The 2014 MLB Draft starts on June 5. Over 2,000 young men will become professional baseball players, as teams hope to find their future starts. I'll be covering the draft on Twitter, so make sure you are following and check it out as the draft goes on. Here are my predictions for how the first round plays out:
1. Houston Astros -- Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic High School (CA)
Aiken has the perfect pitcher frame; he's 6 foot, 3 inches, and weighs 210 pounds. The 18-year-old throws a fastball into the low 90s, many project it could reach the 92-94 range; has a solid curve that has a good break, it could become a plus offering; and has great deception on his change-up, which could also be a plus offering into the future.
2. Miami Marlins -- Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Carlos Rodon has a shot to go to the Astros at number one, but I think he'll fall to the Marlins at two. Rondon has a fastball that can touch 97 mph and can overpower hitters late in the count with a fantastic slider. He's working on a change-up that could be an average pitch into the future. He's got the durability and frame to become a number one starter when it is all set and done.
3. Chicago White Sox -- Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepard High School (TX)
The Chicago White Sox haven't selected a pitcher in the first round since they picked Chris Sale in 2010. They won't pick another position player here. Simply put, Tyler Kolek has the best fastball of the entire draft class. He can hit 97-99 mph routinely and can touch 100 on the gun. His command isn't top notch, but if it comes, watch out. Kolek has been compared to Nolan Ryan in the past.
4. Chicago Cubs -- Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
The Cubs have plenty of bats in their system, but pitching comes more at a premium. Aaron Nola, the righty coming from Louisiana State, can balance their organization. He hit the low to mid 90s with his fastball with some sink, a fantastic curveball, that, when he's on, can make anyone swing and miss, and a decent change that sometimes flashes plus. He's got good command and hits his spots. Of the 2014 draft prospects, Nola has the best chance to reach his ceiling and make the big leagues first.
5. Minnesota Twins -- Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia High School (FL)
The Twins have been connected to Gordon, and he will be drafted here. While passing up Alex Jackson, perhaps the best offensive player in the draft, they are getting a speedy shortstop with a fantastic glove. The brother of Dee, Nick Gordon has a nice line drive stroke with some pop, making him the best shortstop in the 2014 class. The Twins have a lot of pitching in their system, but are lacking some position players. Gordon will add to that.
6. Seattle Mariners -- Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo High School (CA)
This pick will enrage the Phillies, who need another bat in their system. Jackson could, and just might, be a top five pick, but I predict he falls to the Mariners at number six. While the Mariners have hitting in their system, they cannot pass up on Jackson, who's bat could post a .280 average with 25-35 homers in the big leagues. While he has a good arm behind the plate, many expect him to move to the outfield to maximize his bat.
7. Philadelphia Phillies -- Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
The Phillies farm system improved via their last draft, so I expect them to continue to boost their stock with the seventh overall selection. They take the best available player on the boards, picking Kyle Freeland of Evansville. Freeland can touch 94 with the fastball, while many expect that to rise as his big frame could bring that into the mid-90s. He's got a good slider and a good changeup, which could be an above average and a plus pitch, respectively.
8. Colorado Rockies -- Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
The University of Hartford has only had one player drafted before the tenth round (Jeff Bagwell, 4th Round) ever. Sean Newcomb will change that. He'll likely be a top ten pick, and I believe he'll go to the Rockies at number eight. He has a fastball that can reach 97 miles per hour, a slider with some bite, a change up, and a curveball. Although his command is not top quality, few can match his velocity.
9. Toronto Blue Jays -- Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State
The Blue Jays get two selections in the top fifteen, at numbers nine and eleven. They select shortstop Trea Turner at number nine from North Carolina State. Turner has excellent speed and will be a threat to run whenever he is on the basepaths, is a decent fielder, and will likely bat at the top of the order. While his swing still needs improvement to get more line drives, Turner's speed will likely have him land at nine.
