2014 MLB Mock Draft: Full 1st-Round Projections 2 Months from Draft Day
The start of the major league season this week means we're roughly two months away from the 2014 MLB First-Year Player draft, held annually from June 6 to June 8.
This year's class is especially deep on the mound, with a trio of college pitchers in left-hander Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State), right-hander Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) and righty Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt) expected to come off the board within the first 10 picks. Prep standouts Brady Aiken (LHP) and Tyler Kolek (RHP) are also in the mix.
However, impact hitters are few and far between in this year's class, as outfielder Bradley Zimmer (San Francisco) and catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson represent the top college and prep bats, respectively, and will likely be drafted in the top half of the first round.
But with that said, endless changes are guaranteed in the class’ player rankings between now and June, as countless names will fall out of the standings and be replaced by other up-and-coming draft prospects.
While this is technically a mock draft, it’s admittedly near-impossible to get a feel for which teams are interested in certain players this early in the process. Therefore, using MLB’s set first-round draft order for 2014, I designed this 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.
Simply put: I’m more concerned with getting the key names to know out there than predicting the order they come off the board.
Here's a look at Prospect Pipeline’s latest first-round projections for the 2014 draft.
1. Houston Astros: Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Carlos Rodon has been the projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft for basically the last year-and-a-half, but this spring the junior left-hander simply hasn’t dominated as he did the previous two years. Through his first seven starts, Rodon has posted a 2.09 ERA and 55-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 47.1 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .213 average.
At 6’3", 234 pounds, Rodon features an explosive fastball in the low to mid-90s and mixes in a cutter, while his plus-plus slider in the high 80s 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.
2. Miami Marlins: Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic (Calif.)
Brady Aiken has emerged as the class’ top prep prospect and arguably the top prospect in the draft. The 6’4” left-hander has shown improved fastball velocity this spring, consistently sitting in the low 90s and even bumping 95-96 mph, as well as displaying his usual outstanding polish. Aiken's secondary arsenal consists of a changeup and curveball, and they’re both already average-or-better offerings with plenty of room for improvement.
Video courtesy of BigLeagueFuturesPlus.net
3. Chicago White Sox: Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Beede was a first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 but turned down a seven-figure bonus to continue his amateur career at Vanderbilt. The 6’4”, 215-pound right-hander struggled to progress developmentally in 2012 and 2013 (5.6 BB/9 in 101 innings), but this year everything has come together for him courtesy of a consistent release point. On the season, Beede has posted a 2.47 ERA and a 46-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 innings.
Beede features a live fastball in the low 90s that tops out at 94-95 mph—sometimes even a tick or two more—as well as an above-average curveball in the high 70s and a potential plus changeup that registers in the same velocity range.
4. Chicago Cubs: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Sheppard HS (Texas)
Right-hander Tyler Kolek is a physical presence on the mound at 6’6”, 240 pounds, and possesses arguably the best fastball velocity in the class. Working on a downhill plane with a tough three-quarters arm slot, Kolek sits comfortably in the mid-90s, at times flirting with triple digits. He also holds velocity deep into games. In addition, he throws a slider that flashes plus potential, as well as an average curveball and undeveloped changeup.
Video courtesy of PerfectGame.org
5. Minnesota Twins: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
Like Rodon, Jeff Hoffman hasn’t had the standout season many expected, though he’s still shown the ability to consistently miss bats in spite of varying control and command from start to start. Overall, Hoffman has registered a 3.80 ERA and 45-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 45 innings.
A 6’4”, 200-pound right-hander, 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 throws a plus curveball that has plus-plus potential at maturity, as well as a mid-80s slider that already grades as at least an average offering. The right-hander has a changeup with average fading action that should develop into another weapon during his rise to the major leagues.
Video courtesy of Baseball America
6. Seattle Mariners: Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
The top prep hitter in the 2014 draft class, Alex Jackson draws comparisons to Bryce Harper for his plus bat speed, natural hitting ability and catcher-outfielder defensive profile. Spending most of his time behind the dish, the 6’2”, 200-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 might move to the outfield full time as a professional so as to save his knees and hopefully elongate his career.
Video courtesy of BigLeagueFuturesPlus.net
7. Philadelphia Phillies: 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 Holmes 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.
Video courtesy of Baseball America
8. Colorado Rockies: Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
The younger brother of Kansas City Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft out of San Francisco, Bradley also has a legitimate chance to come off the board early in the first round—likely within the first 10 picks.
