The draft is just three days away, so more inside information about who might go where is available. For the Pittsburgh Pirates with their top two picks, we are hearing the same names over and over. Keith Law posted his latest mock draft today and he has the Pirates taking HS Catcher Reese McGuire with the ninth overall pick and Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe with the 14th pick. Both of these players have been linked to the Pirates quite often recently.

Hunter Renfroe has been linked to the Pirates often recently Image Courtesy: Mississippi State Athletics
Hunter Renfroe has been linked to the Pirates often recently Image Courtesy: Mississippi State Athletics

Draft rankings have had these players in this same range for awhile now. McGuire has been mentioned as a strong option for the Pirates since the pre-season, while Renfroe moved up slowly into this range in early April, after starting his season strong and continuing to play well all year.

There is a surprise name in the top ten for Law, one that hasn’t been there before. He has California High School right-hander Phil Bickford going to the Royals with the 8th pick. I highlighted Bickford’s last performance a couple days ago, when he threw a one-hitter, with 18 strikeouts in his team’s championship game. He was normally mentioned around 20-25 for most people, but the buzz around that start may have pushed him up the charts at the last minute.

There is possibly a bigger surprise in the #16 spot, Kohl Stewart, a Texas HS pitcher with huge upside. He has a scholarship to Texas A&M to play quarterback, so there is some questions about his signability. If the Pirates have a chance on him at #9, I think it would be very tough to pass on that upside. A few have mentioned him as having the highest ceiling among all pitchers in this draft class, including the college pitchers.

Law also has Clint Frazier lasting to the 13th pick, another tough player that the Pirates would have to pass on to take McGuire. Frazier has five tool potential, with power being a plus tool. I would also rank HS lefty Trey Ball slightly ahead of McGuire and Law has him going tenth. With Bickford going eighth and Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek going to the Red Sox at #7, that would leave some very interesting players for the Pirates in the nine spot.

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  1. I think it should be Meadows, Frazier, or Ball unless your convinced one of the catchers can be as good as Molina (Yadier not Jose or Bengie)

    Kohl Stewart reminds me of the Bubba Starling situation from last year and so far Bubba is having a rough year this year

      • I don’t get guys like Kohl Stewart, make your mind up if you want to play college football or if you’d rather give it a shot at becoming a professional baseball player.
        In the second case enter for the draft as a HS player, in the first case don’t enter the draft, period.
        Or could it be a case of trying out to see how much the signing bonus might be ?

  2. Anyone think the pirates should have just pony’d up and paid Appel what he wanted and lost this years pick?

  3. Just watched Kohl Stewart again and the ball just explodes off his arm. Like a heat seeking missile. They comp him to Shelby Miller but I’m just going to say another HS QB kid with signability concerns in Archie Bradley, who has motored through the D’Backs system. You lose out on Appel, you can’t take a run-of-the-mill guy, you have to replace it with equal value and Stewart is just that

  4. Yea johnny football will be a red shirt soph this year. So he will be eligible to go pro after this upcoming season

  5. One Johnny Football is gone after this year so maybe that is why Kohl Stewart is dropping. It’s 3M for our 9th pick so maybe a slight bump to 3.5-4M should be plenty to pass up football. I would take Stewart in a heart beat. Imagine if Bickford fell to #14 which is possible. I would have to scrap the whole two hitters idea and take Stewart/Bickford. They really have to take BPA and not worry about guys who are Major League ready. The system is improved, and by no means rich, so you keep restocking the system and move guys with trades and what not until you get your quality ML roster. Their board better look something like this (Stewart, Frazier, Meadows, Bickford, McGuire) , but knowing our Bucs they’ll jump on Renfroe or Peterson or someone stupid like that. For the tenth time, this HS catching class is stocked and no clear guy distinguishing himself from the rest. What makes them think McGuire is that guy? Stop listening to your scouting dept they have shown a propensity of failure. I made a comment yesterday Renfroe was a .242 career hitter before this year. You know that average goes down at each level from HS-College-Pro. What part of that number is promising and tells me he will be more than a .250 hitter at the show?

    • I’m sure they’ll consult you before they pick since your track record is so much more stellar than theirs. There is no guarantee attached to any of these kids. Never seen the Renfroe kid play, but since he’s universally expected to go in that range, I would expect there is something to like about this kid and the same goes for the other ones. The only kid I’ve seen play was Trey Ball, so I’d like to see him picked by the pirates, but if not, I have faith that they’ll put two more top prospects in this system with their first two picks.

      • Why would you have faith that they could do that? (Benson, Johnson, Bradley, Burnett, Van Benschoten, Bullington, Maholm, Lincoln, Moskos, Black, Appel (stud…unsigned). That just took up two lines to name them all. And yes my record is better than them. I’m 0 for 0. And they are 0-11. They have to get a hit to beat me.

        • That’s selective arguing. You’ve chosen to highlight only the picks that not only haven’t panned out, but don’t even belong to this front office. Along the way, you’ve left off several picks that either have panned out (guys like McCutchen and Walker, ever heard of them?) Once you’ve done something for a living and dealt with everything they’ve dealt with, then by all means, your opinion will carry some weight. In the meantime, you’d do well to backup a little and practice a little humility. It will carry you a long way in life.

        • You do realize that the people who chose JVB and Bobby Bradley are no longer with the team, right? Maholm was a pretty good selection, BTW. Take a look at the rest of the guys selected in the first round that year and tell me who they should’ve taken.

