Top 5 MLB Draft Prospects in 2014

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Baseball mitt catcher glove

They say a left-handed pitcher can pitch until he’s 40 in Major League Baseball, but in the case of Darren Oliver (who retired at 43) and Jamie Moyer (who hung up his spikes at 49), that was just another starting point. The 2014 MLB draft reflects how much ball clubs covet southpaw pitchers. According to the MLB.com draft prospect rankings, three of the top ten and five of the top fifteen prospects are lefty pitchers.

It’s important to remember the risks of choosing amateur pitchers with a top pick. Noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews has cited the workload of young pitchers as the reason for the epidemic of Tommy John surgeries among players in high school and college. Indeed, before this story could go to press, one of the top five MLB prospects (Jeff Hoffman) was scheduled to undergo the Tommy John procedure. (He may still be drafted.)

In the countdown to the June 5 MLB draft, here are the five prospects likely to be selected by the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, and Twins, who hold picks one through five in that order.

5. Alex Jackson, Catcher

Alex Jackson out of Rancho Bernardo High School (California) is the lone everyday player in MLB.com’s top five draft prospects, and it highlights the elemental role of the backstop position. Every team needs a solid defensive catcher, but there is a huge bonus when that player can hit (see: Yadier Molina, Mike Piazza). Scouts are bullish on Jackson’s power (at 1:20 in the video, you can see why), which makes him a candidate to transition to an outfield spot.

Therefore, MLB teams looking for a catcher may not find their ideal player in Jackson. Once agents get a hold of him, the idea of extending the young man’s career (and earning potential) in the outfield is likely to surface. There is always space in the outfield for a power hitter.

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