Redrafting the 2014 Draft class, 10 years later

April 30th, 2024

There's a longtime scout who likes to say, "The Draft is hard."

The 2014 Draft was very hard. It's just one of three Drafts where the No. 1 overall pick finished his career without reaching the Majors, and the only one where neither of the top two selections made it. Not only that, but Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek never pitched above Single-A.

While some first-round picks did pan out nicely, including three current Phillies teammates, most did not. In our annual 10-years-ago redraft, just 10 of the 34 real-life first-rounders made the cut. So did 10 players chosen in the sixth round or later.

Based on how careers have played out and projections of how they'll continue to unfold, we've redone the entire 2014 first round. The Blue Jays and Cubs lead all clubs with three retro first-rounders each, and Chicago used its savings on its actual first-rounder to pay for the other two.

The biggest bargains were Blue Jays 10th-rounder Jordan Romano and Astros 16th-rounder Ramón Laureano, who signed for $25,000 each, while Laureano was the lowest pick. Cal State Fullerton, NC State and Oral Roberts were the lone schools with multiple representatives, and the Wolfpack produced two of the 10 best big leaguers.

For the purposes of this redraft, only players who signed in 2014 were considered. The best draftees who didn’t turn pro were a pair of high school right-handers, Drew Rasmussen (Diamondbacks, 39th round) and Tanner Houck (Blue Jays, 12th).

1. Astros: , SS, NC State
Actual pick: Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego (did not sign). Turner: first round, No. 13, Padres ($2.9 million).

Turner entered the year as the highest-rated college position player, but his stock took a hit because his numbers dipped as he tried to do too much at the plate. His speed was obvious, as was some sneaky power potential, but there were questions about whether he had enough arm strength to remain at shortstop. The Padres snapped him up with the 13th overall pick, only to include him as the player to be named in an ill-fated three-team, 11-player trade in December 2014 that brought Wil Myers to San Diego. Turner went on to win the 2019 World Series with the Nationals and also has earned a batting title, two stolen base crowns and two All-Star Game berths.

The consensus top talent in the 2014 Draft, Aiken not only fell well short of the Majors but also became the third No. 1 selection to fail to sign, following Danny Goodwin (White Sox, 1971) and Tim Belcher (Twins, 1983). He and the Astros initially agreed on a $6.5 million bonus, which matched Jameson Taillon's (Pirates, 2010) record for prep pitchers, but a post-Draft physical left the team worried about the size of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. When they couldn't agree on renegotiated terms, Aiken went to pitch at IMG Academy's (Bradenton, Fla.) post-graduate program the following spring. His elbow gave out 13 pitches into his first game in March 2015 and required Tommy John surgery. Cleveland signed him for $2,513,280 as the 17th overall pick that June but his stuff and command never bounced back following his elbow reconstruction.

2. Marlins: , RHP, Louisiana State
Actual pick: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd (Texas) HS ($6 million). Nola: first round, No. 7, Phillies ($3,300,900).

The most advanced pitcher available, Nola dominated at Louisiana State and fashioned a streak of 54 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run during his sophomore and junior seasons. He reached Philadelphia 13 months after getting drafted and has been a steady standout ever since. His 32.3 bWAR almost doubles that of any other pitcher from the 2014 Draft.

Kolek repeatedly pushed his fastball to 100 mph and higher during his high school senior season, but he came with concerns about his command and control. He had trouble throwing strikes in his first two years as a pro, then blew out his elbow during Spring Training 2016. Following Tommy John surgery, he walked 50 in 33 innings with diminished stuff over parts of three more seasons.

3. White Sox: , 3B, Cal State Fullerton
Actual pick: Carlos Rodón, LHP, NC State ($6,582,000). Chapman: first round, No. 25, Athletics ($1.75 million).

Chapman was one of the best defenders in the class and wowed the A's with his power during a pre-Draft workout that vaulted him into their plans. He lasted 25 picks because teams focused too much on what he couldn't do (hit for a high average, play up the middle) rather than his considerable strengths. A 2019 All-Star, he has won four Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves while slamming 131 homers in five full seasons.

The best college left-hander since David Price, Rodón had been the strong favorite to go No. 1 overall since his freshman season two years earlier. He led NCAA Division I with a school-record 184 strikeouts in 2013 but got too reliant on his wipeout slider and wasn't as consistently dominant as a junior. He still received the largest bonus in the 2014 Draft and earned back-to-back All-Star nods in 2021-22, though half of his 10 seasons in the Majors have been curtailed by injuries.

