Weekend Pirates Draft Prospects Preview: 4/20-4/22

With the way the draft is currently shaping up, the Pittsburgh Pirates might have an interesting decision with the eighth overall pick. Lucas Giolito and Deven Marrero both entered the year as top five draft prospects. Giolito went down with a minor elbow injury, which was enough to force him to miss the season. Marrero hasn’t been hitting, but is a plus defender at shortstop.

If one of these players falls to the Pirates, should the Pirates take them? And if both players fall, which should the Pirates take, if any?

The red flag with Giolito is that he’s a pitcher and he’s injured. However, the injury isn’t serious. Even if it was a serious injury which required Tommy John surgery (and it isn’t), it’s better to have an elbow injury than a shoulder injury. Giolito could return by the end of the season, but he’s probably going to need to supply medical records in order to ease teams in to picking him.

Prior to his injury, the right hander was the number two overall prospect. He was hitting triple digits with his fastball. He’s got a heavy fastball, which he throws on a downward plane with good movement. He also has a power curveball with sharp break, and a changeup with good movement. He also has a big 6′ 6″, 230 pound frame. He sounds like Jameson Taillon, and maybe a bit more advanced at his age, due to the changeup.

Marrero’s red flag comes with the bat. He’s hitting for a .287/.345/.419 line in 136 at-bats this year. I’d take those numbers from a strong defensive shortstop any day in the majors. Unfortunately there’s a massive difference between college stat lines and those in the majors. Putting up a .764 OPS in college isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. He has improved some recently, with a .908 OPS in April. He also has a 9% strikeout rate on the year, down from his low 14% rate last year. And he’s hitting home runs more frequently, although you can’t really say that he has power.

What makes him a top prospect is his defense. He has good range, above-average speed, and the potential to be a plus defender at shortstop.

Shortstop is a defensive first position, but I’m not sure you should take a guy eighth overall in the draft just for that defense. The Pirates were able to get a strong defensive shortstop with no bat in the Rule 5 draft when they added Gustavo Nunez. I’d say that Marrero has a better chance with the bat going forward, but things don’t look encouraging right now, with two straight years of a sub-.800 OPS. It depends on who is on the board at the time, but right now I’m not sure I’d take Marrero.

As for Giolito, his issues seem to be a short term problem. I don’t think a long term decision should be made based on a short term problem. Giolito is talented, and his injury doesn’t seem like the type that would take that talent away. I think if he’s there at eighth overall, you take him.

There might be some who wouldn’t want to see another pitcher added to the system, instead preferring to take a hitter. In the end that’s just drafting for need. The Pirates have taken a lot of top pitching prospects, but the reality is that pitching is a game of attrition. They have Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia, and Stetson Allie. It’s fun to project all four reaching their ceiling and creating a super rotation one day in Pittsburgh. The reality is that if two of those guys reach their ceiling, it would be incredible. If the Pirates get a chance to draft Giolito, not only will they be getting one of the top prospects in the draft, but they’ll also be increasing the odds of one day having multiple aces in the majors.

Notes From the Past Week

-Deven Marrero went 1-for-5 against Arizona.

-Trey Williams went 1-for-2 on Wednesday with a home run, a double, and three walks.

-Mike Zunino went 2-for-5 with a double and a home run against Florida State on Tuesday.

The schedule for the top draft prospects this weekend:

FRIDAY

6:00 PM EST – San Francisco (Kyle Zimmer) vs Gonzaga

6:15 PM EST – Valencia HS (Trey Williams) vs West Ranch

6:30 PM EST – LSU (Kevin Gausman) at Kentucky

7:00 PM EST – Florida (Mike Zunino) vs Georgia

8:30 PM EST – Arizona State (Deven Marrero) at Stanford (Mark Appel)

SATURDAY

2:00 PM EST – Valencia HS (Williams) vs Dana Hills

4:00 PM EST – Arizona State (Marrero) at Stanford

5:00 PM EST – Valencia HS (Williams) vs Dana Hills

7:00 PM EST – Florida (Zunino) vs Georgia

SUNDAY

3:00 PM EST – Florida (Zunino) vs Georgia

4:00 PM EST – Arizona State (Marrero) at Stanford

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • szielinski

    No to Jack Wilson II

  • KingCobra15

    Correa at #8, Roache at #45, Foody at #68. A shortstop, a power hitting 1B and a LH starter with tons of upside, all organizational needs and very good players.