2020 Draft Preview: Local Prep Hitter Steals the Spotlight

Starting next Saturday, we are going to be posting weekly articles covering the 2020 MLB amateur draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in an exciting spot this year, making the seventh overall pick on June 10th. It’s the highest they have picked since selecting Gerrit Cole with the top spot in the 2011 draft. They also have the 31st and 44th picks on day one of the draft, giving them a chance to add some high upside talent in a strong year for talent.

Part of the focus this year will be on West Allegheny HS outfielder Austin Hendrick. It’s not often that you find a local player, playing within home run distance (slight exaggeration) of PNC Park, who has early first round talent. Not only that, he has been placed seventh overall in the class multiple times, either in rankings or mock drafts, so he’s lining up with that first round pick. There’s a double interest in him for fans of the Pirates looking for a power bat and local kid to cheer on.

While Hendrick is going to be a bigger focus than any other player, at least early on in the coverage, there will be much more over the next 3 1/2 months. Every week we are going to take a look at a player who ranks near the seventh overall pick from a top draft source. That player will be paired up in the article with someone who ranks close to the 31st overall pick, leaning more towards players just outside of the top 30, making them a possibility for the 44th pick as well.

You get to learn about the top players in the draft, while also getting an idea of the type of talent you could see with those picks. Not every draft class is created equal, so previous picks in those spots aren’t always the best for comparison. Let’s also face it, everyone ends up finding their favorites and you hope for them on draft day. Then when they aren’t picked, you probably already know something about the player they ended up picking due to the focused coverage.

Except for the Cole Tucker pick, we have a pretty good track record of highlighting the player chosen early by the Pirates over the last eight drafts. Last year we had multiple articles on Quinn Priester, and it just happened to work out that Brennan Malone (acquired for Starling Marte) was also part of our draft coverage in April. Travis Swaggerty, Shane Baz, Will Craig, Kevin Newman, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire and Mark Appel were all covered here in multiple articles.

Besides the weekly Saturday articles, we will also post any new mock drafts and draft rankings from the top sources in the industry. We already started that this year (see links above for Hendrick) and recently posted an updated draft rankings from Fangraphs, looking closer at who they ranked seventh and 31st overall. Those rankings/mocks really pick up as draft day nears. Last year we had 14 ranking/mock articles from early April until day one of the draft.

As a side note to that Frangraphs link, they have Tennessee left-handed pitcher Garrett Crochet as the seventh best prospect (brief report and videos in the link). Crochet missed his first start last night due to shoulder soreness, though no structural damage according to the coach. It sounds like he won’t start next week and the plan to take it slow with his return. It’s early, but he’s definitely going to have to prove something when he returns to continue to be rated that high. I’m sure there were a lot of scouts planning to be there to get a look at him yesterday.

Once the draft begins, then we kick it into an extra gear. Every top ten pick gets an article shortly after the picks are made. Every draft pick gets their own player page right after the picks happen. We have thoughts on each day of the draft and our yearly tiered draft ranking article is usually the most popular article leading up to the draft. Then our draft tracker will let you keep track of the players who sign, the bonus amounts paid and the remaining pool money for any over-slot picks. The three days of the draft end up being three of the busiest days on the site.

Check back next Saturday for the first Draft Prospect Watch of the year.

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.

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