Pirates Have a Lot of Talented Pitchers Available in the 2014 Draft

Baseball America has released their first top 50 list for the 2014 draft class. This comes with the usual disclaimer that so much can change between now and the actual draft next June. That’s even true when it comes to the pre-season rankings. As an example, the pre-season 2013 rankings had Kris Bryant 12th (he went 2nd overall), Jonathan Gray unranked in the top 50 (he went 3rd overall), and Kohl Stewart ranked 18th (he went 4th). At the same time, some rankings were accurate. Reese McGuire was ranked 14th, and went 14th. There were other guys who stayed in the same range, such as Dominic Smith, D.J. Peterson, and Trey Ball.

This year the Pirates pick 27th overall. They also pick 64th with their compensation pick. The only way they would receive more than one pick in the top 50 of the 2014 draft is if they made A.J. Burnett a qualifying offer, he declined, and signed with another team. That pick would be somewhere in the mid-30s. Even with the 27th pick, it’s impossible to say right now who would be an option for the Pirates. There could be guys who aren’t on the list right now who could propel themselves to a late first round pick. There could be other guys at the top of the list who could see their stock fall.

The key thing to look at is the strength of the class. BA says that college and high school pitching looks to be the strength this year. The Pirates certainly don’t have a shortage of pitching prospects, although you can never have too many options. BA also notes that this is one of the deepest high school pitching classes in years, with a lot of big velocity arms that could go in the first 50 picks. The Pirates have gone heavy on prep pitchers in the past, and if I was going to make a “way too early” guess, I’d say that a prep pitcher would be the favorite for their first pick in 2014.

To give an idea of the quality of the pitching class, here are some of the prospects ranked in the Pirates’ range:

Kyle Freeland, LHP – Prep pitcher who throws 93-95 MPH.

Michael Cederoth, RHP – 6′ 6″, 210 pound college pitcher who throws 94-98 MPH.

Cobi Johnson, RHP – Prep pitcher who touches 93 and has the potential for a plus curveball.

Brandon Finnegan, LHP – College pitcher who holds upper 90s velocity deep into games, and has a plus slider.

Grant Holmes, RHP – He’s a small prep pitcher at six feet, but hits 96 MPH and has a power curveball.

Erick Fedde, RHP – College pitcher who throws in the low 90s with good command, and has a projectable 6′ 4″ frame.

Nick Burdi, RHP – College pitcher who BA calls “the biggest pure arm in the draft class”. Throws 100 and a low 90s slider, but is strictly a reliever.

Kodi Medeiros, LHP – Prep pitcher who can hit 95 and has a power slider. Also throws from a low arm slot, which is unconventional, but which might add movement and generate ground balls, as lower arm slots usually do.

Sean Reid-Foley, RHP – Prep pitcher who hits 95 and has an above-average slider, an average changeup, and good control.

Luke Weaver, RHP – College pitcher who throws 96 MPH and draws Tim Hudson comparisons.

Dylan Cease, RHP – Prep pitcher who hits 97 MPH with ease, but has an inconsistent breaking ball and inconsistent command. Also provides the potential for great “Cease and Desist” article titles about opposing hitters.

Those are all of the pitchers who are ranked in the 20-35 range, leaving out a few two-way players who might not get drafted as pitchers. I don’t know if there’s an ace in the group, or even a number two starter. However, there are a lot of live arms, and it’s easy to envision the Pirates landing at least a potential number three starter if they went the pitching route. A lot can change before the draft, but if these are the arms who are projected in the Pirates range now, then they should have plenty of talented options available next June.

One thing that stood out with the rankings was the number four prospect, Trea Turner. Turner is a shortstop at NC State, and he stands out because he was taken by the Pirates in the 20th round of the 2011 draft. BA notes that he offers bat speed, athleticism, and top-of-the-scale speed when healthy. He was hampered by an ankle injury in 2013. Turner was the only former Pirates draft pick to make the top 50, although the Pirates signed a lot of talented prep players in 2011 (Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Clay Holmes), so it’s not like they left a lot on the table.

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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  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    I think, instead of picking by records, they should pick by market size.

    :) :) :) :)

  • Longman

    At the very least, they should adjust the draft order so that division winners pick after the wild card teams. A division winner — even if they have less overall wins — gets a huge benefit by avoiding the play in game. As a result, they should be deemed to have had the more successful season and, consequently, should pick lower in the draft.

    Not that its a huge deal, but in all fairness, there is no way that Detroit and LAD should pick before the Pirates next year.

    • Kevin_Young

      That’s actually a great point.

