Mock Draft 5.0: Aiken Looks Like No. 1

Mock Draft 1.0: Track Record Lands Rodon At Top Of First Mock
Mock Draft 2.0: Rodon Remains Atop Shifting Class
Mock Draft 3.0: Shakeup At The Top
Mock Draft 4.0: Separating Fact From Fiction


The scouting consensus still holds that the strength of the 2014 draft is on the mound. But that strength may be in depth, particularly in high school arms.

That means to get a bat they can believe in, most teams think they have to act in the first round, forcing players up their board if they have conviction that they will hit.

The main beneficiaries of this would be prep hitters such as Florida’s Forrest Wall, Georgia’s Michael Chavis and California’s Derek Hill, and college hitters like Oregon State’s Michael Conforto, Indiana catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber and Cal State Fullerton’s Matt Chapman. It’s at the expense of the high school pitching class as well as college arms with injury concerns, such as Texas Christian’s Brandon Finnegan and Evansville’s Kyle Freeland, whose elbow health has caused teams pause despite his recent clean MRI exam.

Houston still holds the key at No. 1 and wasn’t talking, but industry sources continue to expect the Astros to become just the third team in draft history to start the proceedings with a high school pitcher. It happened with David Clyde in 1973 and again in 1991 with Brien Taylor, both lefthanders.

Now we expect it to happen in 2014 with Brady Aiken out of San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High.

1. ASTROS
HoustonAstros

The Astros were floating deals to players such as North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon, Louisiana State’s Aaron Nola and Orlando prep shortstop Nick Gordon. One scouting source in the top 10 believed both San Diego prep players, Aiken and Rancho Bernardo’s Alex Jackson, were falling to the back of the top 10 due to signability questions. While that rumor had yet to be corroborated, the more conventional wisdom was that the Astros were sleeping on it and were going to spend Thursday working the phones for deals but would end up back at Aiken.

Projected Pick: LHP Brady Aiken


Miami Marlins2. MARLINS: While the scouting department favors preps such as Jackson, the Marlins are believed to be interested in cutting a deal at No. 2 with the top Cuban-American on the board, who also happens to be the top college pitcher in the draft. This spot would make Carlos Rodon, who was born in Miami, and his family very happy.
Projected Pick: LHP Carlos Rodon

3ds_whitesox853. WHITE SOX: The White Sox are believed to be deciding between Texas prep righty Tyler Kolek and Nola, who would be a fast-moving righthanded complement to ace Chris Sale. Past Sox selections indicate a preference for college arms such as Nola, but Kolek is the kind of player who breaks molds.
Projected Pick: RHP Tyler Kolek

3ds_cubs794. CUBS: This may be where the draft really starts. The Cubs want Aiken or Rodon to fall to them, and in a different draft system, they could make it happen with a giant bonus promise. In this system, they might be reduced to seeing who’ll take a cost-saving bonus at No. 4 that would allow them to pay above-slot bonuses later to high-ceiling high school pitchers such as Jack Flaherty, Michael Kopech or Joey Gatto. If Nick Gordon will take a haircut, he makes more sense than the college bats in the mix such as Michael Conforto and Kyle Schwarber. But Gordon would likely fall only one spot, while Conforto and Schwarber won’t go higher than eight if they don’t go at four.
Projected Pick: OF Michael Conforto

3ds_twins815. TWINS: The pick the industry seemed most sure about is the Twins’, though they’d shift gears, perhaps to Hartford lefthander Sean Newcomb, if the Cubs cut a deal with Gordon at No. 4.
Projected Pick: SS Nick Gordon

3ds_mariners836. MARINERS: As usual, the M’s went into Jack Zduriencik lockdown mode leading up to the draft. Nevertheless, they are tied heavily to bats, most of them collegiate. But in this scenario, the potential best bat in the draft is still on the board in Alex Jackson, whose career trajectory could strongly resemble that of Wil Myers.
Projected Pick: C/OF Alex Jackson

3ds_phillies837. PHILLIES: The other strong connection in the first 10 picks was Nola with the Phillies. Sources could still see the Phillies land Gordon, whose father pitched in Philadelphia for three seasons late in his career, though it seems unlikely he will fall this far.
Projected Pick: RHP Aaron Nola

