Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Draft Preview: Prep Hitters

This is part three of our 2014 amateur draft preview. On Monday, we covered the top college hitters eligible for the draft. Tuesday was the college pitchers, a large group with first round potential. Today we focus on high school hitters and right now, there seems to be a group of five that could go in the top half of the first round and then we might not see another until the second round. That could obviously change a lot between now and day one of the draft, so this is just to give you a general sense of what is out there.

An early mock draft had five high school hitters going in the top 15 picks and then none in the next half. Baseball America and Kiley McDaniel each had four of these players near the top, but McDaniel was down on Jacob Gatewood, while BA wasn’t real high on Michael Gettys. They still got decent ratings, but there appears to be a split for now. The three that were agreed upon by all sources were catcher Alex Jackson, shortstop Nick Gordon and 1B/OF Braxton Davidson.

Alex Jackson will most certainly be gone before the Pirates pick. He is rated as high as third best in this draft class and the best among high school players. He will likely move to outfield, where his big bat, decent speed and plus arm, will play well.

Nick Gordon is the son of longtime major league pitcher Tom Gordon and the brother of current major leaguer Dee Gordon.  The younger Gordon has a good enough arm that he could be drafted high as a pitcher, but he has more value as a strong lefty bat at shortstop. He should hit for average and he possesses average tools across the board in every other category.

Braxton Davidson’s main position is outfield, but he may be better suited for first base. He provides great size from the left side, standing 6’3″, 215 pounds and along with that comes a big bat that could fit well at first base. Some believe that he could be the best bat in this draft, so the chances of him sliding down to the Pirates is unlikely at this point.

Michael Gettys was rated 15th overall among high school players by Baseball America, but they seem to be the only ones down on him. Most think he is a top ten overall pick and some scouts think he is the best high school player this year, which means there is very little chance the Pirates have a shot at him. Gettys is considered someone that could stick at center field and offer up five tools, with his speed and arm being well above average already. He also has good bat speed, a short swing and excellent pitch selection.

Jacob Gatewood is a shortstop out of California, who struggled in some recent tournaments, leading to some questions to whether he is top of the first round talent. He also may not be able to stick at shortstop, which would drop his value. He has the arm strength and bat to stick at third base, where his limited range wouldn’t hurt him as much as it would at shortstop. He is an average runner. Out of the top five, he’s the one to watch the closest for now.

The Pirates might not have a shot at any of those kids, but there are still some that are rated high by some sources. Second baseman Forrest Wall has a solid bat from the left side, offering great bat speed and some power. His glove and range are above average, his arm is not, so while he has played some third base, he is probably better suited for second base. That could be a problem, because not too many teams will use a first round pick on a second baseman. His glove and bat should play well in the majors and he has average speed.

Outfielder Derek Hill out of California is another player there seems to be a split on. He could go mid-first round or fall back to somewhere in the second round, which obviously makes him one to watch for a team picking 25th overall. His father was a first round pick and played 12 seasons in the minors(including 1988 in the Pirates system). His dad is currently a scout in the Dodgers system, so Hill has been around baseball his whole life. He has plus defense and excellent speed, making him a three plus tool player that can hit a little. Like most high school kids, he has room to fill out more.

The highest rated shortstop not likely to go before the Pirates pick, is Ti’Quan Forbes out of Columbia HS in Mississippi. He is 6’4″ and needs to fill out to reach his potential as a possible five tool player. He has good bat speed and is very athletic, plus he should be able to stick at shortstop.

Finally, we have someone who may already be moving up the draft charts. Baseball America had California outfielder Marcus Wilson rated 24th overall among all high school players in the draft during their late November rankings. Wilson just participated in the Southern California Invitational and was the most impressive player there. He is a potential five tool outfielder with plus arm and speed already. He still needs to fill out, but at 6’3″, he should have some good size and hit for power in the future. You can see a full scouting report of Wilson here and there is a seven minute video below courtesy of Baseball Instinct.

John Dreker

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • elgaupo

    I bet they draft someone who is still 17. Maybe not in the first round, but I think they like the real young guys.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    They need left handed SPs, shortstops (who can hit also), third basemen, and first basemen in the system. Although, I am sure they will take the best available in the first round. Discounting the players not likely to be available when the Pirates pick, Forbes, Wilson, and Hill all sound intriguing – although Hill and Wilson sound like OF prospects.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      Every area of the farm can improve (yes, even RHP, OF, and C) but I am glad we will stick to best player available as always. What a great farm system needs is more great prospects. It is going to be much harder picking in the 21-29 range but this draft pool, which I’ve been following since last August, is loaded and there are a ton of good players. Five guys I think people should keep an eye on: SS Ti’Quan Forbes, 3B Jack Flaherty, 2B Gregg Deichmann, RHP Erick Fedde, and LHP Kyle Freeland. Five really good prospects and each could be available at 25.

      • John Dreker

        I’ll try to remember to check on Flaherty and Deichmann throughout the year. Thanks. I’ll take any other suggestions. I just took four lists and tried to find the guys who were in this area the most often. Once the season gets going, I’ll be able to get a better idea of who might also be a legit pick in this range

      • Y2JGQ2

        I continue to cringe at the idea of “best player available” and I will write it 4 million times if i have to. Some positions have MORE value than others, so taking a player who is slightly better of an all around player at outfield vs. someone slightly less at shortstop or thirdbase is a recipe for disaster. Draft premium positions ahead of others regardless of overall talent. Take the best player available out of LSP, SS, and 3B. Then once you do that, move on to the best available player of the 2 remaining, then the last, then move on to all the other positions. UNLESS there is a huge arbitrage of a player on the board who shouldn’t be. Picking where we are picking, the potential of players between 20-50 are very close as always on the draft board. The differentiator IS the position they play. It so happens that premium infield positions are also our greatest long term needs, so its a no brainer where we focus our attention. we have a complete lack of third base prospects in the system. Trading for them is almost impossible and there are very few of them anyways, same as shortstops, so unless you are stupid, you HAVE to draft there first

        • meatygettingsaucy

          In all due respect Y2JGQ2, I am grateful you are not deciding who we draft on draft day. You have to go best player available. Players with the best ability are only going to make your farm and your team better. No team has enough pitching, let alone a franchise that has 7 US-based minor league teams. Every team has it’s philosophies on drafting and very few, if any, draft based on need. The only time the Pirates would draft based on need is when their board had two guys exactly the same in terms of skills and I believe Huntington has stated in this case he prefers taking a hitter to pitcher.

        • NastyNate82

          You don’t draft for need. This isn’t the NFL. Picking the best LSP, SS, and 3B might make you lose out on an RHP who is better than any of the three players in the other category. What if they have a RHP ranked, say…#5 overall on their board and he inexplicably falls to them at #25? Should they pass on him because they “need” other positions? Even if no one in those categories are close? I don’t think they should. You draft the best players you rate (or can afford, since there’s a stupid cap on draft spending) and sort it out after. Lastly, I would bet that teams factor in the importance of a position into the BPA.

  • Y2JGQ2

    We literally have no more room for Right handed starting pitchers or catchers or outfielders. Can we please move on to other positions at the top of the draft. a team plane would have to crash in order for us to need any outfielders in the next 5 years, same with rsp

    • John Dreker

      You draft for need if guys are very similar only, otherwise you always take best available. The reason is that the draft is a crapshoot and you trust your scouts to get it right. If the best player is an outfielder, you take an outfielder, you don’t drop down until you find the best third baseman or shortstop. You want the best players because you have the best chance of getting that person to the majors and they also have the most trade value. They are the best player available for a reason. I also don’t think you can find a GM in baseball that thinks he has enough RHP