Two Possibilities for the Pirates with the First Overall Pick of the 2023 Draft

MLB Pipeline posted their first podcast of 2023 yesterday. They answered eight prospect related questions, with Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis both chiming in with their opinions. One of the questions was regarding the first overall pick in the 2023 draft. That pick belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Shortly after the Pirates won the draft lottery last month, both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline released mock drafts. They both went with LSU outfielder Dylan Crews for the selection of the Pirates.

While it has been a month since those mock drafts were released, you don’t expect changes at the top of the draft class with seven full months left and nobody playing games during the winter. That being said, both Callis and Mayo went with someone else besides Crews as their first overall draft pick guess.

Mayo went with Tennessee right-handed pitcher Chase Dollander, saying that a pitching prospect like him hasn’t come along since Steven Strasburg or Gerrit Cole, and that makes him more rare than what Crews offers. Dollander ranks second on their draft top 100 list.

Here’s a video of him from the summer.

Callis went with Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford, saying that he’s very similar to Crews, except Callis believes he has a little more speed and athleticism. Langford is ranked as the third best prospect on the draft top 100. Pipeline’s tools ratings have Langford and Crews even in hitting (60), speed (55) and fielding (50), with Langford holding the edge in power (65-60) and Crews holding the edge in arm (55-50).

Here’s video of Langford.

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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Danatural08

fyi i just heard 2nd hand about a convo with a high up scout & someone i know. They were discussing the upcoming draft & said that as of now, Dollander is their guy, they’re really high on him. Sounds like they’re focusing alot of early thoughts on pitching. It’s still very early, but thought it was interesting.

pittsburghbob69

Langford is not simliar than Crews. No one hits the ball harder than Crews; and it’s not even close.

Exit velocity’s over 100 mph, Crews was the leader and the second best was significantly less. Crews’ “barreled balls” was also ridiculously ahead of the next best in college baseball. He also doesn’t chase and has elite bat to ball skills.

Crews has no problem with FB, sliders or offspeed stuff. To get Crews out you need big league stuff. Plain and simple. And you need a secondary weapon that is nasty enough to give him a reason to chase.

Crews is far and away the best prospect in the draft and will be the best prospect in MLB soon after he’s drafted. He’s gonna be the run away top prospect in the draft by the end of college baseball season(he probably should be already). And he is/will be the best prospect in the draft since Bryce Harper. He’s that good!!

Pirates can’t screw this up and try to save money with the #1 overall pick in order to draft acouple expensive prep kids later. Crews is generational.

Last edited 25 days ago by pittsburghbob69
ArkyWags

Generational? Talk about a term that’s thrown around way too much. Just because you want him to be drafted by Pgh (fair enough, he’s my pick now too) doesn’t make him generational.
Also you basically plagiarized this press release from prospects live. Not great, Bob!

pittsburghbob69

Crews barreled balls is far in away ahead of any other college hitter. Along with EV’s. In years!! Like ridiculously higher than the second best. And you don’t like analytics, the smell/eye test passes as well.

I’ve never proclaimed guys like Henry Davis, Spencer Torkelson, Termarr Johnson, Jack Leiter, K.Rocker, Andrew Jones’ kid, etc., to be “generational”.

Not even Andy Rutschman(and I loved Rutschman and that Oregon State team of Rutschman, Madrigal, S.Kwan, T.Larnach). Crews is a generational talent.

The best prospect baseball has seen since Bryce Harper. Better than Wander Franco, Vlad Jr., you name it. He’s that good.

Last edited 24 days ago by pittsburghbob69
pittsburghbob69

And the word “generational” is used more in hockey to describe prospects. I really haven’t heard or even used the term to describe a baseball prospect.

ArkyWags

That’s because it really shouldn’t be used for baseball.

steve_zielinski

A comp I read compared Crews with J.D. Drew: as the best college OF since Drew.
This is another deep draft, the third in a row.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Rangers have entered the chat for Bryan Reynolds. Leiter, White, Carter and Winn?

