2014 MLB Draft: First-round tracker
In this space we'll be updating the first round picks of Thursday's draft as they happen. Come inside and stay awhile!
Major League Baseball's Rule 4 draft is upon us! We'll be here throughout Thursday's first round to update those picks as they happen.
Below you'll find the draft order for the first round. In general, the picks run in reverse order of the teams' 2013 records. However, there are some wrinkles unique to the MLB draft. For instance, teams lose picks for signing free agents who previously turned down qualifying offers from their former teams. By the same token, teams that make qualifying offers to free agents who subsequently turn down that offer and sign elsewhere receive a "compensation" pick at the back end of the first round.
Below, the picks noted by an asterisk are those that deviate from the usual order. Here's a quick rundown of those ...
- Blue Jays at no. 11: Compensation pick for failure to sign 2013 first-rounder.
- Royals at no. 28: Compensation for losing Ervin Santana to free agency.
- Reds at no. 29: Compensation for losing Shin-Soo Choo to free agency.
- Rangers at no. 30: Compensation for losing Nelson Cruz to free agency.
- Indians at no. 31: Compensation for losing Ubaldo Jimenez to free agency.
- Braves at no. 32: Compensation for losing Brian McCann to free agency.
- Red Sox at no. 33: Compensation for losing Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency.
- Cardinals at no. 34: Compensation for losing Carlos Beltran to free agency.
LHP Brady Aiken, Cathedral Catholic HS (San Diego)
Aiken’s exceptionally polished for a prep arm. He boasts good velocity on his fastball, particularly for a lefty, and he also commands it. As well, Aiken made excellent progress with his curveball this season, and it’s now a legitimate plus offering. He also has a workable changeup. Considering that dominating prep arms rarely need a third pitch, that’s a bonus. Mechanically, Aiken has a clean and efficient delivery and good arm speed. It bears repeating that rarely do you find such a refined package at the high-school level. Aiken is the first high school pitcher selected first overall since the Yankees took Brien Taylor in 1991.
RHP Tyler Kolek, Shepherd HS (Texas)
At 6-foot-5 and 245 lbs., Kolek is the most physically imposing player in the draft. He uses an aggressive, powerful delivery to unleash fastballs that consistently sit in the high-90s and have topped triple-digits this spring. He also throws a hard mid-80s slider and occasional curveball. Kolek does not have much of a changeup because he’s simply never needed one. There is concern about his conditioning and the generally poor healthy history of super-hard-throwers, but the total package screams future ace.
LHP Carlos Rodon, NC State
Rodon came into the spring as not just the consensus top prospect in the draft, but as arguably the best college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg was drafted in 2009. An inconsistent spring has hurt his stock but only just a bit, obviously. At his best, Rodon sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and has a devastating mid-to-high-80s slider. The slider is the best individual pitch in the entire draft. Rodon has big, workhorse frame (listed at 6-foot-3 and 235 lbs.) but isn’t the greatest athlete, so his delivery can fall out of whack and his command is great. The fastball/slider combination gives him ace potential, but Rodon is not the slam dunk frontline guy he was believed to be as recently as four months ago.
C/1B Kyle Schwarber, Indiana
He’s big and powerful enough that he was being recruited by some Big Ten schools to play linebacker before ultimately deciding on baseball. He may have to shift from catcher, though he has improved his defense since joining Indiana. Hitting-wise, he’s the real deal, drawing more walks than strikeouts and hitting for power to every field. With him as the lineup anchor, Indiana has had its best team in school history two straight seasons.
SS Nick Gordon, Olympia HS (Orlando)
The son of long-time big leaguer Tom Gordon and brother of current Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, Nick has a quick left-handed swing and drives the ball to all fields. His power is mostly into the gaps for doubles than over the fence at the moment. Quick feet, reliable hands, and a strong arm makes him a natural at shortstop, plus he is an excellent athlete, as you might expect given his bloodlines. Gordon, who stands 6-foot-0 and 180 lbs., has legitimate All-Star potential and a very high ceiling. He has hit 94 mph off the mound and pitching could always be a fallback option if things don’t go as planned on the infield.
