Home / Sports / Reviewing the 2014 MLB Draft five years later: Aaron Nola stands out in a heavyweight batter's draft class

Reviewing the 2014 MLB Draft five years later: Aaron Nola stands out in a heavyweight batter's draft class



The old saying says it takes five years to evaluate a recruiting clbad, although I always felt that it was a little generous. Three years is usually enough time to give teams an idea of ​​what they have. There are always exceptions, but after three years, the prospects should have separated from the suspects.

With the 2019 amateur draft starting on Monday, this is the best time to go back five years and revise the 2014 draft. That clbad in the 2014 draft has yet to produce a big prize winner, but it did produce two of the four finalists in last year's Cy Young National League vote, plus a lot of appearances in the All-Star Game as well.

The gains over replacement, or WAR, are not perfect or the ultimate statistic to measure performance. However, it works very well for an exercise like this. Then, with a help from Baseball-Reference.com, let's review the 2014 draft.

The best selection

The No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLB draft deserves its own section. The Astros, after losing 111 games in 2013, won the No. 1 pick in 2014. It was their third consecutive No. 1 pick. They took Carlos Correa with the best selection in 2012 (a big hit) and Mark Appel with the best selection in 2013 (a big failure).

Houston used the No. 1 pick in 2014 at left-hander Brady Aiken of Southern California High School. Aiken was the main consensus prospect for the 2014 draft and MLB.com praised his "athleticism and ability to pitch," and said he had an "opportunity to develop three above-average offers." Aiken had all the necessary ingredients to become a great ace in the league.

The Astros and Aiken supposedly agreed to a $ 6.5 million signing bonus shortly after the draft, which would have been a record bonus for a high school pitcher. However, during their previous physical exam, the Astros got scared by something in Aiken's elbow, and got their offer of $ 6.5 million. Ken Rosenthal, then writing for FOX Sports, has the details:

The Astros, at a time of growing concern about elbow injuries to pitchers, believe that Aiken's physique revealed a "significant abnormality" in the area of ​​the elbow ligament, according to senior league sources.

The Astros, (said agent Casey) Close, made a revised offer to Aiken of $ 3,168,840 million, the minimum amount required to guarantee that they would receive the second overall pick in the 2015 draft as compensation if they did not sign Aiken.

Why would the Astros risk more than $ 3.1 million in Aiken but not $ 6.5 million? In part, the sources said, to protect their rights over the 2015 selection, and partly because they believe that Aiken was worth the investment in the lowest number.

Aiken became the third No. 1 pick not to sign, joining Danny Goodwin (White Sox in 1971) and Tim Belcher (Twins in 1983). The Astros received the No. 2 pick in 2015 as compensation: Houston used it to select Alex Bregman, and Aiken enrolled in a baseball graduate program at the IMG Academy in Florida. He left his first game with IMG with an annoying elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2015.

Despite that, the Indians selected Aiken with the 17th pick in the 2015 draft and paid him a bonus of $ 2.5 million. He has fought tremendously as a professional, throwing 179 innings with 128 walks and an ERA of 5.18. Aiken's speed has slowed since the reconstruction of the elbow and, earlier this month, Driveline Baseball, a cutting-edge training facility used by several MLB players, sent an Instagram story that shows Aiken working on its premises.

While the Astros would surely have loved to add a healthy Aiken to their farm system, they did not take it with the first selection. do not sign it, things worked well because it took them to Bregman. For Aiken, he still received a seven-figure bonus, but he had to wait another year to get it, and he has not been the same pitcher since his senior year of high school in 2014.

Top 10 players to date

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies got Aaron Nola, the best player in the 2014 draft, with the No. 7 election.

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Somehow, Aaron Nola was the fourth pitcher taken in the 2014 draft. The Phillies caught him with the No. 7 pick and 13 months later he was in the big leagues. Nola has a 3.44 ERA in 633 2/3 innings and was a well deserved All-Star last season. He also finished third in the Cy Young vote behind Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, and even finished 13th in the MVP voting.

At the time of the draft, Nola, a product of LSU, was announced by its fastball and its change, and its ability to throw both sides of the plate with that fastball. The Phillies helped him improve his breakout ball in recent years, which has allowed Nola to jump from an interesting perspective to MLB ace. He is the best player in the 2014 draft to date and, quite easily, the best pitcher in the draft.

