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June 6, 2014

Round One Analysis

Part One

by Nick J. Faleris

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The first 74 picks are in the books for the 2014 First Year Player Draft, with Brady Aiken (LHP, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA)) the first high school lefty since Brien Taylor (East Carteret (Beaufort, NC)), some 23 years ago, to go first overall.

There were only a few true surprises in the 34 picks comprised by Round 1, and as expected the depth of the class dropped impact talent all the way into and through the second round, with a handful of teams lined up to make a run at some over-slot signees early on day two.

Below is part one of my look at the first round selections from last night. In-depth scouting notes and video of the various players can be found in my Positional Preview Series.

Series Links: Catcher | Middle Infield | Corner Infield | Center Field | Corner Outfielder | Right-Handed Pitcher | Left-Handed Pitcher

First Round (picks 1 through 34)

1. Houston Astros
Brady Aiken | LHP | Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA) | Commit: UCLA

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3/210 pounds
B/T: L/L
Draft Day Age: 17y 10m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2
Slot Value: $7.9 MM
My Valuation: $6.2 MM

Aiken was the top talent in the draft class, and the best option for Houston with the first overall pick in the draft. He shows the potential for three plus or better offerings in his fastball, curve, and changeup, displays an easy arm and mechanics, and shows advanced command and feel for a high school arm. He is a candidate to move quickly through the minors, though Houston works on its own schedule developing its arms.

With almost eight million dollars to work with, the Astros should realize some savings on this signing, which they will be able to utilize later on in the draft to go after high-end talent that slips but still requires an early round price tag.

Other Day One Picks:

CB A:37 Derek Fisher (OF, Virginia)

2:42 AJ Reed (1B, Kentucky)

2. Miami Marlins
Tyler Kolek | RHP | Shepherd (Shepherd, TX) | Commit: Texas Christian

Height/Weight: 6-foot-5/245 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 18y 6m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2
Slot Value: $6.8 MM
My Valuation: $3.0 MM

Kolek is an upside selection with a front-end ceiling thanks to a big durable build and a fastball that reaches triple digits. He is unrefined at present, showing a below-average command and control profile with inconsistent execution across his secondaries (a slider and a rarely used changeup). It will be interesting to see how he progresses in a Marlins system that has had a good run developing arms.

With a handful of other targets available and worthy of selection in this range, Miami is likely to have the parameters in place for deal that should save them at least a little money to spread to the other rounds. The Marlins have a larger aggregate bonus pool than any other team in the draft, giving them ample opportunity to get creative later on.

Other Day One Picks:

CB A: 36 Blake Anderson (C, West Lauderdale (West Lauderdale, FL))

2:43 Justin Twine (SS, Falls City (Sugar Land, TX))

3. Chicago White Sox
Carlos Rodon | LHP | North Carolina State

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3/235 pounds
B/T: L/L
Draft Day Age: 21y 6m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2


Slot Value: $5.7 MM
My Valuation: $5.3 MM

Rodon entered the season as the prohibitive favorite to go first overall, but slips down to the White Sox at number three due to a number of factors, including the progression of Aiken, some inconsistency in performance for Rodon, a perceived elevated asking price, and some heavy pitch count outings toward the end of the spring. At his best Rodon shows a plus fastball and true “80” slider on the 20-80 scouting scale, with a changeup that flashes promise. He could form an impressive left-handed tandem with Chris Sale in short order, and if he sees a return to the stuff he showed with the Collegiate National Team last summer he could be an impact major leaguer as early as next summer.

The White Sox don’t have the benefit of extra selections, and Rodon is likely to command most, if not all, of the allotted bonus here, so Chicago will have to look to some late-single-digit round senior signs if he wants to free up enough money to go after high-priced talent that has slipped into day two.

Other Day One Picks:

2:44 Spencer Adams (RHP, White County (Cleveland, GA))

4. Chicago Cubs
Kyle Schwarber | C/1B | Indiana

Height/Weight: 6-foot/230 pounds
B/T: L/R
Draft Day Age: 21y 3m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3
Slot Value: $4.6 MM
My Valuation: $1.9 MM

Schwarber’s lack of a true defensive home dropped him on my board, but there is no denying the thunder in the stick. The Indiana slugger might be the best overall bat at the collegiate ranks, showing big plus to plus-plus power from the left side and a chance to hit for average, as well. He has a solid approach and did much of his damage this spring on Friday nights, which is the night college teams run out their aces.

