Today we take a look at the new top 50 rankings from Keith Law, as well as an updated list of the top 100 high school players, and a high school pitcher shooting up the draft charts. The Pittsburgh Pirates own the 22nd and 41st picks this year. The draft begins on June 9th and lasts three days, with the first two rounds selected on day one. You can view our draft preview here, which covers many of the names who fall in the Pirates’ range. It also focuses in on players who fit the recent draft strategy of the Pirates. If you missed our last article, we covered some new names mentioned near those first two picks of the Pirates.
Starting with the new top 50 from Keith Law (subscription required), he has a player ranked 22nd who we have covered a few times recently. Now this isn’t a mock draft, but it gives you a sense of the players thought to be in the Pirates’ range. Law has Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds ranked 22nd. Law likes his speed a lot, likes the power and the hit tool, though he ranks him lower because he strikes out more than a player of his caliber should. Reynolds has the ability to play center field, but Law thinks that he will be pushed off the position in the majors because he doesn’t have plus defense. Going into this weekend, Reynolds was hitting .333/.468/.650 in 33 games, with 20 extra-base hits and 30 walks. He does lead his team with 34 strikeouts.
Law has interesting names in the 23rd and 24th spots. He went with Plum HS OF/1B/P Alex Kirilloff 23rd, followed immediately by Georgia right-hander Robert Tyler. We have mentioned both players recently because they are players who went to the Pirates in early mock drafts. Kirilloff has the extra draw of being a Pittsburgh kid, but this ranking (along with the previous ones) shows that he could be a legitimate choice when the Pirates make their first selection. Law calls him a powerful lefty bat, who uses the entire field. You can read more on Kirilloff here.
Tyler has been outstanding this season, holding batters to a .155 average through eight starts, with 57 strikeouts in 45.1 innings. It seems like everyone has him in this same range, so we have been mentioning him often. Tyler doesn’t have top of the rotation upside, but if he did, he wouldn’t be available when the Pirates make their 22nd pick this year. What he does have is a fastball that touches upper 90’s and a plus change-up. That means that even if he doesn’t make it as a starter, you should still get a back-end reliever. You usually don’t shoot for a future reliever with your first round pick, but we are talking about his fallback option, not his ceiling. His lack of a solid third pitch and occasional issues with command keep his upside from being more than a solid #3 starter at this point.
While things can go in any direction once you get outside the top 20 or so, I’ll note that Law has RHP Corbin Burnes out of St Mary’s College, ranked 41st overall. To get a sense of what kind of talent can be had with that 41st pick, Burnes is an athletic player with a low-90’s fastball and a four-pitch mix that has produced inconsistent results. That sounds like a potential 4/5 starter, who could be a #3 if you could find some consistency. It sounds like his issue stems from his delivery, so I have included a recent video of Burnes at the bottom of this article, courtesy of Eric Longenhagen.
One final note on Law’s list and that is the interesting player he has right before Burnes. Jesus Luzardo was probably going to be taken somewhere in the top 15 picks this year if everything went well, but he was an early casualty to Tommy John surgery. He is a high upside high school lefty out of Florida, so he could be a very intriguing pick if he happens to drop to the second pick of the Pirates. They would likely need to go over-slot to sign him. That’s something the area scout would find out ahead of time, so they would know how to structure the rest of the draft after him. Due to the timing of his surgery, he would be out until around June next year. That being said, the Pirates would have him in short-season ball in 2017, so he wouldn’t miss any regular season time next year.
Some other notes around the draft. Prep Baseball Report updated their top 100 prospects list this week (subscription required). This is just high school players so it’s tough to match-up a player to a particular pick. Since the Pirates pick 22nd, if you take the 11th rated player on this list (which assumes college and HS have the same strength at the top this year) you would be looking at Kevin Gowdy, a 6’4″ RHP out of California. He sits 88-90 MPH, doing it from an easy delivery with lots of projection to add velocity. Gowdy has a slider he uses effectively as an out pitch, giving it plus potential. For comparison sake, PBR has Alex Kirilloff ranked 17th and Jesus Luzardo ranked 24th on this list.
One final link and it’s a Prospect Buzz article from D1 Baseball (subscription required). It has some great info on Virginia starter Connor Jones, who should go in the top half of the first round. They also have a section on Jared Horn, a right-handed prep pitcher out of California. He was apparently thought of as a possible fifth round pick going into this season, with a chance to go as high as the third round. That was when he was a pitcher who sat 89-93 MPH with his fastball.
Things have changed in a big way recently and he’s now getting first round buzz. Horn was sitting 93-96 in his last outing and even hit 98 MPH. To go along with that, he’s a very athletic kid with a plus curve and the makings of a strong change-up. Prep Baseball Report only has him 65th on their updated list, though they do note that he wasn’t in the top 100 coming into the season, so he did make a sizable jump.