Draft Prospect Watch: New Rankings From Keith Law

Today we have big games from two of the top college pitchers, plus some thoughts on new draft rankings from Keith Law. 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.

The biggest game this weekend(so far) was put in by Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer on Thursday, when he threw a complete game shutout. He gave up just two hits and did not walk a batter, while racking up 14 strikeouts. There were some impressive scouting reports coming from the game, including this one in a tweet from Kendall Rogers:

Staying with both Vanderbilt and Kendall Rogers, he released his updated rankings of college players(subscription required) in this draft and he had Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson ranked 2nd overall behind UC Santa Barbara starting pitcher Dillon Tate. I was able to see Swanson play a couple times last month, and while I can’t say that he is the second best college player since I haven’t seen everyone else play, I can say that he looked like a legit big league shortstop prospect, both in the field and at the plate. As we get closer to the draft(if nothing drastic happens), then you’ll be hearing less and less of both Swanson and Tate, as they seem to have secured a spot among the top five draft picks. Just to wrap things up for today though, Swanson hit his fourth triple and sixth homer in Fulmer’s victory on Thursday.

On Friday, Walker Buehler made his start for Vanderbilt and he pitched outstanding, nearly matching Fulmer. He threw eight innings, allowing one run on five hits and one walk, while striking out a career-high 13 batters. Buehler threw 113 pitches on the night, 70 for strikes. Rogers had Buehler ranked sixth among all college players in this draft.

New Rankings From Keith Law

Keith Law also has some new rankings, posting his current top 50 prospects for the 2015 draft(subscription required). Law has some interesting new thoughts on the draft, including a few players in his top 50 that haven’t been mentioned here yet. While this isn’t a mock draft, we can take a look at the players he has in the 19th and 32nd spot to get an idea of what the Pirates could be looking at with their pick. We did that on Monday with a mock draft from Scout.com, so you can compare the two lists to get an even better idea.

Law has Virginia pitcher Nathan Kirby in the 19th spot. There was some talk last year around this time that Kirby could be the first overall pick, so this would definitely be an intriguing arm where the Pirates are picking. Going into his Friday night start, Kirby had a 1.94 ERA in eight starts, with 69 strikeouts, 23 walks and a .232 BAA in 51 innings. He faced Georgia Tech this week and wasn’t sharp, allowing four runs on five hits and six walks in 5.1 innings. He had four strikeouts and threw 54 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

In the 32nd spot, Law has Mitchell Hansen, a prep outfielder from Texas. This would be an interesting pick at this spot because Hansen has a commitment to Stanford, so that will be tough to get him to give up. He is 6’4″ and has above-average power from the left side. Law also says that he has plus speed, strong defense and a very good arm. This might not be a player the Pirates take, since Hansen is considered very raw and he could be a pricey pick, but you get a good idea of what kind of talent you can get with the 32nd pick.

Law has some pick that are very different than others, including Carson Fulmer, who he ranked 43rd. He probably put the list together before Fulmer’s great start on Thursday night, so he might have him a few spots higher now. Fulmer has consistently been ranked in the top 30 and I wouldn’t expect him to last until the 43rd pick. Law also has Phil Bickford ranked 34th, which is also lower than most by about 10-15 spot. He would be a tough player to pass up with the 32nd pick if he was available when the Pirates make their second pick. You can see more on Bickford in that Scout article linked above, which has him ranked 21st.

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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