Draft Prospect Watch: Nathan Kirby Injured in His Start, Big Game From Kyle Tucker

Today we take a look at some links and notes from Thursday and Friday. The draft isn’t that far away now, with the college season more than halfway over, we are starting to get a better sense of who will be available in the Pirates’ range. On Thursday morning, we looked at the lack of college bats that seem to fit well when the Pirates make their first two selections. You can find the draft slot values for each pick here, 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.

Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer threw seven shutout innings on Thursday against South Carolina, giving up three hits and one walk, while striking out nine batters. In ten starts, he has a 1.69 ERA, a .185 BAA and 90 strikeouts in 64 innings. Hudson Belinsky from Baseball America has a report and video from this outing.

Walker Buehler went on Friday night for Vanderbilt. Hudson Belinsky reported that Buehler was sitting 94-96, touching 97 MPH early in his outing. Buehler took the loss against South Carolina, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks in 6.1 innings. He had six strikeouts and threw 69 of his 107 pitches for strikes.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson drew two walks and drove in two runs on Thursday. On Friday, he went 2-for-4 with two singles. He will be a top ten pick this June.

Phil Bickford continued to put up impressive stats for Southern Nevada on Friday. He went six shutout innings, allowing four hits, no walks and he struck out 12 batters. In 12 starts this year, he has allowed 15 walks, while striking out 117 batters in 62 innings. Bickford has been mentioned numerous times recently as a possibility for the Pirates, going in the 19-22 range in mock drafts.

Virginia’s Nathan Kirby didn’t last long on Friday against Miami, but it wasn’t due to poor pitching. He was pulled after three innings and 38 pitches and he didn’t allow a run. The team announced after the game that he left with a strained lat muscle, which is good news considering so many pitchers have had arm injuries this season. Outfielder Joe McCarthy returned from back surgery on Wednesday. He was ranked 50th by MLB in their preseason poll, but he has been out of action since January. He went 3-for-4 on Friday, scoring two runs in Virginia’s 5-4 win. He’s one to watch, with a good finish and if his back looks to be completely healed, he could move up draft boards.

Jeff Dahn from Perfect Game has an article on Arizona’s double play combo of shortstop Kevin Newman and second baseman Scott Kingery. Both should be first round picks and Newman could go very high according to some people.

Prep outfielder Kyle Tucker out of Florida, is a name that has been mentioned often in the Pirates’ range. He came into Friday with a .400 batting average, hitting six doubles and six homers. On Friday, he led off his team’s game with a home run, then hit another one later, finishing with four hits and a walk.

Also out of Florida, pitcher Juan Hillman, who faced shortstop Brendan Rodgers on Thursday. We haven’t mentioned Rodgers much because he is considered by many to be the top pick in this draft, so there was no chance he would fall to the Pirates, especially after a couple big games to start the season. Hillman however is a player the Pirates could have a chance to pick. In his first 31 innings coming into Thursday, he had 38 strikeouts and a 1.81 ERA. Hillman had eight strikeouts in four innings on Thursday, one against Rodgers, who he also walked.

Finally, a video to watch courtesy of Prospect Junkies. Prep pitcher Chandler Day was ranked in the top 50 by most sources coming into the season. According to Burke Granger, he was sitting 89-91, touching 93 MPH in this outing from Tuesday. It’s a video worth checking out because he could receive strong consideration from the Pirates.

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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