Scouting Baseball's 2014 MLB Draft Content
Evaluations & Rankings: Pre-PG Showcase Notes, PG Junior National Hitter Rankings, PG Junior National Pitcher Rankings, Top Five High School PItchers With Full Video & Reports, Top Five High School Hitters With Full Video & Reports, SEC Commit Scouting Reports, Pac-12 Commit Scouting Reports, Big 10 Commit Scouting Reports, Big 12 Commit Scouting Reports & ACC Commit Scouting Reports
Marginal Prospects Podcasts: Post Showcase Class Breakdown with BA's Clint Longenecker & PG's Frankie Piliere, Early Cape Cod League & Pop Up Prep Names, ECU righty Jeff Hoffman interview & Cardinal Director of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz
I've covered my impressions of this class in the intros to some of the articles linked above, but the short version is that this year's college class is very similar in overall quality to the 2013 crop with a chance to surpass it. The top end of the pitching crop has a chance to surpass last year, with Carlos Rodon and Jeff Hoffman matching up well with Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray and there's already some solid depth to the pitching crop that could develop later in the spring. The hitter crop has a number of solid prospects but no one that matches up to Kris Bryant yet. Bryant, Colin Moran and D.J. Peterson were all top 10 overall prospects for me with Turner, Fisher and Schwarber all having top 10 potential as well, so the classes look similar with almost a year for more names to emerge. These players are ranked based on my evaluations and those of scouts with MLB organizations, projecting future ability by balancing upside and chance to hit that ceiling. The high school compliment to this list is linked above.
Quick Take: Hoffman was a hard-throwing, projectable righty that scouts knew was a likely first rounder entering the summer, then he took a step forward in the Cape Cod League in the past few weeks. The athletic, projectable 6'5 righty sat 94-97 and hit 98 mph with consistent plus life when I saw him last week on the Cape. His breaking ball is easy plus now and could be plus-plus while his changeup has already improved from a non-factor months ago to above average now. The separator between Hoffman and Rodon is size, athleticism and projectability as Hoffman has essentially the same stuff and is still just scratching the surface. Hoffman also has an ability to sequence pitches, hit his spots and keep his pitches down that shocked me for a guy that already has this much stuff. I wouldn't project him to be this, but the best case scenario here is Justin Verlander and it's still in play.
Quick Take: Rodon has been the buzz guy in this draft class since a huge breakout freshman season for the Wolfpack. I saw him last spring when his velo was down and his shoulder was tight but also saw him last week for Team USA and his stuff is back. Early in a game, Rodon will sit 93-96 mph, flashing plus life and a plus-plus slider at 86-90 that looks more like a cutter and is the best pitch in the draft class. His changeup has also improved and flashes above average potential now, but there are some concerns to projecting Rodon. While he has the advantage of being left-handed and has solid command, he's physically maxed-out and has had enough medical issues in the past to make you pause, mostly on his back and muscles around his shoulder. Rodon likely won't get much better than this but I'm nit-picking as Rodon and Hoffman are the clear top two players in the draft right now by a good margin and are truly a coin-flip for me. Both have ace potential but Hoffman has the slightest of edges due more room to improve and less present concerns.
Quick Take: Turner has had a tough summer, still recovering from an ankle injury that interrupted his sophomore season for N.C. State and having trouble collecting hits for Team USA, hitting just .211. That said, Turner has among the best performance track records in this class, hitting .336/.432/.459 with more walks than strikeouts and going 57-for-61 on stolen bases as an unheralded freshman, then hitting .368/.455/.553 as a sophomore, now playing shortstop everyday, again with more walks than strikeouts and going 30-for-36 on the bases with developing game power. With Team USA, he's been the victim of bad ball-in-play luck, as he once again has more walks than strikeouts and his swing was still sound when I saw him. I still think he's an above average hitter with a smooth cut that can stick long-term at shortstop with smooth actions and an above average arm but his separator is truly game-changing 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Quick Take: Fisher was an elite prospect out of a Pennsylvania high school, turning down big money from the Texas Rangers in the 6th round of the 2011 Draft. There were concerns about his ability to control the strike zone and hit for average (along with his high asking price) and he had some trouble in that regard as a freshman for Virginia. He took a big step forward as a sophomore and has performed well this summer on the Cape, hitting .344 with more walks than strikeouts, though he's still learning to integrate his plus raw power into games. Fisher doesn't put on huge batting practice displays as he's more of an effortless, smooth, gap-to-gap line drive type hitter with a linear bat path. He's got a great swing, feel to hit and an athletic frame along with plus speed (that plays down a bit in games) but a below average arm and poor instincts in the outfield, so he fits in left field professionally.
