While every franchise was hoping to gain impact players on the first day of the MLB draft, some did a better job than others.
The Houston Astros started things off by taking high-upside left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken out of Cathedral Catholic High School in California. Tyler Kolek and Carlos Rodon became the next two picks, each of them being relatively obvious selections based on the talent available.
However, things got interesting after this top tier was off the board. The first couple of rounds featured plenty of surprises that will help or haunt organizations for years.
Although it will take a few years to truly grasp who did a good job on draft day, here is a look at the best and worst picks when it comes to obtaining early value at necessary spots.
|1.||Houston Astros||Brady Aiken||LHP||Cathedral Catholic HS|
|2.||Miami Marlins||Tyler Kolek||RHP||Shepherd HS|
|3.||Chicago White Sox||Carlos Rodon||LHP||N.C. State|
|4.||Chicago Cubs||Kyle Schwarber||C||Indiana|
|5.||Minnesota Twins||Nick Gordon||SS||Olympia HS|
|6.||Seattle Mariners||Alex Jackson||C/OF||Rancho Bernardo HS|
|7.||Philadelphia Phillies||Aaron Nola||RHP||LSU|
|8.||Colorado Rockies||Kyle Freeland||LHP||Evansville|
|9.||Toronto Blue Jays||Jeff Hoffman||RHP||East Carolina|
|10.||New York Mets||Michael Conforto||OF||Oregon State|
|11.||Toronto Blue Jays||Max Pentecost||C||Kennesaw State|
|12.||Milwaukee Brewers||Kodi Medeiros||LHP||Waiakea HS|
|13.||San Diego Padres||Trea Turner||SS||N.C. State|
|14.||San Francisco Giants||Tyler Beede||RHP||Vanderbilt|
|15.||Los Angeles Angels||Sean Newcomb||LHP||Hartford|
|16.||Arizona Diamondbacks||Touki Toussaint||RHP||Coral Springs Christian Academy|
|17.||Kansas City Royals||Brandon Finnegan||LHP||TCU|
|18.||Washington Nationals||Erick Fedde||RHP||UNLV|
|19.||Cincinnati Reds||Nick Howard||RHP||Virginia|
|20.||Tampa Bay Rays||Casey Gillaspie||1B||Wichita State|
|21.||Cleveland Indians||Bradley Zimmer||OF||San Francisco|
|22.||Los Angeles Dodgers||Grant Holmes||RHP||Conway HS|
|23.||Detroit Tigers||Derek Hill||OF||Elk Grove HS|
|24.||Pittsburgh Pirates||Cole Tucker||SS||Mountain Pointe HS|
|25.||Oakland Athletics||Matt Chapman||3B||Cal State Fullerton|
|26.||Boston Red Sox||Michael Chavis||SS||Sprayberry HS|
|27.||St. Louis Cardinals||Luke Weaver||RHP||Florida State|
|Compensation Round A|
|28||Kansas City Royals||Foster Griffin||LHP||The First Academy|
|29||Cincinnati Reds||Alex Blandino||SS||Stanford|
|30||Texas Rangers||Luis Ortiz||RHP||Sanger HS|
|31||Cleveland Indians||Justus Sheffield||LHP||Tullahoma HS|
|32||Atlanta Braves||Braxton Davidson||OF||T.C. Roberson HS|
|33||Boston Red Sox||Michael Kopech||RHP||Pleasant HS|
|34||St. Louis Cardinals||Jack Flaherty||RHP||Harvard-Westlake HS|
|Competitive Balance Round A|
|35.||Colorado Rockies||Forrest Wall||2B||Orangewood Christian HS|
|36.||Miami Marlins||Blake Anderson||C||West Lauderdale HS|
|37.||Houston Astros||Derek Fisher||OF||Virginia|
|38.||Cleveland Indians||Mike Papi||OF||Virginia|
|39.||Pittsburgh Pirates||Connor Joe||OF||San Diego|
|40.||Kansas City Royals||Chase Vallot||C||St. Thomas More HS|
|41||Milwaukee Brewers||Jacob Gatewood||SS||Clovis HS|
|42.||Houston Astros||A.J. Reed||1B||Kentucky|
|43.||Miami Marlins||Justin Twine||SS||Falls City HS|
|44.||Chicago White Sox||Spencer Adams||RHP||White County HS|
|45.||Chicago Cubs||Jake Stinnett||RHP||Maryland|
|46.||Minnesota Twins||Nick Burdi||RHP||Louisville|
|47.||Philadelphia Phillies||Matt Imhof||LHP||Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo|
|48.||Colorado Rockies||Ryan Castellani||RHP||Brophy Jesuit Prep School|
|49.||Toronto Blue Jays||Sean Reid-Foley||RHP||Sandalwood HS|
