The 2013 MLB Draft starts on Thursday at 7 PM, with the first two rounds of the draft taking place that evening. The Pittsburgh Pirates pick 9th, 14th, and 51st that day. Rounds 3-10 follow on Friday at 1 PM, and rounds 11-40 are on Saturday at 1 PM.
Last year we started doing a top 100 draft prospects list, providing a preview for the draft. Rather than going with a numerical ranking, we went with tiered rankings. That was mostly because we prefer tiered rankings, but also because we don’t follow guys in the later rounds enough to be extremely accurate splitting hairs for a numerical 1-100 ranking.
We went with this approach again this year, with John Dreker and I coming up with the tiers. John’s analysis is below, summarizing each group. That is followed by our individual thoughts and preferences with each tier.
Also be sure to check out the latest Pirates Prospects Podcast, where John and I discuss these rankings. Also on the show, Jim Callis of Baseball America joins me to discuss guys the Pirates have been linked to, such as Reese McGuire, D.J. Peterson, and Hunter Renfroe. Check out the podcast, the rankings below, and be sure to check back here Thursday through Sunday for all of our draft coverage.
Otherwise known as the “The One in a Million Chance They Fall to the Pirates” Tier
Mark Appel, Kris Bryant, Jonathan Gray
We shouldn’t say that none of these three players will fall to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but there is a very small chance that happens. These guys are just too good to pass on and should be off the board no later than the fifth pick. Appel and Gray have been battling it out for the top spot since the first few weeks of the season, while Bryant is rated by almost everyone as the top hitter in this draft. Gray hits 100 MPH and throws a plus slider. One recent revelation about Gray could hurt him a little. He failed the major league pre-draft drug test, with a positive result due to Adderall, though the consensus is that this shouldn’t hurt his draft stock. Appel was at the top of most draft boards last year and as a senior this season, he repeated his strong numbers. Bryant led all of college in homers and should hit for average in pro ball as well. He may even be able to stick at third base, but otherwise his bat is more than enough to play another corner spot.
Otherwise known as the “At Least Two of These Guys Will Be Available at Number Nine, Leaving A Tough Decision” Tier
Trey Ball, Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire, Colin Moran, Braden Shipley, Kohl Stewart
This group is where the Pirates first pick will likely come from. Moran and Shipley are long shots to fall to the ninth spot, while Stewart should be the least likely, but talks of signability have him possibly falling if enough teams balk at talking a chance on not signing their first round pick. Among the rest of the group, you have two players that were talked about as possible first overall picks coming into this season: Frazier and Meadows. They both hail from the same town in Georgia and both are potential five tool outfielders. Frazier gets the nod now as the better player, showing plus power, while Meadows is the bigger of the two and will fill out more as he gets older.
McGuire is an advanced catcher defensively, with Gold Glove potential, although the bat isn’t a sure thing. Ball offers teams a 6’6″ high school lefty, with a plus fastball and change-up already. That’s a combo that would work well in PNC Park. He is good enough in the outfield that he would be ranked in the top 100 even if he never threw a pitch.
John Dreker: While the Pirates have been linked to McGuire often, I have him personally ranked lowest among this group, but ahead of everyone else in Tier three. If Stewart is available, the Pirates need to take him in this spot, even if it means they reach a little with their next pick to free up money to sign him. The first round is deep enough that they will still get someone solid by going safe. Stewart has as much upside as any pitcher in this draft, some say the most.
I don’t think they have a shot at Moran or Shipley, but if either falls, you have to take them over anyone but Stewart. On the offensive side, Meadows and Frazier have as much upside as anyone, both are athletic five tool outfielders. Ball is not only a big lefty that can pitch well already, he also has a strong bat to fallback on just in case. If it comes down to a choice between a catcher with question marks surrounding his hitting potential, or a left-handed starter that could possibly be a future ace, I’m going with the pitcher.
Tim Williams: I would go with Clint Fraizer or Austin Meadows (in that order) if they’re available. If they went with Reese McGuire I don’t think that’s a bad choice. In the podcast, Jim Callis described him as a potential future All-Star catcher. Considering the outfield depth in the system, and every team’s need for catching depth, I think you could make a good argument for McGuire over the two outfielders. I’d probably rank him third of the four prep guys, while hoping Trey Ball falls to the 14th pick. If any of Stewart, Moran, or Shipley are available, I’d take them in that order.
