MLB Pipeline posted a mock draft on Wednesday morning, going through the first ten picks of the 2018 amateur draft with both Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo making selections. The Pittsburgh Pirates own the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft. Before getting into their picks, I need to point out this tweet by Callis from yesterday.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) December 5, 2017
The 2011 draft was when the Pirates took Gerrit Cole first overall, but they had about nine players who could have been first overall picks that year. Not every one of them worked out, though players like Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Jose Fernandez, Anthony Rendon and George Springer were strong options and Josh Bell dropped to the second round due to bonus demands. So while it might not be as good as that group, being named the best since then makes it a nice draft class. Basically, it’s a good year (at this early stage) to be picking tenth overall.
I mentioned that it’s an early look at a mock draft because a lot can change between now and then. So I wouldn’t focus in on these two particular players just yet, but you can use them as a guide for the possible type of talent the Pirates could be looking at with their pick this year.
Jim Callis has the Pirates taking Ryan Rolison, a left-handed pitcher out of Mississippi, who he says has one of the best fastball/curve combos in this class. Rolison sits low-90s with movement on the fastball and his curve has a sharp break, with both pitches being described as swing-and-miss offerings. He’s a draft-eligible sophomore, who stands 6’2″, 195 pounds. Baseball America ranks him as the seventh best college player in this draft and the second best left-handed pitcher. MLB Pipeline mentioned him as the ninth best college player in the draft back in August, so his stock has gone up for them at this point.
Jonathan Mayo has the Pirates taking Jarred Kelenic, a high school outfielder out of Wisconsin. Mayo describes him as the best pure hitter among high school players and perhaps the best in the class. BA has the 6’1″, 195 pound Kelenic rated as the fifth best high school player in the draft and the top prep outfielder overall. Here’s a recent video of him during international competition.
If you notice one thing from the mock drafts, it’s that multiple positions of need in the farm system for the Pirates are represented early in the draft. You have third baseman Nolan Gorman going seventh and ninth in the mock drafts. You have another left-handed pitcher going sixth and eighth. As Tim Williams recently pointed out, the Pirates could use more top-end talent in the outfield as well, so Kelenic and others fit there. They could also use catching, but this isn’t the year to fill that need. Just one of the top 20 HS players and none of the top 50 college players are catchers. While we always stress that you never draft for need in baseball, it could be the determining factor between two similar players.