Draft Prospect Watch: Weekend Recap, Where Do We Stand?
Instead of the usual weekend recap this week, I thought I would cut it down to include more players. Using recent mock drafts, along with the weekly performances, I want to take a look at which players have moved up, moved down or stayed the same recently and just overall, where they rank now. There have been plenty of players throughout the last couple months that have been mentioned in, or right below, the top 15 spots. With the Pirates pick at #9 and #14, that leaves a lot of players to follow. In the recent past, when they have picked near the top of the draft, you would have a group of ten or less players to look at the entire year. That definitely hasn’t been the case this year. The recaps from each day are still linked below to see what has gone on the last three days. I also included the schedule post from last Thursday due to all the relevant links at the bottom of the article.
I will be breaking these players up into four classes, the breaking them up even further to show which players in that group get mentioned the most in the Pirates range, who would have to fall to them and who seems like a reach where they pick.
This group is the biggest one by far. Throughout the year, we have heard numerous college pitchers being mentioned in the Pirates range. Some have dropped out, while others have recently shot up the draft charts. One thing that is certain, very few names have remained the same throughout the year, in fact that list seems to stop at Mark Appel.
The Elite: Mark Appel, who Pirates fans are familiar with, has been ranked somewhere in the top four all season, usually number one or two. He pitched very poorly this week, but one week won’t hurt his draft stock this late. Jonathan Gray wasn’t ranked top ten early, but throwing 100 MPH with a plus slider will work wonders for anyone’s draft stock. These two will be off the board before the Pirates pick.
Pirates Range: This group has been huge throughout the year. Right now it seems like three names are being mentioned often in or around it. We have Ryne Stanek from Arkansas, Braden Shipley from Nevada and Sean Manaea from Indiana State. Shipley has moved up into this range, while the other two have fallen. Manaea has fallen due to injury concerns and recently his velocity has dropped a little, he was low 90’s in his last start early, high 80’s late. Stanek has fallen due to inconsistency. He’s either been real good or real bad. Right now, Shipley seems the safest of this group and even he wasn’t sharp this week.
The Others: This long list includes Ryan Eades from LSU, Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga, Bobby Wahl from Ole Miss, Chris Anderson from Jacksonville, Jonathon Crawford from Florida, Kevin Ziomek from Vanderbilt and more recently, Alex Gonzalez from Oral Roberts, Andrew Thurman from UC-Irvine and Aaron Blair from Marshall. Eades seems like the best of the group, but even he has been all over the place in mock drafts. Crawford and Anderson have both struggled, the latter against weak competition, yet those two remain high for some people. Gonzales might be the most interesting, a lefty with four quality pitches and he is a very good athlete, playing 1B/DH when he doesn’t pitch. He may not have a high ceiling, but he should move quick through the minors.
The group of college hitters this year was only three deep early, with some question marks around others, but it has evolved into eight players that should go in the first round.
The Elite: Kris Bryant has pulled away in a group that was considered weak overall at the beginning of the year. He has a power bat that has produced 28 homers, which will have to carry him to the big leagues. He is an average runner and plays 3B now, but he profiles as an average corner outfielder.
Pirates Range: Colin Moran could be considered elite, but some scouts aren’t sure if he will stick at 3B or be able to hit for power in the pros. That is what keeps him in the Pirates range and from the sounds of things, they like him because he can flat out hit. Austin Wilson profiles as a power hitting corner outfielder. He has had some injury concerns, but seems to be healthy now. He’s hitting well and he’s playing center field for Stanford, so that is a good sign that if they pick him, they aren’t just getting a one-dimensional player. Hunter Renfroe from Miss. St has quietly moved into this range, hitting .390 with 15 homers and more walks than strikeouts. He’s a corner outfielder as well, so like Bryant and Wilson, his bat will have to carry him.
