Looking ahead to the 2014 (and 2015) MLB Draft: Notes from the Collegiate National Team games

While we all wait to see what happens with Matt Garza, I decided to write a bit about some of the players I saw in the past two days as Team USA came to visit Kane County for a pair of games against some local all-stars.

The MLB draft is a great passion of mine dating back to 1981 and 1982 when the Cubs selected Joe Carter #2 overall and then Shawon Dunston #1 overall.  Since then it’s grown into more of a year round thing for me and as always, we’ll strive to give you first hand information and observation to go along with scouting reports.

Here are 10 names to watch — 8 for 2014 and 2 for 2015.


Trea Turner SS, NC State

Turner oozes athleticism and upside at SS.  He’s still very lean and looks like he has some room to pack on some muscle without losing some of his tremendous speed, which rates as top-of-the line 80 on the scouting scale.  He was very quick at SS, ranging well to each direction and showing a strong arm.  Turner didn’t hit the ball particularly well on these particular days (in fact, he went 0 for 9) but does have a smooth stroke that should hit for average along with a good eye at the plate.  He’s a top 5 talent and has perhaps even a chance at #1 overall considering position value and his all-around skill set.

Mike Conforto, OF, Oregon State

Conforto has a strong, sturdy build at 6’1, 215″ that looks like it’s all muscle.  He’s not going to wow you with his tools the way Turner does but he makes hard contact consistently, including a pair of HRs in the Tuesday game.  His bat is his main weapon as he should hit for average that he’ll supplement with walks and above average power.  Defensively he’s probably relegated to LF.  He’s a little thick legged and doesn’t have great range nor did he display good arm strength.  That puts a tremendous burden on his bat, but it looks like it’s capable of carrying the load.

Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal-State Fullerton

Chapman is not your protoypical 3B at 6’1″, 195 lbs but he has a compact athletic build and an all fields line-drive approach at the plate.  There wasn’t a lot of loft to his swing and that, combined with his modest size, leads me to think he isn’t going to hit for a lot of power.  He was very good at 3B, showing good lateral movement to both sides, including a tremendous diving play to his left.  I wonder if perhaps he can change positions.  SS may be a stretch but he looked quick and athletic enough to maybe try 2B, where his bat would profile better.

Kyle Schwarber, C, Indiana

This is a bat that will profile anywhere.  The LH hitting Schwarber can flat out mash and he did that in both games, going 5 for 10 with 3 of those hits being doubles, including one deep the opposite way into the left-centerfield gap.  He has a thick, stocky build at 6’0, 235 lbs. so as you can imagine, it’s not a body that profiles anywhere well defensively.  They’re trying him at catcher but it was a struggle there for him in terms of mobility, release, and throwing accuracy.  If you can get him to stick at catcher, you’ve got yourself quite an asset but that didn’t look likely from what I was able to see.  As I said, however, that bat will play anywhere so 1B becomes a legit option.

Austin Cousino, CF, Kentucky

At just 5’10”, 185 lbs, I thought this kid was going to slap the ball around but that was not the case at all.  He’s one of these high energy, quick twitch athletes that generates good bat speed with quick hands through the zone.  He pulverized a double into the right-center field gap that could have easily went out had he gotten a little back spin on it.  He runs well and should have no problems sticking in CF.

Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt

Beede has an ideal, athletic pitchers build (6’4″, 215 lbs) and was anywhere from 91-96 mph on his fastball, but mostly was working with a two seamer so it was often at the lower end of that range.  He also tried to work in curve but had some issues commanding it.  He didn’t walk a batter but he did hit two of them and didn’t seem to locate as well he would have liked.  You don’t want to get trapped into scouting results here (3 IP, 3 R) because you’d miss the boat.  The talent is obvious and it appears Beede may have been working on a few things as he prepares to face Cuba.

Sleeper Pick

Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV

The biggest surprise in the two games was Fedde .  He flew in from the Cape Cod League, where he’d been pitching well, and put on a uniform so new that they didn’t even have time to sew his name on it yet.  Fedde is long, lean and projectable at 6’4″, 175 lbs — but he showed plenty of present stuff, including a 93 mph fastball and a tight slider that looks like it has plus potential.  He commanded both pitches well.  He got a few hitters to chase on the slider, pitching 3 no-hit, no-walk innings and striking out 5.

Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU

The stadium gun was off on Monday night but it was easy to see Finnegan was throwing heat, blowing his fastball past hitters and recording two strikeouts in his one inning of work.  Kevin Gallo tells me he topped out at 96 mph.  I mention Finnegan because he’s just 5’11”, 185 lbs and generates much of that velocity with tremendous arm speed.  Obviously there’s not a lot of downward plane here and you wonder if his size will relegate him to the bullpen, though I’m told he can sustain that velocity late in games and he has a hard slider and a solid change-up to go with the fastball — so he does have the necessary tools/skills to stick as a starter.   Either way, he’s an interesting prospect whether he sticks as a starter or becomes a Billy Wagner type closer.


Alex Bregman, 2B, LSU: Bregman is a polished hitter who saw time at 2B and played the position well.  He’s a good athlete who runs pretty well but it’s all about the bat with Bregman.  He has a nice approach at the plate.  He’s quick and short to the ball, showing  good bat speed.  Bregman squared the ball up consistently in both games and looks like he should have average power despite his smallish size (5’11”, 185 lbs).

Skyler Bolt, CF, North Carolina: The switch-hitting Bolt has a sweet swing and the ball jumps off his bat.  He’s a good, but not elite athlete who easily runs and throws well enough to stick in CF, where his bat and solid power would be a nice asset.  His tools all appear to be average to above average across the board.

Filed under: MLB Draft


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    2014 - no love for Michael Cederoth of SDSU?

  • In reply to Jivewired:

    He wasn't there and I can't find if he he pitching at all this summer.

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    In reply to KGallo:


  • In reply to Jivewired:

    You do know that's my company right with Matt Grabusky Right.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I do. Now you understand my confusion with the content of the article. Happens when you skim the foundation of the article and go right to the names. All on me. Keep up the good work.

  • In reply to Jivewired:

    Only reporting on guys I watched play in the last 2 games. He's not even listed on the roster.

    Missed Carlos Rodon, who pitches Tuesday in Des Moines, I think.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    My bad. Skimmed past that part that it is players in the Futures Game.

  • In reply to Jivewired:

    No problem...very common for people to go straight to the names!

  • I have liked what I've seen of Bregman on TV. For no good reason, I'm an LSU fan. Can't explain it, don't know anyone that went there, just sort of happened. Anyway, Bregman's a natural SS, so a position change could happen, if the team that drafts him likes him better at another position, though I think he can be a very nice MLB second baseman.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    He may have been the best pure hitter there. Has a chance to stick at SS, which would add tremendous value. Only got to see him play 2B because of Turner.

  • Finnegan gotten as high as 97.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    He's got some kind of arm strength.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, small pitchers who throw hard have always worried me, they tend to develop arm problems because most of them have max effort deliveries and as you said, don't really throw downward. Ive always leaned towards taller pitchers who can pivot as they turn towards there target, thereby generating more speed. Oswalt and Guidry are probably the only small pitchers I can remember who had success, and they both lasted about a decade before they basically lost there velocity and were no longer effective.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    That's probably what puts Finnegan behind some of the others despite the dynamic stuff. But I found him interesting as a little guy who was dealing serious heat. His stuff is MLB quality and if he can stay healthy and improve his command then I think he can find a role.

  • so we have the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels represented...whooo hooo for Carolina

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    Would have had Rodon in this too had he played. Also an NC State guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    See I knew that since I'm one of those who read the article instead of just skimming it and going right to the names. LOL (sorry Jivewired I couldn't resist). ps sorry that you are going through that crap with your website.

  • Minor League rundown has an early top 30 list for 2014

    top 5

    Alex Jackson

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Thanks. Was just reporting on the players I saw over the past two days, though I did get to see Jackson at the UA game last summer. Rodon is on the roster but didn't pitch. Cederoth isn't on the roster for whatever reason.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    good stuff as always John

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Thanks, Bryan.

  • as long as the Cubs can pick in the top 5 or so they will get an impact arm . Touissaint the LH HS arm is at 7 and Nola Lsu at 6. Good arms in the next draft

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Agreed. I think they can get another nice player this year -- but have to say that I hope this is the last year they pick so high.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    At this point, I think the drafts of the last 2 years and the talk coming from the front office is that if we pick in the top 5, it's unlikely we're taking a pitcher.

    It seems that the FO is really set on taking a position player there due to what history has told them about past picks and success rates. Once the Cubs start sliding further and further down the first round, I think you'll see pitchers enter the conversation more.

    At this point, though, I think you'd have to bet on a position player for next year.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I think they prefer position players, everything else being equal. Because they do have data that shows they are safer bets. But I don't think they'll pass on a Pitcher if he is the BPA on their board.

