New Draft Rankings and Two Prep Players Intend to Honor College Commitment

Some news from the last few days while we wait for the road to the College World Series to begin. You can find the draft slot values for each pick here, 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.

Two high school players have announced through letters to teams that they intend to go to TCU. One of them is very significant to our coverage because we have seen him go to the Pirates in mock drafts, being chosen for both the #32 pick and their second round pick(#64). He’s also been ranked in their spot in prospect rankings, and of course that means he has been rated near those two picks all season. That player is 1B/P Luken Baker, who has some of the best power in this draft and he can also hit 95 MPH with his fastball. He hasn’t withdrawn from the draft, but according to Jim Callis(as reported in this article by Baseball America) Baker has said that he intends to honor his commitment to TCU.

The other player is pitcher Ryan Johnson, who was rated much higher earlier in the year(BA had him #41), but he dropped out of BA’s top 200 after a poor season. Just like Baker, he is still draft-eligible, but has said through a letter to all teams that he will go to TCU.

Teddy Cahill from Baseball America has ranked all the NCAA regionals for draft fans, so you know who to follow this weekend. There are still quite a few high profile names left, with numerous players that have been mentioned as possibilities for the Pirates. The rankings are based on BA’s latest top 200 list, so it also includes 3rd-5th round talent that could be interesting on the second day of the draft.

Chris Crawford from Baseball Prospectus has his top 100 draft rankings that he posted this morning. Crawford has covered the draft for numerous outfits the last few years. This isn’t a mock draft, so he isn’t predicting these players will go to the Pirates. In the 19th spot, he has injured Duke right-hander Mike Matuella. The interesting thing about this ranking is what he says in the write-up. He was deciding between Matuella, who has a string of injuries recently(current out with Tommy John surgery), or to go with Brady Aiken and he picked Matuella because he is more confident he will return healthy. The have been some rumblings about Aiken’s injury being more than just your normal Tommy John surgery, so more than one person thinks it’s a real gamble to assume he will be fine in another 10-12 months.

In the 32nd spot, Crawford has South Carolina HS outfielder Kep Brown. We haven’t talked about Brown that much, but for good reason. Early in the year, he tore his Achilles tendon. We have posted it here before, but it’s worth checking out to get familiar with Brown, since he could be a name you hear the first day. Perfect Game posted a video and in depth scouting report for Brown.

Finally, an article on one of the top right-handed prep pitchers in the draft, Ashe Russell. It has some updates and quotes from Russell on the draft. He could be around when the Pirates make their first selection, and as a 6’4″ righty that throws hard, he fits the Pirates’ mold of what they like in pitchers.

The draft begins in 12 days…

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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