Otherwise known as the “D.J. Peterson Would Be a Good 14th Overall Pick, But Not a Good 9th Overall Pick” Tier
J.P. Crawford, Sean Manaea, D.J. Peterson, Hunter Renfroe, Dominic Smith, Ryne Stanek
This is the group where you will likely see the 14th overall pick come from. Obviously if someone from Tier 2 is available when they make their second pick, you’re going to want to take them here instead. The only constants all year from this group are the two prep players from California: J.P. Crawford and Dominic Smith. The latter is a power-hitting first baseman, who could also play outfield and pitched this year, so the arm plays well if you do move him off of first base. Crawford is a shortstop that will stick at the position and give you a strong bat at the top of the order, someone who will get on and steal bases.
Manaea and Stanek were both mentioned as possible first overall picks early in the season. The lefty Manaea had a tough season due to weather problems early and injury issues (ankle, hip, left shoulder) throughout the whole year. Stanek has had trouble with high pitch counts, leading to abbreviated outings, but otherwise he had a strong season. The high pitch counts early in the year have been a problem each of the last three seasons. They are both power arms, with lots of potential, but do you chance that with your first round pick?
Peterson and Renfroe have both moved up a lot during the second half of this season. Peterson is a first baseman, who should move quick through the minors and could give a team a .300 hitter, with 25 homer potential. Renfroe has the same type profile, but plays right field and he too should move fairly quick through the system.
John Dreker: If none of the Tier two players are available, my first choice from this group is J.P. Crawford. I factor in the two important things with him, his position and the fact he can bat at the top of the order. The Pirates need someone who can stick at shortstop defensively and has a strong bat while doing it. I would take Smith as my next choice. I couldn’t pass on a lefty with that much power, unless I was getting a quality hitter at a key position.
Stanek would be a nice arm to add to the system, but I don’t think he is a sure thing to be better than a #3 starter. With the amount of college arms listed below, you could get a similar pitcher in the second round. Manaea just has too many question marks. He is a prime candidate to fall so far that he goes back in the draft next year. He could also have a huge payoff for someone willing to take that risk and pay him a strong bonus. Renfroe and Peterson both have the same upside to me and while it isn’t bad, I’d take the chance with Smith’s bat or Crawford’s total package.
Tim Williams: The more I hear about D.J. Peterson, the more I’m intrigued. There are concerns about him playing in a very hitter friendly environment in New Mexico, but Jim Callis described him as the best combination of hitting for power and average in the draft. It might be hard to pass on J.P. Crawford, since he’s got the potential to stick at shortstop, but Peterson could provide a really good bat, and an eventual replacement for the Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez platoon at first. That’s not saying they should take him for need, because he’s got the talent to be a good 14th overall pick. As I said above, if Trey Ball falls here, I take him. That’s even if Peterson is still on the board.
Otherwise known as the “These Are Options if the Pirates Want To Go Signability” Tier
Phil Bickford, Nick Ciuffo, Jonathan Denney, Phillip Ervin, Marco Gonzales, Alex Gonzalez, Hunter Harvey, Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Austin Wilson
We brought up a scenario above where the Pirates might get a player that falls to them, namely Kohl Stewart, but anyone else unexpected from the first group as well. If they need to go with a good pick that might cost them less to sign, you might consider some of these names, especially Jagielo, Judge, Wilson or Ervin if they really want to go the college bat route. There isn’t a huge difference between those guys and Peterson or Renfroe above. At times, these guys in this group have even been ranked higher than players in the previous group. Also included here are two High School catchers, Nick Ciuffo and Jonathan Denney. Both of them have been rated higher than McGuire at certain points during the year.
Phil Bickford is an interesting case. He just recently shot into the top ten after a very impressive start during his team’s championship tournament. The prep righty struck out 18 batters and threw a one-hitter for the win. He has good size and throws hard, but he will need to work on his off-speed stuff. Hunter Harvey is the son of longtime major league reliever Bryan Harvey. He is a pick that is all about potential, someone who has relied on a fastball to get by against lesser competition. He also needs to add some size to be a starter in the long-term. Even if you’re saving money here, you don’t want to end up with a reliever this early in the draft.
John Dreker: Assuming this is the group they were going to pick from after taking Stewart, I’d go with the big bat from Austin Wilson. He was held back by injury this year, but pre-season rankings had him as a prime pick for the Pirates. He’s a power hitting outfielder, who can play center field in a pinch, so he isn’t just all bat. Without the time missed, he is right up there in the range that Renfroe and Peterson are in now. I really liked Marco Gonzales early on, but he has fallen in the second half. He has a four pitch mix, throws low 90’s with a plus change-up and he’s a lefty who can also swing the bat. I wouldn’t mind him falling enough that they could get him in the second round, but that might be a stretch.