The Cubs should be able to realize some savings on the Schwarber pick, and with the sixth highest aggregate pool allotment could help the Cubs to go after some high-end arms that slip. With so much corner power already in the system, the pick might signal a willingness to move some of the existing high-end prospect talent to secure major-league pitching this offseason.

Other Day One Picks:

2:45 Jake Stinnett (RHP, Maryland)

5. Minnesota Twins
Nick Gordon | SS | Olympia (Orlando, FL) | Commit: Florida State

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/170 pounds
B/T: L/R
Draft Day Age: 18y 7m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3
Slot Value: $3.85 MM
My Valuation: $3.75 MM

Gordon is an advanced prep position player who should have no trouble sticking in the middle of the diamond while offering offensive upside. He has an advanced feel for the barrel, with a chance for a plus hit tool to go with emerging power that could reach major-league average as he continues to mature. His actions in the field are smooth and he possesses one of the top infield arms in the class.

The Twins are unlikely to find much savings here, but draft high enough in each round that they should be able to find additional impact talent by simply playing their board.

Other Day One Picks:

2:46 Nick Burdi (RHP, Louisville)

6. Seattle Mariners
Alex Jackson | C/OF | Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, CA) | Commit: Oregon

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/215 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 18y 5m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3 | Video 4 | Video 5
Slot Value: $3.57 MM
My Valuation: $5.25 MM

Jackson represents the first selection of the evening where my valuation outstrips the available money at slot. Jackson had been rumored to be looking for top four overall money, so it will be interesting to see how quickly the Mariners can ink him, and whether he will require an above-slot bonus. The Oregon commit has the potential to impact the game in all facets, with plus power and premium arm strength his carrying tools. He has the skill set to continue to develop behind the plate, but the Mariners could shift him out to third base or right field if they want to try and fast track the bat.

Seattle lost its second round pick in the Robbie Cano signing, but picked up a round B competitive balance pick to help soften the blow. Like the Twins they should be able to find value playing their board on Day Two, and could scrape together extra money via senior signs in the latter half of the single-digit rounds.

Other Day One Picks:

CB B:74 Gareth Morgan (Blyth Academy (Toronto, ON))

7. Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Nola | RHP | Louisiana State

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1/170 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 21y 0m
Scouting Video: Video 1
Slot Value: $3.3 MM
My Valuation: $3.75 MM

Nola was the top collegiate righty on my board and excellent value for Philly at this point in the draft. He’ll show you a lively plus fastball and plus changeup out of a low arm slot that creates big arm-side life and difficult angles. His slider can flash plus, as well, when he’s on top of it, and the LSU ace shows plus command across his arsenal. He could move quickly through the minors providing mid-rotation value in short order.

The Phillies are in the middle of the pack as far as overall pool allotment, and will likely look to play their board by grabbing the best available talent on Day Two.

Other Day One Picks:

2:47 Matt Imhof (LHP, Cal Poly)

8. Colorado Rockies
Kyle Freeland | LHP | Evansville

Height/Weight: 6-foot-4/185 pounds
B/T: L/L
Draft Day Age: 21y 1m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2
Slot Value: $3.2 MM
My Valuation: $3.25 MM

Freeland fits well in this portion of the first round from a value standpoint, showing impact stuff and an ability to fill up the zone across his arsenal. His fastball is an upper-80s to low-90s offering that climbs as high as the mid-90s when he dials up, and he shows multiple variations on both his change piece and slider. Freeland posted 128 strikeouts to just 13 walks over 99.2 innings pitched and should adapt quickly to pro ball as another candidate to move quickly to the big club.

The Rockies have a round A comp pick but are far enough down the first round that savings won’t be inherent in their first round signing, making it most likely they play their board or rely on senior signs to go after any potential over-slot signings on Day Two.

Other Day One Picks:

CB A:35 Forrest Wall (2B, Orangewood Christian (Maitland, FL))

2:48 Ryan Castellani (RHP, Brophy Prep (Phoenix, AZ))

9. Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff Hoffman | RHP | East Carolina

Height/Weight: 6-foot-4/185 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 21y 5m
Scouting Video: Video 1
Slot Value: $3.1 MM
My Valuation: $3.5 MM

Hoffman had a chance to go first overall were he healthy, but after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May he slips to the Jays with the first of their two picks in the top 11 overall. It’s a front-end arm that, at its best, will show a plus-plus fastball, plus-plus changeup, and plus curve. There is some mechanical clean-up required to help tease out the command he’ll need to profile as a true front-end starter, but the upside is big. He’ll be on the shelf until next spring and will likely not be in a position to truly attack pro ball until 2016.

