Draft Prospect Watch: Another Mock Draft Picks Toolsy Outfielder For Pirates

Today we take a look at some news from the weekend and go over a new mock draft. On Thursday, we posted the draft slot values for each pick, covering all 11 picks the Pirates have in the first ten rounds. After the tenth round, teams have $100,000 to spend on each player and anything over that counts against their bonus pool. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. The Pirates will have the 11th highest draft bonus pool.

Dan Kirby from Through The Fence Baseball posted his second attempt at a mock draft. As I mentioned with Keith Law’s new rankings yesterday, and a mock draft from Scout.com earlier in the week, the draft is too far away to get a good feel for who teams might pick, but mock drafts give you a sense of the type of player that will be available with that pick. Kirby only went up to pick #26, so for now, we look at who he has at #19 for the Pirates pick, and the next couple players he has going off the board after that spot.

For the Pirates, Kirby has them taking Nick Plummer, a prep outfielder out of Missouri. He actually went to the Pirates in an earlier mock draft, so this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about him. He was profiled in our prep hitters draft preview back in February. Plummer has the bat to hit for both average and power, plus he has real good speed. He doesn’t have the best defense, so he is probably a future corner outfielder and he doesn’t have a good arm.

One problem I see with this pick for the Pirates is their approach of looking for players that are young for the draft class. Cole Tucker, Jordan Lumpow and Taylor Gushue all fit that mold and it was something they talked about with each of them. Plummer turns 19 in July, which makes him old for this draft class. I’m not sure if that would keep them from picking him, but it’s something to note, along with the fact he is a corner outfielder, which is a position of strength in the system. You never draft for need, but a loaded position might get you to look elsewhere for a similar value player.

The next two players off the board are names you should know by now because they would both be solid picks at the #19 spot, and that’s about where most people have them in their rankings. Prep pitcher Mike Nikorak, who is from Pennsylvania, and Cal Poly Pomona starter Cody Ponce have both gone to the Pirates in early mock drafts. I think both of these players would be a more likely pick than Plummer. They are both right-handed pitchers with size and velocity and we know the Pirates like tall righties.

Ponce has the body of a workhorse starter, but he hasn’t shown yet that he can handle the workload. Nikorak can hit 98 MPH, and being three years younger than Ponce, he still has a lot of upside and room to fill out. In most cases you would say the college pitcher is the safer pick, but there is a real chance that Ponce ends up as a reliever. I like the arm and size, I would just take Nikorak if I had to choose between them. More on all three players below.

Weekend Action From Around College

Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser is probably going to be off the board by the time the Pirates make their first pick and he showed why on Friday against Duke. In seven shutout innings, he allowed four hits, one walk and struck out eight batters. According to multiple sources at the game, he was hitting 97 MPH consistently and he was throwing quality strikes down in the zone. He has a 1.96 ERA and .198 BAA, with 62 strikeouts in 59.2 innings this year.

In Thursday’s draft article, we talked about the recent hot-hitting from Boston College outfielder Chris Shaw, who hit three home runs last Sunday. He went 1-for-3 on Friday in a 15-6 loss to Clemson and left the game early like most of the other starters. Boston College actually scored all six of their runs after they put in all the reserves. Unlike the other starters, Shaw left with a hand injury and missed Saturday’s game. He is also doubtful for Sunday as he is due to get it checked out by a hand specialist on Monday.

Cody Ponce started on Saturday against Cal State East Bay and allowed three runs over six innings. He gave up nine hits, but didn’t walk anyone and picked up eight strikeouts. Ponce has a 1.71 ERA in 26.1 innings this year, with four walks, 32 strikeouts and a .235 BAA.

We mentioned up top that Mike Nikorak can hit 98 MPH and that is a very recent high for him. In fact, he reached that number on Wednesday for the first time. He had his game shortened to just one inning by rain, but scouts had him sitting 93-97 MPH according to multiple sources. His season just began last week and he went two innings in his debut, which was shortened due to a strict pitch count.

Nick Plummer had some good games this week, hitting a homer on Tuesday and collecting four hits on Wednesday. He had a triple, two doubles and stole three bases.

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.

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R Edwards

I like what i hear about that Nikorak kid….hitting 98 and still just in HS! Sounds like he could become a stud starter…….is he likely to be there at #19 ?

As for Shaw from BC, is he one of those power hitters who strikes out a lot and doesn’t offer much in the way of any other value? Or is he more than that?

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