I understand it is still too early to begin logically thinking who the Pirates may be taking in the upcoming 2014 MLB Draft. Regardless, I feel attention should be drawn to some names being continuously associated with the upcoming class as it helps with discussion in other areas. The 2014 draft is ridiculously heavy with pitchers from both the high school and college ranks. Those hoping for hitters may be disappointed this year. The college crop is relatively thin while the high school group shows more promise but also come with a ton of question marks. Regardless, Huntington has demonstrated an ability to draft the best player available each year and I am sure he won't disappoint this year.
Due to their tremendous season, the Pirates will be picking No. 27 in the draft this season. The 27th overall pick hasn't been kind to most teams with the most notable player taken in the slot being Rick Porcello in 2007. On a side note, after doing some research, the Pirates haven't drafted this late in the 1st round since 1991 when they drafted 24 out of 26 teams. That year, they took a college catcher named Jon Farrell. Let us hope the Pirates acquire someone who turns a little better than the 1991 selection. With every player listed below, I am also providing video clips to players. Remember, there is a really good chance some of the players see their stock drop considerably over the next few months but, regardless, it is nice to see what the next wave of potential draft picks look like. Enjoy!
No. 1 Houston Astros - LHP Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State University)
The college left is a phenom in the making. Flashing an array of above-average to plus pitches, Rodon has overwhelmed college hitters the past two seasons. Rodon's dominance seems to stem somewhat from his willingness to throw any pitch, in any count, in any situation, anywhere in the strike zone. He uses both sides of the plate and often gets hitters to expand the strike zone. Rodon flashes a low-mid 90's fastball with a slight tail, a 2 seamer that also has a hand side tail and sits around 90, a plus slider, show-me curve, and improving change. Rodon repeats his delivery and arm slot with every pitch. If he has one downside it would be his command can falter in some instances. Regardless, it is a minor issue that should be easily fixed.
No. 2 Miami Marlins - RHP Tyler Kolek (Sheperd High School, Texas)
Big and strong is how they grow pitchers in Texas and Kolek is the prize of the states crop this year. Kolek is a 6'5, 240 right hander who has a full arsenal of pitches and the command to back them up. Kolek has a plus fastball that regularly sits in the mid-90s, an inconsistent curveball that needs to have a tighter rotation, a mid-80's slider that shows plus potential, and an improving changeup. Kolek projects to add more to his fastball as he progresses, making the possibility of him having a plus-plus fastball. With proper instruction, Kolek could quickly master his secondary pitchers and end up being one of the best in the class.
No. 3 Chicago White Sox - RHP Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt University)
Beede is no stranger to the 1st Round, having been drafted in 2011 by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 21st overall pick. Beede turned down the Jays offer and has gone on to flourish at Vanderbilt. Beede has a workhorse type body and a powerful fastball. Beede uses pinpoint fastball control and command on both sides of the plate to keep hitters from squaring up the pitch. His 2-seamer is a groundball pitch that he mostly favors against lefties. The curve is still inconsistent at times but shows plus potential when on. Lastly, his changeup is quite advanced and he hides it well with good arm speed.
No. 4 Chicago Cubs - SS Trea Turner (North Carolina State University)
The Cubs need pitching but Theo would be insane to overlook Turner if he is available at number 4. I can't remember the last time two players from the same team went in the Top 5 but Rodon and Turner seem poised to do this. Turner is a sleek fielding, strong hitting shortstop who could be devastating as a 2 hitter. Turner makes consistent hard contact at the plate with a level swing and a willingness to drive the ball to all fields. His lower half is somewhat underdeveloped right now which has resulted in limited power thus far. As he grows and adds weight, Turner should project for slightly above average power (think Neil Walker-type). In the field, Turner is sound with a strong arm, soft hands, and great footwork. On the base paths, he is considerably advanced with an ability to pick up on a pitchers timing and steal bags.
No. 5 Minnesota Twins - OF Michael Gettys (Gainesville High School, Georgia)
Gettys is the top 2-way player available for the draft and it is uncertain which way he should go. On the mound, Gettys has a low-mid 90's fastball, low 80's slider that is an out pitch, and a high 70's change that has sinking action. At the plate, Gettys is a power hitting corner outfielder. His bat speed and power are plus, projecting as a middle of the order bat. In the field, RF seems a good destination where his velocity has been clocked at 100 MPH. He moves well and has great instincts and is definitely a dark horse candidate for the 1st overall pick.
