Here are my comps and comments for the first 15 picks on the draft. My source of information was MLB.com’s Draft Central page. Especially helpful was their videos. Obviously with amateur players it’s dangerous to take comps too seriously but at the same time, hopefully it can tell us about the future potential of these players.
1. Houston Astros: LHP Brady Aiken, 6’4″, 200 lbs., Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego
Aiken and Mike Minor are the same height and Minor is listed 20 lbs. heavier. Aiken could obviously grow a little in height and especially in weight and strength. But he’s probably going to be about the same size as Minor and his delivery is very similar, very clean, easy and smooth. He looks relatively low risk, if there is a such thing as a low-risk, high-school arm.
2. Miami Marlins: RHP Tyler Kolek, 6’5″, 250 lbs., Shepherd HS (TX)
Kolek is much bigger than Troy Percival, who is listed at 6’3″, 200 lbs. on Baseball-Reference, but they have similar body types and similar deliveries. Kolek in fact is one of the biggest high school pitchers touted this highly in recent memory. Kolek keeps his hands at his belt buckle early and brings them up as he kicks his leg. Kolek’s delivery is not quite as frantic as Percival’s. It’s much more under control, so he might be more likely to repeat his delivery and become a starter. But a lot will depend on how his command and control develop. Whatever his future role, you have to like a 6’5″, 250 lb. power pitcher out of Texas.
3. Chicago White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon, 6’2″, 234 lbs., NC State
Rodon reminds me of a bigger, stronger Randy Wolf. Wolf is listed at 6’0″, 205 lbs. on Baseball-Reference. Rodon, like Wolf, is not all that tall for a future pro athlete, but Rodon is a little taller and is thicker than Wolf, which bodes well for his future. Rodon has the tree-trunk legs you like to see in a power pitcher.
4. Chicago Cubs: C Kyle Schwarber, 6’0″, 235 lbs., Indiana
His set-up at the plate looks like Nick “The Stick” Johnson’s. Obviously the Cubs want him to offer Nick Johnson’s offensive peak at catcher, and he certainly has that type of offensive potential. If he can’t catch, he might end up in the outfield. If he reaches his potential with the bat, he’ll provide value somewhere.
5. Minnesota Twins: SS Nick Gordon, 6’2″, 175 lbs., Olympia HS (FL)
To take it way back, Gordon looks a lot like Otis Nixon at the plate. Both are extremely thin, although obviously Gordon will probably put on weight and add strength. Gordon has the high leg kick and is a slappy hitter. That has worked for him in high school but he’ll need to add strength against major league pitching and defenses, and there’s no reason to think he can’t. Nick, unlike his brother Dee, has a good change to stick at shortstop.
6. Seattle Mariners: C/OF Alex Jackson, 6’2″, 215 lbs., Ranch Bernardo HS (CA)
Jackson has a Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter thing going with his leg kick where he takes his foot back before it goes forward and before he plants it. If Jackson develops as planned, he’ll be an offense-first player. He could remain a catcher or might move to a corner-outfield spot. His arm is fine but there are questions about other aspects of his defense and where he’ll play. With questions about his defense and position, but his offensive upside, he could become a Ryan Doumit type player. Whoever drafts him will obviously be hoping for more upside.
7. Philadelphia Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola, 6’2″, 200 lbs., LSU
I see a little bit of Pedro Martinez in Nola, although Nola is much bigger. Not that Nola is huge for a pro pitcher but he’s not small and certainly not diminutive like Pedro. He has a three-quarters arm slot and, at first glance, appears to throw across his body. But you watch his front foot and he strides perfectly and efficiently toward the plate on every pitch. Don’t expect him to be in the minors very long.
8. Colorado Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland, 6’4″, 185 lbs., Evansville
Freeland’s delivery, particularly his finish and follow-through, remind me of Jonny Venters’. He seems to pull back after his release and not finish all the way through to the plate. But there is no denying his stuff and his ability to throw strikes.
9. Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Jeff Hoffman, 6’4″, 185 lbs., East Carolina
Hoffman’s build and delivery compare to Chris Carpenter. At 185 lbs., he doesn’t weigh as much as the Carpenter we remember, but we would expect him to get bigger and bulk up some as he ages and with possibly more strength training at the pro level. The way he sort of tucks his front food under his body just before he strides towards the plate is also Carpenter-esque. Like Carpenter, he features a big-breaking curveball. Although he just had Tommy John surgery, the Jays have to like the foundation they are working with with Hoffman.
10. New York Mets: OF Michael Conforto, 6’1″, 215 lbs., Oregon State
If and when Conforto reaches the big leagues, he’ll probably end up a Brandon Moss type player. Like Moss, he’s not all that tall but he’s strong and, although he’s athletic enough, he’s not going to blow anyone away with speed or athleticism. He’s going to take his walks and hit for power but he’s also going to strikeout. His approach and his power are what will carry him. All his other tools are merely good enough.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: C Max Pentecost, 6’1″, 190 lbs., Kennesaw State (GA)
The obvious comp is fellow Georgian Buster Posey. Both are very athletic, college-drafted catchers. Pentecost, like Posey, is not going to overwhelm on defense but he’s athletic enough to be as asset. The upside is Posey-level. Even if he falls short, the Blue Jays will have a heck of a catcher.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Kodi Medeiros, 6’2″, 180 lbs., Waiakea HS (HI)
Medeiros twists back in the middle of his windup, like a Ted Lilly, though he doesn’t bring his hands above his head like Lilly did. Medeiros also seems to have a similar build, though he’s listed at 6’2″ to Lilly’s 6’0″. Medeiros is a bit more of a power pitcher. He doesn’t have a big curve. He throws a fastball with good movement, a slider and a change-up. The questions are can his delivery hold up and can he command his off-speed pitches well enough to remain a starting pitcher.
13. San Diego Padres: SS Trea Turner, 6’1″, 170 lbs., NC State
I couldn’t come up with a good comp for Trea Turner. He seems to be a speedster with good contact ability and solid plate discipline but also with a little bit of pop. He has good, quick hands and is very much a fast-twitch athlete, utilizing quickness over strength. This might be lazy, because these are the only recent guys that seem to fit, but if things work out, he could be a Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins type.
14. San Francisco Giants: RHP Tyler Beede, 6’3′, 215 lbs., Vanderbilt
Beede is kind of a cross between Roy Oswalt and Kevin Appier, in terms of delivery. But he’s bigger than Appier and of course much bigger than Oswalt. He rocks back and takes a very efficient path to the plate, like Oswalt. He really bends his back to get his momentum going forward, like Appier. His delivery might be a little too out of control, as reports are he gets out of sorts sometimes. But he has the stuff, the size and a good delivery to work with.
15. Los Angeles Angels: LHP Sean Newcomb, 6’5″, 240 lbs., University of Hartford
Like number 8 pick, Kyle Freeland, Newcomb also reminds me of Jonny Venters. His delivery is not all that smooth, probably less smooth than Freeland. He’s so big and his velocity so great that he could develop into a quality starter with just a little work on his delivery and secondary stuff.