2014 MLB Draft: News, Notes, and thoughts as it nears
The draft is Thursday so instead of a single concentrated piece here are some news, notes, and thoughts on the upcoming draft. I wanted to hit on a bunch of topics, so I am just going to dive in.
Possible Tribe Targets
I am getting a lot of questions about who the Indians will draft this year. I know I nailed the Indians pick last year, but it is easier to know who will be left at five than it is at 21. Last year I knew exactly who would be off the board when the Indians picked. I also realize I was nearly the only person who got the Indians pick right last year, so a bit more is expected of me so here are the five guys I think the Indians would look at and who have a good chance to be there at #21.
Michael Chavis 3B/2B – Chavis can play second base and should be considered there. He has played mostly third in his career, but I think his best position in terms of his bat would be second. He would not be in the majors till 2018 anyways, by which point Jason Kipnis would be in his 30’s and could be looking at a position change anyway. He has plus power, good bat speed, and a solid hit tool. He is sub six feet and I think the Indians look at this as a bonus as they drafted with a heavy focus on smaller players last year as a market inefficiency. I expect them to have no issue with Chavis' height. Another sub six feet Georgia kid with big right-handed power would be nice for the system.
Monte Harrison OF – I see his name linked to a lot of Tribe chatter and I wonder if they are on him. The only reason for concern is that the Indians recent track record with toolsy high school players has not been good. They appear to have missed on a lot of them over the past few drafts. Still, I think the interest is legit, because he is a two sport guy with power and size. The Indians had a big interest in Bubba Starling the year he came out and Harrison has some Starling to him. The Indians lack of success with such players might not dissuade them at all from taking another toolsy high school player with a sky high ceiling.
Erick Fedde RHP – I have never been the biggest guy on Fedde. It’s not that I dislike him, but I worry about his boom and bust potential. He has the upside to be a good number two, which means a number one on many teams. He has a fastball and slider which both have a chance to be plus, but his changeup is more of an average show me type of pitch. He has had consistency issues, but prior to his injury he seemed to be putting it together and I was seeing what his supporters had said for a while. His injury eliminates all leverage since the Indians could grab him at #21 for under slot. He should be ready for extended spring training next year, so it would be an upside play with Fedde. I really think he was a top 10 pick before injury, so grabbing him at #21 and saving money might be an incredibly savvy move.
Grant Holmes RHP – Holmes is under-sized and his velocity has not held up over the year. He has been mocked to San Francisco often, but the Giants often go off board or with a very safe pick. Holmes seems too conventional for them and with a lot of teams looking at college bats early it could cause Holmes to slide. He is a guy who is in the 10-15 range on my board, so the value is there if you can look past the size issue.
Brandon Finnegan LHP – Reason is given in the next section.
You watch a lot of film in scouting or read a ton of reports and certain guys become irrational favorites. They are guys who you tend to like more than most and in your own ranks might be a little higher than they should be. Here are the four guys I am very bullish on. Some people aren’t as sold but I like the tool set presented in each of these players.
Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU - I love Finnegan as I see a chance he could be a lefty version of Sonny Gray with better velocity. My only concern with him is that he pitches for TCU who has a bad draft history and some injury concerns this year. Other than that I have no concerns. Yes, his height is not ideal, but it is near impossible to find a guy who throws this hard from the left side. His floor seems to be that of a really good setup man. Guys like Finnegan who don’t have the ideal measurables slide, but if Finnegan was four inches taller and had no injury trouble this year I think he would be the top pick. Now he likely goes in the 20’s and should be a great addition to any minor league system , and in a year he is going to be one of the top five left handed pitching prospects in the minors.
Pat Connaughton, RHP, Notre Dame - Connaughton has been telling teams he wants to play basketball next year, which would mean he could not sign as I don’t think they will let him play a pro sport and an amateur sport at the same time. I feel like this might be more of a play to get more money as next year as a senior sign his leverage would be gone, and he could cost himself hundreds of thousands of dollars with this decision. The reason I like Connaughton is he is an excellent athlete who played big minutes for Notre Dame basketball throughout his years at school. His baseball development is way behind because of his love of basketball, but the kids knows where his future is at. I am not sure anyone in college baseball has more growth potential as a player than Connaughton because he has never focused on baseball. The upside to all of the basketball he has played is he also has not thrown as many pitches and his arm does not have the wear and tear on it. He is a big projectable right hander whose stuff could take a nice leap when he focuses on baseball full time. I would draft him in round two, figuring if he had focused on baseball he would have been a first round talent.
