One of the more well-known prep players in this year’s class, Touki Toussaint emerged as a can’t-miss prospect in October 2012. He opened eyes by striking out 18 batters in six innings while hitting 97 mph during the Perfect Game USA WWBA World Championship.
After winning a district championship in 2013 as a junior, Toussaint, who’s of Haitian descent, guided Coral Springs Christian Academy (Fla.) to a regional title this spring with an 8-2 record, 1.22 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 63.1 innings. He also contributed at the plate, batting .340 with 12 extra-base hits and 26 RBI in 31 games.
The 6’2”, 195-pound right-hander’s curveball ranks as one of the best in the class, as he throws the pitch in the low 70s with exceptional depth and a sharp, two-plane break that induces whiffs. Toussaint is also one of the younger hurlers in the 2014 class, as he doesn’t turn 18 until after the June draft.
He is committed to Vanderbilt next season—a program known for landing many of its pitching recruits—so Arizona will have to offer enough money to sway his decision.
It's Touki time! Love this pick for the Diamondbacks, as it suggests they believe he's the best player available. I wouldn't disagree. How about this for a future rotation: Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, Pat Corbin, Touki Toussaint and Wade Miley. Look out.
Fulenchek is a projectable 6'4" right-hander with a hard sinker in the low-90s and the makings of an above-average slider.
Fulenchek shouldn't have fallen this far on Day 1, so kudos to the Braves for grabbing him at the back end of the second round.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
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Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Sorry, Orioles fans, you actually don't have a pick on Day 1!
Boston Red Sox
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Steven Senne/Associated Press
First Round (No. 26 Overall): Michael Chavis, SS, Sprayberry HS (Ga.)
Michael Chavis owns one of the best pure hit tools in the draft class, with a compact but powerful right-handed stroke that suggests the potential for above-average hit and power tools at maturity.
While his swing is mostly geared toward consistently hard, line-drive contact, his barrel control makes it a versatile swing and should help him hit for more power at the next level.
This spring at Sprayberry High School, Chavis batted .580/.663/1.197 with nine doubles, 13 home runs, 21 stolen bases and 37 RBI in 28 games.
Outstanding pick by the Red Sox, and I'm shocked Chavis lasted this long. The kid can really hit, and I love the fact that Boston drafted him as a shortstop, his high school position.
Comp Round A (No. 33 Overall): Michael Kopech, RHP, Mt. Pleasant HS (Texas)
Kopech, an extremely projectable 6'4" right-hander, has impressive stuff. He has a fastball that sits in the low-90s with room to improve and a sharp slider with late break. His funky delivery will need to be ironed out in the pros, but the stuff is there already and is only going to get better.
Another strong pick for the Red Sox, as they've now landed two high-upside prep players who definitely should not have lasted as long as they did.
Second Round (No. 67 Overall): Sam Travis, 1B, Indiana
Travis, who was a 40th-round pick of the Reds in 2011 out of high school, turned in the best performance of his college career this year. The junior batted .346/.411/.582 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs and 57 RBI while playing in 57 games.
Travis can really hit, both for average and power, and could help the Red Sox sign both Chavis and Kopech by agreeing to a deal.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B+
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Charles Cherney/Associated Press
First Round (No. 4 Overall): Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
Kyle Schwarber is loaded with strength at 6’0”, 235 pounds and possesses some of the the best raw power in the class. The 21-year-old also projects to hit for a decent average at the highest level, as he has a relatively flat bat path and keeps the barrel in the zone for an extended period of time.
Through 56 games this spring, Schwarber is batting .350/.457/.650 with 15 doubles, six triples, 13 home runs, 44 RBI, 10 steals and a 27-41 K/BB ratio.
Schwarber is adequate at best defensively behind the plate, lacking the agility and athleticism needed to be a regular in the majors. He almost certainly will move to first base full time as a professional. However, his bat has the potential to support the position change.
Obviously there was better all-around talent than Schwarber still on the board for the Cubs, so it's likely the decision to draft the Indiana slugger was based on his price tag. That being said, there's nothing wrong with this pick, Cubs fans, as they will be able to grab plenty of quality arms in subsequent rounds.
Jeff Hoffman is probably pulling his hair out right now and more than likely cursing at his TV.
Second Round (No. 45 Overall): Jake Stinnett, RHP, Maryland
Stinnett, a 29th-round draft pick by the Pirates last June, is relatively new to pitching after picking it up full time in 2013. Still, the senior made tremendous strides this season on the bump, posting a 2.83 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.
Really good value pick for the Cubs here, as Stinnett is likely one of many slightly underrated arms Chicago will pick up over the next two days.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
Chicago White Sox
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Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
First Round (No. 3 Overall): Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Nobody in college baseball has been better over the last three seasons than Carlos Rodon. And now, after a historically good career at NC State, the left-hander is headed to the White Sox as the third overall pick.
A 16th-round selection by the Brewers in 2011 out of high school, Rodon has been viewed as the favorite to be this year’s No. 1 overall pick basically since setting foot on campus. In 2012, he became the first freshman in conference history to win the ACC Pitcher of the Year award after posting a 1.57 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 135 strikeouts in 114.2 innings (16 starts). His remarkable season also led to him being named Louisville Sluggers’ National Freshman of the Year.
Rodon was even more impressive as a sophomore. The then-20-year-old made 19 starts and pitched to a 2.99 ERA with 184 strikeouts (a new school record and the most among Division I hurlers) in 132.1 innings (12.51 K/9).
Perhaps more significantly, he helped guide the Wolfpack to their first College World Series appearance since 1968. Following the season, he was recognized as USA Baseball’s Player of the Year. Rodon also spent parts of the last two summers pitching for the Team USA collegiate team, allowing a combined three earned runs over 36 total innings.
However, Rodon wasn’t as consistent or dominant this spring as he was in previous years. The 21-year-old finished the season with an excellent 2.01 ERA and dropped his BB/9 below 3.00, but he also posted career-worsts with a 1.17 WHIP and 7.66 H/9.
The greatest concern to emerge from Rodon’s junior campaign had more to do with his workload than the slight statistical regression. He twice threw more than 130 pitches in a game toward the end of the season and eclipsed 100 pitches in a majority of his starts.
At 6’3", 234 pounds, Rodon features an explosive fastball in the low- to mid-90s and mixes in a cutter. Meanwhile, his plus-plus slider in the high-80s currently grades as the best secondary offering among his peers. The southpaw also has a changeup that flashes above-average potential at his disposal—though it’s considerably less advanced than his other two pitches.
Yes, he's a safe pick compared to Brady Aiken or Tyler Kolek, but we're talking about Carlos Rodon here...the guy everybody has been obsessing over for the last two years, myself included. The White Sox are thrilled to have him in their system, and he immediately ranks as the organization's top prospect.
