New Draft Rankings From Keith Law Shake Things Up

Keith Law has updated his top 100 draft prospects list(Insiders) and there are some names that have really moved up and down the list. The Pirates have the 19th and the 32nd overall picks in the first round, so we will concentrate on those first, then take a look at the names that he has lower and higher than most. There are some surprising drops as you will see at the end.

This isn’t a mock draft, which means we are talking about who Law considers the 19th best player available. He actually has some guesses as to where guys could end up at the top of the class in this article. I will tell you ahead of time that there isn’t a prediction for the Pirates.

With that in mind, Law has Duke righty Mike Matuella ranked #19 on his new list. Matuella has the ability to be a top starter in the pros, but he comes with a big injury risk and the fact that he won’t pitch anytime soon due to Tommy John surgery last month. He has also missed development time with a back injury, forearm strain and a lat strain, so a team is really gambling on his health if they pick him near the top.

In the 32nd spot, Law has prep shortstop Kyler Murray. Scouts think he has a strong chance to stick at shortstop in the pros and his arm is above average. He has a scholarship to Texas A&M as a quarterback, so not only does that show how good his arm is, it also means he will need to be bought out of that deal, which may not come cheap.

Murray makes excellent contact at the plate and he can run as well as anyone in the draft class, but he likely won’t hit for power. Since he plays two sports full-time, he is considered raw, so a team will have to decide just how good his upside is before deciding to pick him early enough to be able to afford his bonus. Murray was born four days after Cole Tucker, so he is actually a little old for the draft class.

UPDATE 12:45 PM: Having said all that, this came out from Murray today, so scratch that ranking. That would move Kep Brown up to #32, a tall right-handed hitting prep first baseman from South Carolina. He’s a power-hitter, with some holes in his swing due to his 6’5″ frame and long swing. He is an average runner/defender.

One player has really moved up to the point he is now rated closer to the Pirates first pick. Law has Ke’Bryan Hayes ranked #23, which is by far the highest I’ve seen him(#38 was the previous high). I haven’t even mentioned him here before today due to that fact. He is an above average defender at third base, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering his dad is Charlie Hayes, who spent 14 years at the position in the Majors, including a brief stop in Pittsburgh during the 1996 season.

The younger Hayes is still considered raw at the plate because he is a big, strong kid, but he doesn’t put the ball over the fence too often. Law believes the power is there though, due to the hard contact he makes and his feel for hitting. I’ve doubled up on the Hayes coverage for you, posting a video of him below and adding this link from Prospect Pipeline, which has a more recent video worth checking out.

For the players that Law has dropping, there are two names that we have talked about often here. The reason you hear the names D.J. Stewart and Richie Martin here a lot, is because everyone has had them around the 20-40 area all season. Even recent rankings had them in that range, so it was a bit odd to check the list and not see them anywhere in the top 50. Law has Stewart ranked #69, while Martin comes in five spots lower.

Stewart has some of the best power in this draft class and he has a solid approach at the plate. The reason he isn’t ranked higher normally, is that he isn’t the most athletic player, so he profiles as a corner outfielder that will probably end up at first base. He has the bat for those positions and it would be hard to see him dropping into early third round range.

Martin is a shortstop with solid defense, who gets on base at a decent clip and can steal a lot of bases. This draft class is loaded at the top with shortstops, but you don’t usually see someone that can hit a little(albeit with no power) while stealing bases and he will stick at shortstop. It’s usually either a good bat, or a good glove. Like Stewart, I can’t imagine he is around that late. Assuming for a second that he is around though, the Pirates pick 62nd overall in the second round, so he would be a great pick at that spot.

Other surprises on the downside are Phil Bickford at #39. This isn’t as bad as the others, but Bickford was a top ten pick just two years ago and he is dominating the competition this year at Southern Nevada. It’s not the best schedule for strength of opponent, but Bickford has looked good in the videos I’ve seen and his command has been exceptional this year. I don’t think he goes this low, as he would be a tough pass for the Pirates seven picks higher.

Some other quick ones of note:

Law has prep righty Dakota Chalmers down in the #42 spot and he is someone that has been mentioned recently for the Pirates first pick.

He has Brady Aiken #26 after he underwent Tommy John surgery, which came after he had issues last year. Aiken went #1 in last year’s draft, but the Astros didn’t like the results of his physical and it seems like they made the right choice to lower his bonus, though they still did make him a strong offer.

Vanderbilt starter Carson Fulmer is #44, yet some believe he could be off the board before the Pirates pick. Another college player Law seems very low on.

Beau Burrows and Justin Hooper are ranked #47 and #52 respectively. If you remember those names, they were the lead pitchers in our draft prospect preview for prep pitchers. Both are talented lefties that have not lived up to the hype. While they have dropped(both were top ten early) for others as well, this is the lowest I’ve seen both of them.

