The 2019 MLB Draft starts Monday night at 7 PM, with the first two rounds of the draft taking place live on MLB Network. The Pittsburgh Pirates pick 18th, 37th and 57th and 72nd overall on day one. Rounds 3-10 follow on Tuesday at 1 PM, and rounds 11-40 are on Wednesday at noon.
As we’ve done every year since the site has been running, we will be providing coverage of every single pick that the Pirates make. To follow along, you need to be a subscriber. We are currently running a sale in time for the draft, giving 19% off to new subscribers, using the code “2019DRAFT”. Just head over to the products page, choose either an Annual or Top Prospect Plan, and use the code at checkout. A subscription also includes access to all of our articles throughout the year, plus free eBooks for all of our previous Prospect Guides.
For the last six 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
Adley Rutschman, Bobby Witt Jr, Andrew Vaughn, CJ Abrams, JJ Bleday, Riley Greene, Hunter Bishop, Nick Lodolo
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 1-8, but they should all be gone before the 18th pick comes up.
Otherwise known as the “These Are the Guys Who Would be Strong Selections For the 18th Overall Pick” Tier
Alex Manoah, Bryson Stott, Jackson Rutledge, Shea Langeliers, Matthew Allan, Zack Thompson, Corbin Carroll
I think between the first group and these players, they represent the top 15 players in the draft, but the Pirates pick at 18th overall, so there is a good chance that at least one player here will end up being available. I don’t have a favorite pick from this group and don’t claim to be an expert on the draft, but I do spend a lot of time reading about these players for our draft articles. I believe any of them would be a very good pick at 18th overall in this year’s draft class. All of these players have been covered here, with scouting reports and videos, so I’m going to link to their pages.
Otherwise known as the “These Are the Guys Who Are Good Fits For the 18th Overall Pick” Tier
Josh Jung, Brett Baty, George Kirby, Quinn Priester, Brennan Malone, Logan Davidson, Daniel Espino, Michael Busch
This tier is guys who are more likely than the tier 2 players to be around for the 18th pick. We split it up a little differently this year because there are players who don’t get mentioned all of the time in the top ten, but also don’t get mentioned below the 17th pick, so they went in tier 2. These players here have been mentioned often around the 18th pick, either in prospect rankings or mock drafts.
Jung and Baty are third basemen from Texas with big bats. The difference is that Baty is a high school player, albeit old for his draft class, while Jung plays for Texas Tech. Along with North Carolina’s Michael Busch (1B/OF), they represent three big bats that could be available in this spot. I was hesitant to add Logan Davidson here because there are some questions about his bat, but he has a lot of raw power and above average grades for his speed and overall defense/arm at shortstop.
Priester, Malone and Espino are all high school right-handed pitchers. Espino has one of the top fastballs in the entire class and two solid breaking balls. Malone gets up to 97 MPH, while using a four-pitch mix, which he controls well. Priester has been connected often to the Pirates. He can hit 96 MPH and displays a plus curve, with solid control. Kirby is a polished college right-hander, who uses four pitches, hits 98 MPH and throws strikes. While those three high school pitchers have slightly more upside, none of them currently approach the floor for Kirby. Some might call that a safer pick, but that’s ignoring the entire first sentence here about him.
Otherwise known as the “Questionable For the 18th Pick, Great For the 37th Pick” Tier
Will Wilson, Jack Leiter, JJ Goss, Kody Hoese, Gunnar Henderson, Keoni Cavaco, Maurice Hampton, Cameron Misner, Braden Shewmake, Seth Johnson, Tyler Callihan, Hunter Barco
Most people would have Wilson in the previous tier, but I can’t see the Pirates taking someone who seems destined for second base, unless they had a better bat. Jack Leiter is another who would end up in the previous tier for some because he’s a polished high school pitcher. He also comes from a family that has produced three Major League pitchers. The problem here for me is the size and lack of projection. I doubt he gets to the 37th pick, but he would be a steal there.
Henderson has been tied to the Pirates and could be a surprise (small) reach with the 18th overall pick, but Fangraphs recently had the Pirates taking him at 37th overall in a mock draft. I don’t believe he will drop that low, because other teams have interest in him as well. Callihan is one of the best high school hitters in the draft, but he doesn’t have enough besides the bat to go as high as 18th overall.
Misner is a five-tool, lefty hitting college outfielder, who hasn’t lived up to his potential with the bat, especially in big games. Injuries have played a part, but he’s a player someone will take a chance on early. Hampton has five-tool potential (he’s an outfielder) and he’s young for his draft class, turning 18 in August. He’s a two-sport player, who could take off once he’s playing baseball full-time.
