Re-Drafting 2014 MLB Draft and Fixing Astros' No.1 Pick of Brady Aiken
When the Houston Astros failed to come to terms with Brady Aiken, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft, it marked just the third time since the event's inception in 1965 that the top selection did not sign.
Two other players selected in the top five have yet to reach the majors, and just three players selected in the first round have been named to an All-Star team.
It's clear the draft order would look a lot different with the benefit of hindsight. How would the 2014 draft play out with a re-do? That's what we set out to answer.
Any player who signed as part of the 2014 class was eligible for the re-draft, which includes a revised selection and breakdown for each of the 27 first-round picks. To round things out, we have added a list of Compensatory Round and Competitive Balance Round A choices from Nos. 28 to 41.
1. Houston Astros: 3B Matt Chapman
Matt Chapman has emerged as a superstar and is entirely deserving of being the No. 1 overall pick.
He posted a 126 OPS+ and set career highs in home runs (36) and RBI (91) last year while winning his second straight Gold Glove Award. In his three MLB seasons, he has launched 74 home runs and piled up a staggering 79 DRS at third base.
This draft comes a year before the Houston Astros selected Alex Bregman, so at this point there was no one in the organization standing between Chapman and the third base job.
Actual Pick: LHP Brady Aiken (did not sign)
Chapman's Actual Draft Position: No. 25 overall (Oakland Athletics)
2. Miami Marlins: RHP Jack Flaherty
Jack Flaherty put together one of the most dominant second-half performances in recent memory last season to emerge as one of the game's best young starters.
The 24-year-old pitched to a 0.93 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 106.1 innings over his final 16 starts, holding opposing hitters to a .139 batting average while posting a 130-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He has a 3.01 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 413 strikeouts in 347.1 innings over the past two seasons, and he is under team control through the 2023 season.
The Miami Marlins would have the staff ace they thought they were getting in flame-throwing prep right-hander Tyler Kolek. Unfortunately, he has struggled to stay healthy while posting a 5.66 ERA with nearly as many walks (124) as strikeouts (134) in 163.2 professional innings.
Actual Pick: RHP Tyler Kolek
Flaherty's Actual Draft Position: No. 34 overall (St. Louis Cardinals)
3. Chicago White Sox: RHP Aaron Nola
The biggest need for the Chicago White Sox amid their ongoing rebuild is finding a quality No. 2 starter to slot alongside budding ace Lucas Giolito.
Veterans Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez will provide stability, and young guys like Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech have the potential to evolve, but no one from that group is a sure thing in the No. 2 role.
Aaron Nola would be a perfect fit.
The 26-year-old already has 127 MLB starts under his belt with a 3.49 ERA (122 ERA+) and 1.17 WHIP in 771.1 career innings, and that includes back-to-back seasons with at least 200 innings pitched.
His 18.5 WAR over the past three seasons trails only those of deGrom (21.6), Max Scherzer (21.3) and Justin Verlander (20.7) among all pitchers.
Actual Pick: LHP Carlos Rodon
Nola's Actual Draft Position: No. 7 overall (Philadelphia Phillies)
4. Chicago Cubs: SS Trea Turner
The Chicago Cubs have lacked a traditional leadoff hitter since Dexter Fowler departed in free agency following the 2016 season.
Trea Turner would solve that problem.
The 26-year-old is one of the fastest players in baseball, stealing 157 bases over the past four seasons, and he has the requisite on-base skills to be a table-setter, with a .348 career on-base percentage.
He also showed sneaky power with 37 doubles and 19 home runs last season, and while he has developed into a solid defender at shortstop, he would also fit well on the other side of second base and form a dynamic double-play combination with Javier Baez.
Cubs fans may remember Turner for a game on June 27, 2017, when he stole four bases off Jake Arrieta and catcher Miguel Montero. The Nationals stole seven bases, and Montero was critical of Arrieta's ability to hold runners after the game, leading to his eventual release.