Tim Williams: I also like Austin Wilson from this group. Another bat I like is Phillip Ervin. Both guys seem like they’d have comparable value to Peterson or Renfroe, but they might come cheaper on a pre-draft deal. I’d only go this route if someone like Stewart fell to the Pirates at number nine.
Otherwise known as the “The Pirates Don’t Pick Again Until 51st” Tier
Chris Anderson, Tim Anderson, Alex Balog, Aaron Blair, Ian Clarkin, Jonathon Crawford, Ryan Eades, Connor Jones, Rob Kaminsky, Matt Krook, Billy McKinney, Oscar Mercado, Kyle Serrano, Andrew Thurman
The Pirates likely won’t get to pick any of these players, though you can sit there and hope they have a chance to get one through to the second round. You have a lot of college arms in this draft that are good, but not great. It isn’t the most talent bunch as far as top end starters, but plenty of solid starters should be falling to the second round. What you might see is teams taking the best hitter they can, because as a group, it’s a weak year. If that happens, it could cause a domino effect, where a bunch of hitters go off the board, some too early. Teams know that if they want advanced pitching, they will be able to take it into the third round and still get someone good. If you want a solid bat, you might not be able to wait too long.
Two of these players will need to either be picked early, or a team will need to make room for them. Connor Jones would be a difficult sign if he fell to the second round. He has said he intends to honor his college commitment, so second round money might not sway him when he should go higher. Billy McKinney has a strong lefty bat and a TCU commitment that might be too much to overcome with the 51st pick. Signability may play a part in allowing him to fall enough. He would be the type you make room for with the next pick, taking someone who expected to sign in the 6th-8th round range, freeing up enough to offer him over slot.
John Dreker: If I could get any of these players in the second round, I’d have to go with Ian Clarkin. I’ve heard his name lower recently than in the past, but he is still ranked fairly high, so I don’t see him falling enough unless the above scenario plays out. Kaminsky wouldn’t be a bad fallback plan if I had to pick a second favorite. Like Clarkin, I don’t see him falling too far. Everyone in this group would all be solid picks though. Tim Anderson and Mercado will give you a player that could stick at shortstop. Eades would give you a solid starter from a strong program, while Balog, Blair, Chris Anderson and Thurman all were top starters who got mention as a possible pick in the 10-20 range at some point, before falling. Blair also failed the pre-draft drug test for Adderall, but like Jonathan Gray, it isn’t supposed to affect his draft position.
Tim Williams: The reason I would be fine passing on J.P. Crawford in the first round is the hope that Oscar Mercado would fall to the Pirates in the second round. I like Crawford, but prep shortstops are such longshots to make it as major league shortstops that I’d rather hope for value in the second round, rather than pick for need in the first. Ryan Eades is a guy who would provide some good value in the second round for the Pirates. Really with any of these guys you’re going to have value in the second round.
Otherwise known as the “Hopefully They Fall to the Second Round” Tier
Ryan Boldt, Jake Brentz, Travis Demerritte, Hunter Dozier, Hunter Green, Josh Hart, Jason Hursh, Corey Knebel, Michael Lorenzen, Andrew Mitchell, Chris Okey, Dustin Peterson, Chad Pinder, Cord Sandberg, Blake Taylor, Bobby Wahl, Devin Williams, Trevor Williams, Tom Windle, Kevin Ziomek
Some of these names have been all over the place, so there is a good chance the Pirates will have the chance to select a few players from this group. Again like the previous group, these guys offer you the chance to get a solid college starter in the second round, or a pitcher with a high upside out of High School. One big wildcard in this group is Ryan Boldt. He was expected to be a mid-to-late first round pick, but he injured his knee after just five at-bats and had season ending surgery. He is the type of player who could fall to the second round, despite the injury not being a long-term problem, just because no one got to see him play. A really interesting name to watch is Dustin Peterson, especially if the Pirates take his brother D.J. with one of their first round picks.
John Dreker: I’d have to take Hunter Dozier out of this group. He is a power hitting infielder, with a strong arm and lots of size. He plays shortstop now, but could play third base in the pros. His bat and arm are good enough to play there, but the bat might look better at second base. I could also be happy with Bobby Wahl, who throws hard and has pitched well at Ole Miss this year, going undefeated. He has had some control issues, but they were earlier in the season when he was also battling blister problems. He should be able to move through the minors quick and provide you with a solid starter. Boldt might have the highest upside, just not sure I’d want to take the chance with him, he has had injury problems in the past as well, but his lefty bat sure would look good in the Pirates lineup.