Second Round (No. 44 Overall): Spencer Adams, RHP, White County HS (Ga.)
A three-sport standout at White County High School, Spencer Adams was previously known for his dunking prowess. Now, he’s known for his big league potential on the mound.
His stock took off this spring thanks to a velocity jump into the mid-90s, and the highly projectable 6'4" right-hander has shown an advanced feel for a four-pitch mix.
The 18-year-old was absolutely dominant this spring, posting a 0.72 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 58.1 innings, and he has as much helium as any prep pitcher heading into the draft.
Excellent pick by the White Sox, an organization that lacks high-upside, impact arms. I considered Adams to be a potential top-30 selection, so the fact that the White Sox were able to get him at No. 44 is tremendous value.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
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Tom Gannam/Associated Press
First Round (No. 19 Overall): Nick Howard, RHP, Virginia
Nick Howard ranked as one of the top two-way players in the country for Virginia last season. The infielder posted a .794 OPS with 17 extra-base hits and 38 RBI in 50 games to go along with a 3.38 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 61.1 innings as a member of the starting rotation.
Named as a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award heading into the 2014 season, Howard’s production dropped off considerably this spring. He finished the year with a disappointing .647 OPS and 25 strikeouts in only 43 games.
Howard’s performance on the mound was far from a disappointment, though, as the right-hander made a smooth transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen. He quickly emerged as one of the top closers in college baseball. Specifically, Howard amassed 19 saves this spring to go along with a 2.15 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 29.1 innings (15.34 K/9).
We all knew the Reds were going to grab a power arm, but I'm somewhat surprised they went with Howard. Had they wanted a fast-to-the-majors impact reliever, I imagine they would have grabbed Nick Burdi instead, so this pick leads me to believe they'll develop him as a starter (a la Tony Cingrani and Michael Lorenzen).
Comp Round A (No. 29 Overall): Alex Blandino, SS, Stanford
Blandino is a bit under the radar coming out of Stanford—a school known for ruining projectable hitters—but his bat is legit and a good fit in their system. Plus, the success of 2012 first-rounder Stephen Piscotty suggests the Reds aren’t concerned about the stigma tied to Stanford hitters. This season, the 21-year-old batted .312/.399/.540 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs and 42 RBI in 58 games for the Cardinal.
Really good move by the Reds here, as Blandino was probably going to be grabbed with one of the next three or four picks.
Second Round (No. 58 Overall): Taylor Sparks, 3B, UC Irvine
Sparks' production this spring didn't meet expectations, but his athleticism and untapped offensive potential should help him get back on track at the next level.
Sparks was a good buy-low target here after a disappointing junior season.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
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Paul Sancya/Associated Press
First Round (No. 21 Overall): Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
Outfielder Bradley Zimmer comes off the board in the first round two years after his brother, Kyle, a right-handed pitcher and former teammate at San Francisco, went No. 5 overall to the Kansas City Royals.
The Cubs drafted Bradley out of high school in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft, but he chose to honor his scholarship and join his brother at San Francisco. He enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013 after struggling the previous year as a true freshman, batting .320/.437/.512 with 22 extra-base hits (seven home runs) and 19 stolen bases in 58 games.
Zimmer’s stellar sophomore campaign earned him a spot in the Cape Cod League and also one on the Team USA collegiate national team last summer. He batted .281 in 22 games for the Cotuit Kettleers on the Cape, though his season was split into two parts due to his time with Team USA. Speaking of Team USA, he impressed on that circuit as well, batting .300 with one home run and 11 RBI.
The 21-year-old has continued to make strides this spring, hitting for more average and demonstrating a better feel for the strike zone. He finished his junior campaign hitting .368/.461/.573 with 10 doubles, seven triples, seven home runs and 21 stolen bases in 54 games for the Dons.
A left-handed hitter, Zimmer is widely considered one of the better college batters in the class, with a mature feel for hitting and above-average power potential. Furthermore, the 6’5” outfielder also possesses one of the finest collections of tools among amateur prospects with good speed and plus arm strength as well as the defensive prowess to possibly stick in center field.
The Indians saw Zimmer on the board at No. 21 and couldn't let him go. Honestly, it's surprising he was still available. He's a really nice addition to their system.
Baseball bloodlines run deep for left-hander Justus Sheffield; he’s the nephew of former All-Star Gary Sheffield and younger brother to right-hander Jordan Sheffield. Jordan missed most of last spring after undergoing Tommy John surgery and then turned down well above-slot money from the Red Sox as a 13th-rounder in favor of honoring his commitment to Vanderbilt.
While he’s not a hard thrower like Jordan, Justus has emerged as one of the more well-rounded and polished prep left-handers in this year’s class, showcasing advanced pitchability as well as a unique feel for his craft. Serving as Tullahoma’s ace this season, he won 10 games and posted a stellar 0.34 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 61.2 innings.
While he lacks physical projection, his mature, four-pitch mix leaves plenty of room for improvement and eventually should help him carve out a role in the middle of a major league rotation. Yet, with a strong commitment to join his brother next season at Vanderbilt, any team that is willing to take a flier on Sheffield in the early rounds must believe that he’s signable.
After grabbing a "safer" prospect in the first round, the Indians made a nice pick here. Sheffield doesn't have front-of-the-rotation upside, but his arsenal could have him moving quickly.
Comp Balance Round A (No. 38 Overall): Mike Papi, OF, Virginia
Papi is simply a pure hitter, with an impressive left-handed bat that should produce a good batting average and average power as a professional.
Cleveland is getting great value here with Papi, who is widely regarded as one of the more advanced college hitters in the nation.
Second Round (No. 61 Overall): Grant Hockin, RHP, Damien HS (Calif.)
Hockin, a 6'4", 195-pound right-hander, sits in the low-90s with a slider and changeup that project to be at least average offerings.
I like the thought process behind this pick, but I probably would have gone with Mitch Keller or Garrett Fulenchek instead.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
First Round (No. 8 Overall): Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
Kyle Freeland’s draft stock has soared this spring following his impressive showing last summer in the Cape Cod League. With a projectable 6’4”, 185-pound build as well as easy arm action and a smooth delivery, the left-hander works in the 90-94 mph range with his fastball and has been gunned as high as 95-96 mph.
Freeland’s slider represents his best present offering, and he demonstrates a feel for adding and subtracting to it. When he throws the pitch with velocity, it plays as more of a cutter in the mid-80s with late glove-side slicing action. When he takes something off, the pitch is closer to a true slider in the low-80s with more depth. Either way, it's a pitch that projects to miss bats at the next level.
Meanwhile, the southpaw also showcases an advanced feel for a changeup at 84-86 mph that plays up thanks to the fluidity in his delivery.
Freeland absolutely dominated this spring for Evansville, posting a 1.90 ERA and otherworldly 128-13 K/BB ratio in 99.2 innings (14 starts).