10. New York Mets -- Michael Confronto, OF, Oregon State
The Mets have some great pitching prospects. A college outfielder would definitely be a great compliment to that. Michael Confronto from Oregon State is Baseball America's highest rated outfielder (except for Alex Jackson who is a C/OF) and for could reason. Confronto has the opportunity to hit 25 or more home runs in the majors due to his size and uppercut he has in his swing. He swings and misses a lot, so his average shouldn't be great, but his average defense and above average power should be enough to land him at number 10.
11. Toronto Blue Jays -- Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs High School (FL)
The Blue Jays have a very strong connection with Toussaint, so there is no reason why he shouldn't be drafted by them. Toussaint's fastball operates in the 91-93 range, but has hit 97; his curveball has so much downward action that catchers can barely catch it; and his changeup needs work, as he throws it too hard into the mid-80s. Toussaint, however, does have good promise, and the Blue Jays should be willing to take a chance on him here at number 11.
12. Milwaukee Brewers -- Max Pentecost, C, Kennessaw State
The Brewers could go with a number of players here, but they are particularly weak at catcher in their organization. Pentecost has a good line drive swing and is smart in the batter's box. He also can post minimal power numbers, you might be able to get around 15 home runs in the majors. He's a decent backstop, as his arm is very good, but it needs work on accuracy. Many expect that Pentecost will be able to remain at the catcher position, so the Brewers will nab him here at number 12.
13. San Diego Padres -- Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian
If anyone has the best chance ten years down the road to be considered a "steal" in this draft, Finnegan is it. He has a commanding fastball that can reach up to 98 on the gun, a good feel for a change up that could be above average, and a swing and miss "slurve-like" pitch. He's got decent command that keeps runners off of base via the walk and hit by pitch, and repeats his motion very nicely. Let me tell you again: Finnegan will be dominating hitters in the majors in just a few years.
14. San Francisco Giants -- Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway High School (SC)
The Giants have been connected to Holmes, so it's very likely they select him. Holmes can really throw the heater, touching triple digits at times. He has a ridiculous curveball that is harder than normal, but has great spin and depth. His changeup is still developing, something that will need to happen in order for Holmes to make it big at the next level. The Giants are good at developing some talent, so I think Holmes will be put into a good situation in San Francisco.
15. Los Angeles Angels -- Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
The Angles will likely be looking for an advanced college bat to help them in the near future. Schwarber perfectly fits that mold as he has some very good power, while also working counts in his favor. People view him as a 30+ homer player if he can remain healthy and play everyday, which is why he could be making the move to first base in the near future. Besides C.J Cron, the Angels really don't have very powerful first baseman or catchers in their organization. Schwarber will change that.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks -- Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
Zimmer has a fantastic swing that keeps him in the first round of this draft. He hits line drives to all fields and could provide some power if he adds loft to his swing. Regardless, he's a very solid choice. Zimmer has good instincts on the base paths and has decent speed as well. He could play center field, but his arm definitely has the makings of a corner outfielder.
17. Kansas City Royals -- Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Royals like their pitching, and Beede is no exception. He can pitch. Beede throws quite a heater; sitting around 92-94 and topping out a 97. He has a sharp curveball and good changeup, both looking like above average pitches into the future. He was selected in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Blue Jays, but decided to attend Vanderbilt. He was dominant and set a school-record 14 victories last spring. Beede could go higher, but his command has some issues.
18. Washington Nationals -- Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove High School (CA)
Hill's dad, Orsino, is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but likely won't get his shot at his son at pick 22, as Derek will likely be a top-20 selection. I have him going here to the Nationals, and even though they like college bats, Hill has the chance to be something special. He flies on the basepaths, is a fantastic defender, and offers a very good line drive swing with a nice approach. Hill has the chance to add some power as he gets older, something to perhaps make him more valuable.
