Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 Top Prospects: #16 – Max Kranick

The Pirates Prospects 2017 Prospect Guide is now available for pre-sales. The book will be released the week before Spring Training, and we are currently in the process of making the final changes with editing and formatting.

The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2017 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. Subscribers to the site get discounted books, with Top Prospect subscribers getting $10 off, and Annual subscribers getting $5 off. The eBook will be released when the book is released, and will also come with discounts. Details on the promotions can be found on the products page, and you can subscribe to the site or upgrade your current plan on the subscriptions page.

While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks as a countdown to the start of Spring Training, and to give a preview of the release of the book. We will be wrapping up on Monday, February 13th. The reports will only be available to site subscribers, including those with a monthly plan. You can subscribe here, and if you like these reports, be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site to get much more analysis on every player in the system.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Alen Hanson, 2B

19. Luis Escobar, RHP

18. Edgar Santana, RHP

17. Elias Diaz, C

We continue the countdown with the number 16 prospect, Max Kranick.

16. Max Kranick, RHP

The Pirates have gone over-slot in the 11th round in almost every year since the new draft spending rules have been imposed. They continued that trend in 2016, selecting Kranick in the 11th round and giving him a $300,000 signing bonus. That amount was much lower than what we heard Kranick was asking for on day two of the draft, with his seven-figure demand chasing away some teams that wanted to take him much higher. The Pirates stuck with him, and used the rest of their bonus pool money to sign him, potentially getting a steal in the process.

While fellow 2016 prep pitcher Braeden Ogle has better stuff now, Kranick could easily end up being the best pitcher of the Pirates’ 2016 class. He already has outstanding command, leading to a 21:4 K/BB ratio in 33.1 innings in his pro debut. He also has an easy delivery and good downward movement on his fastball, along with a frame that could add velocity as he fills out. He’s already consistently in the 89-93 MPH range, and has touched mid-90s in the past. That breaks down as 89-92 MPH for his two-seamer, and 92-93 for his four-seamer, touching higher. If he can sit in the mid-90s in the future, and low-90s with the two-seamer, he could reach a very high ceiling.

Kranick doesn’t necessarily need the added velocity to be successful, since his command and stuff are already good enough. What he does need is improvement on his curveball. He exclusively threw a fastball/changeup combo up until high school, due to his parents wanting to keep his arm healthy by restricting breaking pitches at an early age. That gave him an advanced feel for a changeup, but the breaking pitch was lagging. He added a slider in high school, but switched to a curveball in 2016, due to the inconsistent release point on the slider.

The new curveball was easier for Kranick to find a consistent release point. The pitch was wild at the start of his pro debut, and he didn’t show much confidence in it during games. It has a 12-to-6 break, and he was having issues commanding it early, often spiking it. By the end of the year, the pitch had come a long way, and Kranick was using it in games, after getting comfortable with the release point.

It’s hard to place an exact ceiling on Kranick right now, but he’s got a lot of upside. If the curveball turns into a good third pitch, he could make it as a starter in the big leagues. He has a shot to be a top of the rotation guy if he adds velocity and the curveball continues developing well.

Click Here to Purchase the Pirates Prospects 2017 Prospect Guide

  • Kranick is a great athlete and a hardnosed kid. No one will out work him- period!

  • I know that Taylor Hearn has control issues (so does Glasnow) but, you would think a pitcher who is a 6 foot 6 Lefty with a fastball that has tremendous movement and can hit 100 would be a top prospect. Not to mention the guy has a change in which he has been throwing since his prep days and is working on a slider in which right now appears as if it could be devastating offering. When adding all this up, how has he slid off the radar of so many scouts? I know he was injured and was pitching out of the bullpen but, everyone knows he is being groomed to be a starter. My question is, how is he not considered a top prospect based on “ceiling” alone. I know how all the scouts and evaluators love to base their opinion on what a player could become, so I guess none of what I just said could potentially add up to an amazing future? Durability and control are the only negatives at this point and one of those faults is partially based on luck and the other seems to be coming along quite nicely. Just a little perplexed on this one.

    • Uhh, this is only #16

      • I was talking about national love, not this site specifically. It seems like no outlet I have seen has given him the respect a player of his build and ability deserves.

        • John Sickels put him at #7. I’ve seen a couple others. Prospectus seems to skip him. I guess we’ll see when all the rankings come out.

        • That says something about the competition as much as it does Hearn. It simply takes more than a big arm to separate yourself anymore.

          Scouts/analysts are lining up to jump on him based on the stuff shown over very small samples, but they rightly have to see it actually come together before blowing him up. He’s 11th on BP’s Pirate list, 14th on FanGraph’s. MLB has him 21st, but they’re notoriously last to the party in their rankings.

          Show all three of those pitchers consistently with an idea about where they’re going over a healthy 2017 and he’ll be a Top 100 prospect.

    • I think a big thing with national outlets is that Hearn hasn’t had much of an opportunity to be showcased. This was his first full season, and he missed most of it with a foot injury, then pitched in relief after coming back.

      It’s also difficult for national outlets to keep track of all the details on every player, especially guys in the lower levels who are raising their stock. A guy like Keller is going to eventually draw attention, but Hearn could fly under the radar, especially with his situation.

      I noticed a lot of things the national writers missed when watching him and talking with him. There were reports that he doesn’t have a changeup, but he told me that he has been throwing a changeup since he was 8, and that he shelved the pitch this year to focus on the slider. People didn’t see the changeup, so they just assumed there wasn’t a changeup.

      He also made a few adjustments in WV and instructs to help his command. But since we were the only outlet interviewing him during those times, we were the only ones with updated info on what he’s doing to progress from this.

      If he starts putting up impressive numbers next year in High-A, you’ll start seeing more details show up in the national writeups, since he’ll get more attention.

      As for the countdown, spoiler alert: He just hasn’t shown up yet.

  • Pirates are chasing an antiquated style of building a team (maybe they are forced too because experienced pitching is so expensive). It seems like the successful teams these days are chasing bats not arms. The Pirates tried this the past couple drafts and so far have failed miserably (unless they have a top 10 draft pick, even then they struggle). With the exception of maybe Frazier and Newman they don’t have much to show for their college bats approach while other teams are reaping the rewards of such a strategy with a minor twist, they are chasing their talent internationally. I guess I can take solace in the Pirates ability to identify young talented pitchers but, I am fearful that they will forever lag behind in signing players that can hit AND play defense.

  • Love the write ups on the top 20 prospects. Personally would love to see video clips included with the articles to further illustrate their abilities.

  • Where will Kranick start? GCL?

  • piraterican21
    January 29, 2017 3:06 pm

    A change up and good command, music to my ears!

  • Kranick reminds me of Nick Kingham. They both have the look of a big league pitcher with their height and frame and both have a fluid, easy delivery. Hopefully Kranick and Kingham end up being solid pieces in the middle of a rotation with a high caliber arm or two ahead of them in the rotation.

    • I thought Kingham was 6 foot 6 and Kranick is around 6 foot 2 or 3? Also, “easy delivery” I thought did and does not accurately describe Kranick’s current delivery. Catch me if I am wrong, I thought Kranick has a head whip similar to that of Chad Khul’s. It seems to me that an accurrate comp for Kranick currently would be Khul.

  • And sometime well into the minor league schedule, both Kranick and Ogle will turn 20. The Pirates have done a great job preparing for the future the only way that a small market franchise is able – the amateur and international drafts.