2014 MLB Mock Draft: Best-Case Scenarios for Every Team's 1st-Round Pick
Everyone has an idea of what they want to happen when their team makes a selection in the Major League Baseball draft. Some fans are looking for a quick fix, while others are happy to preach patience in hopes of landing a superstar talent that will need time to develop.
The 2014 MLB draft class has a little something for everyone, though it's become abundantly clear as the spring has gone on that the strength of this group is on the mound. Much like what you see from all 30 teams each night, offense is hard to come by.
The idea of every team having a perfect draft—or at least the perfect first pick—seems impossible, because all it takes is one club deviating from the board, which always happens, to throw everything into chaos.
While we anxiously await draft day, our latest mock takes a look at the best selections for each team. It includes all 27 first-round picks, followed by a look at the four teams without a first-round selection and what they might be thinking when they go on the clock.
No. 1: Houston Astros Select LHP Brady Aiken
Even though fans in Houston are tired of hearing about the future and want players who can contribute right away, high school left-hander Brady Aiken is the best pure talent available in this draft.
He's a polished left-hander with size (6'4", 210 pounds), three plus pitches (fastball, curveball and changeup) and above-average control already. The ceiling is huge, and the southpaw isn't going to need as much development time as a typical high school pitcher.
No. 2: Miami Marlins Select RHP Tyler Kolek
You have to wonder what they put in Texas' water supply, because 18-year-olds like Tyler Kolek aren't normal. He's a monster at 6'5", 230 pounds with a fastball that has touched triple digits multiple times.
As impressive as he is, there's a lot of work to be done. He's very much a thrower instead of a pitcher who gets by against high school hitters by relying on velocity instead of spotting the ball, and his off-speed stuff lacks consistency.
He's a No. 1 starter if his command improves, so it's hard to imagine a scenario where he doesn't go in the top three picks. Given the struggles of Carlos Rodon this season, Miami seems more inclined to go with the younger arm in this spot.
No. 3: Chicago White Sox Select LHP Carlos Rodon
If you were to tell the White Sox before the college baseball season started that they would have a chance to get NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon, they would have looked at you like you had three heads.
The stellar performances and upside of Aiken and Kolek, as well as some inconsistent starts from Rodon, have put the White Sox in a position to land the best college starter on the board.
Even with his slight drop in performance this season, he is still a left-hander who can touch 96 mph with a wipeout slider and above-average control. That's a No. 2 starter, at least, waiting to come out.
No. 4: Chicago Cubs Select C Alex Jackson
In a class that is loaded with pitching, the Cubs were poised to address the biggest weakness in their farm system early in this draft. Unfortunately, two of the top five starting pitchers got hurt (Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde), leaving Chicago in a state of flux.
There are still solid pitchers on the board, but none of them is worthy of being taken fourth overall. Instead, the Cubs can turn their attention to getting the best position player available, which in this case is California-born catcher Alex Jackson.
It's unclear if he will remain behind the plate. He's a good athlete with above-average arm strength, so he can stay there, but the development time is longer for catchers, and teams usually don't want to delay a hitter with his bat speed and raw power potential longer than necessary.
No. 5: Minnesota Twins Select SS Nick Gordon
This is a case of the rich getting richer. Minnesota entered the year with, in my opinion, the best farm system in baseball. It took a hit when Miguel Sano needed Tommy John surgery and Byron Buxton got injured, but the Twins are still loaded with talent at every level.
Nick Gordon serves two purposes for the Twins. First, he's the best shortstop available in the draft. He is a plus defender with soft hands, good range to both sides and excellent arm strength. He has surprising strength in his 170-pound frame and controls the bat well.
Second, the Twins don't have a long-term answer at shortstop. Teams shouldn't, and often don't, draft based on need, but this is a happy coincidence where the best player on the board fills an organizational need.
No. 6: Seattle Mariners Select LHP Sean Newcomb
In terms of polish, Sean Newcomb has a very real chance to be the first college starter to play in the big leagues. He has the big, durable frame at 6'5" and 240 pounds to handle a heavy workload.
The Hartford left-hander is so smooth and easy in his delivery that the fact he's able to sit 91-94 mph almost surprises hitters. He's a good athlete who repeats his mechanics well, so there's a plus command projection to go along with a plus fastball-curveball combination and an above-average changeup that plays up due to deceptive arm speed.
Newcomb has a lot of helium heading into this draft and is peaking at the right time after a 14-strikeout performance against Binghamton on May 22.