The development of Matt Chapman in these last seasons has been extraordinary. Everyone knew he had power and was a potential defender of the Gold Gloves at third base when entering the 2014 draft. The question was whether he would make enough contact to produce against the top-level throw. The A's believed in their ability to make adjustments, and verified Chapman's strikeout rates over the years:

  • 2016 in Double A and Triple A: 29.4 percent
  • 2017 in Triple-A and MLB: 29.8 percent
  • 2018 in MLB: 23.7 percent
  • 2019 in MLB: 16.5 percent

Over the past four years, Chapman has risen from Double A to the big leagues and managed to reduce his strikeout rate by almost half. That is very impressive. Chapman has not yet been selected for an All-Star Game. I have to believe it will happen this summer, but he won a Gold Glove last year and finished seventh in the Most Valuable Player vote.

Is it just me or Michael Conforto flies under the radar as one of the great hitters in the game? He entered Thursday night's game as one of 15 qualified batters with a percentage of over .400 on base, and his overall offensive output (155 OPS +) more or less matches the rookie sensation Pete Alonso (157 OPS +). Conforto was in the big leagues 13 months after being drafted and in October he became the third youngest player in a two-homer game in the World Series.

Only Andruw Jones (19 years and 180 days) and Tony Kubek (21 years and 358 days) were younger than Conforto (22 years and 244 days) at the time of their two home games in the Fall Clbadic. If it were not for a shoulder injury that shortened his rest season of 2017 and he released a key in his 2018 follow-up, I think Conforto would get more attention for being as big as him. The Mets hit a home run with this selection, no pun intended.

As is often the case with the pitchers who call Coors Field home, left-hander Kyle Freeland of the Rockies has been up and down in his three years as a great player. Last season he released 202 1/3 innings with a 2.85 ERA and finished just behind Nola in the Cy Young vote. This year it has a 7.13 effectiveness. Oh. Still, Freeland, a Denver kid, came to the big leagues less than three years after being selected and has had great value in the big leagues. The effectiveness of this season is a monstrosity, I know, but I feel good betting that Freeland has a better performance in the future.

Trea Turner has had a career full of events. For starters, he entered his draft year in the state of North Carolina as the number one candidate in the general team, but concerns about his swing caused him to fall to the Padres and the number 13 selection. Six months after being drafted Turner was sent to the Nationals as a player to be named later in the exchange of three Wil Myers teams with the Rays. The complete trade:

Technically, Ross and Turner were moved to Tampa, which then sent them to Washington for Souza. Anyway, Turner was a player who will be named later because, at that time, the MLB rules prevented the teams from exchanging players until one year after they signed their first professional contract. The teams avoided that by including them in exchanges as players that will be named later, and naming them after a year of waiting. (The players to be named must be appointed with six months).

The exchange of three teams was reduced on December 19, 2014. It was not until June 14, 2015 that Turner was officially sent to the Nationals. He was going to Washington. It was an open secret. For all intents and purposes, the Nationals had a prospect, a great prospect in that sense, to play in the San Diego farm system for a few months in 2015. Finally, Turner was able to join the Nationals and is now a two-way dynamic . The shortstop who finished second to Corey Seager in the 2016 Rookie of the Year vote. So much for those concerns about his swing, huh?

(After Turner's bizarre situation, MLB changed its rules with respect to recently signed players and can now trade six months after signing their first professional contract.)

6. Carlos Rodon

SP •

Round1st

General selection3rd

Race of war+6.6

To this day, there are talent evaluators who say that Carlos Rodon's slider is the best break-up ball they've seen at the university level. It was a strenuous launch that received 80 rare on the 20-80 scan scale. Here is a GIF of the Rodon slider in NC State (through FanGraphs):

Absurd. The Rodon slider has not been entirely that good in the professional ball: the seams in the ball of the university are a little higher than the ball of the MLB, which allows the throws to break more (which presents one of the many challenges of evaluating the pitchers of the university), but came to the big leagues 10 months after being drafted and has been a useful starter for the White Sox in the last four seasons and change. Rodon He recently underwent Tommy John surgery.

