I am doing this primarily to help people become familiar with names. As I always say, the MLB draft is my favorite time of year. The draft is chock full of talent and looks to have higher-upside players than this past seasons. There are a trio of college pitchers who look like sure-fire Top 10's as well as some great high school position players. The 2014 Draft, as things stand today, would see the Pirates drafting in the 20-30 range, though it is not set in stone yet.
Each player will have a brief description as well as a link to video and this past seasons stats if they can be located. I decided not to assign a team yet, as the positions will fluctuate until the season ends. So, in a sense, this is the top 30 players available in order. Remember, the stats do not always reflect the player, some are drafted on potential alone and therefore that is why they are listed. I haven't been able to see as many as these players as I was last year. Anyway, without further ado, the much-too-early 2014 MLB Mock Draft.
1. LHP Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State University)
Rodon is a power pitcher and the prize of the 2014 draft. A southpaw from Holly Springs, North Carolina, Rodon has dominated the ACC since arriving. As a sophomore, Rodon posted phenomenal numbers while establishing himself as the ace of the Wolfpack. Rodon features a mid 90's fastball that can be cranked up to 98 and a hard cutter that sits around 90. His slider is comparable to Francisco Liriano's, and he is developing a splitter to function as an offspeed pitch. Rodon maintains his velocity and has smooth mechanics. There is uncertainty whether he will gain any more velocity as he has filled out his 6'2 frame. Regardless, Rodon profiles as a future ace.
2. RHP Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt University)
Beede is a power pitcher from the SEC who was drafted in the first round by the Blue Jays in 2011. Beede has progressed nicely at Vanderbilt and has cleaned up his delivery and harnessed his control somewhat. He rocketed to the top five on the board after a stellar sophomore season. Beede flashes a low-mid 90's fastball, a hard tailing two-seamer that has swing and miss potential, a curve that needs work but has plus potential and a change that is one of the best in college baseball. Beede's major concerns are control and commanding his curve. When he is on, he is almost unhittable.
3. C Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo HS, CA)
Jackson is a 6'2, athletic catcher from the prep ranks. Jackson has mammoth power and advanced skills behind the plate. He has plus bat speed and power to go along with an excellent command of the strike zone. Defensively, he has been record as high as 1.73 Pop time behind the plate (to give you an idea of how good that is, at his peak, Pudge Rodriguez's highest Pop time was 1.68). He has very solid mechanics, an explosive arm, and excellent blocking skills. He could also easily transition to the OF.
4. RHP Michael Cederoth (San Diego State University)
Cederoth is another power pitcher in a crop of excellent college pitchers this year. He has a big frame and hasn't entirely filled out yet, meaning he could add a little more on his pitches. Cederoth often touches the high 90's with his fastball and the pitch shows life with good tailing action.His slider has plus potential and sits around the mid 80's while he also commands a high 80's changeup. Cederoth has not gotten the results expected of a college pitcher with his arsenal but their have been plenty of similar cases (Gerrit Cole for instance). The main concerns will be learning to repeat his mechanics and control, both which have been lacking at times. If he develops, he could turn into a frontline starter with ace upside.
5. RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian Academy, FL)
Arguably the best high school arm in the class and brimming with upside, Toussaint is someone who could shoot up draft boards in the coming months. Toussaint is highly athletic and is continuing to add strength to his lean frame. His arsenal and pitching approach is quite advanced for a prep pitcher. His fastball sits in the mid 90's but he has incorporated a cutter to keep batters off balance. His curveball is considered a plus pitch and is unique as he is able to throw it with differing velocity while repeating delivery. In addition, he has added changeup this past year which has plus potential but he is still gaining proper command of the pitch. Toussaint has ace upside and could advance quickly through a system. His major concern is inconsistency as he can become very hittable at times despite overwhelming stuff.
6. SS Trea Turner (North Carolina State University)
Turner has some considerable hype and has some great tools to back that up. Turner is an athletic, versatile shortstop for the Wolfpack and one of the best college hitters available. Turner has gap power with a short, compact swing, and a sound approach. Turner has exceptional speed, stealing 57 bases this past year. Defensively, he has an above average arm, sound footwork, and good range. With his speed and average power, I can see him as an exceptional leadoff or two hitter. His major concern is whether he will add power down the road and whether his arm can handle shortstop.
