Keith Law has posted his first mock draft for insiders(subscription required) and he has a surprising new name linked to the Pittsburgh Pirates, first baseman DJ Peterson from New Mexico. Peterson has been discussed here daily in the draft recaps and he has had some huge weeks. The problem is, that he is a righty/righty first baseman, who plays in a huge offense ballpark, so not only is he not an ideal fit for PNC Park, his numbers are also skewed by his home field.
For the pick at the 14th spot, we hear a familiar name that has been linked quite often to the Pirates, HS pitcher Trey Ball. The lanky 6’6″ lefty throws low-to-mid 90’s, with an excellent change-up. He is also a very good athlete, with room to fill out. Early in the year, there were questions as to whether Ball would be drafted as a hitter or pitcher, but his pitching has really taken off. As a hitter, he is still a top 100 prospect.
The explanation of the pick of Peterson is that Law doesn’t believe that he will last past the 12th spot, so the Pirates will take him with the early pick. If the draft actually went the way he predicted, they would pass on four outstanding HS hitters, Dominic Smith, Reese McGuire, Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows. I personally have seen all four of those players rated ahead of Peterson all season long and I’d be shocked if they could pass on all of them. Frazier and Meadows have been near the top of the draft class since the pre-season. Smith is a lefty out of Serra HS, who plays first base and has a higher upside than Peterson in the power department. McGuire is an athletic catcher, who will stick at the position, with plus defense and a good bat.
They would also be passing on HS shortstop JP Crawford, who he has going 16th overall, and Austin Wilson and Hunter Renfroe, both heavy hitting college outfielders. Peterson has really risen up the draft charts very recently, so this isn’t the first time he has been mentioned in this range. Earlier in the year though, and for most of the season, he has been in the mid-20’s to as low as the 40’s with his placement.
Peterson is hitting .408 this year in 46 games, with 22 doubles, 16 homers, 40 walks and a 1.354 OPS. Strong numbers, but New Mexico and their opponents average 14.5 runs per game, with higher totals during their home games, where they have scored double-digit runs 16 times already in 28 games.
It would seem like if they went with this pick, it would be a safer player, who could get to the majors sooner at a position that isn’t deep in the minors. They would be going with a low-upside choice though, especially compared to Clint Frazier, who has been mentioned as having 40 home run power. Frazier is also more athletic, faster and has a strong arm, currently playing center field.