Thursday night is more than just the MLB draft. It's also the start of every baseball player's childhood dream to hear his name called in the first round by a professional team.
Following yet another horrid season for the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins, both teams yet again are at the top of the draft board. Both teams have completely different needs in the draft but will add another huge name to the crop in their farm systems.
As for those premier prospects, names such Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner from the college ranks join Brady Aiken and Alex Jackson from the high school level. Where they'll ultimately fall is still up in the air with just days separating the start of the selection process.
With the draft coming so shortly, let's take a look at the full viewing information and analyze some of the top names in the class.
2014 MLB Draft Viewing Info
When: Thursday, June 5, through Saturday, June 7
TV: MLB Network
Live Stream: MLB.com
|2014 MLB Draft Viewing Info|
|Date||Rounds||Start Time (ET)||Watch|
|Thu, June 5||Rounds 1-2||7 p.m.||MLB Network, MLB.com|
|Fri, June 6||Rounds 3-10||1 p.m.||MLB.com|
|Sat, June 7||Rounds 11-40||1 p.m.||MLB.com|
Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State
When it comes to college arms, Rodon has been at the top of every team's list over the last three years.
The southpaw from Holly Springs, North Carolina, has a plus fastball and a devastating slider that has locked up nearly every college hitter throughout his tenure with the Wolfpack. While Rodon might not be seen as the unanimous No. 1 overall prospect heading into the draft, he's the most MLB-ready player in the class.
Dave Perkin of Sports Illustrated provides his analysis of the top left-hander:
With no blatantly obvious talent at the top of this year's draft, odds are the Astros will play it safe and go with Rodon, who was a favorite to go No. 1 overall when the college season began. He has improved drastically since a shaky beginning to this, his junior season. [Jeff] Luhnow and [Mike] Elias will look past Rodon's won-lost record (6-7 through May 21) and instead concentrate on his 2.01 ERA and 117 strikeouts in just 98 2/3 innings. His velocity has been down at times but Rodon still has terrific close-to-the-majors stuff and a powerful big league frame.
After getting off to a slow start, Rodon finished the year with a meager 6-7 record. But his 2.01 ERA, three complete games and 117-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio keeps him near the top of nearly every draft board.
Draft analyst John Manuel of Baseball America points out that he and teammate Turner should hear their names called early, via Ryan Tice of The Wolfpacker:
While some might question his pitch count in college, the 6'3", 234-pound lefty has proven that he's as durable as they come. Whichever team selects him not only will have a talented starter, but also might have him in the majors within the next two seasons.
Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo (San Diego)
As far as position players are concerned, Jackson's bat projects to just about any lineup. His power and smooth swing will eventually help a major league offense as soon as he navigates his way through the minor leagues.
Where he'll play on the field is another story.
After finding much of his success during his high school years as a catcher, there are questions about whether he'll be moved to the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup. Jackson spoke about the opportunity to play in the MLB, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com:
You can never stop working on stuff. You can never stop improving your game. There are so many little things.
I'm tremendously lucky, and I know it's unbelievable that I have this opportunity. It's something that I cherish very much. But at the same time I enjoy it, and I try to share it with my teammates, and not just be worried about my future.
If he lands with a team that already has young outfielder depth such as the Marlins, Jackson might wind up being a catcher at the next level. But most teams would likely prefer to have him remain healthy as an outfielder to keep his bat in the lineup.
Whether he plays in the outfield or slots behind the plate, Jackson has the power in the batter's box to change any game. Much like Bryce Harper back in the 2014 draft, the everyday catcher in high school might just end up bolstering his stock as an outfielder.
Trea Turner, SS, NC State
While Jackson is viewed as the top position player in the high school ranks, Turner might just be the best option at the college level.
His speed is unreal, but the bat is what several scouts have questioned over the last three years in Raleigh. Turner noted how hard he's worked at developing a strong presence at the plate with me last season:
At USA, everyone knew me as, 'The kid who steals all the bases.' But just being fast doesn't always work, you have to be a complete player. You can't steal a base without getting on base first.
I want to be known for more than just stealing bases ... I think I'm getting there.
Turner showed some of that power last season with eight home runs but also proved he's still a consistent hitter with a .321 average and tied for the team lead with a .516 slugging percentage. The shortstop also went 26-of-30 in stolen bases on the basepaths and showed his plus speed multiple times against ACC competition.
Where he winds up could be anywhere within the first 15 picks on Thursday. But what that franchise will get is a dynamic player who can change the game in multiple ways with his bat, speed and defense.
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