5'11/190, Draft Day Age: 21.14, Scouting Report & Video
Quick Take: Finnegan exploded onto the prospect scene early last spring with rumors he was regularly hitting 97 mph and I saw him match up with eventual Dodgers 1st rounder Chris Anderson where Finnegan did just that. Scouts were comparing him to Scott Kazmir, as the size, stuff and delivery are all in the same ballpark. He works 93-95 and has hit 98 mph this summer, with rumors he hit triple digits last last spring. The primary off-speed pitch is a three-quarter slurve at 79-83 that is above average potential and may be plus, with a solid changeup at 82-84 mph that's average to slightly above. HIs feel to pitch and sequence pitches is more advanced that most guys with this kind of fastball and he keeps his velocity late into games, making Finnegan close to a finished product.
Quick Take: Schwarber has the best raw power in the class that I've graded as a 70 and he shows it easily in batting practice. He takes a surprisingly linear bat path for a power hitter, allowing him a better chance to hit for average and relying on his above average bat speed and huge strength to generate his power. Schwarber is looser at the plate than you'd expect given his stout frame and takes very solid at bats, so it looks like he'll be able to control the zone and get to his power in games as a professional. He catches now and some scouts have dismissed him completely while others give him a chance to possibly play once or twice a week in the big leagues. Schwarber's arm is only average and he isn't as quick or flexible as you'd like to see with just okay hands but makes the most out of his modest tools. Names like Travis Hafner and D.J. Peterson come up when describing him at the plate, so even having just emergency catcher value long-term makes him an easy first rounder.
6'5/205, Draft Day Age: 21.71, Video
Quick Take: In my 2014 Draft Preview from May I mentioned that I heard Ellis, who had barely pitched all season for Ole Miss, was sitting 93-95 mph in relief and generating some buzz late in the season. I didn't realize he would be one of the breakout stars of the Cape Cod League, showcasing first round ability. In the start I saw, Ellis sat 90-93 and hit 95 mph with heavy life down in the zone and a changeup at 84-86 mph that flashed plus. Ellis' third pitch is an 80-82 mph slider that's inconsistent but flashes above average potential, giving him mid-rotation potential and the frame to continue improving.
8. Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
6'5/240, Draft Day Age: 20.98, Scouting Report
Quick Take: Newcomb was a pop-up name I heard just before the draft in June as a guy to watch out for on the Cape this summer, with some scouts saying they thought he'd go in the top 10 picks. He still may, but after battling an illness, he still isn't quite to 100% so his next few Cape outings could move him up this list a few notches. I've been told that at his best, Newcomb has hit 97 mph with a plus slider and feel for a changeup, though on the Cape he's been a notch below that.
9. Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
6'1/190, R/R, Draft Day Age: 21.24
Quick Take: Pentecost nearly signed with the Texas Rangers as a 7th rounder in 2011 Draft (the Rangers next pick after Derek Fisher) out of the same Atlanta-area high school as 2013 Rangers 1st rounder SS Travis Demeritte. He's steadily made progress at nearby Kennesaw State, as an athlete that has an above average arm and now looks like a good bet to stick behind the plate and has a smooth swing that's showing power in games. Pentecost is hitting .357 with 5 homers in just 115 AB on the Cape with good control of the strike zone, projecting for at least an average bat with average raw power.
6'0/180, R/R, Draft Day Age: 21.58, Scouting Report & Video
Quick Take: Blandino is going to be yet another tough-to-evaluate hitter out of Stanford as another casualty of the mind-numbingly frustrating approach their coaches have preached for years. Blandino had a tough sophomore spring, hitting .268/.340/.453 in 179 AB and if you combine his last two summers on the Cape (against better competition and hitting with wood bats), Blandino has hit .327/.408/.481 in 245 AB with an impressive 12 BB/HBP and 12 K this season. His power is average and he plays third base at Stanford but profiles best at second base professionally where his average speed and good actions fit, though his above average arm would be wasted.