The Rockies have been linked to Freeland for a while, as he's a Denver native and an overall great fit in their system. He has the stuff to get to the majors quickly, and I'm pretty excited at the thought of a future Rockies rotation of Eddie Butler, Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland.
Comp Balance Round A (No. 35 Overall): Forrest Wall, 2B, Orangewood Christian HS (Fla.)
One of the best pure hitters in the class, Wall, a true second baseman, projects to be an above-average hitter with 70-grade speed.
Wall is one of my favorite prospects in this year's class, as a pure left-handed hitter who can run with the best of them, and, in my opinion, has the potential to be a first-division player at maturity.
Second Round (No. 48 Overall): Ryan Castellani, RHP, Brophy Jesuit Prep School (Ariz.)
Castellani, a 6'4" right-hander, features a low-90s fastball and two secondary offerings that flash average. He also demonstrates a good feel for his craft.
Castellani is more of a high-floor than high-ceiling prospect, but there's nothing wrong with that after already grabbing Freeland and Wall.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
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Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
First Round (No. 23 Overall): Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (Calif.)
Derek Hill is viewed as one of the fastest players in the 2014 draft class with legitimate top-of-the-order, plus-plus speed. His stock has continued to climb with the improvement of his baseball skills.
At 6’2”, 175 pounds, Hill’s wheels are obvious on both sides of the ball, especially in center field, where he’s an elite defender who should be able to stick at the position.
At the dish, the right-handed hitter has a smooth swing and knows how to get the barrel on the ball. He’s already drawn rave reviews for the present in-game utility of his hit tool, and it should only improve as he continues to develop.
This spring, Hill batted .500/.586/.765 with 11 doubles, seven triples and 21 stolen bases in 29 games.
This might be my favorite pick thus far, as it's an ideal upside play for the Tigers, who are more than set at the major league level and in need of high-ceiling, up-the-middle talent on the farm.
Second Round (No. 63 Overall): Spencer Turnbull, RHP, Alabama
His delivery and stuff project better as a reliever at the next level, but I'd imagine the Tigers at least give him a chance to start, as they did with Jonathan Crawford last year.
After targeting upside with their first pick, the decision to grab Turnbull is more in line with previous draft strategies.
Brady Aiken won’t celebrate his 18th birthday until mid-August, but it’s already clear that the prep left-hander will be a star. Actually, Aiken is already a star; there’s no high school pitcher in this year’s draft class who comes close to matching his on-field accomplishments.
Aiken was already viewed as a probable first-round draft pick as he entered his senior season, but he began to shoot up the draft boards early in the spring thanks to improved fastball velocity and command of his secondary offerings. He’d finish the high school season with a 1.06 ERA and 111/15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just 59.2 innings.
The 6’4” left-hander has shown improved fastball velocity this spring, consistently sitting in the low 90s and even bumping 95-96 mph, as well as displaying his usual outstanding polish. Aiken's secondary arsenal consists of a changeup and curveball, and they’re both already average-or-better offerings with plenty of room for improvement.
It's not surprising that the Astros ultimately selected Aiken at 1-1, as he's been the class' top-ranked prospect for most of the spring.
Comp Balance Round A (No. 37 Overall): Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
Fisher suffered a broken hamate bone in his right hand just 15 games into the season, offsetting his hot start and putting his first-round draft projection in jeopardy.
Despite spending six weeks on the shelf, Fisher made an immediate impact upon his return with two home runs in his first three games back. He finished the season with a .281/.340/.415 batting line, seven doubles and three home runs in 34 games.
The combination of Fisher’s age (20) and untapped power potential makes him one of the more intriguing offensive prospects in this year’s class. He's a potential steal at No. 37 overall.
Second Round (No. 42 Overall): A.J. Reed, 1B, Kentucky
Besides serving as Kentucky's ace, Reed, a left-handed-hitting first baseman, led all Division I hitters this season with 23 home runs and a .735 slugging percentage.
The Astros are getting great value here with Reed (as they did with Fisher at No. 37). He has the potential to slug his way up the ladder.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
Kansas City Royals
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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
First Round (No. 17 Overall): Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian
A former two-way standout at Southwest Christian (Texas) High School, Brandon Finnegan was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 45th round of the 2011 draft. He turned down the opportunity to begin his professional career in favor of a scholarship to Texas Christian University.
Finnegan made an immediate impact during his freshman season at TCU, registering a 3.47 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 62.1 innings (8.09 K/9) while appearing in 23 games, 11 of which were starts. Though his numbers were solid on paper, Finnegan struggled with his control for most of the season, allowing 51 hits and 30 walks (4.33 BB/9).
The left-hander’s sophomore campaign can only be described as frustrating. In his first season as a full-time member of TCU’s starting rotation, Finnegan, 20 at the time, posted a 3.18 ERA while improving both his strikeout (9.76 K/9) and walk (3.97 BB/9) rates over 79.1 innings. However, he also went the entire year without notching a win, as he finished the season with an 0-8 record (meaningless) in 15 starts.
Finnegan’s success led to an invitation to pitch for Team USA last summer, where he boosted his draft stock with seven shutout innings against a veteran Cuban national team. He allowed only four baserunners (three hits, one walk) and struck out eight hitters.
This season, the 21-year-old has put everything together to emerge as one of the top pitchers in college baseball. In his 14 starts prior to the NCAA regionals, Finnegan set career-highs with a 2.14 ERA, 2.57 BB/9, 11.79 K/9 and 84 innings pitched.
He would likely have posted even gaudier numbers had he not missed a good chunk of the spring after leaving his April 25 start with shoulder stiffness.
Thankfully, Finnegan made his return to the mound on May 13 to throw 80 pitches over four innings against Oklahoma. Though he wasn’t at his best in the outing, he proved he was healthy weeks before the draft, thus giving him room to improve his stock in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Finnegan doesn’t require much physical projection at 5’11”, 190 pounds, but he boasts one of the better fastballs in the draft class, sitting consistently in the mid-90s and even flirting with triple digits at times. More importantly, he’s already shown the ability to hold the velocity deep into games.
Finnegan’s breaking ball is slurvey, registering in the low-80s with a deceptive shape, and it projects as another potential plus offering at maturity. His changeup is another solid pitch with good fading action out of the zone. Beyond the stuff, Finnegan stands out in the draft class for his feel for sequencing and overall confidence on the mound.
I can't help but be skeptical when it comes to the Royals drafting left-handed pitching, but Finnegan is an arm that can reach the major leagues quickly (either as a starter or reliever) and projects to miss plenty of bats. Overall solid pick for the Royals here, as there's a significant drop-off in pitchers with Finnegan off the board.
Comp Round A (No. 28 Overall): Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy (Fla.)
