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

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2014

Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig announces the selections during the 2014 MLB baseball draft Thursday, June 5, 2014, in Secaucus, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1.Houston AstrosBrady AikenLHPCathedral Catholic HS
2.Miami MarlinsTyler KolekRHPShepherd HS
3.Chicago White SoxCarlos RodonLHPN.C. State
4.Chicago CubsKyle SchwarberCIndiana
5.Minnesota TwinsNick GordonSSOlympia HS
6.Seattle MarinersAlex JacksonC/OFRancho Bernardo HS
7.Philadelphia PhilliesAaron NolaRHPLSU
8.Colorado RockiesKyle FreelandLHPEvansville
9.Toronto Blue JaysJeff HoffmanRHPEast Carolina
10.New York MetsMichael ConfortoOFOregon State
11.Toronto Blue JaysMax PentecostCKennesaw State
12.Milwaukee BrewersKodi MedeirosLHPWaiakea HS
13.San Diego PadresTrea TurnerSSN.C. State
14.San Francisco GiantsTyler BeedeRHPVanderbilt
15.Los Angeles AngelsSean NewcombLHPHartford
16.Arizona DiamondbacksTouki ToussaintRHPCoral Springs Christian Academy
17.Kansas City RoyalsBrandon FinneganLHPTCU
18.Washington NationalsErick FeddeRHPUNLV
19.Cincinnati RedsNick HowardRHPVirginia
20.Tampa Bay RaysCasey Gillaspie1BWichita State
21.Cleveland IndiansBradley ZimmerOFSan Francisco
22.Los Angeles DodgersGrant HolmesRHPConway HS
23.Detroit TigersDerek HillOFElk Grove HS
24.Pittsburgh PiratesCole TuckerSSMountain Pointe HS
25.Oakland AthleticsMatt Chapman3BCal State Fullerton
26.Boston Red SoxMichael ChavisSSSprayberry HS
27.St. Louis CardinalsLuke WeaverRHPFlorida State
Compensation Round A
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
28Kansas City RoyalsFoster GriffinLHPThe First Academy
29Cincinnati RedsAlex BlandinoSSStanford
30Texas RangersLuis OrtizRHPSanger HS
31Cleveland IndiansJustus SheffieldLHPTullahoma HS
32Atlanta BravesBraxton DavidsonOFT.C. Roberson HS
33Boston Red SoxMichael KopechRHPPleasant HS
34St. Louis CardinalsJack FlahertyRHPHarvard-Westlake HS
Competitive Balance Round A
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
35.Colorado RockiesForrest Wall2BOrangewood Christian HS
36.Miami MarlinsBlake AndersonCWest Lauderdale HS
37.Houston AstrosDerek FisherOFVirginia
38.Cleveland IndiansMike PapiOFVirginia
39.Pittsburgh PiratesConnor JoeOFSan Diego
40.Kansas City RoyalsChase VallotCSt. Thomas More HS
41Milwaukee BrewersJacob GatewoodSSClovis HS
Round 2
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
42.Houston AstrosA.J. Reed1BKentucky
43.Miami MarlinsJustin TwineSSFalls City HS
44.Chicago White SoxSpencer AdamsRHPWhite County HS
45.Chicago CubsJake StinnettRHPMaryland
46.Minnesota TwinsNick BurdiRHPLouisville
47.Philadelphia PhilliesMatt ImhofLHPCal Poly-San Luis Obispo
48.Colorado RockiesRyan CastellaniRHPBrophy Jesuit Prep School
49.Toronto Blue JaysSean Reid-FoleyRHPSandalwood HS
50.Milwaukee BrewersMonte HarrisonOFLee's Summit West HS
51.San Diego PadresMichael GettysOFGainesville HS
52.San Francisco GiantsAramis GarciaCFlorida International
53.Los Angeles AngelsJoe GattoRHPSt. Augustine Prep
54.Arizona DiamondbacksCody ReedLHPArdmore HS
55.New York YankeesJacob LindgrenLHPMississippi State
56.Kansas City RoyalsScott BlewettRHPBaker HS
57.Washington NationalsAndrew SuarezLHPMiami
58.Cincinnati RedsTaylor Sparks3BUC Irvine
59.Texas RangersTiquan ForbesSSColumbia HS
60.Tampa Bay RaysCameron VargaRHPCincinnati Hills Christian Academy
61.Cleveland IndiansGrant HockinRHPDamien HS
62.Los Angeles DodgersAlex VerdugoOFSahuaruo HS
63.Detroit TigersSpencer TurnbullRHPAlabama
64.Pittsburgh PiratesMitch KellerRHPXavier HS
65.Oakland AthleticsDaniel GossettRHPClemson
66.Atlanta BravesGarrett FulenchekRHPHowe HS
67.Boston Red SoxSam Travis1BIndiana
68.St. Louis CardinalsRonnie WilliamsRHPAmerican Senior HS
Competitive Balance Round B
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
69.Arizona DiamondbacksMarcus WilsonOFJunipero Serra HS
70.Arizona DiamondbacksIsan DiazSSSpringfield Central HS
71.St. Louis CardinalsAndrew MoralesRHPUC Irvine
72.Tampa Bay RaysBrent HoneywellRHPWalters State CC
73.Pittsburgh PiratesTrey SupakRHPLa Grange HS
74.Seattle MarinersGareth MorganOFBlyth 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

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15:  High School Home Run Derby Champion, Jacob Gatewood hits during the Chevrolet Home Run Derby on July 15, 2013 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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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