Drafts are always an inexact science, but the MLB draft is an entirely different beast.
Accurately grading the 2014 MLB draft after one day is nearly impossible. All of the players selected are a minimum of two years away from the major leagues, and in that time, top-five picks can turn into scrubs, and scrubs can turn into All-Stars.
This draft does look to have a ton of talent from top to bottom in the first round. Teams that may have wanted to save money on their slot could've still ended up walking away with a player comparable to where they were selected.
Here's a tentative look at how each team did in the first round, followed by four of the smartest gambles.
|2014 MLB Draft Grades|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||(16) Touki Toussaint, RHP||A||Prep pitchers are always risky, but Toussaint has a great curveball. Could blossom into a star.|
|Atlanta Braves||(32) Braxton Davidson, OF||B+||Great raw power. Getting him near end of first round is steal for Braves.|
|Boston Red Sox||(26) Michael Chavis, SS; (33) Michael Kopech, RHP||A||Chavis was a steal. Really good hitter who can defend his position. Kopech has odd mechanics, but the stuff is there to become a solid starter.|
|Chicago Cubs||(4) Kyle Schwarber, C/OF||B||Reached a bit for Schwarber, but he gives Cubs another power bat, which is always a good thing.|
|Chicago White Sox||(3) Carlos Rodon, LHP||A+||Best overall pitcher in the draft. Surprised he fell here. Tremendous value for White Sox.|
|Cincinnati Reds||(19) Nick Howard, RHP; (29) Alex Blandino, SS||B||Howard is a reach, as he will likely become a reliever in majors. Blandino doesn't do any one thing really well but productive in a lot of areas.|
|Cleveland Indians||(21) Bradley Zimmer, OF; (31) Justus Sheffield, LHP||A||Zimmer is a great pick. Possesses a ton of tools, but may not hit for power. Sheffield has a low ceiling but should grow into above-average player.|
|Colorado Rockies||(8) Kyle Freeland||B+||Freeland doesn't have otherworldly stuff but knows how to get guys out. Colorado's building a strong rotation.|
|Detroit Tigers||(23) Derek Hill, OF||A-||One of best defenders in the draft. Even if his bat doesn't come along, this will be a solid pick for the Tigers.|
|Houston Astros||(1) Brady Aiken||A||Not much needs to be said here. Aiken's got a ton of potential but does carry some risk as a prep pitcher.|
|Kansas City Royals||(17) Brandon Finnegan, LHP; (28) Foster Griffin, LHP||B+||Both picks were solid for the Royals, but they've had trouble developing pitching, especially of the left-handed variety.|
|Los Angeles Angels||(15) Sean Newcomb, LHP||B+||Newcomb has really good stuff and could rack up the strikeouts. Control can be a bit erratic at times, though.|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||(22) Grant Holmes, RHP||A+||Great pick for the Dodgers. Holmes has the stuff to be a top-end starter in the majors.|
|Miami Marlins||(2) Tyler Kolek, RHP||A-||Bit of a surprise that this wasn't Rodon, but Kolek is well worth a No. 2 overall selection. Big, strong right-hander.|
|Milwaukee Brewers||(12) Kodi Medeiros, LHP||A-||Medeiros might not become an ace, but his fastball and slider could grow into a great combination.|
|Minnesota Twins||(5) Nick Gordon, SS||A+||Rich get richer. Twins have a great minor-league system, which got even better with the addition of Gordon.|
|New York Mets||(10) Michael Conforto, OF||A-||Doesn't defend well but more than makes up for it with his bat.|
|New York Yankees||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Oakland Athletics||(25) Matt Chapman, 3B||B-||Not a sexy pick, but can't doubt A's too much. Chapman does have impressive power.|
|Philadelphia Phillies||(7) Aaron Nola, RHP||B+||Nola won't become an ace of the staff, but he could arguably step into an MLB rotation now and be No. 4 or 5 starter.|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||(24) Cole Tucker, SS||C||Biggest reach of first round. Does give Pirates a SS and some flexibility financially in later rounds.|
|San Diego Padres||(13) Trea Turner, SS||B||Solid defender who will hit for average. Will be productive SS for a long time.|
|San Francisco Giants||(14) Tyler Beede, RHP||A-||Needs to improve command but has stuff to grow into top-end starter.|
|Seattle Mariners||(6) Alex Jackson, C/OF||A||Should stick in OF. One of the best hitters in the draft.|
|St. Louis Cardinals||(27) Luke Weaver, RHP; (34) Jack Flaherty, RHP||B+||Signability concerns with Flaherty, but if Cardinals land him, he's a great pick.|
|Tampa Bay Rays||(20) Casey Gillaspie, 1B||A||Always nice to add a talented switch-hitter. Gives Rays kind of offense they desperately need in their system.|
|Texas Rangers||(30) Luis Ortiz, RHP||A||Great pick this late into first round. Ortiz could grow into No. 1 or No. 2 starter.|
|Toronto Blue Jays||(9) Jeff Hoffman, RHP; (11) Max Pentecost, C||A+||Each pick is solid on its own but together gives Blue Jays great first round. Hoffman could be steal of the round.|
|Washington Nationals||(18) Erick Fedde, RHP||B+||Nats have had success with Lucas Giolito, so Tommy John surgery shouldn't be big worry.|
|Picks via MLB.com|
No. 4 Kyle Schwarber, C/OF
I'll admit to contradicting myself a bit here, having given the Chicago Cubs a "B" for this selection. They passed up on some impressive talent to reach for Kyle Schwarber.