JD Davis, RHP/1B, Cal State Fullerton - Davis is an okay athlete as he has played first base this year but with his extremely strong arm I think third base or outfield is in his future. Davis has big time right handed power and has shown a good hit tool while at Fullerton. His numbers slid a bit later in the year, but his average has remained high and his power is a grade 60 or 65 tool to me. He throws a 97 MPH fastball as a reliever and that arm is why I think he would find a home at third or the outfield. His walk rate slowed, but early in the year it was near one to one with his strikeout rate. His power, arm, and hit tool intrigue me and I think he would be a solid pick in the compensation round for any team.
Ti’Quan Forbes, SS, HS - Forbes is one of the three shortstops I have with first rounds grades who I think can stay at short. He is a plus athlete and is just really fluid out there. I keep seeing him knocked because he plays in Mississippi, which is not a baseball hot bed. On a side note, the Indians do scout there quite a bit as they liked Billy Hamilton from there and last year drafted Silento Sayles from Mississippi as well. Forbes only moves off short if he grows too big. He is already large for a shortstop, but I think he is a good enough athlete to stick. Then comes his age as he is one of the youngest players in this draft and won’t be 18 until August. A lot of studies show that across sports in general younger players who excel are often the best value bet. Forbes is a solid bet to stay at shortstop with several plus tools and youth on his side. What is there to not like?
Trades: Pirates and the Marlins
There was a trade on Saturday that flew under the radar but was pretty significant to draft fans. The Pirates traded right handed reliever Bryan Morris to the Marlins for pick the #39 pick in the draft. The pick was a competitive balance pick which is why it was tradable.
On the surface it makes some sense, as Morris is under team control through 2018, so they can control him for four years and has back-to-back years with a sub 4 ERA.
The key is on the surface, in actuality, it’s a horrible deal for the Marlins. They give up not just the pick, but extra cash for their draft pool and get a player who last year was the definition of average and this year has been sub average. His FIP is over five. His walk, hit, and home run rates are all up. The Pirates needed to move an arm from their pen and they turned the surplus into a valuable asset plus the nearly two million in pool money this year.
The Marlins are a team which is sitting at .500, but this is after the loss of their ace pitcher for the year. The Marlins aren’t going anywhere this year, so it would have been much better to sit there and take a Jacob Lindgren at #39 who could have made the team by next season and been a much better arm.
This was a bad trade and an even worse overpay. Let me put it this way, I would have traded any reliever from the Indians not named Shaw or Allen for pick #39. This was just a bad use of assets by the Marlins trading a valuable piece for a mediocre player whose major value seems to be his distance from free agency.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
"I also realize I was nearly the only person who got the Indians pick right last year"
Opening paragraph. He brags about himself twice about guessing correct and then goes on not to even make a prediction for this year?
That's the caveat with most HS prospects - they have high boom/bust potential, whereas most college prospects have lower thresholds on both. It will be interesting to see which way the Indians focus on more in this draft, especially since they seem to be going for more HS prospects with higher ceilings the last few drafts after largely shying away from it after the disastrous 2001 Draft that produced next to nothing in ML talent and headlined by Denham, Dittler, Martin, and Foley, with only Martin to my knowledge reaching the Majors, I think, and that's been only a few starts/appearances if I'm not mistaken.
Drafting Bryson Myles or Micheal Taylor in the 6th for just over 100k is good value. Drafting a HS bat you hope one day becomes Bryson Myles/M.Taylor for 1-2mil is rather stupid and being a hype sucker. In other words: you're buying high.
HS bats are the biggest gambles on draft day and that's why I would not pay a premium for any that has even the slightest question about his hitting as Harrison has.
That said, I do like Chavis and Forbes, but again, selecting them at 21 and 38 without any underslot value is buying extremely high. At 21, I'd prefer Finnegan, Holmes and Reid-Foley and for MIF I'd rather select Brian Anderson or Loehr a little later. From College, Vince Conde from Vandy is very underrated and would be a good value in the 8-15 range
Are any of these projections you have made based on something you have heard, or are they just educated guesses on who we could pick?
Based on that here would be my choices.
#31 Harrison or Chavis
If no Zimmer available
I think the Indians need some toolsy high potential prospects
In rounds 2 thru 10 I would at least pursue 6 Best available pitchers.