Future 50: Aiken No. 1
California prep lefty Brady Aiken comes in as the top draft prospect right now
This is my first formal prospect ranking for the 2014 Rule 4 draft, since we now have six weekends of college baseball in the books and most high school prospects have at least started their seasons. It's a very deep draft, especially in right-handed pitching, so that teams without first-round picks can actually feel pretty good about who they'll get when they do select. (Except Baltimore -- the draft starts June 5 and the Orioles pick sometime around the Fourth of July.)
The draft is weaker on the position-player side, especially up the middle, where there are few catchers and even fewer shortstops. That doesn't mean we won't see teams elevate second-tier bats to go for perceived safety in the first round, but many of those picks would involve reaching for a slightly inferior player.
This ranking also has a different name at the top from my preseason look at tiers of prospects and the rough cut at a top 30 that Chris Crawford and I did in October. That's due both to the strong performance of the new No. 1 prospect and the disappointing showing to date from the player who used to hold that spot.
As always, I use the 20-80 grading scale in these comments to avoid saying "average" and "above average" a thousand times across 100 player comments. On that scale, a grade of 50 equals major league average, 55 is above average, 60 is plus, 45 is fringy or below average and so on. Giancarlo Stanton has 80 raw power. David Ortiz has 20 speed. Carlos Gomez is an 80 defender. An average fastball for a right-hander is 90-92 mph, with 1-2 mph off for a lefty.
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Jim Bowden lists the primary offseason targets for all 30 teams.