MLB Draft Tracker: Houston Astros take Brady Aiken first overall
June 05, 2014
Brady Aiken became the first high school pitcher to be taken No. 1 since Brien Taylor in 1991.
Cathedral Catholic High (Ca.) L/L6-4205
Aiken is the most polished and mechanically clean lefty on the high school side of the draft. Tall and projectable, Aiken delivers a 91-95 mph fastball, an 82 mph cutter and an 81-83 mph changeup. His signature pitch is a wicked curveball which features two-plane drop and a severe diagonal tilt. Aiken will need to create a more consistent downward plane with his arm-side fastball, which has a tendency to stay flat and up in the strike zone.
Sheperd High (Texas) R/R6-5230
A Joba Chamberlain-sized righty, Kolek boasts the premier fastball velocity in the 2014 high school pitching class. His four-seamer ranges from 94 to 97 mph. Kolek's command and secondary pitches are a tad inconsistent and he'll need to improve his stamina. In general, Kolek's mechanics are excellent but his arm stroke is erratic and may require adjustment.
North Carolina State L/L6-3235
Long hyped as a potential "1-1" candidate, the linebacker-sized Rodon is an imposing physical presence but has had an underwhelming 2014 season. He pumps home a 92-94 mph fastball that can touch up into the high 90s, but Rodon's signature pitch is his vicious mid-80s slider. As D-1 colleges still use raised-seam baseballs, the challenge for Rodon will be to achieve the same bite on his slider when using flat, rolled-seam pro baseballs.
The scouting community is in a quandary over what to make of Schwarber. He has no natural position, as he's too slow for the outfield and lacks the defensive chops to be a catcher. First base or designated hitter may be his eventual home. But there is little confusion over Schwarber's bat. Despite swinging from an awkward-looking Jeff Bagwell-type crouch, Schwarber is a smart hitter with power and bat speed.
Olympia High (Fla.) B/L6-2170
Son of ex-big leaguer Tom and brother of current big leaguer Dee, Gordon is the premier defensive middle infield prospect in the 2014 draft. Gordon is gifted with outstanding speed, a rifle arm, soft hands, silky fielding actions, advanced footwork and excellent range. As with his brother, Gordon's bat is a question mark. Can he develop into more than a bottom-of-the-order slap hitter?
Rancho Bernardo High (Ca.) B/R6-2210
Jackson is the most complete high-school catching prospect in many years. His rocket arm and quick release permit him to deliver the ball to second base in around 1.80 seconds, a well-above-average time. That said, his receiving skills are a bit raw and he'll need to polish his defense. As an underclassman, Jackson's backswing was far too long. Jackson has now shortened his swing, and his ability to keep his hands inside the ball gives him impressive power.
Louisiana State L/L6-1190
Throwing from a low three-quarters arm slot and using an old-fashioned drop-and-drive delivery, Nola boasts a 91-93 mph fastball with natural sink. He also has an 82-85 mph changeup with arm-side movement, adding a 77-80 mph breaking ball. Nola pounds the lower portion of the strike zone, which, in modern baseball, is where most strikes are called.
In a draft sense, Freeland has shown the most upward mobility of any college pitcher this spring, emerging as a top-10 possibility. The rangy lefty fires a low-90s fastball which can touch the mid-90s and adds a slider, cutter and changeup, all registering in the low-80s. Mechanically, Freeland exhibits a tendency to stiffen his front leg too early and sling the ball.
East Carolina R/R6-4192
Tall and gangly, Hoffman has performed in less than stellar fashion this spring. At his best, Hoffman fires a mid-90s fastball, adding a slider, low-70s curveball and an outstanding mid-80s changeup. A series of pre-release mechanical flaws leads to inconsistent command, velocity and results for Hoffman. If he can correct those problems, Hoffman profiles as a No. 2 big league starter. Hoffman's 2014 campaign ended early due to Tommy John surgery.
Oregon State B/L6-2217
The premier college bat available in this draft, Conforto has been consistently productive in his three years at Oregon State. Patient and selective, he features a quick, compact swing, uses his hands well and can pull the ball or drive it to left-centerfield. A defensive liability, Conforto now plays the outfield but may eventually migrate over to first base.
Kennesaw State B/R6-1190
A sensational spring season has skyrocketed Pentecost up draft boards, aided by the fact this is a weak year for college catching. Pentecost is an athletic backstop with a quick, line-drive swing to all fields. Defensively, he has a quiet, relaxed receiving style, a fast release and an accurate arm. Backing up first base on infield ground balls, Pentecost often outruns the hitter to first base.
Waiakea High (Hawaii) L/L6-0185
Medeiros features a 92-94 mph fastball with an efficient, compact sidearm delivery. His signature pitch is a hellacious 78-80 mph frisbee curveball, which can start behind a left-handed hitter and suddenly swerve onto the outside corner of the plate. His lack of physicality and consistent command are the main factors that rank Medeiros slightly behind Brady Aiken in this year's lefty high school class.
North Carolina State B/R6-1175
Turner is easily the best prospect in a college middle-infield draft crop that is exceptionally weak. A fine defender with range, playmaking ability and a solid arm, Turner figures to remain at shortstop as a pro. His signature tool is his speed, which ranks at the top of the scout's grading scale. A Stephen Drew-type player, the key question with Turner is his bat. At this stage, Turner's legs are top-of-the-order quality; his bat speed may not be.
