Los Angeles Dodgers 2014 Draft Picks: Scouting Profiles and Analysis
The MLB Draft is underway!
I'll keep you posted here on the Los Angeles Dodgers' first ten selections—their 1st pick is at No. 22, followed by picks 62, 98, 129, 159, 189, 219, 249, 279 and 309—as they try to add talent to a farm system that includes top prospects Zach Lee (1st Round 2010, pick No. 28), Joc Pederson (11th Round 2010, pick No. 352) and Corey Seager (1st Round 2012, pick No. 18).
Round 1: Pick No. 22 (Grant Holmes, SP)
With the 22nd pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected right-hander Grant Holmes out of Conway High School in Conway, South Carolina.
High school pitcher seemed to be the consensus amongst draft experts—Bleacher Report's Mike Rosenbaum has them going with right-hander Sean Reid-Foley out of Sandalwood HS in Florida, as do the experts over at Perfect Game and Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo; Jim Callis, also of MLB.com has them taking right-hander Spencer Adams of White County HS in Georgia; John Manuel of Baseball America sees them going with Touki Toussaint, a right-handed prep out of Coral Springs Christian Academy, also in Florida—and that's exactly the direction the Dodgers took.
In the end, it was Holmes over guys like Reid-Foley and Adams, who were both still on the board.
Armed with a fastball that sits in the mid-90's and has touched 100 MPH, the 18-year-old is the first high school pitcher taken by the Dodgers in the 1st round since they drafted four from 2006-2010, starting with Clayton Kershaw and ending with Zach Lee. They have now taken a pitcher, though, with 11 of their last 12 top picks.
Along with the heater, Holmes has a plus breaking ball. Since it's quite easy to dominate at the high school level with that two-pitch combination, his change-up, understandably, is well behind. The Dodgers also like his competitiveness, according to Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting, Logan White.
"We feel fortunate to have gotten a player of Grant's magnitude at pick 22," said White. "He's a mature, young and strong-bodied pitcher who throws hard and has a great breaking ball, but what separates him is he is a fierce competitor."
If the Dodgers can sign him away from his commitment to pitch at the University of Florida—the slotted amount for pick No. 2 is just under $2 million—they'll be able to oversee his development over the next several years.
Holmes will likely join Lee and 17-year-old lefty Julio Urias as one of the top pitching prospects in the organization heading into the 2015 season.
Round 2: Pick No. 62 (Alex Verdugo, OF/SP)
After drafting high school pitcher Grant Holmes in the 1st round, the Dodgers took another high school pitcher in the 2nd round.
With the 62nd pick, the Dodgers selected lefty Alex Verdugo out of Sahuaro HS in Arizona. The 18-year-old is also a very good hitter, which is why he was announced as an outfielder. He can also throw 94 MPH and has a "plus slider", according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, which is why there's a strong chance he'll take the mound as a Dodgers farmhand.
Ranked No. 66 on Mike Rosenbaum's list of top 100 draft prospects, Verdugo profiles as a mid-rotation starter who is already very polished with a three-pitch arsenal. If he goes the position player route, he could end up in right field.
UPDATE 10:00 PM PST - Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweeted that the Dodgers plan on using Verdugo in the outfield, according to Logan White, and will move back to pitching down the road if he doesn't hit. Eric Stephen of TruBlueLA also passed on a quote by White, who compared Verdugo to prospect Joc Pederson, who is having a monster season at the Triple-A level.
Round 3: Pick No. 98 (John Richy, SP)
While teammate Erick Fedde, who was chosen by the Washington Nationals with the 18th pick in the 1st Round, was the ace of the UNLV pitching staff, John Richy is no slouch.
The Dodgers' 3rd Round pick, Richy picked up the slack when Fedde went down mid-season with an elbow injury that would ultimately require Tommy John surgery.
In 16 starts, the 21-year-old Richy went 11-4 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.8 BB/9, 8.4 K/9 and five complete games for the Rebels. He led the Mountain West Conference in wins, innings (121) and strikeouts (113), and only allowed two home runs.
Projected as a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater or possibly a setup man, the 6'4" right-hander utilizes a sinking fastball in the low 90's to go along with a solid curveball.
Round 4: Pick No. 129 (Jeff Brigham, SP)
For the second consecutive round, the Dodgers drafted a college pitcher.
Right-hander Jeff Brigham, taken with the 129th overall pick, missed the entire 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery but proved he was back to full strength by posting a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts for the University of Washington.
While Brigham's fastball sits in the low 90's and has reportedly touched 97 MPH, he doesn't miss too many bats (4.4 K/9 in college career) and instead induces several ground ball outs due to the extreme sinking action.
Round 5: Pick No. 159 (Jared Walker, 3B)
Third baseman Jared Walker, a left-handed hitting third baseman out of McEachern HS, was taken by the Dodgers in the 5th round of the 2014 draft.
Committed to Kennesaw State in his home state of Georgia, the Dodgers might have to go over slot to sign the 18-year-old. If they believe enough in his bat—he was ranked as the 336th player in the draft by Baseball America, so the Dodgers taking him at 159 indicates that they do feel strongly about him—then he could get a nice payday for bypassing college.
Kennesaw State head coach Mike Sansing is hoping that Walker will opt to stay near home and hit in the middle of his team's lineup for the next few years.
"We feel he has the chance to be a middle-of-the-order-type bat with plus power for the Owls. Jared is a special kid with great passion for the game, and his high character will be a great asset to our program."
Three high schoolers were taken with their first five picks, but the Dodgers finished day two by selecting five consecutive college players.
Round 6, pick 189: Stewart Brock, RP (Illinois State University): A third baseman/reliever in college, the 22-year-old was drafted as a pitcher. No word on whether the Dodgers think he can be a starter. In 11 appearances (one start) this season, he posted a 2.36 ERA with eight walks and 30 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitched.
Round 7, pick 219: Trevor Oaks, SP (California Baptist University): Ranked No. 399 on Baseball America's draft board, Oaks is a competitor with a solid four-pitch arsenal. He won the PacWest and Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year awards in 2014.
Round 8, pick 249: Hunter Redman, C (Texas Tech University): Redman had mediocre hitting numbers overall at Texas Tech (.564 OPS, 0 HR in 42 games in 2014), but he hit .328 overall in Big 12 play. The 21-year-old also has the ability to become an above-average defender behind the plate.
Round 9, pick 279: Matt Campbell, RP (Clemson University): As Clemson's closer in 2014, Campbell dominated with an 0.84 ERA, 15 walks and 45 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched while allowing only 16 hits. If he stays in the bullpen, he could be on the fast track to the majors as was the case with Dodgers lefty Paco Rodriguez, who debuted in the majors the same season he was drafted in 2012.
Round 10, pick 309: Colin Hering, OF (Coastal Carolina, SC): Another player with underwhelming numbers at the plate (.547 OPS, HR in 55 games in 2014), Hering is a plus defender who may sign for well under slot, if at all, giving the Dodgers more breathing room to sign some of their higher draft picks.