The Jays have a good amount of flexibility thanks to two picks in the top 11 overall (they have a comp pick for failing to sign their first rounder last summer) and flexed their drafting muscle throughout Day One by grabbing Hoffman in the first and another early-first round talent that slipped into the second round—Florida prep star Sean Reid-Foley. They could get aggressive again early on Day Two and have shown a proclivity for gobbling-up high end prep talent.

Other Day One Picks:

1:11 Max Pentecost (C, Kennesaw State)

2:49 Sean Reid-Foley (RHP, Sandalwood (Jacksonville, FL))

10. New York Mets
Michael Conforto | OF | Oregon State

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/217 pounds
B/T: L/R
Draft Day Age: 18y 3m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3
Slot Value: $2.97 MM
My Valuation: $2.3 MM

Conforto has big power from the left side and put together one of the most impressive springs at the collegiate ranks from a production standpoint, slashing .364/.518/.578 while drawing 50 walks to 35 strikeouts over 250 plate appearances. He profiles as an average defender in left and fits as a future number five or six hitter in a first-division lineup. The swing may not play to high average at the MLB level, but he shows good feel for the barrel and should make plenty of hard contact.

The Mets will look to play their board on Day Two, without tons of extra money with which to work.

Other Day One Picks:

None

11. Toronto Blue Jays
Max Pentecost | C | Kennesaw State

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/190 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 21y 3m
Scouting Video: Video 1
Slot Value: $2.9 MM
My Valuation: $2.0 MM

Like Hoffman, Pentecost could offer the Jays some savings or require full allotment, but my guess is Toronto will find around an extra million or so between the two. Pentecost is a good bet to stick behind the plate and offers solid, if not impact, upside with the stick.

The Jays have already shown some aggression on Day One with both the Hoffman and Reid-Foley selections, and Pentecost serves as a high floor balance to that aggression. They should carry over that “portfolio” approach to Day Two where they will likely combine upside, higher risk talent with safer college kids.

Other Day One Picks:

1:9 Jeff Hoffman (RHP, East Carolina)

2:49 Sean Reid-Foley (RHP, Sandalwood (Jacksonville, FL))

12. Milwaukee Brewers
Kodi Medeiros | LHP | Waiakea (Hilo, HI) | Commit: Pepperdine

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1/185 pounds
B/T: L/L
Draft Day Age: 18y 0m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3 | Video 4
Slot Value: $2.8 MM
My Valuation: $1.75 MM

Medeiros is an intriguing upside play with some of the most electric pure stuff in the class, but big questions remaining as to his ultimate role at the major-league level. His fastball and slider are both plus or better offerings when on, but can show inconsistent as you runs deeper into outings, and the overall command profile is below-average at present. His change could be a third plus offering with a little more consistency, and everything the Pepperdine commit throws dances. It’s a high floor for a high school arm, as Medeiros should at minimum provide value as a potential impact relief arm.

Medeiros should provide savings at this point in the draft, which the Brewers will use on high upside selections later on, likely including the Brewers other two Day One selections. It was a high risk/high upside approach for the Brew Crew that could pay off handsomely if their dev staff can help this trio reach even close its full potential.

Other Day One Picks:

CB A:41 Jacob Gatewood (SS, Clovis (Clovis, CA))

2:50 Monte Harrison (OF, Lee’s Summit (Lee’s Summit, MO))

13. San Diego Padres
Trea Turner | SS | NC State

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1/170 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 20y 11m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2
Slot Value: $2.7 MM
My Valuation: $1.25 MM

A questionable swing and inconsistent spring kept Turner well down my board, but the Padres see impact speed and a top-of-the-order bat out of a high-value defensive position. At his best, Turner can flash dynamic tools, capable of true “80” speed out of the box and flashing an ability to make the flashy play in the field. Overall, Turner’s game carries with it inconsistencies, including choppy at-bats and lax footwork and arm action in the field.

