2014 MLB Draft Grades: Full Team-by-Team Report Card Through Day 2
The 2014 MLB first-year player draft continued Friday with Rounds 3 through 10, as teams tried to either build on or improve their haul from the opening rounds.
After breaking down every pick made on Day 1, today we'll take a step back and evaluate each team's overall drafting strategy from the first 10 rounds.
Each team was graded on a combination of factors, ranging from organizational needs, potential impact, value at the draft slot and signability of the draftee.
Here's a look at where each team stands headed into the draft's final day.
After drafting four high-ceiling prep players on Day 1 of the draft, including highly touted pitchers Touki Toussaint (No. 16) and Cody Reed (No. 54), as well as up-the-middle preps in outfielder Marcus Wilson (No. 69) and shortstop Isan Diaz (No. 70), the Arizona Diamondbacks continued that trend to begin Day 2 by selecting outfielder Matt Railey in the third round.
Arizona snagged several interesting arms over the next three rounds, including Brent Jones (fourth), a right-hander with a mid-90s fastball and sharp curveball; right-hander Mason McCullough (fifth), a former UNC pitcher who ended up at Division II Lander and is now pumping mid-90s with minimal control; and Middle Tennessee State left-hander Zac Curtis, who led all NCAA hurlers with 136 strikeouts this year.
The D-backs used their next two picks on a pair of junior college players in third baseman Tyler Humphreys, who dropped 18 bombs this spring, and outfielder Grant Heyman, one the best under-the-radar sluggers in the class who is also committed to Oregon State next year.
The Atlanta Braves used their first- and second-round picks on a pair of promising high school players in outfielder Braxton Davidson (No. 32) and RHP Garrett Fulenchek (No. 66), both of whom will likely require an over-slot bonus to pass on their respective college commitments.
They began Day 2 by grabbing a pair of physically imposing college right-handers in Max Povse (third round) and Chad Sobotka (fourth), with the latter offering tremendous value if he fully recovers from a back injury that held him out of action for most of the spring.
They'd later draft RHP Bradley Roney, an athletic right-hander with a quick arm that produces low-90s velocity, in the eighth round.
In terms of positional talent, the Braves' best pick on Day 2 was second baseman Luke Dykstra (yes, the poor kid is Lenny's son), a "sum of all parts" player who gets the most of his average tools.
Day 1 was an off-day for the Baltimore Orioles, as they were the only team without a pick in the first two rounds after signing Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz during the offseason.
The Orioles opened Day 2 by drafting college pitchers with four consecutive picks, with the highlights including RHP Pat Connaughton, a two-sport star (basketball) out of Notre Dame, and junior college LHP Tanner Scott, who pumps mid-90s gas but struggles to find the zone.
The organization's focus shifted to college infielders toward the end of Day 2, as it grabbed senior infielders Steve Wilkerson and Austin Anderson in the eighth and ninth rounds, respectively.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox had one of the better Day 1 drafts, as they found excellent value with each of their first three picks, shortstop Michael Chavis, pitcher Michael Kopech and first baseman Sam Travis, despite not making their first selection until the No. 26 overall pick in the first round.
Day 2 of the draft saw the Red Sox grab several high-upside college pitchers, with the most notable being the younger brother of Houston Astros starter Jarred Cosart, RHP Jake Cosart (third round), who moved from the outfield to the mound about a year ago and features an explosive fastball in the mid- to upper-90s. They would later select RHP Kevin McAvoy (fourth), a main component of Bryant's success over the last two years, and RHP Reed Reilly (seventh), who saved 11 games and posted a 1.62 ERA and 10.56 K/9 this season as Cal Poly's closer.
The Red Sox also grabbed a pair of high-floor college hitters toward the end of Day 2 in outfielder Danny Mars (sixth), a junior college product with plus speed and strong on-base skills, and catcher Ben Moore, who showed good contact skills while working in the outfield for Alabama.
The Chicago Cubs had an interesting Day 1 of the draft, shocking the baseball world by selecting Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber at No. 4 overall rather than one of the many impact arms still on the board, but then found good value in Maryland senior RHP Jake Stinnett in the second round.
It was a foregone conclusion headed into Day 2 that, with the money saved on their initial picks, the Cubs would target some of the high-end arms that went unselected in the opening rounds due to either injury or signability concerns. And after grabbing athletic, bat-first catcher Mark Zagunis in the third round, that's exactly what happened.
The Cubs drafted three notable prep arms with their next three picks in LHP Carson Sands, LHP Justin Steele and RHP Dylan Cease. All three players are perceived to have signability issues, especially Sands, a Florida State commit, and Cease, who avoided surgery this spring for a partial UCL tear and is committed to Vanderbilt next season.