A left-handed hitter, Zimmer is widely considered the best college hitter in the class, with a mature feel for hitting and above-average power potential. Furthermore, the 6’5” outfielder also possesses one of the finest collections of tools among amateur prospects with good speed and plus arm strength as well as the defensive prowess to possibly stick in center field.
Zimmer is having an absolutely monster spring for San Francisco, batting .427/.492/.718 with seven doubles, seven home runs and 12 stolen bases through 27 games, and his stock should continue to rise in the coming months.
9. Toronto Blue Jays: Nick Gordon, SS, 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 stick at shortstop long term. The left-handed hitter has an advanced approach for his age, and he’s shown more consistent pop this spring.
Video courtesy of BigLeagueFuturesPlus.net
10. New York Mets: Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State
At 6’2”, 175 pounds, Turner is an excellent athlete with legitimate plus speed—though he’s lost a step over the last year—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.
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. So far this season, he’s batting .298/.369/.456 with nine extra-base hits (four home runs), nine stolen bases and a 13-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28 games.
1st Round: Picks 11-15
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Aaron Nola, RHP, Louisiana State
Aaron Nola burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2012, registering a 3.61 ERA with an 89-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 89.2 innings while serving as LSU’s No. 2 starter behind Kevin Gausman. The 6’1”, 183-pound right-hander has only improved since then, evidenced by his 0.55 ERA and 61-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 49 innings (seven starts).
Working from a low three-quarter arm slot, Nola sits in the low-90s with a heavy fastball that induces both whiffs and weak contact. His curveball has really improved compared to previous seasons and is an above-average pitch with tight spin and depth. Nola also does a nice job of keeping hitters off balance with his changeup, which registers in the 83-85 mph range. And as he’s demonstrated in each of the last two seasons, the stuff will play up thanks to a plus command profile.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State
Luke Weaver still requires some physical projection at 6’2”, 175 pounds, and he’s one of the younger college players in the 2014 draft class, as he won’t turn 21 until August. Through seven starts this spring, Weaver has posted a 2.53 ERA and 38-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 46.1 innings.
Pitching for Team USA this past summer, the right-hander’s fastball sat at 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.
13. San Diego Padres: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (Calif.)
Luis Ortiz is one of the older prep prospects in this year’s class and lacks physical projection at 6’3”, 220 pounds. However, neither of those concerns can discount the fact that he boasts an explosive 92-96 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.
14. San Francisco Giants: Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (Ga.)
Cease, a 6’2”, 180-pound right-hander, is one of the top power pitchers in this year’s class, with a heavy, sinking fastball that sits in the 92-95 mph range and tops out around 96-97 mph early in games. Cease also features a slurvey breaking ball in the low 70s with impressive tilt and two-plane break as well as a raw changeup with average potential.
15. Los Angeles Angels: Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (Calif.)
Jacob Gatewood is the epitome of projectable, with an athletic, 6’5” frame that will allow him to add considerable strength as he matures physically. A right-handed hitter, Gatewood’s lightning-quick wrists and explosive bat speed yield effortless plus-plus raw power—especially to the pull side. While he’s currently a shortstop, Gatewood is quickly outgrowing the position, and the popular belief is he’ll have to slide over to third base as a professional.
1st Round: Picks 16-20
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: 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.
Through 32 games this spring, Pentecost is batting .363/.425/.533 with 12 doubles, three home runs, nine stolen bases and an 18-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
17. Kansas City Royals: Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
A 6’1”, 215-pound left-hander hitter, Michael Conforto stands out for his power potential and advanced approach. Conforto is a mature left-handed 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 past two seasons to produce more in-game power, the utility of his hit tool may always 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.
Through 28 games this spring, Conforto is currently batting .396/.545/.552 with eight doubles, 34 RBI and an impressive 13-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
18. Washington Nationals: Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
Fedde’s impressive spring has pushed him into the mid- to late-first-round discussion, as the projectable right-hander currently owns a 1.98 ERA and 50-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 50 innings (seven starts)
The 21-year-old works comfortably in the mid-90s with his fastball, and he has a pair of secondary pitches (changeup, curveball) that should receive at least average grades at maturity. Watch for Fedde to continue moving up the draft board this spring.
19. Cincinnati Reds: Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
Sean Newcomb is currently the only Division I pitcher to have a 0.00 ERA, and he’s done it behind a 46-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39.2 innings, spanning six starts.
Newcomb'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 currently represents his best secondary offering, while his changeup and slider show potential but will require considerable refinement as a professional.