Actual Pick: C Kyle Schwarber
Turner's Actual Draft Position: No. 13 overall (San Diego Padres)
5. Minnesota Twins: RHP Brandon Woodruff
Brandon Woodruff does not have the longest track record of MLB success.
That said, the value of a controllable front-line pitcher is enough to vault him into the No. 4 spot, especially for a team like the Minnesota Twins, who have a strong position-player core.
Woodruff, 27, earned a spot on the NL All-Star team in his first full season in the starting rotation, going 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 143 strikeouts in 121.2 innings last year.
He was one of 24 pitchers who tallied at least 120 innings and had a strikeout rate of at least 10.0 K/9 last season, and he would fit great alongside Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi in the Minnesota rotation.
With team control through the 2024 season, Woodruff is an extremely valuable young pitcher.
Actual Pick: SS Nick Gordon
Woodruff's Actual Draft Position: No. 326 overall (Milwaukee Brewers)
6. Seattle Mariners: OF Michael Conforto
With strong on-base skills, plus power and the ability to play all three outfield spots, Michael Conforto has developed into an extremely productive MLB player.
Over the past three seasons, he has posted a 131 OPS+ and a .363 on-base percentage while averaging 29 home runs, 81 RBI and 3.2 WAR.
The 27-year-old set career highs in home runs (33) and RBI (92) last season while logging an excellent 13.0 percent walk rate, and he would give the Seattle Mariners a foundational piece for their rebuild.
Alex Jackson still has a chance to be a solid MLB player, and he has increased his odds of breaking through by moving back to his natural position of catcher, but he has been a clear bust to this point.
Actual Pick: OF Alex Jackson
Conforto's Actual Draft Position: No. 10 overall (New York Mets)
7. Philadelphia Phillies: OF Ramon Laureano
How unexpected has Ramon Laureano's breakout been?
The 25-year-old was acquired from the Houston Astros before the 2018 season for right-hander Brandon Bailey—a pitcher who was then left unprotected in the 2019 Rule 5 draft, selected by the Baltimore Orioles, and eventually returned when he couldn't carve out a spot on a team that went on to lose 108 games.
After an impressive 48-game debut in 2018, Laureano put together a bona fide breakout season last year, hitting .288/.340/.521 (128 OPS+) with 29 doubles, 24 home runs and 13 steals in 123 games.
On top of his impressive mix of power and speed, he also has an absolute rocket for an arm in center field, and he already has 19 outfield assists in 171 career games.
The Philadelphia Phillies are still searching for a long-term answer in center field, and while Adam Haseley showed potential as a rookie, Laureano would still fit nicely.
Actual Pick: RHP Aaron Nola
Laureano's Actual Draft Position: No. 466 overall (Houston Astros)
8. Colorado Rockies: RHP Michael Kopech
In terms of pure stuff, Michael Kopech is as nasty as any pitcher in baseball.
The 24-year-old has a true 80-grade fastball that regularly sits in the triple digits, and he backs it with a wipeout slider and a playable changeup and curveball.
He racked up 170 strikeouts in 126.1 innings at Triple-A in 2018 before making his MLB debut on Aug. 21, but he lasted just four starts before he was shelved with an arm injury.
Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the entire 2019 season, and he will need to prove he's healthy before he can reclaim his spot among the game's most exciting young pitchers.
The pitching-needy Colorado Rockies are the perfect team to take a chance on his returning to form and continuing his development into a front-line starter. Other players still on the board come with less risk, but no one comes with his upside on the mound.
Actual Pick: LHP Kyle Freeland
Kopech's Actual Draft Position: No. 33 overall (Boston Red Sox)
9. Toronto Blue Jays: OF Kyle Schwarber
The Toronto Blue Jays have employed a power-driven offensive attack for the past several seasons, and Kyle Schwarber would fit nicely into the middle of the lineup.