No. 6 Seattle Mariners - SS Jacob Gatewood (Clovis High School, California)
Gatewood is the top prep shortstop in the draft and one of the best high school bats. Gatewood is a plus defender all around with the range, arm, instincts, reflexes and speed to handle the position. At the plate, Gatewood has ridiculous bat speed and generates a tremendous amount of backspin on the ball. He has above average power to all fields and plus pull power. The ball explodes off his bat. On the base paths, he is considered to have average speed. One red flag is as he matures, a transition to 3B may be in order.
No. 7 Philadelphia Phillies - RHP Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina University)
Hoffman is a tall and lanky college arm with room to improve and add velocity. Hoffman is a three pitch guy but relies heavily on his plus fastball and average change in a majority of counts. The fastball sits in the mid 90's with nice movement and he keeps the velocity deep into games. His curveball comes in on a 1-7 break that bites hard at 80 MPH and could be a plus pitch if he can master the command. Lastly, he uses a changeup that needs to have a bit less velocity. The pitch was still getting clocked in the high 80's all throughout the spring. He commands both the fastball and change well but the curve is hit or miss. Hoffman has work but he has the build and plenty projection left to turn into a legitimate #1 on a pitching staff.
No. 8 Colorado Rockies - RHP Dylan Cease (Milton High School, Georgia)
Cease has one of the liveliest arms in the draft with an explosive fastball and two secondaries that could turn him into an ace. Cease locates his mid-high 90's fastball with near pinpoint control. The pitch explodes out of his hand and has some nice tailing action. His curveball comes in on a 12-6 plane that sits in the mid 70's and looks to be an above average pitch. Lastly, he has an adequate changeup and has expressed his intention to continue developing the pitch. Cease looks to be a workhorse pitcher and isn't done developing. He is an extremely exciting pitcher overall.
No. 9 Toronto Blue Jays - RHP Michael Cederoth (San Diego State University)
Cederoth is a big kid with an explosive arm. Unfortunately for the 6'6 right hander, his stuff hasn't transitioned into results yet. With that being said, Cederoth could have a monster year because no one can ignore his pitching skills and arsenal. The fastball sits in the high 90's and touches triple digits frequently and has some nice late movement. The slider comes in the high 80's and bites hard, making it a potential plus pitch. The area needed improving most will be the changeup that sits in the mid 80's but needs to be kept lower in the zone. There are some mechanical concerns that definitely will need to be worked out in his delivery and some believe he is an arm injury waiting to happen. With increased command, however, Cedeorth should be a high pick this coming draft.
No. 10 New York Mets - RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian Academy)
Toussaint was generating a lot of buzz last spring as a potential top overall selection. He really hasn't done much to change his stock, it is just other players have gotten better. Toussaint is a 6'2 right hander from Florida who relies on a fastball-curveball combo to dominate the opposition. His fastball sits in the 91-93 range but can go as high as 97. The pitch has a nice tail and he commands it well. The curveball has shown flashes of plus potential but is very inconsistent. It has a sharp 12-6 break but, for the most part, isn't located particularly well. In addition, Toussaint is working on a cutter that hangs in the upper 80's. The pitch cuts nice and definitely is a pitch that could improve his stock.
No. 11 Toronto Blue Jays - C Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernado High School, California)
Jackson is a power hitting catcher and has the most power of anyone in the draft class, high school or college. It isn't just Jackson's bat that makes him a very attractive draft choice. Defensively, Jackson is sound, all around. He has a cannon arm, excellent blocking skills, solid pitch framing, and elite pop time. At the plate, Jackson has plus bat speed, plus-plus power, and the ability to hit to all fields. While his swing is aggressive, he isn't a free swinger, showing strong pitch recognition. Jackson could shoot up draft boards with another monster season.
