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.
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.