With a .235 career average over 1,884 plate appearances, Schwarber is never going to compete for a batting title, but he makes up for it with his on-base skills and plus power.
The 27-year-old has hit 94 home runs over the past three seasons, including a career-high 38 in 2019, and he has a 113 OPS+ during that span thanks in large part to a 12.9 percent walk rate.
A catcher during his time at Indiana, he has also developed into a passable defender in left field, though his value will always be driven by his offensive production.
Actual Pick: RHP Jeff Hoffman
Schwarber's Actual Draft Position: No. 4 overall (Chicago Cubs)
10. New York Mets: OF Alex Verdugo
Alex Verdugo has a lot to live up to in Boston as the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts blockbuster.
The 24-year-old has a smooth lefty swing and can flat-out hit, evidenced by a .309/.368/.444 line over six minor league seasons.
He hit .294/.342/.475 (114 OPS+) with 22 doubles and 12 home runs in 377 plate appearances in his first extended MLB action last season, en route to a 3.2-WAR campaign.
His floor might be prime Nick Markakis, and there's potential for more if his power stroke takes a step forward at Fenway Park.
With Conforto going off the board at No. 6 in this re-draft, he's a suitable replacement in the Mets outfield.
Actual Pick: OF Michael Conforto
Verdugo's Actual Draft Position: No. 62 overall (Los Angeles Dodgers)
11. Toronto Blue Jays: LHP Ryan Yarbrough
Ryan Yarbrough has been quietly excellent while pitching in a non-traditional role for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Splitting his time between starting games and serving as the bulk reliever behind an opener, Yarbrough has posted a 4.02 ERA and 106 ERA+ while averaging 145 innings the past two seasons.
With a .228 opponents' batting average and a 1.3 BB/9 walk rate, he was one of just seven pitchers last season to throw at least 140 innings and finish with a sub-1.00 WHIP.
The Toronto Blue Jays used an opener on a semi-regular basis last season, so he could fill a similar role on their staff.
Actual Pick: C Max Pentecost
Yarbrough's Actual Draft Position: No. 111 overall (Seattle Mariners)
12. Milwaukee Brewers: 3B/OF Brian Anderson
Brian Anderson is the closest thing the rebuilding Miami Marlins have to a long-term building block on the position-player side.
The 27-year-old posted a 3.2-WAR season as a rookie in 2018, hitting .273/.357/.400 (110 OPS+) with 34 doubles, 11 home runs and 65 RBI while splitting his time between third base and right field.
He improved on those numbers last year with a 114 OPS+, 20 home runs and 66 RBI in a 3.7-WAR campaign.
The Milwaukee Brewers are lacking an answer at third base following the decline and eventual departure of Travis Shaw, and Anderson would give them a highly productive solution.
Actual Pick: LHP Kodi Medeiros
Anderson's Actual Draft Position: No. 76 overall (Miami Marlins)
13. San Diego Padres: 1B Rhys Hoskins
Rhys Hoskins exploded onto the scene in 2017 when he posted a 162 OPS+ with 18 home runs and 48 RBI in 50 games to finish fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
He failed to maintain that torrid pace in his first full season the following year, but he still finished with a 125 OPS+ and 34 home runs in 660 plate appearances.
After his terrific first half last season in which he logged a .931 OPS with 20 home runs and 59 RBI in 89 games, the wheels fell off and he hit just .180 with nine home runs in the second half.
Despite finishing the year with a .226 batting average, he still managed a .364 on-base percentage thanks to an NL-leading 116 walks, so he's more than just an all-or-nothing slugger.
While it's tough to decide exactly what to make of his long-term outlook, his presence likely would have kept the San Diego Padres away from the ill-advised Eric Hosmer signing, and that in itself is a win.
Actual Pick: SS Trea Turner
Hoskins' Actual Draft Position: No. 142 overall (Philadelphia Phillies)
14. San Francisco Giants: LHP Sean Newcomb
Sean Newcomb has seen time as both a starter and a reliever with the Atlanta Braves over the past three seasons.