4. Cubs: , RHP, Rocklin (Calif.) HS
Actual pick: Kyle Schwarber, C, Indiana ($3,125,000). Webb: fourth round, Giants ($600,000).

Better known as a quarterback before his fastball suddenly jumped into the mid-90s during his senior year, Webb signed for third-round money in the fourth round. He needed Tommy John surgery shortly after reaching full-season ball in 2016 and never received much prospect acclaim before arriving in San Francisco three years later. He has been one of the best starters in the game since 2021 and placed second in National League Cy Young Award balloting last year.

Chicago had Schwarber No. 2 on their board behind Aiken because they loved his power and hitting ability, but the rest of the industry didn't hold him in such high regard. That enabled the Cubs to sign him for $1.5 million under slot and pour the savings into seven-figure bonuses for three high school pitchers in the fourth through sixth rounds, where they scored with Justin Steele and Dylan Cease. They hit on Schwarber too, as he mashed his way to Wrigley Field 12 months after the Draft and helped Chicago end its 108-year World Series championship drought in 2016. A two-time All-Star, he led the NL with 46 homers in 2022 and his 253 career blasts are 94 more than any other 2014 draftee (Chapman ranks second).

5. Twins: , RHP, Milton (Ga.) HS
Actual pick: Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS, Orlando, Fla. ($3,851,000). Cease: sixth round, Cubs ($1.5 million).

Cease threw consistently harder than any high schooler besides Kolek, but he injured his elbow that March and it was common knowledge that he'd need Tommy John surgery after turning pro. That didn't deter the Cubs, who signed him away from a Vanderbilt commitment for supplemental first-round money. They wound up sending him to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade in 2017, two years before he made his big league debut. Cease has been one of the game's best starters since 2020 and finished second in the American League Cy Young race in 2022.

Scouts loved Gordon's All-Star bloodlines as the son of Tom Gordon and half-brother of Dee Strange-Gordon, and they believed he had the potential to contribute in all phases of the game. He didn't develop that way and lacks a carrying tool, so he didn't reach the Majors until 2021. He had a decent season as a regular in 2022 but has slumped since and now is a light-hitting utilityman.

6. Mariners: , C, Indiana
Actual pick: Alex Jackson, OF, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego ($4.2 million). Schwarber: first round, No. 4, Cubs ($3,125,000).

Jackson had the highest offensive ceiling among prepsters, which helped him command the third-largest bonus in the Draft as the sixth overall pick. The Mariners moved him from catcher to outfielder in order to expedite his bat, but he had contact issues from the beginning. He has hit .141 with a 48 percent strikeout rate in parts of four big league seasons and is currently in Triple-A in the Rays system.

7. Phillies: , LHP, South Carolina
Actual pick: Nola ($3,300,900). Montgomery: fourth round, Yankees ($424,000).

Montgomery was a steady starter and big-game performer for South Carolina and became exactly the same thing in the big leagues. The Yankees helped him improve his velocity and curveball, and he has pounded the strike zone and been ultrareliable since coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2018.

8. Rockies: , RHP, Mississippi State
Actual pick: Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville ($2.3 million). Woodruff: 11th round, Brewers ($100,000).

Coming off a stress fracture in his elbow the year before, Woodruff saw his stuff and command back up in 2014, making him an enigma to scouts. Neither was an issue after he turned pro and he began to take off in 2016, when he topped the Minors in strikeouts. He made his big league debut in 2017, was a postseason standout in 2018 and became a fixture in the Brewers' rotation after that. A two-time All-Star, he'll miss all of this season following shoulder surgery last October.

Freeland broke out by leading the Cape Cod League in strikeouts during the summer of 2013, then continued to dominate at Evansville the following spring. The Rockies were zeroing in on Schwarber before the Cubs got him first, forcing them to pivot to Freeland. The Denver high school product has become one of the most effective pitchers in franchise history and finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2018.

9. Blue Jays: , OF/LHP, Sahuaro HS (Tucson, Ariz.)
Actual pick: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina ($3,080,800). Verdugo: second round, Dodgers ($914,600).

Verdugo was one of the best two-way prospects in the 2014 crop and most teams liked his upside more on the mound. The Dodgers disagreed, made him a full-time outfielder and he broke into pro ball by finishing second in the Rookie-level Arizona League batting race (.347) in his pro debut. He has carved out a niche as a hit-over-power corner outfielder who may be remembered most as the key part of the trade package that brought Mookie Betts to Los Angeles.

