I don't really like doing mock drafts on my own because I fudge them when they "don't look right". I find it much more fun to involve other people and add a certain amount of unpredictability. Last year I did this with Dan Kirby of Through the Fence Baseball and then Cubs contributor Kevin Gallo. Kevin, of course, is a real scout who cannot partake in such things anymore, so I commandeered an old retired scout friend of mine -- but he asked to be kept anonymous. Dan, however, returns and we added a whole bunch of new names who follow the draft closely. Here is the 10 person panel:
- Jason "Professor" Parks: Baseball Prospectus
- Mauricio Rubio, Cubs Den and Baseball Prospectus
- Jordan Gorosh, @TigersProspects and Baseball Prospectus
- Sahadev Sharma of ESPN Chicago, Vine Line and podcaster at Bleacher Nation
- Dan Kirby, Through the Fence Baseball, a site that focuses on the MLB Draft year round
- Steve Fiorindo, Big League Futures, a site that focuses on amateur scouting and, of course, the draft.
- Ty Youngfelt, Pioneer Press, Ty (@TyYoungfelt) has followed the MLB Draft closely over the years
- Matt Cassidy of Future Sox, a Chicago Now site that focuses on White Sox prospects
- A retired scout, anonymous
- John Arguello, Editor-in-Chief, Cubs Den
- And in the "This one goes to 11" category: Mike Moody, writer at Cubs Den, who stepped into pinch hit for one pick and also give his opinion on the Cubs best option at #4.
Each panelist had 3 picks. I just chose the number 30 to keep it simple even though the first round is actually 27 teams and the comp round goes to 34. It's a first round-ish mock draft.
There was commentary from those who had time but this was an all day affair, so sometimes we just g0t the pick and then added a comment from either Mauricio or me.
As a bonus, most of the writers gave their opinions on whom the Cubs would pick, you will find that at the conclusion of the mock draft toward the bottom of this page.
2014 Mock Draft
1. Astros (retired scout): Brady Aiken, LHP, H.S. (CA). "Simple. He is the best player in the draft and has the polish to move quickly."
2. Marlins: (Jason Parks): Carlos Rodon, LHP, N.C State. "Easy pick. Best player available; top college arm in the draft; frontline ceiling with one of the highest floors in the class; plus fastball; double-plus slider; workload concerns and a few performance red flags this season, but highly competitive lefty with impact stuff. Don't over-think it. "
3. White Sox (Matt Cassidy): Tyler Kolek, RHP, HS (T). John: The latest buzz says the Sox have focused on Kolek and that he is their guy. Keith Law has called it the biggest lock in the draft.
4. Cubs (John Arguello): Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU: Surprise! I have heard conflicting stories and for me it came down to Nick Gordon or Aaron Nola. The industry buzz I have heard recently made me go with Nola. The Cubs may be leaning toward an arm, they prefer college players and higher floors, though the buzz is that scouts are beginning to think that maybe Nola has a higher ceiling than they originally believed. I've also heard that they aren't especially enamored with anyone outside of the top 2 arms, so they may just get a safe player who can rise quickly. A lot of times we mistakenly assume best available = highest ceiling within a group of similarly ranked players, which would mean Gordon or Jackson or even Hoffman. But BPA to the Cubs means the player most capable of -- and most likely -- to make a long term impact, so they will strongly consider floor along with ceiling. They maybe even save a little bit on the bonus (though many doubt that with Nola) and go for the high ceiling talent with their 2nd pick: perhaps the very projectable Jack Flaherty or the hard-throwing Jake Bukauskus, who may have the best pure prep arm in the draft after Kolek. Word is that the Cubs have their eye on several 2nd round pitchers. Ask me again before Thursday and I might change my mind and flip back to Gordon or even Max Pentecost if they really want to save money.
5. Twins: (Sahadev Sharma): Nick Gordon, SS, HS (FL). If the Cubs don't snag him, I don't think Gordon gets past the Twins. The slick fielding shortstop is more athletic than his brother with more pop and less speed.
6. Mariners (Dan Kirby): Alex Jackson, OF, HS CA): I think the M's take BPA in Jackson and even if he ends up in OF, the bat is elite. He has a mature approach and jaw-dropping raw power.
7. Phillies (Mauricio Rubio): Bradley Zimmer, OF, U. of San Francisco - When it comes to hitting prospects the primary tool I look for is the hit tool as everything plays off of a player's ability to make contact. Zimmer projects to have a plus hit tool and he's shown an ability to drive the ball for hard contact. He looks the part too which helps a lot. Add in decent speed and a good arm and I think the Phillies might have themselves a player here.
8. Rockies (Jordan Gorosh): Touki Toussaint, RHP, HS (FL). John, "With a mid 90s fastball, a knee-buckling curve, and the athleticsm to repeat his delivery and develop better command, Toussaint has some of the highest upside in this draft, but also comes with a fair amount of risk.