The organization's final four picks on Day 2 were college pitchers, with the notable selections being St. Louis RHP James Norwood, who I had ranked in the top 100 prospects headed into the draft, and RHP James Farris, a senior with good pitchability and command.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox made a haul on Day 1 of the draft despite having only two picks, as they popped LHP Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 pick and walked away with an absolute steal in the second round (No. 44 overall) with high-upside prep RHP Spencer Adams.
The Southsiders' draft picks on Day 2 can be broken down into two groups: college pitchers and up-the-middle players.
In terms of arms, they found good value in the third round with LHP Jace Fry, who's excelled this season in Oregon State's rotation and profiles as a back-end starter with good command of a four-pitch mix. They also grabbed 6'6" RHP Zach Thompson (fifth round) out of UT-Arlington and later LHP Brian Clark (ninth), who had an an uptick in velocity this spring at Kent State.
As for position players, the White Sox landed N.C. State backstop Brett Austin (the No. 54 overall pick in the 2011 draft) in the fourth round. The junior batted .344/.414/.516 with 22 extra-base hits this season, but he probably won't stick behind the plate long term.
The White Sox also drafted athletic outfielder Louie Lechich (sixth), who batted .342/.396/.542 with seven homers this spring for San Diego, as well as shortstops Jake Peter (seventh) and John Ziznewski (eighth) and prep second baseman Jake Jarvis (10th).
As has they were last year, the Cincinnati Reds were all-in on college players on Day 1 of the draft, selecting Virginia closer Nick Howard (who they will likely develop as a starter, a la Tony Cingrani and Michael Lorenzen) with their first-round pick, followed by a pair of high-floor college infielders in Alex Blandino and Taylor Sparks with subsequent selections.
The Reds landed several power arms on Day 2 of the draft, including USC RHP Wyatt Strahan (fourth), junior college RHP Tejay Antone (fifth) and, interestingly, Seton Hall RHP Jose Lopez (sixth), who missed the entire season with an injury.
Lastly, I think the Reds found great value with their fourth-round pick, prep third baseman Gavin LaValley, who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma after batting .554 with 18 bombs.
The Cleveland Indians reaped the benefits of having four Day 1 picks by grabbing a pair of impact college hitters in outfielders Bradley Zimmer (No. 21) and Mike Papi (No. 38), as well as two high-upside prep arms in LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 31) and RHP Grant Hockin (No. 61).
Sheffield was thought to have signability issues given his commitment to Vanderbilt, but the Tribe put that issue to rest late Thursday night by inking him with a $1.6 million bonus, per Jordan Bastian and Alec Shirkey of MLB.com. However, there have since been conflicting reports.
Day 2 of the draft saw the Indians grab several impressive hitters. Mississippi prep first baseman Bobby Bradley (third round) flat-out mashes and projects as at least an average hitter with above-average power. San Diego State outfielder Greg Allen in the sixth round offers good value given his potential as a top-of-the-order switch hitter. I also like the selection of Puerto Rican shortstop Alexis Pantojas in the ninth round, as he's already a standout defender in a draft class that's thin at the position.
The Colorado Rockies were on point on Day 1 of the draft, as they landed a trio of high-ceiling players in LHP Kyle Freeland (No. 8), second baseman Forrest Wall (No. 35) and RHP Ryan Castellani (No. 48).
However, with a good chunk of their spending pool likely allotted for the aforementioned players, the Rockies were forced to draft more conservatively on Day 2. That being said, they did grab a few solid arms from the college ranks in LHP Sam Howard (third round), LHP Harrison Musgrave (eighth) and RHP Andrew Rohrbach (ninth), with the latter two hurlers offering value in their respective rounds.
Their one notable upside play was third baseman Kevin Padlo in the fifth round, as the California prep has the potential for above-average power and a decent hit tool.
The baseball world was expecting the Detroit Tigers to grab a powerful bullpen arm with their first-round pick, but Dave Dombrowski and Co. essentially took the exact opposite route, adding much-needed upside to their system in prep center fielder Derek Hill (No. 23). In the second round, they selected college RHP Spencer Turnbull, who has power stuff but will need to develop better control and command to remain a starter.
The Tigers quietly found value on Day 2 by using each of their eight picks on college players, such as well-known catchers Grayson Greiner (third round) and Shane Zeile (fifth), the son of former MLB veteran Todd Zeile, center fielder Ross Kivett (sixth) and third baseman Joey Pankake (seventh).
