Every Thursday from now until the amateur draft on June 5th, we will preview four players that could be options for the Pittsburgh Pirates with their first round pick. The Pirates select 24th overall, so we will concentrate on players in that range. It’s been a busy start to this week, with updated rankings from MLB.com, a couple new mock drafts, and on Tuesday we presented highlight videos of the four players listed below. The players chosen here are mentioned often in the Pirates range lately and for now, we will go with one prep pitcher and hitter and one college pitcher and hitter, for each preview. There are many more pitching options in the first round this year so the later previews will likely be pitching heavy.
Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford– Newcomb has a workhorse build at 6’5″, 240 pounds and he throws from the left side with good velocity, hitting 94-95 MPH often and he has touched a tick higher.He has a decent slider, and he throws a curve and change-up that both rate as average. Pitching at a smaller college, he doesn’t face a real strong schedule, but the stats are still very impressive. Newcomb has a 1.12 ERA, with a .158 BAA and 69 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. He has given up four doubles and no triples or homers. His only downside seems to be 29 walks, which is right about where he was last year, so that could keep him from going too high in the first round. He has maintained his draft range all season, occasionally going as high as #14, but he is usually in the 20-25 range.
Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State – Gillaspie wasn’t rated this high early on, but within the last month he has been in the 24-30 range. He has good size at 6’4″, 238 pounds and he is a switch-hitter. He has good bat speed and above average power. Gillaspie isn’t fast, which isn’t surprising with his size, but defensively he should be at least average. He played Cape Cod ball last Summer and led the league in homers. This year, he has a .395/.498/.659 slash line in 44 games, with 34 walks, ten homers and 12 doubles. The walk rate is a little lower than last season, but his slugging percentage is 142 points higher. He could see a late jump if he keeps hitting well because this class is weak on college hitters at the top.
Spencer Adams, RHP, White County (GA) – At 6’5″, 180 pounds, Adams is a highly projectable pitcher, the type the Pirates like to pick. Whether they will use a first round pick on one is a question we may find out the answer to this year, because the first round is loaded with young pitching. Adams is a late riser in the draft and has recently been rated 27th by Baseball America and 28th by MLB.com. The interesting thing about Adams and Newcomb is that they have nearly the same arsenal and qualities. Neither has great control. They both throw their fastball in the same range with Adams topping out at 95 MPH now. They each have a slider that is above average and average curve/change-up offerings. The obvious differences that favor Newcomb are the size and being lefty, while Adams is three years younger, so he could fly past Newcomb with experience.
Braxton Davidson, 1B/OF, T.C. Roberson (NC) – Davidson is a potential lefty power bat at first base that would fit well in the Pirates system. He plays some outfield and also pitches, so his arm would be wasted at first base, but the bat obviously plays well there. He would be an average corner outfielder due to limited range/speed. Davidson has great bat speed and already hits for power. He also has an excellent approach at the plate, showing patience and a good understanding of the strike zone. Davidson has been in the Pirates range all season and he only has a handful of games left, so there is a good chance he is around when the Pirates make their first round pick.
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.
This draft class has some crazy talent. To give people an idea, there are guys projected to go in the 2nd round (40-60 range) who are being said could go in the top 20 in other draft years. The Pirates are going to have their fair pick of the litter even if they aren’t getting the top picks they are used to. A few other guys who will probably be in the Pirates range on draft day: RHP Scott Blewett, 3B Michael Chavis, RHP Erick Fedde, RHP Sean Reid-Foley, C Kyle Schwarber, and SS Jacob Gatewood. Any of those players would be fine by me plus the ones John wrote about above. Incredible draft class
Michael Chavis is also a tough player to pass on, power and the ability to play the hot corner would be a big plus for the Pirate organization.
Chavis will likely be mentioned next unless someone else comes up. Forrest Wall and Michael Gettys are the other two prep position players that get the most mention around the Pirates. That could change as we get closer, but for right now, expect those three in the upcoming weeks
Your wrote about pitcherd and first base do you get the feeling that’s where the pirates are looking. Pitching obviously is always
Well the pitchers were just because I wanted to do one prep bat/pitcher, one college bat/pitcher each time. The two position players just happen to be the ones that get the most mention in the Pirates range. Next week I’ll check any updates and pick the two position players (prep/college) that end up closest to Pirates
With the departure of Alvarez in a year or two, it would seem that the Pirates might want to go the power route for a corner infielder, however it would be tough to pass up Newcomb.
John, do you think there will be any power around in the 2nd round?