Draft Prospect Watch: A Look at Two of the Top College Pitchers in the 2017 Draft

In our draft preview, I noted that every source we use believes that this draft class is loaded at the top with college pitching. Since most colleges played their second week of action this weekend, we start there with a couple of the top names. With the draft taking place on June 12-14, it’s still very early in the process and this just gives you a couple names to follow. The Pirates have four picks on day one of the draft, and five of the first 88 picks. They also have a large bonus pool, which should give them an opportunity to load up the farm system.

We start at the top of the college pitching class, because at this point, no one in the draft class is a sure thing to be gone before the Pirates pick at 12th overall. Baseball America has Florida pitcher Alex Faedo rated as the top college player, and MLB Pipeline has him fourth overall in this draft class. The 6’5″ right-hander has the arsenal to be a frontline starter in the majors according to Pipeline. He sits 92-95 MPH with his fastball, touching higher at times. His slider is a strikeout pitch and his changeup is at least average. Pipeline points out that he throws a lot of strikes, but doesn’t have the best command of his pitches yet.

Faedo faced a tough Miami team on Friday night and dominated, nearly throwing a complete game. He threw 8.2 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and one walk, while picking up eight strikeouts. The 119 pitches thrown is a little disturbing at this early point in the season. His coach was trying to get him the complete game, but an error with two outs, followed by his only walk, ended Faedo’s night one out short.

It was a nice bounce back after a tough opener for Faedo against William & Mary. He went 4.2 innings in his first game, allowing four runs on four hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches in this game.

Faedo had minor arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees over the fall. It’s not expected to be an issue, but I’m sure that first start raised some red flags. So the start last night against Miami was a big game for him, even at this early point of the season. I’ve included video of him just below, which was the most recent one I could find on YouTube.

One other note from Florida before I move on to the next pitcher. Occasionally in our draft coverage, we look at former draft picks of the Pirates who didn’t sign and check their progress. One of those players is Austin Bodrato, a prep third baseman taken in the 24th round last year. He’s on Florida, so you’ll probably see his name a few times during our coverage, especially since Florida has a couple of the top college position players in this draft. Bodrato has played one of the first five games, going 0-for-2 off the bench and playing right field during a blowout against William & Mary last week. It’s still very early, but it looks like he isn’t going to get much playing time during his freshman season.

Here is the video of Faedo from late last March courtesy of Prospect Junkies:

Kyle Wright from Vanderbilt is a 6’4″ righty, who ranks second among college pitchers for multiple sources. He’s a player who really took off in college after going undrafted out of high school. His fastball went from 87-90 MPH as a prep pitcher, to 91-94 last year, to a tick higher early this year. He throws a curve, slider and changeup that are all at least average pitches. Like Faedo, his control is above average, while his command of the strike zone could use some work. MLB Pipeline noted that he could end up being a frontline starter in the majors, and he has some projection left due to an athletic frame and room to fill out. We have already seen some of that projection play out with a slight uptick in his velocity.

Wright threw six innings on Friday night against UIC (Illinois-Chicago). That’s not exactly a powerhouse opponent, but they did mount a comeback and shock Vanderbilt in ten innings with a 5-3 victory. Wright only allowed one run in his work, giving up four hits, no walks and he had seven strikeouts. He threw 93 pitches, with 62 going for strikes.

He pitched the season opener last Thursday on the road against San Diego, so it was a tougher opponent than he saw this week at home. Wright went five innings in that game, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks, with two strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches, with 48 going for strikes.

So both big pitchers started off slow before bouncing back in their second starts. I’ve learned over the years that the early results will get overlooked fairly quickly, as long as the stuff looks good (in both cases here it did) and the pitcher finishes the season strong.

Courtesy of Fangraphs, I’ve included a video of Wright:

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freddylang

This is off topic but I just realized Pedro Alvarez is still unsigned. I can’t believe some masochistic AL GM hasn’t signed him yet.

emjayinTN

John: Thanks for the updates. The 2017 Draft, by most accounts, is loaded. The Pirates have Draft Slots 12, 42*, 50, 72*, 88 and then +30 from there on out. If I am not mistaken, Picks 42 and 72 are tradeable. It would be nice to get a pick between 12 and 42, and the three possibilities (other than the Reds and Brewers) could be the Rays at #31 , Athletics at #33 , and the Twins at #35 .

At present, the Pirates have a lot of talented prospects at SP, RP, and position players that may be out of options. Is this the year to trade quality asset(s) that are dead-ended with the Pirates for one of those tradeable picks? It could be players only for one of those picks or a player and the #72 pick for one of those picks.

DanielF

With the Pirates success in finding overslot prep pitchers out of Highschool I’d much rather then find a polished college hitter with their top pick and then take a quantity approach with their pitchers.

meatygettingsaucy

putting aside the usual “they will take the best player available” which is bound to pop up eventually and lead to numerous arguments, I will add my two cents.

I’m most in favor of someone up the middle, something like a HS school player who who projects well in CF, 2B/SS, or C. If its a college kid, someone locked into one of those positions. My take is, if you can play the most defensively demanding positions, you probably still project to play decently well at a corner if a move is needed. Now, if a move is necessary and the bat doesn’t play, the player may still make for a solid utility player (granted, no one wants that result but its a worst case scenario to still get value out of a pick) At the end of the day, drafting guys who play up the middle probably have a higher chance of making it the majors.

With all this being said, I am still pushing for the best player, regardless of position.

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