20. Tampa Bay Rays: Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (Ga.)
Gettys has drawn attention for his low-90s velocity off the mound, but his most realistic future is as a center fielder. Despite his present strength at 6’2”, 200 pounds, Gettys is one of the top runners in the 2014 draft class, with plus-plus speed that he showcases on both sides of the ball.
At the dish, the right-handed hitter’s improved bat speed showcased during the summer has carried over into his spring campaign, and he’s expected to offer at least average power at maturity. Getty’s secondary skills and pitch recognition are quite raw, which has raised questions about his hit-tool potential, but his loud tools and room for improvement are too intriguing to escape the first round.
1st Round: Picks 21-24
21. Cleveland Indians: Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal St. Fullerton
Matt Chapman made a name for himself last season during the College World Series, when the Cal St. Fullerton third baseman showcased plus raw power and a solid feel for hitting. He isn’t having a great spring, batting .262/.356/.440 with six doubles, three home runs and a 15-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 21 games, but in a class with a dearth of projectable power hitters, Chapman has a strong chance of coming off the board in the first round.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers: Cobi Johnson, RHP, Mitchell HS (Fla.)
As the son of Blue Jays pitching coordinator Dane Johnson, Cobi’s workload was limited last summer, presumably to save his arm strength for his senior campaign.
A 6’4”, 180-pound right-hander, Johnson’s frame is incredibly projectable with room to fill out physically and add strength. His fastball registers at 90-93 mph and more velocity should come with development. His curveball already flashes plus potential despite its overall immaturity. He’ll require considerable time to develop in the minor leagues, but the upside could be huge and well worth the wait.
23. Detroit Tigers: Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
Kyle Schwarber is loaded with strength at 6’0”, 235 pounds and possesses arguably the best raw power in the class. The 21-year-old also projects to hit for a decent average at the highest level, as he has a relatively flat bat path and keeps the barrel in the zone for an extended period of time. Through 25 games this spring, Schwarber is batting .333/.450/.545 with five doubles, four home runs and a 9-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Schwarber is adequate at best defensively behind the plate, lacking the agility and athleticism needed to be a full-time regular in the majors. He almost certainly will move to first base full time as a professional. However, his bat has the potential to support the position change.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates: Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
Brandon Finnegan doesn’t require much physical projection at 5’11”, 190 pounds, but 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.
Finnegan’s 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.
Through seven starts this spring, Finnegan has posted a 1.42 ERA and an eye-opening 73-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 50.2 innings. I wouldn't be surprised if he creeps into the first half of the round, possibly even into the top 10.
1st Round: Picks 25-27
25. Oakland Athletics: Sean-Reid Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (Fla.)
At 6’4”, 205 pounds, Sean Reid-Foley is an athletic right-hander with a fluid delivery and fastball that sits in the low 90s and scrapes 94 mph. He also throws an above-average breaking ball in the upper 70s that offers significant contrast compared to his heater. Reid-Foley’s mechanics—specifically his elbow positioning prior to shifting his momentum toward the plate—were a concern headed into the season, but he’s cleaned it up this spring and is moving up in the draft as a result.
26. Boston Red Sox: Marcus Wilson, OF, J-Serra HS (Calif.)
Wilson, 17, is one of the youngest players in this year’s class, which could make him an intriguing Day 1 upside pick for any team drafting at the back end of the first round. He’s an excellent athlete with a projectable 6’3”, 180-pound frame, and there’s reason to believe he’ll develop big-time power—the raw is already impressive—with physical maturation. Wilson is one of the better under-the-radar prospects to follow in the months leading up to the draft.
27. St. Louis Cardinals: Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
Derek Fisher is one of the more polished hitters in the class, as he 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.
Fisher was off to a hot start this spring, batting .333/.500/.667 with four doubles through 14 games, but he’s been sidelined since March 12 after suffering a broken hamate bone in his right wrist. At the time of the injury, Fisher was expected to miss four to six weeks.
More Names to Know
Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs HS (Fla.)
Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
Braxton Davidson, 1B/OF, Roberson HS (N.C.)
Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly
Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview HS (Ga.)
Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
Scott Blewett, RHP, Baker HS (N.Y.)
Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (Hawaii)
Chris Ellis, RHP, Mississippi
Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (Calif.)
Cameron Varga, RHP, Cincinnati Hills Christian HS (Ohio)
Michael Chavis, 3B/OF, Sprayberry HS (Ga.)