The 2018 MLB Draft starts tonight at 7 PM, with the first two rounds of the draft taking place today. The Pittsburgh Pirates pick tenth, 36th and 51st overall. Rounds 3-10 follow on Tuesday at 1 PM, and rounds 11-40 are on Wednesday at noon.
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For the last five years we have released tiered rankings for the top prospects in each draft. We start with an average of all of the major draft rankings, then arrange players into tiers, which are customized based on where the Pirates pick. Each tier is shown below, with a summary of the most notable guys in each group.
Check back on the site during the draft to read about who the Pirates picked. We will have player pages for every player who is drafted, along with instant analysis on each pick, and our updated Draft Pick Signing Tracker.
Otherwise known as the “They Definitely Won’t Fall to the Pirates” Tier
Casey Mize, Joey Bart, Nick Madrigal, Brady Singer, Alec Bohm
There haven’t been any rumors that these players will fall anywhere near the Pirates, so there isn’t much to say about this group that is relevant to the team. They may not be picks 1-5, but they should all be gone before the tenth pick comes up.
Otherwise known as the “These Are the Guys Who Are Good Fits For the 10th Overall Pick” Tier
Jonathan India, Matthew Liberatore, Nolan Gorman, Carter Stewart, Cole Winn, Jarred Kelenic, Travis Swaggerty, Ryan Weathers, Shane McClanahan, Ryan Rolison, Connor Scott, Grayson Rodriguez, Jackson Kowar, Jordyn Adams, Logan Gilbert
This is a large group, mostly because this class is strong at the top and no one has really separated themselves from the pack. Or if they did, they are in the tier above. I included Jonathan India in here, but the New York Mets seem to have their sights set on him with the sixth pick. I wouldn’t rank him that high, but it’s not a reach either. I also have Matthew Liberatore because he has gone to the Pirates in mock drafts, but I’d be very surprised if he was available when they pick.
We are hearing high school arms for the Pirates. If Liberatore is there then he should be their choice. If not, you have polished pitchers like Cole Winn and Ryan Weathers, who provide high floors for a prep pitcher and starter upside in the majors. If you want them to take a chance on huge upside with some risk, then you want them to take Carter Stewart or Grayson Rodriguez. My personal darkhorse favorite for this spot is Jordyn Adams, who has as many tools as anyone in the draft. As a two-sport star, he’s a little rough around the edges, but he can win you games in numerous ways if the bat doesn’t fully work out. If the Pirates go for him, then they are really gambling on the huge potential payoff.
We aren’t hearing bats connected to the Pirates, but they should at least be intrigued by the combo of prep players above in Nolan Gorman, Jarred Kelenic and Travis Scott. My guess is that they will be selected in that order, with Gorman off of the board before the Pirates get a chance. We keep hearing about them having targets unless someone falls to them. I didn’t think enough of Gorman to put him in the top tier, but I do think he is the seventh best player after the five in tier one and Liberatore.
Otherwise known as the “Questionable For the 10th Pick, Great For the 36th Pick” Tier
Ethan Hankins, Trevor Larnach, Triston Casas, Kumar Rocker, Mason Denaburg, Cole Wilcox, Brice Turang, Noah Naylor
The previous group is so big that it makes this look like a small class, trying to find players who don’t fit either pick. That’s good news because you have a ton of talent to choose from for the tenth pick, with a good chance some player in that group could fall to the 36th pick. I don’t see these guys fitting either pick, but due to the sheer number of players in tier two, it’s very possible that the Pirates could walk away with the equivalent of a mid-first round talent with their 36th overall pick. Ethan Hankins was rated at the top of this class early in the year before an injury and he rankings haven’t rebounded. I’d be shocked if he makes it to the 36th pick. Kumar Rocker is a big pitcher who throws hard and he too was ranked higher early in the year. Prior to the season, he was a top ten pick. Mason Denaburg is similar to Hankins, where only an injury this year has him in this group. The Pirates could get lucky and one of these three prep pitchers drops to them, but I doubt it.
