With all the recent mock drafts coming out and industry experts putting their inside information together, we have a pretty good idea how the top of the first round will play out. We know a list of 15 players who keep getting mentioned for the top 14 picks, two of which will be selections by the Pittsburgh Pirates this upcoming Thursday. There are also a couple wildcards that could sneak into this group.
What we will do here is take five of the mock drafts from the top experts out there and give the probability that a certain player will be available when the Pirates make their first selection with the ninth pick, then when they select five spots later at 14th overall. We are going off the latest mock drafts from Jim Callis at Baseball America, Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo for MLB.com, John Sickels’ Minor League Ball(done by Matt Garrioch) and Kiley McDaniel for Scout.com.
The formula is simple. We take the number of times a player is available at each pick in a mock draft, then divide that by the number of mock drafts (5). If a player is available at number nine in three of the five mock drafts, he’s got a 60% probability. The first percentage listed below will be the probability that players will be there when the Pirates select ninth. The second number next to their name will be the percentages for the 14th pick. If it’s zero for the first number, then obviously the second would be the same, so no need to add it.
No Chance of Falling to the Pirates
Jonathan Gray 0%
Mark Appel 0%
Kris Bryant 0%
Kohl Stewart 0%
Colin Moran 0%
Braden Shipley 0%
Going by all the mock drafts, there are six players you can cross off your wish list right away. It’s always possible that one of these guys could slip on draft day, but don’t bet on it. That leads us to the players the Pirates have a chance of being able to take with their first pick only.
9th Pick Only
Clint Frazier 60%
Austin Meadows 60%
Reese McGuire 100%
That group of three includes the favorite for most experts (McGuire) along with two high upside prep outfielders from Georgia. If you pass on one, both will likely be gone before the next pick. McGuire is stopping at number nine in most drafts who have him going to the Pirates, but it’s unlikely that he’d slip to 14th overall if they passed him up.
Finally, we have the group of players who at least one of the experts thinks they will be available when the 14th pick comes up. Here is where we introduce the second number for that 14th pick.
Available at 9 and 14
Trey Ball 60%/40%
DJ Peterson 60%/40%
Ryne Stanek 80%/20%
Hunter Renfroe 80%/40%
JP Crawford 100%/20%
Dominic Smith 100%/60%
Aaron Judge 100%/80%
Nick Ciuffo 100%/100%
Saying all that, four of the drafts have the Pirates taking Reese McGuire with the #9 pick, while Matt Garrioch believes that Ryne Stanek will be too good to pass up at that spot and he would add another top arm to the Pirates system. The #14 pick is split between Hunter Renfroe and DJ Peterson getting two votes apiece. Garrioch is again the dissenter among the group, but his pick makes sense based on what everyone else has been saying. He thinks the Pirates could take prep catcher Nick Ciuffo, who has a bat that profiles as good or better than McGuire, but the defense lags behind a little. They would still get their quality prep catcher, but instead of a solid corner bat, they take a college arm with plenty of upside.
Two interesting names of note missing from this list. All five mock drafts have Stanford’s Austin Wilson and Sean Manaea from Indiana State going lower than the 14th picks. When the season started, that seemed unlikely, but both players were done in by injuries.
The only other names mentioned as possibilities recently for the Pirates’ second pick are Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo and Samford outfielder Phillip Ervin. Jagielo’s average placement in the mock drafts is 26th overall, while Ervin only made four of the lists, but his average works out to 24.5 on those lists.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.