For more than 1,200 high school and college baseball players across the United States, Thursday could potentially mark one of the biggest days of their lives. The 2014 MLB First-Year Draft begins Thursday evening and will continue through Saturday.
The Houston Astros have the No. 1 overall pick for the third consecutive year. There are five top-rated prospects that could hear their names called by Houston including right hander Tyler Kolek from Shepherd High in Texas, lefties Brady Aiken of Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego and Carlos Rodon from North Carolina State. Outfielder/catcher Alex Jackson of Rancho Bernardo High in San Diego and Central Florida shortstop Nick Gordon from Olympia H.S. are also among the potential No. 1 picks.
Kolek put together an impressive 2014 campaign, which included 10 games, 60.1 innings pitched and just a 0.35 ERA. He allowed just 23 hits. Aiken had an ERA of 1.06 in 59.2 innings, but his numbers last season were slightly more impressive — a 0.92 ERA with nine game starts. Rodon, who just finished his junior season at NC State, finished 2014 with a 2.01 ERA in over 98 innings pitched. Jackson batted .400 during both his senior and sophomore seasons, and accumulated 127 RBI throughout his high school career. Gordon’s senior year featured a remarkable .497 batting average, including a .576 on base percentage.
Most mock drafts have Aiken as the top pick for the Astros, which would make him just the third prep lefty ever taken as the No. 1 pick in the draft.
If Aiken is taken by Houston, next on the board could be Rodon to the Marlins, but if Aiken doesn’t go first they could pick him up. The Marlins can benefit from a good bat though, which could cause them to pull the trigger on Gordon. There is speculation that Rodon’s father being from Miami is a factor for the Marlins’ pick too.
The Chicago White Sox have the third pick, and all signs point to Kolek. His 6-5, 230 pound frame is intimidating on the mound — not to mention he’s a prep prospect that can clock in pitches at the 100 mph mark. If Kolek is taken though, don’t expect the White Sox to reach for a bat — they would pick up Rodon if he’s still available. It would be a stretch to say he could end up in Houston, but if he did he would be the first ever prep righty to be taken at No. 1.
The Chicago Cubs will pick fourth. RHP Tommy Hoffmann would have likely landed here, but it was announced last month that he would need Tommy John surgery. If Rodon is available, they could snatch him as they need pitching. If not, they might pick up a bat — potentially Jackson from Rancho Bernardo, or Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto.
The Minnesota Twins have pick No. 5, and Gordon seems likely to fall here. Gordon has a baseball-heavy DNA — his father Tom Gordon is a former major league pitcher, and his brother is current Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon. If Gordon isn’t picked here, it is because Gordon isn’t on the board by the time Minnesota’s pick comes.
SEC MLB Draft Prospects to Watch
- Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
- A.J. Reed, LHP, Kentucky
- Austin Cousino, CF, Kentucky
- Joey Pankake, 3B, South Carolina
- Karsten Whitson, RHP, Florida
- Taylor Gushue, C, Florida
- Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
- Mark Kaird, CF, LSU
- Brian Anderson, RHP, Arkansas
Follow Morgan Moriarty on Twitter @Morgan_Moriarty