The 2015 amateur draft is just four days away, with the Pittsburgh Pirates making their first three picks on Monday night. Below are the two latest mock drafts and they have something in common for the Pirates, prep pitching. As you will see, not only are the picks high school pitchers, but the backup options seem to be as well.
Keith Law posted his fourth mock draft on Thursday and he has the most familiar name in the draft going to the Pirates, prep righty Mike Nikorak. The 6’5″ star pitcher from Stroudsburg Pa., has been the pick for the Pirates more often than any other player in the draft. Nikorak didn’t have the best season, but some of that was weather related. Coming from Pennsylvania, he has less experience than most of the top high school pitchers, but that also means a fresher arm to teams and the possibility for more upside. He can hit 97 MPH and has a strong frame to hold his velocity late and remain a starter in the pros.
Law says that he hears the Pirates are interested in picking up prep arms, and gives Ashe Russell and Kolby Allard as possible backup plans. One of the three(including Nikorak) should be available when the Pirates make their first pick. He also brings up a name that we haven’t mentioned here, Jacob Woodford and says the Pirates have interest. He seems more suited for the second round, but maybe the Pirates take him with their #32 overall pick.
He’s a 6’4″, projectable RHP from Florida, who throws a low-90’s sinker and has a great frame, which should fill out well as he gets older. He doesn’t have the best secondary stuff and he’s old for his draft class, turning 19 later this month. When you compare that to Nikorak, who turns 19 in September and he comes from a cold weather state, you can see where the difference comes from in their rankings. The Pirates likely saw a lot of Woodford because he is teammates of Kyle Tucker, who will be taken early in the first round. Word is that Woodford has a strong commitment to the University of Florida, so he probably won’t be an option after the second round.
Baseball America posted their latest mock draft on Friday morning and they have the Pirates taking lefty Kolby Allard. He was one of the top ranked high school pitchers in this class until a back injury shut him down. Allard hasn’t pitched since the injury, but he is building his way back up, throwing from 120 feet recently, so barring any late setbacks, you should still be getting one of the best pitchers. BA has the Giants taking Mike Nikorak with the 18th pick, which I could see happen. The Pirates pick could very well come down to which prep pitcher the Giants decide to take right before them.
BA has the Pirates taking Triston McKenzie, a prep RHP out of Florida, with the 32nd overall pick. McKenzie is tall and rail thin at 6’5″, 160 pounds, but he’s already hitting 93 MPH and has a good feel for his secondary pitches. He’s a Vanderbilt commit, so if the Pirates are interested, they will probably have to take him with this pick. He has huge upside and is a great athlete, just needs to add some weight/muscle and build up stamina.