C/OF Alex Jackson, Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
Jackson is arguably the best offensive prospect in the entire draft. He has big right-handed power and top shelf bat speed that produces hard contact to all fields. His excellent arm is his top defensive tool, though his receiving behind the plate needs work. There’s a chance he will be moved to the outfield sooner rather than later to speed up his climb to MLB. Either way, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder projects to an impact middle of the order hitter.
RHP Aaron Nola, LSU
Nola is that safe, high-probability college pitcher teams love. He doesn’t just throw three pitches -- 92-94 mph fastball, sinking changeup, slider -- for strikes, he paints the corners on both sides of the plate. A clean delivery and big time competitiveness help make everything play up. Nola has been arguably the best pitcher in Division I this spring, going 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in 116 1/3 innings for perennial powerhouse LSU. He should climb the minor league ladder very, very quickly.
LHP Kyle Freeland, Evansville
Several high-profile college pitchers have gone down with injuries this spring, and Freeland has benefitted by climbing up draft boards. The 6-foot-4 and 190-pounder’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and his hard mid-80s slider just eats up lefties. He also throws a curveball and changeup. Freeland doesn’t have the prettiest delivery but it doesn’t hurt his ability to throw consistent strikes -- he came into the week ranking third in the nation with a 10.7 K/BB ratio.
RHP Jeff Hoffman, ECU
Hoffman has been one of the most talked-about prospects in this draft and it’s two-pronged. First of all, scouts had him pegged as a top-four player earlier this spring, but secondly he’s now undergone Tommy John surgery. Pre-surgery, he was throwing 97 in a game while Cubs execs were watching. In addition to the heater, he also has a plus changeup and curveball. Per Baseball America: “At his best, Hoffman’s athletic body, electric fastball and ability to maintain his velocity evoke Justin Verlander.”
OF Michael Conforto, Oregon State
Conforto is widely considered the best all-around hitter in the draft class. He stands 6-foot-2 and 217 lbs., and he generates power with both bat speed and pure strength. A selective approach and good bat-to-ball skills give him the ability to hit for both average and power at the next level. Conforto isn’t much on the defensive side, with a decent arm but limited range that relegates him to left field. He’s a bat-first prospect and it is a very, very good bat.
C Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State
Pentecost is an offense-first catcher with a line drive swing, sound plate discipline and enough power to hit double-digit home runs per season. He is also a rare catcher with speed who will steal bases. An inconsistent throwing arm makes him something of a liability behind the plate, but Pentecost is a fine receiver and does well blocking balls in the dirt. He has improved every year at Kennesaw State profiles as a workhorse catcher (listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 lbs.) who will be among the most productive players in the league at the position offensively.
LHP Kodi Medeiros, Waiakea HS (Hilo)
Medeiros, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 lbs., pitches from a very low arm slot that is bordering on sidearm. That gives his low-90s fastball a ton of movement back in on lefties. His slider sweeps across the strike zone and his changeup is very good for a high schoolers. Medeiros is very athletic, but there is some concern his arm slot will lead to a future in the bullpen. He reportedly blew the Brewers away during a pre-draft workout.
SS Trea Turner, NC State
Turner is one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft class. Last spring he looked like a candidate to go first overall thanks to strong defense and game-changing speed from the leadoff spot. He has not hit much this spring though, and that speed has dropped from elite to simply above-average. Turner’s swing can get loopy because he occasionally sells out for power rather than sticking to the speed player’s game. If things click, he’ll be an All-Star caliber shortstop and leadoff hitter. If not, he’ll be a utility player/pinch-runner.
RHP Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt
Beede passed on signing with the Blue Jays out of high school as the 21st overall pick in 2011, and he’s gone on to have an up and down career for the Commodores. At his best, Beede is a big righty (listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs.) with a mid-90s fastball and two potential out pitches in his curveball and changeup. His command comes and goes, and he really struggled for a few weeks earlier this spring, but he rebounded well within the last week. Beede is a high risk, high reward college arm.
LHP Sean Newcomb, Hartford
One of the biggest draft risers over the last 18 months or so, Newcomb lives in the low-90s with his fastball and backs it up with a slurvy breaking ball and a changeup. With a clean delivery, strong command, and a stout 6-foot-5, 240 lb. frame, Newcomb has all the look for a future workhorse starter. He pitched his way into the first round after going undrafted out of high school and walking almost a batter an inning as a freshman for Hartford.