Luken Baker, who throws 95 MPH by day, and is a power-hitting first baseman by night, is rated #64 by Law. That is double where he was when we talked about him just days ago, when he went to the Pirates with their second pick in a new mock draft.

  • John,

    What do you think about Matuella? If he falls to 19th he would seem to be a great value, but the injuries are a concern for sure. If some how Matuella and Fulmer were both at 19th who would you take if either.

    • John Dreker
      May 6, 2015 12:52 pm

      The injuries with Matuella would definitely scare me off. It’s just too many things wrong with him. I think he has the higher upside, but I’d go safe with Fulmer if I had to choose between them.

  • John, do you think the Pirates draft pool is even big enough to take a shot at Kyler Murray? I’ve seen $4m floated as the number it would take to buy him out of football. Looks like they’d need to find a little less than $2m, which would probably mean punting most of the top 10 rounds.

    Slightly tempting, considering the relative quality this year, but that seems to be seen as a foolish idea in general by the authorities.

    • John Dreker
      May 6, 2015 10:52 am

      They have shown a willingness to go over by 5% the last two years, so that does add to their pool($369,610 to be exact). I’m sure they have a scout talking to him to gauge the real number and if they can make that work, then they might take him. If he sticks by the $4M number, then I don’t see him as a possibility, even if they liked him enough to take him at #19. There are similar talent players that will sign for less than half that amount, so they would absolutely have to be in love with him. Those pre-draft numbers you hear don’t always match what they sign for and scouts will look into that beforehand to see just how willing he is to stick to it.

    • John Dreker
      May 6, 2015 12:52 pm

      See update to the article. Things have changed this morning

      • Wow, fully opting out? Good for him, just hope he avoids the concussions.

  • Saw this yesterday. Why is Bickford so low?

    • Because draft rankings are incredibly silly.

    • John Dreker
      May 6, 2015 9:36 am

      Law says in his Bickford write-up that he isn’t sold on him being a starter due to a lackluster change-up, but he acknowledges that many scouts see him as a starter. If you trust those scouts, then he is a top 15-25 guy.

  • If the draft broke even remotely close to his rankings, highly unlikely, I couldn’t imagine a better result for the Pirates. Aiken and Fulmer being both available, let alone the potential to get both (again, unlikely). I can’t imagine there are enough teams crazy enough to pass on Aiken for him to be available to us, if he is then he is easily the pick and by far the best value. Tommy John is almost inevitable now and the results are almost unanimously thr same or even better than before the injury. The lost year of development? We just lost a year with Taillon and we had to pay him #2 pick money…and by a lot of accounts, maybe all accounts, Aiken is superior talent to Taillon as it is. What a steal that would be

    • John Dreker
      May 6, 2015 8:57 am

      The thing you have to consider with Aiken is will he take an even bigger cut to his bonus to sign this year? He wasn’t happy going from 6.5M to 5M when the Astros found the problem. For him to sign, the Pirates would likely be able to afford half that much with the #19 slot value. To take him and have a chance to sign him, they would have to go light on a lot of other picks to get close to what it may cost to sign him. He has the option to re-enter the draft again, so you can’t just hold the injury against him and hope he cracks.

      • I think he would take an even bigger cut, yes. Maybe still not enough to make it reasonable for the Pirates, but I think he’ll take a sizable bonus hit this year and will sign. First, he’s already missed a full year of development and with his injury he’ll miss another full year of development. Second, once the draft comes around next year, because of his injury, he really will not have been able to throw any meaningful innings anywhere to provide any reason to be drafted higher than 19th (assuming he lasts until 19 this year). What? Will he continue to hold-out year-after-year to attempt to get the initial bonus money back or put himself in the position to get to MLB quicker and, thus, get closer to larger money via arbitration and free agency. If he has a good adviser I would see no reason at all he would not be able to be convinced to sign because holding-out yet another year only delays development longer. If he didn’t sign this year and also did not sign next year, then it would make sense because he would have had a full-season of pitching, healthy, to demonstrate where he is. But he also would have lost 3 full years worth of having the bonus money and would be 3 years further from living the dream and getting closer to arbitration/free agency. I guess it also depends, a little, on how future drafts look in terms of depth of quality starting pitching.

        • John Dreker
          May 6, 2015 1:23 pm

          It’s mostly the amount of a cut he has to take again. If he truly believes that he is a top prospect, then he would have no trouble getting it next year just by a few strong outings close to the draft. He is 19, which is two years younger than juniors in college, so he has time and options. If he gets to #19, his bonus will be about half of last year’s revised figure, which means $4M less than what he thought he was getting

          • I think $3.5M would be an amazing bargain and $4M would be a really hard to handle stretch that would still represent a great value to a team picking #19 overall. You forego some other options if you have to go to $4M, but you’re getting a #1 overall pick at #18 and saving $2-2.5M