Latest Mock Drafts From Keith Law and Baseball America Have Pirates Going Prep Pitching

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.

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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Christopher B

Lots of good options, it seems, and guys who fit the Pirates’ drafting profile. Nikorak seems like the guy to take if he falls to us, though. The velocity, the size, and the lack of wear are all great.


Randolph is my pick at 19, quick bat and great arm sounds like the pirates 3b of the future.


Does that type of strategy play in or do they strictly go by the board and if the top 5 picks are all hitters or the top 5 picks are all pitchers so be it. I would think they would want some sort of mix with the first few picks since it seems the value seems to be negligible.


In 2014 they really didn’t have to play around much with their budget did they? In other words they didn’t draft many under slot guys after taking Keller and Supak? I forget what their slots were. I also get the impression they were lucky to get Hinsz with what they’d already spent or what they had left to give him without giving up draft picks.


I hate the new slotting system very much but it makes it interesting like you said. You can’t just grab the best guy available with every pick………..and how stupid is that? is this all really necessary because of Josh Bell?!


Good for them in that case


I would prefer HS bats with high upside in this year’s draft, but I would be thrilled with Nikorak at #1 9 . He looks like he could be a #1 starter if he stays healthy and develops – he has the size, frame, velocity, etc.

Randolph looks like an intriguing HS bat, as does Whitley, Tucker, Clark, and Plummer. I don’t expect Tucker to be there at #1 9 however.


John I’m going to ask you an impossible question – whoever they draft at #19 (unless somehow, someone from the top 5 plummets to 19) – none of the guys picked could be higher on the Prospect List than 8 right? Ahead of Tucker maybe at best?


I figured as much. Looking forward to when the 2014 pitchers – Keller, Hinsz, Supak and Eppler get out of extended spring training so I can see their outings on the prospect watch.


Exciting. Also a far cry from when the first pick was pretty much a lock for a top 3 spot.


I heard someone say, Keith Law maybe, that this was the worst draft class they’ve seen in a LONG time. Do you guys see it that way? Is it just weak top heavy?


Thanks John


Looks to be weaker than some of the other recent years – especially with position players. I don’t see a Harper, Machado, Bryant, Buxton, Springer, or even a Meadows in this draft.


I went back and took a look at the 2011 draft. Thank God we didn’t take Hultzen. Also that class was loaded. Sounds like there’s not a huge difference between 6 and 19 or 32 this year so I guess it’s good the Pirates were awful in all the right years so to speak.

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