With their sixth pick in the 2014 draft, the Oakland A's selected their first high school player – Oregon native Trace Loehr. Loehr is a highly regarded prospect with a strong commitment to Oregon State. The A's may need to go over-slot to sign Loehr, who was ranked as the 82nd best draft prospect by Kiley McDaniel going into the draft. They could find extra slot room among their top-10 round picks, seven of which were four-year college players (and two of which are college seniors).
Loehr is a left-handed hitting middle infielder whose bat is his best tool, although he is expected to have the athleticism to stay up-the-middle in the infield, either at second or short. As a senior at Rex Putnam HS in Milwaukie, Oregon, Loehr hit .393 with a .562 OBP. He is an alum of the 2013 18U Team USA squad that won the 18U World Cup. He played mostly second base for Team USA and led the team in walks and steals, swiping six bases in six chances.
Only 5'9'', 175-pounds, Loehr is a big-time athlete in a small package. He projects as a top-of-the-order hitter who will hit for average, collect his share of doubles, get on-base and steal bases.
"Loehr is a plus runner that fits best as 2B but you could send him out as a SS in pro ball," Scout.com's National Baseball Analyst Kiley McDaniel said. "He has an advanced lefty swing but limited power and is old for his prep class. It isn't a huge upside but he's polished and has a chance to be a low-end everyday guy up the middle."
The A's stayed in the middle infield for their seventh-round pick: Virginia middle infielder Branden Cogswell. Cogswell played primarily shortstop his first two seasons with UVA, but he more recently has been playing second base for the Cavaliers.
Scouting Video of Branden Cogswell
Playing for one of the top collegiate squads in 2014, Cogswell hit .294 with a .394 OBP this season. In three years with UVA, he has yet to homer, although the Cavaliers play in one of the most difficult collegiate stadiums to hit in. Cogswell has walked nearly twice as many times as he has struck-out during his career.
"Cogswell was a reliable advanced lefty bat for powerhouse UVA that played 2B this year as the Cavs wanted to get a freshman in at SS that will be a three year starter, though Cogswell can start at SS in pro ball," McDaniel said. "He doesn't have much power and is more of a utility fit long term as a guy that can make contact and play every position on the field."
The A's selected Washington high school product Branden Kelliher with their eighth pick. Kelliher is an Oregon commit and was one of the top high school pitching prospects in the Northwest this season.
Kelliher is a smaller right-hander (5'11'', 175), but he, like many of the A's picks thus far, throws like a pitcher with a much bigger frame. His fastball already touches 93 and he has an advanced feel for his change-up for a high school pitcher. He also has a slow, bending breaking ball. Given his commitment to Oregon, Kelliher could be a tough sign.
"Kelliher is a smallish righty that normally shows three solid-average pitches but the stuff will be a little better at times and there were rumors he hit 96 this spring," McDaniel said. "It's back-end starter upside and he's advanced for a prep arm but there's still a lot of things that can go wrong for a smaller prep righty that has a little effort to his delivery."
The A's waited until the ninth round to select their first left-handed pitcher, and it is Mike Fagan, a senior from Princeton. Fagan, a San Diego native, posted a 2.33 ERA in 58 innings for the Tigers this season. He struck-out 77, walked 18 and allowed just three homeruns.
Fagan was a 45th-round pick out of high school in 2010 by the San Diego Padres. He was first-team All-Ivy League this season. He has a deep arsenal of pitches and he improved every season he pitched at Princeton. Being a college senior, Fagan could sign for under-slot, leaving the A's pool money to try to break the college commitments for Kelliher and Loehr.
The A's finished the second day of the draft with another right-handed collegiate pitcher, Pepperdine senior Corey Miller. Miller, who was drafted in the 16th round last season, had a 1.75 ERA in 113 innings for the Waves in 2014. He held opposing batters to a .229 average and allowed just two homeruns.
Miller pitched well in the Cape Cod League last summer and has been a weekend starter for the Waves the past two seasons. He has an unusual delivery that involves a lot of moving parts, but the delivery serves to hide the ball well. In many ways, his delivery resembles a right-handed version of former A's left-handed reliever Brad Kilby.
Miller doesn't throw particularly hard and he didn't have big strike-out numbers in college, but he uses his deception and his slider and change-up to keep hitters from squaring him up. He is a groundball pitcher with polish, and he could make his way to full-season ball relatively quickly.