No. 12 Milwaukee Brewers - RHP Nick Burdi (University of Louisville)
Burdi is a flamethrower from Louisville who projects as a top 15 pick but there are questions about his future. Overall, Burdi has explosive stuff. His fastball easily reaches triple digits and has some strong late movement on it. In addition, Burdi has a hard slider that breaks late and is a swing and miss offering. He also has developed a sinking changeup that sits in the mid-70's. Burdi commands all of his pitches fairly well and pitches on a down hill plane. Many believe Burdi will ultimately be a power closer but rarely is a player immediately placed in that role. I think it is safe to assume that, whenever he is drafted, it will be as a starter and stay as that until he fails.
No. 13 San Diego Padres - SS Ti'Quan Forbes (Columbia High School, Mississippi)
Forbes has been shooting up draft boards after some monster showings in showcases this past summer. Forbes is highly projectable, getting excellent results with some suspect mechanics. Defensively, Forbes has quick reflexes, an above average arm, soft hands, and good range. Some believe his arm will not be enough for short but it remains to be seen. At the plate, his mechanics are slightly out of whack at the moment but, when put all together, he drives the ball hard. He is a bit pull happy at the moment but it seems likely he'll be able to drive the ball to all fields with authority due to plus bat speed and strong pitch recognition. Forbes is a work in progress and a team will not be drafting him for current performance but what could easily develop with some instruction.
No. 14 San Francisco Giants - LHP Sean Newcomb (University of Hartford)
Newcomb is a big guy with a strong arm and the frame to be a workhorse. Newcomb has a 95+ MPH fastball, slider, curve, and changeup. His fastball is heavy and he locates the pitch well. His struggles mostly come with the secondary offerings. The curve is an average pitch that can be left up in the zone, the slider is a nice pitch that could turn plus, and the change is rarely used but has some fade on it. Newcomb is still raw in terms of college players. He hasn't gone against the greatest competition but with his frame and a mid-90's fastball, other problems can be ironed out and won't scare many teams away.
No. 15 Los Angeles Angels - OF Derek Fisher (University of Virginia)
Fisher is a safe bat in the draft and a player who could get to the majors quickly albeit with a low ceiling. Fisher is a corner OF with an average arm and somewhat poor instincts in the field and on the base paths. At the plate, he shows the ability to adjust as well as making solid, hard contact. He hits with above average power to all fields. He is deceptively fast for his 6'3, 210 lb frame but won't be a major threat on the base paths. Left field seems like his destination where the bat will play and he should be passable on defense.
No. 16 Arizona Diamondbacks - SS Nick Gordon (Olympia High School, Florida)
Gordon is a projectable shortstop from Florida and perhaps the best at that position. Gordon is a safe bet to stay at the position due to his incredible range, control, power arm, and soft hands. One scout commented to me, "he makes every play look easy". While his defense is tremendous, the offense isn't as spectacular. He doesn't project to add a lot of power but he squares up pitches and has a smooth, line drive swing. Most of his power is to left field and he gets some loft under the ball when pulling it. On the base paths, Gordon has blazing speed and should be a great lead off hitter for whoever drafts him. He is also a top pitching prospect with a fastball that sits in the low 90's. Very exciting overall player.
No. 17 Baltimore Orioles - Sean Reid-Foley (Sandalwood High School, Florida)
Reid-Foley is an interesting prospect from Florida who has a lot of projection but some issues to fix. The fastball sits comfortably around 90 MPH that has a ridiculous amount of movement, breaking differently on every pitch. He also has a slider that has a tendency to flatten out horizontally, making it extremely hittable. The curve sits in the low 80's and has a nasty break to it. He also commands a split-change that has some great tumble action. His mechanics are somewhat out of whack and he doesn't use his body to its full potential. He is a high risk type pick but could pay off nicely if his mechanics can be fixed and his control can be improved. Definitely profiles as a No. 2 type starter in the AJ Burnett mold.
No. 18 New York Yankees - RHP Luke Weaver (University of Florida)
Weaver is the ace of the Florida baseball team and is one of the top college pitchers in the class. Weaver features a low-mid 90's fastball that has nice tail, a deceptive change that shows fade at times, and a hard slider that runs in on lefties and drifts away from righties. Weaver shows excellent command, only walking 19 in 98.1 innings pitched in 2013. Weaver is somewhat underweight and could add velocity going forward though I wouldn't say he is highly projectable. You may get more out of him and, even if you don't, he's a darn fine pitcher already.
