The MLB draft is very much unlike those in other sports for several reasons, including the use of competitive balance rounds to level the playing field.
With no salary cap in place, the big-market teams have a considerable advantage over the small-market teams. Although the benefits can't be reaped until several years down the line, competitive balance picks aim to give the small-market teams some form of an advantage.
Here is everything you need to know about the competitive balance picks for the 2014 MLB draft, including the order of selection and circumstances surrounding them.
Where: MLB Network Studio 42 in Secaucus, New Jersey
When: Thursday, June 5 at 7 p.m. ET
Watch: MLB Network
Live Stream: MLB.com
Competitive Balance Round A Order (Following Compensation Round A)
|37||Houston Astros (via BAL)|
|39||Pittsburgh Pirates (via MIA)|
|40||Kansas City Royals|
Competitive Balance Round B Order (Following 2nd Round)
|69||Arizona Diamondbacks (via SD)|
|71||St. Louis Cardinals|
|72||Tampa Bay Rays|
Competitive Balance Rules
As the label "competitive balance" suggests, these selections are meant to level the playing field. Competitive balance picks are still fairly new, so it remains to be seen how effective they will be in doing so, but small-market teams undoubtedly have a great opportunity to improve moving forward.
According to MLB.com, the picks are determined by a random lottery including the 10 lowest-revenue teams and the 10 smallest-market teams. For the teams that did not receive a pick in Competitive Balance Round A, another lottery was held for Competitive Balance Round B in which 2012 winning percentage determined the odds due to the fact that the lottery was held last year.
Possible Competitive Balance Prospects to Watch
Which potential competitive balance pick will have the best MLB career?
The Weaver name is well known within Major League Baseball as brothers Jered and Jeff have both enjoyed fine careers. Although he isn't related, Luke Weaver could soon join the exclusive club as the latest pitching Weaver to take the big leagues by storm.
Weaver has a somewhat diminutive frame as the Florida State athletics website generously lists him at 170 pounds, but that hasn't stopped him from becoming a workhorse starter for the Seminoles. Weaver has pitched at least 98 innings in each of the past two seasons and he has a solid 15-6 record to show for it.
Although Weaver's lack of size may be a major reason why he isn't considered to be a first-round prospect, his potential is immense. Weaver also has a jovial attitude that some might interpret as a lack of competitiveness, but Florida State pitching coach Mike Bell doesn't believe that is the case, per Aaron Fitt of Baseball America: "I think he enjoys life. It's not to the point where he's arrogant, but he enjoys day-to-day humor, he enjoys being loose, loosey-goosey, for six days. When it's time to work, it's time to work. When it's time to have fun, hey, let's enjoy life. But on Friday when it's 6 o'clock, it's a different guy."
Weaver is still learning and developing, but that can be said for every prospect in the draft. When it comes to rolling the dice with a competitive balance pick, there are many worse players to take a chance on than Weaver.
Perhaps no player in college baseball has made a bigger all-around impact than Kentucky's A.J. Reed. In addition to his status as an ace pitcher, Reed has a big bat at first base, so teams have a decision to make in terms of where he best projects at the next level.
Reed excels in essentially every area, which is largely why he was named the National Collegiate Player of the Year, according to Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
The first of many: UK's A.J. Reed named National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 29, 2014
Although Reed boasts a 12-2 record along with a 2.09 ERA, he also has a .336 batting average with 23 home runs and 73 RBI. Most seem to believe that Reed will be drafted as a hitter, including Reed himself, per Rick Semmler of WTHITV 10.
If a team does decide to utilize him as a pitcher, though, there is still reason to believe that he has big league potential, according to Brent Ingram of Kentucky athletics:
"If he'd go into pro ball as a pitcher, he'd pitch in the big leagues." - #UKbaseball coach Gary Henderson on A.J. Reed's pro future.— Brent Ingram (@UKMR_BI) May 27, 2014
Reed's versatility has been a blessing for the Wildcats, but it may be just as much of a curse in terms of his draft stock. Reed has first-round ability, and some small-market team could come up with the steal of the draft should he fall to the competitive balance rounds.
MLB teams are always looking for left-handed pitchers with big-time velocity, and that is exactly what Cal Poly's Matt Imhof brings to the table. The big southpaw has taken a huge step forward in his junior season and established himself as a player who will be very much on the radar of competitive balance teams in the event that he is still available.
His 10-4 record and 2.45 ERA are impressive, but his improved strikeout rate is what truly jumps off the page. Imhof punches out over 11 batters per nine innings, which is precisely what scouts love to see. That likely has something to do with Imhof's blazing fastball, according to Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee:
Sea of radar guns clocking every pitch of Cal Poly ace Matt Imhof. Regularly at 93-95. If he drove that fast, he'd really be illegal— Joe Davidson (@SacBee_JoeD) May 31, 2014
It's tough to say for sure why Imhof isn't more highly touted than he is, but spotty control could be the main culprit. Imhof walks nearly four batters per nine innings, which is a number that must go down in order for him to have sustained success in the big leagues.
Control is something that comes with experience and polish, so there is reason to believe that Imhof could potentially be molded into an ace-level pitcher over time.
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