In 2018, he went 12-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 30 starts while tallying 160 strikeouts in 164 innings, but he also walked 81 batters for a subpar 1.33 WHIP.
Following a move to the bullpen, he finished second on the team with 16 holds last season while pitching to a 3.16 ERA in 68.1 innings over 51 relief appearances and four spot starts.
The 26-year-old has the stuff to be an asset in whatever role he settles into, and for a San Francisco Giants team searching for controllable young talent during a rebuild, he would be a welcome addition to the staff.
Actual Pick: RHP Tyler Beede
Newcomb's Actual Draft Position: No. 15 overall (Los Angeles Angels)
15. Los Angeles Angels: RHP Mitch Keller
The Los Angeles Angels are lacking in quality pitching talent, both in the majors and down on the farm, and whiffing on Gerrit Cole in free agency didn't help.
Mitch Keller would immediately become the top pitching prospect in the system.
The 24-year-old began 2020 as the No. 52 prospect in the sport, according to Baseball America, and he has little left to prove in the minors.
While a 7.13 ERA in his first MLB action last season may look ugly, it was backed by a 3.19 FIP and a terrific 65-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 48 innings, so there is plenty of reason for optimism.
He offers enough upside to a pitching-starved team to be selected ahead of several guys who have already established themselves in the majors.
Actual Pick: LHP Sean Newcomb
Keller's Actual Draft Position: No. 64 overall (Pittsburgh Pirates)
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Luke Weaver
The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Luke Weaver as one of the return pieces in the December 2018 trade that sent Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals.
It stands to reason they would be happy to scoop him up in this re-draft.
The 26-year-old was on his way to a breakout season last year when a sprained UCL in his pitching elbow sidelined him. He finished with a 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 69 strikeouts in 64.1 innings before the injury.
In his final season with the Cardinals, he had a 4.95 ERA and 8.0 K/9 in a career-high 136.1 innings, so he still needs to prove himself over a full season. That said, he had strong enough peripherals last season to believe his breakout was the real deal.
Actual Pick: RHP Touki Toussaint
Weaver's Actual Draft Position: No. 27 overall (St. Louis Cardinals)
17. Kansas City Royals: OF Monte Harrison
Monte Harrison has a chance to be a five-tool star.
Acquired by the Miami Marlins in the 2018 Christian Yelich trade, he had 20 doubles, 19 home runs and 28 steals in 136 games at Double-A in 2018. However, he also struck out a staggering 215 times at a 36.9 percent clip.
While injuries limited him to 58 games last season, he showed significant signs of improvement, hitting .270/.351/.441 with 18 extra-base hits and 23 steals while lowering his strikeout rate to a more manageable 29.5 percent.
Since he's just 24 years old, it's easy to dream on his 6'3", 220-pound frame and 30-30 upside—and the fact that he has the defensive chops to stick in center field only adds to his value.
For a rebuilding Kansas City Royals team without a clear long-term answer in center field, he's a high-risk, high-reward pick who could pay major dividends.
Actual Pick: LHP Brandon Finnegan
Harrison's Actual Draft Position: No. 50 overall (Milwaukee Brewers)
18. Washington Nationals: LHP Aaron Bummer
The Chicago White Sox saw enough in Aaron Bummer to sign him to a five-year, $16 million extension in February that could keep him on the South Side through 2026 with a pair of club options.
In his third MLB season, the left-hander posted a 2.13 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with 27 holds in 58 appearances, and his 2.9 WAR was tied for fourth among all relievers.
The 26-year-old was equally effective against right-handed hitters (.188 BAA, .563 OPS) and left-handed hitters (.178 BAA, .446 OPS), which is important as we enter the era of the three-batter minimum.
The Washington Nationals are seemingly always in the market for bullpen help, and he would give them a long-term option in a setup role.