No. 7: Philadelphia Phillies Select 3B Jacob Gatewood
According to John Manuel of Baseball America, the Phillies are supposedly looking to change their draft philosophy this year by going after a "safe" player who can move quickly to help their aging roster compete before it falls apart.
Even though that would be so quintessentially Ruben Amaro Jr., it's difficult to believe a team that found success last year by drafting a high school shortstop in the first round (J.P. Crawford) would sacrifice potential for the illusion that there's an instant fix for all its problems.
As a result, until someone shows me differently, Jacob Gatewood seems like the perfect fit for the Phillies. He has a huge boom-or-bust potential with an unrefined hit tool, but with plus-plus bat speed and plus-plus raw power, his ceiling is incredible.
No. 8: Colorado Rockies Select SS Trea Turner
Even though pitching will always be a high priority for the Rockies in the draft, their park means that they have to find a certain type of arm to succeed. Quality arms are still on the board, like Aaron Nola and Kyle Freeland, but they are more command than power.
Instead, Colorado can go after one of the few true shortstops available in this draft. Trea Turner doesn't offer much potential with the bat thanks to limited bat speed and little more than gap power, but he's a plus runner with range to both sides and excellent footwork in the field.
No. 9: Toronto Blue Jays Select RHP Touki Toussaint
The Blue Jays are as predictable as any team in the draft. General manager Alex Anthopoulos and the scouting department love high school right-handers who throw hard. They drafted three of them in the first three rounds last year, though Phil Bickford didn't end up signing.
This year's crop of high school right-handers gives Toronto plenty of options, but the team can get creative with two of the top 11 selections. Touki Toussaint has moved up draft boards this spring with a better delivery and improved control of his off-speed stuff to complement a mid-90s fastball.
No. 10: New York Mets Select RHP Aaron Nola
Every year there is a player who doesn't have the sexiest profile but goes in the top 10 because all he did was perform on a baseball field. LSU's Aaron Nola is that player this year, though that isn't to say he's without talent.
He is about as safe as any player in the 2014 class. He has plus control of three average-or-better pitches. His fastball isn't overpowering at 90-93 mph, but as you can see from the embedded picture, he throws from a three-quarters arm slot that helps create a lot of movement to avoid barrels.
It also helps that Nola has consistently dominated in the SEC. The best year of his college career came in 2014, as he posted a 1.49 ERA and 127-26 ratio of strikeouts to walks in 109 innings).
The Mets already have the makings of a solid rotation in the future with Matt Harvey returning, Rafael Montero and Zack Wheeler debuting in the last 12 months and Noah Syndergaard on the way. Nola gives New York one more option to choose from and shouldn't take more than a full season in the minors to get there.
No. 11: Toronto Blue Jays select RHP Sean Reid-Foley
For their second pick of the first round, Toronto goes back to the Florida high school right-hander well with Sean Reid-Foley. He's not as overpowering as Toussaint but has three pitches that grade out as at least average, and he has better control.
No. 12: Milwaukee Brewers select C Max Pentecost
There's nothing great about Max Pentecost's raw tools, but he's a catcher with average ability across the board. When you play that position, that makes you an incredibly valuable asset for a farm system and a future starter.
The Brewers do need impact talent, but more importantly, they just need guys who project to play at the highest level. Pentecost gives them the latter, and Milwaukee can reach for an over-slot guy in the second round.
No. 13: San Diego Padres select LHP Kyle Freeland
When we look back on this draft, Kyle Freeland is the pitcher who is going to jump out as the most underrated player taken. He has the body (6'4", 185 pounds) and easy, deceptive delivery to be a workhorse, with three above-average pitches and a fastball that has some of the best movement in this class thanks to a high three-quarters arm angle.
No. 14: San Francisco Giants select RHP Grant Holmes
I may have spoken too soon earlier with the comment about Toronto being the most predictable team in the draft. The Giants aren't exactly enigmatic, especially considering the overwhelming number of arms that comprise the top of their farm system lists.
Grant Holmes is another power arm to add to the stable. He has a fastball that touches 97-98 mph and one of the best curveballs in the high school class. He's just 6'2" and doesn't have much physical projection left, but the present stuff is so good that he can be at least a mid-rotation starter.
No. 15: Los Angeles Angels select OF Bradley Zimmer
As far as genes go, Bradley Zimmer has good bloodlines—his brother is Kansas City right-hander Kyle Zimmer. The younger brother is a tremendous athlete with good bat speed and balance through his left-handed swing.