Johnson has made incredible strides this season pitching at Campbell. He had almost no pitching experience coming into the year, so he is very raw for a college pitcher. That being said, he’s been one of the best looking pitchers anyway, so imagine what could be in there with more experience.
Keoni Cavaco has a lot to like, but some swing-and-miss to his game makes him a better pick later. That being said, there are teams looking at him earlier, so he might be off the board before the Pirates make their first pick. Shewmake has some defensive questions at shortstop, otherwise he’s a strong overall player. Hoese is a third baseman with a strong bat, but below average speed and a questionable track record keeps him in this group. Goss is a strong option after the top high school arms are off the board, so it’s very unlikely he gets to that 37th pick.
Almost all of these players aren’t realistic for 37th overall, but if one could drop, it is lefty Hunter Barco, who has been inconsistent over the last two years in front of scouts. That could knock him down the rankings, but he is a 6’4″ high school lefty, who hits mid-90s, with two above average off-speed pitches. Better control, which he shows from time-to-time already, and he’s a steal at 37th overall.
Otherwise known as the “These Are the Guys Who Are a Good Fit For the 37th Overall Pick and Strong Picks at 57th Overall” Tier
Rece Hinds, Josh Wolf, Logan Wyatt, Brooks Lee, Brady McConnell, Nasim Nunez, Anthony Volpe, Blake Walston, Isaiah Campbell, Greg Jones, Bryce Osmond
Now we are getting further away from the top of the draft class, where things get a little trickier. We might not see the Pirates take a player from this group with the 57th overall pick, even if they are still on the board. Just because we think they are better and draft sources have them ranked higher, doesn’t mean that the Pirates have someone else rated much higher.
Hinds is a high upside, high risk, high reward player. He has huge raw power and defensive skills in the infield, with a very strong arm. There are flaws to his game though, so patience is a must. Brooks Lee ranks high in this group because of his terrific hitting skills and strong defense at shortstop, but his speed and power are both below average.
There are some opinion differences on Wolf, which makes him fit perfectly in this group. If he goes 37th to the Pirates, that means they were on the side that ranks him higher, but he could be a steal with their third pick. Lousiville first baseman Logan Wyatt is same type of split, where he probably belongs right in the middle of the 37th and 57th picks. He’s a powerful lefty bat, held back by his position and some of the worst speed in the entire draft class.
McConnell has a solid bat and he’s fast, but defensive questions at Florida keep him out of the fourth tier. It’s not huge upside, but it’s a high floor. Nasim Nunez is a no doubt future shortstop, who possesses plus speed to go along with his elite defense, but lack of size and power keeps him in this group. Greg Jones is here for his 80 grade speed. He also plays solid defense at shortstop and has improved his hitting. He’s more of a strong pick at 57th, rather than an option with the earlier pick, but recent mock drafts think he could go much earlier. I like him better late due to the bat lagging behind the other tools, though his game changing speed and defense give him a high floor.
Bryce Osmond is a two-way player, with a mid-90s fastball and solid secondary pitches, who also has some potential with the bat. He’s a very athletic player.
Anthony Volpe and Blake Walston were just covered here.
Otherwise known as the “These Are the Guys Who Are a Good Fit For the 57th and 72nd Overall Picks” Tier
Matt Canterino, Chase Strumpf, Matthew Lugo, Michael Toglia, Sammy Siani, Jimmy Lewis, Graeme Stinson, John Doxakis, Davis Wendzel, Drey Jameson, Kyren Paris, Ryan Pepiot, Ryan Jensen, Andrew Dalquist, Ethan Small, Jerrion Ealy, Yordys Valdes, Tommy Henry, Matthew Thompson, Matt Wallner, Kendall Williams, Evan Fitterer, Ryan Garcia
This is a large group of names, so we will only highlight a few of them here that really stand out. In the past, the Pirates have pulled out some names with these second round picks that were rated much lower, but we found out that those players showed late improvements leading up to the draft.
Canterino could be two tiers higher depending on who you talk to, but his delivery scares some people. It’s described as both unorthodox and high effort.
Strumpf could also be higher, but for me he fits better here as a high OBP guy, with average potential to the rest of his game.
Lugo is rated higher by some due to a nice set of average skills across the board at shortstop, but he fits better with the 57th pick and would be a great get 15 spots later.
Jimmy Lewis and Graeme Stinson were covered here after Fangraphs picked them 57th and 72nd overall for the Pirates.
Jerrion Ealy is a two-sport star, with plus plus speed and strong outfield defense, but his bat keeps him back for now.