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Minor Developments: MLB Draft's top arms

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The 2014 MLB draft is only days away and, after covering the hitters a few weeks ago, we’ll look at the pitchers this week. This piece is geared toward deep dynasty players, as well as avid baseball fans who have an interest in following the draft.

HIGH SCHOOL

Brady Aiken, Cathedral Catholic HS: If you’d have said a year ago that someone would challenge Carlos Rodon as the first overall pick, you’d have been considered crazy. Fast forward a year later and Aiken is that guy, after the big lefty (6’3”, 210) picked up some extra gas on his fastball between his junior and senior year. His curveball and changeup offer plus potential, and a developing slider may give him a fourth weapon down the road. Aiken’s ability to command his potent arsenal could make him a fast mover once he reaches the minors.

Tyler Kolek, Sheppard HS: No other starter in this class rivals the pure gas the right-handed Kolek possess, working regularly in the upper 90s with lots of movement. He has the ability to reach triple digits when he needs it. His slider is a solid out pitch, with his curveball and change up lagging behind due to lack of usage. He’s a physical specimen (6’5”, 245), who has all the tools to be an ace, so long as his secondary stuff develops when he reaches the pros.

Touki Toussaint, Coral Springs Crystal HS: Some of the best pure stuff in the draft, Toussaint features a mid 90s fastball that can touch 97, and offers a potential plus curveball that flashes plus-plus at times. His changeup also flashes plus, giving him an impressive arsenal that could make him an ace. Control is what will determine the young righties future, as he’s struggled at times to find the strike zone.

Grant Holmes, Conway HS: Another power righty who sits in the mid 90s and could reach 98, with a true knockout curveball. Holmes didn’t use his changeup much in high school, but it offers above average potential, and possibly more as he becomes more comfortable throwing it. His control lags behind some of the other prep arms in this class, but the raw stuff is undeniable.

Sean Reid-Foley, Sandalwood HS: Plenty of prep righties with big fastballs in this class, as Reid-Foley works in the 92-94 MPH range and can touch 97. He mixes in three secondary offerings, with his slider being the best of the bunch. His curve and change should be at least average. He’ll offer plenty of upside to an organization who is patient in developing him.

Spencer Adams, White County HS: Like Reid-Foley, Adams also has a four-pitch arsenal featuring a fastball that can touch 96. His slider is a true plus pitch, with his curve and change needed more repetition. Adams is a lanky kid (6’3” 170) who has room to fill out and add strength down the road.

COLLEGE

Carlos Rodon, NC State: A slow start to the season that featured diminished fastball velocity and a lack of control brought his prospect status down to earth this spring. He rebounded during the second half and saw his velocity jump back to the mid 90s to go along with his plus-plus slider that is already a big league ready weapon. He could help a major league bullpen almost immediately, and could be an effective starter in the bigs by 2015.

Kyle Freeland, Evansville: This is Michael Salfino’s guy and with this track record of identifying pitching prospects (he was the first guy in my dynasty leagues on the Chris Sale bandwagon during his college days as well as Rodon and Matt Harvey as college freshman, too), I trust his judgment. I’ll direct you to his piece on Freeland for the Wall Street Journal, as it has all you need to know about Freeland's elite command and left-handed arsenal.

Aaron Nola, LSU: One of the safest pitchers in the draft, Nola features a 93-95 MPH fastball and plus changeup, and some of the best command in his class. His slider needs more refinement, but the floor is high for this polished college righty.

Sean Newcomb, Hartford: A big lefty (6’5”, 240) with a good low 90s fastball who hammers the zone with strikes. His secondary pitches lag behind and need further refinement, both mechanically and with feel. Could be a very good starter in the majors as he adds more polish.

Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt: His immense talent and lack of consistency remind me a bit of Matt Harvey when he was in college. While I’m not saying Beede is going to become as good as Harvey, all it could take for something to click for the enigmatic righty is a good pitching coach. His mid-90s fastball, plus change, and hammer curveball give him an arsenal worthy of an ace. He could be a steal if his inconsistency causes him to slide in the draft.

Jeff Hoffman, East Carolina: One of the best in this class before an elbow injury forced him under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Before his injury, the righty threw his fastball in the mid 90s with a plus curveball and changeup, occasionally mixing in a slider. He might have been a Top 5 pick if healthy, but may slide now.

Erick Fedde, UNLV: Another immense talent who fell victim to Tommy John surgery late in the college season, Fedde was rising up draft boards and was in the discussion to be selected in the Top 10. He works in the low 90s with his fastball, but has reached 97 this spring. His slider is a true plus pitch, while his changeup is currently only average and will need further refinement.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rsteingall

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