Jun 9, 2013; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Indiana Hoosiers first baseman Sam Travis (6) before the game against the Florida State Seminoles during the Tallahassee super regional of the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament at Dick Howser Stadium. (Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)

2014 MLB Draft: Just missing the top 50

For the past four years, I have compiled a list of top draft prospects, but this is my first foray into actually having the nerve to publish one. With the 2014 MLB Draft only a couple of weeks away, I figured now was as good a time as any to do this.

Starting tomorrow, I will reveal my overall top 50 MLB draft prospects and we’ll get a look at a mock draft as well. I realize there will be varying opinions on both my list of draft prospects and the mock draft. Those will always occur.

In addition to my top 50 draft prospects list and mock draft, I will be adding a few posts regarding specific situations. Those will certainly bring about some discussion as well.

For today, here’s ten players that missed my top 50, but I’m personally interested in seeing which teams take them. This isn’t to say that they are 51-60 on my list, but they are definitely within my top 75.

Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State

Same school that gave us Stephen Strasburg will present us with Cederoth. And like Strasburg, Cederoth possesses the ability to hit triple digits, although he has yet to do so. He has hit 98. If Cederoth were to be utilized strictly out of the bullpen, 100+ is certainly attainable.

If he is unable to improve on any secondary pitches (he does throw a curve, slider and changeup), the pen would be the spot he fulfills with being a closer a possibility.

In the 2011 draft, the Diamondbacks selected him in the 41st round

Zech Lemond, RHP, Rice

After setting the school record for saves (14) in 2013, Lemond was moved into the starting rotation for the 2014 season. There was a rocky transition period, and Lemond was sidelined with elbow inflammation after only a handful of starts. Even with that, he does posses the stuff (mid 90’s fastball, curve at about 85, and changeup) to be a starter.

Still, this is a path similar to that of Tony Cingrani. As a closer at Rice, Cingrani was converted into a starter after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the 2011 draft. Things have gone pretty well for Cingrani thus far aside from being bitten with an injury bug.

Oh, and the save record Lemond broke was shared between Cingrani and David Aardsma (1st round, 2003).

Aramis Garcia, C, Florida International

Garcia could be a organization’s dream. He doesn’t do any one thing specifically well, although most prefer his bat, but clearly Garcia has the ability to improve in any area a team wishes. At 6’ 2” and 200 pounds, adding a bit of weight and muscle could see him hit with more power.

The defense isn’t bad either, but could use some attention.

In other words, I think Garcia has a decent ceiling as a catcher. If the defense were to regress and Garcia does add the weight and pop, a move to corner outfield or even first base could be made. He’s athletic enough to do that.

Sam Travis, 1B, Indiana

Don’t worry too much about the bat. It’s as solid as any college bat in this draft.

What could be the issue is that some scouts believe Travis (pictured above) can only play first base. The foot speed is lacking and he’s perceived as a tad short (6’ 0”) for the position. Third base could be a possibility.

I guess you could say Travis is a “tweener” as far as defensive position, but his bat will certainly play.

Taylor Sparks, 3B, UC Irvine

Sparks was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 24th round of the 2011 draft, but he decided to head to Irvine. That’s a move that has paid off nicely. All Sparks has done since attending is nab a share of the Big West Conference Player of Year vote.

Don’t let his tall frame (6’-4”) fool you. He’s more than capable of handling third as a pro, but there’s a question if moving Sparks to an outfield corner spot might be best. The arm is solid enough to hold either position. His bat does have some thump, and college bats seemingly draw attention during the draft.

Milton Ramos, SS, American Heritage School (FL)

The high school shortstop already holds all the defensive tools in his bag. No concerns there.

The bat doesn’t have much pop, but Ramos can hit to all fields. Having 165 pounds on a 6’ 2” frame may be the reason for lack of power. Adding a little girth could help. I wouldn’t be shocked if a team snags him on the first day of the draft. Actually, I kind of expect it.

Nick Howard, RHP/3B, University of Virginia

Howard could also be a first round selection. Any team that selects Howard will have a decision to make as he has been a closer and a starter at Virginia. As you’d expect, as a reliever, there’s an uptick on his velocity. As a closer, his fastball has hit 98. As a starter, the fastball resides within the low 90’s with a peak of around 94.

Howard has created a bit of a “discrepancy” among other sites that rank prospects. He’s as high as the mid-20’s and as aslow as the mid-70’s. If he does possess the ability to start, his stock does rise. If he ultimately profiles more as a closer – and it may take a while to determine that – some would have his stock lower.

Chris Oliver, RHP, Arkansas

Oliver is a member of the Razorbacks starting rotation, but he could be better suited as a bullpen arm. Developing other pitches aside from his mid-90’s fastball will be the key in any organization making that determination. He does throw a slider and change, but both are well behind his fastball.

Matt Railey, OF, North Florida Christian HS (FL)

For his high school team, Railey plays center. He’s not the quickest afoot, so that could see him project more as a corner outfielder. Don’t be shocked if he moves to right as hiis arm would certainly be a fit there.

The bat has pop, and Railey has displayed the ability to drive the ball rather well. The only question concerning his offense is being more consistent with contact.

Alex Verdugo, LHP, Sahuaro HA (AZ)

Verdugo is another that fields a position besides pitcher. In the past, some felt he might be more apt to pursue being a position player. There’s still some riding the fence on this including myself.

His delivery is easy and his fastball hovers around 90. He projects as high as a #3 rotation guy provided he sticks to only being a pitcher. Should he focus only on his pitching, it’s not hard to imagine adding a couple of mph to his fastball.

As a position player, Verdugo would fit more as a corner outfielder, but doesn’t possess much power. He has committed to Arizona State and that might be the tonic needed in order to settle on exactly on where he projects as a pro.

Tags: 2014 MLB Draft

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