7. RHP Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina University)
A power pitcher on a relatively obscure team, Hoffman has created quite the buzz for himself due to dominating numbers and an arsenal that has scouts drooling. Hoffman is 6'4 and quite lanky leading many to believe he could easily get stronger and add more to his fastball. Right now he has a three pitch mix: a consistent mid-90's fastball, an above average curve, and above average changeup. All three pitches have plus potential. Hoffman has solid control though it will need to improve. I don't see him as having ace upside but there is definitely a quality No. 2 or 3 starter in him.
8. SS Nick Gordon (Olympia HS, FL)
Gordon is one of the top defensive players available in the draft but defense isn't everything for the 6'2 middle infielder. Gordon has a line drive swing that is starting to show some lift and power. He has solid bat speed and a good eye at the plate. He is never going to be a major power hitter but could put up 10-15 a year. Defensively, Gordon has exceptional range, a powerful arm, and soft hands often making incredibly difficult plays look easy. To me, he seems to be a future leadoff hitter due to his speed and high contact rate.
9. RHP Dylan Cease (Milton HS, GA)
Cease has the chance to become the best prep arm in the draft, even overtaking Toussaint, if he has the break out a lot of people are expecting. Cease has incredibly loose actions on the mound and an explosive arm to go along with an athletic build. His delivery is clean with a high leg kick and good balance while using his whole body to make pitching look easy. He regularly sits in the mid-90's and has the chance to become plus/plus as he fills out. His secondary offerings include a changeup that has nice fade and a power curve that seems to sweep across the plate. Very high ceiling.
10. OF Kel Johnson (Home Schooled, GA)
Johnson is a unique player as he is home schooled and does not play for a high school team. Johnson has tremendous power to go along with some intriguing bat skills. He has a short, compact swing that has a few kinks that need to be worked out. He shifts his weight effectively and drives the ball to all fields. Defensively, he projects as a LF with a strong arm and good instincts. Definitely one of the best bats available.
11. LHP Sean Newcomb (University of Hartford)
Newcomb returns for another season with the Hawks, a team that is going to surprise a lot of people. Newcomb is a big, thick kid at 6'5, 240. His fastball has been clocked at 94 and can reach 97. His secondary offerings, a curve and change, have both improved and could turn into above average pitches before all is said and done. Newcomb has a lot of upside and could turn into a power lefty starter with front of the rotation stuff. The major issue is Newcomb needs to continue to develop his secondary offerings and maintain control.
12. OF Derek Fisher (University of Virginia)
Fisher is one of the top hitters in the ACC. Fisher is a corner outfielder that profiles well for RF. He has a strong arm and average to above-average range. His bat is what makes him a good pick at No. 12. Fisher demonstrates advanced hitting tools, plus bat speed, plus power and a solid eye. He has a willingness to take the ball the opposite way and he relies on his large frame to generate power to all fields. To me, he is quite similar to Jay Bruce. His major concern will be the ability to hit offspeed consistently and limited strikeouts.
13. C Kyle Schwarber (University of Indiana)
Schwarber is a top hitter with questions concerning his future defensive position. Schwarber posted phenomenal batting statistics, hitting for power and achieving a very high on-base percentage. Schwarber generates a lot of lift and has potential plus power to all fields. He has a solid approach at the plate and shows a willingness to take it to the opposite field. Defensively, there are major concerns regarding his ability to stick behind the plate. He doesn't have a great pop time or a very strong arm, both which are necessary to be a valuable ML catcher. If he is moved off the position, he could profile at 1B.
14. RHP Nick Burdi (University of Louisville)
Burdi is a relief pitcher who will be making the transition to starter this season for the Cardinals. As a reliever, Burdi sits in the upper 90's and is accompanied by a plus slider that sits in the upper 80's. Burdi has a high leg kick and a quick arm. He throws on a downward plane with a 3/4 arm slot. The biggest question moving forward is whether Burdi can handle the role of a starter. He will see a decrease in velocity as coaches try to stretch him out over multiple innings. Whether he maintains effectiveness remains to be seen.