6'4/215, Draft Day Age: 21.04, Scouting Report & Video
Quick Take: Beede is a very high profile player as he didn't sign with the Blue Jays as a first rounder in 2011 out of a Massachusetts high school, turning down seven figures. He hasn't quite put it all together in college yet, but shows flashes of high first round potential that Toronto and other clubs saw two years ago. Beede has been having trouble locating and syncing his delivery this summer and the past spring, flashing three above average pitches that may be plus but well below average command. He's still tweaking his delivery to find consistency and is a solid athlete with a good pitcher's frame. Beede will sit 91-93 and hit 95 mph most times out with an above average curve at 77-79 mph and an above average changeup that I've seen plus in the past at 79-82 mph.
6'2/175, Draft Day Age: 20.79, Scouting Report
Quick Take: Weaver had a low profile entering his sophomore season but gained some buzz halfway through the year as he reportedly hit 96 mph with an above average changeup, moving into the rotation late in the season for the Seminoles. The rumors were true as Weaver hit 97 mph with Team USA with his velocity spiking later in the summer, sitting 91-95 mph throughout outings. His best off-speed pitch is his 92-94 changeup that's above average to plus at it's best but his 78-81 mph slurve is the concern, mostly fringy with average potential at times. Weaver isn't huge or very projectable but shows mid-rotation potential and is one of the younger players in the college class.
6'6/210, Draft Day Age: 21.53
Quick Take: Cederoth is the top 2014 prospect that didn't play anywhere this summer, but plenty of scouts had heard about his 95-99 mph fastball that's been as high as 101 mph as a starter at the same college that produced Stephen Strasburg. Cederoth isn't anywhere near the same prospect as his delivery is a little awkward and arm-heavy as he's still working to coordinate his limbs better to improve his command. His off-speed pitches are closer to average than plus with a slider and changeup both in the mid-80's and the slider more advanced right now.
14. Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
6'4/185, Draft Day Age: 21.06
Quick Take: Freeland jumped on the radar this summer on the Cape, sitting 90-92 and hitting 94 as a 6'4 projectable lefty with three pitches and a chance to start. His slider is his best pitch right now, flashing plus potential at 84-87 mph as a hard cutter with length to it's break and more of a true slider at 80-82 that's a lesser pitch. Freeland has a chance to start due to solid feel to pitch and an 84-86 mph changeup that's solid average at times, along with a good arm action and delivery, though he could have a smoother finish.
6'1/215, L/R, Draft Day Age: 21.26, Scouting Report
Quick Take: Conforto is a polished and very productive power hitter whose profile is limited a good bit by his 40 arm, poor defensive instincts and well below average speed that may eventually move him to first base. That said, he offers a good bit at the plate with plus raw power created by above average bat speed and strength but also a steep angle to the ball. That angle is caused by his load having his hands too high, creating length to the ball that sacrifices contact for power. He swung and missed a good bit against marginal stuff when I saw him last week but appears to be trying to hit for power more than contact as he can put the ball in play when he needs to and draws his share of walks. The upside here is a high probability all-bat guy from the left side with lower average, solid on-base and above average game power.
16. Taylor Sparks, 3B/RF, UC Irvine
6'4/210, R/R, Draft Day Age: 21.18
Quick Take: Sparks plays third base now but his size alone precludes most players from sticking at the hot corner and while Sparks has an above average arm and makes the plays, his actions are awkward and a little stiff. He fits in right field for me long-term as a solid athlete that has a linear bat path from an athletic cut that also has above average raw power when he chooses to show it due to good bat speed, strength and a high finish. Sparks is aggressive at the plate and productive, with low walks and low strikeouts that could become more of a problem against more advanced pitching. Combining his spring with Irvine and summer with Team USA, Sparks has drawn 10 walks and struck out 53 times in 275 at bats.
17. Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
6'4/175, Draft Day Age: 21.28
Quick Take: Fedde's stuff was inconsistent this summer, ranging from good to very good depending on when you saw him and who you're talking to. I saw him sit 91-93 and hit 94 with a slider that flashed above average at 80-83 mph for Team USA while some that saw him on the Cape said in one outing they saw 93-96 mph with a plus slider, with others having accounts in between the two. No one has seen a solid changeup yet but that's more choice as he hasn't needed one yet. Fedde has a projectable frame and okay command but his three-quarters arm slot can wander at times. His elbow gets a little high in the back and his arm is a little late to catch up with his body, so from limited summer looks it's starting to sound like late-inning power reliever, but if a changeup shows up and the delivery gets a little more consistent, we could be talking about a mid-rotation starter.
