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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Draft Prospect Watch: A Look at Two of the Top Pitching Prospects This Year

Every Sunday, we are going to take a look at two top draft prospects in this upcoming June amateur draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates make their first selection with the 18th overall pick. They also have the 37th overall pick. Our players featured each week will be those who are ranked on prospect lists in the general area of the 18th pick, while also showing some players who could be available when the Pirates make their second pick.

In our first article, we take a look at two very different pitchers. One is a prep right-hander, while the other is a college southpaw. In the following weeks, we will keep a running list of each report to make it easy to check out previous articles. You can check out our draft preview here.

Matthew Allan out of Seminole HS in Florida is a 6’3″, 210 pound, right-handed pitcher, who turns 18 in the middle of April. He’s a late bloomer, moving up the draft charts thanks to his performances over this past summer.

According to MLB Pipeline, he has one of the top fastballs in this draft class, sitting 92-94 MPH and touching 96-97, with solid control. The call his curveball slightly above average, with more in the future. His changeup is slightly below average, which is common for a high school pitcher, who can get by with a strong fastball/curve combo.

Baseball America says that he has a potential pair of plus offerings with his fastball and curve, and his changeup could be a third solid pitch with some work. They have him throwing the change in the 87-89 MPH range. They think he needs work with his command. Most prep pitchers fall in that category, so unless he regresses, it won’t hold him back.

Pipeline ranked him 17th in this draft class and Baseball America has him 18th, making him the perfect player to start with here when looking for who could go 18th overall. Fangraphs has him ranked 25th.

There are a lot of videos available for him from last summer when he really took off, so I’ve included them below instead of just picking one. First up is Prospect Pipeline:

Here is one from 2080 Baseball

Perfect Game Baseball

Baseball America

Zack Thompson out of Kentucky is a 6’3″, 225 pound, left-handed pitcher, who turned 21 in late October. He was previously drafted in the 11th round in 2016 by the Tampa Bay Rays. He missed two months last spring due to an elbow injury and was limited to 31 innings, but he has been healthy since.

MLB Pipeline gives Thompson four pitches that rate at least average. His fastball and slider are called plus pitches at times. He throws low-90s with movement, topping out at 96 MPH with the fastball. The slider sits low-80s (82-84 according to BA) and has a lot of spin. His curve and changeup are both solid offerings. His control can be off at times and he doesn’t have the best command.

BA believes that he could improve his control/command enough to be a solid MLB starter. They are slightly lower on his curve than Pipeline, calling it fringe-average and ranking it as his fourth pitch.

Thompson was a little wild in his 2019 debut, though he dominated otherwise. In four shutout innings against Austin Peay, he allowed one hit, with three walks and nine strikeouts. He made his second start on Friday and allowed four runs over 5.2 innings against Texas Tech. Thompson gave up four hits and two walks, but still managed to pick up eight strikeouts, giving him 17 strikeouts in 9.2 innings this year.

MLB Pipeline ranks him 15th overall, while Baseball America has him 12th overall. Fangraphs isn’t as high on him, which is one reason I included him in the first draft feature. They have him ranked 31st overall. When combined with the other two lists, he’s a possibility for either of the first two picks for the Pirates, though he clearly leans more towards the 18th overall pick at this time.

Here’s video from the fall last year

Here’s another from Baseball America

** One article of note from BA. They just posted an early mock draft, but only for the top ten picks. That’s why we didn’t post an article about it. You could look at the lower names on the list as possibilities for the Pirates, and I’m sure a few of these players will end up in one of our future weekly features.

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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.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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