3ds_rockies858. ROCKIES: Colorado appears to be the first possible landing point for homestate product Kyle Freeland, if the medical report is clear. But finding an obvious spot for Freeland, at this point, is very difficult, and he could fall until teams that have extra selections. Colorado appears to be the point where the run on college bats could start, with a catcher, either Kyle Schwarber or Kennesaw State’s Max Pentecost.
Projected Pick: C/OF Kyle Schwarber

3ds_bluejays819. BLUE JAYS: Toronto has worked out Pentecost, who finished fast and helped propel Kennesaw State to a super regional in its first NCAA Division I regional appearance. He’s athletic, plays a middle-of-the-diamond position and was the MVP of the Cape Cod League last summer, pushing him past North Carolina State’s Trea Turner on most teams’ draft boards.
Projected Pick: C Max Pentecost

3ds_mets8110. METS: In this scenario, the Mets have their pick of a college hitter they like (Turner), a college pitcher they like (Newcomb) and their wild-card favorite, Florida prep second baseman Forrest Wall. While they have strong conviction in Wall’s bat, he’d be the first high school second baseman ever drafted this high.
Projected Pick: 2B Forrest Wall

3ds_bluejays8111. BLUE JAYS: We’re not hearing much of Jeff Hoffman’s name in the first round, but we’re getting him off the board here to Toronto due in part to a rumored high price tag for target Touki Toussaint.
Projected Pick: RHP Jeff Hoffman

3ds_brewers7912. BREWERS: The Brewers have been linked to one of the first round’s other wild cards, Texas prep righty Michael Kopech. But Milwaukee took a high school righty with its first pick last season and is said to be looking college this year, with Newcomb, Brandon Finnegan and Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede the most likely targets.
Projected Pick: LHP Sean Newcomb

padres-201313. PADRES: The Padres have been linked to Toussaint, but didn’t expect to find Turner still on their board, which was hitter-heavy aside from Toussaint. If Turner is gone, they’re interested in the college bats already mentioned as well as California prep outfielder Derek Hill.
Projected Pick: SS Trea Turner

3ds_giants8314. GIANTS: No one has dissuaded us from last mock’s Derek Hill rumor here. The Giants also could pounce on Newcomb if he’s available.
Projected Pick: OF Derek Hill

3ds_angels8715: ANGELS: This is the highest spot possible for Virginia closer Nick Howard, who checks many Angels boxes as a power arm who could move quickly, as well as a player who could help a big league team that needs bullpen pieces now. Finnegan also could be in play here.
Projected Pick: RHP Nick Howard

3ds_diamondbacks2116: DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona also craves bats, particularly Conforto and Schwarber. Neither is likely to be available, leading to Bradley Zimmer, the San Francisco outfielder who struggled in the season’s final month.
Projected Pick: OF Bradley Zimmer

3ds_royals2917: ROYALS: Plan A for Kansas City would be Forrest Wall, who had a great predraft workout with the team, but he might have too much helium to get to them now. The Royals would then take aim at high school lefthanders such as Foster Griffin and Kodi Medeiros with their second selection. In this scenario, though, they might have to double up on arms. Prep outfielder and uberathlete Monte Harrison is also a possibility, but the apparent failure of the Bubba Starling experiment will probably make them gunshy.
Projected Pick: LHP Foster Griffin

3ds_nationals8118: NATIONALS: GM Mike Rizzo’s track record with Scott Boras Corp. clients leads to the Nationals being viewed as a landing spot for injured UNLV righthander Erick Fedde, who had Tommy John surgery in May. The Nats already have picked one of those too, with 2012 first-rounder Lucas Giolito.
Projected Pick: RHP Erick Fedde

3ds_reds8319: REDS: Cincinnati would love a college bat to fit here, but none does. Instead, the Reds will start off with a college arm with the first of their two picks, with Finnegan a strong possibility but Tyler Beede more likely due to his upside.
Projected Pick: RHP Tyler Beede