To date, the best player in the 2014 draft taken after the first round is the Marlins' third baseman, right fielder turned third baseman Brian Anderson. He made his major league debut as a September call in 2017 and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote in 2018, his first full major league season. Anderson was seen as a potential first ranked in 2014 based on his tools and athletic ability, but a low year in Arkansas – "down" is relative here, because Anderson hit .328 / .401 / .498 for the Razorbacks that spring – – caused his draft action to slip. Miami was launched in the third round and did not regret even for a second.

The Phillies hitter, Rhys Hoskins, is a story of success in the development of players and scouts, plain and simple. He was seen as a crushing crusher at Sacramento State, but Philadelphia recognized his excellent hitting ability and identified him as a player who could make big profits thanks to his work ethic. That's exactly what happened. Hoskins is now a legitimate means of the batter of orders for a contending team and a player that the Phillies can develop. If it were not for the unfortunate left field experiment of last season, Hoskins was worth less than 3.6 WAR in defense alone in 2018: Hoskins would be much higher on this list.

9. Jordan Montgomery

SP •

RoundQuarter

General selection122a

Race of war+3.5

The Yankees have become an excellent player development organization and Jordan Montgomery is one of their best success stories. He was a four-pitch player with a fastball that was 90 miles per hour in South Carolina. The Yankees helped him add some speed and fine-tune his curve, and three years later he won a spot in the Major League rotation after going to spring training as a guest not on the list. Montgomery finished sixth in the 2017 Rookie of the Year vote and is expected to rejoin the Yankees sometime after the All-Star break this year, after completing his Tommy John surgery rehabilitation.

Jack Flaherty was one of my favorite prospects in the 2014 draft and the Cardinals have made him exactly the type of pitcher he was projected to be when he was released from a Southern California high school. Flaherty showed three possible secondary swing and miss throws with very good command and knowledge of pitching, and St. Louis helped him add some speed and refine his entire arsenal. Last year, Flaherty struck out 182 batters in 151 innings and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year vote. There are few members of 2014 that would be more willing to pull my car to move forward than Flaherty. The Cardinals, by the way, selected Flaherty with the compensation they received for losing Carlos Beltrán in free agency.


To date, seven other 2014 recruits have provided at least +2 WAR worth of big leagues. The seven:

  • Brandon Woodruff, Brewers (round 11, selection 326): +3.3 WAR
  • Sean Newcomb, Angels (1st round, 15th selection): +3.0 WAR
  • Kyle Schwarber, Cubs (1st round, 4th selection): +2.9 WAR
  • Ramon Laureano, Astros (round 16, selection 466): +2.5 WAR
  • Brandon Finnegan, Royals (1st round, 17th selection): +2.3 WAR
  • Daniel Mengden, Astros (4th round, 106th selection): +2.2 WAR
  • Alex Verdugo, Dodgers (2nd round, selection 62): +2.1 WAR

Finnegan (2014 Royals) and Schwarber (2016 Cubs) have played in the World Series, and four of those seven players have been traded. Newcomb was the protagonist in the Andrelton Simmons agreement. Kansas City used Finnegan to get Johnny Cueto in 2015. The A acquired Mengden from the Astros in the Scott Kazmir trade and Laureano in a minor trade in November 2017.

The best elections after the 10th round

The first-round selections receive all the attention and is understandable, although the last-round selections are often the difference between the aspirants and the aspirants. The ability to find hidden gems and turn those last-round selections into useful big-league players, even if they are from middle relievers or bench players, can make a big difference in a pennant race. Here are the best players recruited after the 10th round in 2014.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies

Brandon Woodruff has become an 11-round steal for the Brewers.

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Injuries and a one-year draft downgraded to the bullpen took a bite out of Woodruff's actions in the state of Mississippi, though he showed enough raw material for the Brewers to catch him in round 11. Since then, he has vastly improved his delivery and, therefore, his command, and has emerged as a bulldog opener with the versatility to launch in almost any role. Milwaukee did an excellent job of identifying a pitcher with the raw tools, the work ethic and the vision to improve pro ball.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow recently admitted that he did not realize what he had in Laureano when he sent him to division rival A for minor league law Brandon Bailey in November 2017. "We had the feeling that (Laureano) was going to be a pretty good Major League player, but he had a quicker start in his career than we thought, so yes, I would love to have him back, "Luhnow told Chandler in Rome. Houston Chronicle last month. Laureano was not a notable prospect at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College, but over the years he has made adjustments to become a better hitter and maximize his defensive skills. Oakland identified him very well as an undervalued player. (Bailey, by the way, has a 5.09 ERA in Double-A this year).

