The draft is now less than three weeks away, with some draft-eligible players already seeing their season close. The Pittsburgh Pirates have three selections on June 9th, picking 22nd, 41st and 68th overall on the first day of the draft. Today we look at a new mock draft from Scout.com, as well as an article from John Manuel at Baseball America. Manuel describes the strengths and weaknesses at the top of this year’s draft class. Yesterday, we posted a new mock draft from Jim Callis at MLB Pipeline.
Scout.com posted their fourth mock draft and they actually go to the 41st overall pick. As I always say with the later first round picks, I would focus more on the type of player who may be available, rather than the individual player. Once you get past the first 10-15 picks each year, then it’s tough to tell who might go where, but you will always have a general idea of what kind of player you can expect to get with that pick.
Scout.com has the Pirates taking Ian Anderson with the first pick. He’s a prep right-handed pitcher out of New York, who has been mentioned here often. Most people have him ranked a little higher due to his huge upside. The problem with ranking him too high is that scouts haven’t really got a good look at him this year. He has missed time with both a minor injury and illness. Anderson has also missed a chance to throw in front of scouts due to weather. Players in New York already have a short season to begin with, so no one has really had a good look at him. He pitched on Thursday and threw a one-hit complete game, striking out 12 batters.
The Pirates have passed on two pitchers with similar stories recently, Scott Blewett in 2014 and Mike Nikorak last year. Both high upside prep pitchers from cold weather states. Both considered raw, yet rated in the top 20 by most draft experts. They also both slipped in the draft. The same thing could happen with Anderson, especially with all the limited looks at him.
For the 41st pick, Scout.com has a pitcher who is in college, yet is very similar to Anderson. Alec Hansen from Oklahoma was once considered possible for the first overall pick due to his 6’7″ frame that produces a plus fastball and a plus slider. The one thing that many thought could hold him back from that top spot was his control. That turned out to be true, and then some. Hansen was supposed to be a regular at the top of the Oklahoma rotation, yet he has pitched just 45.2 innings this year, appearing out of the bullpen four times. He has 68 strikeouts and a .236 BAA, but that comes with a 5.32 ERA and 34 walks.
Hansen has huge upside, but he’s a risk anywhere at the top of the draft. Further down with a lesser price tag, you might be willing to take that risk. While an Anderson/Hansen package at the top offers tremendous upside for one team, there is also a better than normal chance you get nothing out of them.
** John Manuel from Baseball America has a look at the strengths and weaknesses of this draft class. Manuel likes the depth at the top with both prep pitchers and hitters. That could be good for the Pirates with the 41st pick, as many teams tend to go the safe route with a college pick early in the draft. It may offer them a chance to get a high upside prep pick, who they were possibly considering with the 22nd pick.
The college catching group has also made strides this season, though that’s a position where many players don’t actually stick there in the pros. It still offers plenty of solid bats, mixed with some defensive specialists. Manuel is down on college pitching, saying that it offers very little premium talent after Florida’s A.J. Puk, who should go in the top five picks. There are a lot of highly rated college players, but even the best after Puk don’t project to be #1-2 starters in the majors.
** Baseball America also has a feature on Will Craig from Wake Forest, which is worth checking out. Craig will offer some team a tremendous bat with power and a good ability to make contact, while also showing strong plate discipline. The issue with Craig and his draft spot, is his spot on the field. He plays third base now, so a team that thinks he can stick there, would probably be willing to draft him higher than a team that sees him as a future first baseman. It seems that more scouts believe he will end of at first base, rather than improve enough at third base to handle it at the upper levels.
** Kendall Rogers from D1 Baseball announced that Dalton Jefferies, a right-handed pitcher from Cal, will return to action in the bullpen this weekend. Jefferies has been out since late March with what was described as a SLAP tear, which is basically a pitching related shoulder injury. Prior to his injury, Jefferies was consistently ranked near the 22nd spot, even going to the Pirates in an early mock draft. Now he has a short time to prove to teams that he is healthy and worth a high pick.