Foster Griffin is a highly projectable 6'5", 190-pound left-hander with an advanced feel for pounding the zone with three pitches, including a low-90s fastballs with hard arm-side run. His velocity picked up this spring and gave him big-time helium headed into the draft.
The Royals went with a near-MLB-ready college left-hander with their first pick, and now they have one of this year's more projectable southpaws in Griffin. He'll need considerable time to develop in the minor leagues, but as a finished product he could be something special.
Comp Balance Round A (No. 40 Overall): Chase Vallot, C, St. Thomas More HS (La.)
Chase Vallot, who won’t turn 18 until late August, put himself on the draft radar as a junior last year at St. Thomas More High School by batting .365 and smashing 12 home runs.
His strong showing at the plate continued throughout the summer, as Vallot impressed on both sides of the ball on the showcase circuit. This spring, the right-handed hitter batted .545/.652/1.111 with 15 doubles, 13 home runs and 62 RBI in 36 games as a senior.
Love this pick by the Royals here, as I expected them to be in on either Vallot or Jakson Reetz. Vallot can really hit, with effortless plus raw power that comes from a quick, leveraged stroke. His defense will need considerable refinement, but the bat will play at any corner spot if he's ever forced to move from behind the plate.
Second Round (No. 56 Overall): Scott Blewett, RHP, Baker HS (N.Y.)
The 6'6" right-hander dealt with shoulder stiffness this spring, but that doesn't detract from his 92-94 mph fastball and overall projectability.
My best guess is that the Royals hope to sign either two or three of their Day 1 picks, with Blewett having the greatest signability concern.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
Los Angeles Angels
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Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
First Round (No. 15 Overall): Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
Sean Newcomb burst onto the scene in 2013 during his sophomore campaign at Hartford, registering a 3.75 ERA in 72 innings and leading the nation with a stellar 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. But despite his ability to consistently miss bats and generally avoid hard contact, Newcomb struggled with his control and command for the duration of the season and walked 4.63 batters per nine innings.
Newcomb wasn’t nearly as dominant the following summer pitching in the prestigious Cape Cod League, though in his defense he was physically less than 100 percent after battling mononucleosis for over a month. Yet the southpaw showed enough during his time on the mound to keep him toward the top of most draft lists heading into the spring.
Newcomb has checked all the developmental boxes this season. He’s shown better fastball command as well as the ability to hold velocity deep into games. He improved both of his breaking balls and turned his changeup into a legitimate weapon.
He finished his junior campaign with a 1.25 ERA, .162 opponents' batting average and 106-38 K/BB ratio in 93.1 innings (14 starts).
Newcomb is a 6’5”, 240-pounder with plus fastball velocity and a potential four-pitch mix. His fastball registers in the 90-94 mph range and bumps 95-96, and there’s reason to believe he’s going to naturally add a few ticks as a professional.
Newcomb’s curveball currently represents his best secondary offering, while his changeup and slider show potential but will require some refinement as a professional.
What's there not to like about a high-upside lefty with absolutely nasty stuff? I think the Angels were probably looking at Tyler Beede here, but Newcomb has the potential to be something special, and possibly sooner rather than later.
Second Round (No. 53 Overall): Joe Gatto, RHP, St. Augustine Prep (N.J.)
Gatto, a 6'5" right-hander, has steadily improved his velocity over the past year, though both of his secondary offerings remain works in progress.
Gatto has signability concerns with a commitment to North Carolina, but the upside is considerable and worthy of an above-slot bonus.
Final Team Grade: B+
Los Angeles Dodgers
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Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
First Round (No. 22 Overall): Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (S.C.)
The right-hander solidified his draft stock in June with a dominant performance during last summer’s showcase circuit, and he’s continued to improve his stock this spring pitching for Conway High School (S.C.). On the season, he was 4-1 with a 0.52 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 40 innings.
Holmes has a thick, durable build at 6’2”, 210 pounds, with broad shoulders and a strong lower half. Even though he has impressive athleticism for his size, he is seemingly maxed out physically. However, that doesn’t make his pure stuff is any less impressive.
Holmes already showcases two plus pitches in a 93-96 mph fastball (which has scraped triple digits in the past) with late life and a wipeout curveball with sharp break in the low- to mid-80s.
The Dodgers have to be thrilled with this pick, as Holmes possesses some of the best present stuff in the class. Yes, there are concerns about his physical durability moving forward, but his stuff is hot and has him moving quickly compared to most of the other prep selections.
Second Round (No. 62 Overall): Alex Verdugo, OF/LHP, Sahuaro HS (Ariz.)
One of the top two-way prep prospects, Verdugo, a left-handed pitcher, projects as a mid-rotation arm on the mound at the next level. He also has the potential to continue his two-way career next season at Arizona State.
Verdugo and the Dodgers have already agreed on a deal, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. He'll begin his career in the outfield but could still move back to the mound if his bat doesn't pan out.
Right-hander Tyler Kolek is a physical presence on the mound at 6’5”, 250 pounds, and he boasts arguably the best fastball velocity in the class. Working on a downhill plane with a tough three-quarters arm slot, Kolek sits comfortably in the mid- to upper-90s and consistently hits triple digits.
More importantly, he already holds that velocity deep into games. In addition, Kolek throws an inconsistent slider that flashes plus potential, an average curveball and an undeveloped changeup.
With Brady Aiken off the board, Kolek easily has the highest upside of any pitcher in this year's class. That said, it was still surprising that the Marlins went with the big right-hander after being linked to both Carlos Rodon and Alex Jackson all week.
My guess is that Kolek's price tag was the determining factor here. Either way, I like the aggressive pick.
Comp Balance Round A (No. 36 Overall): Blake Anderson, C, West Lauderdale HS (Miss.)
A 6'3", 180-pound backstop, Anderson stands out for his athleticism and strong defensive profile. He's already an advanced blocker and receiver with good catch-and-throw skills. The bat remains a question mark, though that's usually the case with defensively sound prep catchers.
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this pick, but if a team is going to save money early on, it might as well go with a young catcher with defensive chops.
Second Round (No. 43 Overall): Justin Twine, SS, Falls City HS (Texas)
Twine's athleticism is up there with the likes of Michael Gettys and Monte Harrison. He was one of the top high school quarterbacks in Texas last fall, recording 41 touchdowns and guiding Falls City to a state title.
However, given his mutlisport background, Twine lacks baseball skills and will likely need lots of time to develop in the minor leagues
Twine could be a difficult sign for the Marlins given his commitment to TCU, but it seems like the organization is willing to gamble on his upside.
Hailing from Hawaii, Kodi Medeiros is viewed as one of the more intriguing and polarizing prep arms in this year's class. A younger player compared to his peers—he just turned 18 on May 25—the 6’0”, 180-pound left-hander lacks physical projection but features legitimate big league stuff.
