And now for the final part of MinorLeagueMadhouse’s 2014 mock draft.
21. Rays: Dylan Cease, LHP, Milton High School, Georgia
The Rays do not have a shortage of prep arms, that’s for certain, but given the weak corner infield talent in the draft, which is something the Rays system could use, it’d be better for them to stick to something they know how to develop. Dylan Cease is a fastball pitcher with other options, but they need to be smoothed out. For instance, his curveball is clocked at 70 MPH, which is a couple ticks faster than an average curveball. Cease is deceptive, his body doesn’t look like it can take the rigors of pitching, so Cease has a sort of natural deception when he throws. However, like TCU’s Brandon Finnegan, he is conscious of his delivery, but because he’s young, he does have time to determine if he’ll be a better starter or reliever.
22. Indians: Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
Every year, a highly rated college pitcher takes a tumble. Two years ago, it was Mark Appel, last year, Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek and Indiana State’s Sean Manaea, and this year, it could be Aaron Nola. Avoiding the possible reasons why he could fall, Nola’s game isn’t reliant on strength, but rather, craft. His command is superb, and his pitching arsenal is very effective. However, his big knock is that he doesn’t really have a standout pitch. Now, in the high school ranks, that would work, as the development of a high school pitcher allows for the selection of a dominant pitch, but in Nola’s case, because of his potential accelerated development, he doesn’t have as much time. Still in comparison to Indians top young pitcher Trevor Bauer, who does rely on strength, Nola does seem to have durability on his side.
23. Dodgers: Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
The Dodgers system is stronger than you think, despite the big free agency and trade splurges over the past two years. But there’s still the question of who will take over for Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier when they go? Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig are good bets, but the third outfield spot remains unclear. Enter Michael Conforto. Conforto may not have Pederson’s baseball pedigree, or Puig’s range, but he does have the athletic pedigree. Conforto’s father was a linebacker for Penn State, and his mother was a gold medalist in synchronized swimming in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Conforto does have power that matches Matt Kemp’s pre-injury potential, and he could fit in the 3 or 4 spot in the Dodger lineup. Conforto does have a natural swing as well, which is good for a power hitter. If Conforto can improve his defense, expect his stock to rise, as Sporting News feels that he could be the top college hitter in 2014.
24. Tigers: Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
Detroit has an affinity for flame throwing relievers, see Joel Zumaya, Jose Valverde and Bruce Rondon for reference), but they still can’t seem to get a quality closer. Nick Burdi may be the answer. Consistently clocked in the high 90’s with the potential to reach triple digits, Burdi’s ceiling is as a closer. What Burdi does lack, however, is a good tertiary pitch behind his fastball/slider combination. Sure, he’s working on a change up, but it’s still in the development stages as of the beginning of the college baseball season. Still, Burdi has the potential to be an Aroldis Chapman-type closer if he can hone the lesser parts of his game.
25. Pirates: Matt Chapman, 3B/RHP, Cal State Fullerton
There are two ways that this pick can go. If Chapman isn’t used on the mound at all this year, he’ll make a solid infield prospect, however, if he is used on the mound more, scouts may see him the same way they saw former Fullerton teammate Michael Lorenzen. Matt Chapman has been used his entire college career as an infielder, but in summer leagues, especially Team USA, he was tried on the mound as a closer, and surprised people with his fastball. Chapman does have a strong arm and is a top defender, which should give him a few gold gloves, but his hitting needs to improve if he wants to succeed at the Major League level.
26. Athletics: Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
The A’s are weak in terms of southpaw prospects. Although Billy Beane has shifted away from the moneyball philosophy of drafting collegiate talent in the past two years, Kyle Freeland may have enough upside for Beane to take a look at him. Like Sean Manaea last year, Freeland started getting attention while pitching for Hyannis of the Cape Cod League. His fastball does have movement on it which causes batters to overcompensate, and his slider often takes on the personality of a cutter. His body does have an effect on his mechanics, and scouts are wary of him being in the rotation, but in all likelihood, his effort to compensate could provide him with some leeway on certain evaluators. Freeland’s stock can only rise more if he can figure out how to pitch to win at Evansville.
27. Braves: Monte Harrison, OF, Lee’s Summit West High School, Missouri
If there were any prospect that could be judged as a hard sign, it would be Missouri prep product Monte Harrison. Harrison has plenty of tools, he’s a great hitter, an even better fielder, not to mention he has a strong commitment to the University of Nebraska for baseball and football (as a wide receiver). Given Atlanta’s track record with high school outfielders, (see Jeff Francoueur and Jason Heyward), they could be one of the teams that would be willing to incur penalties and future pick forfeiture so that they can get this young man signed. The big flaw in his game, however, is his patience. If he can curb his strikeout numbers, he could rise to a top 15 pick riding on his athleticism alone.
28. Red Sox: JD Davis, 1B/RHP, Cal State Fullerton
NC State isn’t the only school with two potential first round talents. JD Davis’ right handed power as a first baseman and fastball as a pitcher could intrigue Boston to go after a second straight two way player after Trey Ball. Davis is kind of like Mike Napoli, but he’s young and doesn’t have the durability issues the former has. He has an excellent fielding arm, and already has a feel for wood bats, as evidenced by his second place finish in the Cape Cod League Home Run Derby. Davis could rise through the minors quickly and when Napoli is eventually named a designated hitter, could take his spot.