    • Are you related to Bickford somehow? Bickford is probably going in the 15-20 range, may be in the 20-30 range. I don’t understand your obsession with him. He’s big and projectable. He is extremely raw, has no breaking ball, he is a one pitch guy and sits back and throws heat to strike out competition and there are red flags concerning his delivery (pitching across his body, high effort delivery at times)

      Second, if we aren’t going to listen to the scouting department, who do we listen to? And it isn’t just our scouting department saying the above things about Bickford, or all the things about McGuire. Just about every scout in the country is saying the same things. Mentioning players picked by a previous GM under different financial circumstances bear no significance on what is taking place in Pittsburgh now (although Maholm was a valuable starter on a otherwise pretty bad staff, Lincoln got injured, who knows what he could have been if healthy, and Black may be the Pirates future closer with his 98 MPH fastball). And if you are going to talk about failures, take a look at every other major league club. No team has ever had every single 1st rounder work out. Not one.

      • Meaty…good points. Most GMs say getting one good starter per draft is pretty good.

        It is obvious that HoosierDaddy ‘don’t got a clue’.


        • I am not saying he is clueless but he seems to have a blind love for a player that, in all likelihood, is not and should not be drafted by the Pirates. It is one thing I don’t like around draft day is when fans get obsessed with one player and then if he isn’t picked, no one cares who was picked, they instantly dislike him because their guy wasn’t picked.

      • The draft is a tricky business. Below are summaries from the Baseball America draft previews. Who would you draft?
        Player A
        A 6-foot-4, 240-pounder who has an 88-93 mph fastball and a hard slider. He struck out 20 over nine innings in his final high school start, a playoff game his team lost in the 10th.
        Player B
        He works comfortably at 94-97 and can hit 100 mph while looking like he’s just playing catch. He firmed up his frame to a solid 6-foot-4 and 239 pounds. He has refined his slider into a wipeout pitch with depth and bite, and he can make hitters look silly with an improved changeup that bottoms out at the plate.
        Player C
        The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder is all about arm strength, as he has a 91-94 mph fastball and a hard slider. He’s more strong than athletic and needs to iron out his delivery in order to improve his secondary pitches and control.

        Answer: it doesn’t matter they are all the same guy. Player A is Jonathan Gray in 2011, Player B is Gray in 2013, and Player C is Gray in 2010. Players change over time.
        I would like to see the Pirates draft HS pitchers in the early rounds because of the methods the Pirates use to develop young pitchers. I’m in the (small) camp who would like to see Phil Bickford picked by the Pirates in the first round. In my opinion it’s easy to project him to throw 100+mph within a couple of years. He’s made rapid improvements over the past several months which isn’t surprising given his age. He’s much younger than many of the top HS prospects including Ball, Stewart, and Frazier. Age and development do make a big difference for HS prospects. It’s one of the reasons Colin Moran was a lightly recruited, last minute recruit at UNC.
        I don’t expect the Pirates to select him and it won’t upset me.

  6. Not saying he will but johnny football can go pro after this year. So kohl would only have to sit a year then have a chance to play year two. Just saying

  7. It would be SWEET and HISTORIC if:

    Teams passed on Appel and left him for the Pirates. That would ruin Boras’ strategy, would it not. Probable be a collusion suit filed, but wouldn’t that be satisfying?

    I know that will never happen, but maybe it should…

    • Boras could just advise him to sit out again and play Indy ball like he did with JD Drew or some other scheme to skirt the rules. I know Japan/Asian League rules have been questioned.

    • Unfortunately Appel would have to sign some sort of agreement in advance which would allow us even to draft him again.
      How great would that be though, him falling to us again and then us offering him below slot ?
      Shouldn’t be a problem for him as according to the man himself it’s not all about the money, so I’m sure he’d be happy to sign for less and allow the club to sign some more prospects with the money saved from the Appel deal.
      But again, unfortunately this won’t happen.

  8. John,
    Do the Pirates have to sign the 9th pick or lose it for good? The old rules were like that. Not sure if there’s a change. If so. That really make Shipley a real risky pick at 9 if he’s there. Thanks,

  9. I’m using extremes here but would you rather have a Justin Upton rather than a Yadier Molina? Doubtful that both Frazier/Meadows and McGuire turn out to be these guys but I guess the question is if you knew both Frazier and McGuire would reach their full potential who would you take? I have to think that’s part of how you come to your decision. I’m glad I have no say in this.

  10. Well, I think we can be sure of one thing: With a Stanford degree and getting drafted at Number 1 or 2 Appel will never be hungry, he’ll be stinking rich either way.

    So I just hope he enjoys losing season after losing season with either the Astros or the Cubs, feeling blessed nonetheless while counting his money, although of course for him it’s not all about the money which is why he chose Boras as his advisor.

    As for our draft I’m not locked into a specific name, if we draft either two out of Stanek, McGuire, Renfroe, Meadows, Frazier, Peterson, Ball, Crawford, Ciuffo, Judge and Wilson I’ll be happy because our farm system will be even better than it is now.

    Let’s just stay away from guys like Kohl Stewart whose heart is probably more into playing QB at Texas A&M than it is in playing baseball, so drafting him and signing him might be another Mark Appel revisited story, so no thanks!

  11. Drafts never go quite the way you think they should so hopefully someone falls into their lap that is more signable than Appel was last year. I really thought the Bucs were holding on the cards on that one. Shame. His gamble worked. I wish him a mediocre career at best and if that makes me a bad person, so be it.

    • I don’t really like the pick of McGuire. Seems like one of Frazier or Meadows will still be available and (based on my understanding) they have much better offensive upside.

      It’s just one report but a 30/50 hit grade at baseball prospect nation is not exiting

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