  • leadoff

    The Pirates have a lot of pitching in the system for a few years, I would like to see the first pick be a power hitting 3B or 1B. As deep as this class is in Pitching it would seem to me that a power arm should be available when they take their 2nd pick.
    The System really could use a top SS, 3rd, or 1B.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      You absolutely do not draft based on need. You take Best Player Available no matter what position.

      • leadoff

        The Pirates have been drafting from need for most of Huntingtons tenure. They were very thin on pitching and loaded up with pitching, last year they knew that their system was shallow on hitting and they drafted hitting, they might not have drafted directly for positions but they did draft from need. There was a short time ago when Sanchez was the only catching prospect in the system, look at it now, that is drafting for need.

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

          They’ve been drafting for need in the sense that they needed prospects of any kind. If they were really drafting for need, they wouldn’t have taken Mark Appel in 2012. They also wouldn’t have taken Austin Meadows with their first pick this year, since outfield isn’t a need at all.

          • leadoff

            Tony Sanchez? It would seem to me that he was not the best player available on the board.

            • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

              Prior to the draft, the talent pool looked weak. There were people who felt that the talent between #3 and the end of the first round were the same. The big names were the prep pitchers that year, but none of them really stood out as a top option, and all of them were asking for big money. The Pirates passed on them and went with Sanchez. A lot of other teams did the same thing.

              Sanchez wasn’t about drafting for need. It was a weak draft where no one stood out, and everyone was asking for a lot of money. The Pirates, and a few other teams, went signability in the first round so that they could spend that money in the later rounds.

  • WardHolder

    This is fascinating, and helping me deal with my loss of what to fill my time with now the the Bucs are out of the playoffs. Clearly, the MLB draft is not like the NFL draft, where there’s far more agreement about the value assigned to players, and almost everyone has played in college. But as the Pirates move down in the order of picking, is it necessarily going to affect their drafting? I’m actually unsure for a few reasons. First, every year some team that was picking in the 20s has a guy turn out to be a Mike Trout, or an Andrew McCutchen. Second, the Pirates have been picking up monster value with projectable prep arms – like Tyler Glasnow. Shouldn’t those players still be there? My second question is this – why can’t the Pirates seem to project hitters like they do pitchers?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      The Pirates actually haven’t drafted a lot of hitters until this past season. Most of their big bonus picks were pitchers. The interesting thing is that they’ve been getting hitting talent and not pitching talent from the international ranks.

  • manitou

    The Pirates do not need a number 3 pitcher. Most playoff games this year are 1-0 results. If we want to win the big series next five years, we need to draft number 1 pitchers for each position in the rotation and the bull pen.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      1. Number three starters are not a bad thing. I think you’re under-estimating how good number three starters actually are.
      2. It’s hard to draft number one starters when you’re picking 27th. There’s a future number one starter in this draft, and he will go first overall.

  • http://atung.net/ Steve Zielinski

    If the Pirates take a pitcher, let him be a lefthander. Dickson and Taylor made a nice start on addressing what is one of the organization’s deficiencies. Now it’s time to add on.

  • Y2JGQ2

    Not this argument again- Drafting the best player available is just fine and dandy when you have lots of needs organizationally, or none. Unfortunately when you use the “best player available” line, you are almost never going to get good talent at premium positions, simply because everything being equal, the team before you would have picked him if that was the case. Its an argument which leaves you with tons of talented RHP, outfielders at the corner positions, second baseman, and first baseman. What it isn’t going to give you- ever, is talented shortstops, third baseman, catchers, or left handed power pitchers with top of the rotation stuff. They have a premium price, fetch a premium value in the market, and quite honestly have to be taken a little early, or unless you are lucky, you are going to have an organization devoid at talent at those positions, or you will have to pay even more down the line to acquire it via a trade. As an organization, we are now extremely deep with RSP, outfielders, potential second baseman, and catchers as far as prospects go. At this point, you wipe those positions off the board. Third baseman and shortstops are needed and need premiums, power bats at first base can be had in 3-7 rounds without a problem. That is all.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Specifically when you are being forced to draft way down in the order due to performance like hopefully we will for a few years. When you are drafting 6 and 13 in the draft, its not a problem.

  • mak_dc

    I certainly prefer them to take the best player on the board, but it would be awesome if that player was a college guy. The speed with which these guys transition to the majors is really appealing (all other things being equal).

  • ChirpCity

    Well the pirates have or get a shot at another competitive balance lottery pick this year like the one they traded for Gaby Sanchez last year? If so, where might that pick fall?

  • joebaseball

    If they picked a 1B or 3B would that pick be in the top 2 of that position this year (esp. LH hitter)? Where would they fit in the Pirates prospects at their position? Are any of those LH hitters? Is there a top LH pitcher in their range?