The first three rounds of the 2014 MLB draft will begin on Thursday, and each team can get a ton of value with certain first-round prospects this year.
The top of this year's draft features more than a few promising young pitchers, but there are also some hitters with plenty of raw power that teams will be tempted to bring in. The first round could include a good balance of high school players with plenty of potential as well as more polished prospects coming out of college, and it will be up to teams to decide what they want.
Before the draft begins, let's take a look at a complete mock draft for the first round of the MLB draft, looking at which players would be the best value for each team.
1. Houston Astros: Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (Calif.)
The three pitchers at the top of this year's draft all bring something different to the table, but the Houston Astros will be tempted to pull the trigger on the polished high school left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken. He already has a high-90s fastball and a pro-ready curve that are both good enough to make him the first prep pitcher taken No. 1 overall since 1991.
2. Miami Marlins: Carlos Rodon, LHP, N.C. State
If the Astros let Carlos Rodon slide past No. 1 overall, the lefty won't last long, as the Miami Marlins likely won't hesitate to grab him. Rodon has an intimidating fastball to go along with arguably the best slider in his draft, so pairing him with Jose Fernandez will give the Marlins a great one-two combo for the future.
3. Chicago White Sox: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (Texas)
Tyler Kolek looks the part of a typical Texas right-handed pitcher, and the Chicago White Sox desperately need to add some more talent at the position. He has the ideal MLB frame at 6'5" and 230 pounds along with a fastball that can touch 100 miles per hour. He also has some promising off-speed stuff, and his repertoire could get even more deadly as he develops in the minors.
4. Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
The Chicago Cubs probably need a pitcher here, and they already have plenty of talented positional players in their farm system, but with the top three pitching prospects gone, they might be tempted to add even more power. According to Jon Heyman from CBS Sports, one name that's climbed up the boards is Indiana's Kyle Schwarber, and the Cubs are looking at him with the No. 4 pick.
Schwarber has been a true slugger with 32 home runs over the past two years, but he also shows the patience at the plate that makes him more than just a home-run hitter. He probably has some of the best bat speed in this class, and while it's unclear what position he'll play, his bat speaks for itself.
5. Minnesota Twins: Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (Fla.)
It's quite clear that the Minnesota Twins need a long-term answer at shortstop, and they'll find a new one in Nick Gordon. He's a promising all-around prospect with a terrific arm, speed and a surprising amount of pop in his bat. As the brother of Dee Gordon, this high schooler won't need to wait too long before he's called up to the majors.
6. Seattle Mariners: Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
With a farm system deprived of talent, the Seattle Mariners can focus on adding the most talented prospect available with their first pick. LSU's Aaron Nola doesn't have the most traditional mechanics, but they work, as he already has terrific command and a variety of pitches to work with. Considering he posted an 11-1 record with an ERA of just 1.47, it looks like he's ready to take the next step.
7. Philadelphia Phillies: Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
A starting rotation that was one of the best in the league a few years ago for the Philadelphia Phillies doesn't look the same now, and they need to find some new talent. Kyle Freeland isn't the best pitcher in this class from a velocity standpoint, but he has terrific movement and command with a nasty slider.
8. Colorado Rockies: Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
Alex Jackson may fall a bit if he's not taken by the Astros or Marlins, but whoever takes him will be getting a great option. With the fastest bat speed in the class as well as an already intimidating frame at 6'2" and 215 pounds, Jackson could add more weight to his frame and be a solid power hitter for the Colorado Rockies in a couple of years.
9. Toronto Blue Jays: Trea Turner, SS, N.C. State
Jose Reyes won't be playing at a high level forever—he's now 30 years old—and the Toronto Blue Jays will need to find a long-term replacement that can be ready in a few years. Trea Turner looks like a player that could steal more than a few bases and cover plenty of ground at the position.
10. New York Mets: Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
A promising lefty, Sean Newcomb has a big frame at 6'5" and 240 pounds along with a strong mid-90s fastball. He's still working on developing his off-speed pitches, but Newcomb appears to be a workhorse that can eat up innings when his team needs him to.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Christian Academy (Fla.)
Touki Toussaint is probably one of the bigger risks this early in the draft, but the upside makes him hard to ignore. The 6'2" prospect has a fastball that can touch the high-90s along with a developing curveball that looks like it could one day be one of the best in the majors.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (S.C.)
The upside is limited compared to other starting pitchers for Grant Holmes due to his 6'2", 190-pound frame. However, thanks to a plus curve and consistent command, Holmes has the potential to join Milwaukee's starting rotation after some time in the minors.
13. San Diego Padres: Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
The San Diego Padres are arguably the worst hitting team in the majors, currently ranking last in batting average and runs scored. They need to add bats to their farm system, and in this scenario, they can get one of the best in college baseball this past season.
