2014 MLB Draft Open Thread (Rounds 1 & 2)
So today’s the day, or “a day” (ugh), or perhaps you just weren’t paying attention up until now. Luuuuucky. With the sixth overall pick, sometime this afternoon the Mariners will be selecting some guy who might be their top prospect going into next season. Then later, with pick 74, they’ll pick some other guy who is probably an okay baseball player too. Better than you, at least. From there, we’ll drift into players that most of us have never heard of and go on until there are forty rounds of selections. Remember that there used to be fifty, and that there was also a January draft until 1986 and prior to that there was a brief August draft. You can never have too many. Or you could, and so they stopped.
Here are the basics of what you need to know. The draft will go on with large intermissions from today (Rounds 1 & 2 w/ comps), through Friday (3-10) until Saturday afternoon at some point (11-40). Friday and Saturday, coverage will begin at MLB.com at 10 am, but today, coverage complete with talking heads in conversation begins at 3 pm with actual selections coming at 4 pm. Because if there’s anything America loves more than the events themselves, it’s an hour of speculation and mental foreplay. I don’t know why this doesn’t extend to everything. The Thanksgiving Day parade should be preceded by predictions of marching order and possible rogue balloon entrants who were seen rising in the final months. Movie previews should have retired actors, directors, and screenwriters projecting what might happen based off of the summaries they read on IMDB. When I’m eyeing some gal at a reading or show or bar, I want a gallery of pick-up artists, therapists, and survivors of good and bad relationships giving odds on the possible outcomes of our striking up a conversation.
Here are some bullet points pertaining to what you might need to know:
* This draft class is partially the result of the new CBA’s allotment of fixed draft pools. Basically, the players exiting college right now were high schoolers in the last year before the new rules kicked in, and that year there was a lot of wild spending on prep players as a sort of last hurrah. This means the college ranks are a bit thin right now, but will normalize in years to come.
* The strength of the draft is largely in pitching, both high school and college. There have been a few Tommy John casualties as there often are (Hoffman, Fedde) and others whose mechanics still give pause (Freeland), but the top portion of third-party draft boards features a lot of pitching right now. We don’t know that the actual selections will play out like this. Maybe teams will be more eager to replenish with injuries rampant in the minor leagues this year, maybe they will be more shy about selecting more pitching. It’s possible too that because the hitting class is considered weaker, that hitters may be overvalued and teams will be more inclined to burn that pick early on hitting, knowing that they could get comparable pitching later. These are factors we all end up considering the day of.
* The mock draft consensus has been unusually consistent over the past few weeks in that the M’s are still projected to take top HS bat C/3B/RF Alex Jackson. Nothing has [yet] come up at the last minute to dissuade anyone from that. But bear in mind that this isn’t a lock either. There were mutterings of the Marlins perhaps trying to work a deal with him at #2, and no one rightly knows what the Cubs are up to at #4. If he slips past those two, he’s probably ours, but that’s a big if.
* Say that he doesn’t. In that case, the most likely pick seems to be Hartford left-hander Sean Newcomb, who seems to me like a less-developed James Paxton. There are other possibilities as well. This org looooves their shortstops, so if Nick Gordon gets past the Twins, he is also absolutely in play for us. If one of the top prep arms (Aiken, Kolek) or Rodon drop down, which seems improbable, they are also in play. The players that have linked to the M’s before but seem less likely at this moment are LSU right-hander Aaron Nola (high-floor, three good pitches), who may be in play earlier, and NC State shortstop and Rodon teammate shortstop Trea Turner (elite speed, good defense, swing like an uprooted tree wielded by a wimpy tornado).
* The Mariners, on account of sucking last year, were awarded a competitive balance pick at the end of the supplemental second round, which means that they’ll be making the last selection of the day at 74. The current administration has never not picked a position player in the second round, but who knows what happens here? Our normally allocated second round pick went to the Yankees because of Cano and Morales’ not-signing elsewhere.
My personal board, which is weighted for likelihood, looks like this:
1) Jackson [Weight transfer and timing may be an issue, but talent matches our needs well]
2) Newcomb [Lacking secondaries, but low mileage and org had success teaching curves]
3) Conforto [Fits our positional and power/OBP needs well, but I’m worried they’d rush him]
4) Freeland [Love the command, finish unnerves me]
5) Gordon [Great defensive actions, good offensive ceiling, but best at short]
6) Nola [The same basic pick the M’s have made four of the last five years]
If I’m not weighting my selections, I like Touki Toussaint a lot and think that this organization would be a good match to develop him to near his ceiling, but no one has put him this high and pitching still scares a lot of people. I also have an avowed interest in Michael Gettys because he really does have elite physical tools, but do I trust the Mariners to succeed in developing someone with a hitting ability this raw? No. I do not.
There’s reading material abounds. You can go through my earlier preview or read through Marc’s interview with Chris Crawford. Read Tony Blengino’s insights into what really goes on in the draft room! Or you could sift through some thousands of mocks and players profiles all over the internet in the hours leading up to the event because you’re a wizard and/or own a time machine.
I won’t be here for this draft. Just like the last one, I have somewhere to be that coincides with the start time. But rest assured that wherever I am, I will be reacting with proportionally inappropriate emotion.