Beginning to Feel a Draft
Good afternoon, ValleyCats faithful. My name is Brady Farkas, and you’ll be hearing from me throughout the season on this blog, as I am new to the ‘Gatos media relations and video department.
You’ll also be hearing (literally) a lot of Sam Sigal, who is the new voice of the ValleyCats for the 2014 season. He spent 2013 with the Johnson City Cardinals and we’re happy to welcome him to the Astros/ValleyCats family.
Now that the introductions are out of the way, it’s time to talk baseball.
With the MLB draft just over 24 hours away, it’s also time to tell you that Sam and I are going to be live blogging the first and second round tomorrow starting at 7:00pm. During the live chat, which we will post links and information to on tcvalleycats.com, you interact with us by asking questions, sharing comments, etc. That link is here.
Our parent club, the Houston Astros, have the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second year in a row and you may be a little curious to know about who they could take — and who could ultimately end up playing part of 2014 here at Joe Bruno Stadium.
We’re breaking down the Top 5 draft prospects, and one extra, as according to MLB.com.
Brady Aiken, LHP, HS
Aiken appears to be a very likely candidate for the Astros at No. 1. He’s a lefty, which could provide the ‘Stros with a top of the rotation complement to last year’s No. 1, Mark Appel, down the road.
Aiken is now sitting at 92-94 with his fastball — and has the ability to reach 97. He has a an above average curveball and good speed differential on his changeup. That repertoire gives him three viable pitches, something that is a necessity for starters at the professional level.
He helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan in last year. He limited Japan to one run in seven innings in the championship game while striking out 10.
Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
Rodon was called by MLB.com “the best college left-hander since David Price.” The NC State product was named to the ACC’s first-team after posting a 2.01 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 98.2 innings.
In 2013, he helped the Wolfpack make the College World Series. He struck out an NCAA-record 184 a season ago. He’s armed with a fastball at 91-94 consistently, and like Aiken, can also touch 97.
His best asset is a very good slider. With three seasons of college ball under his belt, he’s probably not that far away from being major league ready. But that’s just my assumption.
Tyler Kolek, RHP, HS
This guy is a pure fireballer. He’s topped 100 on multiple occasions this season and can sit at 93-96 consistently.
He has an above-average curve and a good slider. MLB.com says his control needs time to catch up to his stuff, but being from Texas, he could be an enticing choice for the nearby Astros.
Alex Jackson, C/OF, HS
Jackson is a right-handed power-hitting catcher, something that is at a premium in the majors.
His swing can get long at times, but his power makes him a big prospect at the next level. He has a good arm behind the plate, but he could end up in the outfield also.
Nick Gordon, INF, HS
Gordon is the son of former major league reliever, Tom “Flash” Gordon, and the brother of current Dodgers speedster, Dee.
He throws low-90s on the mound but wants to contribute every day at the professional level. He is one of the best shortstops in the draft. He has a good arm, good speed, and a good enough LH bat to hit at the pro ranks.
He’s committed to Florida State, one of the top programs in the country, so you know he’s the real deal.
**Jeff Hoffman, P, East Carolina
We throw this name in for good measure. Hoffman is of significant interest to the Capital Region ValleyCat fans. Having graduated from nearby Shaker High School, Hoffman and his mid-90s fastball were a candidate for the Astros at No. 1 until the end of April, when he missed his final two starts with forearm tightness.
That tightness led to Tommy John surgery in early-May, but even with the procedure, he’s still thought to be a mid-first round pick.
He tops out at 98 with a good curveball and a developing changeup. Regardless if he’s playing for the Astros organization, he’ll be a name for Capital Region baseball fans to focus on during the draft.