Michael Conforto has shown power over the past three years at Oregon State, but more importantly, he's shown improvement in regards to plate discipline, increasing his walks and decreasing his strikeouts each season.
14. San Francisco Giants: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
It looked like Jeff Hoffman was going to be one of the first players taken in this year's draft, but Tommy John surgery has hurt his stock. While that would discourage a lot of people, Hoffman plans on using it as motivation according to Tyler Kepner from The New York Times, saying:
The competitor in me makes it hard for me to see, maybe, a bunch of guys get picked ahead of me — guys that I know aren’t better than me, some guys out of high school that don’t really understand the game of baseball yet. It’s going to be tough if I fall a little further. But everything happens for a reason, and whatever team takes the so-called risk and drafts me is going to get the best player in the draft.
If he returns completely healthy, Hoffman could end up being one of the biggest steals from this year's draft.
15. Los Angeles Angels: Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
As he continues to lead Kennesaw State through the NCAA baseball tournament, Max Pentecost continues to dominate the competition, hitting .424 through 60 games this season. Overall, he looks like one of the more solid all-around catchers in this draft, and he could be the eventual starter in Los Angeles.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
It's been a while since the Arizona Diamondbacks successfully developed an MLB player through their farm system, but that could change if they take Bradley Zimmer. He looks like a solid center fielder defensively thanks to a strong arm and plenty of speed. Zimmer also brings a solid amount of power and looks like a prospect that won't need much time before he's ready to be called up.
17. Kansas City Royals: Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Tyler Beede has great size at 6'5" and 215 pounds, and that's a big reason his fastball touches 97 miles per hour. He has three plus pitches he's been working on at Vanderbilt, but he'll need to work on his command before he's ready to take on big-league hitters.
18. Washington Nationals: Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (Calif.)
The Washington Nationals already have plenty of pitching prospects, as well as some solid players in the majors, so they may decide to look at the best positional players on the board with this pick.
Jacob Gatewood has a ton of raw power coming out of high school, and he could still add some muscle as he stands 6'5" but weighs just 180 pounds. He'll need to work on hitting for contact if he wants to make the most of his power or else he may never get his chance to make it to the majors.
19. Cincinnati Reds: Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (Fla.)
Sean Reid-Foley looks like a great fit with the Cincinnati Reds thanks to his high upside. He has two above-average pitches in his fastball and slider, making him a potential fit in the Cincinnati bullpen after some time in the minors.
20. Tampa Bay Rays: Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian
Even with a couple of solid starting pitchers, the Tampa Bay Rays could use some more talent in the rotation down the road. Brandon Finnegan won't blow anyone away with speed, but he's a developed player that does a great job switching speed and working both sides of the plate.
21. Cleveland Indians: Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State
Without a power hitter at first base, the Cleveland Indians are missing out on some potential home runs in the starting lineup. Casey Gillaspie could fix that in a few years, as he's shown plenty of power with 15 home runs this year as well as plate discipline, striking out just 28 times in 59 games.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers: Spencer Adams, RHP, White County HS (Ga.)
For a high-school prospect, Spencer Adams already has solid and consistent mechanics that help him throw an effortless fastball in the mid-90s. He has plenty of time to add to his 6'4", 180-pound frame that will make him a potentially frightening pitcher once he grows into it.
23. Detroit Tigers: Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
The Detroit Tigers could be looking for a hard-throwing prospect to help them win now rather than later. Nick Burdi is the best hard-throwing pitcher on the board here, with a fastball that can hit triple digits. He's been a great closer for Louisville, and Burdi is probably already good enough to move into Detroit's bullpen in a few months, just in time for the postseason.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates: Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (Calif.)
Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates probably don't need another outfielder in their farm system, Derek Hill might be too good to pass up. He's the best defensive outfielder in the draft, and while he needs to work on being more disciplined at the plate, the upside is definitely there.
25. Oakland Athletics: Monte Harrison, OF, Lee's Summit West HS (Mo.)
A terrific athlete in the outfield, Monte Harrison has actually received an offer from Nebraska to play wide receiver due to his speed. He can cover a ton of ground and has a strong arm, and while he'll still need to work on hitting, he has the potential to be a solid center fielder.
26. Boston Red Sox: Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
Much like Hoffman, Erick Fedde's draft stock has taken a hit since having Tommy John surgery. He finished this past season with a solid 1.76 ERA in 76.2 innings of work with 82 strikeouts, but the biggest thing he'll need to work on in the minors is having a more consistent release point.
27. St. Louis Cardinals: Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy (Fla.)
Once Foster Griffin adds some weight to his 6'5" frame, he should be able to add some velocity to his low-90s fastball. Fortunately for Griffin, he also has some solid off-speed pitches that he'll be able to work on as well in the minors, and with a good mix of pitches, he has the opportunity to eventually become a solid starter.