Draft Prospect Watch: Updated Rankings Give Two New Names to Follow

We began our 2018 amateur draft coverage in mid-February with our preview article. Since then we have looked at a pair of potential draft pick for the Pirates each week. We continue with two more players today who could be intriguing early in the first round. They come from the updated top 50 draft prospects list put out by Keith Law on Thursday.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft, which is now just 44 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. Last month, MLB announced the draft slots and bonus pools for each team. 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) once you add in the bonuses after the tenth round.

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 list of the player featured in 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

Alec Bohm and Griffin Conine

Mason Denaburg and Carter Stewart

Ethan Hankins and Tristan Beck

We start this week with prep right-handed pitcher Mike Vasil out of Boston College High in Boston. Right away that tells you he is from a cold weather state, which usually means a raw pitcher with lots of upside. Keith Law has him ranked #8 on his updated top 50 list. He mentions that Vasil has been up to 96 MPH this year, with a good changeup and a solid delivery. His downside is that he doesn’t have an average breaking ball yet, but that’s not surprising when you factor in the cold weather state.

Vasil has a solid 6’4″, 210 pound frame, which is basically the typical pitcher size that the Pirates swarm to in the draft. It seems like every year you can guarantee a run on 6’3″-6’4″ right-handed pitchers.

I mentioned above that Law doesn’t believe he has an average breaking ball yet. MLB Pipeline had Vasil ranked 37th coming into the year and they rated his curve as a 55 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, making it slightly above average. Vasil is throwing just a tick above what he had going into this season, so the added velocity is a nice touch, but there could be more. The clean delivery, coming from a cold weather state pitcher who is still filling out, suggests he could easily add another couple of ticks to that fastball.

While Law’s  biggest concern was the breaking ball, Pipeline said that he needed to improve his control. Last week Vasil came within one out of a perfect game in front of a packed house of scouts, finishing with one hit, no walks and 13 strikeouts. That type of performance gets a lot of notice and is a good reason why he is climbing up the draft charts.

Here’s video from just three days ago. Not the best quality, but you really get to see how easy his delivery is from the side view. It also looks like he snaps off a couple of nice breaking balls during warmups.

Next up we have Florida infielder Jonathan India, who isn’t completely new here. He was mentioned back during our 2015 draft coverage when he was a top ranked high school player. Law has him ranked #10 now, which is right in line with the first Pirate pick. He ranks him that high because of the hitting he has done against SEC pitching this year, as well as the fact that Law believes he can play shortstop. India has mostly been at third base this year and throughout college. He stands in at 6’0″, 200 pounds.

Going into last night’s game, India was hitting .427/.557/.839 in 38 games. That’s not just hitting well, that’s well above anyone else on a top team in the country and one that has a deep lineup. India has 12 homers this year and he is 8-for-9 in stolen bases. He was a solid hitter during his first two seasons, putting up slightly better stats on offense as a freshman.

He has really taken off with the bat this season and unless he falters down the stretch, he’s going to be drafted fairly high. That’s especially true if some team thinks that he can slide over to shortstop and handle the position.

Here’s a video of him from last month where you get to see a little bit of everything.

Draft Notes

**Oregon State infielder Nick Madrigal returned Thursday night from his early season wrist injury to collect two hits against Oregon. He has to rebuild his draft stock after missing so much time. Prior to the start of the season, he was seen by many as a possible top ten pick.

** MLB Pipeline has a recap of the head-to-head match-up between prep pitcher Matthew Liberatore and power-hitting third baseman Nolan Gorman. You can read more about Gorman in the link above in our previous articles section. Liberatore hasn’t been featured, but this is the third time he made the notes section. The reason is that he is expected to be off the board before the Pirates pick and he showed why against Gorman.

** For ESPN Insiders, Keith Law has some notes on players he has recently seen in person. That includes a focus on Ethan Hankins, who we covered here last week.

** Baseball America has their list of the top five college first basemen. Top rated Luken Baker broke his leg, so he will be tough to gauge during the draft. It’s his second straight season that ended early due to injury.