No. 19 Kansas City Royals - LHP Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic High School, California)
A big lefty from California, Aiken is an exciting pitcher for the upcoming draft. Many have commented he gives off Cliff Lee vibes and I would have to agree. Aiken has some issues with mechanics, especially being off balance, though he has done a lot to correct this problem. His fastball sits in the high 80's though it has hit as high as 93. He commands it well throughout the zone and works up the ladder well. The changeup is a nice pitch that has some tumbling action and commands it throughout the zone. Aiken also has a looping curve in the low 70's that has a tight spin and can locate for strikes. He is highly projectable and looks to add velocity as he fills out. Ultimately, his ceiling looks like that of a solid #2.
No. 20 Washington Nationals - C Kyle Schwarber (University of Indiana)
Schwarber is a stout catcher with a bat full of power. He has above average bat speed, plus power, and a strong eye and plate discipline. Schwarber has the most power of anyone in the college ranks and his bat would definitely play at C, if he can stick there. The big problem with Schwarber is he does not project to stay behind the plate. The arm is fringy and blocking skills are suspect. 1B seems like his future where the bat will play but it remains to be seen what a team will do with him. You can't deny the bat but the defense is a question mark.
No. 21 Cincinnati Reds - LHP Brandon Finnegan (Texas Christian University)
Finnegan is a somewhat undersized left hander from the college ranks who looks to be a safe pick in the draft. The 5'11 lefty has little projection left to him but what is there now is a solid #3 starter. Finnegan commands a low 90's fastball, above average mid-high 80's slider, and low 80's change. Finnegan doesn't try to overpower hitters, instead favoring constant changes in speed to keep hitters off balance. His command has slipped at times, turning him into a very hittable pitcher. If the command can be ironed out, a slight tweak in his delivery takes place, and he continues to change speeds effectively, Finnegan could be a quick riser in the minor leagues.
No. 22 Texas Rangers - 1B Braxton Davidson (T.C. Roberson High School, North Carolina)
Davidson is a high risk, high reward corner bat for the 2014 draft. Davidson is a thick kid built in the mold of Jay Bruce. He seems destined for 1B as his arm is fringy for RF though he could handle the position in a pinch. At the plate, Davidson flashes plus power to all fields while showing an advanced approach. He has a good eye and a line drive swing that generates a large amount of backspin. Defensively he is limited but the bat may be too much to pass up on.
No. 23 Tampa Bay Rays - LHP Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea High School, Hawaii)
Medeiros is an undersized left hander with advanced array of pitches but little projection left. The kid works fast and has a lively arm. His frame is compact and has a deceptive delivery with a low 3/4 arm slot. The fastball sits in the mid 90's with a lot of life. His slurve sits in the low 80's and is pretty average. His changeup is a solid pitch that sits around 82 MPH and has a good amount of movement. Medeiros may end up in the bullpen down the road which would severely hurt his stock but, right now, he is a darn fine left handed pitcher.
No. 24 Cleveland Indians - 3B Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake High School, California)
At present, Flaherty is playing mostly shortstop but he seems destined for 3B. Flaherty has clean footwork, a strong arm, excellent charging skills, and quick reflexes to make for an, overall, plus defender. At the plate, Flaherty has a line drive swing with gap power. As he grows, it looks that he should develop above average power but looks to be more of a doubles machine. On the base paths, Flaherty moves well enough but won't be a base stealer as his speed is average.
No. 25 Los Angeles Dodgers - OF Mike Conforto (Oregon State University)
Right now I have Conforto at #25 but I think he is going to move up the boards, I just haven't seen enough on him. Most of the information there is, covers his bat. Conforto has an dangerous bat and the ball explodes off the barrel. His swing has a slight uppercut in it though it will be easily ironed out by professional development. Overall, Conforto is a plus hitter across the board. What I have read in terms of defense is he seems destined for right field. The arm is a bit above average but he is not a confident defender, getting late jumps on balls and sometimes making poor decisions. Conforto seems like a guy who could jump into the top 15 come draft day with an outside chance at top 10.