29. Cardinals: Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waikeka High School, Hawaii
Kodi Medeiros is an enigma. His small stature, lack of control on his secondary pitches, and windup, not to mention he’s in uncharted territory as a prep player from Hawaii should have teams backing away, but the Cardinals could actually use a prep lefty like him for their rotation down the road. Medeiros’ biggest redeeming quality is his fastball, which while normally a low 90’s offering, can go up to the mid 90’s on occasion. Although his command is an issue, the movement on his secondary pitches has led to him acquiring the strikeout pitcher label. Medeiros would have some familiarity if he was drafted by the Cardinals, as he was teammates with second baseman Kolten Wong’s brother Kean, an infielder in the Rays organization.
The order of the compensatory picks has not been released, and until they are, this will serve as the conclusion of the 2014 mock draft. Stay tuned for version two, which will be released by the start of the College World Series.
This is a continuation of the new version of my MLB mock draft. The general rule of thumb in this is that teams draft best player available, although in some cases they will draft based on what is the cheapest option. We start off the second part of the draft with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and end with the New York Yankees.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates select Jon Denney, Catcher, Yukon High School, Oklahoma
(Prev. Trey Ball, Pitcher, New Castle High School, Indiana)
The Pirates have a pretty stacked minor league system in terms of most positions, so their pick will likely be a cheap one here. Jon Denney has plummeted on most draft boards, some would say that he barely stays in the first round. If the Pirates do select Denney, it shows that Boston College’s Tony Sanchez was not the right choice four years ago. Denney is classified as probably the second best catching prospect this year, behind McGuire, and his grades suggest that potential-wise, he could be one of the best draft choices, especially at a bargain. Look for the Pirates to at least try to lowball him, but rig him in at the end with a deal that will steer him away from his University of Arkansas commitment.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks select Braden Shipley, Pitcher, Nevada
(Prev. Kohl Stewart, Pitcher, St. Pius X High School, Texas)
A lot of MLB draft site have Shipley and the Diamondbacks pairing up, perhaps because Shipley’s fastball is one of the best in the draft, or maybe because Shipley has pitched in the dry climate of Nevada, which is quite similar to Arizona. Beyond Shipley’s fastball is a good mix of pitches that will serve as a developmental toolbox for the Nevada ace. Shipley could be the next big homegrown pitcher in Arizona, though, following in the footsteps of Brandon Webb and Josh Collmenter. His stock will probably go higher after the Tournament.
16. Philadelphia Phillies select Trey Ball, Pitcher/Outfielder, New Castle High School, Indiana
(Prev. Austin Wilson, Stanford)
It’s no secret that the Phillies have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Considering most of that system went to Houston for a season and a half of Roy Oswalt, the Phillies are more of a win-now team. This year, they do have two prospects in the top 100, both former high school aces, Jesse Biddle and Ethan Martin. Expect a third to come along. Trey Ball is not only a high school pitching ace, he also plays the outfield, so if pitching doesn’t work out, he can go there. Like Lance McCullers and Casey Kelly, he can go either way, so the team that drafts him may find themselves with either a solid rotation guy, or a decent high school outfielder, depending on which need is more pressing.
17. Chicago White Sox select Dominic Smith, 1B, Serra High School, California
(Prev. Reese McGuire, Catcher, Kentwood High School, Washington)
The only minor league system worse than Chicago’s right now is the Los Angeles Angels. Chicago has only one top 100 prospect in last year’s first round pick, Courtney Hawkins. That being said, the old Sox, mainly Paul Konerko, are starting to grind down or leave. When Konerko inevitably retires, it is highly likely that a homegrown first baseman will take over. That being said, with DJ Peterson already hypothetically being taken by the Mariners, Dominic Smith is the only logical choice left. Smith has the benefit of being a high machine in the high profile climate of Southern California baseball, in fact, he’s a 14 minute drive away from Dodger Stadium. Still, Smith’s bat is a high school equivalent to Paul Konerko, and while he’s still developing a home run swing, his defense is also tops.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers select Jonathon Crawford, Pitcher, Florida
(Prev. Dominic Smith, 1B, Serra High School, California)
Los Angeles is not known for patience, in fact, last year, they promoted second round pick Steven Rodriguez a mere two months after drafting him out of Florida. With the Dodgers underperforming, the team may have to start looking at college players to replace some of their aging and/or ineffective cogs. Jonathon Crawford is a pitcher who has a terrific fastball, a potentially powerful slider, and two good tertiary pitches. He’ll likely rise through the system quickly, and if the Dodgers are in contention by September, will likely be called in to make a spot start.
19. St. Louis Cardinals select Chris Anderson, Pitcher, Jacksonville University
(Prev. Marco Gonzales, Pitcher, Gonzaga)
St. Louis may need a revamped bullpen in a year or two, and Anderson, a small school product, may be a big help in retooling that bullpen. The Dolphins pitcher has a solid array of pitches, and a good amount of durability, but with the emergence of Michael Wacha in all likelihood taking Chris Carpenter’s vacant rotation spot, Anderson may find himself in a reliable bullpen role with Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte behind him.