They also added a potential impact bullpen arm in Vanderbilt RHP Adam Ravenelle (fourth), who could get to the majors quickly on the merits of his heavy mid-90s fastball.
After selected prep LHP Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick, the Astros spent the remainder of Day 1 targeting high-floor college hitters and ultimately found good value with outfielder Derek Fisher (No. 37) and slugging first baseman A.J. Reed (No. 42).
The Astros opened Day 2 by grabbing another power bat in Cal State Fullerton's J.D. Davis (third round), who they surprisingly listed as a third baseman. However, their run on college mashers ended there, as the Astros used six of their remaining seven picks on pitchers, with the highlights being Texas A&M RHP Daniel Mengden (fourth), hard-throwing prep RHP Jacob Nix (fifth) and Fresno State RHP Derick Velazquez (seventh), who is only now coming into his own and shows plenty of untapped potential.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals made a questionable first-round pick in LHP Brandon Finnegan (No. 17), who has excellent stuff but comes with legitimate injury concerns, but they made up for it with a trio of high-upside picks in high schoolers LHP Foster Griffin (No. 28), catcher Chase Vallot (No. 40) and pitcher Scott Blewett (No. 56).
The organization's strategy on Day 2 was a reflection of its desire to sign the trio of high school picks from Day 1. The Royals targeted mostly cost-efficient college players with some upside, such as LHP Eric Skoglund (third round), toolsy Virginia outfielder Brandon Downes (seventh) and outfielder Brandon Thomasson (ninth). However, keep in mind that their current draft grade will take a hit should they be unable to sign Vallot and at least one of either Griffin or Blewett.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels unsurprisingly targeted pitchers on Day 1 of the draft, and they walked away with two impressive arms in Hartford LHP Sean Newcomb (No. 15) and prep RHP Joe Gatto (No. 53).
The organization continued to add projectable, high-upside arms on Day 2, beginning the day with selections of Ole Miss RHP Chris Ellis (third round), a potential mid-rotation starter with an arsenal of three average-or-better pitches; RHP Jeremy Rhoades (fourth), who will be developed as a starter but likely end up in the bullpen thanks a nasty plus fastball/slider combination; and RHP Jake Jewell (fifth), another hard-thrower who's headed to Oklahoma next season if he doesn't sign.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers arguably had the biggest steal on Day 1 of the draft, as highly touted prep RHP Grant Holmes, who was considered a potential top-10 pick headed into the day, fell into their lap at No. 22, which is ridiculous value given his front-of-the-rotation ceiling. Plus, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that they have an agreement in place with second-round pick Alex Verdugo (No. 62), who initially will be deployed to the outfield, with pitching representing a fall-back option.
With Holmes and Verdugo expected to receive above-slot money, the Dodgers had to be creative with their Day 2 picks. After pushing UNLV RHP John Richy (who stepped up as the team's ace in the wake of Erick Fedde's season-ending surgery) up the board to the third round, they grabbed a pair of former Tommy John guys in Washington RHP Jeff Brigham (fourth round) and California Baptist RHP Trevor Oaks (seventh).
However, they did make a intriguing upside play in the fifth round with Georgia prep third baseman Jared Walker, a 6'3" left-handed hitter with above-average raw power.
The Miami Marlins were happy to grab RHP Tyler Kolek, the draft's hardest thrower, with the second overall pick on Day 1, but they followed the pick up with a pair of questionable selections in defensive-oriented catcher Blake Anderson (No. 36) and ultra-athletic shortstop Justin Twine (No. 43).
Miami continued to grab high-end athletes on Day 2 of the draft, including Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson (third round), California prep center fielder Casey Soltis (fifth) and a potential steal in outfielder Stone Garrett (eighth).
They also snuck in a pair of potential back-end starters at the end of the day, selecting Oregon State LHP Ben Wetzler in the ninth round followed by Texas LHP Dillon Peters in the 10th.
The Milwaukee Brewers entered Day 1 of the draft with the goal of adding high-ceiling talent to their lackluster system, and that's exactly what they did by grabbing three of the more high-risk, high-rewards prep talents in the class in LHP Kodi Medeiros (No. 12), shortstop Jacob Gatewood (No. 41) and outfielder Monte Harrison (No. 50).
With most of their pool money locked up in their Day 1 picks, the Brewers had no choice but to force some names up their board early on Day 2, which led to the selections of Dallas Baptist RHP Cy Sneed (third round) and Maryland prep center fielder Troy Stokes (fourth).
After that, it was all about saving money, which is why the Brewers selected four college seniors in their final six Day 2 picks.