James_Robert5

I’ve been following HOF voting this month

It’s too bad the Pirates can’t sign Reynolds to a long term deal

Reynolds had been as good as Todd Helton for his first 3+ seasons

The majority of Helton’s career value was in the next 5-6 seasons

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/heltoto01.shtml#2001-2006-sum:batting_value

James_Robert5

Helton’s career WAR / 162 was 4.5

Reynolds is also at 4.5 WAR / 162 games

James_Robert5
James_Robert5

Scott Rolen is the only other player with a decent chance this ballot

James_Robert5

Rolen’s career WAR / 162 was 5.6

That’s just a tick better than Key Hayes 5.4 WAR / 162

James_Robert5

So the CURRENT Pirates team has at least 2 players who are likely to get some HOF consideration

ArkyWags

What’s some HOF consideration? They get 1 vote sometime?
It’s also extremely early to make those comments on those guys as even possible HOF. Reynolds probably needs at least another half dozen good seasons to get there, and Hayes even more than that.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Also it’s no sure thing fWAR by defense alone would get Hayes the votes.

AdministrativeSky236

I would love this though dont know they would do that

NoVaBurgher

Yup, I would say yes to that trade in a heartbeat. But ain’t no way they’re gonna drop Leiter, White, AND Carter. I could see the Rangers maybe swapping Leiter with Porter, and honestly, I think I’d still do that trade

pittsburghbob69

I think Texas makes sense. I would want Owen White, K.Rocker, Cole Winn, Dustin Harris and L.Acuna.

I think Reynolds is worth it and should bring back a haul of that size/caliber. Owen White, K.Rocker and D.Harris are top 100 prospects or close to it. With Cole Winn and L.Acuna probably top 200.

Jack Leiter’s data was significantly worse in MiLB than at Vandy. Vandy’s trackman devices were uncalibrated and unreliable.

Leiter wouldn’t have been the top pitching prospects in that draft class if the data was correct. One of the biggest pros to Leiter was his amazing TrackMan data. It was the best spin rates of any pitching prospect in years. Come to find out, it was wrong. I would stay away from Leiter.

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/confessions-of-a-baseball-analytics-writer/

Last edited 25 days ago by pittsburghbob69
RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

I don’t like Leiter either

pittsburghbob69

If you’re giving me a pick of the smaller type pitching prospects. I’m taking Max Meyer. Even with his injury over Leiter. He’s breezed through and dominated every level in MiLB.

I’ll still take K.Watson from Miami as well. Super athletic kid and he’s gonna hit. The clubhouse stuff is a bit worrisome though.

Texas makes the most sense to me; or Seattle. Matt Brash is another smaller type pitching prospect I’d be interested in if it was my call. More so Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo and Prelander Berroa from Seattle though.

Last edited 24 days ago by pittsburghbob69
ArkyWags

Texas makes the a lot of sense. A good mix of some high end pitching (although Leiter is overrated) and Carter.
I want no part of Watson after his first year. Serious contact issues. Miami would love Reynolds, but I don’t think they’d give up Perez for him and I don’t think they have enough otherwise.
My wildcard team is Cleveland. If they get Reynolds, they’re in the driver’s seat in that division for the next 3 years or so. From our standpoint, they produce high end pitching like crazy, and they’ve got some really good position player prospects.

NoVaBurgher

Good point on Cleveland. I wouldn’t mind if they sent back DeLauter, Espino and Naylor off the top of my head. And ya, Reynolds would put them over the top in that division.

pittsburghbob69

MLB pipeline’s scouting report even mentions his data and metrics being significantly worse in MiLB than Vandy.

And call me crazy but I still prefer Rocker to Leiter. I watch both in college and just find Rocker to have the much higher “floor”. Along with a high “ceiling”.

Leiter “ceiling” is probably slightly higher but his chance of “bust” is much, much higher. Rocker will pitch in MLB. He has the frame and secondaries to project an easy SP profile.

Rocker has 3 plus pitches( FB, wipeout slider and a plus CB). Along with a decent change-up. Leiter’s FB is his best pitch(or was his best pitch).

