2014 MLB Draft: American League West Analysis

Alex Jackson - Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros
1-1) Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS, CA
CB-37) Derek Fisher, OF, University of Virginia
2-42) A.J. Reed, 1B, University of Kentucky
3-75) J.D. Davis, 3B, Cal State Fullerton
4-106) Daniel Mengden, RHP, Texas A&M
COMMENT:
The most complete high school pitcher in the draft, followed by three college bats then an eclectic mix. My guess is that the Astros were thinking something like this: "the weakness in the draft this year is college hitting, so after we take the "best player available" with the top pick, we’ll grab the best college power hitters we can right away since they will be scarce in later rounds." Reed and Davis look like quality bats to me. Fisher never lived up to his potential in college but scouts remained enamored with his tools. They then filled in with more pitching in rounds four through seven, with a mixture of college (Mengden, Derick Velazquez out of Fresno State in the 7th), junior college (Brock Dykxhoorn, RHP, Central Arizona, 6th round), and another prep (Jacob Nix, RHP, 5th round). College guys were the main emphasis from the on, focusing on players with on-base ability (12th round OF Ryan Bottger from UT-Arlington for example) and pitching. Unsignable: Mac Marshall, LHP, 21st round.


Los Angeles Angels
1-15) Sean Newcomb, LHP, University of Hartford
2-53) Joe Gatto, RHP, St. Augustine Prep (NJ)
3-88) Chris Ellis, RHP, University of Mississippi
4-119) Jeremy Rhoades, RHP, Illinois State University
COMMENT:
The Angels finally have some draft picks to help rebuild a thin farm system. They focused on pitching at the top, beginning with a cold-weather college southpaw in Newcomb who was, for awhile, getting buzz as high as pick number five. I think he’s good value. Second-rounder Joe Gatto is another cold-weather pitcher with a fresh arm but surprising pitchability. I like that choice too. Ellis and Rhoades both have a shot as solid inning-eater types. Fifth round pick Jake Jewell (RHP, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M) is a closer with a 97 MPH fastball. College choices filled out the draft class with Caleb Adams (OF, 10th round, Louisiana-Lafayette), Jared Ruxer (RHP, 12th round, Louisville), and Austin Robichaux (RHP, 18th round, Louisiana-Lafayette) looking like nice values. Sleeper: Caleb Wallingford (LHP, 35th round, University of Memphis). Overall the key here is pitching depth, with some solid performers but few loud tools on the hitting side.

Oakland Athletics
1-25) Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal State Fullerton
2-65) Daniel Gossett, RHP, Clemson
3-101) Brett Graves, RHP, University of Missouri
4-132) Jordan Schwartz, RHP, Niagra
COMMENT:
College-oriented. The only early high school picks were infielder Trace Loehr (6th round, Oregon HS) and right-hander Branden Kelliher (8th round, Washington HS) Loehr could have gone as high as the third round due to his line drive bat and good speed. Kelliher is "undersized" at 5-11 but can get up to 94. Of the college guys, Chapman has an outstanding arm and could pitch if hitting doesn’t work out, while both Gossett and Graves project as number three starters. Schwartz is an athletic right-hander who fanned 109 in 95 innings this year. Later college picks to watch include Branden Cogswell (7th round, SS, Virginia), Corey Miller (10th round, RHP, Pepperdine), Trent Gilbert (15th round, 2B, Arizona), and Michael Nolan (18th round, LHP, Oklahoma City University).

Seattle Mariners
1-6) Alex Jackson, OF-C, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego, CA
CB-74) Gareth Morgan, OF, Blyth Academy, Ontario, CN
3-80) Austin Cousino, OF, University of Kentucky
4-111) Ryan Yarbrough, LHP, Old Dominion
COMMENT:
The Mariners had been linked to the powerful bat of Alex Jackson for months and they got their guy. Canadian Morgan has some of the best raw power in the entire draft class and also has a good throwing arm, although opinions differ about his ability to use that power consistently against good pitching. Cousino has a strong outfield glove but did not live up to expectations as a hitter in college. Yarbrough is a strike-throwing college senior (64/15 K/BB in 86 innings) who will take a smaller bonus to help provide budget flexibility for other picks. Fifth rounder Dan Altavilla (RHP, Mercyhurst) and sixth rounder Lane Ratliff (LHP, Jones County Junior College, MS) have better stuff. College seniors were emphasized subsequently, again for money reasons. 11th round RHP Jay Muhammad (Coral Springs Christian, FL) has more upside.


Texas Rangers
1-30) Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS, CA
2-59) Tiquan Forbes, SS, Columbia HS, MS
3-95) Joshua Morgan, SS, Orange Lutheran HS, CA
4-126) Brett Martin, LHP, Walters State CC (TN)
COMMENT:
This looks like a Rangers, draft doesn’t it? Forbes has one of the best toolsets available in the high school ranks this year. Depending on who you talk to, he is either very raw or surprisingly polished. Either way, his tools stand out and fit perfectly into the Rangers system. Ortiz is a big-bodied right-hander with very good stuff and pitchability who could easily have gone 10 spots higher in the draft. Morgan isn’t quite as toolsy as Forbes but is no slouch when it comes to athleticism and could stick at shortstop. There was an understandable switch to college talent in later rounds, with sixth round pick Jose Trevino out of Oral Roberts looking quite interesting. He has power in his bat and enough athleticism that he’s played both shortstop and catcher in college. Erik Swanson (RHP, 8th round, Iowa Western CC) and Daniel Sweet (OF, 25th round, Polk State College, FL) are enticing junior college talents who could pan out nicely. Sleeper: 29th rounder Luke Tendler, OF, North Carolina A&T, a small college success story with interesting speed/OBP potential.

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