Working from a unique low-three-quarters arm slot, Medeiros has some life to his fastball at 90-94 mph, and it tends to jump on opposing hitters due to his release point and smooth delivery.
His breaking ball is nasty with huge horizontal break capable of deceiving hitters and missing bats at any level. The southpaw has a changeup, but it’s a raw pitch that will need to be developed thoroughly as a professional.
This spring, Medeiros posted a 1.12 ERA and 81-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 43.2 innings.
I'm as big of a Kodi Medeiros believer as anyone, so obviously I'm giving the Brewers an "A" here. He has the kind of stuff that will get hitters out at the highest level.
Comp Balance Round A (No. 41 Overall): Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (Calif.)
You may remember Gatewood from last year's All-Star Weekend, when he blasted 13 home runs to win the junior portion of the All-Star Game Home Run Derby, including multiple tape-measure shots into the second deck at Citi Field.
Gatewood captured a second derby title a month later, this time as part of the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. However, for a player with as much natural power as Gatewood, his performance this spring for Clovis High School was a disappointment.
He batted .389 with nine doubles, five home runs and 28 RBI.
Gatewood has drool-worthy upside, with the plus-plus raw power to hit 30 or more home runs in his prime and a decent chance to stick at shortstop. The Brewers' system needs high-ceiling talent, and few ceilings are higher than Gatewood's.
Second Round (No. 50 Overall): Monte Harrison, OF, Lee's Summit West HS (Mo.)
Besides his enormous potential on the diamond—which we’ll get to momentarily—the 6’2”, 200-pound Harrison is known for his highlight-reel dunks and rating as a 4-star recruit at wide receiver, per 247Sports. He’s committed to Nebraska next year and is expected to play both baseball and football.
Harrison has numerous standout tools including plus speed and range in the outfield, as well as legitimate plus-plus arm strength that ranks among the best in the class.
He’s likely to spend his career in center field, but his cannon for an arm would also support a move to right field. The right-handed hitter’s bat lags well behind his other tools, but that’s mostly a result of his lack of baseball experience as a three-sport standout.
Considering his dual-sport commitment, I don't think the Brewers would have rolled the dice on him if they didn't believe he was signable.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
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Jim Mone/Associated Press
First Round (No. 5 Overall): Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (Fla.)
The son of former major leaguer Tom "Flash" Gordon and brother to Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Nick is widely considered the best true shortstop in this year’s class after blossoming on the summer showcase circuit over the last two years.
Gordon projects to have five at least average tools at maturity, though he’ll always stand out for his defensive prowess and rocket arm across the infield. His bat is understandably less developed, but the left-handed hitter should develop average-or-better hit and power tools.
This spring, Gordon batted .494/.576/.843 with 41 hits, 28 runs scored, 10 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 27 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 27 games for Olympia.
The Twins have been on Nick Gordon from the beginning, as they knew he'd likely be there for them at No. 5 after an early run on pitchers.
Well...the Twins have added another up-the-middle stud to their system, which means we might be looking at a 2016-17 roster that features Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Nick Gordon, not to mention arms such as Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios and Kohl Stewart.
Second Round (No. 46 Overall): Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
One of the top closers in the nation for the past two seasons, Burdi boats a dominant fastball in the upper-90s that will scrape triple digits and a legitimate swing-and-miss breaking ball.
The Twins popped Burdi out of high school too, so I like the fact that they've stuck with him over the last three years and, in a sense, rewarded him with nice payday. I'm not a huge fan of teams using early-round picks on relievers, but I can make an exception in this case.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
New York Mets
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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
First Round (No. 10 Overall): Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon St.
Michael Conforto jumped on the draft radar in 2012, batting .349/.438/.601 with 14 doubles and 12 home runs as a true freshman at Oregon State. He built on that success the following year by batting .328 with 11 home runs and leading the Beavers to the College World Series.
His outstanding campaign led to him being named the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year, and it also helped him secure his second selection to the Team USA collegiate national team.
Under the microscope once again this year with potential first-round money on the line, Conforto is enjoying the finest season of his collegiate career. Through the Beavers' first 58 games this season, the 21-year-old is batting .348 with a .552 slugging percentage, 16 doubles, seven home runs and 56 RBI.
A 6’2”, 217-pound left-handed hitter, Conforto stands out for his power potential and advanced approach. He is a mature player with plus raw power thanks to above-average bat speed and an ability to consistently drive the ball with backspin carry. Because he’s gradually adjusted his approach over the past two seasons to produce more in-game power, the utility of his hit tool may always be tied to his strikeout rate.
Defensively, Conforto is limited to left field due to below-average arm strength and speed, as well as his shaky instincts and stiff actions. And if he eventually moves to first base, there will be even more pressure for his power to develop.
The Mets passed on Trea Turner for Conforto, which, in my opinion, was the right call. Conforto can really hit and has the type of swing and approach that projects well at the highest level, and I think his power is going to come out in a big way with some reps in the minor leagues.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
New York Yankees
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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Second Round (No. 55 Overall): Jacob Lindgren, LHP, Mississippi State
The highly deceptive left-hander has been absolutely dominant this season out of Mississippi State's bullpen, posting a 0.88 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 51 innings (16.41 K/9).
Regardless of whether the Yankees give him a chance to start in the minors, Lindgren is just a good arm to have in the system. I could see him in the major leagues by the end of the season if he signs.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B+
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Reinhold Matay/Associated Press
First Round (No. 25 Overall): Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal State Fullerton
Matt Chapman made a name for himself in 2012 as a true freshman, posting a solid .286/.340/.370 batting line with two home runs while playing in 53 games for Cal State Fullerton.
As a sophomore the following year, he showed improvement on all fronts. He showcased more consistent power with 19 extra-base hits (five homers), tallied 37 RBI and posted a drastically improved 29-34 ratio of strikeouts to walks.
Chapman’s impressive sophomore campaign led to his selection to play for the USA collegiate team last summer. He continued to add to his growing resume there, batting .278/.396/.361 and ranked second on the team with six doubles and 14 walks.
The 21-year-old’s all-around improvement has produced career highs this season in batting average (.321), on-base percentage (.418), slugging (.516), doubles (15), home runs (six) and RBI (46), while his defense at the hot corner has been as reliable as ever.
Classic A's pick, right? Chapman's selection comes after his best collegiate season, and I think the A's get him to tap into that plus raw power as a professional.
Second Round (No. 65 Overall): Daniel Gossett, RHP, Clemson
The right-hander projects to have an average three-pitch mix, but the shoulder injury that popped up this spring is something to keep an eye on moving forward.
This is great value for the A's if he's fully healthy, as Gossett was a sixth-round draft pick out of high school in 2011.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
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Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
First Round (No. 7 Overall): Aaron Nola, RHP, Louisiana State
Aaron Nola was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft out of high school, but he instead decided to honor his commitment to Louisiana State. He made an immediate impact for the Tigers as a freshman, posting a 3.61 ERA and stellar 89/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 89.2 innings while making 17 starts.