Last edited 25 days ago by pittsburghbob69
joesolo6181

So it begins. Who to take at 1-1? I am sure there will be other projections but if possible lets wait to see who emerges when the games begin.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

For me right now it’s Crews but none of the tealeaf reading matters much until we see the season these kids put up.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

OT but I truly wish someone with more time and excel skills than me would do a FV v Steamer/Zips/TheBat look at how prospects are graded by large markets v comp pick receivers. I just looked at FGs Dodgers writeup and the fawning was out of this world.

skliesen

In theory I like TOR SP more than a middle of the order bat. So I lean towards Dollander. But adding another top shelf stick to a lineup that has Cruz, Endy, Davis, Nick G, Hayes, Reynolds (?), et al sure sounds appealing.

johnalcorn

I’m kinda surprised by the lack of buzz for Brock Wilken at Wake Forest. 70 game power with a max exit of 120 already without the usual swing and miss that comes with it. It woudl be him or Crews for me, I dont think Dollander is universally ranked so high.

Since 2000 #1 overall SP – Mize, Aiken, Appel, Cole, Strasburg, Price, Hochevar, Bullington. I’m not seeing folks outside of MLB.com putting Dollander on par with Cole or Strassy.

ArkyWags

Wilken has some swing and miss for sure. About 25%, and it was a big jump from his freshman year. Both Crews and Langford are under 20% in a tougher league. Langford was under 15% actually.

If I had to pick one right now it’s Crews. Subject to change tomorrow!

emjayinTN

He’s ranked high, but could be the No. 3 SP on this Volunteer team. No.1 could be Chase Burns and No. 2 could be Drew Beam. Both of those kids came in as Freshmen last year and along with Dollander, were the weekend Rotation after Blade Tidwell went down injured before the season even started.

Burns was a possible 1st Round pitcher out of HS but opted to sign with Tennessee. He’s 6’4″ and touched 101 as a Freshman last year.

With the depth of young pitching, it could be time to find a solid hitter along the lines of Johnson last year. College hitters have to be special – have not even considered the draft by Wilken deserves a look.

steve_zielinski

Dollander is considered the best pitching prospect since Cole and Strasburg.

NMR

According to Major League Baseball’s official hype men, and nobody else.

steve_zielinski

I’ve not seen anyone but Longenhagen putting Dollander at a spot outside of the top 5. The Fangraph is old.

NMR

btw, Longenhagen was ahead of every other outlet in tamping down the Rocker hype train. Never was his top prospect even a year out. Might be worth remembering track records…

NMR

And yet there remains an enormous gap between that and “best pitching prospect of the last ten years”.

One need only look back at what these guys said about kumar rocker to understand how wildly they inflate prospects at this stage of the draft cycle.

Their job is to drive engagement, people get excited about superlatives, and nobody cares when they’re wrong. Best to use pipeline for entertainment and the rest for value.

Last edited 26 days ago by NMR
bradlej31

Dollander should’ve been drafted already but he didn’t get seen enough due to Covid. Pitchers like this aren’t getting to college anymore. We need to grab him if he’s healthy.

agent00

dollander is the way, pitchers injuries be damned!

Scam likely

Thompson dfa, and another one bites the dust. Nicholas last chance off the stallings trade.

robertkasperski

“Hey!!! Don’t forget about me!!!!” — Connor Scott

agent00

ahh today is a good day

Wilbur Miller

Well, damn, didn’t expect that. One big fear I had was that they’d end up with this huge corps of middle relievers — Crowe, De Jong, Wilson and Thompson. I probably wouldn’t have dfa’d Thompson, since he has options, but there’s a positive side to it.

Last edited 26 days ago by Wilbur Miller
ArkyWags

Thompson kinda sucked so I’m not too worried about it.

juniorkrz

I liked Thompson for the long-man role, especially when you consider how many innings Hill has left and the volatility of Velasquez.