RHP Touki Toussaint, Coral Springs Christian HS (Miami)
Toussaint was born in Florida, lived in Haiti until he was six, then returned to Florida with his family. He was primarily a soccer player growing up and it wasn’t until about five years ago that he picked up a baseball. Despite that, Toussaint might have the highest ceiling of any high school pitcher in this year’s draft thanks to a low-90s fastball that has run as high as 97. His curveball is a true hammer and he’s made major strides with his changeup this spring. Toussaint stands 6-foot-2 and 195 lbs., has long arms, and is one of the top athletes in the draft. It’s tough to look at his fresh arm and present stuff and not see a future frontline starter.
LHP Brandon Finnegan, TCU
Finnegan’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s and now -- thanks to an assist from Team USA teammate and third overall pick Carlos Rodon -- rocks an impressive slider. He also mixes in a change. Due to his size (5-foot-11, 184 pounds), there have been some durability concerns. (He did miss a few starts with shoulder trouble this spring.) Still, some scouts see him as a No. 2 starter in the majors eventually, and with pitching at such a premium these days, that’s pretty attractive.
RHP Erick Fedde, UNLV
There was some talk that the 6-foot-4 and 175 lb. Feede would go in the top 10 picks, but he blew out his elbow last month and had Tommy John surgery. When healthy, Feede has a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a sharp low-80s slider he can throw for strikes or bury for swings and misses, and a good changeup. Although he uses his lower half well in his delivery, Feede has not added any weight while in college and his slender frame has led to concerns about his durability. The Tommy John surgery only reinforces those concerns.
3B/RHP Nick Howard, Virginia
Howard has been the Cavaliers’ regular third baseman for two years now, but his future is on the mound. After a brief trial in the rotation as a sophomore, Howard moved into the bullpen full-time as a junior, where he can air out his mid-90s fastball and hard low-80s curveball. He also throws a curveball and changeup but has shelved them as a reliever. Howard misses bats with ease -- hr came into the week with 50 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings -- and is extremely aggressive on the mound. He should move quickly.
1B Casey Gillaspie, Wichita State
Casey is the brother of White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie. He is a true switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate, and he is an extremely disciplined hitter who works the count and draws a ton of walks. Gillapsie is relegated to first base because he’s a big guy (listed at 6-foot-4 and 238 lbs.) who doesn’t run well, though he is good around the bag and at scooping throws in the dirt. His bat got him drafted in the first round.
OF Bradley Zimmer, San Francisco
Bradley’s brother Kyle was the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Unlike his brother, who is a pitcher, Bradley is a position player and arguably the best pure hitter in the draft. He is a line drive hitter who sprays the ball to all fields but doesn’t have much over-the-fence power. Zimmer knows the strike zone and is a very good athlete who will steal bases despite standing 6-foot-5 and 205 lbs. Zimmer has played center field for San Francisco but figures to move to right as a pro, where his strong arm figures to play fine.
RHP Grant Holmes, Conway HS (S.C.)
The 6-foot-2 right-hander teams a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a power curve that sits in the low-80s and is considered by many scouts to already be big-league ready. He also throws a solid changeup. Some scouts have questioned how much more upside he has -- with fastball command being a possible pratfall -- but he still figures to be at number two starter, even if he can’t develop into an ace down the line.
OF Derek Hill, Elk Grove HS (Calif.)
Hill is the son of Orsino Hill, a first rounder in 1982 and a current scout with the Dodgers. He is an elite defensive center fielder, the best in the draft class (high school or college), with the speed to wreak havoc player on the bases. Although he shows little present power, Hill controls the strike zone and has no trouble getting the fat part of the bat on the ball. He’s an excellent athlete and a baseball rat who looks the part of a future impact leadoff hitter and center fielder.
SS Cole Tucker, Mountain Pointe HS, (Phoenix)
Tall and wiry at 6-foot-3 and 165 lbs., Tucker is a switch-hitter who is more advanced from the left side of the plate. He is more of a contact-oriented gap-to-gap hitter than a power guy. Given his frame, he could certainly add strength and grow into some pop. Tucker runs well and has everything he needs to remain at shortstop long-term -- quick first step, strong arm, good hands -- there’s just some concern he’ll outgrow shortstop. He boosted his stock with a great showing at a showcase event in April.