If Turner puts it all together, he could slot into the top of a major-league order while providing plus value on the bases and solid defense at the six spot. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Padres realized some savings here, as while Turner was tied to names around this portion of the draft, the profile isn’t a classic early-first round profile, and I believe most of those rumblings of early-round selection were in concert with potential pre-draft deals. We should have a quick indication depending upon how quickly he signs.

Other Day One Picks:

2:51 Michael Gettys (OF, Gainesville (Gainesville, GA))

14. San Francisco Giants
Tyler Beede | RHP | Vanderbilt

Height/Weight: 6-foot-4/215 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 21y 0m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2
Slot Value: $2.6 MM
My Valuation: $1.5 MM

An erratic career on the bump at Vandy, as well as a down stint with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer, left evaluators scratching their collective heads. Beede will boast true front-end stuff out of his electric right arm, including three potential plus or better offerings in his lively fastball, hard curve, and changeup. The command profile is well below average, and Beede will slip into bouts of pure wildness generally indicative of a future in the pen.

The Giants work well with power arms and are not afraid to tackle command and control issues, so this fit makes a lot of sense. The consensus was that Beede would not be a cheap sign, so I’d expect him to cost at least slot here, and perhaps a bit more.

Other Day One Picks:

2:52 Aramis Garcia (C, Florida International)

15. Los Angeles Angels
Sean Newcomb | LHP | Hartford

Height/Weight: 6-foot-5 | 240 pounds
B/T: R/L
Draft Day Age: 21y 0m
Scouting Video: Video 1
Slot Value: $2.5 MM
My Valuation: $2.75 MM

The Angels land a bargain here with Newcomb, a big strong lefty with mid-rotation upside and four-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball, potential plus slider, and average or better curve and change. It’s a ridiculously easy arm action out of a durable body that should bode well for his ability to chew threw innings at the major-league level.

Newcomb isn’t expected to be a tough sign, but I’d be surprised if the Angels were able to save much if any money on the pick. That makes their second round selection of UNC commit Joey Gatto interesting, as they’ll likely need to find money elsewhere if Gatto, as expected, is to take first round money to keep him out of Chapel Hill.

Other Day One Picks:

Joey Gatto (RHP, St. Augustine Prep (Richland, NJ))

16. Arizona Diamondbacks
Touki Toussaint | RHP | Coral Springs Christian (Coral Springs, FL) | Commit: Vanderbilt

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2 | 185 pounds
B/T: R/R
Draft Day Age: 17y 11m
Scouting Video: Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3 | Video 4
Slot Value: $2.5 MM
My Valuation: $4.25 MM

Toussaint represents one of the best values of the evening, as a potential top five talent that drops all the way to the DBacks in the middle of the round. Toussaint has the best breaking ball in the class in his plus-plus curve and has reached as high as 97 mph with the fastball. He showed excellent progress with this changeup and his control this spring, and is a low-mileage arm with big projection in both his body and stuff. He’s also one of the youngest arms in the class.

The Diamondbacks have a solid pool allotment and utilized four Day One picks to grab a number of interesting talents. They should continue to be aggressive as they work their way through Day Two.

Other Day One Picks:

2:54 Cody Reed (LHP, Ardmore (Ardmore, AL))

CB B: 69 Marcus Wilson (OF, JSerra (Los Angeles, CA))

CB B: 70 Isan Diaz (2B, Springfield (Springfield, MA))

17. Kansas City Royals
Brandon Finnegan | LHP | Texas Christian

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11 | 185 pounds
B/T: L/L
Draft Day Age: 21y 2m
Scouting Video: Video 1
Slot Value: $2.2 MM
My Valuation: $2 MM

Some missed time due to shoulder tightness and a decrease in production as he turned over lineups led Finnegan to drop lower on my board than he started, as he entered the spring a potential top 10 pick and fell to 20th overall on my final pref list. Finnegan is an undersized lefty with a big arm that produces a plus fastball and slider combo that will anchor his arsenal, be it in a rotation or as a reliever at the next level.

The Royals came equipped with money to spend and high-leverage slots to pick on during Day One, grabbing an impressive blend of talent across school and positional groupings. They should continue this balance approach with an eye towards upside on Day Two.

Other Day One Picks:

1:28 Foster Griffin (LHP, The First Academy (Orlando, FL))

CB A:40 Chase Vallot (C, St. Thomas More (Lafayette, LA))

2:56 Scott Blewett (RHP, Baker (Baldwinsville, NY))

Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here

Related Content:  Draft,  Prospects,  Scouting

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