With the draft now less than a month away and some players have already seen their season end(some due to injury), we are starting to get a good sense of who will be around when the Pirates make their first two picks. The first pick is at #19, but they have a second pick just 13 spots later and there have been plenty of top players that have seen their stock drop. What that means is the Pirates might get a player that just a couple months ago was considered to be a top 20 pick. You’d probably rather take a late rising player in the draft, but if a couple bad games caused someone to fall, would you really pass on them, or trust what you saw at an earlier date? It won’t be long before we have our answer.
The last few days have been busy. Keith Law posted his top 100 draft prospects list. To clear things up for some people who are quick to dismiss prospect lists. Law is the name on it, but he has help from other people that write for ESPN Insider and they all talk to scouts, so while it seems like he threw a top 100 list together on his own, it is definitely a group effort. With Baseball America, they have the same thing, although they list all the contributors to the article and they are all out scouting players and talking to the scouts. No one will ever get the rankings “correct”, but there has been a lot of work going into these lists and at the same time, they are already looking at players for next year. Here are the three recent articles of note:
Baseball America’s First Mock Draft
One of the interesting differences between the two top 100 lists above, is the placement of Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer. BA had him at #7, while Law had him 44th overall. Fulmer has been rated closer to BA’s ranking all year and he may have cemented at top ten spot with his performance on Thursday night against Florida. If Law’s list gave you some hope he will fall to the Pirates, he quickly dashed that with nine shutout innings against a strong team. Reports from the game had him hitting 95 MPH in the ninth inning, on a night he threw 124 pitches. He gave up six hits, two walks and struck out 11 batters.
In that same game, Florida shortstop Richie Martin got a chance to impress scouts against one of the top pitchers in the country. There were strong reports about his defense, but he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout against Fulmer. On Friday, he went 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored. Martin is usually ranked around the Pirates second pick. His bat has been questioned by some and the poor showing so far this weekend won’t help.
There was another interesting match-up in Louisville, as Florida State came to visit this weekend. Louisville starter Kyle Funkhouser is a likely top ten pick this year. We were covering his starts early in the year because he was ranked in the 15-25 range, but he kept dominating and he hasn’t dropped at all since late March. On the other side, outfielder D.J. Stewart is one of the top college hitters and is usually ranked right around the second pick of the Pirates. He has even gone to them in a mock draft within the last month.
On Friday, Funkhouser didn’t look like a sure top ten pick. He lasted five innings, allowing six runs(five earned) on six hits and five walks. He had six strikeouts. Stewart went 2-for-4 with a double, two walks, two runs scored, and he drove in two runs. Against Funkhouser, he went 0-for-2 with a walk. Louisville got a double and a homer from third baseman Zach Lucas, who was the 29th round pick of the Pirates last year. He decided to return to school for his senior year to try to win a National title.
Jon Harris from Missouri State has really climbed up the draft charts recently. At the beginning of the year, he made our “others to watch” list for college pitchers, meaning some people had him top 50, some didn’t. Depending on who you ask now, he has gone as high as #10 in rankings and as low as #25, so he is someone that could be possible for the Pirates. On Friday against Southern Illinois, he threw 7.2 shutout innings and impressed those on hand with his low-to-mid 90’s fastball. He gave up just two hits, walked none and had ten strikeouts and ten ground outs.
**Jonathan Mayo has an article on prep catcher Chris Betts, who he thinks will be the first catcher off the board. Betts has been ranked in the 15-25 area all season and Mayo is hearing that he could go as high as tenth overall. It should be noted that other people have Georgia prep catcher Tyler Stephenson shooting up the draft boards and there are rumors that he could go top ten as well.
The Pirates are stocked at catcher, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t draft one early if they think that either of these players is athletic enough that they could move off catcher. With Betts, some scouts believe he won’t stick behind the plate, but he has the bat to play first base, where he would likely end up due to below average speed.
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.
As someone who is a fan of the Louisville baseball team, I wouldn’t mind covering Funkhouser’s ascent through the Pirates’ system, but I seriously doubt his performance on Friday will affect his status enough to allow him to drop to the Pirates. He averages right around 7th overall in rankings/mock drafts now and there are teams rumored to be interested, so that would be a big drop based on one game.