Day two of the draft starts in a few hours, but the picks that obviously have the most interest attached to them are the players already selected. That’s not to say that today isn’t just as important, it’s just that people tend to remember the first round picks a lot easier than the rest of them. With that in mind, we take a look at a couple reactions from around the industry, where the opinion of the picks was better than the initial reactions of many fans.
Keith Law was a huge fan of Kevin Newman, which helped put him on our map back in mid-March. Unlike last year when the name Cole Tucker never came up as a first round possibility, Newman slowly became a consensus first round pick as others started to join Law on the bandwagon. With that in mind, you would expect a positive reaction from Law when talking about the picks afterwards.
In a post for Insiders, Law listed Newman first under “Picks I loved”. He believes Newman will be a solid shortstop that gets on base a lot and steals some bases. He calls him a “fringe star” if he could add just a little power to his game, otherwise you have a solid regular at a key position.
Law also liked the pick of Ke’Bryan Hayes and believes the team got two hitters that will turn into solid, yet unspectacular regulars in the majors. He believes that Hayes is a premium defender at third base and just like Newman, will hit for average and get on base, but doesn’t expect a power hitter.
Jim Callis weighed in on the two picks as well. He wasn’t quite as high on Newman as Law, saying that he is one of the better pure hitters in college, but doesn’t have another plus tool. He also believes he could end up at second base, but he should hit his way to the big leagues.
Callis had a better opinion of Hayes, saying he had a lot of late helium and that he really liked the pick. His defense has really improved and he has an advanced approach at the plate for a high school hitter.
In our tiered ranking, we had Kevin Newman in the “questionable for 19, but great for the 32nd pick” category. The reason was that he was never connected to the Pirates and most ranked him just below the previous tier of players. That means that while he wasn’t a stretch for the 19th pick, there were going to be a handful of “better” players and I still think that is true. The difference is that those better players were all about upside down the line like Mike Nikorak, who many feel could end up being the best pitcher in this class. As a prep pitcher, he is far from a guarantee, so do you take someone with potential huge upside 4-5 years down the line, or a player projected to be a solid regular, possibly at shortstop in 2-3 years with a much more likely shot at reaching his upside? While I didn’t like the pick, it was based more on who they didn’t take, rather than a knock at Newman.
Ke’Bryan Hayes was in our “good fit for the 32nd overall pick” group and I specifically pointed out that he was a great fallback option for those that wanted the Pirates to take Cornelius Randolph with the 19th pick. Randolph ended up not being an option, but following these two players for much of the season, I didn’t see a big drop-off from Randolph to Hayes. So, at the time with all the prep pitcher talk for the first pick, I figured the better option was passing on Randolph and taking Hayes with this pick. Between the two picks, the Pirates got two players that should be solid regulars in Pittsburgh, albeit on different timelines to the big leagues.
As for the second round pick, Kevin Kramer, he seems like a bit of a reach at that spot. He had a major injury(torn labrum) and will probably end up as second baseman with a solid glove, who gets on base and hits about ten homers. His upside is probably the same the Pirates got from 2013-14 Jordy Mercer, just at a more offense-oriented position. Baseball America had Kramer ranked #133, MLB.com had him at #165, while Keith Law had him at #71 and Kiley McDaniel had him at #125.