2014 MLB Draft Picks: Live Team-by-Team Day 1 Grades and Analysis
And just like that, Day 1 of the 2014 MLB first-year player draft came to an end.
Thursday night saw a total of 74 MLB hopefuls selected between Round 1, Comp Round A, Competitive Balance Round A, Round 2 and Competitive Balance Round B.
Day 1 had a little of everything, including surprise selections, gross overdrafts and, of course, plenty of under-the-radar steals.
After bringing you all of the latest information on every pick made on Day 1, it's time to take a step back and evaluate each team's draft strategy.
Each pick was graded on a combination of factors, ranging from current development, future upside, value at the draft slot and signability of the draftee.
Here's a look at how each team did on Day 1 of the draft.
First Round (No. 16 Overall): Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs HS (Fla.)
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.
Second Round (No. 54 Overall): Cody Reed, LHP, Ardmore HS (Ala.)
After experiencing an uptick in velocity this spring, Reed, a 6'5" left-hander, emerged as arguably the top strikeout artist in the country among high school pitchers.
He finished his senior season with a 0.46 ERA and unbelievable 226 strikeouts in 92 innings (22.1 K/9). Along the way, he recorded three games with 19 strikeouts, one with 20 and one with 21.
Reed has big upside and only scraping the surface of his potential, and I'd imagine the Diamondbacks believe they can sign him away from Vanderbilt.
Comp Balance Round B (No. 69 Overall): Marcus Wilson, OF, J Serra HS (Calif.)
The toolsy 6'3", 170-pound outfielder is all projection at this point, but his athleticism and age (he won't turn 18 until late August) means he'll have plenty of time to develop.
Yet another solid high-risk/reward gamble here on a player who fell down the board.
Comp Balance Round B (No. 70 Overall): Isan Diaz, SS, Springfield Central HS (Mass.)
Slick-fielding prep shortstop projects for an average hit tool from the left side but won't offer any power.
Interestingly, Diaz is also committed to Vanderbilt next season, so the organization has some work to do.
Final Day 1 Team Grade: B+
Comp Round A (No. 32 Overall): Braxton Davidson, OF, T.C. Roberson HS (N.C.)
Even though other prep bats in the 2014 class have higher ceilings, Braxton Davidson's combination of performance, refinement and upside could make him a true middle-of-the-order threat in his prime.
This past season, he batted .449/.587/.717 with seven doubles, four home runs, 21 RBI and a 10/26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 games.
Love this pick. Davidson is one the best hitters in the draft class, with the potential for a plus hit tool and plus power. His bat now carries additional value as an outfielder.
Second Round (No. 66 Overall): Garrett Fulenchek, RHP, Howe HS (Texas)
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-
Sorry, Orioles fans, you actually don't have a pick on Day 1!
Boston Red Sox
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+
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
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-
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
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.
Comp Round A (No. 31 Overall): Justus Sheffield, LHP, Tullahoma HS (Tenn.)
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
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-
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 se