Tim Williams: I really like Jason Hursh, who the Pirates took in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. He ranges 92-98 MPH with his fastball, and usually sits mid 90s. Hursh doesn’t have much with his secondary pitches, so he’d be a project for the Pirates, but the dominating fastball makes him a good risk. Bobby Wahl would be a value pick here. It would also be interesting to see if Dustin Peterson was taken. That could provide a future of the Peterson brothers at the corners in PNC, with Dustin at third and his older brother D.J. at first.
Otherwise known as the “Good Options For the Second Round, Great Options For the Third Round” Tier
Cavan Biggio, Kent Emanuel, Jared King, Andrew Knapp, Trey Masek, Ryan McMahon, Tyler O’Neill, Dillon Overton, Jordan Paroubeck, Tyler Skulina, Teddy Stankiewicz, Rowdy Tellez, Garrett Williams
There might be names in this group that the Pirates are considering for the second round, but it is likely that a handful of better players will be available. Cavan Biggio is the son of Craig Biggio and plays second base just like his dad. Kent Emanuel was drafted by the Pirates in 2010 and was the Friday night starter for North Carolina. He had a great season, but scouts aren’t high on him due to a lack of velocity and a delivery that won’t allow to add to that without changes. He relies more on deception for his success. He also recently threw 124 pitches in a start, then was brought in to pitch two days later. Teddy Stankiewicz didn’t sign as a second round pick last year, went to JUCO instead of a four year college and had a strong season.
John Dreker: I really like the sound of Rowdy Tellez and not just for the cool name. He is a huge first baseman, who can really hit. Coming out of High School in California, he isn’t much different from the highly-touted Dominic Smith in that they both have a ton of power. Tellez is much bigger though and won’t have the strong glove at first base that Smith has, but he is good enough to not be a liability. Stankiewicz is a big kid that fits the Pirates mold of 6’4″ right-handed pitchers that they like to stockpile. He throws hard and has nice secondary pitches. He would definitely be a player I’d consider for this second round pick, depending on who else is left, but you hope he drops to the third round.
Tim Williams: I’m always a sucker for taking kids of former major league players, so Biggio stands out to me. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Astros take him though, for obvious reasons. I think that there will be a value pick dropping to the Pirates in the second round, and this group will really provide potential value picks for the third round. It might even be that Tier 6 provides a value pick for the third round, giving the Pirates a better option than the guys listed here.
Otherwise known as the “We Just Rounded off the Rest of the List to 100 Prospects” Tier
Aaron Brown, Andrew Church, Zack Collins, Wil Crowe, Tyler Danish, Dustin Driver, Chandler Eden, Scott Frazier, Garrett Hampson, Clinton Hollon, Jacoby Jones, Dace Kime, Tucker Neuhaus, Dom Nunez, Michael O’Neill, A.J. Puk, Cody Reed, Carlos Salazar, Jordan Sheffield, Myles Smith, Colby Suggs, Stuart Turner, Riley Unroe, A.J. Vanegas, Justin Williams, Stephen Wrenn, Rob Zastryzny
There are a lot of names in here that are unfamiliar to people who don’t follow the draft close, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting. Pirates fans will recognize Aaron Brown and Dace Kime, two former picks that didn’t sign. Jordan Sheffield was ranked much higher early in the season, but he went out with Tommy John surgery. He may not even get picked top ten rounds despite the talent because he has a commitment to Vanderbilt. Tyler Danish finished his High School season with a 0.00 ERA in 86 innings, with 147 strikeouts. His problem seems to be a delivery that isn’t smooth and he doesn’t have a great pitcher’s body. He also has a Florida commitment, so he can’t fall too far. He already offers two plus pitches, a low 90’s fastball and a tough slider.
John Dreker: This group is the 3rd/4th round range, guys you wouldn’t mind taking there, but would be a real stretch for the second round. My favorite among the group is Jake Brentz, who is a good two-way player. He can hit well enough to be drafted as an outfielder, showing big power. He can also throw 97 MPH, so you have a good fallback plan with him either way you go. He is raw as a pitcher, but will likely be drafted in that role.
Tim Williams: It will be interesting to see if Dace Kime signs a waiver to be picked again by the Pirates. He’d be a good 3rd or 4th round pick, and he agreed to a deal with the Pirates for $400,000 in 2010. However, MLB delayed the deal due to their ridiculous practices of not allowing early over-slot signings, and Kime ended up going to Louisville instead. In the long run it probably worked out for him, since he’ll make about twice that amount in the third or fourth round this year.