9. Blue Jays: (Ty Youngfelt): Jeff Hoffman, LHP, East Carolina: . TJ surgery is almost a formality for power arms now and once healthy Hoffman is a TOR pitcher. Steal.
10. Mets: (Steve Fiorindo): Trea Turner, SS, NC State: "After dropping early in the process, a strong finish has Turner climbing up boards again. He's athletic, can run, and has the ability to stick at SS. If he can hit, he will be a very good player" - John
11. Blue Jays: (Scout): Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville: Freeland isn't a top level pitching talent but that's ok. He has a mid rotation profile and a really good shot at reaching that projection. While it's not exactly sexy it is dependable and sometimes that grades out better than the high ceiling low basement guys. - Mauricio
12. Brewers: (Jason): Grant Holmes, RHP, HS (SC): Top 5 arm in the class for me; strong, durable frame; love the arm action; velocity has been on steady increase throughout HS career; FB will work in plus-plus velocity range early in starts; comfortable in 92-95l has touched triple digits; shows advanced feel for secondary arsenal; lacks physical projection but arsenal could continue to mature (not all projection is based on adding size/strength); in the mold of Jeremy Bonderman; could start in full-season ball; fast riser in the minors and a likely mid-rotation type with a slightly higher ceiling if command/secs play to true plus; would be all over this kid in the #5-10 range in this draft.
13: Padres: (Mike Moody): Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State: The Padres are said to want a bat. Last year, in the same draft position, they went for Mississippi State C/OF Hunter Renfroe who showed a good approach and solid power his junior season.
14. Giants: (John): Derek Hill, OF, HS (CA): There are so many good names on this board and personally, I would pick Newcomb, but the word is that the Giants really like the athletic Hill, who has some rawness to his game, but the good instincts, bloodlines, and makeup to work through it.
15. Angels: (Sahadev): Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State: Just going on best player available, I'd say it's between Sean Newcomb and Max Pentecost. Both are getting some interest from teams in the top 10, so the Angels would likely be happy with either. However, it sounds like they're leaning bat here & Pentecost has a good one and could stick at catcher.
16. Diamondbacks: (Dan) Michael Chavis,3B, HS (GA): Love him. Massive power, showed much improved hit tool, above-average speed, instincts to play short but should move to 3B. Great kid.
17. Royals: (Mauricio): Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford: Kinda shocked he was there, thought about him at 7. Also considered Touki at 7. (Editor's note): This is what makes this type of draft fun. No fudging. Mauricio almost took Newcomb 7th, didn't and he slid to 17th. He also would have considered Touki Toussaint, but passed and Jordan snatched him up. Had Mauricio taken Touki, Jordan would have taken Grant Holmes at #8, but because he didn't, he slid to #12, where Jason Parks grabbed him in what has to be considered a huge steal.
18. Nationals: (Jordan): Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU: Great fastball with solid secondaries (slider, change) but his height (5'11") and some shoulder concerns knock him down from what could have been a top 10 pick. - John
19. Reds: (Ty): Sean-Reid Foley, RHP, HS (FL): a very Jocketty pick,Reid-Foley fits the Reds/Cards mold of HS arm
20. Rays: (Steve): Marcus Wilson, OF, HS (CA): SoCal guy! - Steve. Great athlete with plus plus speed and a chance to stick in CF. Hit tool has developed nicely the last two years but it is still the biggest question mark. High ceiling/high risk. - John
21. Indians: (Scout): Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana: Schwarber might stick behind the dish but I'm not sure the profile works there. He's a power bat with a 1B future in my mind. Power is an increasingly valuable commodity given the current playing climate and even at first the profile works well. - Mauricio
22. Dodgers: (Jason): Michael Kopech, RHP, HS, (TX): Ceiling pick for me; projectable body; can already show three pitches; FB is easy plus in the low-90s, touching mid-90s with some effort; mechanics need some work, but the athleticism is there for adjustment; CB and CH will flash plus; under-the-radar at present and it could take some time depending on his adjustments to pro ball; arguably a top ten talent in the draft based on upside; high ceiling/low floor.
23. Tigers (Matt): Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt: Some think the Tigers want a hard thrower here that they could put in the bullpen right away, such as Nick Burdi of Louisville or Finnegan, but Beede may be too valuable to pass up here -- and he certainly fits the hard-thrower description - John.
24. Pirates: (John): Jacob Gatewood, 3B, HS CA: Tremendous raw power and a high school SS with the potential to be a plus defender at 3B. Pirates are probably just going to take the best player available here and while Gatewood is a boom or bust, the boom is a potential top 5 player in his draft when all is said and done.
