On Monday morning, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo each gave their final full mock drafts and both have the Pittsburgh Pirates going with pitching for their top two picks. The only difference from before is that Mayo now has them taking Cal Poly Pomona RHP Cody Ponce with the #32 pick, when all the recent mock drafts had them going with two prep pitchers.
Callis has the Pirates taking lefty Kolby Allard with their first pick and following that up with righty Beau Burrows, noting that Donnie Everett could be their choice if he is still available. Allard was one of the best prep pitchers in this draft class at the beginning of the year, with some ranking him as the best. He hurt his back in March and hasn’t pitched since, though he is progressing well in rehab.
At #19, Mayo picks Mike Nikorak, who has been covered here extensively recently because everyone keeps matching him up to the Pirates. He’s a hard-throwing 6’5″ RHP from Pennsylvania, who has a plus curve ball and he’s very athletic, with a solid frame to add some muscle. Callis also mentions that Nikorak would be their second choice if Allard is gone.
There seems to be a strong rumor going around that the Pirates will be taking a prep pitcher with their first pick and it could just end up being a choice between who is the best one available when each of their first two picks come up. What happens ahead of them in the draft will play a big part in their decision as well, so while they may be leaning heavily towards taking a prep pitcher, the 18 picks in front of them could play out so that a position player falls to them unexpectedly. Our tiered rankings showed that four prep outfielders have consistently been ranked higher than the Pirates’ first pick, which could mean one of them slips to the Pirates if they don’t all find a team willing to go with a high school outfielder that early.
The other part that could decide the Pirates’ first two picks are the first two picks of the San Francisco Giants, who also seem to be leaning towards prep pitching. The Giants pick #18 and #31, so they could play the spoiler role twice, with the Pirates just going to their next choice.
This article will be updated all day whenever a new mock drafts come out, so save the link or check back often. I’ll change the title as each new one is added below. I’ll also send a tweet out when a new one is added. Follow along at @PirateProspects and @JohnDreker if you don’t already.
Update 10:40 AM: John Manuel posts his final mock draft and no surprise, Pirates go for pitching with the first pick. He has Nikorak going to the Giants, with the Pirates then taking righty Ashe Russell, but he also says that they like Nikorak and Nolan Watson. Russell is a 6’4″ righty, who gets average or better marks across the board for his fastball, slider, change and command. An early knock on him was his high-effort delivery might have him better suited to be a bullpen pitcher, so a team would have to be convinced he(or any other high school pitcher) doesn’t have reliever upside before taking him this early in the draft.
With the second pick, Manuel has the Pirates taking prep third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, the son of 1996 Pirates third baseman Charlie Hayes. The younger Hayes is a lot like his dad, offering a solid glove and bat at the same position. For those hoping for Cornelius Randolph with the #19 pick, Hayes offers a suitable alternative. As mentioned a few times prior, Randolph might not get by the Braves at #14, as they love to draft out of their own backyard and he’s from Georgia. Manuel actually has the Braves taking Kolby Allard with their first pick, which is why he isn’t around for the Pirates’ first pick in his mock draft. I’ll say it again, the Pirates pick could rely heavily on what happens ahead of them, as they seem to be tied to a lot of prep pitchers, but it’s highly unlikely that they will all be around when they pick.
If the Pirates really like Nolan Watson, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him available when they make their second pick, with the only hitch being that the Giants also are high on him.
Update 1:15 PM: Keith Law posts his final(likely) mock draft for ESPN Insiders and he has the Pirates taking Mike Nikorak. He also confirms what everyone else has been saying, they will take a high school arm, but he says that he thinks they will avoid the injured ones, which would mean no Allard.
He only goes through 30 picks, so he doesn’t have a guess for the Pirates’ second pick, but I will note that he doesn’t have Daz Cameron in his top 30 and believes there is a legit chance to could be around when the Astros pick #37, which means he will be an option for the Pirates. The catch is that Cameron has a reported $5M price tag according to Jim Callis, which could just be pre-draft posturing, but that would certainly work better for the Astros/Rockies/Diamondbacks bonus pool than it would for a team like the Pirates.
Update 2:28 PM: Last but not least, we have Kiley McDaniel weighing in with his final mock draft. He has a pick many people would like to see from what I’ve heard. McDaniel has the Pirates taking Brady Aiken, the injured(Tommy John surgery) first overall pick from last year. He cites the picks of Mark Appel and Josh Bell as proof the Pirates will go big with the pick(you could throw Stetson Allie in there too), but Allie and Bell were before the draft has a set bonus pool and Appel didn’t sign, so I’m not sure how that fits this situation in a good way. Aiken turned turn $5M last year, has plenty of college eligibility left, and he’s still 18 years old, so he will cost more than the slot amount for the Pirates’ pick, which is $2,237,800. I’m sure his local scout found out what he would be willing to sign for, so if the Pirates do end up taking him, you can assume they will be able to sign him. They will probably have to make some room with their other ten picks in the first ten rounds to fit his bonus under their cap.
For the 32nd pick, McDaniel likes Eric Jenkins, an athletic prep outfielder. He also hears Austin Smith might be an option. Those are not names we have heard before for the Pirates, though Smith has been in this range all year. Jenkins seems like a reach with his below average power and arm. He’s fast and can play center field, but his hitting doesn’t seem like a player you would take this early. Smith was a player I really liked early in the season. A 6’4″ prep righty, he has the easiest mid-90’s fastball you will see anywhere. I could definitely see him being a fit for the Pirates.
The final count for the #19 pick is two votes for Mike Nikorak, one each for Ashe Russell, Kolby Allard and Brady Aiken. The #32 pick has Cody Ponce, Eric Jenkins, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Beau Burrows.