20. Detroit Tigers select Hunter Renfroe, Outfielder, Mississippi State
(Prev. Oscar Mercado, Shortstop, Gaither High School, Florida)
Detroit’s outfield, once highly praised for its youth in Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, is starting to lose its sense of wonder. Torii Hunter is obviously here for temporary relief, and with Jackson hurt, and players like Avisail Garcia and Don Kelly holding the fort until Nick Castellanos comes up, Detroit may want to upgrade the outfield quickly. Hunter Renfroe has risen up draft boards to possibly a top ten pick, but in my mock, he falls to Detroit. Renfroe is raw, but his potential could outweigh his risk. While still developing a contact swing, he does have power, speed, and a big league outfield arm, which is perfectly suited for Comerica Park.
21. Tampa Bay Rays select Nick Ciuffo, Catcher, Lexington High School, South Carolina
Tampa Bay’s catcher depth was seriously compromised over the offseason, Stephen Vogt and Robinson Chirinos were traded, and with Jose Lobaton, Jose Molina, and Chris Gimenez as holders of the fort, it wouldn’t hurt to draft one of the many high school catchers in this year’s draft. Ciuffo is the ideal player, with good power and a great arm. He’s still devloping, but has the potential to become one of the better catchers in the American League if drafted there.
22. Baltimore Orioles select Marco Gonzales, Pitcher, Gonzaga
(Prev. Jonathon Crawford, Pitcher, Florida)
You can never have enough lefthanded pitching talent, and with the Orioles having a potentially solid rotation down the line, getting a small-school prospect like Gonzales would be a solid gamble. In addition to being a lefty, Gonzales has great command, with the changeup being his best weapon. Gonzales improved his stock the previous summer while pitching for Team USA. Gonzales could find himself as a back of the rotation option behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.
23. Texas Rangers select Billy McKinney, Outfield, Plano West High School, Texas
Home state favorites are big for ballclubs. Billy McKinney is no exception to this rule. Though still developing, Mckinney has the chance to become the third best bat in this draft. He can’t run, and everything else is still developing, but the added benefit of playing in familiar territory will help him out plenty as he rises to the big leagues.
24. Oakland Athletics select Ian Clarkin, Pitcher, James Madison High School, California
I like Clarkin as Oakland’s pick not only because he has the potential to be the best prep lefty in the draft if Trey Ball converts to outfield, but because Clarkin is an In-state product. The one caveat here is that Billy Beane altered his draft strategy last year when he took prep shortstop Addison Russell, but if he’s content on dropping the established collegian strategy in favor of developing high schoolers, then it’s a major hit or miss. Still, Clarkin wows with his fastball, and had a decent Area Code games, which led to his stock rise to the first round.
25. San Francisco Giants select Austin Wilson, Outfield, Stanford
(Prev. Ryan Boldt, Outfield, Red Wing High School, Minnesota)
You don’t see a lot of Stanford outfielders in the big leagues, for reasons unknown, but sometimes, one just happens to slip through and make the majors. Austin Wilson didn’t sign out of high school and led a productive, if injury prone college career. San Francisco likes to draft collegians, especially after losing Zack Wheeler for a one year rental of Carlos Beltran. The Giants will want a toolsy guy to complement future Giants leadoff man Gary Brown, so there is a good chance that he will not go past this spot.
26. New York Yankees select Rob Kaminsky, Pitcher, St. Joseph Regional High School, New Jersey
(prev. Ryan Eades, Pitcher, LSU)
There’s something special about New Jersey prep baseball players, as they usually have solid to hall-of-fame careers.Rick Porcello and Mike Trout can attest to that. If the Yankees want the next big prep arm, then Kaminsky is their guy. He’s well developed for a high school pitcher with a college-level fastball and a good toolbox of pitches. Normally, northeastern prep baseball players are avoided until late in the draft, but Kaminsky is apparently one to be considered.
27. Cincinnati Reds select Tim Anderson, Shortstop, East Central Community College
(Prev. Cavan Biggio, Utility, St. Thomas High School, Texas)
JuCo players are like Stanford outfielders. Most don’t make it, but those who do generally are solid. This is evidenced by Craig Kimbrel and Bryce Harper, who have gone on to have good starts to their careers. The Reds are a team that are full of depth. They have plenty of pitching talent, decent catchers, a solid enough infield, and an outfield that will carry them this year, then next year, new pieces will take their place. It’s difficult to really pinpoint what the Reds would do with their first pick, but in all likelihood, they will take a shortstop, as they have none in their top 20 prospect rankings. Anderson did not get picked two years ago, but at ECCC, he’s really risen his draft stock to first round levels. Anderson is a throwback to the fast, defensive wizard shortstops with marginal hitting ability, which is good, as the power shortstop is beginning to decline. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Anderson to develop, but he should be a solid prospect for years.
Coming soon: The compensation and CB lottery picks, as well as top draftees by draft position.