Cole Wilcox is the opposite of those three pitchers, moving up due to a strong season. Naylor, Turang and Casas are the second tier of high school hitters, while Trevor Larnach should be off the board before the Pirates pick because strong college hitters are tough to find in this class.
Otherwise known as the “These Are the Guys Who Are a Good Fit For the 36th Overall Pick” Tier
Seth Beers, Jake McCarthy, Parker Meadows, Jeremy Eierman, Steele Walker, Jordan Groshans, Nick Schnell, Anthony Seigler, JT Ginn, Alex Kloffenstein
I like this group because there are a bunch of interesting players. Jake McCarthy was drafted by the Pirates out of high school, but they couldn’t get him to pass on his commitment to college. He established himself as a top hitter at Virginia, so that move will pay off for him. Parker Meadows is the brother of Austin Meadows, so it would be interesting to see if the Pirates pass on him if he’s still available. This is where he fits though, so it wouldn’t be a reach to take him. Seth Beers would be a hard bat to pass up if his future didn’t look to be as a DH. They might try to develop him at a position and trade him to the AL if that doesn’t work out. Anthony Seigler will likely be off the board because catchers are at a premium and he’s one of the best in this class. Jordan Groshans is a prep third baseman with room to fill out and he’s already showing plus power. He also has solid average tools across the board.
JT Ginn has a terrific fastball/slider combo for a high school pitcher, but there are questions as to whether he can remain as a starter. He isn’t big for a pitcher and he has a lot of effort in his delivery. I’m not sure why Nick Schnell isn’t ranked higher, but he would be a terrific pick at 36th. He’s a high school outfielder with tools across the board and he’s had a strong spring. Alex Kloffenstein is a prep pitcher with a huge frame and a nice four-pitch mix, plus he is young for the draft class. He fits the profile of a Pirates pick and it wouldn’t surprise me if they took him here.
Otherwise known as the “These Are the Guys Who Are a Good Fit For the 51st Overall Pick” Tier
Tristan Beck, Jeremiah Jackson, Griffin Conine, Nander De Sades, Greyson Jenista, Xavier Edwards, Jameson Hannah, Will Banfield, Sean Hjelle, Blaine Knight, Kris Bubic, Nico Hoerner, Griffin Roberts, Tristan Pompey, Mike Siani, Lenny Torres Jr., Alek Thomas
Some of these players could be off the board before the 36th pick is even made. The Pirates were reportedly interested in catcher Joey Bart before he took off and cemented a top five spot for himself. Will Banfield was rated higher than this group early in the year, so he could actually be a fit for them with the 36th pick. I like him better here though, and consider him a strong pick at 51st overall. Sean Hjelle is a 6’11” pitcher at Kentucky, who has a solid four-pitch mix with above average control. He still has room to fill out as well, which could help add some power to his fastball and more stamina. Nander De Sades was ranked much higher earlier in the year. He’s a prep shortstop with strong defense and a nice bat. Tristan Beck is only here due to his back injury from last year being a concern. He was highly rated out of high school and has shown first round stuff when healthy. It’s possible he’s off the board much earlier than 51st if a team is satisfied with his medical records. Xavier Edwards is a toolsy shortstop who would be rated much higher if he wasn’t one of the smallest players in this draft class.
You don’t often see college pitchers with the same raw upside of a high school player, but Blaine Knight doesn’t have a lot of miles on his arm and his 6’3″ frame has a lot of room to add weight. He would be very intriguing here. Griffin Conine is the son of long-time MLB player Jeff Conine. He was ranked much higher coming into the season, but a slow start turned off scouts. He rebounded in April, but hasn’t moved up the charts. He’s a late first round talent who could be here for this 51st pick. Alek Thomas is rated higher than this spot, but I think he’s more of a second round talent due to below average power and a weak outfield arm. He’s a speedy center field who should get on base often.