3B/RHP Matt Chapman, Cal State Fullerton
Chapman is listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 lbs.. Hee stands out for his defense at the hot corner, where he has quick feet, soft hands, and a rocket arm. His right-handed swing produces some power and he has good approach at the plate, but he's struggled against premium velocity throughout his career. Although he has not pitched during his three years at Fullerton, Chapman threw 98 mph out of the bullpen with Team USA last summer. He is considered a better prospect as a position player, but the mound is an obvious fallback option.
IF Michael Chavis, Sprayberry HS (Georgia)
The expectation is that Chavis, a high school shortstop, will move to second or third base as a pro because he lacks the range for the position. He does have a strong arm, so the hot corner might be the best bet. Either way. Chavis can mash, with an ultra-quick bat and big power from the right side. He is also a favorite of scouts because of his hard-nosed, all-out style of play.
RHP Luke Weaver, Florida State
No relation to Jeff and Jered Weaver, Luke’s whole is greater than the sum of his parts. The wiry 6-foot-2, 170 lb. right-hander lives in the 89-92 mph with his fastball, backing it up with two good offspeed pitches in his slider and changeup. Weaver draws rave reviews for his competitiveness and mound presence, so scouts like him more than his stuff suggests they would. He is the first FSU right-hander to be drafted in the first round since Nick Stocks in 1999.
LHP Foster Griffin, The First Academy (Orlando)
Griffin checks all the right boxes. He has a big, durable frame (listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs.), sits in the low-90s and touches 94 with his fastball, has a very good changeup and improving curveball, throws lots of strikes, and is left-handed. The biggest knock against Griffin is that he lacks “projectability,” meaning teams can’t dream about him adding velocity as he fills out his frame. The present package is still pretty great though.
3B Alex Blandino, Stanford
Listed at 6-foot-0 and 190 lbs., Blandino stands out because he has an incredibly quick and balanced right-handed swing. He squares the ball up consistently and makes hard contact, so teams think there is some power coming. Blandino has a strong arm and good footwork at the hot corner, though there are rumblings he might wind up at second base. Either way, whichever team drafts him will take him for his bat.
RHP Luis Ortiz, Sanger HS (Fresno)
A forearm strain sidelined Ortiz for much of the spring, so scouts haven’t been able to see him as much as they’d like. He’s a big guy at 6-foot-3 and 225 lbs., and he’s already had to work hard to keep his weight in check. Ortiz has a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a wipeout slider and a very good changeup, plus he has shown the ability to pitch to both sides of the plate. There are no concerns about the quality of his stuff or his pitchability, just his health and conditioning.
LHP Justus Sheffield, Tullahoma HS (Tenn.)
Sheffield is on the small side (listed at 5-foot-10 and 195 lbs.), but he has a big fastball that sits in the low-90s and touches 94. He also throws a changeup, a curveball, and a slider, which is about two more pitches than the typical high schooler. Teams love his command and pitchability. Justus is not related to former big leaguer Gary Sheffield.
1B/OF Braxton Davidson, Roberson HS (N.C.)
High school first baseman are usually not a popular demographic, but Davidson is one of the best pure hitters in the high school class. He has some power potential, though he doesn't have much room left to fill out his 6-foot-2 and 210 lb. frame. Davidson is not much of a runner and his arm is weak, so if he moves to the outfield, it'll be left field. He was drafted so high because of his bat.
RHP Michael Kopech, Mount Pleasant HS (Texas)
Kopech has the ideal pitcher's frame at 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs. His velocity jumped into the low-90s this spring and he has run it up as high as 97-98 in short outings. He throws both a slider and curveball, but will probably need to settle on one as a pro. Kopech has a lot of moving parts in his delivery and his command is very much a work in progress.
RHP Jack Flaherty Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
It wasn't long ago that Flaherty was considered a better prospect as a third baseman, but then he started throwing in the low-90s consistently and opinions changed. A wipeout slider is his top secondary pitch, and he also throws both an advanced changeup and a hard curveball. Flaherty has a ton of upside and a fresh arm, but he also is very raw.