2014 ROOKIE KEEPER DRAFT

Posted: February 23, 2014 in League News

1. Pickering Dynasty – Bryon Buxton, OF
Buxton took the Minor Leagues by storm in his first full professional season, showing why many evaluators had rated him as the top talent in the 2012 Draft class. He excelled in the Midwest League and the Florida State League, and he finished the year by getting a taste of more experienced competition in the Arizona Fall League.Everywhere Buxton went, he stood out as the top talent on the field and a legitimate five-tool player. He has a simple, direct swing and creates excellent bat speed. Buxton’s power has already been better than expected and scouts expect it to improve more as he grows. His speed grades out at the top of the scale and he knows how to use it on the basepaths. Defensively, Buxton covers plenty of ground in center field and has good instincts in the outfield.
The Twins are traditionally conservative in their developmental timelines, but Buxton has already put himself on an accelerated track to the Major Leagues.

2. Brooklin Legacy – Jose Abreu, 1B
Abreu became the latest Cuban to land a large Major League contract after signing with the White Sox during the offseason. The 27-year-old has been known as a power hitter for a while, a fact he proved by batting .360 with three homers and nine RBIs in six games during the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Abreu’s power should transfer to the Majors almost immediately, and he also could hit for average. And though the 2014 White Sox are not projected to boast an elite lineup, Abreu should receive his share of RBI chances out of the middle of their order.

3. London Tribe – Masahiro Tanaka, SP
The hype surrounding Tanaka swelled to epic proportions after it was announced in December that the Rakuten Golden Eagles would post their superstar right-hander, allowing him to sign with a big league team. Tanaka overwhelmed his Japanese League opponents in 2013, finishing the season with a perfect 24-0 record, a 1.27 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a 183-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 212 innings. After reaching a deal with the Yankees in January, the 25-year-old will enter 2014 with immediate ace potential.

4. Pickering Dynasty – Javier Baez, SS
Baez has lived up to his lofty expectations since the Cubs selected him eighth overall in 2011. He reached Double-A Tennessee two years later as a 20-year-old and his 75 extra-base hits and 111 RBIs led the Minor Leagues.
Baez generates incredible bat speed, resulting in big power. He also has the ability to hit for average if he is able to develop more plate discipline. But he is a good bad-ball hitter and often finds a way to get his bat on the ball in spite of his aggressiveness.
Baez isn’t as advanced defensively. His average speed begets solid range and he has a good arm, but he still commits too many errors. Some scouts feel he is destined for a move to third or second base, which be eased by Starlin Castro’s presence in Chicago. No matter where he plays, Baez’s bat has the ability to make him a star.

5. Aurora Asshats – Taijuan Walker, SP
A year after being the youngest pitcher, by far, in the Southern League, Walker returned to Double-A Jackson to start 2013. He fared much better the second time around and pitched his way to Seattle for his Major League debut.
Walker came late to pitching after playing mostly shortstop and basketball in high school and is still developing from a thrower into a pitcher. That is especially apparent in his command, which he will need to tighten to reach his lofty potential. He gets easy velocity on his fastball, throwing it in the mid to upper 90s. He also throws a changeup, curveball and a slider that often moves like a cutter. All of his offspeed pitches have the potential to be above-average offerings.
Walker’s youth, athleticism, size and stuff all give him the chance to develop into a frontline Major League starter.

6. Pickering Dynasty – George Springer, OF
Springer had a season for the ages in 2013. He became the third Minor Leaguer in 40 years to hit 30 home runs and steal 40 bases, and he finished three homers shy of the first 40-40 season in the Minor Leagues in at least 50 years.
Springer’s power and speed stand out the most, but he is a solid all-around player. He has the ability to hit for average, though there is a lot of swing-and-miss in his game that he will need to cut down on. Springer’s speed translates well to the outfield, where he covers a lot of ground. His strong arm would play well in right field if that’s where he ends up. He earns high marks for his makeup and energy.
Springer ended the 2013 season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, and it won’t be long before he makes his Major League debut.