Wilbur Miller

I’d much rather have Thompson than Velasquez. The larger point, though, is that they may be graduating from the obsession with fifth starters. Velasquez will be gone before long, most likely because he’ll continue to be Velasquez, or at most because of a trade, and Hill will either be hurt or traded by July. With Wilson and Thompson gone, they’ll have to turn to guys with some actual upside.

Anthony Murphy

When Baseball America mentioned Crews’ whiff rate against sliders and changeups it immediately gave me a Nicky G type vibe. Right now I’d still lean towards him, but between that and seeing Callis and Mayo go elsewhere, I think definitely a lot more open to maybe taking someone else now.

bradlej31

Once you start seeing the EVs from Gonzalez everyone will change their tune on him. Dude punishes the ball when he connects. He’s a 25-30 HR infielder who can play a passable SS (and played 3B in AFL). He’s a giant asset.

NMR

And yet he’s failed to hit for power outside of bandboxes.

Agree he’s far from the hitter scouts thought he’d be, but I’m skeptical of unsourced minor league batted ball data…

Y2JGQ2

You literally just described Oneil Cruz, whom we already have for the next 5 years. Unless you are drafting someone to replace Oneil in 5 years when we inevitably trade him (by then our window will have closed anyways) I really don’t see the point. Only a pitcher or Outfielder helps in the rebuild, even if its 2026.

robertkasperski

I think  bradlej31 was just comparing Crews and Nicky G’s bats only. Crews is an OF.

Anthony Murphy

I’m as big an EV guy as there is, that’s not the issue with him. ‘When he connects’ has been the issue. He’s struggled, A LOT, with breaking balls in each of the last two season’s. Struck out 28% of the time in AA. His 16% swinging strike was in the top 10 in the system of everyone with at least 200 PA. Mason Martin’s swinging strike rate was 17%, so he and Gonzales swing and miss at nearly the same rate.

He’s got work to do before I say 25-30 home run guy, and even then I’m probably saying 15-20 is far more realistic. But that’s a number I’m absolutely buying for a 2B.

Y2JGQ2

We already have Castro and Gonzalez whom can both do that….why on earth would you want another one. We need High upside arms and outfielders

ArkyWags

You don’t draft for need. Ever.

NMR

Don’t stretch a pick based solely on need but of course need should be a consideration, don’t be obtuse.

ArkyWags

Ehhh. I’ll draft talent and figure it out later. Drafting for need is a really easy way to convince yourself of a slightly lesser player. Which is what Y2 did in roughly two sentences.
Catch my drift? Or am I being obtuse?

robertkasperski

They are talking about the bat Crews and comparing him to current prospects,. Crews is an OF

steve_zielinski

SSS: There is a video on YouTube that has highlights of a Tennessee-LSU game. Crews had no trouble hitting Dollander. And Langford had a better year last season than Crews had. Neither Oer has swing and miss problem as measured by thei K and BB rates, Both outfielders and Dollander are worthy 1-1 selections. One could see Clark climb to become a legitimate 1-1 pick. Gonzalez too.

NMR

Love this take.

Danatural08

spoiler alert, Langford’s video is um, not great. One nice swing at the end that they replay in slow mo

chuck_conner

Yeah, is that the best video they have on him?

Marshall

Agree. Felt the same about Crews. Too much swing and miss. Know they are teaching more selling out but he doesn’t seem to recognize off speed which is a problem for a big swinger. Would go Dollanger myself at this point.

b mcferren

OT: Moustakas has a .961 career OPS in PNC park

are Choi and Santana platoon partners at first?

can we DH Moustakas and have him hit behind Oneil? That would more than enough make up for trading Reynold´s bat

b mcferren

might even start Moustakas at second base

roberto

I am a big Moose fan. But, he’s toast and not a second baseman.

b mcferren

do you even watch the games we play?

in 2022 he hit three homeruns against us with a monster 1.010 ops in seven games

skliesen

Three words for you…Small Sample Size.

NMR

If only we could face our own pitchers!

b mcferren

.926 ops vs the Brewers in 2022

looks like he just didn´t perform in that Cincinatti bandbox

roberto

Maybe because he was 32 and 33? I was playing slow-pitch softball at that age.

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