15. SS Liam Sabino (Blair Academy, NJ)
The Pennsylvania native is one of the top prep shortstops available for 2014 and possesses interesting all-around tools. Sabino is an outstanding defensive shortstop with great range, a plus arm, soft hands, and great footwork. His bat is steadily improving. At the moment, he shows gap power, with his best contact being the middle to the opposite field. He does have some minor mechanical issues to work out but he could easily settle in as a top of the order bat when all is said and done.
16. LHP Brandon Finnegan (Texas Christian University)
Finnegan is a top left handed pitcher who is overshadowed by potential 1st overal Carlos Rodon. Finnegan is the ace of TCU with a mid-90's fastball, plus slider, and improving changeup. Finnegan mixes his pitches well and attacks hitters. There are two concerns with Finnegan. First, and most importantly, is command as he can loose his feel for his slider at times while also elevating his fastball. The second is his relatively small stature. Standing at only 5'11, there isn't much room to grow or add so what you see now may be what you get.
17. 3B Jacob Gatewood (Clovis HS, California)
Gatewood is currently a shortstop who will, in all likelihood, move to 3B. Gatewood stands at 6'5 and has been impressing scouts since he started to attend showcases. He possesses loads of power, uses a short, compact swing with plus bat speed, and generates lift as his barrel comes through the zone. Defensively, he has quick reactions and a strong arm. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he stays at short but it may be better suited to balk him up some (he only weigh's 190 lbs.) and let his natural power play at 3B. Very high tools all across the board.
18. OF Mike Conforto (Oregon State University)
Conforto is one of the top college bats and could shoot up the draft boards if he continues his development. Conforto possesses plus bat speed to go along with his strong build which generates plus raw power. The ball really explodes off his bat. Defensively, Conforto can handle either corner OF spots where he will play passable defensive. His bat is what will make him a valuable commodity come draft day.
19. OF Stone Garrett (George Ranch HS, TX)
Nicknamed "Granite" by scouts, Garrett is built like Bo Jackson and has the power of Barry Bonds. He is one of several 5-tool athletes in the class. At the dish, Garrett has a strong, rotational swing with plus bat speed and a willingness to take it to all fields. He punishes mistakes made by pitchers. Contact is loud off the bat and he projects to have plus power. Garrett has plus-plus speed, a strong arm, and strong defensive tools. He covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Easily projects as a middle of the order bat who can stick in CF.
20. RHP Aaron Nola (Louisiana State University)
Nola is the heir apparent as the ace of Louisiana State with the departure of Ryan Eades. Nola is a nimble 6'4 with a 3/4 to sidearm slot delivery. His fastball has a lot of movement and sits in the low 90's, his two-seamer has a lot of heavy run on it, the power curve sits in the upper 70's and shows plus potential, and lastly the changeup is improving. Nola is pretty raw at the moment and the results may not be great but he definitely has the build, pitch arsenal, and mindset to be a solid No. 2 starter down the road.
21. LHP Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma HS, Oklahoma)
Sheffield is one of the top LHP from the prep ranks this year. While not the biggest kid out there, Sheffield flashes some great stuff while having a great idea of how to pitch. He consistently pounds the bottom half of the zone to open counts before working his way up the ladder. His fastball has a natural cutting motion to it and sits in the upper 80's. He can throw the pitch just about anywhere in the strike zone. His curve sits in the upper 70's and has plus potential with good depth and solid rotation. Lastly, his changeup has some great movement to it and has some hand side movement.
22. 3B Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake HS, California)
Flaherty is long, lean, athletic, and strong. Flaherty has excellent reflex actions at 3B to go along with soft hands and above average range. He gets the ball quickly and gets rid of it, masking what may be nothing more than a slightly above average arm for the hot corner. At the plate, Flaherty has flashed plus raw power while maintaining a level, line drive swing. He makes consistent hard contact and really likes to drive the ball into the right-center gap. Projects as a 3B and 5 or 6 hitter down the road.
