyle Freeland’s draft stock is on the rise after a strong showing this past summer in the Cape Cod League. With a projectable 6’4”, 185-pound build as well as an easy arm action and a smooth delivery, the left-hander works in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball and has been gunned as high as 94 mph.
Freeland’s slider represents his best present offering, and he demonstrates a feel for adding and subtracting to it. When he throws the pitch with velocity, it plays as more of a cutter in the mid-80s with late glove-side slicing action; when he takes something off, the pitch is closer to a true slider in the low-80s with more depth.
Meanwhile, the southpaw also showcases an advanced feel for an average changeup at 84-86 mph that plays up thanks to the fluidity in his delivery.
Picks: Nos. 28-31
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.