19. Cincinnati Reds -- Monte Harrison, OF, Lee's Summit West High School (MO)
The Reds like Harrison because of his athletic ability, and while this may be a bit of a reach at 19, he's definitely worth a look late in the first round. Harrison has a ton of raw talent, as he has committed to Nebraska to play both football and baseball. Harrison's bat needs some improvement, but if he solely focuses on baseball, it should definitely speed that up. His arm is his best asset; he was clocked throwing 97 mph from center field during the Perfect Game National in June.
20. Tampa Bay Rays -- Casey Gallipse, 1B, Wichita State
Gallipse has awesome power. One scout said that Gallipse was the best switch-hitter he has seen in years and gave him a chance to be Mark Teixeira or Lance Berkman. His power is fantastic -- he led the Cape Cod League with eight homers in 43 games. He shows a great approach and is able to hit for a decent average. The Rays need to add to their diminishing farm system, and a college bat like Gallipse should do exactly that.
21. Cleveland Indians -- Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
The Indians want a college bat, like many of the teams in front of them, so they go with a proven prospect in Derek Fisher. He was drafted by the Rangers in 2011, and turned down a substantial offer to head to Virginia. Well here he is again, and better than ever. Fisher had some issues in his first two years in college, but had a strong showing in the Cape Cod League, posting a .453 on-base percentage. Fisher has raw hitting abilities and power and he could be a plus player into the future.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers -- Erick Feede, RHP, Nevada-Las Vegas
The Dodgers would love Feede here. While they really don't need any older pitchers, Feede's upside is great, even though he did just have Tommy John surgery. When healthy, Feede can throw as high as 95 mph, sporting flashes of an above-average slider and a good changeup. His size isn't the biggest, so it is possible that Feede could end up projecting into a really good pitcher. And we know all too well that the Dodgers really like really good pitchers.
23. Detroit Tigers -- Nick Howard, RHP, Virginia
Howard is used as the Cavaliers' closer, due to the fact that he can throw into the high 90s, touching 98 at times. He has a really good slider at times, but it can lose its bite. The Tigers might be able to convert Howard back into a starter, which may be the reason for taking him at 23 overall. But I don't have any issues with Howard sticking as a closer, something he might be able to excel at in the majors.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates -- Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis High School (CA)
This might be a bit low for Gatewood, but it's hard to project him going any higher. The Dodgers, who like players that add value, could nab Gatewood, but I have them going with Feede. Gatewood is a very powerful shortstop and is also a great athlete that has good arm strength. People were concerned about his bat in general, which has hurt his stock over the past few weeks. With a better bat, he could be a top 10 pick, which is why the Pirates could be getting a very nice steal at 24.
25. Oakland Athletics -- Ti'quan Forbes, SS, Columbia High School (MS)
Rumor has it that the Athletics like Forbes, so that is who I'm having them go with here. Forbes may be a bit of a reach, but Billy Beane knows young talent better than anyone. He's good across the boards, showing promise fielding, especially with his arm, which could end up moving him to third base. At 6-foot-4, Forbes' bat could improve into being a solid hitter. The Athletics like taking young bats under their wings and improving them.
26. Boston Red Sox -- Micheal Chavis, SS, Sprayberry High School (GA)
Chavis is very solid across the boards, but does not have one aspect of his game that wows scouts. He has a good line-drive swing and could hit 18-20 homers in the big leagues. His arm, one of his strengths, could move him to anywhere in the infield. The Red Sox will have many options if/when he comes up to the big leagues. He will likely end up at third base, where many think the Red Sox will draft this year.
27. St. Louis Cardinals -- Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger High School (CA)
The Cardinals are known for developing young pitching, so it's hard to project them picking anything but a pitcher. Luis Ortiz of Sanger High School has tremendous upside, topping out at 97 mph. He has a slider that can make hitters swing-and-miss, while also having a decent changeup. Ortiz is working on a curveball as well to add to his repertoire as well. There are some injury issues in his forearm, but the Cardinals should be willing to take a chance on him down at number 27.