He doesn't have big raw power thanks to a flat bat path, but he generates good backspin with natural strength to project for average pop in pro ball. He's also a solid defender in center field with range and above-average arm strength.
No. 16: Arizona Diamondbacks select OF Michael Conforto
A player like Michael Conforto isn't likely to last this long, but there are players with more exciting tools ahead of him, which might allow Arizona to luck into the best pure college hitter in this class. He has tremendous bat speed with a short path through the zone, generating above-average power with wrist strength and loft for backspin.
If he had the speed to be a center fielder, he would be a top-10 pick. Since he's going to end up in left field, the Oregon State star will have to settle for being a mid-first-round selection.
No. 17: Kansas City Royals select OF Monte Harrison
Even though the idea of drafting a toolsy high school kid from the area brings back bad memories (Bubba Starling in 2011), Harrison is an exceptional athlete with one of the highest ceilings among position players in this draft.
His bat is miles away from being ready, but he has more natural strength than Starling. His glove in center field projects as plus, putting less pressure on his hit tool.
No. 18: Washington Nationals select RHP Jeff Hoffman
Here is another case of history repeating itself. Two years ago the Nationals fell into Lucas Giolito, who was dealing with elbow problems before the draft and eventually needed Tommy John surgery after being the No. 16 pick.
Jeff Hoffman already went under the knife to get his elbow fixed, clouding his draft stock, but before he got hurt, the right-hander had two plus-plus pitches (fastball and curveball) and some projection in his 6'4", 185-pound frame.
The East Carolina star won't pitch again until 2015, but the Nationals have been known to bet on upside above all else. With the success of Tommy John surgeries in recent years, the move should pay huge dividends for the team.
No. 19: Cincinnati Reds select 3B Michael Chavis
A shortstop in high school, Michael Chavis' best position in pro ball will be third base, where his lateral quickness and bat profile well. He has an explosive hit tool with tremendous bat speed and loft to generate plus raw power.
The swing is short and compact, possibly causing the power to play down but giving him tremendous plate coverage. Chavis also uses the entire field, going the other way with ease, and he has underrated speed that will allow him to steal his share of bases.
No. 20: Tampa Bay Rays select 1B Kyle Schwarber
It's easy to see a scenario where Kyle Schwarber goes higher than this in the draft. He has the one thing every team is looking for right now: power.
The Indiana star is a monster at 6'0", 230 pounds and has the bat speed to generate big power with his swing. He's not very athletic and will have to play first base in pro ball, but the pop profiles perfectly over there.
Tampa Bay typically goes for more athletic position players in the first round, but it hasn't paid dividends since Evan Longoria graduated to the MLB team in 2008. It's time to change the strategy and go after someone with a high floor who can give the team even above-average production.
No. 21: Cleveland Indians select LHP Kodi Medeiros
The Indians haven't taken a high school pitcher in the first round since Alan Horne in 2001, but scouting director Brad Grant has gone the prep route in recent years with Francisco Lindor (2011) and Clint Frazier (2013).
Kodi Medeiros is a high-ceiling left-hander with a plus fastball that sits in the low 90s with tremendous arm-side run thanks to a three-quarters arm slot. His slider also projects as a plus pitch with hard tilt.
The physical projection isn't great, as he is on the small side at 6'1", 185 pounds, but two plus pitches, plus velocity from the left side and good athleticism, give him the chance to be a solid mid-rotation starter.
No. 22: Los Angeles Dodgers select RHP Tyler Beede
Someone is going to pop Beede in the first round. He's a right-hander who has pitched three years in the SEC, albeit with mixed results, and his fastball sits in the mid-90s. He complements it with a sharp curveball that flashes plus. Control is a problem as he tends to rush his delivery, flying open and pushing the ball.
The Dodgers love to bet on right-handed pitching, whether at the high school or college level, so Beede seems like a logical fit for them, given his raw upside.
No. 23: Detroit Tigers select RHP Luke Weaver
Hey, it's a hard-throwing college right-hander going to Detroit! Who would have ever guessed? It's easy to make fun of the Tigers for the way they draft, but Luke Weaver is an underrated pitching prospect in this class.
Being 6'2", 170 pounds, he does battle stereotypes that are associated with smaller right-handed starters, but he has tremendous arm speed, a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a plus changeup.
No. 24: Pittsburgh Pirates select OF Braxton Davidson
The Pirates have been all over the place when it comes to draft strategy, sometimes going with the best player on the board (Austin Meadows, Gerrit Cole) and other times betting on power over everything else (Pedro Alvarez)—so this is meeting in the middle.