The Others: Eric Jagielo, the third baseman from Notre Dame, has been recently mentioned in the top 20, but he seems to be a lesser version of Moran. Aaron Judge from Fresno State and Phillip Ervin from Samford have been mentioned fairly high all year, but neither seems likely for the Pirates. Judge doesn’t hit for enough power and strikes out a lot, Ervin plays a weak schedule and hasn’t done enough against those teams to move further up. DJ Peterson has been mentioned twice in the Pirates range recently, but I believe it is due to two teams liking him enough to reach for him, the Royals and Mets. He homered in all three games this weekend, so that didn’t hurt his draft stock. I still don’t see the Pirates going for a righty/righty first baseman, who has spent his season putting up big numbers in a high-offense home park.
High School Pitchers
This group wasn’t big early on, but a few arms have moved up into the 20-30 range recently. It includes the player who has been mentioned more than anyone else in the Pirates range this year.
The Elite: Kohl Stewart is the best pitcher in this draft class. He has a scholarship to play baseball and football at Texas A&M, so don’t expect him to drop too far and still sign. The hard-throwing RHP should go within the top six and likely will.
The Pirates Range: One name has been mentioned often in this range, Trey Ball, a 6’6″ LHP out of Indiana. He throws low 90’s, has a real nice change-up and most importantly, he has thrown very few curveballs, only recently being allowed to throw the pitch. He has room to fill out and he is a very athletic player, good enough to be drafted somewhere in the 2nd-4th round range as a hitter. Numerous mock drafts throughout the year have had the Pirates picking him. Ian Clarkin out of San Diego is also always right around this area. He throws low 90’s, with a plus breaking ball and average change-up. He is a very good pitcher now, so his floor is higher than most HS pitchers.
The Others: Hunter Harvey was mentioned here yesterday. He throws hard and has a ton of room to fill it. He isn’t a polished pitcher, mostly because he doesn’t need anything other than his fastball to dominate local hitters. Rob Kaminsky, a lefty from NJ has limited projection at 6’0″, but he shows a good fastball and a curveball he uses as an out pitch. Phil Bickford, a 6’4″ RHP out of California has moved up recently and could get even higher on these charts if he continues to impress like he did this past week in his 15 strikeout game. He throws strikes and can work low-to-mid-90’s, hitting 97, but needs to improve his off-speed pitches. Matt Krook, a big lefty who hits 95, likely isn’t polished enough to go high to the Pirates. He is high effort and lacks the secondary stuff right now, so he is a little more of a project than you would expect picking as high as the Pirates do.
High School Hitters:
High school hitters were a strong point to this draft class early and for the most part, they have remained at the top, though two have really fallen recently.
The Elite: Two Georgia outfielders from the same town make up this group, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier. They have both been mentioned as possible first overall earlier in the year, but they now fall in the 3-6 range, although there is word that one of them could fall to the Pirates. Both are athletic kids, Meadows the bigger of the two, but Frazier is the true power hitter. Meadows is more of a hit for average batter, with gap power now, though he is a big kid with room to grow. Both play center field now, Meadows is the more likely of the two to stick there.
The Pirates Range: This group has mostly been the same four all season. Dominic Smith, a first baseman out of California with huge power, JP Crawford, a shortstop from California projected to stay at shortstop in the pros, and two catchers that seem to flip places, depending on who you ask, Reese McGuire and Jon Denney. McGuire is a lefty hitter, with strong defense and very athletic, while Denney is a righty with more power and his defense only lags slightly behind. Any of these four seem like good picks, though most Pirates fans would want the shortstop because it has been such a tough spot to fill.
The Others: Nick Ciuffo is another catcher that seems to fall just out of the Pirates range, though some scouts see him as a slightly better version of Denney. Bill McKinney, an outfielder out of Texas has the bat to play in the pros, though he is limited to corner outfield and everything else is average. Two that have fallen out of this range are Oscar Mercado and Ryan Boldt. Mercado was a potential Pirates pick early on, as he plays shortstop, plus has above average speed. He hasn’t hit at all this season, batting under .300 with no power. Boldt injured his knee and is done for the year. He has had four operations in the past, so he will likely fall enough that college seems like a strong option.
Thursday Schedule and Draft Links
Friday Bryant and Moran Hit Homers, Appel Falls Hard
Saturday Strong Pitching All Around
Sunday Two Homers For Bryant