Some mid-week draft news and it’s not good for East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman, who will now have Tommy John Surgery. He missed his last two starts with what was called “mild arm soreness”. It turns out that his junior season is now over and should he return to college, he would miss most of next season as well. Hoffman was rated around 5/6 for most people before the injury, so it should be very interesting to see how far he drops and whether he decides to sign with whatever team takes him. Some people are saying he could still be a first round pick, just not in the top ten.
One bit of good news is the return of Brandon Finnegan from TCU. He was pulled from his start two weekends ago in the third inning, then missed last week’s start. His injury was described as mild shoulder soreness, but Finnegan has been given a clean bill of health and will pitch on Friday.
The draft class took another hit when prep righty Jacob Bukauskas told scouts that he intends to fulfill his college commitment and asked not to be drafted. Bukauskas has been rated as a possible back-end first round pick, not far from where the Pirates make their selection. Baseball America has the full story.
Baseball America has an article for subscribers on Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State. The strong-hitting catcher is a projected mid-first rounder, who will likely be gone before the Pirates pick.
On MLB.com, Jonathan Mayo has an article up on Trea Turner, who is turning around his draft stock, which was falling down the first round. Turner was ranked top five by many early in the year, but subpar performances early on had his stock down to mid-first round. He is now moving back up towards the top ten. Mayo also has something on Cobi Johnson, a prep righty that hasn’t lived up to the hype until recently. You can read more on him in our pre-season preview.
Before getting into some recaps from early in the week, check out our article from Friday that has links to all the important draft articles, including mock drafts, new rankings, videos, thoughts on who the Pirates could take and answers from Neal Huntington on how the Pirates are attacking this draft, picking further down than they normally have in the past.
Tuesday In College Ball
On Tuesday, Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto went 2-for-6 with two doubles and two strikeouts in his team’s 4-3 win in 12 innings over Oregon. Conforto is hitting .407/.552/.627 in 43 games this year. He has been ranked in the 15-25 range all season and could be an option for the Pirates.
Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino went 1-for-4 with a double, walk and run scored in his team’s 8-2 win over Santa Clara on Tuesday. Blandino is someone who was ranked in the Pirates range early, but could be just outside the first round now, which means they won’t likely have a shot at him in the second round.
Cal State Fullerton has two players that are in the same draft situation as Blandino, not good enough for the 24th pick, but they might not be around when the Pirates make the 65th overall selection in the draft. We mentioned third baseman Matt Chapman a lot early on until he dropped to the 40-50 area. His teammate J.D. Davis isn’t far behind him, with MLB.com even putting Davis ahead of Chapman now. On Tuesday, Chapman went 1-for-3 with a walk and a solo homer that accounted for the only run in a 1-0 win over UCLA. Davis was 1-for-5 with a single. Both would be interesting choices for the Pirates if they drop enough.
San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer went 2-for-4 with a walk and RBI on Tuesday against San Jose State. Zimmer is still the top ranked college bat for many, though he may not go top ten as the draft is top heavy with pitching.
UC Irvine third baseman Taylor Sparks went 1-for-4 with two walks and two runs scored on Tuesday. It was actually a fairly quiet game for him considering his team won 16-11 over San Diego. Sparks was recently ranked 34th overall by MLB.com. His draft stock rebounded in early April when he started showing plate patience that was totally lacking from his game during his first two seasons of college ball.
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.