Yesterday was a busy day for draft news. If you missed the article, it had links to mock drafts from both Baseball America and Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs. There was also a new top 200 prospect list from MLB Pipeline and a breakdown of talent in the draft class, listing strengths and weaknesses, where players are from and who has moved up the charts recently. That article can be found here.

Jonathan Mayo posted his second mock draft late last night and he has the Pittsburgh Pirates taking two pitchers with their first two picks, both names we have heard before. With the 19th overall pick, he has them going for Pennsylvania prep right-hander Mike Nikorak, who has probably been mentioned as a possibility for the Pirates as much as anyone. He was picked for the team multiple times early on, then moved up the draft charts after his season started in April, but some control issues and limited work has dropped him for most people. Mayo repeats something others have said, and that is Nikorak could be a fit for the Giants one pick higher as well. Nikorak throws hard, hitting 97 MPH. He has a solid 6’5″ frame and coming from a cold weather state, there is a lot of projection left.

With the Pirates second pick, he thinks they could go with lefty Nathan Kirby, a starter from Virginia. Kirby has been out with a lat strain and while his season stats looked good, scouts weren’t as impressed with his stuff like they were last year when some were calling him a possible #1 overall pick. Instead of ace potential, Kirby is now thought of as a solid, mid-rotation pitcher that could move quickly through the system. Not long ago, he was mentioned as a possibility for the Pirates’ first pick, but there have been a lot of players climbing the charts recently, while he has been sidelined.

College Regionals

The NCAA Regionals started on Friday and some players of note were in action. Here is a quick rundown of the big names.

Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi had a big game against Oral Roberts, going 3-for-4 with his 13th double. He came out of nowhere during this season and shot past the Pirates’ range up to the top ten. A game like this will keep him up there.

Virginia outfielder Joe McCarthy has been linked to the Pirates, so he could be a name you hear with their second pick. After a back injury caused him to miss most of the season, he hasn’t played well in his return, but some rust is to be expected. He went 2-for-4 with a double against USC. He seems like a player that isn’t good enough to be the 32nd pick, but probably won’t be around when the Pirates pick 62nd overall in the second round.

Florida State outfielder D.J. Stewart had three walks and an RBI. He is a name that has been mentioned around the #32 pick often. Recent scouting reports were not good, but a strong season will keep him around this range.

Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser pitched seven solid innings against Morehead State. He gave up two runs and struck out six batters, throwing 112 pitches. He has recently seen a 2-3 MPH dip in his velocity and it’s said some scouts have been scared off by him, mostly because they can’t get medical info. His adviser is Scott Boras, so that isn’t surprising. He was a possible top ten pick recently, but could end up near the back of the first round now if things don’t change.

Florida shortstop Richie Martin hasn’t done himself any favors recently, with his bat looking average at best during big games. His team put up 19 runs last night against Florida A&M, but he had just a single and scored three runs. You could give him a slight break, because he took a beating in the game, getting hit three times by pitches in six plate appearances. Martin needs to step up on offense on the big stage. He’s been mentioned in the 30-40 range recently for mock drafts and rankings.

Vanderbilt starter Carson Fulmer had 11 strikeouts and allowed one run over seven innings against Lipscomb. He will likely be off the board before the Pirates pick and an outing like this in a big spot can only help.

UCLA starter James Kaprielian is another name that has been linked to the Pirates recently. He faced CSU Bakersfield on Friday and went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk, with six strikeouts.

**One last bit of news and it was a bit of bad news for Indiana prep pitcher Bryan Hoeing, who found out he needs Tommy John surgery. He was playing basketball over the winter and tore his ACL, which many thought would end his baseball season as well due to the normal recovery time. Hoeing worked his way back and was pitching by late April to the surprise of many scouts. His last start two weeks ago was heavily scouted and he left many impressed, but it didn’t go well, as his tore his UCL. It’s a tough break for a talented pitcher, who worked hard to get back in time to make a name in this draft. He still could be picked fairly high, but multiple major setbacks with raise questions of his health and reliability.

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  1. With what the Pirates have proven they can do finding pitching in many different area’s of the baseball world like off the scrap heap and later in the draft ( Like Glasnow,and Kingham) and reclamation projects like (Burnett,Liriano,Volquez, and MANY,many more) I’d like to see them take the top bat on the board. There is so much pitching these days and so it’s so hard to find bats. I’d like to see them get some infield depth into the system, but if the are going pitching a power lefty or Nikorak would be my preference. Been watching all the video I can on this guy and he looks so smooth and has such a strong mound presence . I see a potential future ace

  2. John, three questions I would like to get your opinion on. (1) if funkhouser is there, and you expect that he needs TJ and that’s why he’s lost velocity, do you take him? (2) I would really like to see us get some high-end college talent, as typically they advance through the system faster and we have a lot of young depth already, with that in mind who would you take at 19 and 32? (3) the pirates (Greg Smith) have previously said this is a “big man’s” game…does this hurt them in their evaluations (specifically they overlooked JayHay for years and I wonder how they would evaluate Sonny Gray)?

  3. What don’t scouts like about Stewart? I would think the eye and power would be enough for scouts to love him.

    And poor, poor Bryan Hoeing. That is some rotten luck.

    • I saw multiple people mention that he was having trouble with contact, one saying he was being blown away by a guy throwing 91 MPH, so it sounds like bat speed is an issue. It was a couple weeks ago, something that has recently been questioned.

      • Ah, if bat speed is a real concern, it might be best to stay away from him. You can’t just make adjustments to fix that.

  4. I just saw a list of the Top 30 International players eligible to be signed this July – the Pirates were not listed as team involved with any of them. If true, how can a team not pursue at least a couple of these guys? Needless to say, the Reds were involved with 3-4, the Cubs with several, etc.

    • Pirates have rarely been mentioned for top 20-30 international players. They go more for quantity and hidden gems. I like the idea with the small bonus pools available. I think it’s a lot better to sign 20 kids for $100k each as opposed to one for $2M

      • But teams like the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, etc are not just signing one for $2 million, but several of these guys. They are bound to hit on a couple of them, when they are signing 4-5 out of the top 30 each year. I think the Pirates need to be more aggressive in this area…at least every other year…

        • Some people like it, but I don’t like their approach. You’re totally giving up on two years worth of players, judging kids when they are 14-15 that none of them are going to be worth signing unless they aren’t real good. Plus you’re paying double for the kids you’re getting this year when they are 16. Not only is it tough to tell how a 16 year old will develop, you also to have to figure out how they will handle the move to the U.S. and handle a lot of money at a very young age. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from players that got less than $200,000, imagine 10x that.

            • About 5-6 teams do next year, but Cubs were already in it due to their signings in 2013

              • Well they are listed as the favorite to sign 4 to 5 of this year’s top 30….so what penalty are they paying??

                  • John – I am sure the Cubs could care less about the monetary fine. They have deep pockets.

                    In regards to their inability to sign any big players, which signing period are you referring to – the one about the end or the one that starts in early July? Because they are in on several of the top 30 and the early favorite to get a few them. I wish the Pirates were that aggressive in the international signing period…instead of getting first rounders, we’re hoping to hit it big with third and fourth rounders (so to speak), and the odds of success decreases the further down the list of the top prospects you go.

                    • This current signing period they are handcuffed. I don’t think the fines bothered them either, but you asked what the penalties were and that was part of it. On July 2nd, they can begin to sign whoever they want and their current plan is to break the bank, which means that during that following two signing periods they won’t be able to sign anyone of note. The Cubs have a lot more to spend on international picks this July 2nd than the Pirates do, because the amounts are based on the previous season’s record.

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