Perhaps Nick Gordon didn't make sense with Javier Baez one of the top minor-league shortstops in baseball. Alex Jackson might have been a questionable pick, too, as Jorge Soler and Albert Almora are waiting in the wings. The Cubs had other options, though, whether it was Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland or even Jeff Hoffman.
Taking Schwarber is a risk in that Chicago could look bad for letting other, more talented players slip through its grasp:
With all of that said, the Indiana star is one of the best power hitters in the draft. Power hitters will never go out of style, so even if Schwarber is limited with his skill set, he'll carve out an everyday role in the lineup.
By reaching here, the Cubs also saved themselves some slot money that can be spent on their later draft picks.
Even this pick's harshest critics—myself included—may have to acknowledge that Chicago have made a masterstroke when looking back in a few years.
No. 9 Jeff Hoffman, RHP
You can understand why Brady Aiken, Carlos Rodon and Tyler Kolek went ahead of Hoffman. He will be coming off Tommy John surgery after all. Beyond those three, though, the East Carolina star could've been the next pitcher off the board.
Instead, Nola and Freeman were drafted ahead of Hoffman, leaving the Toronto Blue Jays with one of the best collegiate pitchers in the 2014 draft at the No. 9 pick.
As CBS Sports' Jon Heyman said, Tommy John surgery works:
Hoffman should be able to make a strong recovery and fulfill the promise he showed with the Pirates before he went down. While he acknowledged in the conference call after his selection that he won't be carrying a perceived draft slight with him every time he pitches, it will weigh on his mind at times, per MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm:
To some extent I think that could be pretty accurate. But I’m not the one that’s going to pitch with that kind of energy every day. I’m going to go out there with energy no matter what, not just because a few teams passed on me. I’m going to go out there and pitch my game and I’m excited to get to do that for the Blue Jays.
As far as signability goes, Hoffman shouldn't be much of a worry. He's arguably much better off being in a major-league rehabilitation program than he would be in college.
No. 18 Erick Fedde, RHP
The Washington Nationals have been down this road before, drafting Lucas Giolito 16th overall in the 2012 draft. It was apparent at the time he was drafted that Giolito would need Tommy John surgery, so plenty of teams passed on him.
Now, Washington has one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues. Maybe Erick Fedde will be the next in line.
The UNLV star said that he'll probably be out for about a year, per The Washington Post's James Wagner:
That's a small price to pay for somebody who can grow into a solid No. 2 starting pitcher. Fedde's got a strong fastball and a slider that will miss bats. He's not quite the high-ceiling prospect that Giolito was, but Fedde should be a reliable rotation guy for years to come.
Plus, the Nationals likely saved some slot money with this pick that can be used later in the draft.
No. 34 Jack Flaherty, RHP
If any of these four guys is a signability concern, it's Jack Flaherty. Since the St. Louis Cardinals spent such an early pick on him, you'd think that they know what they're doing. As Baseball America's Aaron Fitt pointed out, though, going up against North Carolina could be expensive:
Flaherty certainly seems excited to be joining the St. Louis organization, per the team's Twitter account:
How can you blame him with the Cardinals' track record of developing pitchers? They have a seemingly unending assembly line of hurlers.
Flaherty doesn't have overpowering stuff, like Shelby Miller or Michael Wacha. Instead, he possesses solid control and command. He doesn't miss the strike zone often and knows how to get batters out.
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