On ESPN Insider today, Keith Law posted his list of the top 50 draft prospects right now and one name we have mentioned here a few times recently, has shot all the way to the top. Law has Brady Aiken in the top spot, jumping over Tyler Kolek and Carlos Rodon, who have been 1-2 for most people recently. Aiken is a 6’4″ lefty out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, who already has a plus fastball, curve and a change-up that Law predicts will eventually be a plus pitch. He also has a solid delivery and plenty of projection left. In his last outing, Aiken threw 4.2 no-hit innings, with 12 strikeouts.
Carlos Rodon was the consensus top pick coming into this season, but his results early have not been great. Some people have moved Tyler Kolek ahead of Rodon. Kolek is a big workhorse righty, who has been nearly perfect in three starts, giving up just one walk and no hits, plus he was hitting 102 MPH in his last start.
While those guys fight for the top spot, the Pirates pick down at the 24th spot and could move up if any of the teams in front of them, without protected picks, ends up signing Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales. Looking at the 24th spot for now, Law ranks Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher there. Now this isn’t a mock draft, so this isn’t saying the Pirates would take Fisher. He is a pick with some question marks he won’t be able to answer this season. Fisher broke his hamate bone and will be out at least another month. That is an injury that saps players power and takes a year to fully recover from. Some have said that the injury won’t affect his draft status, but it will be tough for scouts to get a good read on him and it will be tough for Fisher to answer questions regarding his offensive potential.
Last week, we took a look at four early mock drafts. They all had different picks for the Pirates, with Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis, Braxton Davidson and Michael Conforto named as the Pirates choice. Law has Conforto 13th, Newcomb 15th, Davidson 22nd and Ellis was not mentioned. There seems to be a split on Conforto, with some putting him that early and others thinking he will be a late first round pick. As for Newcomb and Davidson, this is their range for almost everyone, so they are two to keep an eye on.
The strength of this draft class is pitching, pitching and more pitching. It’s top-heavy with both college and prep pitchers throwing from each side of the mound. Law has pitchers in the top six spots and 12 of the first 16 spots. There are also pitchers like Scott Blewitt, who hasn’t started his season yet, but could easily move up the charts and ten of the pitchers in Law’s 26-50 range have been mentioned recently as possible first round picks.
The highest ranked player that I have yet to mention in our draft recaps is Cameron Varga, who Law has 16th overall, so here is something on Varga. Law notes that he was dominating competition last Summer, but a cyst in his stomach has shut him down until now. He’s a 6’4″ righty out of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. Varga was throwing 93-96 MPH last July when he first returned from the cyst operation, but he was shut down after one game with bicep tendonitis, a result of him doing too much after a long layoff. When he is healthy, Varga has both a plus fastball and plus breaking ball. I’ve included a video courtesy of BP Prospect Team, showing Varga from last June, before any of his problems.