Less than a year ago, John Means looked like a depth pitcher up and down, and overall, it's a good result for an eleventh round selection. The new Orioles player development team has helped him improve his change, however, and now Means is establishing itself as a potential building block for a reconstruction club. He is missing a few innings to qualify for the effectiveness title with a 2.80 ERA and one of the lowest physical contact rates in baseball. A nice little farewell gift from the old regime of O.


Four other players selected after the tenth round of the 2014 draft have accumulated up to half of a value win at the Major League level so far. Not in vain, they are all pitchers. Most of the success stories in the last round are pitchers who learned a new pitch or improved an existing pitch, or simply stayed healthy after dealing with injuries. The four:

The Red Sox traded Beeks to the Rays for Nathan Eovaldi on the deadline last year and that makes the election a resounding success for Boston. James has the opportunity to be a huge success story. It was not selected in the Draft of Rule 5 of 2017 (any other team could have had it for nothing more than the Draft 5 fee of the $ 100,000 Rule and a 40-man roster position) before it exploded in 2018 and Become one of the best prospects.

Jury still out

Even though the players are reaching the big leagues and having an impact faster than ever, there are several 2014 recruits that are still developing in the minors or who are now getting their feet wet in the big leagues. These players are not busts. They are still developing. Here are five 2014 members who are about to make a name for themselves.

Nick Gordon, the son of Tom Gordon and the younger brother of Dee Gordon, is unfortunately tending toward the territory of "bankruptcy". He's a .274 / .328 / .380 batter in more than 2,500 minor league plate appearances, and that includes a .227 / .274 / .315 batting line in almost the equivalent of a full season of time of game Triple-A. That said, Gordon will play all season at age 23 and he plays in a premium position (shortstop and second base), plus he has good genes, so there's no need to cut the bait yet. However, I'm sure the Twins expected him to be in the big leagues when they made him the fifth overall pick in 2014.

Michael Kopech

SP •

RoundSupp. 1st

General selection33 °

Race of war+0.1

Baseball can be cruel. The Red Sox selected Kopech with the 33rd pick, made him one of the best baseball prospects in baseball, then traded him to the White Sox as part of the package for Chris Sale. Kopech made his major league debut last season and ChiSox fans were about to have a very exciting young starter in the rotation … and then Kopech released an elbow and needed Tommy John's surgery in his fourth opening in the MLB. As I said, baseball can be cruel. Kopech will seek to continue his ascent to As-Hood with his new elbow ligament in 2020. (Boston selected Kopech with the compensation selection he received for losing to Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency, by the way).

Justus Sheffield is well traveled, if nothing else. The Indians traded him to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller deal in 2016, then the Yankees traded him to the Mariners in the James Paxton trade over the winter. Sheffield has been a bit up and down in Triple-A this year (4.13 ERA with 30 walks and 40 strikeouts in 48 innings), but he's still one of the best prospects in the game, and he's on his way to becoming a pillar of rotation for Seattle in the near future. (The Indians selected Sheffield with the election they received as compensation for the loss of Ubaldo Jiménez (!) To free agency).

It is disconcerting that the Diamondbacks, under their old headquarter regime, should be taken into account, essentially handed Touki Toussaint to the Braves to withdraw the Bronson Arroyo contract a year after the 2014 draft. Toussaint became one of the The best pitching prospects in the game in subsequent years and pitched well in sporadic time with Atlanta, striking out 58 in 52 innings over the past two years. He is still trying to find a fixed role in an organization laden with young weapons.

Although he had Tommy John surgery one month before the draft, the Blue Jays selected Jeff Hoffman with the ninth overall pick, and a year later they sent him to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal. Hoffman regained his previous skills after surgery and became a very good prospect for pitchers, even though he has set up the Triple-A shuttle with Colorado and has not yet been in the big leagues. Given his pedigree and rotation rates close to the elite, Hoffman sees himself as a potential candidate for a team that does not play his home games at Coors Field.

