Three days, 40 rounds and 1,215 picks later, the 2014 MLB first-year player draft is in the books.
Perhaps the grueling longevity causes the MLB amateur draft to take a distant backseat to the NFL and NBA selection processes. There's also a lack of immediate payoff, as players must develop in the minor leagues before contributing on a big league roster.
The baseball draft is so long that teams just start grabbing NFL quarterbacks and children of past legends to pass time. I wouldn't blame someone for taking Mike Trout in the 32nd round and hoping nobody noticed.
Yet all the uncertainty and parity creates chances for teams to strike gold at unexpected times. And even though the success rate of top picks is smaller than that of a top basketball prospect, plenty of marquee talents deliver on the hype.
These draft grades will mean nothing by next year, but assigning letters creates some temporary, easily digestible analysis for a deep, ambiguous field of results that is otherwise devoid of meaning. So, with apologies to those students who cared more about learning than landing an "A," here are marks for all 30 MLB teams, along with a deeper look at a few clubs who had a particularly interesting weekend.
|2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft Grades|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Touki Toussaint||B|
|Atlanta Braves||Braxton Davidson||B|
|Baltimore Orioles||Pat Connaughton||C+|
|Boston Red Sox||Michael Chavis||A-|
|Chicago Cubs||Kyle Schwarber||B+|
|Chicago White Sox||Carlos Rodon||B+|
|Cincinnati Reds||Nick Howard||B|
|Cleveland Indians||Bradley Zimmer||B+|
|Colorado Rockies||Kyle Freeland||B-|
|Detroit Tigers||Derek Hill||B|
|Houston Astros||Brady Aiken||A-|
|Kansas City Royals||Brandon Finnegan||B-|
|Los Angeles Angels||Sean Newcomb||B+|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Grant Holmes||B+|
|Miami Marlins||Tyler Kolek||B|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Kodi Medeiros||B+|
|Minnesota Twins||Nick Gordon||B-|
|New York Mets||Michael Conforto||B-|
|New York Yankees||Jacob Lindgren||B-|
|Oakland Athletics||Matt Chapman||B|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Aaron Nola||B|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Cole Tucker||B|
|San Diego Padres||Trea Turner||B+|
|San Francisco Giants||Tyler Beede||B|
|Seattle Mariners||Alex Jackson||B+|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Jack Flaherty||C+|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Casey Gillaspie||C+|
|Texas Rangers||Luis Ortiz||B|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Jeff Hoffman||B+|
|Washington Nationals||Erick Fedde||B+|
|Andrew Gould's Personal Grades|
If the draft stopped after Round 1, the Cubs may have had to take some summer classes to boost their GPA. But while they made a questionable selection to begin the draft, they made up for it by landing some high-upside pitching arms in the ensuing rounds.
Chicago's batch of premier hitting prospects is well-famed. If Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler all pan out, Theo Epstein's club has the offense to make good on Back to the Future's prediction, albeit a few years after deadline.
So grabbing a future ace at pick No. 4 would have made sense, except there was no easy choice after three pitchers went off the board with the opening three selections. The Cubs instead addressed an infield position of interest, reaching for catcher Kyle Schwarber, who Baseball America ranked as the draft's 17th-best prospect.
While he showed an incredible batting eye at Indiana, where he notched a .464 on-base percentage this season, the junior's upside is limited compared to some more promising prospects that remained on the board. Also, ESPN's Keith Law doesn't think he'll hold up at catcher anyway.
But before deeming the Cubs' draft a failure, consider the assortment of pitchers they later assembled. They used 10 of their next 11 picks on hurlers, including Maryland's Jake Stinnett in Round 2. After acquiring the ACC's strikeout leader, they shifted their focus to high school prospects.
Out of the prep arms collected from Rounds 4-6, the most intriguing name is Dylan Cease, who was taken in the sixth round despite being ranked No. 77 by Baseball America. An elbow injury makes him a risky selection, but a healthy Cease would have garnered first-round consideration.
All in all, Cubs fans should be intrigued by their draft haul, even if they don't have the big-name star to lead the list.
For a team that's taken such an extreme bottom-up approach over the past few years, the pressure is on the Houston Astros to nail all their top selections. This marks the third straight season Houston held the No. 1 pick. Starting pitcher Brady Aiken looks to be the biggest haul of those three selections.
Nothing against shortstop Carlos Correa or pitcher Mark Appel, but the 17-year-old Aiken has a Cy Young ceiling. With a lively fastball and biting curve, the young phenom is looking to follow in Clayton Kershaw's footsteps.
Astros general Jeff Luhnow raved about his new prized possession to The Associated Press, via ESPN.
"It's the most advanced high school pitcher I've ever seen in my entire career," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "He has command like I've never seen before of his stuff."
Aiken will join an eclectic fraternity of past No. 1 picks that includes David Price, Joe Mauer, Stephen Strasburg, Tim Beckham and Matt Bush. While plenty of past top choices have advanced to stardom, others have fizzled.
Houston also loaded up on offense, grabbing outfielder Derek Fisher (No. 37) and first baseman A.J. Reed (No. 42), who led the NCAA Division I with 23 home runs and a 1.211 OPS in 2014.
The Twins are hungry for some pitching, using seven straight picks on hurlers after claiming shortstop Nick Gordon in the first round. Dee Gordon's brother is nothing like the Los Angeles Dodgers speedster, offering more power while reaching base at Olympia High School. He'll take a while to develop, but his ceiling makes him a worthwhile investment.
After that, however, Minnesota placed its mind solely on the mound.
The Twins' 4.40 team ERA ranks 27th in MLB, and no team strikes out less batters. They look committed to changing their staff's culture, which has relied heavily on contact pitchers such as Kevin Correia.
The Twins' top two pitching selections, righties Nick Burdi and Michael Cederoth, are both college closers who can quickly help out the major league cause, even if Glen Perkins is quietly one of the game's premier ninth-inning stoppers.
Using such premier picks on relievers, though, is a dicey maneuver. Power arms in the bullpen are easier to find, making them the running backs of baseball drafts. The Twins rotation can still use some reinforcements alongside the resurgent Phil Hughes.
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