The No. 2 Draft prospect behind Rodón coming into the season, Hoffman was in the mix to go first overall before he succumbed to Tommy John surgery in May. The Blue Jays still took him at No. 9 because he had shown a fastball that could reach 98 mph and an equally devastating curveball, then sent him to the Rockies a year later as the centerpiece of the Troy Tulowitzki trade. He struggled at Coors Field but has found success as a reliever with the Reds and Phillies the last four seasons.

10. Mets: , LHP, NC State
Actual pick: Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State ($2,970,800). Rodón: first round, No. 3, White Sox ($6,582,000).

Most teams rated Conforto ahead of Schwarber as the most dangerous bat in the college class. He raced to the Majors in 13 months, made the All-Star Game in 2017 and mashed 88 homers in his first three full seasons with the Mets. He continued to rake during the pandemic year but has struggled since while also dealing with shoulder issues that required surgery in 2022.

11. Blue Jays: , LHP, Evansville
Actual pick: Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State ($2,888,300). Freeland: first round, No. 8, Rockies ($2.3 million).

12. Brewers: , LHP, George County HS (Lucedale, Miss.)
Actual pick: Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea (Hawaii) HS ($2.5 million). Steele: fifth round, Cubs ($1 million).

13. Padres: , RHP, Xavier HS (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Actual pick: Turner ($2.9 million). Keller: second round, Pirates ($1 million).

14. Giants: , OF, Oregon State
Actual pick: Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt ($2,613,200). Conforto: first round, No. 10, Mets ($2,970,800).

15. Angels: , 1B, Sacramento State
Actual pick: Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford ($2,518,400). Hoskins: fifth round, Phillies ($349,700).

16. Diamondbacks: , OF, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M JC
Actual pick: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy ($2.7 million). Laureano: 16th round, Astros ($25,000).

17. Royals: , RHP, Oral Roberts
Actual pick: Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian ($2,200,600). Romano: 10th round, Blue Jays ($25,000).

18. Nationals: , OF, Bearden HS (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Actual pick: Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV ($2,511,100). Thomas: fifth round, Blue Jays ($750,000).

19. Reds: , RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
Actual pick: Nick Howard, RHP, Virginia ($1,990,500). Flaherty: first round, No. 34, Cardinals ($2 million).

20. Rays: , LHP, West Virginia
Actual pick: Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State ($2,035,500). Means: 11th round, Orioles ($100,000).

21. Cleveland: , LHP, Howard (Texas) JC
Actual pick: Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco ($1.9 million). Scott: sixth round, Orioles ($650,000).

22. Dodgers: , RHP, Mount Pleasant (Texas) HS
Actual pick: Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway (S.C.) HS ($2.5 million). Kopech, first round, No. 33, Red Sox ($1.5 million).

23. Tigers: , OF, George Ranch HS (Richmond, Texas)
Actual pick: Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove (Calif.) HS ($2 million). Garrett: eighth round, Marlins ($162,400).

24. Pirates: , 2B, Arkansas
Actual pick: Cole Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix ($1.8 million). Anderson: third round, Marlins ($600,000).

25. Athletics: , C, Oral Roberts
Actual pick: Chapman ($1.75 million). Trevino: sixth round, Rangers ($2b00,000).

26. Red Sox: , OF, Stanford
Actual pick: Michael Chavis, SS, Sprayberry HS, Marietta, Ga. ($1,870,500). Slater: eighth round, Giants ($200,000).

27. Cardinals: , OF, San Diego
Actual pick: Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State ($1,843,000). Joe: supplemental first round, Pirates ($1.25 million).

28. Royals: , RHP, Alabama
Actual pick: Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy, Orlando, Fla. ($1,925,000). Turnbull: second round, Tigers ($900,600).

29. Reds: , 3B, Cal State Fullerton
Actual pick: Alex Blandino, SS, Stanford ($1,788,000). Davis: third round, Astros ($748,600).

30. Rangers: , LHP, Florida Atlantic
Actual pick: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger (Calif.) HS ($1.75 million). Gomber: fourth round, Cardinals ($374,100).

31. Cleveland: , RHP, East Carolina
Actual pick: Justus Sheffield, LHP, Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS ($1.6 million). Hoffman: first round, No. 9, Blue Jays ($3,080,800).

32. Braves: , RHP, Iowa Western CC
Actual pick: Braxton Davidson, OF, Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C. ($1,705,000). Swanson: eighth round, Rangers ($155,600).

33. Red Sox: , LHP, Old Dominion
Actual pick: Kopech ($1.5 million). Yarbrough: fourth round, Mariners ($40,000).

34. Cardinals: , LHP, Evergreen (Colo.) HS
Actual pick: Flaherty ($2 million). Burke: third round, Rays ($897,500).