18. Dylan Davis, RF/RHP, Oregon State
6'0/205, R/R, Draft Day Age: 20.88,
Quick Take: Davis made waves early in his time on the Cape, running it up to 97 mph with a good breaking ball in a rare relief appearance, though he's a better prospect as a hitter right now. He has plus bat speed, plus arm strength and plus raw power but has a squatty, maxed-out frame and below average speed that limits him to right field, though trying him behind the plate would be interesting. At the plate, Davis is aggressive and makes a lot of contact, hitting .335/.379/.502 in the spring with 19 walks and 35 strikeouts and on the Cape hitting .338 with 5 homers, 6 doubles, 8 walks and 11 strikeouts in 74 AB. His swing can get a little uphill at times, but Davis has feel to hit and get to his power in games.
6'4/220, Draft Day Age: 21.38
Quick Take: Burdi has been a well-known prospect for awhile now, putting up big velocity numbers late in his high school career and turning down a sizable bonus from the Twins as a 24th rounder in 2011 out of an Illinois high school. The concerns were his arm action, delivery and command as he was more of a high-effort pure arm strength guy in high school. At Louisville, Burdi has improved and while there is a tiny chance an MLB team may try him as a starter, he's most likely a reliever long term. He sits 96-99 and has regularly been in the triple digits, hitting 101 mph more than a few times with a slider at 88-91 mph that plus. Burdi slings the ball from a low three quarters to sidearm slot that give his fastball heavy life down in the zone and help him get life on his changeup. His delivery would have to be toned-down a lot to allow him to start but he's got closer stuff that could go as high as the first round to the right club.
20. Brian Anderson, CF, Arkansas
6'3/180, R/R, Draft Day Age: 21.05
Quick Take: Anderson has played center field and third base for Arkansas and his projectable frame, plus speed and average raw power could fit in either spot but his hands and arm make center a better spot right now. He's got bat speed and a loose, handsy swing that can hit the ball to all fields, leading the Razorbacks in each of the triple slash categories in the spring with a .325/.448/.488 line and more walks than strikeouts. He's had trouble making contact on the Cape but it's been in inconsistent usage and has shown more feel at the plate than a similar player, Virginia's Brandon Downes, #28 on this list.
6'2/185, Draft Day Age: 21.01, Scouting Report & Video
Quick Take: Nola's older brother plays infield in the Marlins system, but Aaron is a better prospect as a potential first rounder with three pitches and great numbers (122 K to 18 BB this spring) as LSU's go-to starter. Nola wisely opted to not pitch anywhere this summer after throwing 126 IP this spring, but I scouted him this spring at the scouting report linked above. He isn't huge and slings from a low three-quarters arm slot with a 90-93 mph heater that hits 94 and has above average sink. Nola also throws a hard-breaking 77-79 mph curveball that was plus at times and an average changeup at 84-85 mph. He has good feel for his delivery and at least average command that slots him as a higher probability #3/4 starter that should rack up groundballs and have trouble with lefty hitters.
22. Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State
6'5/240, B/L, Draft Day Age: 21.36
Quick Take: Casey is the younger brother of 2008 sandwich rounder 3B Conor Gillaspie (Giants) who was also chosen out of Wichita State. Casey is a little different of a player as a massive first baseman but isn't as stiff as most guys that are this big at this age, hitting in the middle of a formidable Falmouth lineup on the Cape this summer. He's a switch hitter with above average power from both sides that consistently shows up in games, but a more fluid swing from the left side and some of the best plate discipline in the class (62 BB, 35 K this spring). Gillaspie is fine defensively and isn't much of a runner, but his above average offensive ability should be enough to get him into the top few rounds.
23. Chad Sobotka, RHP, South Carolina Upstate
6'7/200, Draft Day Age: 20.91
Quick Take: Sobotka is maybe the least likely name to appear on this list as he was completely unknown just a few months ago. Coming out of historic Riverview HS in Sarasota, FL, Sobotka was very lightly recruited but has grown about 6 inches he graduated high school and is now a completely different pitcher. Sobotka had his coming-out party on the Cape and has been sitting 91-95 mph with a hard 82-84 mph slider that flashes plus potential. There's still some concerns around his new size and corralling his limbs into consistent command but Sobotka is a solid athlete with a solid delivery for his size. He's been in relief but will be converted to starting this spring and has been good in multiple inning stints on the Cape, but still is pitching exclusively from the stretch. Sobotka is another player that could move up or down a good bit on the list based on his spring.
