MLB Draft 2014: Teams That Must Build on Strong First Day

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MLB Draft 2014: Teams That Must Build on Strong First Day
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

It's pretty hard to judge an MLB draft after the first day. After all, there are approximately a gazillion rounds left over the next two days (or 40 rounds, but it feels like a gazillion). Plus, with a lot of unproven high schoolers being selected, you never quite know what a team might be getting.

Still, there are always steals in the draft, players who may have fallen for one reason or another. And when teams identify team needs in the farm system and are able to address them, it's always a positive, especially if they do so without reaching for players.

So, keeping that criteria in mind, let's take a look back at a few teams that would do well to build on what has already been a very strong draft.

 

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are trending upward in their farm system, and that only continued on the first day of the draft. They started by selecting high school shortstop Nick Gordon, the son of former player Tom Gordon and current Los Angeles Dodger Dee Gordon. 

Gordon is intriguing for a number of reasons. Unlike most shortstops who get drafted, he'll stick at the position given his plus athleticism. Like his older brother, he has great speed and should be a terror on the basepaths. Unlike his brother, he projects to have plenty of pop in his swing. A five-tool player at shortstop, Gordon was a heck of a get at No. 5. 

He was exactly the player the Twins were hoping they'd land, as Twins scouting director Deron Johnson told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:

We've been locked in on Nick. We obviously liked some of the pitchers taken ahead of him but he's been our guy since the start. We like his ability to play shortstop. We like his swing. I think he's going to have power down the road. He's going to stay at shortstop in my mind and has great work ethic. He's a great kid and obviously has big league bloodlines with his brother and his dad. We expect big things from him.

Their second-round pick, Nick Burdi, doesn't bring the hype that Gordon does, but he could very quickly make his way through the system and perhaps eventually become a closer. Not only does he throw triple-digit heat, he can also keep hitters honest with a fast, biting slider that can also creep near the 90s. 

He has all the makings of a potentially dominant closer, making him a great get in the second round, especially when he potentially has first-round talent. 

With top prospects like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer already impressing in the minors, the Twins continue to build smartly through the draft. With two more days of drafting to follow, identifying more steals and adding depth will solidify what has been an excellent start to this draft. 

 

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox have to be thrilled that Carlos Rodon, arguably the best pitcher in this class, was available to them at No. 3. While the White Sox were guaranteed to land a top pitching prospect, having Rodon slip to them was a huge plus, as he's more polished than the high schoolers who went before him and could have a pretty short track to the majors.

With their second pick they added one of the most intriguing athletes in this draft, youngster Spencer Adams. With four pitches and a ton of upside, Adams was a great get in the second round.

The White Sox have clearly emphasized improving their arms in the farm system—four of their first five picks have been pitchers—and nabbing Rodon and Adams was an excellent start to what looks like a promising draft for Chicago. 

 

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners clearly have placed a priority on right-handed power bats in this draft—or perhaps just in general—and they got exactly what they coveted in Alex Jackson and Gareth Morgan. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times has more:

With corner infielder D.J. Peterson, last year’s top choice (No. 12 overall) tearing it up in the minors, and now Jackson, the Mariners might have the right players to soon end a glaring and ongoing deficiency.

Then, for added measure, the Mariners took another right-handed power prospect with their second and final pick of the draft’s first day, No. 74 overall: 6-foot-4, 220-pound outfielder Gareth Morgan from Toronto, whose power is rated as a 70 on the 80-maximum scouting scale.

Ask general manager Jack Zduriencik about the industrywide dearth of power hitters, and he says wryly: 'Yeah, you’ve noticed. It’s difficult. It really is. Especially a right-handed bat. We’ve talked about that a lot. We’re talking about it now. It’s funny, I remember years ago it was left-handed bats, trying to find a really good left-handed hitter. Now it just seems it’s the right-handed bat that’s at a premium.'

With the team's top priority covered, they can now turn to filling various other needs (at the time of publication, they had taken a left-handed bat and rangy outfielder, Austin Cousino, along with two pitchers, so they've clearly scratched the power itch for now).

Seattle is in a strange type of limbo at the moment. They are a team that has been built to win now, but they also have seemingly aligned themselves well into the future. It will be interesting to see how many of these prospects are developed into their farm system as opposed to possibly being used as trade chips in the next several years if the team believes the window for a championship will open in the near future.

 

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