The right-hander quietly emerged as one of the top pitchers in the nation the following year—and after Kevin Gausman’s fourth overall selection in the 2012 draft—as he went 12-1 with five complete games, lowered his ERA to 1.57, held opposing hitters to a .188 batting average and posted a ridiculous 122/18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 126 innings. He averaged at least seven innings over his 17 starts.
This season it’s been more of the same for Nola, who celebrated his 21st birthday the day before the draft. He entered the NCAA tournament boasting a 10-1 record, 1.49 ERA, .173 opponents' batting average and 127/26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Nola was also named in early May to the 50-man watch list for the 2014 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.
While there certainly are other pitchers in this year’s class with better stuff and a higher ceiling, none come close to matching Nola’s track record of success against top-flight SEC hitters over the past three seasons.
Working from a low-three-quarter arm slot, Nola sits in the low-90s with a heavy fastball that induces both whiffs and weak contact. His curveball has really improved compared to previous seasons and is an above-average pitch with tight spin and depth.
Nola also does a nice job of keeping hitters off-balance with his changeup, which registers in the 83-85 mph range. And as he’s demonstrated in each of the last two seasons, the stuff will play up thanks to a plus command profile.
Nola doesn't have the upside of some of the other pitchers still on the board, but he's arguably the most MLB-ready starter in this year's class and could be ready to join the Phillies' rotation at some point next season.
Second Round (No. 47 Overall): Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly
Imhoff, a 6'5" left-hander, can touch 95 mph with flashes of two average-or-better offspeed pitches, while the deception in his delivery causes his entire arsenal to play up a grade. The 20-year-old struck out 124 batters in 99.1 innings (11.23 K/9) this season at Cal Poly.
I really like this pick as a follow-up to Nola at No. 7, as he's another unique (read: deceptive) college pitcher who knows how to miss bats.
A 6'3", 195-pound switch-hitting shortstop, Cole Tucker is a very projectable prep player who should be able to remain at the position long term.
In general, he's a well-rounded player who has the potential for four average-or-better tools at maturity, with power representing his down tool and unlikely to improve.
Tucker's speed is his greatest asset and plays on both sides of the ball, while his excellent instincts and plus makeup should always allow him to get the most out of his tools.
Well, I don't think anyone saw this pick coming. It makes sense in theory, as the Pirates lack a legitimate shortstop prospect down on the farm (Alen Hanson is a second baseman, for what it's worth). I assume they struck a deal with Tucker so as to spend more on subsequent picks.
Comp Balance Round A (No. 39 Overall): Connor Joe, OF, San Diego
Connor Joe is one of the more underrated college bats in this class. He projects to hit for both average and power, and he has the athleticism to play a variety of positions.
The Pirates got themselves a nice bat here at No. 39 overall. That they drafted him as an outfielder rather than a catcher gives his bat a chance to play at the highest level sooner rather than later.
Keller is one of the more underrated prep arms in this year's class. He has sat at 90-94 mph this spring, and his loose arm and athleticism suggests there's more velocity to come.
Keller has big-time upside and is a steal halfway through the second round.
Comp Balance Round B (No. 73 Overall): Trey Supak, RHP, La Grange HS (Texas)
The Houston commit has a projectable 6'5" frame and could comfortably sit in the mid-90s with his fastball in time.
Another interesting high-upside play here for Pittsburgh, as I imagine both he and Keller might require above-slot money to sign.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
San Diego Padres
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Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
First Round (No. 13 Overall): Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina St.
Though drafted in the 20th round out of high school by the Texas Rangers, Trea Turner chose to honor his commitment to NC State rather than sign. Now, three years later, the 20-year-old is viewed as the top college shortstop in the 2014 draft class.
Turner had a monster freshman season in 2012 while playing third base for the Wolfpack. He batted .336/.432/.459 with 20 extra-base hits (five home runs), 72 runs scored, 57 stolen bases (in 61 attempts) and more walks (41) than strikeouts (38) in 63 games.
Sliding from third base to shortstop—his natural position—the following year, Turner continued to flourish at the plate with a .368/.455/.553 batting line, seven home runs and 30 steals in 56 games. His consistency and overall production were particularly impressive considering he missed 11 games with an ankle injury and battled lingering pain and soreness after returning to action.
Turner’s outstanding sophomore campaign earned him a spot last summer on the Team USA collegiate national team. However, his string of successes came to an end, as he disappointed with a .211/.347/.263 batting line and three extra-base hits in 20 games.
Though he didn’t struggle as mightily as he did for Team USA, Turner failed to take the step forward many expected this spring back at NC State. Overall, he batted .321/.418/.516 with 12 doubles, eight home runs and 26 stolen bases in 54 games.
At 6’2”, 175 pounds, he is an excellent athlete with legitimate plus speed—though he’s lost a step over the last year—and the defensive chops to stick at shortstop long term. At the plate, the right-handed hitter shows above-average bat speed, but he lacks consistent swing mechanics and at times struggles to make hard contact.
While Turner’s plate discipline and approach are both highly advanced for his age, the adjustments he makes to his swing in the coming years will ultimately determine whether he reaches his hit-tool ceiling.
This was the obvious pick for the Padres here, as they've been trying to develop an impact middle infielder for what seems like an eternity.
Personally, I might have targeted Bradley Zimmer or a high-ceiling arm such as Sean Newcomb or Touki Toussaint (though the Padres' system already has its share of arms), but it's hard to knock a team for grabbing a legitimate shortstop.
Second Round (No. 51 Overall): Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (Ga.)
Michael Gettys features one of the more intriguing power/speed profiles in this year’s class, with excellent strength to his 6’2”, 200-pound frame and 70-grade speed that plays on both sides of the ball.
There’s no doubt he’ll remain in center field for the duration of his career, where his top-flight wheels translate to similar range in all directions. Meanwhile, Gettys’ arm strength is unparalleled among his peers, as he was gunned at 100 mph from the outfield last summer.
At the plate, Gettys, a right-handed hitter, has explosive bat speed and shows plus raw power. However, his current swing mechanics and aggressive approach hinder his ability to make consistent contact.
Yes, Gettys' hit tool is concerning, but I didn't expect him to make it out of the two comp. rounds. So, kudos to the Padres for patiently waiting for him in the second.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B+
San Francisco Giants
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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
First Round (No. 14 Overall): Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Tyler Beede has been a known commodity for several years after the Toronto Blue Jays selected the right-hander with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2011 draft out of a Massachusetts high school. However, with Beede seeking at least $3 million to sign and the Blue Jays offering him $2.4 million, he decided to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt instead of launching his professional career.
