Today is the first day of the 2016 amateur draft and we expect multiple mock drafts to come out today as the people who cover the draft get better ideas of who could go where. I’ll be updating this article all day long, so check back often. I’ll change the title each time a new mock draft is posted.
We start with Keith Law because he posted the first one this morning. It’s his final mock draft. Some sources will post two today, or at least they have done that in the past.
Law has been going with Louisville reliever Zack Burdi for the 22nd overall pick in recent mock drafts. He now has the Pirates going with Nolan Jones, who is the player I’d put money on if I was a betting man. Most people think Jones will be available at #22, but they also believe his talent has him somewhere in the 15-25 range in this draft, so that makes him a solid pick for the Pirates.
Law also mentions that Burdi, Matt Thaiss and Taylor Trammell are possibilities. An interesting note with Trammell is that he has been mentioned as a possibility for the Red Sox 12th overall pick. Nolan Jones has also been mentioned for that pick, so it’s possible to Red Sox could push the Pirates towards one of the other. Law does have the Sox going with a college bat now, so both Jones and Trammell could make it past them.
We had Jones, Trammell and Thaiss in tier three of our tiered draft rankings. Those are players we thought we solid picks with the 22nd overall pick. Burdi was in the next group, which was for reaches for the 22nd pick, but strong picks for 41st overall, the second pick of the Pirates. That ranking is due to Burdi being a reliever with question marks as to whether he could be a starter in the pros. He has outstanding stuff, regularly hitting triple digits with his fastball and a slider that is a plus pitch. He also throws a nice changeup, so he has three solid pitches. What he doesn’t have is great command of his pitches, and along with stamina questions, that has most believing his upside is a reliever. If the Pirates took him 22nd overall, I believe they will do it with the intentions of trying him as a starter next year.
As for Jones, those of you who have followed our draft coverage all year should know a lot about him because he has been mentioned often. Going back to the draft preview in late February, he was the second player I mentioned. Jones plays shortstop now, but most think he will end up elsewhere. The Pirates would likely keep him at shortstop for now to see if he can handle the position in the pros. The good part is that he is a very athletic kid, so you could basically put him anywhere except catcher and pitcher and he would probably be able to handle it. He has decent speed, a strong arm and his bat has the potential for him to be a high on base player who hits for power. The Pirates have been looking for athletic players at premium positions who can get on base. That’s Jones, with the added power tool to go along with the rest.
Trammell is a prep center fielder with plus-plus speed and power potential from the left side. He’s a little raw because he also played a lot of football before concentrating on baseball this year. Trammell will be 19 in September, so that’s old for his draft class. That could turn the Pirates off to him, because they see potential in grabbing players who are young for their draft class and doing well, meaning they have more room to grow compared to a slightly older player. With Trammell being both raw and older, that might not be a fit for them. He is one of the fastest runners in the draft class and along with the raw power, it’s a nice combo for a team to dream on.
Thaiss is a college catcher who can flat out hit. Most think he ends up elsewhere, likely first base. He batted .375/.473/.578 for Virginia this year in 60 games. In 232 at-bats, he had a 39:16 BB/SO ratio. While he doesn’t fit the athletic mold, or have the premium position player angle going for him, Thaiss will get on base and hit for some power in the pros. He likely won’t need a lot of time to get to the majors unless they wanted to try to develop him as a catcher.
Update 12:00 PM: Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis each posted their mock drafts in one article for MLB Pipeline. They also mentioned that they are still checking around for more information and they will have a final mock draft as the 7:00 PM draft approaches. That last one will only include names, no information on the players, so you can go back to this link to see their thoughts.
They made things easy on me, as Callis went with Zack Burdi and Mayo went with Nolan Jones. Nothing new really to say other than Callis notes that the Pirates have interest in Alex Kirilloff and TJ Zeuch, two players who play in Pittsburgh and have been connected to the Pirates. Kirilloff is a power hitting 1B/OF out of Plum HS, who most have off the board around the 15th pick (right where both Callis and Mayo have him in this article). Zeuch is a huge 6’7″ college pitcher at Pitt, with a high 90s fastball and two average breaking pitches, along with decent command. He is rated right around 22nd by most people, so there is a chance he is available for the Pirates.
Update 3:27 PM: Baseball America just posted their mock draft (likely their final one) and they have Nolan Jones for the Pirates. It makes sense and everyone seems to think he will still be available, so we will see. BA notes that the Mariners are looking for a college arm and they could take Zack Burdi with the 11th pick. Kirilloff goes 16th, Thaiss 18th and Zeuch 20th. Trammell didn’t make their top 34.
Update 6:05 PM: BA slightly updated their picks, but no change for the Pirates. They still have Nolan Jones. MLB Pipeline updated their picks and Jim Callis now has Jones going to the Pirates. Everyone has Jones and that’s been my pick for awhile…now we wait.