Larger busts

Inevitably, some 2014 draft picks simply have not worked. That is baseball. These are some of the most notable busts of the clbad of 2014.

By entering the 2014 draft, Tyler Kolek's speed was almost unprecedented in the draft era. He was a high school student who regularly ran his fastball in the 99 to 102 mph range and also showed the characteristics of the second quality releases. However, injuries, including Tommy John's surgery and lack of control, have kept him in the minors. Kolek has a 5.34 ERA career with 97 walks in 150 innings, none above the low Clbad A. He is still active and in the Miami system, and is currently recovering from surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome.

Max Pentecost had all the tools to be a big league quality receiver, but his body simply did not let it go. Years of injury, especially shoulder surgery in 2015 and subsequent complications, derailed his career. Pentecost played only 260 minor league games from 2014 to 18, beating Double-A last season. He announced his retirement from baseball shortly after this year's opening day. (The Blue Jays selected Pentecost with the compensation selection they received for not having signed the 2013 first-placed Phil Bickford).

Few things in baseball are as terrible as the yips. He feels helpless like a stranger. I can not imagine what it's like to be that guy on the mound. Nick Howard, after a very productive university career in Virginia, lost the plate on the professional ball. He walked 50 batters (and hit four others and had nine pitches in the game) in 38 innings in 2015, then walked 31 (with two hitters and 13 pitches in the game) in 20 innings in 2016. The problems of control persisted and the lesions were finally established. Howard is still with the Reds, but he has not pitched this year. He has a 5.42 ERA with 126 walks in 113 strikeouts in 144 1/3 professional innings.

Casey Gillaspie, a product of Wichita State, was a relentless "who's going to hit" in college. The problem? He never hit. Gillaspie is a professional batter of .250 / .337 / .418 in the minors, which is simply not good for a first base just for hitters. That includes a .239 / .312 / .389 batting line in 999 appearances on the Triple-A plate. The Rays sent him to the White Sox for left-handed reliever Dan Jennings at the trade deadline of 2017, and while taking a chance on a former first-seeded player is a smart move for a rebuilding team, it did not work for Chicago. The ChiSox released Gillaspie at the end of this year's spring training and is currently playing in an independent league.

Those who escaped

As always, many players who were recruited in 2014 did not sign professional contracts. They chose to go to college, or go back to college, in some cases, and re-enter the draft in future years. And, inevitably, some of the players who did not sign in 2014 became the best prospects in the coming years. Here are the most important names that did not sign in 2014.

In 2014, J. B. Bukauskas was a high school student who graduated early and, therefore, became eligible for the draft. He sent a letter to the teams telling them not to recruit him because he was scheduled to go to the UNC, but the Diamondbacks shot him with his 20-round selection. Hey, why not? Maybe the child changes his mind. Bukauskas did not do it. He went to UNC, dominated for three years, then the Astros selected him with the 15th overall selection in 2017. He is currently one of the best launch prospects in the game.

The consensus was that Griffin Canning would do better in college than he would become a high school professional in 2014. The raw tools and the feeling of throwing were there, but he needs to complete his framing and mature as a pitcher. The Rockies took him in round 38 in case he decided to become a professional, but he did not. Canning enjoyed a professional career at UCLA and the Angels stole him with his second-round pick in 2017. He's already in the big leagues and has a 3.06 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 32 innings.

The Pirates turned Paul DeJong, a draft-eligible sophomore in the state of Illinois, into his 38th pick in 2014, but they could not convince him to become a pro. DeJong returned to school, hit .333 / .427 / .605 with 14 homers as a junior, then the Cardinals elected him with his fourth-round pick in 2015. He is now his shortstop and is producing at the All-Star level. , and closing in +10 WAR for his career. If it were not for the current spending restrictions, Pittsburgh could have increased its offer to DeJong in 2014 and signed it on the dotted line. Oh.

Brendan McKay High School was ahead of its time. The scouts were not sure if he was projected better as a pitcher or batter in high school, so he continued with his commitment to Louisville and excelled in both. Three years later, the Rays made McKay the 4th overall pick in the 2017 draft, and now has a legitimate two-way prospect (for what it's worth, the consensus is that it has much more potential on the mound than in the plate) approaching his MLB debut. The Padres tried to sign McKay as their 34th pick in 2014, but they had no luck.


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