After struggling as a true freshman, he turned in a breakout performance in 2013 as a sophomore, winning a school-record 14 games while posting a 2.32 ERA and allowing only 64 hits in 101 innings. Despite his undeniable success, he continued to struggle with his control and command, as he walked 63 batters (5.6 BB/9) during that span.
Beede appeared to figure things out this year through the first half of the spring, showing an improved feel for the strike zone with his entire arsenal. His command issues popped up once again in mid-April and have since negatively impacted his draft stock. In total, he has posted a 3.49 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 41 walks in 90.1 innings this season.
Beede turned in the best performance of his season in Vanderbilt's NCAA regional contest Friday, as he struck out 14 batters over eight shutout innings against Xavier.
When he's at his best, Beede features a live fastball in the low-90s that tops out at 94-95 mph—sometimes even a tick or two more—as well as an above-average curveball in the high-70s and a potential plus changeup that registers in the same velocity range.
I thought the Giants might grab a bat here, such as local San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer, but this pick has potential for huge value moving forward.
Beede has big league-caliber stuff but currently lacks consistency; however, he could quickly turn into a dynamic No. 2 starter with the proper development and refinement.
Second Round (No. 52 Overall): Aramis Garcia, C, Florida International
Garcia is a pure right-handed hitter with good bat speed and a consistent line-drive stroke, but he will need to improve his defense to become an everyday backstop.
I really like this pick by the Giants, especially after other teams went out of their way to grab high-risk/reward prep catchers in the previous round(s).
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B+
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Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
First Round (No. 6 Overall): Alex Jackson, OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
Alex Jackson, an Oregon commit, entered his senior season as a likely top-10 pick, even after a good but not great showing last summer on the showcase circuit. He did everything in his power to be the first hitter off the board in the draft. In 31 games this spring, Jackson batted .382/.455/.680 with 11 home runs and only eight strikeouts compared to 25 walks.
Arguably the top prep hitter in the 2014 draft class, Jackson stands out for his plus bat speed, natural hitting ability and athleticism that allow for a catcher-outfielder future defensive profile.
Spending most of his time behind the dish, the 6’2”, 200-pounder has excellent catch-and-throw skills and a cannon for an arm but will require considerable time to develop the other aspects of his defensive package. However, because his right-handed bat has the potential to be that good, Jackson might move to the outfield full time as a professional to save his knees and hopefully elongate his career.
No surprises here, as the Mariners were rumored to be interested in Jackson from the get-go.
Bud Selig announced that Jackson was selected as an outfielder, not as a catcher, which means his ETA in the major leagues just improved by roughly one to two years, maybe even less considering the organization's track record of aggressive promotion. So, well played, Seattle.
Comp Balance Round B (No. 74 Overall): Gareth Morgan, OF, Blyth Academy (ON)
Morgan is a 6'4" right-handed batter with the big-time raw power and arm strength to profile as a right fielder in his prime.
Good grab by the Mariners here, as Morgan's power is among the best in the class. Seriously, it's nuts.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B+
St. Louis Cardinals
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Al Behrman/Associated Press
First Round (No. 27 Overall): Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida St.
A 19th-round selection by the Blue Jays in the 2011 draft, right-hander Luke Weaver decided to pass on the opportunity to begin his professional career out of high school and instead honored his previous commitment to Florida State.
After a turbulent freshman season (5.93 ERA in 41 innings), Weaver bounced back with a breakout performance the following year. He went 7-2 over 15 starts with a 2.29 ERA and stellar 119/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 98.1 innings. His success continued well into the summer while pitching for the USA national collegiate team, as he posted a 17/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 21 impressive innings.
This spring, Weaver posted a solid 2.62 ERA for the Seminoles while setting new career-highs in starts (16) and innings pitched (106.1). However, he did endure a slight regression, as his 0.68 HR/9 and 7.19 K/9 both marked the worst rates of his three-year career.
That said, Weaver’s impressive command profile and strong track record of missing bats against quality college hitters should translate well to the pros.
Weaver is one of the more advanced college arms in the class (and obviously still on the board) but was flying under the radar after a slightly disappointing junior campaign. The Cardinals identify and project talent as well as any team in the game, so don't be surprised if Weaver takes off as a professional.
Comp Round A (No. 34 Overall): Jack Flaherty, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Flaherty has enjoyed an excellent career as a two-way player at Harvard-Westlake HS. His highest ceiling is on the mound, where the right-hander features a deep, four-pitch mix from an effortless delivery. Expect his stuff to tick up now that he's focused on pitching.
Flaherty was thought to have signability concerns with a commitment to UNC, but I doubt the Cardinals would have used one of their first two picks on him if that were the case. Good high-floor play here, as Flaherty could blossom in that system.
Second Round (No. 68 Overall): Ronnie Williams, RHP, American Senior HS (Fla.)
Williams, a late-rising right-hander, has a lightning-quick arm that generates impressive velocity.
I don't know about you guys, but by now I completely trust the Cardinals when they draft undersized pitchers.
Comp Balance Round B (No. 71 Overall): Andrew Morales, RHP, UC Irvine
Morales is a 6'0", 185-pound senior right-hander from UC Irvine.
It's clearly a money-saving pick, probably so they can sign Flaherty, though I think they could have been more aggressive with their last two Day 1 picks.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
Tampa Bay Rays
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Steven Senne/Associated Press
First Round (No. 20 Overall): Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita St.
The younger brother of Chicago White Sox corner infielder Conor Gillaspie, Casey, a switch-hitting first baseman, has done nothing but improve since arriving at Wichita State.
After going undrafted out of high school, Gillaspie made an immediate impact for the Shockers in 2012 as a freshman, batting .274/.378/.442 with 10 doubles, eight home runs and a respectable 43/34 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59 games.
The 2013 season marked Gillaspie’s coming-out party, as he jumped on the draft radar with a .299/.447/.517 batting line, 16 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBI in 66 games for Wichita State. More importantly, the 6’4” switch-hitter’s drastically improved approach and plate discipline produced 62 walks against 35 strikeouts on the season.
Gillaspie’s eye-opening performance would carry over into the Cape Cod League that summer, where he raked to the tune of .321/.402/.521 and paced the circuit with eight home runs. Amazingly, Gillaspie’s 2013 season turned out to be a warm-up for his junior campaign.
His production this spring ranked among the best in Division I baseball, as the 21-year-old posted a robust batting line of .389/.529/.682 to go along with a career-high 15 home runs, 50 RBI and 28/58 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59 games.
I really like this pick for the Rays. They've struggled in recent years to produce homegrown hitters despite a plethora of early-round picks, so adding Gillaspie is seemingly a step in the right direction.
