Earlier this week, we took a look at Keith Law’s new top 100 draft prospect list and mentioned that he has some players far off their usual rankings from other top sources. Baseball America posted their top 100 list today and they seem to be more in line with everyone else. In some instances, there are huge differences from Law’s list.
We will start with the players that fall in the spots where the Pirates make their early selections. For #19, BA has HS shortstop Cornelius Randolph. He has been mentioned numerous times around this area, usually just a little lower, but before the Pirates’ second pick at 32nd overall. Law doesn’t agree with most and has him #37. It likely depends on whether Randolph is a legit shortstop or not. Most don’t believe he is and he will end up as an above average third baseman, with a solid approach at the plate.
Law had Duke’s Mike Matuella in that spot. He is injured and out for the year due to Tommy John surgery, so it’s tough to gauge where he could end up in the draft, but these are just rankings(not a mock draft) and BA feels that Matuella has slipped down to 22nd overall. As I mentioned in the last article, Matuella has a ton of upside and multiple injuries in his recent past, so he is one of the biggest examples of risk/reward in this draft class.
In the 32nd spot, BA has prep pitcher Dakota Chalmers, who I noted that Law seemed down on by placing him 42nd. Chalmers has been rated higher than 32nd in the past, so it looks like he has slipped just a little recently. Law had HS shortstop Kyler Murray at #32, but he opted out of the draft yesterday, so that moved HS first baseman Kep Brown up to the 32nd slot. You could say that BA strongly disagrees with that ranking, as they have him 55 spots lower.
The huge differences are with the players we have mentioned often and were big parts of the article from earlier in the week. I’ve seen Florida shortstop Richie Martin and Florida State outfielder D.J. Stewart ranked as late first round picks all year, always in the 20-40 range. So it was surprising to see Law place Stewart 69th and Martin 74th. The BA rankings are more in line with everyone else, with Stewart 28th and Martin immediately following him at #29 overall.
The interesting part about those two places on BA’s list is they are right after #27 Kevin Newman, who Law has all the way up at second overall. It’s no secret that Law has liked the Arizona shortstop since early in the season, but everyone else seems hesitant to join the bandwagon. So you can see there are some huge differences right in this group of college players.
On the pitching side, I commented yesterday on Carson Fulmer being ranked #44 despite usually being taken in mock drafts before the Pirates make their first selection. BA has him all the way up at #7, which is about as high as I’ve seen him.
Some others of note on BA’s list:
Brady Aiken ranks #21(Law had him #26), which could mean he is available when the Pirates pick. Do they take him and try to make room in their budget for his bonus, or will he accept a much lesser figure than the $5M he turned down last year? Scouts are likely trying to gauge his interest and what it takes to get a deal done.
Phil Bickford is #25 and another I mentioned yesterday at being low(#39) compared to everyone else. Bickford has gone to the Pirates in multiple mock drafts and I could see him being an option for their first pick.
The top two prep lefties from the preseason have fallen for everyone, with Beau Burrows ranked 31st and Justin Hooper 38th. Law had them even lower, but they were both top ten early on for many people.
BA has Jacob Nix ranked #36. He has definitely moved up and he’s linked to Brady Aiken, as the Astros couldn’t sign Nix once Aiken decided he wouldn’t sign. The cap room from Aiken was supposed to go towards the bonus for Nix. They also both attended IMG Academy this year so they could be draft eligible again. It obviously worked out for Nix, but Aiken lasted only 13 pitches before he needed Tommy John surgery.
Cody Ponce, who has gone to the Pirates in multiple mock drafts and is usually ranked in the 18-25 range, is down at #35 for BA. The big righty from Cal Poly Pomona would be a risky pick at #19, because he is a little raw for a college pitcher, but he might be very interesting for that #32 spot. Law has him #34, so there is a feeling he could be available with the second pick.
Neither BA nor Law seem to be as high on Andrew Benintendi as others have been recently. I’ve seen the Arkansas outfielder in the top 20 a couple times, but BA has him #42 and Law has him #38, which likely means there is a split among scouts. Benintendi is a small outfielder that has a nice power/speed combo, to go along with the ability to hit for average.
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.
Love you, John, and I’ve very much been enjoying this draft coverage, but I still completely disagree with the logic here…the *assumption* is that these differing rankings mean huge differences in opinion on a given player.
I’d say it’s more than likely that what we’re seeing is more a function of there simply not being that much of a difference in talent outside of the top picks. We know historically that the value of draft picks depreciates exponentially to the point where there’s simply not a whole lot of difference after #20 or so, and at least in my mind, it stands to reason that each individual draft should follow suit; especially in a year unanimously said to be down on premium talent.
in 2015 draft, at least for the first two picks, I’d like to see the team go for positional players with high ceilings – so, probably HS players. The team has a ton of prospects at the upper levels, so there isn’t a great need for the lower ceiling college player who could advance quickly through the system.
Agreed, but the same time, the organization is still light on infielders and there seems to be an inordinate number of quality college guys that can man up-the-middle positions. I think it would a mistake not to strike a balance between floor and ceiling if one of those guys are still around.
If the Pirates take Aiken and he turns them down, what happens? Do they have any leverage with Aiken? Does he go to an independent league? College?
He can go anywhere really, Juco, back to the IMG Academy or a different one, to a four-year school, Independent ball. He has a ton of options and he’s still 19
So he has plenty of leverage?
Sure, but the team picking him also gets a pick next year if they don’t sign him, so no one will go out of their way to make sure they get an injured player, who already missed a year of development time. Scouts will gauge his willingness to sign and what it will take before selecting him. If he says $5M and he won’t budge, he might not even get drafted because only a handful of teams can fit that into their draft bonus cap space.
I think it’s as risky for him to not accept a reasonable offer. He could turn down. $3.5 or $4M and never get healthy and miss out completely (low likelihood) or he could sit out a year and struggle next year prior to the draft and drop further. If he receives a reasonable, over-slot, offer he’d be as at risk to turn it down, delay his development further, and risk dropoint further in the future.