Draft Prospect Watch: Two College Hitters Headed in Opposite Directions

A little over a month ago, we began our 2018 amateur draft coverage with our preview article. Since then we have looked at a pair of potential draft pick for the Pirates each week. Heading into the first week of April, we continue with two more players today. They are Alec Bohm and Griffin Conine, who have seen their draft stock go in different directions early in the season. On Thursday, MLB announced the draft slots and bonus pools for each team. Now we know that the Pirates will have over $10M to spend on their draft picks, although the final number will be closer to $12M (assuming they sign all of their top ten round picks) after you add in the bonuses after the tenth round.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft, which is now 65 days away. That’s their highest pick since taking Austin Meadows with the ninth overall pick in 2013. They also have the 36th and 51st overall picks. Every Saturday leading up to the draft, we will have an article looking at the players who are possibilities for that tenth overall pick. We will also have separate articles as we get closer to the draft whenever some of the top draft sources have updated rankings or post mock drafts.

Here is a summary of the previous articles:

Jackson Kowar and Jarred Kelenic

Ryan Rolison and Travis Swaggerty

Casey Mize and Jeremy Eierman

Nolan Gorman and Nander De Sades

Logan Gilbert and Ryan Weathers

We start this week with Duke outfielder Griffin Conine, who was highly ranked coming into the year. He’s the son of Jeff Conine, so he comes from some good baseball genes. Keith Law had Conine ranked sixth in this class back in February. MLB Pipeline and Baseball America had him slightly lower, with BA dropping him from 16th to 24th on their March 1st updated list. That was because Conine got off to a very slow start this year.

Going into this weekend, Conine (pictured above from last week vs Pitt, Photo Credit: David Hague) was hitting .237/.360/.437, with five homers, 17 walks and 31 strikeouts in 26 games. Those numbers actually saw a slight uptick recently. Duke doesn’t play in a high offense environment (opponents have a .626 OPS), so despite the low average, the slugging and OBP from Conine are solid numbers, though not what you want to see from someone considered to be a top half of the first round pick.

The 20-year-old Conine, who stands 6’1″, 195 pounds, has average or better tools across the board. He has above average power from the left side and uses the entire field. He has above average defense and a strong arm, though he profiles as a corner outfielder (he throws right, bats left). MLB Pipeline gave him high praise when they said he has similar upside to his father, who was a .285 hitter with 600+ extra-base hits over 17 seasons in the majors.

He had a rough freshman season at Duke, but rebounded nicely with a strong sophomore year, followed by an even better summer in the Cape Cod League. Conine has time this season to get back on track and rebuild his draft stock, but he needs to start that progress soon.

Here are two videos of him. The first is from February when he was struggling. The second from the Cape Cod League when he was at his peak.

Video #2, July 2017

Our second player is Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm. With the Pirates picking tenth and 36th this year, he originally seemed like he wasn’t a possibility for either pick. He ranked in the low-to-mid 20s in this class (BA and Pipeline both had him 26th), which would make him a reach for the first pick, but unlikely to be around for that second pick. That has changed since the start of this season as his draft stock has taken off, and as BA notes here, Bohm might not make it to the Pirates with the tenth pick.

Bohm is strictly a bat pick, but at 6’5″, 240 pounds, he has a lot of raw power, which has begun to translate more to games. He’s probably going to end up at first base, even though he has put in the work and effort to stick at third base. His running is well below average. Going into this weekend, he is hitting .360/.472/.698, with seven homers and an outstanding 19:8 BB/SO ratio.

There are obviously going to be comparisons to Will Craig with this pick, based strictly on familiarity with Craig and the fact that Bohm is a third baseman who will likely end up at first base. Craig was taken in the draft right around where most people predicted he would land. That was 22nd overall in a draft class that wasn’t as strong as this class. Bohm is getting top ten talk right now in a class that is considered top heavy. That wouldn’t happen if the bat wasn’t legit, especially since all of his value is in the bat.

Here’s a video of him, which was taken the same day as the Cape Cod League video for Conine.

Draft Notes

** For ESPN Insiders, Keith Law saw a match-up between high school pitchers who should both go in the first round. Lefty Shane McClanahan should go in the top ten thanks to a fastball that already hits 99 MPH, and Tim Cate throws low 90s, with a plus curveball, which currently has him rated near the back of the first round, but there is time for him to continue to move up the ranks.

** Baseball America has their list of the top ten college right-handed pitchers, which has some updates on three of the players we have already covered in the links near the top of this article. BA also has notes from the first day of the National High School Invitational, where lefty Matthew Liberatore put up seven strong innings. He is considered to be the top high school pitcher in this class by many draft experts and scouts.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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So many Beatles song in the background?


First of all, happy Easter to you, John, to Tim and Matt and to all the people who post here. I’m enjoying reading about the possible picks for this year’s draft. At the end of the series, will you be posting a recap of everyone you’ve covered who might still be a pick? Do you have a favorite of the guys you’ve covered so far?

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