|50.||Milwaukee Brewers||Monte Harrison||OF||Lee's Summit West HS|
|51.||San Diego Padres||Michael Gettys||OF||Gainesville HS|
|52.||San Francisco Giants||Aramis Garcia||C||Florida International|
|53.||Los Angeles Angels||Joe Gatto||RHP||St. Augustine Prep|
|54.||Arizona Diamondbacks||Cody Reed||LHP||Ardmore HS|
|55.||New York Yankees||Jacob Lindgren||LHP||Mississippi State|
|56.||Kansas City Royals||Scott Blewett||RHP||Baker HS|
|57.||Washington Nationals||Andrew Suarez||LHP||Miami|
|58.||Cincinnati Reds||Taylor Sparks||3B||UC Irvine|
|59.||Texas Rangers||Tiquan Forbes||SS||Columbia HS|
|60.||Tampa Bay Rays||Cameron Varga||RHP||Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy|
|61.||Cleveland Indians||Grant Hockin||RHP||Damien HS|
|62.||Los Angeles Dodgers||Alex Verdugo||OF||Sahuaruo HS|
|63.||Detroit Tigers||Spencer Turnbull||RHP||Alabama|
|64.||Pittsburgh Pirates||Mitch Keller||RHP||Xavier HS|
|65.||Oakland Athletics||Daniel Gossett||RHP||Clemson|
|66.||Atlanta Braves||Garrett Fulenchek||RHP||Howe HS|
|67.||Boston Red Sox||Sam Travis||1B||Indiana|
|68.||St. Louis Cardinals||Ronnie Williams||RHP||American Senior HS|
|Competitive Balance Round B|
|69.||Arizona Diamondbacks||Marcus Wilson||OF||Junipero Serra HS|
|70.||Arizona Diamondbacks||Isan Diaz||SS||Springfield Central HS|
|71.||St. Louis Cardinals||Andrew Morales||RHP||UC Irvine|
|72.||Tampa Bay Rays||Brent Honeywell||RHP||Walters State CC|
|73.||Pittsburgh Pirates||Trey Supak||RHP||La Grange HS|
|74.||Seattle Mariners||Gareth Morgan||OF||Blyth Academy|
No. 4 Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber
When selecting in the first five picks, you have to make sure you get someone who can potentially be a star in the majors. While Kyle Schwarber is a solid hitter, it is hard to imagine him reaching this ability.
The Indiana catcher has solid power from the left side of the plate and projects as a good hitter for average. The problem is that he is unlikely to remain behind the plate and will instead play either first base or corner outfield.
If this is the case, this significantly lowers his value at the major league level.
Both Chris Crawford of MLB Draft Insider and Michael Baumann of Grantland believed this pick was a big reach:
Love Schwarber. MASSIVE reach. RT @CrawfordChrisV: With all due respect to the Cubs, that's a massive reach.— Michael Baumann (@MJ_Baumann) June 5, 2014
On the other hand, Cubs scouting director Jason McLeod was excited he fell to No. 4, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
More McLeod: “Kyle Schwarber was No. 2 on our prep list. We were enamored with Brady Aiken but Kyle was No.2”— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 6, 2014
Schwarber could be a quick riser through the system, but Chicago would have been better off taking someone with more upside.
No. 24 Pittsburgh Pirates: Cole Tucker
Every team obviously has its own thought process in scouting, but it is nice to have some sort of consensus about a prospect. The Pirates did not think this is important.
Pittsburgh selected Cole Tucker, a high school shortstop out of Arizona, with the No. 24 pick in the first round. Both Aaron Fitt of Baseball America and Tim McMaster of MLB Network were surprised by the selection based on their companies' prospect lists:
Cole Tucker going to #Pirates at No. 24 is the first legitimate surprise of the draft. He was No. 84 on the BA board.— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 6, 2014
While this appears to be a big reach for the Pirates, Tucker still has shown plenty of ability in the field with the range to stick at shortstop. Add this to his above-average speed, and chances are that he will find success as a professional.