Second Round (No. 60 Overall): Cameron Varga, RHP, Christian Hills Christian Academy (Ohio)
The physically strong 6'3" right-hander has shot up draft boards this spring thanks to an effortless 90-95 mph fastball and swing-and-miss curveball, which he used to strike out 106 batters in just 44 innings.
Not a huge fan of Varga in general, but he does strike me as the type of arm who'll do well in the Rays' system.
Comp Balance Round B (No. 72 Overall): Brent Honeywell, RHP, Walters State CC (Tenn.)
The first junior college player selected in this year's draft, Honeywell is a 6'2" right-hander with a low-90s fastball, decent curveball and changeup and...wait for it...a highly effective screwball.
Creative pick for the Rays and one that will likely save them some money to sign Varga and several Day 2 picks.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B
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Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
Comp Round A (No. 30 Overall): Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (Calif.)
Luis Ortiz emerged as a can’t-miss draft prospect after his junior year. The right-hander opened eyes on the summer showcase circuit while pitching in prestigious, high-profile events such as the Area Code Games and the Perfect Game All-American Classic.
Ortiz also served as the closer that summer for the USA 18-under national team, where he recorded three saves including the gold-medal game against Japan to clinch the IBF World Cup.
Ortiz is one of the older prep prospects in this year’s class and lacks physical projection at 6’3”, 220 pounds. However, neither of those concerns can discount the fact he boasts an explosive 92-96 mph fastball from an easy delivery, complemented by a sharp slider in the low- to mid-80s that profiles as at least an above-average offering at maturity.
He missed most of the spring with forearm tightness but recovered in time for the draft.
Ortiz's ceiling is one of the highest among prep right-handers, as features a plus fastball/breaking ball combination that still has room to improve. As long as he stays healthy, this pick could go down as one of the draft's biggest steals.
Second Round (No. 59 Overall): Ti'Quan Forbes, SS, Columbia HS (Miss.)
Forbes is one of the more intriguing prep prospects in this year's class, as he projects for at least average tools across the board and won't turn 18 until late August.
As they do every year, the Rangers snagged a plus athlete with raw-but-promising baseball skills who quietly fell outside the first round.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B+
Toronto Blue Jays
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M. Spencer Green/Associated Press
First Round (No. 9 Overall): Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
Jeff Hoffman emerged as a potential Day 1 selection with his breakout performance in the 2012 Cape Cod League All-Star Game, following it last summer with an even more dominant showing.
Although the junior right-hander lacked consistency this spring at East Carolina, he still turned in his share of dominant outings, including an impressive one-hit, 16-strikeout game against Middle Tennessee State in mid-April.
When healthy, Hoffman, a 6’4”, 200-pounder, will usually sit in the 92-97 mph range with his fastball and more toward the high end of that range when he’s at his best. While he does a decent job of working the pitch to both sides of the plate, his overall command leaves room for improvement.
In terms of his secondary arsenal, Hoffman throws a plus curveball that has plus-plus potential at maturity, as well as a mid-80s slider that already grades as at least an average offering. He has a changeup with average fading action that should develop into another weapon during his rise to the major leagues.
The Blue Jays are taking a gamble on the injured Hoffman, but the argument can be made that the ECU right-hander has the most upside of any college hurler in the class.
This may seem like a risky pick, but Hoffman has legitimate front-of-the-rotation potential. Plus, it's likely that Toronto is saving some greenbacks here with a below-slot deal.
First Round (No. 11 Overall): Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw St.
Heading into his senior year at Winder-Barrow High School in Georgia, Max Pentecost was generating interest as a potential top-five-round selection in the 2011 draft. Unfortunately, he suffered a stress fracture in his throwing elbow early in the spring and subsequently underwent surgery.
Pentecost’s draft stock took a hit as a result, though the Rangers still took a flier on him that June, selecting him in the seventh round (234th overall) of the 2011 draft. However, knowing that he had considerable room to improve once fully healthy, Pentecost chose not to sign with the Rangers and instead honor his previous commitment to Kennesaw State.
After batting .277/.364/.393 in 2012 as a freshman, Pentecost has improved considerably in each season.
Though he turned in a breakthrough performance for the Owls as a sophomore, posting a .302/.374/.410 batting line in 56 games, Pentecost didn’t enter the first-round discussion until the summer while playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
Playing in 35 games for the Bourne Braves, Pentecost batted .346/.424/.538 with seven home runs and deservedly walked away with the league’s MVP award.
He has taken his game to an entirely new level this spring. The junior heads into the draft with a robust .423/.483/.631 batting line, 23 doubles, nine home runs, 17 stolen bases (in 19 attempts) and more walks (29) than strikeouts (25) through 62 games.
He’s also one of the three finalists for the prestigious Johnny Bench Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top collegiate catcher. More importantly, Pentecost’s stellar performance this season is arguably the main reason Kennesaw State is heading into the NCAA super regionals this weekend having won 26 of its last 28 games.
Another good grab by the Blue Jays here, as it's doubtful that Pentecost would have lasted just a few more picks. He is the best true catcher in this year's class, and the Blue Jays have now added two of the top college players in the country in the last 10 minutes.
Second Round (No. 49 Overall): Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (Fla.)
At 6’4”, 205 pounds, Sean Reid-Foley is one of the more polished prep arms in the class. His advanced feel for a four-pitch mix suggests a high floor and chance to move up the ladder quickly compared to his peers.
The athletic right-hander employs a fluid delivery that generates a fastball sitting in the low-90s and scraping 94 mph. He also throws an above-average breaking ball in the upper-70s that offers significant contrast compared to his heater.
This spring, Reid-Foley posted a stellar 0.64 ERA and 120-15 K/BB ratio in 65.2 innings.
This could turn out to be one of the better Day 1 picks if they can sign him away from Florida State.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: A-
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Alex Brandon/Associated Press
First Round (No. 18 Overall): Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
Erick Fedde built off his summer success in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA this spring back at UNLV. The 21-year-old seemed a near-lock to be selected in the top 15 picks of this year’s draft after he posted a stellar 1.76 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 76.2 innings covering his first 11 starts.
However, his promising season took an unexpected turn in early May when he missed a start with elbow soreness. That, of course was followed by news that he’d need season-ending Tommy John surgery, via Aaron Fitt of Baseball America.
When healthy, Fedde works comfortably in the mid-90s with his fastball and features a legitimate plus slider, while his changeup continues to come along and should receive at least an average grade at maturity.
The Nationals have long been rumored to be in on Fedde, as they had similar success in 2012 with Lucas Giolito. He's a solid pick and probably one that's going to save the Nats some money for a few more high-upside selections in later rounds.
Second Round (No. 57 Overall): Andrew Suarez, LHP, Miami
Suarez was a ninth-round draft pick (2011) out of high school. He features a four-pitch mix and good pitchability, though a 2012 labrum surgery raises concerns about durability.
A smart and safe pick after grabbing the injured Fedde in the first round.