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2014 MLB Draft: American League Central Analysis

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Brandon Finnegan
Brandon Finnegan
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Chicago White Sox
1-3) Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
2-44) Spencer Adams, RHP, White County HS, GA
3-77) Jace Fry, LHP, Oregon State University
4-108) Brett Austin, C, North Carolina State
For all the "concerns" about Rodon this spring, you might not realize that he cut a full run off his ERA compared to last year and still fanned 117 guys in 99 innings. His walk rate was lower, too. Was he being nitpicked and prospect fatigued? Adams was one of the best high school right-handers on the market with his athleticism and arm strength and would have been an easy first rounder some years. Fry doesn’t have the same level of stuff as Rodon and Adams but was a very successful college strike-thrower. Austin was Rodon’s batterymate and hit very well this year (.344/.414/.516) though scouts continue to have mixed opinions. College picks were emphasized in middle and later rounds, with players of particular interest including defensive specialist and OBP source Jake Peter (SS, Creighton, 7th round), power bat Zach Fish (OF, Oklahoma State, 11th round), and Matt Cooper (RHP, Hawaii, 16th round) who posted a 1.60 ERA with a 106/28 K/BB in 107 innings while using an 86 MPH fastball. Likely unsignable: Bryce Montes de Oca, RHP, 14th round.

Cleveland Indians
1-21) Bradley Zimmer, OF, University of San Francisco
1-31) Justus Sheffield, LHP, Tullahoma HS, TN
CB-38) Mike Papi, OF, University of Virginia
2-61) Grant Hockin, RHP, Damien HS, CA
3-97) Bobby Bradley, 1B, Harrison Central HS, MS
4-128) Sam Hentges, LHP, Mounds View HS, MN
Interesting mixture at the top. We have two advanced college bats, one (Zimmer) with some athleticism and good defensive chops and another (Papi) with power and strike zone judgment. You have three high school pitchers of note, beginning with the highly-advanced pitchability of Sheffield and the easy delivery and Harmon Killebrew bloodlines of Hockin. Hentges is a big lefty with good stuff who was considered unsignable by most sources pre-draft due to an Arkansas commitment. Bradley looks like he can be a productive left-side power hitter. College choices were emphasized later, but with major exceptions Simeon Lucas (7th round, C, Illinois HS) and Alexis Pantoja (9th round, SS, Puerto Rico HS) who could both have gone several rounds higher. Unsignable: K.J. Harrison, C, Hawaii HS, 25th round.

Detroit Tigers
1-23) Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS, CA
2-63) Spencer Turnbull, RHP, University of Alabama
3-99) Grayson Greiner, C, University of South Carolina
4-130) Adam Ravenelle, RHP, Vanderbilt
Everyone assumed the Tigers would go with college pitching and someone like Nick Burdi in the first round but instead they grabbed Hill, one of the top defensive outfielders and more polished preps in the draft. Then they switched to the college ranks, with Turnbull and Ravenelle being more "normal" Tigers picks, strong-arm collegians who should move quickly. Greiner and fifth-rounder Shane Zeile out of UCLA provide defensive depth behind the plate and both have a chance to hit too. More college guys to watch: speedy senior Ross Kivett (6th round) out of Kansas State, 80-grade name Joey Pankake (7th round, 3B) out of South Carolina, 95 MPH fastballer Paul Voelker (10th round, Dallas Baptist) who would have gone much higher if he were taller than 5-10, and strike-throwing Wichita State starter A.J. Ladwig (11th round). Unsignable: RHP Pat Mahomes (37th round), who would have been a third-rounder if not for Texas Tech quarterback commitment.

Kansas City Royals
1-17) Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
1-28) Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy, FL
CB-40) Chase Vallot, C, St. Thomas More HS, LA
2-56) Scott Blewett, RHP, Baker HS, NY
3-92) Eric Skoglund, LHP, University of Central Florida
4-123) Dawon Burt, SS, Fuquay-Varina HS, NC
Emphasis on left-handed pitching and a pair of high school bat early. Vallot has some of the best power in the class and was rumored to go 10-15 spots higher than this. His glove need work but scouts love the bat. Griffin works in the low-90s and has the potential for an above-average breaking ball and changeup to go with it. Finnegan was rumored as high as fifth overall until some late worries about his shoulder; he’s a great pick at 17 if healthy. Skoglund is very tall and lanky (6-6, 170), has unusual projectability for a college pitcher, and already throws strikes. Blewett is a fresh cold-weather arm, also projectable and can hit 96. College choices fill out the balance: a sleeper is small college star Emilio Ogando (12th round, LHP, St. Thomas University) who gets in the low-90s and dominated this year (2.34 ERA, 104/17 K/BB in 85 innings).

Minnesota Twins
1-5) Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS, FL
2-46) Nick Burdi, RHP, University of Louisville
3-79) Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State University
4-110) Sam Clay, LHP, Georgia Tech
The Twins were tied to Nick Gordon for months and got their guy. I like the choice a lot: he can field and run, will have more power than his brother, and demonstrates stellar makeup to go with his bloodlines. Nick Burdi has a legitimate 98-100 MPH fastball, has made big strides with his control, and projects as a big league closer. Cederoth has similar arm strength but his command is much weaker and he’s more of a development case. College pitching was continually emphasized here. Clay, Jake Reed (RHP, 5th round, Oregon State), John Curtiss (RHP, 6th round, Texas), Andro Cutura (RHP, 7th round, Southeastern Louisiana), and Keaton Steele (RHP, 8th round, Missouri) all have good performance records, but Curtiss and Steele have an injury history. Cutura is the sleeper of the group. There is the good basis of a big league bullpen with these picks, but will any of them start? Sleepers: Tyler Kuresa (1B, 16th round, UC-Santa Barbara) and Mat Batts (LHP, 17th round, UNC-Wilmington).