The 2014 MLB Draft is coming up. The Astros are set to make the draft’s first pick in Sebaucus New Jersey this Thursday, at 7pm est.
After that the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs and the Twins will make the next four picks (2-5) and teams will continue selecting players until the night ends with the final pick (number 74 overall) of Competitive Balance Round B. The remainder of the draft will be held over the following two days.
The 2013 draft saw two gifted college right-handed pitchers–Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray–go in the top three picks. Kohl Stewart, an immensely talented righty out of high school, followed the duo only minutes later when he was selected at the number-four slot. The year before that, it seemed like there were enough stud shortstops (Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, Gavin Cecchini, Corey Seager) and centerfielders (Byron Buxton, Albert Almora, David Dahl, Courtney Hawkins) for every team that had a pick in the top 20.
This time around the draft class seems to be remarkably strong in left-handed pitching, from both the college and high school ranks. In fact, this class seems to deeper in high-upside pitching in general, compared to the past couple of years, and much lighter at premium defensive positions like catcher, shortstop and centerfield (at least in players that project to man those positions in the pro’s). There aren’t any Strasburgs or Harpers, but N.C. State southpaw Carlos Rodon has generated buzz on par with the amount that Mark Appel created during his own college career. The big flamethrower even hears comps to future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. So it’s a testament to this groups pitching depth that fellow blue-chip southpaw stars Kyle Freeland, Brady Aiken and Brandon Finnegan have the makings of even better professional pitchers. That’s if they pan out of course.
Despite the many flashy left-handed pitchers, the top draft selection might end up being a righthander out of high school. The Astros hold the first overall choice, and gunslinger Tyler Kolek matches up with their taste and needs perfectly. He’s arguably the top pitching talent, he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his eighteen-year-old arm, he’s a native Texan that was born and raised on a ranch. He also might have the best fastball in the history of high school baseball. Needless to say, his profile and his Texas pedigree have earned him numerous comparisons to Hall of Fame pitcher and former Houston Astros ace Nolan Ryan. What makes the match even more perfect? Kolek’s favorite player is Nolan Ryan, who is now employed as a special advisor to ownership.