Each iteration of the MLB draft mostly occurs through a long-term lens by franchises, which flies directly in the face of more popular counterparts in the NBA and NFL.
That said, 2014 presents quite an interesting class for the MLB. There are talents near the top who impact a franchise right away, but the allure of grabbing a player with overwhelming potential and a high ceiling who will take a few years to develop looms large over the proceedings.
It's a tightrope act. Do franchises want to get better right away, or grab a player who won't arrive for a few years? Let's take a look at a few of the best rookies set to come off the board early and nail down an official landing spot.
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (Calif.)
There is a Big Three at pitcher this year, but it is Brady Aiken's pro-ready game—with plenty of upside to become elite at the next level—that will have him come off the board at No. 1 overall.
While still just in high school, Aiken has done much to improve his already impressive stock as of late, as explained by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo:
Now, Aiken is atop the board, ahead of N.C. State's Carlos Rodon as the best pitcher in the class, and ahead of Tyler Kolek in a comparison of prep arms. Some of that has to do with Aiken's increased velocity, to go along with the plus pitchability that he has always been known for. His maturity has enabled him to dominate all spring and make him look much more like a front-line starter in the future than he did even last fall.
Aiken has a frame ripe for additional muscle, is mature beyond his years and has an all-around skill set that includes his consistently hitting 95 mph or more on fastballs. Success to this point has only helped Aiken, which has coincided with his rise to being the No. 1 overall pick.
Houston won't have much of a choice by the time it has to make the pick.
Prediction: Houston selects Aiken No. 1 overall
Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Close behind Aiken is an MLB darling who posted a stunning 19-3 record over the course of his first two seasons in college after being drafted No. 16 overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011.
Carlos Rodon is dominant, and the MLB has waited quite some time to acquire his talents, but it is important to note that a bit of a down year last season means his stock has tumbled a tad and ripped away his status as the surefire No. 1 overall selection.
Much of this has to do with the way NC State uses its star on the mound, but teams in the top 10 will see through this and understand that Rodon's pro-ready package is still worth a top-five selection.
Keep a close eye on the Chicago White Sox at No. 3 overall. It's painfully obvious they are in the market for an arm and could use a talent like Rodon to groom on the farm until he gets better control over his vast array of quality pitches.
Prediction: Chicago selects Rodon No. 3 overall
Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (Fla.)
The position-player side is exceptionally weak this year in comparison to the strong crop of pitchers set to change the landscape of the MLB, which in part helps to explain why Nick Gordon is getting so much predraft attention.
But the majority of the attention is rather simple to discern—Gordon is an elite all-around prospect with plenty of room to grow. ESPN's Keith Law explains Gordon's predicament well (subscription required): "Son of Tom 'Flash' Gordon -- and brother of Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon -- Nick is up to 91 mph off the mound but a better all-around prospect as an above-average defender at short who can hit, and he has added enough muscle to produce at least doubles power."
While useful on the mound, Gordon will make his cash as a defender up the middle in the pros. His elite instincts and intangibles are ripe for grooming into one of baseball's better defenders before long.
There is a chance Gordon won't be the first position player off the board, which means he will likely make it to the Minnesota Twins at No. 5 overall. There, the Twins will not be able to pass up on the notable bloodlines of immense potential.
Prediction: Minnesota selects Gordon No. 5 overall
Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shephard HS (Texas)
Tyler Kolek complements speeds that typically surpass 100 mph with a stunning amount of command, which would explain why he is considered by most the third member of the Big Three in 2014.
Kolek is in strong consideration for the No. 1 overall pick after being invited to a workout with Houston. His father provided the details, per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the the Houston Chronicle: "He’s not going to work out, but he’s going to go sit down with Jeff Luhnow. ... I’m glad. I think that’s just part of the process. I don’t know how many they have, but I’m glad they’re talking to him on June 2. At least they still have him in their thought process."
Kolek also touts a strong plus slider with stellar movement, making him a total package who is hard to ignore as he comes out of high school.
Expect Kolek to not wait around long to hear his name called. Miami will have no issues landing another stud pitcher to groom for what is already a strong rotation.
Prediction: Miami selects Kolek No. 2 overall
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