7. Whitby Poo Dogs – Archie Bradley, SP
The D-backs had two of the first seven picks of the 2011 Draft and wasted no time grabbing high-end pitching. They took Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick and selected Bradley four picks later. Bradley reached Double-A Mobile in 2013 and his 1.84 ERA ranked third in all of the Minor Leagues.
Bradley throws his fastball in the mid-90s and can reach the upper 90s when he needs to. The steep downhill angle he throws from and good sinking action on the pitch combine to produce a lot of ground balls. He complements his plus-plus fastball with an above-average 12-to-6 curveball and changeup that will likely be at least a Major League-average offering.
Bradley has improved his command and earns praise for his demeanor on the mound. His stuff, size and makeup make him the best pitcher in the Minor Leagues and it isn’t difficult to project him as a frontline starter soon.

8. Toronto Motor Boats – Kris Bryant, 3B
Bryant began his incredible run in 2013 by winning the Golden Spikes Award at the University of San Diego and ended it with the MVP in the Arizona Fall League. In between, the Cubs made him the No. 2 overall pick and he crushed pitching everywhere he went.
Bryant has well above-average power and drives the ball to all fields. There is some swing-and-miss in his game, but he has worked to eliminate some of the holes in his swing and projects to be able to hit for a good average.
Bryant has a strong arm and is more athletic than his large frame would suggest. He should be able to stay at third base, but he played some outfield in college and would be able to handle a move to right field if necessary. Bryant wowed in his professional debut and the Cubs likely won’t have to wait long for him to get to Wrigley.

9. Brooklin Legacy – Alex Guerrero, 2B
Guerrero defected from Cuba in 2013 before signing a four-year deal with the Dodgers in October. The 27-year-old is a bit of an enigma at this point, but he reportedly has a solid power-speed profile that could help him earn everyday at-bats as Los Angeles’ second baseman in 2014.
Originally my pick, I started to get cold feet.  Talks of poor d in his transition to 2bag and a platoon at 2 bag scared me. But if you go deep and query the true dodgers followers. No matter how the season begins, he’s the starter sooner rather than later. With projections of .277, 25 jacks and 77 RBI out of second base, it must be so. Good track record of Cubans. Cespedes. Puig. They are so damn intriguing. Add Abreu and it’s a Cubas year. I’m all in on #cuba. Power is good. If I wasn’t in the shitter I would drop my phone and walk away. It’s been done!!!

10. London Tribe – Nick Castellanos, 3B
Castellanos established himself as one of the best prep hitters in the 2010 Draft class and has lived up to his billing as a professional. He was named Futures Game MVP in 2012 and reached Triple-A the following season as a 21-year old.
Castellanos has a smooth swing and has shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate. He drives the ball to all fields and began to unlock his raw power in 2013. He is a below-average runner.
Castellanos spent the last year making himself a serviceable left fielder, but will now return to third base as Miguel Cabrera slides back across the diamond to first base. Castellanos is a capable defender at third base with a good enough arm to man the hot corner. He will get a chance to step into that role in the Major Leagues in 2014.

11. Riverdale Sex Panthers – Gegory Polanco, OF
After a breakout 2012, Polanco built on that progress with another big season in 2013. He appeared in the Futures Game and climbed three levels to end the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. Just for good measure, he won the MVP in the Dominican Winter League.
Polanco has five-tool potential. He is an aggressive hitter, but doesn’t strike out a ton and has become more willing to take a walk. His swing does have a tendency to get long, a problem compounded by his lanky frame. Still, with his hands and bat speed, he has the potential to be a special hitter with above-average power.
Polanco has plus speed and covers ground well in the outfield. He is a center fielder now, but he has a strong arm and could slide over to right field if necessary. That could be his spot in PNC Park before too long.
12. London Tribe – RE-UP Miguel Sano, 3B
Sano was in the spotlight even before he signed with the Twins in 2009 for $3.15 million, a club record for international players. But since reaching the professional ranks, he has shown what all the fuss is about.
Sano has prodigious raw power and knows how to use it in games. He hit 35 home runs between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A new Britain in 2013. With his power, however, comes a lot of swing and miss. He has struck out more than 140 times in both of his years in full-season ball.
Sano’s defense continues to be a question mark. He has made strides at third base, but some scouts still believe he is destined to move across the diamond to first base. Sano’s arm is plenty strong enough for third base and he does have a chance to remain on the hot corner. But if he keeps pounding the ball, the Twins will find somewhere to play him, possibly soon, in the Major Leagues.

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