The Minnesota Twins' Day 1 unfolded as expected, as they selected Nick Gordon, the top shortstop in this year's class, with the fifth overall pick, followed by Louisville closer RHP Nick Burdi in the second round.
The Twins continued to grab hard-throwing bullpen arms on Day 2, starting with San Diego State closer Michael Cederoth (third round) and then moving on to Georgia Tech LHP Sam Clay (fourth), Oregon RHP Jake Reed (fifth), Texas RHP John Curtiss (sixth) and Missouri RHP Keaton Steele (eighth). They will likely give some (maybe even all) of those guys a chance to start in the minor leagues, with a bullpen role serving as a promising fall-back option.
New York Mets
The New York Mets had only one pick on Day 1 of the draft, but they got the player they wanted in outfielder Michael Conforto (No. 10), who was arguably the most advanced college hitter in the class.
Though they made a great pick in the third round with Milton Ramos, the best defensive shortstop in the class, the Mets' lack of pool money prevented them from making an impact on Day 2. They went off the board to grab hitters such as JuCo third baseman Eudor Garcia-Pacheco (fourth round), LSU catcher Tyler Moore (sixth) and Florida prep first baseman Dash Winningham (eighth).
I know absolutely nothing about the Mets' seventh-round pick, LHP Brad Wieck out of Oklahoma City University, but I'm very, very intrigued by his listing at 6'9", 240 pounds.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees had only one pick on Day 1 of the draft due to offseason signings, but they were able to land Mississippi State strikeout artist LHP Jacob Lindgren (No. 55), a player who fits their immediate and long-term bullpen needs (assuming they don't develop him as a starter) and could potentially reach the majors in short order.
Though they had little pool money available to spend on Day 2, the Yankees still managed to add quality arms to their system in Connecticut prep RHP Austin Decarr (third round), who works in the 92-94 mph range with his fastball and flashes plus with his curveball, and Central Michigan RHP Jordan Foley (fifth), whose control improved considerably this spring while bumping 94-95 mph with his heater.
The Oakland A's selection of Cal State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman (No. 25) ended their two-year run of drafting high school players in the first round, but they found good value in the second round with Clemson RHP Daniel Gossett (No. 65).
The organization continued to target value in college pitchers who fell down the board on Day 2, grabbing Missouri RHP Brett Graves (third round), Niagara RHP Jordan Schwartz (fourth) and junior college RHP Heath Fillmyer (sixth).
I really like the A's selection of Oregon prep shortstop Trace Loehr in the sixth round, and they probably have a decent shot at signing him away from Oregon State next year after selecting college players in the first five rounds.
The Philadelphia Phillies had a very successful Day 1 of the draft, as they landed a pair of college pitchers in RHP Aaron Nola (No. 7) and LHP Matt Imhof (No. 47) who should be quick to the majors and who are excellent additions to the team's starting rotation.
Day 2 saw the Phillies continue to draft college players exclusively, but they were able to find value with a number of picks, especially in the fourth round, when they took highly projectable Arkansas RHP Chris Oliver.
I also like their decision to draft Pepperdine's Aaron Brown as a center fielder, as most teams were likely considering him as a left-handed pitcher. However, based on that reasoning, they probably could have grabbed him a round or two later. Furthermore, Sacramento State first baseman Rhys Hoskins offers decent value in the fifth round, as the 6'4", 225-pound has big raw power that plays in games to go along with a mature approach.
With Pittsburgh four picks on Day 1 of the draft, the Pirates likely saved considerable pool money (without necessarily settling for lesser talents) with their first two selections, as they grabbed switch-hitting prep shortstop Cole Tucker (No. 24) and underrated college outfielder Connor Joe (No. 39). That extra money should help them sign their subsequent picks, prep right-handers Mitch Keller (No. 64) and Trey Supak (No. 73), which would make for a really nice haul on Day 1.
The Pirates continued to find value from the college ranks Friday, as they began the day by grabbing one of this year's more underrated hitters in Fresno State outfielder Jordan Luplow (third round), and later added Sam Houston State RHP Tyler Eppler, a 6'5", 215-pounder with a solid feel for a four-pitch mix.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres landed two of the better athletes in the draft class on Day 1, using their first-round pick on N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner (No. 13) and then grabbing outfielder Michael Gettys (No. 51)—who has enormous upside if the bat comes around but comes with signability concerns—in the second round.