No. 26 Detroit Tigers - C Chase Vallot (St. Thomas More High School, Louisiana)
Vallot is a compact catcher with tremendous receiving skills and a solid bat. At the plate, Vallot has a somewhat long swing due to a few kinks in his swing that need ironed out. Regardless of those kinks, the ball comes off the barrel hard due to a level, line drive plane and generates some loft. When all is said and done, Vallot will most likely be an above average hitter with above average power. Behind the plate, Vallot really shines. He has a sub 2.00 POP time mixed with a cannon arm, sound blocking skills, clean set up, and good footwork. He is a defense first catcher but the bat will play.
No. 27 Pittsburgh Pirates- LHP Foster Griffin (The First Academy, Florida)
Griffin is a long, lean, highly projectable pitcher who has tons of room to grow. Griffin is currently listed at 6'5, 195 lbs. He repeats his delivery and he pitches on a downward plane already. The fastball has been clocked in the low 90's and usually sits around 88-89. His curve looks to be an above average pitch with nice rotation and shape to it. The change is underused and needs to be worked on as he rarely, if ever, trusts it in games. Griffins is a three-pitch guy who has sound mechanics on the mound, a frame that suggests he will add speed, and a solid secondary offering in the making.
No. 28 Oakland Athletics - OF Kel Johnson (Home School, Georgia)
Johnson is a big, strong athletically built kid with some concerns regarding his hitting. The build screams power, the swing is smooth and level, the ball explodes off the barrel. What could be the problem? Johnson fails to make consistent contact due to some problems with pitch recognition and expanding the zone. Johnson profiles as a corner OF, moving well in the field and having a strong arm. On the base paths, Johnson has average speed but good instincts. With improved plate discipline, Johnson could shoot up the boards due to his potential plus-plus power.
No. 29 Atlanta Braves - RHP Luis Ortiz (Sanger High School, California)
Built like a bull and a hard worker, Ortiz looks like a sure fire pitcher to improve his stock after his senior year. Ortiz has a mostly clean delivery but needs to get better extension. The arm action is great. His fastball mostly sits in the 91-94 range but has been as high as 97. The pitch has some backspin on it and is located well throughout the zone. The slider comes in hard in the mid 80's with nice tilt. The pitch is lethal to lefties and looks to be above-average to plus. The changeup comes in at about the same speed as the slider with good arm speed. Ortiz has a workhorse type body and is extremely dedicated to his craft.
No. 30 Boston Red Sox - C Jakson Reetz (Norris High School, Nebraska)
Reetz has been improving his stock over the summer and looks like a late 1st rounder. Reetz is a solid receiver and possesses a great bat. Defensively, Reetz has plus receiving skills and a plus arm. Right now, there is some work that needs to be done concerning his catch and throw skills as the POP time is not where it should be. Offensively, Reetz has an advanced approach at the plate with potential plus power. Despite his power, Reetz maintains a line drive swing that will result in more doubles unless he generates more loft. Regardless, Reetz looks like a high average hitter who could become a top catcher with some work.
No. 31 St. Louis Cardinals - RHP Grant Holmes (Conway High School, South Carolina)
Holmes is the top pitcher out of the state of South Carolina who has some red flags but high potential. The delivery needs some work. He has a very quick arm with a long take back and lack of extension following release. The fastball sits around 94 but has been cranked up to 96 and is thrown on a downward plane. The changeup is a potential plus pitch due to his arm speed, late bite, and velocity. Holmes doesn't locate his pitches as well as some would hope but the control is improving. Some of the control problems may stem from delivery problems. Holmes needs to continue developing his change and a secondary pitch in order to stay as a starter.
Five Players Who are Likely to Improve Their Stock:
1. OF Mike Conforto (Oregon State)
2. RHP Luis Ortiz (Sanger HS)
3. SS Ti'Quan Forbes (Columbia HS)
4. OF Kel Johnson (Home Schooled)
5. C Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernado HS)
Five Players Likely to Fall:
1. RHP Nick Burdi (Louisville)
2. RHP Michael Cederoth (San Diego State)
3. LHP Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea HS)
4. RHP Sean Reid-Foley (Sandalwood HS)
5. C Jakson Reetz (Norris HS)