24. Brad Zimmer, RF, San Francisco
6'5/205, L/R, Draft Day Age: 21.53
Quick Take: Zimmer is the younger brother of Royals top prospect Kyle, the #5 overall pick in 2012 out of San Francisco. Brad is a good athlete and has pitched some in the past but is considered a better prospect as a hitter. He's got a big frame that should add more weight and has above average to plus speed and arm strength that could allow him to play some center field right now, though he fits in right field down the road. For all his tools, Zimmer is still a little awkward physically, as some bigger guys take longer to grow into their frames and athleticism. His swing can get upper half heavy and he only has average raw power, barely enough for a guy who needs to play a corner. Zimmer could move up or down this list a good bit depending on how he continues to develop this spring.
6'1/195, R/R, Draft Day Age: 21.11
Quick Take: Chapman generated some buzz during his stint with Team USA this summer, throwing only 2 innings and being very tough for scouts to see but running his fastball up to 99 mph in a bullpen loaded with elite power arms. Chapman is preferred as a hitter but, like former teammate and 2013 Reds sandwich rounder Michael Lorenzen, his big-time velocity out of the bullpen could move him to the mound if he had trouble making contact. Chapman has 65 raw power and a 70 arm with good feel to play third base, so he has plenty of tools to work with as a position player. The issue is his ability to make contact and get to his power in games as he has a good feel for the strike zone (flat K/BB ratios last spring and with Team USA) but his swing can get a little long in games and produce weaker contact.
6'3/225, L/R, Draft Day Age: 21.64, Scouting Report
Quick Take: Byler showed up to the Cape last week after missing most of the summer and end of the spring with hip surgery. He plays third base in college but doesn't have a chance to play there professionally, but has an above average arm that could play in right field, though he isn't that fleet of foot. The calling card here is Byler's above average to plus raw power that comes from good strength and above average bat speed. His mechanics can get awkward at times and he had some trouble making contact this spring, but the elements are there for an everyday power bat.
27. Dillon Peters, LHP, Texas
5'11/200, Draft Day Age: 21.77
Quick Take: Peters shows you what you're getting as a physically maxed-out lefty with good stuff, good feel and #4 starter upside. His velocity has ticked up in the last year and on the Cape this summer, he's been holding his 90-92 mph velocity the entire game, flashing plus cutting and two-seam life at times. He backs up his heater with an above average 76-78 mph curveball and rarely uses his 82-84 mph changeup that shows solid-average potential.
6'3/190, R/R, Draft Day Age: 21.69, Scouting Report
Quick Take: Downes has a solid, productive spring for the Cavaliers but has had a lot of trouble making contact on the Cape this summer. He's on this list because of his raw tools: above average speed, power and arm strength that can fit in center field. Downes has a great pro frame with projection and some scouts have mentioned Drew Stubbs as a comp, but with these present contact questions you could argue he should be even lower than this.
29. Scott Squier, LHP, Hawaii
6'5/190, Draft Day Age: 21.72
Quick Take: Squier still isn't a big name in scouting circles since he pays for Hawaii and only recently came on my radar after a strong inning at the NECBL All-Star Game, the other college league in the northeast. In that inning, the 6'5 lefty sat 90-92 mph with three solid average pitches and a clean, athletic delivery. It's cleaner and more projectable than Kyle Freeland (#14 on this list) but the stuff isn't quite there yet.
6'4/220, Draft Day Age: 22.78, Scouting Report
Quick Take: Whitson was a still a big-time prospect after turning down the Padres in 2010 as the 9th overall pick and starring at Florida in his freshman year. Then injuries hit and now he's entering his redshirt junior year in Gainesville and will turn 23 before the end of the season. His camp believes he's 100% healthy after cleaning up his shoulder and last October for Fall Scout Day, Whitson showed three above average pitches, looking a little better than Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede (#11 on this list) has looked for the past year. Whitson could shoot up this list with a strong spring but there's a lot of questions to answer.
The 10 Next Prospects
Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly
Greg Allen, CF, San Diego State
Rhys Hoskins, RF, Sacramento State