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2014 MLB Draft Grades: Best and Worst Picks from Day 1

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2014 MLB Draft Grades: Best and Worst Picks from Day 1
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

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.

2014 MLB Draft Day 1 Results
Round 1
Pick Team Player Position School
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
Pick Team Player Position School
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
Pick Team Player Position School
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
Round 2
Pick Team Player Position School
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
Pick Team Player Position School
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

via MLB.com

 

Worst Picks

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:

On the other hand, Cubs scouting director Jason McLeod was excited he fell to No. 4, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

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:

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:

Prep Baseball's Nathan Rode did not see anyone picking him this high:

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.

 

Best Picks

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:

Jim Bowden of ESPN is impressed by Conforto's all-around game as well:

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

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

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

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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:

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick points out what makes him such a valuable pick:

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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