    Hypothetically, would they have passed on Appel to take Bryant if HOU had taken Gray? IDK that they would have....

    But you're right in that the further down we go in order, the more risk tolerant they become and will likely go for the upside of a young arm vs the safety of a position player.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    It has to be a special pitcher. I believe the Cubs would have taken Appel, for example. Hearing more and more that Rodon not as highly regarded as Appel was but he may be a guy that tips the scales. Beede too if he can harness his stuff better.

    But I think the Cubs would be thrilled to get someone like Turner or maybe Alex Jackson if he can stick at catcher.

  • Haha John you are ALWAYS on it! MLB draft in the midst of the trade deadline. Bravo! (to you too Kevin Gallo)

    My brain hurts...

    Love to slip into the top 5 to grab Beede or Cederoth. But of course... "Best. Player. Available." - Jason Mcleod.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Thanks ;) Sometimes I feel like the site was turning into Matt Garza Trade Rumors...so I needed a break! I really can't wait for this deal to be done at this point. It's inevitable and I miss writing about baseball.

    We'll probably update on the latest Garza stuff later, but hopefully a deal happens before then.

  • Shouldn't we be hearing something soon about the Competitive Balance Draft Lottery?

    I know the Cubs don't qualify for a pick. But the trade for one is a possibility.

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    I'm still around Bloomington. schwarber is legit, they're trying him in left this year I heard

  • John,
    Been reading for a good while, but just joined. Love what you guys do. A note on Kyle Schwarber that you may not be aware of: According to the announcers during the CWS, he played at least the last half of Indiana's regular season & all of their post-season with a knee or leg injury that apparently hampered his mobility and defense. I thought it was pretty evident watching the CWS on tv that it bothered him and I doubt he's had much time to rest it since. I don't know enough to know how he projects defensively when healthy, but I don't think he has been for several months now.

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    In reply to RadioSteve:

    I watched every one of his home games this year. he's good enough behind the plate he first stick or in a bad way. also handled a young staff pretty well this year. at bat her makes adjustments like someone who already has 1500+ at bats under his belt

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    In reply to NateDHummel:

    out in a bad way I meant

  • Nice post John. I'd draft Skyler Bolt on the basis of his name alone.

  • Excellent as always John!

    Is Burdi pitching out of Team USA's bullpen? Has Louisville decided if he's going to be stretched out as a starter? They may have to since their rotation was decimated. Kids got all the makings of 2014's "Jonathon Gray" if he does.

  • last I read on Burdi is He is going to rotation next year.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I read something (for the life of me I cant remember where) but it quoted the Head Coach as saying that he would evaluate that at the end of this summer since Burdi agreed to play for Team USA. I think the thought is "When" he will be able to get stretched out?... He hasn't started since HS.

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    I would love to add Turner next year -- just don't think we are going to be terrible enough to do that. He's the kind of guy that could either force his way into the conversation as a plus defensive SS, top of the order guy for the Cubs, or have enormous trade value when we have to make the big trade in two or three years.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It would take a monumental collapse for the Cubs to get Turner at this point, who is almost certainly a top 3 guy and there are some that would pick him first.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, you and I just had this conversation on Twitter, but I'll put it here, too. The Cubs would have to jump over several teams to get there, and with the offense potentially better if Castro and Rizzo break out of it, and continued production out of whichever of the five outfielders are still here. The rotation (even without Scott Baker who -- just who knows at this point) looks night and day better than last year's. Add to that, the Brewers, White Sox, and Royals (if they move Shields and Santana) could just dive after the deadline. We're just too good to get a top pick. We'll probably be able to add someone in the "potentially great with warts" range.

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    What can you tell me about J.R. Murphy. He's a AAA catcher for the Yanks. His offensive #'s are nice but how is he at handling pitchers? I'm seeing that the Yanks have him on the block. Could we send them Soriano for a package that includes J.R. Murphy?

    Yanks are looking for a bat and we can use another close to mlb ready catcher, especially if Navarro will be traded.....

  • Aaron Nola would be a great fit for the Cubs # 1 pick next year. Super reliable ace. 122/18 stirkeout to walk ratio.

    Bregman was fantastic all year but completely melted down in the post-season. He looked like the kid that you have to put in for 2 innings a game per little league rules in his at bats against Gray in the super regional and then went 0 for 8 in the CWS with an error on a routine grounder that pushed across the winning run. He was a high school catcher so IDK if that is a possibility for his pro future.

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