In Tuesday’s weekly chat, I was asked who my top eight prospects in the upcoming draft would be. There wasn’t much time to give a good response in a chat setting, so I decided to expand on the answer in this week’s draft preview. The draft is still over a month away, so all of this can change. I’m not as big of a fan of 1-8 rankings as I am tiered rankings, and I think that would be the best approach for this list. So here is how I see the tiers in the upcoming draft, as it pertains to the Pirates.
The “No Way They’re Going to Fall to the Pirates at Eighth Overall, So I’m Not Going to Talk About How Good They Are” Tier
Mark Appel, Byron Buxton, Kyle Zimmer, Mike Zunino
These guys are consensus top five picks. No way they fall to eighth overall.
The “They Probably Won’t Fall to Eighth, but Take Them if They Do” Tier
These are talented guys who would be great picks at eighth overall if they fell to that spot.
Carlos Correa - I haven’t found any stats on him, but all of the reports project the high school shortstop to be a great hitter, with the ability to hit for power in the future. He probably won’t stick at shortstop, more likely to go to third base as a pro.
Kevin Gausman - He throws in the upper 90s, touching 99 MPH, and also adds a plus changeup. His breaking balls aren’t as good, but Gausman has the upside of a number one starter, which would be big if he fell to eighth overall.
Lucas Giolito - He’s been out for the year with a sprained elbow. Prior to that he was the second best prospect in the draft, and a candidate to go first overall. The high school pitcher touched 100 MPH this year, and if his injury isn’t a long term issue (and it doesn’t sound like it is), he would be a huge steal at eighth overall, adding another potential ace to the system.
The “No One Stands Out as the Eighth Best Player” Tier
These guys are all rated in the 7-15 range in various rankings, but no one really stands out like the first seven in the above list. That could change in the next month. Or, someone in the top seven could take one of these guys, pushing one of the above players down to the Pirates. Some of these guys might be considered a “reach” due to the rankings, but they’d still be good picks if the top seven goes in the order above.
Albert Almora - Great defensive center fielder out of high school. Also has a good feel for hitting.
Gavin Cecchini - He has a good chance to stick at shortstop, and he’s a good hitter. He might be the best true shortstop at the top of the draft, if you consider that Correa probably moves to third base eventually.
Deven Marrero - He entered the year as a top five prospect, with plus defense at shortstop. His poor hitting this year has seen his stock drop. There’s a good chance he’ll fall to the Pirates, although he doesn’t seem like a slam dunk pick right now.
Victor Roache - He broke his left wrist, and is out for the season. Last year he hit 30 homers, and this year he was off to a great start before the injury. He would be a great pick at eighth overall if the injury isn’t a long term issue, but that’s never really a guarantee with a wrist injury for hitters. That’s a concern for Roache, since all of his value comes from the bat.
The “They Might Be Ranked High, But I Don’t Like Them” Tier
These guys fall in to the 7-15 range in most rankings, but I’m not a fan. Mostly that’s because the Pirates have been spoiled with great pitchers in the first round the last two years, and these guys aren’t as good of a bet to be top of the rotation guys.
Max Fried - A projectable left-hander out of high school, pitching for the same team as Giolito. He throws a great curveball, but his fastball only sits in the low-90s.
Michael Wacha - Baseball America rated him seventh, but he doesn’t really stand out. He has a good changeup, and good size, but other than that he doesn’t stand out like the other pitchers listed above.
Notes From the Past Week
-Trey Williams went 2-for-3 on Wednesday.
-Mike Zunino went 2-for-5 with his 12th homer of the year on Tuesday. On Wednesday he went 0-for-4.
The schedule for the top draft prospects this weekend:
6:00 PM EST – San Francisco (Kyle Zimmer) vs BYU
6:15 PM EST – Valencia HS (Trey Williams) at Hart HS
7:00 PM EST – Florida (Mike Zunino) vs Arkansas
8:00 PM EST – LSU (Kevin Gausman) vs Georgia
8:30 PM EST – Arizona State (Deven Marrero) at Washington State
9:00 PM EST – Stanford (Mark Appel) at UCLA
5:00 PM EST – Arizona State (Marrero) at Washington State
7:00 PM EST – Florida (Zunino) vs Arkansas
3:00 PM EST – Florida (Zunino) vs Arkansas
3:00 PM EST – Arizona State (Marrero) at Washington State