Today we look at a new top 100 draft prospects list from MLB Pipeline, plus some names in the news this weekend, with less than 40 days until the draft begins. 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 range of the Pirates. It also focuses in on players who fit the team’s recent draft strategy. If you missed it from Saturday, we looked at seven pitchers making news around the college and prep ranks.
We start with six college names making news this weekend, with the big one being Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser. He has basically been written off due to poor command and lower velocity this year. He had a strong outing last week, but the velocity still wasn’t there. That changed this weekend, as reports had him hitting 96 MPH on his 104th pitch of the game. Last year, these types of outings, combined with that type of velocity, had him as a possible top 15 pick in the draft. He went 35th and returned to school for his senior year. It looked like a bad decision up until now, but things could change in a hurry if the old Funkhouser is back.
Auburn center fielder Anfernee Grier had a big weekend against Kentucky, with some key hits and a highlight reel play in the outfield. He is hitting .399/.477/.611 in 44 games, with nine homers and 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts. Grier fits the mold of an athletic player at a premium position, which the Pirates like from their high draft picks. He does have some flaws, including a below average arm, and some contact issues. He has 44 strikeouts this year, nine more than anyone else on his team. Grier has made some strides this season, finally hitting for power, while using his speed better on the bases. So there still could be some more upside to his game.
Oregon lefty Matt Krook continues to fall down the draft charts after getting knocked out in the third inning this weekend. His rotation spot might not be safe. His walk total is outrageous at 39 in 44 innings, plus he has hit 11 batters and thrown seven wild pitches. On the flip side though, he has 56 strikeouts and a .199 BAA. Early this year Krook was actually moving up the draft charts from the 20’s into the teens. That progress came to a screeching halt and then he started dropping few weeks into the season. He has continued to slide since then due to poor command, which seems to be getting worse. He will be an interesting player to watch. You might be able to snag a high upside arm in the second round now, but you have to worry about him passing to return to school. A good scout will know what it takes to sign him and let his team know if he’s worth the chance and the price.
Sticking with Oregon, their other lefty in the rotation is Cole Irvin, the 32nd round pick of the Pirates last year. He is going to go much higher this season and it will be interesting to see if the Pirates still have interest. Irvin threw a complete game shutout this weekend against Washington State. On the season, he has 3.58 ERA in 75.1 innings, with 12 walks, 73 strikeouts and a .258 BAA.
We talked about right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn from Boston College moving quickly up the rankings as he moved to the rotation and put up strong numbers, while maintaining mid-90’s velocity throughout the start. He continued his rise up the charts this weekend by throwing 5.2 scoreless innings against Virginia Tech. You can read more about Dunn here.
Florida’s Logan Shore has been a name we have mentioned often due to his rankings, which have been near the first pick of the Pirates all season. He had a tough weekend against South Carolina, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks over 4.2 innings. It was his second shortest outing and the first time he has allowed two homers in a game. In 67.2 innings, he has a 2.39 ERA and 68 strikeouts. One thing to like with him is that his coach has been kind to his arm, with a high pitch count of 101 this season, and less than 90 on four occasions.
MLB Pipeline Top 100
Now we take a look at the new top 100 prospect list from MLB Pipeline. It’s not a mock draft, but you can see who they feel matches up to where the Pirates make their picks. In the 22nd spot, they have high school right-handed pitcher Jared Horn. That’s an interesting ranking, because a few weeks ago, Prep Baseball Report had him 65th among only high school players. Horn is 6’3″ and athletic. He sits 94-96 MPH with the fastball, and has a curve that is an average offering. He also has a slider and a change-up that both need work. MLB Pipeline like his competitiveness and he is young for the draft class. Prep Baseball Report notes that he has some effort to his delivery. I’ve included a video below courtesy of Prospect Pipeline.
In the 41st spot, MLB Pipeline has T.J. Zeuch, a 6’7″, 225 pound righty from the University of Pittsburgh. After missing a few starts early, he has posted a 2.62 ERA in 48 innings over seven starts, with 51 strikeouts, a .222 BAA and only ten walks. He has a nice four-pitch mix, sitting 92-94 with his fastball. Scouts believe there is more velocity left in his big frame. Pipeline notes that he has a slider and a curve that both flash plus at times, and he throws all of his pitches for strikes. Zeuch is apparently a late mover up the charts. D1 Baseball just ranked Zeuch 21st among all college starting pitchers.
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.
The kid from Plum Alex Kirilloff sitting at 18. Could he be the next local kid taken in first round by Pirates?
It would be fitting for the pirates to draft a prospect named TJ
I’d like us to pick up TJ but I think he’ll be picked up before the 41st pick.