3ds_rays520: RAYS: Tampa hasn’t drafted well of late and has observed radio silence heading into this pick. The organization’s template hasn’t changed despite recent draft struggles—it’s a high-risk, high-reward approach. They’d be all in on Hill if he were available, but fellow California prep Jacob Gatewood will be.
Projected Pick: SS Jacob Gatewood

3ds_indians8321: INDIANS: Howard would be in play for the Indians, who could relieve him or shift him back to starting. They also have been tied in to bats such as Hill and Wall, as well as Georgia prep infielder Michael Chavis. The prep bat that is falling appears to be Missouri prep outfielder Monte Harrison.
Projected Pick: 2B/3B Michael Chavis

3ds_dodgers8322: DODGERS: With other teams running from prep pitching, the Dodgers aren’t expected to do that, and they’d have their pick here, with Touki Toussaint, Grant Holmes and Michael Kopech all possibilities.
Projected Pick: RHP Touki Toussaint

3ds_tigers8323: TIGERS: Detroit has been linked to many different players, particularly college closers, but it sounds like college bats will be the preference, with a bonus Wichita State tie in Casey Gillaspie. (Assistant GM David Chadd once coached at Wichita and still has ties to the program.) The fact that he plays first base only, with Miguel Cabrera entrenched there for Detroit, has not dissuaded the Tigers.
Projected Pick: 1B Casey Gillaspie

3ds_pirates8124: PIRATES: The Pirates are seen as the floor for Gatewood and Toussaint. They’d have their pick of prep arms here, including Holmes.
Projected Pick: RHP Grant Holmes

3ds_athletics7925: ATHLETICS: The A’s continue to be tied to bats, such as Columbia (Miss.) High athlete Ti’Quan Forbes as well as college bats such as Stanford’s Alex Blandino and Matt Chapman.
Projected Pick: 3B Alex Blandino

3ds_redsox8526: RED SOX: The Red Sox pick again at 33, so they could take a risk here with one of the pitchers falling because of injuries. The medical reports will likely determine which one they take.
Projected Pick: LHP Kyle Freeland

3ds_cardinals8127: CARDINALS: St. Louis will have to decide if it can wait on a power prep arm, such as Kopech or California prep Luis Ortiz, or if it needs to pounce on a college arm such as Finnegan.
Projected Pick: RHP Luis Ortiz

3ds_royals2828. ROYALS: As usual, we’re giving the Royals Kodi Medeiros here, even though we had them taking Griffin with the first pick. They also could go with Harrison, as previously discussed.
Projected Pick: LHP Kodi Medeiros

3ds_reds8329. REDS: Cincinnati can go for a prep arm here after going for Beede previously.
Projected Pick: RHP Sean Reid-Foley

3ds_rangers8330. RANGERS: Texas is a natural landing spot for Harrison, who had some iffy workouts down the stretch and struggled at the plate, which dented his stock. But the Rangers have long had an affinity for him and have to be happy with his fall.
Projected Pick: OF Monte Harrison

3ds_indians8331. INDIANS: It would be a gift for the Indians to get Finnegan this late, if they’re satisfied that he’s healthy. He just pitched eight innings in his regional start and performed well, but the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder didn’t hold up over the course of the full season as a Friday starter, making a bullpen future very possible.
Projected Pick: LHP Brandon Finnegan

3ds_braves8332. BRAVES: Atlanta would be a good home for Medeiros if he were to fall, but it’s hard to imagine the Royals allowing that. Aside from him, the prep bat rumors remain strong here.
Projected Pick: SS Ti’Quan Forbes

3ds_redsox8333. RED SOX: Bookending Freeland with a safer pick would make sense, so Boston may have to get a college bat at this spot. The Red Sox also could take one of the best prep bats available, North Carolina’s Braxton Davidson, particularly if they believe he can stick in the outfield.
Projected Pick: OF/1B Braxton Davidson

3ds_cardinals8034. CARDINALS: After taking Ortiz with their first pick, the Cardinals would love a college bat such as Blandino or Chapman. While there are corner options such as Virginia’s Derek Fisher and Mike Papi on the board, Chapman has more athleticism. He also has the fallback of a fastball that reached 99 mph last summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team.
Projected Pick: 3B Matt Chapman