For Day Two of the 2014 draft, we’ll highlight some of the most intriguing picks in each round.
• The Astros took their first prep player since No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken with another Southern California pitcher. Righthander Jacob Nix, considered a tough sign and a UCLA signee, didn’t have a great spring but was a potential Top 100 player after a strong summer on the travel-ball circuit. He has a pitcher’s body at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and an easy, repeatable delivery, with some flashes of 95 mph velocity. But he sits average, and his command and breaking ball didn’t take steps forward this spring. He was one of only seven high school players drafted in the fifth round.
• There were four seniors drafted before the fifth round, and four seniors were drafted in the fifth. The Mets started the run with Seton Hall’s righthander Josh Prevost, who’s coming off one of the best seasons of any college pitcher in the country. He went 12-2, 1.62 with a sterling 111-20 strikeout-walk ratio. He allowed just 64 hits. One pick later, the Brewers—who need to save money to sign first-day picks Jacob Gatewood and Monte Harrison—popped Indiana third baseman Dustin DeMuth, whom we profiled here. The other seniors drafted included Duke righthander Drew Van Orden to the Nationals and NAIA righty Julian Merryweather out of Oklahoma Baptist to the Indians. Merryweather is a California product with a good pitcher’s body at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. He attended powerful Junipero Serra High, then spent two seasons at Skyline (Calif.) JC. His fastball has reached the low 90s, and he dominated NAIA competition, going 22-5, 1.73 overall.
• The Giants, long noted for their ability to harness and develop power arms, got one in the fifth round with righthander Sam Coonrod of Southern Illinois. He’s shown 93-97 mph velocity at times, though he usually sits in the low 90s. Command has been a consistent issue for him, with 96 walks in 164 innings the last two years to go with 145 strikeouts.
• The Marlins continued an interesting draft with prep outfielder Casey Soltis out of Granada High in Livermore, Calif., hometown of Randy Johnson. Soltis is old for the class at 19 and was seen as a bit of a tweener defensively by some scouts, who were mixed on whether he could stay in center field or would have to move to a corner, which would put more pressure on his bat. But he has a chance to hit, and some scouts project him to hit for above-average power in the future.
• The Tigers took UCLA catcher Shane Zeile, the nephew of Todd Zeile, with pick No. 160.