Beede possesses the two main traits scouts look for in modern right-handed pitching prospects—he is big and throws hard. At times, he's overly reliant on his fastball, which tops out at 95 mph. Beede will need to sharpen command of his pitches, develop a changeup and increase the consistency of his nasty curveball. Beede profiles as a durable, reliable, innings-eating No. 2 starter in a big league rotation.
The tight end-sized Newcomb has pitched his way into this year's first round conversation. Clean mechanically, he offers a low-90s fastball which can touch 95. Newcomb adds three secondary pitches: A low-80s slider, a low-80s change and an upper-70s curve. Built to gobble up innings, Newcomb needs to sharpen his command.
Coral Springs Christian Academy (Fla.) R/R6-2200
Toussaint flashes terrific raw stuff, with a 93-95 mph fastball, a sharp two-plane curve at 77 mph and a changeup at 85. Toussaint needs to be more aggressive in his approach, particularly against weaker hitters, and he has poor command is due to faulty mechanics. One potentially big issue is his arm stroke, which is erratic and must be corrected to avoid serious injury.
Texas Christian L/L5-11185
The talented Finnegan is not universally beloved by scouts. Supporters see a lefty starter who is exceptionally competitive, featuring a low- to mid-90s fastball, mid-80s slider and low-80s change. Detractors see a short, stocky, non-projectable, mid- to back-end starter or one-inning reliever with spotty command, high pitch counts and a maximum effort delivery.
The rail-thin Fedde was a near lock as a first-round choice until his 2014 spring season was halted by Tommy John surgery. When healthy, he delivers a low-90s fastball, a low-80s slider and a changeup which needs development. Fedde gets excellent leg drive from his near-maximum effort delivery, but will need to fight a tendency to pull open to his left.
A two-way player in college, Howard profiles as a short-inning relief specialist in pro ball. He pumps in a mid-90s fastball and adds a mid-80s breaking ball. Howard will need to clean up some mechanical issues, as his arm stroke is short on both ends and he fails to load into his back leg as he starts his delivery.
Wichita State B/L6-4238
Gillaspie has drawn Mark Teixeira comparisons for his size and switch-hitting power potential. An exceptionally patient (perhaps too patient) and selective hitter, Gillaspie exhibits easy loft power from both sides of the dish. He may benefit from shortening his stride, particularly from the left side. Gillaspie does not run well and is a below-average defender.
San Francisco B/L6-5205
Younger brother of right-handed pitcher Kyle Zimmer of the Royals, Bradley Zimmer is perhaps the top college outfield prospect in this draft. Athletic and projectable, Zimmer runs well, can play any of the three outfield spots and sports an excellent arm. Resembling Christian Yelich of the Marlins, Zimmer uses an unusual butter-churning-type hands drop in his swing, which restricts him from exploding on the fastball. If he corrects that flaw in the minors, Zimmer has the tools to be a perennial All-Star.
Conway High (So. Car.) R/R6-0210
Strong and sturdy with a mature, non-projectable build, Holmes features an old-fashioned rising mid 90s four-seam fastball—a rarity in this era of sinkers and cutters. Using a full and easy pro-style arm action, Holmes adds a mid-80s changeup plus his trademark offering, a hellacious, knee-buckling curveball. Built to eat up innings, Holmes profiles as a second or third starter in a big league rotation.
Elk Grove High (Calif.) B/R6-2170
The son of a Dodgers scout, Hill projects as a Gary Pettis-level defensive outfielder thanks to an outstanding arm and blistering speed—6.4 in the 60-yard dash, meriting an 80 on the scout's grading scale. Hill's bat has yet to show much and he is now dabbling with switch hitting. He may be aided by utilizing more separation and by getting his hands moving prior to the swing, ala Hank Aaron.
Mountain Pointe High (Ariz.) B/R6-3175
Turner made a splash at last year's Area Code games showcase in Long Beach. Tall and rangy with a substantial amount of what scouts call physical projection, he produces a surprising amount of line-drive power from his thin frame. Tucker adds a nice arm, speed and flexible defensive skills—that is, the ability to play any number of positions, including shortstop, third base, second base and the outfield.
Cal State Fullerton B/R6-2215
With his tools and ideal third baseman's frame, pro scouts have always expected more out of Chapman, whose on-field production has been inconsistent. Strong and athletic, Chapman sports an excellent arm, quality defensive skills, speed and power. As a pro, he may need to make adjustments to his hitting mechanics, as he currently he shows a tendency to get his weight stuck on his back leg.
Sprayberry High (Ga.) R/R5-11180
Chavis is one of the premier hitters on the high school side of this year's draft. Utilizing an open stance, he flashes a quick, compact backswing along with excellent bat speed and a high, sweeping finish. Chavis has a strong, mature and non-projectable frame and runs well. As a pro, Chavis will need to improve his defense. His hands are a bit stiff, his fielding technique is poor and he takes too many steps when releasing throws to first base.
Florida State R/R6-1180
In size and stuff, Weaver is a notch below the top righties in this draft, such as Beede and Hoffman. His fastball sits in the 92-93 mph range and he tosses in an excellent low-80s changeup and a serviceable upper-70s curveball. Weaver uses a compact delivery which emphasizes lower-half drive. He profiles as a mid- to back-of-the-rotation, pitch to contact starter.
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