With just 11 days until the MLB amateur draft begins, we take a look at some college players that are still in action and some news from a few prep players. Most college teams were playing their conference tournament this week, so that means the end of the season for some of them. Going off recent mock drafts and rankings, we take a look at the players mentioned in and around the 24th spot, where the Pittsburgh Pirates make their first round selection. Two players that have been mentioned as a possible pick for the Pirates, had some big games at the plate this week.
On Saturday, prep pitcher Scott Blewett made his return to the mound, pitching for the first time since May 2nd. He missed time with what was described as shoulder soreness, but after throwing a bullpen last weekend and feeling fine afterwards, Blewett made the Saturday start. He threw four shutout innings, allowing two hits, two walks and he hit a batter. Blewett had four strikeouts. His team lost the game 2-1, ending their season. On the year, he got in 30 innings and allowed just one earned run, while picking up 54 strikeouts. Early in the season, he was mentioned as a possible Pirates pick, but the limited time and minor injury seems to have hurt his draft stock, dropping him to the second round.
Jim Callis released his first mock draft on Thursday and had the Pittsburgh Pirates taking Monte Harrison with their first round pick. The toolsy outfielder was profiled here with a scouting report and video. Harrison went 3-for-3 with a double, triple and walk in his last game on Wednesday. On Monday, he had a home run and RBI double in his team’s 8-4 victory.
Baseball America posted their third mock draft and they went with Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber. He was also their choice in the first mock draft, but not the second when they chose Monte Harrison. Schwarber went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored on Saturday against Michigan State. His teammate Sam Travis, a first baseman that is a likely second round pick, went 1-for-4 with his 16th double of the season.
Kylie McDaniel from Scout.com posted his rankings and mock draft and he had the Pirates taking Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino, who went 1-for-4 with a double and walk on Friday. Going into Sunday’s doubleheader, Blandino had a .298/.389/.524 slash line in 51 games, with 13 doubles and ten homers. He homered and had two sacrifice flies in Sunday’s opening game, then reached base all four times he batted in game two, collecting two singles and two walks.
Virginia, with their three possible first round picks, defeated North Carolina on Friday by a 3-2 score. Outfielder Derek Fisher went 1-for-4 with an RBI. First baseman Mike Papi was 1-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts. Nick Howard started the game at DH and went 0-for-5, but he is going to be drafted as a reliever and he recorded the final four outs for the save. He has a 2.22 ERA, with 18 saves and 50 strikeouts in 28.1 innings.
On Saturday, Virginia took on Luke Weaver and Florida State. Weaver is someone that has been in the Pirates first round range all season. His team won on Saturday, but it wasn’t his best outing. He went six innings, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks, with six strikeouts. Fisher had a single, while Papi drew a walk, their only offensive output in the game. Howard gave up one run on a hit and two walks, but did not factor in the decision.
One name to remember for the second round is prep RHP Cam Varga, who has put up impressive numbers this season. He has a fastball that reaches mid-90’s and a plus curve, allowing him to rack up 127 strikeouts in 51 innings, while allowing just one earned run. Varga’s downside is that he is one of the older prep players in the country, turning 20 in a few months. He also has a below average change-up that he rarely uses. Those two things keep his rankings down, with Baseball America recently putting him in the 59th spot. The Pirates make their second draft selection with the 65th pick, so there could be a match there.
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.