Braxton Davidson is huge at 6'3", 215 pounds and won't turn 18 until June 18. He has massive raw power with a good approach at the plate and above-average bat speed. There's a lot of torque in his swing, so contact can be an issue at times, but the ball goes a long way when he does hit it.
Due to his size and lack of foot speed, he will be limited to left field or first base. His arm is plenty good enough for the outfield, and the power is ideal for either spot, so it's up to the team to decide what gets his bat to the big leagues quicker.
No. 25: Oakland Athletics select SS/3B Ti'Quan Forbes
The A's continue their streak of taking a high school position player in the first round by grabbing current shortstop/future third baseman Ti'Quan Forbes. He's physically impressive already at 6'4", 170 pounds with a ton of room to add muscle.
Because his body is going to get bigger, he won't be able to stick at shortstop. His arm, soft hands and glove will work at third base, with the bat speed, above-average approach, raw power and speed to be a solid-average hitter for the position.
No. 26: Boston Red Sox select RHP Erick Fedde
Few teams bet on high-upside, risky talent more than the Boston Red Sox, who have had great success building one of the best farm systems in baseball using that strategy.
Erick Fedde was a potential top-10 pick when the spring started thanks to a fastball that touches the mid-90s with exceptional movement thanks to a high three-quarters arm slot. He also has a slider that flashes plus with sharp tilt when he is throwing it correctly. Too often his arm drops down, leading to the pitch flattening out.
The risk is that Fedde is just 170 pounds and, like Jeff Hoffman, had Tommy John surgery earlier this month. He has the stuff to be at least a No. 3 starter, so to get him here potentially at a discounted rate would be appealing to the Red Sox.
No. 27: St. Louis Cardinals select OF Derek Fisher
In a lot of drafts, Virginia star Derek Fisher would be long gone before the Cardinals pick. He's a polished college hitter who brings a solid left-handed stroke with him.
The Cavaliers star has plus bat speed and is short through the zone, making contact at an astounding rate (his strikeout percentage has dropped from 19.5 percent last year to 14.3 percent this year). He has good power and should hit 15-20 homers at his peak.
Fisher has limitations on defense due to fringe-average speed that hinders his range, and he has below-average arm strength. Left fielders have to hit a ton to be valuable assets. He has that kind of potential, but he has to prove that advanced off-speed stuff won't cause problems.
Teams Without a First-Round Pick
Texas Rangers (First pick: No. 30): LHP Brandon Finnegan
TCU left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan is one of those guys you don't know what to do with. He has a power fastball, regularly touching 94-95 mph, with a potentially plus slider. He's also 5'11" and has battled injuries leading up to the draft, including stiffness in his throwing shoulder at the end of April.
He returned over the weekend, striking out seven in a victory against Baylor. Lefties who throw this hard are going to command a lot of attention, though the profile isn't pretty and screams future reliever.
The Rangers are as aggressive as any team in the draft, betting on upside and ceiling over anything else. Finnegan has the potential to be a bargain at this point.
Atlanta Braves (First pick: No. 32): OF Michael Gettys
Teams often follow trends in the draft, which makes it easier to anticipate their selections long before they get on the clock. The Atlanta Braves rarely stray from their region to make a pick or go over the recommended slot bonus.
While Michael Gettys will have to make his price known before the Braves draft him, he's also one of the best players from the state of Georgia in this year's class. He has a big, powerful swing that can end up leading to 20-25 homers if he makes enough contact to let it play.
New York Yankees (First pick: No. 55): 1B A.J. Reed
It's hard to get a gauge for what a team is thinking when it picks later than just about every other team, but the New York Yankees usually get creative in the draft.
A.J. Reed may not last this long because his raw power is tremendous and teams will always covet that in the draft. He's limited to first base and doesn't have a lot of bat speed, but his brute strength (6'4", 245 pounds) can send the ball a long way when he does make contact.
Baltimore Orioles (First pick: No. 90): C Evan Skoug
Once again we see a team making its first pick much later than anyone else, which leaves its draft board in a state of flux. Evan Skoug can be one of the great bargains in this draft because his raw power, especially for a catcher, is fantastic.
He has a lot of work to do to stick behind the plate, boasting just average arm strength with little athleticism and receiving skills that leave a lot to be desired. He gets caught in between a lot for a player as talented as he is, so the risk is significant.
But a catcher with the potential to hit more than 20 homers shouldn't be available this late in the draft.
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