Actual Pick: RHP Erick Fedde
Bummer's Actual Draft Position: No. 558 overall (Chicago White Sox)
19. Cincinnati Reds: LHP John Means
John Means came out of nowhere to finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2019.
The left-hander went 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 121 strikeouts in 155 innings, and while win-loss record is generally not a good indication of a pitcher's abilities, winning 12 games for a Baltimore Orioles team that went 54-108 was no small feat.
His 4.41 FIP points toward some regression to come, and he was not exactly overpowering with a 7.0 strikeout rate, but there's no reason to think he can't be a solid MLB starter.
He could essentially fill the same role that free-agent signing Wade Miley will fill on the Cincinnati Reds staff at a fraction of the price.
Actual Pick: RHP Nick Howard
Means' Actual Draft Position: No. 331 overall (Baltimore Orioles)
20. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Josh James
The Tampa Bay Rays love high-octane arms, and they have an exceptional track record of developing pitching talent.
Imagine what they could do with Josh James.
The 27-year-old struck out 100 batters in 61.1 innings last season while pitching out of the Houston Astros bullpen, and he was expected to move into the starting rotation in 2020. In his last full season in the minors, he had a 3.23 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 114.1 innings while working as a starter between Double-A and Triple-A.
Armed with a fastball that averaged 97.4 mph last season, a hard slider and an effective changeup, he has the stuff to be a major weapon in whatever role suits him best.
Actual Pick: 1B Casey Gillaspie
James' Actual Draft Position: No. 1,006 overall (Houston Astros)
21. Cleveland Indians: IF Michael Chavis
Michael Chavis took the league by storm when he posted an .820 OPS with 12 home runs and 34 RBI in his first 50 MLB games last season.
His production eventually dipped, and he finished the season on the injured list with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, but he still looks like a potential long-term piece.
The 24-year-old spent time at first base, second base and third base last year, and a super-utility role may be where he settles.
He will need to improve on a 33.2 percent strikeout rate, and he showed enough upside during his time in the minors to believe that's possible.
Actual Pick: OF Bradley Zimmer
Chavis' Actual Draft Position: No. 26 overall (Boston Red Sox)
22. Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Dylan Cease
Dylan Cease began the 2019 season as the No. 38 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America.
The 24-year-old went 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 160 strikeouts in 124 innings in High-A and Double-A in 2018, and that paved the way for him to make his MLB debut on July 3, 2019.
His rookie season wasn't pretty, as he finished with a 5.79 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 73 innings spanning 14 starts. However, he finished strong with a 3.00 ERA in September, and his 10.0 K/9 on the year speaks to the quality of his stuff.
Keep in mind, Giolito endured similar struggles during his first full season in the White Sox rotation, posting a 6.13 ERA in 173.1 innings before emerging as a bona fide ace last year.
Given his age and minor league track record, Cease still offers significant upside, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have a strong recent history of developing high-ceiling arms.
Actual Pick: RHP Grant Holmes
Cease's Actual Draft Position: No. 169 overall (Chicago Cubs)
23. Detroit Tigers: 2B Isan Diaz
Isan Diaz was overmatched in his first MLB action last season, hitting .173 with a 29.4 percent strikeout rate in 201 plate appearances.
However, that came on the heels of a gaudy .305/.395/.578 line with 21 doubles, 26 home runs and 70 RBI in 102 games at Triple-A.
The 24-year-old has a career .828 OPS over six minor league seasons, and he has long been viewed as a top-tier prospect during his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins.
The rebuilding Detroit Tigers are still searching for answers across the infield and signed veteran Jonathan Schoop to a one-year deal to plug the hole at second base for the 2020 season. Diaz would give them a potential long-term solution.
Actual Pick: OF Derek Hill
Diaz's Actual Draft Position: No. 70 overall (Arizona Diamondbacks)
24. Pittsburgh Pirates: LHP Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon was the second player from the 2014 draft class to reach the majors. Left-hander Brandon Finnegan was the only player to beat him, and the latter wound up pitching in the 2014 World Series.