23. SS Joey Pankake (University of South Carolina)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAWwTLeU4Eg NOTE: This is an older video, there aren't any scouting videos of him at USC that I could find.
Pankake is the top hitter for the Gamecocks. While having above-average power, Pankake's swing is more tailored for line drives as it is smooth and compact. He drives it hard to all fields and there is still room for improvement. Defensively, Pankake is a top athlete with great range and a power arm. The combination allows him to make highlight reel plays. He is also a bullpen option with a fastball that sits in the low 90's.
24. RHP Luke Weaver (Florida State University)
Weaver will be one of the youngest college juniors on draft day but his stock has steadily been rising since setting foot on Florida State's campus. Weaver throws from a 3/4 to sidearm slot that may need to be reworked a little as their is some wrap in his motion. He features a three pitch mix: low 90's fastball that has a lot of movement, a changeup with a lot of deception and fade, and a slider that bites and sweeps across the plate. Weaver has pinpoint control and an aggressive approach on the mound, a potentially lethal combination.
25. LHP Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic HS, NJ)
Aiken has steadily been improving his stock and now looks to be a late first round draft pick. Aiken features a low 90's fastball that he throws all throughout the strike zone, a low 80's changeup that has improving fade, and a slow, looping curveball that has solid rotation. Aiken uses all three of his pitches as strikeout pitches and commands them fairly well. In recent months, he's added a bit of weight which has raised concerns about what kind of projection he has left. Right now, he looks to be a 4 or 5 starter but the height and stuff suggest he could turn into a solid No. 2 starter.
26. 3B Matt Chapman (California State University - Fullerton)
Chapman is a muscular, athletic 3B with a lot of potential. Chapman maintains a short, compact swing with virtually no load to speak of. He generates solid bat speed and his swing has a touch of lift in it. He has above average power and a sound approach at the plate. Defensively, he is sound across the board with excellent charging skills, a strong arm, and fast reflexes. He seems like he could be a fixture at 3B due to his defense alone.
27. RHP Michael Kopech (Mount Pleasant HS, TX)
Kopech has an ideal pitchers frame with loads of projection still in him. Kopech is long and lean with strong legs and a fast arm. His delivery is a bit inconsistent at times, especially with repeating his delivery. His fastball sits in the low 90's but could see an uptick in velocity. The pitches moves well and is tough to square up. His two-seamer has some arm side run and sink to it that makes it a potential out pitch. His curve sits in the mid 70's and the rotation needs to be tightened a bit more. Lastly, his change is a work in progress but his arm speed remains the same. His draft stock, at this point, is based more on projection and potential than anything else.
28. OF Mason Robbins (University of Southern Mississippi)
A big guy with a good bat, Robbins is a corner OF in the making. Robbins has a short swing with a good approach at the plate. He has great lift in his swing with plus power to all fields. He has good raw bat speed and the ball jumps off his bat with consistent, hard contact. Defensively, Robbins moves well despite his large frame and he has a strong, loose arm.
29. OF Braxton Davidson (T.C. Roberson High School, NC)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrRbLapEi84 NOTE: Davidson is the 2nd to bat
Strong and well-proportioned, Davidson is a great all around athlete. Defensively, Davidson has a strong arm that is accurate as well as good footwork. He has plus bat speed that allows him to mash the inner half of the plate. One of the highest power hitters in the class with plus-plus power. Struggles with the outer half of the plate at times and is an area that will need to be ironed out. Projects as a corner OF and a middle of the order bat.
30. LHP David Peterson (Regis Jesuit HS, Colorado)
Literally towering over his competition, Peterson is a 6'7 left handed pitcher and one of the best in his class. Peterson has an ideal pitchers body with strong legs and hips and a lanky upper body. His fastball sits in the upper 80's being clocked as high as 90. His curveball is a potential plus pitch with hard spin and sweeping action. Lastly, his changeup is a work in progress but has been above average at times. With his size, there is a ton of projection and he could easily become a top of the rotation pitcher.