Draft Prospect Watch: Two First Round Possibilities for the Pirates

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. The first day of the draft is June 3rd. You can check out our draft preview here.

Here are links to the previous Draft Prospect Watch articles:

Matthew Allan and Zack Thompson

 Brett Baty and Will Holland

Daniel Espino and Jack Leiter

Will Wilson and Brandon Shewmake

Alek Manoah and George Kirby

Corbin Carroll and Maurice Hampton

Rece Hinds and Tyler Callihan

Hunter Barco

Baseball America posted a mock draft on Wednesday. We took a look at Hunter Barco (see link above) because he is reportedly someone who the Pirates have focused on recently. For today’s two players, we look at the two who are closest to the 18th overall pick, but haven’t been featured here yet.

We start with Kameron Misner, an outfielder out of Missouri. He is someone who I originally didn’t plan on including in these draft profiles because people were saying he could be a top ten overall pick. As BA pointed out in their mock draft, his stock has slipped a little recently with an extended slump. They now have him going 16th overall.

Misner is 21 years old, standing 6’4″, 220 pounds. He is a true five-tool player, with everything grading out above average or better. MLB Pipeline has him as a 60 grade runner and a 60 grade arm. It’s easy to see why a lefty bat at that size, with five tools, was considered a consensus top ten pick not long ago.

The part that should have some concern is his hitting this year. Misner was a 33rd round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2016, slipping due to signability concerns. He hit from day one in college, batting .282/.360/.446 in 58 games as a freshman. That was followed up by a .360/.497/.576 slash line last year, though he missed some time with a foot injury. He had a total of 30 steals and just three errors in his first two seasons combined.

The big junior year isn’t going as planned so far. Through his first 36 games this season, Misner is hitting .260/.457/.472 with eight homers and 14 steals in 15 attempts. Solid overall numbers, but it’s an OPS 144 points off of last year’s total. He also got off to a hot start against the out of conference teams. His SEC line in 13 games is ugly, sitting at .106/.283/.170, with 21 strikeouts in 47 at-bats.

It’s obviously a small sample size, but he has some tough pitching coming up with games versus Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida, so he needs to really turn things around, or his stock will continue to slip.

Here are some videos, starting with this one from D1 Baseball, which has some fielding, batting practice and game action

Here’s a long walk-off homer from Misner, posted by Mizzou Athletics

There aren’t a lot of great videos for Misner, but this one has a connection to the Pirates. Here’s him hitting a sacrifice fly off of Gunnar Hoglund, who didn’t sign with the Pirates last year as the 36th overall pick

Our next player is prep pitcher Brennan Malone, who attends IMG Academy in Bradenton. He went 19th overall in the BA mock draft. He was actually one spot ahead of Misner for MLB Pipeline coming into the season and both players were rated higher, with Malone coming in at tenth overall.

Malone is 18 years old (turns 19 in early September) and has a commitment to North Carolina. He stands 6’4″, 210 pounds and throws right-handed. Malone’s top tool is his fastball, which got him a 70 grade now, with potential for more. He was topping out at 97 MPH coming into the year and a recent report had him sitting 93-96 MPH for most of his six inning outing. In that last game, he had a lot of success with his slider. His slow curveball flashes plus potential at times and his changeup would grade at least average, though it has looked better at times. It shows great separation from his fastball.

Malone has an athletic frame and an ability to throw strikes with four pitches. He has command issues at times, but has shown some improvements in that area. An athletic prep pitcher, with a 6’4″ frame, a mid-90s fastball and three off-speed pitches that grade at least average, certainly fits the mold of a strong pick at the 18th overall spot.

This video here shows each of his four pitches in a row from the same angle

Here are two more videos, starting with one from Prospect Live from February

Prospect Pipeline has one from last summer, with velocities listed

** Jim Callis from MLB Pipeline commented on the draft this week, talking about their upcoming coverage leading up to June 3rd. Here’s an interesting excerpt from his brief write-up:

In my 30 years of covering the Draft, this is the weakest group of college pitching prospects I can remember. The college position players are deeper than usual, and while the high school crop is more balanced, it’s not out of the question that the first 10 or so selections could be hitters.