MLB.com wrote of Rodon: "The best college left-hander since David Price, Rodon became the favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 draft in his freshman year at North Carolina State."
Some inconsistency with his stuff during his junior season caused him to slip to No. 3, and it looked like the White Sox had a future ace when he went 9-6 with a 3.75 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 139.1 innings as a rookie in 2015.
Unfortunately, he has struggled to stay healthy since, averaging just 97 innings and 17 starts over the past four seasons.
The 27-year-old has still managed a 101 ERA+ and 6.7 WAR in 529 career innings, and that's enough for him to be picked at the back end of the first round.
Actual Pick: SS Cole Tucker
Rodon's Actual Draft Position: No. 3 overall (Chicago White Sox)
25. Oakland Athletics: LHP Kyle Freeland
Can Kyle Freeland regain his 2018 form?
It's an intriguing enough possibility for an opportunistic Oakland Athletics team to jump at the chance to acquire a potential standout in the starting rotation.
After finishing seventh in NL Rookie of the Year voting with a 4.10 ERA in 156 innings, Freeland emerged as a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate in 2018 when he went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA (166 ERA+) and 8.2 WAR in 202.1 innings to finish fourth in the balloting.
The 27-year-old crashed back to earth last season with a 6.73 ERA in 104.1 innings, and he ranks as one of the most confounding players in baseball heading into 2020.
For the small-market Athletics, it's a chance worth taking.
Actual Pick: 3B Matt Chapman
Freeland's Actual Draft Position: No. 8 overall (Colorado Rockies)
26. Boston Red Sox: LHP Justus Sheffield
Justus Sheffield would be a welcome addition to a Boston Red Sox organization that is sorely lacking in young pitching talent.
The 24-year-old has yet to break through, but he still has a high floor and is a relatively safe bet to contribute in some capacity.
He had a 4.71 FIP with 37 strikeouts in 36 innings for the Seattle Mariners last season, and he will be given every opportunity to prove he can stick in the starting rotation.
If not, his stuff would play up in shorter stints, and he could be an asset in a multi-inning role or a more traditional late-inning slot.
Actual Pick: SS Michael Chavis
Sheffield's Actual Draft Position: No. 31 overall (Cleveland Indians)
27. St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Jordan Yamamoto
A handful of intriguing young arms remain on the board here at No. 27—Brent Honeywell, Erick Fedde, Logan Webb, Brock Burke and Jordan Montgomery to name a few.
Jordan Yamamoto provides the best mix of upside and MLB success.
The 24-year-old is the third player in this re-drafted first round to go from Milwaukee to Miami in the Yelich trade, along with Harrison and Diaz, and he looks like a potential long-term rotation piece for the Marlins.
He had a 4.46 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 82 strikeouts in 78.2 innings as a rookie last season, and he would give the St. Louis Cardinals another quality arm in the starting rotation.
Actual Pick: RHP Luke Weaver
Actual Draft Position: No. 356 overall (Milwaukee Brewers)
Compensatory Round and Competitive Balance Round A
28. Kansas City Royals: RHP Brent Honeywell
29. Cincinnati Reds: RHP Erick Fedde
30. Texas Rangers: RHP Spencer Turnbull
31. Cleveland Indians: 1B Kevin Cron
32. Atlanta Braves: RHP Jacob Webb
33. Boston Red Sox: LHP Jordan Montgomery
34. St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Logan Webb
COMPETITIVE BALANCE ROUND A
35. Colorado Rockies: RHP Daniel Mengden
36. Miami Marlins: OF Jordan Luplow
37. Houston Astros: RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon
38. Cleveland Indians: 1B Bobby Bradley
39. Pittsburgh Pirates: SS Cole Tucker
40. Kansas City Royals: OF Derek Fisher
41. Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Brock Burke