The 2014 Major League Baseball draft was a wild three-day event that featured 40 rounds of action and an unbelievable 1,204 picks.
There were many selections in the first round, but few teams added a player who can make an impact sooner than the Philadelphia Phillies at No. 7 overall. The team picked LSU right-handed starting pitcher Aaron Nola.
Here are the full grades for every team in baseball and the top picks from each team.
|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||C|
|Cleveland Indians||Bradley Zimmer||A|
|Colorado Rockies||Kyle Freeland||B|
|Detroit Tigers||Derek Hill||C|
|Houston Astros||Brady Aiken||A|
|Kansas City Royals||Brandon Finnegan||C|
|Los Angeles Angels||Sean Newcomb||B|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Grant Holmes||B|
|Miami Marlins||Tyler Kolek||B|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Kodi Medeiros||A|
|Minnesota Twins||Nick Gordon||B|
|New York Mets||Michael Conforto||C|
|New York Yankees||Jacob Lindgren||B|
|Oakland Athletics||Matt Chapman||B|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Aaron Nola||A|
|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||A|
|Washington Nationals||Erick Fedde||B|
Smartest Pick of the Draft: Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
While many fans and experts are focused on No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and how the Houston Astros will utilize the high school prospect, the real steal of the first round was the Philadelphia Phillies' seventh overall pick Aaron Nola.
Nola is 6’1” and 195 pounds, and he is one of the prospects expected to make it to the majors fairly quickly. For a Philadelphia team desperate for pitching depth, the addition of the veteran collegiate starter was a smart fundamental move.
At just 21 years old, the former LSU star went 11-1 in 16 starts (116.1 total innings) with 134 strikeouts and an impressive 1.47 ERA in his junior season. For those fans looking for more Nola stats, Ross Dellenger of The Advocate shared them on Twitter:
Aaron Nola's final career stats at #LSU: ERA: 2.09 (t4th all time) Ks: 345 (3rd) BBs: 52 Wins: 30 (t5th) Opponent BA: .201 Wild pitches: 4— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) June 5, 2014
Nola spoke to Randy Rosetta of The Times-Picayune about the feeling that came over him when he was notified of the team’s selection:
My heart has never beat so fast in my life. I got a text message probably a minute before we saw the decision on TV, I was still kind of nervous watching it even though I knew it. I'm just excited to get everything started and head up to wherever they need me to be.
For the first six teams that passed on Nola, the starting pitcher’s LSU teammate Kramer Robertson spoke about how they will regret that decision:
Every single team that passes on Aaron Nola is making a mistake— Kramer Robertson (@KramerR3) June 5, 2014
ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockcroft talked about how this is a perfect fit for the franchise (and your fantasy baseball team):
Bet @karabellespn is pleased with his Phillies' Aaron Nola pick. They need pitching, he'll presumably move quick. Dynasty stash.— Tristan H. Cockcroft (@SultanofStat) June 5, 2014
There are many reasons why the franchise likes Nola, but one of the biggest advantages with selecting the college junior is the fact that his best pitch is his fastball. John Finger of CSNPhilly.com has the pitch ranging from 91 to 97 mph with a median of around 94 mph, but it is his control of that pitch that makes him so dangerous.
Add in a curveball and changeup that will be much-needed out pitches at the next level, and the Phillies have found the kind of pitching prospect the franchise desperately needs to supplement ace Cole Hamels.
Nola is a top-tier prospect, and Philadelphia stole him at No. 7 overall.
*Stats via MLB.com.