2014 Phillies Draft Preview - Changes at the top

Just out of reach. - Mitchell Leff

Since it's Draft Day in the NFL, it seemed like a good day to talk about the MLB Draft. I startred writing previews for this draft in December (that sounds nuts to me now) and quite a bit has changed since then.

If you asked me in December or January who I wanted the Phillies to take I would have given you three names: Carlos Rodon (who I would caveat is a lock for #1 overall, so not realistic), Trea Turner (I love his speed, his Defensive ceiling and his potential as a hitter) and Brady Aiken (who I would have called a reach at #7, but checked a lot of the Phillies boxes. Here we are a month from the Draft and Turner would be the overdraft, Rodon is still not dropping to 7 (though he might drop as far as 4 or 5) and Aiken is a fairly consensus #1 overall. What the hell happened? See below (In order of my previews).

Trea Turner - So, I started my previews figuring the College players would be less volatile. I was a fool. In 2013 if you asked me in January who would go in the Top 5 I could have predicted that fairly well, with some version of Bryant, Appel, Gray, Moran and Frazier and I would have been pretty much spot on with that (though the order may have varied). This year has been more volatile. Trea Turner is still a guy I like a lot. He had a rough stretch early this season and has been digging himself out of that hole. His triple slash is down, but still good at .320/.415/.488. Every one of those numbers down 30-40 points from 2013. His steals are a third of what they were in his Freshman season (before a hamstring injury). His early season struggles led Scouts to question his hit tool and brought up a possibility he might be more Reid Brignac and less Jose Reyes. Working for Turner: his Defense has improved and he looks like he can certainly play Short as a pro (he played Third in High School). Turner's still a First Rounder, but he's gone from Top 10 to 15 or later.

Aaron Nola - No real change in stock for Nola. He's had an insanely dominant season, but there's not really much projection. He's a finished product, as I noted in my preview and could probably pitch today fairly well in the Majors. His ceiling is reliable #2 Starter, with a floor as a #3. He'd be perfectly fine as a pick at #7, but I have to admit I'd be disappointed to leave such a tremendous draft with a rich man's Mike Leake.

Jeff Hoffman - Hoffman was having mixed results this Spring. He didn't maintain the control he showed last summer/fall, but his control was better and he was striking guys out like virtually no one else in College. He was a lock for Top 5. Then he blew his elbow out and we learned yesterday that he'll be going under the knife for Tommy John Surgery. Terrible timing for the kid (and for the Phillies as everybody now moves up a spot making it harder to dream on the Phillies getting Jackson or possibly even Gordon at 7). I see a few possible outcomes: First is that he slips to the late First where a team with multiple picks like the Reds, Indians or a team not in Ohio gambles on him. The second option is that he slips into the early Second and team decides to gamble. The third option overrides both, in that, seeing his stock slip, Hoffman returns to school to rehab himself back into a Top pick.

Alex Jackson - Most of the hitters in this draft have not exactly covered themselves in glory this Spring. JAckson is an exception. He's continued to rake and he fits as a either a Catcher or Right Fielder. His bat and arm will play anywhere on the field (though he isn't quick enough to leave the corners once away from the plate). Jackson, with Hoffman gone, is a near certain lock for a Top 6 pick.

Carlos Rodon - Rodon is still a Top 5 pick because of his pedigree. I'm somewhat uncomfortable with him at this point though. His velocity is down, his control is worse (though largely still quite good, it's more his Command which has gotten a little spotty). I do worry some about overuse for Rodon as the rest of NC State rotation is quite pedestrian and the team rode Rodon last year for a fairly nutso (for College) 132.1 IP, including several on the way to Omaha on short rest (if the rotation is characterized as pedestrian in 2014 it was roadkill last year). Rodon is likely still a steal for someone at 3 or 4 this year.

Tyler Beede - Beede has pedigree, as a First Rounder out of High School, and I think that could be enough to keep him Top 10 this year. His performance certainly won't.  Beede was showing significantly improved control over the Summer and Fall last year. Make no mistake, his control is better (he was virtually at Aumont-ian levels of no idea where the ball is going prior to that), but he's still walking 3.34 guys per 9 (in a level with more free swingers than he'll see in the pros). If you can fix his delivery and control, only Aiken has a higher ceiling, if not he's basically another Ethan Martin guy you hope can succeed in short BP stints.

Nick Gordon - Lots of rumors here for the Phillies. Gordon's stock has risen as other prep hitters (not named Alex Jackson) have floundered. He'll stick at Short and as mentioned you hear his name associated a lot with the Phillies.

Jacob Gatewood - Another HS Shortstop whose names is linked a lot to the Phillies this year. Gatewood's a big kid and he could be the next Troy Tulowirtzki. Or, he looks much more likely to be the next Larry Greene, Jr. incapable of hitting much of anything consistently. He would be a bad pick at 7, but if by some bizarre twist he were to last to 48 he would be the steal of the draft. I would not be the least bit upset by that.

Braxton Davidson - The guy I touted as a can't miss hitter has turned into a fairly can miss hitter. I'm still a big fan of his swing and think he'll be a good pro-hitter, though maybe not for the power he'd need to show at First. He could end up being more James Loney, reliable hitter than the masher teams look for. Another guy likely to go 15 or lower now in the First.

Tyler Kolek - The power stuff is still there and Kolek's been thoroughly dominant this Spring. He won't last longer than #4 overall, I won't bother wasting further pixels on a guy we can't get.

The rest of my previews were in the past month and not much has changed for Aiken, Zimmer and Holmes since then. Almost every mock draft had Hoffman going Top 4. I had him #5 overall, but certainly gone by 7, which means guys we may have held out hope would fall aren't as likely to fall now.

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