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2014 MLB Draft: American League East Analysis

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Sam Travis
Sam Travis

Baltimore Orioles
3-90) Brian Gonzalez, LHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS, FL
4-121) Pat Connaughton, RHP, Notre Dame
5-151) David Hess, RHP, Tennessee Tech
6-181) Tanner Scott, LHP, Howard JC, TC
Tough to make a big impact without a first or second round pick, but the Orioles staff made a decent effort. Gonzalez was lost in the publicity shuffle amidst all the high school pitching this year, but he’s a physical 6-3, 230 pound lefty with a low-90s fastball and a good curve. He can hit, too, and is a good gamble here. Connaughton is quite raw for a college pitcher due to his basketball background and posted an ugly 36/40 K/BB in 62 innings, but he also has a 95 MPH fastball and huge upside. Hess is no slouch either with a 90-95 MPH arm and a 104/34 K/BB in 97 innings. College picks predominate with an apparent emphasis on products of major programs (Max Schuh, UCLA, LHP, 7th round; Steve Wilkerson, Clemson, INF, 8th round; John Means, West Virginia, LHP, 11th round; Nigel Nootbaar, USC, RHP, 12th round are a few examples). Few chances were taken but that’s understandable given the small bonus pool they have to work with. Upside and bloodlines: Brandon Bonilla, LHP, 25th round, Grand Canyon University is a power lefty, quite raw, but up to 95 and Bobby’s son. 80-grade name belongs to Jamill Moquete, OF, U-Mass Boston, 32nd round.

Boston Red Sox
1-26) Michael Chavis, SS, Sprayberry Senior HS, GA
1-33) Michael Kopech, RHP, Mt. Pleasant HS, TX
2-67) Sam Travis, 1B, Indiana University
3-103) Jake Cosart, RHP, Seminole State College
4-134) Kevin McAvoy, RHP, Bryant University
Diverse portfolio. Chavis seems to do everything well; hit, hit for power, field. Kopech has some of the best arm strength in the deep class of prep pitchers this year. The Sox then shifted gears to one of the more complete college hitters in Travis, followed by a somewhat raw but very high upside arm in Jake Cosart, who is similar to his brother Jarred at the same stage. McAvoy is from a smaller college but throws in the 90s and had good performance metrics so I would not write him off as an overdraft. Fifth round pick Josh Ockimey is a power-hitting first baseman from high school in Pennsylvania who seemed underscouted given his power profile, while sixth rounder Danny Mars (OF, Chipola JC) can run, field, and get on base. College picks predominated after this. Can the Red Sox get something out of former top prospect Karsten Whitson (11th round) after his disappointing career at the University of Florida? Likely unsignable: Jeren Kendall, OF, 30th round had second or third round talent.

New York Yankees
2-55) Jacob Lindgren, LHP, Mississippi State
3-91) Austin DeCarr, RHP, Salisbury Prep, CT
4-122) Jordan Montgomery, LHP, University of South Carolina
5-152) Jordan Foley, RHP, Central Michigan University
DeCarr is the upside guy here, a fresh cold-weather arm with a chance for three plus pitches. He’s reportedly signed for double the slot value, which would be late first round money. Lindgren profiles as a reliever with his 90+ heater and hard slider and won’t need long in the minors. Montgomery is a polished strike-thrower with high-level college experience for a major program, a type the Yankees have been attracted to in the past. Foley can be erratic but also gets his fastball well into the 90s. Conservative college choices fill out the draft, but the Yanks have gotten some production out of similar talents (David Phelps, Chase Whitley). If rumors about upcoming heavy spending on high-ceiling international talent are true, filling out with more polished picks to provide some roster balance for the raw kids looks like part of an integrated strategy.

Tampa Bay Rays
1-20) Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State University
2-60) Cameron Varga, RHP, Cincinnati Hills Academy, OH
CB-72) Brent Honeywell, RHP, Walters State CC
3-96) Brock Burke, LHP, Evergreen HS, CO
4-127) Blake Bivens, RHP, George Washington HS, VA
The Rays go for an advanced and powerful college bat with the first pick, then switch to their traditional strength in high-upside pitching. Gillaspie has a consistent and productive track record including success with wooden bats, featuring both power and plate discipline. Varga is old for a high school guy at almost-age 20, but that’s less relevant for a pitcher than for a hitter. More relevant is his 90-95 MPH fastball. Honeywell also hits 90 and uses a screwball as his key secondary pitch, weird for a right-hander but interesting. Burke and Bivens load up the Pitching Bs and are the moldable type of high school arms often favored by the Rays. College picks fill out the later rounds, with Mike Franco (7th round, RHP, Florida International ) and Chris Pike (9th round, RHP, Oklahoma City University) featuring excellent performance metrics.

Toronto Blue Jays
1-9) Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina University
1-11) Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State University
2-49) Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS, FL
3-83) Nick Wells, LHP, Battlefield HS, VA
4-114) Matt Morgan, C, Thorsby HS, AL
This looks like a nice haul to me. A healthy Hoffman may be the best college pitcher in the draft this year, and Pentecost was the best overall catcher. That’s a terrific combination if Hoffman returns to full health from Tommy John. SRF is a first-round high school talent and best of all, he’s already signed for second-round slot money, quite a coup. Wells is the picture of projection at 6-5, 180, a bit raw but with a fine fastball/curveball combination. I’m not sure why Morgan doesn’t get more attention: his tools project out well both offensively and defensively and his makeup is reportedly good, too. Seems like a steal if he develops as expected, granted catchers have weird development curves sometimes. There was an understandable shift to college guys after this but they picked some intriguing ones, particularly Gunnar Heidt (2B, College of Charleston, 13th round) , Chase Mallard (RHP, Alabama-Birmingham, 14th round) and Cliff Brantley (OF, Alelphi, 19th round). On paper this looks like a strong class to me.