The Padres targeted mostly college players Thursday, hoping on saving money for their aforementioned Day 1 picks, though they still managed to land several players with untapped potential in Rice RHP Zech Lemond (third round), Cal Poly outfielder Nick Torres (fourth) and later Charlotte RHP Ryan Butler (seventh), who I think could put things together quickly with the right guidance.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants, whose prospect pool currently is comprised of mostly young arms, quietly had an impressive Day 1 of the draft, as they added a pair of probable big leaguers in RHP Tyler Beede (No. 14) and well-rounded catcher Aramis Garcia (No. 52).
On Thursday, they added a few more college players with potential big league upsides, as they grabbed Oregon State outfielder Dylan Davis in the third round and then Southern Illinois RHP Sam Coonrod, who has the potential to blossom in that organization, in the fifth. They also drafted Stanford outfielder Austin Slater in the eighth round, which is good value if he can stick in center field.
The Seattle Mariners wanted power on Day 1 of the draft, and that's precisely what they got in outfielders Alex Jackson (No. 6), one the premier hitters in the class, and Gareth Morgan (No. 74), who has some serious thump in his bat.
However, the signability concerns tied to Jackson and Morgan resulted in a quiet Day 2 for Seattle, as it used each of its eight picks on college players, including six pitchers. One of those non-pitcher selections, Kentucky outfielder Austin Cousino, could turn out to be a steal in the third round if he can return to his 2012 form.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals seemingly based their entire Day 1 draft around RHP Jack Flaherty (No. 34), who has signability concerns as a North Carolina commit, which explains why they targeted high-floor value in the first round with RHP Luke Weaver (No. 27) and then saved even more money with right-handers Ronnie Williams (No. 68) and UC Irvine ace Andrew Morales (No. 71).
The saving continued for St. Louis on Day 2 as it, like many other teams, strictly targeted college players. Yet the Cardinals' haul was unimpressive comparatively, with their only notable selections being Florida Atlantic LHP Austin Gomber (fourth round) and St. Joseph's catcher Brian O'Keefe (seventh).
Tampa Bay Rays
Overall Draft Grade: C+
The Tampa Bay Rays' Day 1 began with the selection of switch-hitting first baseman Casey Gillaspie (No. 20), as they pushed him up the board in order to save money money for prep RHP Cameron Varga (No. 60) in the second round. Along those same lines, the Rays ended the night by grabbing RHP Brent Honeywell (No. 72), who I assume they will sign to a well-below-slot deal.
The Rays, much like the Cardinals, had a rather disappointing Day 2 of the draft, though they were able to land prep RHP Blake Bivens in the fourth round followed by well-rounded UNC shortstop Michael Russell in the fifth.
The Texas Rangers targeted high-ceiling prep players on Day 1 of the draft, which has been their M.O. for the past few years, and they potentially landed two big-time steals in RHP Luis Ortiz (No. 30) and shortstop Ti'quan Forbes (No. 59).
Texas opened Day 2 by selecting Josh Morgan, another high-ceiling prep shortstop (go figure), in the third round. After that, however, the organization was forced to enter cost-saving mode due to the signability concerns it faces with both Forbes, a Mississippi commit, and Morgan, who will play for UCLA next year.
That being said, the Rangers have a strong track record of signing their early-round prep draft picks, and I imagine this year will be no different.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed a really solid Day 1 of the draft, landing three of the best players in the class within the first two rounds in RHP Jeff Hoffman (No. 9), catcher Max Pentecost (No. 11) and RHP Sean Reid-Foley (No. 49), who surprisingly fell into their lap in the second round.
Toronto continued to add talent at premium positions on Day 2, as it began the day by selecting a trio of high-upside preps in 6'5" LHP Nick Wells (third round), catcher Matt Morgan (fourth) and toolsy outfielder Lane Thomas (fifth). I also like the team's seventh-round pick, Cal Poly OF Zach Zehner, a 6'4", 215-pounder with untapped potential at the dish.
The Washington Nationals went about Day 1 of the draft as everyone expected, grabbing injured RHP Erick Fedde (No. 18) before adding Miami LHP Andrew Suarez (No. 57) in the second round.
Few teams, if any, had a better Day 2 than Washington, which landed a variety of promising players from both the prep and college ranks. The Nats began the day by selecting catcher Jakson Reetz, one of the more impressive high school players in the class, in the third round and then grabbed one of this year's top junior college arms, flame-throwing RHP Robert Dickey, in the fourth.
The Nationals landed one of college baseball's premier athletes in the seventh round in Miami CF D.K. Carey, who finally put things together this spring to bat .305 with a career-high seven home runs. They also added a pair of college sluggers before the day was done in Louisville outfielder Jeff Gardner (eighth round) and Nevada first baseman Austin Byler (ninth), who batted .326 with 14 doubles this spring.