Still, the questions about his ability to hit are what makes this a strange pick for the Pirates.
No. 36 Miami Marlins: Blake Anderson
The Competitive Balance Round is a time to take some risks, but the Miami Marlins went way off the board to select high school catcher Blake Anderson.
J.J. Cooper of Baseball America points out that this is much earlier than most teams projected him to be taken:
Sorry Blake Anderson....C who teams have very different opinions on. Some saw him as a 7th-10th rounder. Others saw him much better.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) June 6, 2014
Prep Baseball's Nathan Rode did not see anyone picking him this high:
I didn't talk to any scouts about Blake Anderson this high.— Nathan Rode (@NathanRode) June 6, 2014
The good news is that Anderson has a lot of raw power that could allow him to be a quality slugger at the next level. If he can remain at catcher, he could be a rare commodity that would be extremely valuable for any team.
Unfortunately, this is asking pretty much everything to go right in his development. Anderson is still a long way away from the majors and could end up struggling early in his minor league career.
This was likely a pick to save money, but it will end up being a mistake for the Marlins.
No. 10 New York Mets: Michael Conforto
Unlike the NFL or MLB draft, teams do not often make selections based on the current roster situation. However, it is clear that the New York Mets needed impact bats out of the outfield, and they need them in a hurry.
Michael Conforto becomes the perfect selection as someone who can come in early and move quickly towards the major leagues.
The Oregon State outfielder has been one of the top hitters in the nation over the past few years and continued to improve his approach at the plate. As Anthony DiComo of MLB.com notes, his patience fits what the team is looking for in a prospect:
Conforto fits the #Mets' desired profile: power and patience. He set the Oregon State record for walks in a season with 55.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 6, 2014
Jim Bowden of ESPN is impressed by Conforto's all-around game as well:
Conforto polished plus bat. Smooth compact swing, strong arm….run producer…going to hit …solid pick by the #Mets— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) June 6, 2014
New York needed someone to contribute in a hurry, and the squad brought in one of the top college bats in the draft at No. 10. This could be called a successful day for a team that needs it.
No. 21 Cleveland Indians: Bradley Zimmer
There were differing opinions on Bradley Zimmer coming into the draft, but it seems like the Cleveland Indians got a steal at No. 21.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo listed him as the third-best hitter and No. 10 prospect overall in the class due to his all-around ability:
Zimmer has a nice package of tools, with his bat standing out the most. He has a sweet left-handed stroke, and he manages the strike zone and recognizes pitches well. His body has enough strength and leverage to possibly produce plus power if he were to add some loft to his swing, though he's content to spray line drives all over the field for now.
Meanwhile, John Hart of MLB Network also thinks highly of the player's upside, via T.J. Zuppe of 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland:
The Indians got the best of both worlds with a college hitter with five-tool potential, giving the squad a player with both a high floor and a high ceiling. Grabbing him this late in the first round makes him a virtual steal for the organization.
No. 41 Milwaukee Brewers: Jacob Gatewood
Jacob Gatewood was in attendance at the draft and expected to be taken relatively early, but he was forced to wait a few hours before he finally heard his name called.
While this was bad news for Gatewood, this could end up being a great day for the Brewers. Aaron Fitt of Baseball America called this the steal of the draft:
Hey, #Brewers finally pull the trigger on Jacob Gatewood. I'm calling it the steal of the draft at No. 41. Risk/reward, but I believe.— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 6, 2014
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick points out what makes him such a valuable pick:
Big cheer as Jacob Gatewood goes to #brewers with 41st pick. Monster power.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) June 6, 2014
Gatewood is one of the strongest players in the entire class and could develop into someone who can slug over 30 home runs a year in the majors. While he might need to adjust his approach at the plate, he will have plenty of time to develop his game to fit his talent.
There is a question whether the player will stick at shortstop, but his arm strength and bat will allow him to succeed at third base if he ends up going in that direction. Gatewood has tons of upside and is one of the best picks in the entire class.
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