25. Athletics: (Sahadev) Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV: If not for the Tommy John surgery, Fedde wouldn't be available here. When healthy, he was sitting 91-94, up from last year, and touching higher. His slider also took a step forward this spring and the overall profile still has some projection. Fedde has a higher ceiling than Nola - though the LSU product is a safer bet - and could be a steal for the A's.
26. Red Sox: (Dan): Spencer Adams, RHP, HS (GA): A superb athlete and a great pitcher's body at 6'-4" and 180lbs. Can touch 95 and adds a potential plus SL. Adds a CB/CH for a 4-pitch mix.on of upside w/ his size, athleticism & loose, easy delivery. He's from Georgia where they grow athletes on trees right next to the peaches.
27. Cardinals: (Mauricio): Ti'Quan Forbes, 3B, HS (MS): Very toolsy and extremely risky. He's a projection pick as he has a lot of room to grow and a lot of risk attached to his skill set. He's raw but the power and hit tools flash enough to make him interesting even if he eventually has to move off short.
28. Royals: (Jordan): Alex Blandino, 2B, Stanford: I think he can stick at third and I think the bat produces enough for him to be one of those guys you can't believe was taken behind some other names. Nice compact swing, I'm not sold on the power but I think he's gonna be a player. - Mauricio
29. Reds (Ty): Nick Howard, RHP, Virginia: I have the Reds taking Nick Howard, RHSP. Gillaspie, Sheffield in play too. Howard goes Cashner route -- college CL to MLB SP
30. Rangers (Steve): Michael Gettys, OF, HS (GA): One of the most athletic players in this draft, Gettys is a potential 5 tool talent, but he will need to develop his hit tool.
Alternate Cubs Picks and comments from the panel
- Jason Parks: It depends on what the Marlins do at #2, as it seems like the Astros will pick either Aiken (likely) or Rodon (not as likely), leaving the door open for either Rodon, Kolek,or Jackson for Miami to select from. Lots of heat behind Nola at #4 for the Cubs. He lacks the crazy upside of several other arms, but that shouldn't be confused with lacking a high ceiling. He has a high ceiling; a number two/three type at the highest level. Not a franchise changer, but an accomplished arm from a highly competitive conference with polish and pitchability to go along with legit stuff; the FB has meat and can hit the mid-90s; excellent feel for a change. It's a very good overall profile. If he is available at #4, its not the highest ceiling player on the board, but it might be the best player available. Different distinctions. The first round (for me) should always be about the best player available on the board, which too often gets confused with the highest ceiling'd player on the board. Not always the case. You can make a very good case that if the order goes: Aiken, Kolek, Rodon, the Cubs could take Nola over Jackson or Gordon and still justify the pick as best available despite the slightly lower physical ceiling.
- Mauricio: Gordon, I admittedly have a fetish for shortstops with bat to ball skills (see Castro, Starlin). Gordon has the good bloodlines and the talent, I like him a lot.
- Scout: Pentecost on an under slot deal. There are some intriguing arms to be had in the 2nd or 3rd round and perhaps they can talk Bukauskus out of his strong college commitment if they can save enough money.
- Sahadev Sharma: Gordon for Cubs: Ideally, the Cubs would love for Aiken or Rodon to fall, but in this scenario, they're out of luck. Nola doesn't have the upside they're looking for at four and, at the moment, I'm hearing it's unlikely they go with an under slot deal with someone like Michael Conforto, though Max Pentecost isn't totally out of the question. I think they go Nick Gordon over Alex Jackson. I've been hearing little Cubs-Jackson buzz of late and Gordon appears to be shooting up draft boards with his ability to stick at short and solid bat to ball ability from the left side.
- Dan Kirby: Nick Gordon: Should stick at a premium position and his plus speed, advanced approach from the left side and developing power give him some of the highest upside in the draft.
- Ty Youngfelt: Alex Jackson - Paul Konerko comp coming out of HS- better athlete, more likely to stick at C but bat profiles about the same at same stage.
- Mike Moody: Kyle Schwarber: Sign him at underslot and move him to LF. hitter in the first round to give your draft a nice floor. The question with Schwarber doesn't appear to be whether he can stick behind the plate -- he can't -- but whether he can play a position other than 1B/DH. I'm told he has the athleticism to play left, so I'd take him and his advanced approach (41 BB vs. 27 K) and plus power. I haven't heard anything about the Cubs being in on Schwarber, so I'm pretty sure it won't happen, but I like him.
- Steve Fiorindo: Alex Jackson, then probably Nick Gordon.
- John: I gave my explanation for my pick, but to reiterate, I'm leaning Nola, Gordon, then Pentecost.
Nick Gordon was mentioned the most by our panel, so maybe he is the favorite...but....since not one of us mentioned Michael Conforto as a possibility then that means he has to be the guy, right?
For more of my general thoughts on the draft and the Cubs pick, I did a podcast with Paul Banks of the Sports Bank.