Early look at top five prospects for next year's MLB draft
The dust from last week's draft has barely settled, with the three-day event concluding just 48 hours ago, but fans in Miami and Houston may already be looking ahead to the top of the 2014 draft as those teams continue their rebuilding processes.
To help us look ahead, SI.com caught up with contributor Dave Perkin, its lead draft analyst, and with Perfect Game's Allan Simpson, its director of crosschecker, for their early takes on next year's top-five draft prospects.
1. DP: Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis (Calif.) High
Perkin likens Gatewood (6-foot-5, 190 pounds) to a young Troy Tulowitzki and calls him a "once-in-a-decade talent," noting his fastball reaches 92 mph on the mound, his "ballet-like fielding skills" and his prodigious power.
AS: Carlos Rodon, LHP, N.C. State
Last year Rodon (6-foot-3, 234) became the first Division I freshman to be finalist for the Golden Spikes Award as college baseball's best player. This year, he is the ace of a Wolfpack team that has advanced to the College World Series. He is a coveted power lefty whose fastball sits in the mid-90s and can reach the upper 90s. He has two obviously plus pitches "His fastball can be overwhelming and dominant," Simpson said, "and he has a wipeout slider."
2. DP: Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Perkin said Beede (6-foot-4, 215), who declined to sign after Toronto drafted him in the first round in 2011, may benefit like Stanford's Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick last week whose stock improved after being drafted previously and turning down first-round money. Beede is "a smooth righty with top of the rotation stuff," Perkin said, noting "a 90-to-94 mph fastball that peaks at 95, a harsh 78-to-80 curve and a fall-off-the-table 82-to-84 changeup."
AS: Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
Simpson compares Burdi (6-foot-4, 218) to Oklahoma righthander Jonathan Gray, who could hit 100 on the gun and just went No. 3 overall to the Rockies. "Burdi's done the same," Simpson said. "He's the big arm for next year." The difference, however, is that Burdi is more of a two-pitch reliever than a starter like Gray -- but a very good closer at Louisville, where he had a 0.78 ERA and an absurd 61 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.
3. DP: Alex Jackson, C, Rancho Bernardo High in Poway, Calif.
Jackson (6-foot-2, 200) is a well-rounded backstop. "Catching prospects," Perkin noted, "normally appear in one of two forms: Throwers who can't hit or hitters who can't throw. Jackson is the rare backstop who does both at the highest level." Perkin also pointed out Jackson's tremendous power and his ability to get the ball to second base in 1.8 seconds, which is above major league average.
Simpson also thinks highly of Beede, noting that the Vanderbilt righthander has the "most complete stuff" in next year's draft. "He might be the most projectable starter because he has three pitches that work," Simpson said.
4. DP: Rodon
Few starters can manage a 12.9 K/9, but that's what Rodon did this year. "Subtlety and nuance are not part of his approach," Perkin said. "He attacks hitters with a mid-90's fastball and hellacious mid-to high-80's slider. After facing Rodon, hitters appear only too anxious to return to the bench."
"His big tool is power, and he's a solid defender," Simpson said. He added that Jackson was also athletic enough to move to the outfield.
5. DP: Nicholas Gordon, SS/RHP, Olympia High in Orlando
Gordon (6-foot-2, 175) "may be the premier two-way talent in the 2014 draft," Perkin said, noting that he throws a low-90s fastball but is also a slick-fielding shortstop with speed and quickness. "Gordon's bat will determine his future in pro ball," Perkin said. "If he hits, Gordon stays at shortstop. If not, he moves to the hill." Choice A would make him like his older brother (Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon), and Choice B would make him like his father (former big league reliever Tom Gordon).
(Simpson, incidentally, pegged Gordon as his No. 7 prospect, saying it's "60-40" that he ends up on the mound.)
AS: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy
Toussaint (6-foot-2, 190), who won gold with the U16 national team, stands out as a prep arm in what Simpson said is a draft class whose strength is college pitchers. "His fastball is 96-97 and he has the makings of an above-average curve," Simpson said. "He's the best high school arm at this point."