The NFL Draft, NBA draft and the MLB (Rule 4) Draft are all within a couple months of each other. They all sound like similar entities but they couldn ?t be more different. My analogy is that the NBA/NFL drafts are Pizza Hut and the MLB draft is an Ethiopian restaurant: both places to eat dinner, but with not much else in common.
In this article, I’ll delve into the wonderfully complicated and interesting MLB draft, it ?s 17-22 year old prospects that won ?t see the majors for 5 or 6 years, the Pirates ? likes/dislikes and what the scouts have been saying. Enjoy.
Pirates draft tendencies
The Pirates have certain attributes they try to draft:
- High character
- Intelligence on and off the field
- Premium positions
Briefly touching on these characteristics: #1 and #2 are obvious. As is premium positions: catcher, shortstop, center field and starting pitcher carry much more weight than other positions because these positions are the hardest to find.
Let ?s talk about what I mean for ?Youth ?. Being young for your level is so important for the Pirates, because it allows for upside and breakouts. Young for a draftee means young for your high school or college class. It normally means a draft age of less than 18 for high school seniors or less than 21 for college juniors. This means a birth month in the late spring or summer.
Jim Callis of MLB.com thinks that teams (like the Pirates) overvalue birth month. If I were the Pirates I ?d just point to these guys:
|Barry Bonds||July 24th|
|Alex Rodriguez||July 27th|
|Roger Clemens||August 4th|
|Mike Trout||August 7th|
|Cal Ripken||August 24th|
2019 Draft numbers
If you ?re reading this article you ?re probably aware of how money is used in the draft and slotting positions. This year the Pirates have the 11th biggest draft poll to the tune of $9,944,000.
Their top 4 slots have the following values:
|37||$1,999,300.00||Comp pick for not signing pick last year|
|72||$870,700.00||Competitive balance pick|
Like years past, I list many players that the Pirates might take at each of their first couple picks. I ?ve broken them into groups:
- Players who I think they ?ll take at 18 (with odds)
- Players in play at 37, but potentially at 57 and 72
- Some top 10 rounds guesses.
Predicting the 18th pick is pretty hard once you take all the variables into effect, hence why I ?m placing horse racing odds.
There are several top 10 guys that I think that the Pirates would take at 18 if they fall to them (Shea Langeliers, Hunter Bishop, Alex Manoah) but the chances are slim. Here are the remaining athletes I ?m handicapping for the 18th pick. First column is where Fangraphs and MLB.com has each ranked. All videos thanks to our friends Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com
|17/13||Matthew Allan||RHP||5-1||Seminole HS FL|
|41/27||Gunnar Henderson||SS||5-1||Morgan Academy HS AL|
|28/29||Maurice Hampton||CF||8-1||Memphis University HS TN|
|12/16||Josh Jung||3B||8-1||Texas Tech|
|39/52||Blake Walston||LHP||8-1||New Hanover HS NC|
|33/28||Keoni Cavaco||3B||8-1||Eastlake HS CA|
|21/21||Will Wilson||2B||10-1||North Carolina State|
|35/23||Daniel Espino||RHP||10-1||Premier Academy HS GA|
|36/38||Matthew Lugo||SS||12-1||Beltran Academy HS PR|
Gunnar Henderson (VIDEO)
I currently have a negative connotation with a “Gunnar” as a German Shepherd of the same name makes my morning runs more interesting than I ?d like.
The Pirates definitely like “Gunnar” the baseball player. Hailing from Alabama, Henderson is rocketing up draft boards due to his ability to hit for power and play SS. He could be a fast riser through the minors as long as his transition to wood bats goes OK.
George Kirby (VIDEO)
Can you ever have enough pitching? Kirby is a starter and comes from Elon. He has excelled in college, as well as on the Cape and shows great control, leading D-1 with a 17.5 K/BB ratio. As far as tools you are pretty sure will help you at the ML level in today ?s game, command of your pitches has to be #1. College pitchers with high floors seem boring but Kirby might have a Trevor Williams-like ceiling, which means much more than it used to.
Matt Allen (VIDEO)
Allen is a top flight projectable HS pitcher in a time where the Pirates really need an elite pitcher in their low minors. With Cody Bolton advancing fast and Shane Baz in Tampa, they have a lack of starters with top of the rotation talent, unless we hit a lottery ticket with the prospects acquired in the Nova and Luplow/Moroff trades. Allen does have a U of Florida commitment which could scare the Pirates off.
Maurice Hampton (VIDEO)
Hampton is the prominent two sport athlete for this year ?s draft class. He ?s been offered a scholarship to LSU where it looks like he ?ll have the chance to play both football and baseball. If Hampton weren ?t so young (17 until August) and if the Kyler Murray decision wasn ?t so new, I think he ?d be a top 5 pick. It ?s too hard for me to understand his contract demands, but it seems like he could leverage money out of a team with a lower pick but higher bonus pool (i.e. Dbacks).
Josh Jung (VIDEO)
Wouldn ?t it be ironic if we drafted a 3B named Jung? Josh Jung doesn ?t resemble Jung Ho and his game is much different too. He has more of an all-fields approach to his hitting and the pull power hasn ?t shown up too much yet. He has hit since he stepped on to campus at Texas Tech and is even playing SS this year. Jung could be Best Player Available when the Pirates pick and wouldn ?t be questioned by anyone who follows college baseball.
Matt Dyer (LINK)
Dyer is a great example of the complexity of the MLB draft. A great high school catching prospect who was drafted but went to Oregon instead. After a year he left the Ducks and decided rainy Oregon baseball wasn ?t for him. He went to a JuCo in hopes of getting drafted but broke his finger and missed the whole JuCo season. He received draft offers of $500k after his JuCo season but turned them down to head home and play for the Arizona Wildcats instead of a second season at the JuCo. He gets invited to the Cape and hits well. During his only season with the Wildcats he rakes and plays a great catcher, but Arizona missed the NCAA tournament so scouts can ?t secretly watch him anymore. High character player and a young college draftee who is ranked high by Fangraphs, low by Baseball America and not at all by MLB.com. Seems like a perfect Cole Tucker type pick that will irritate the fanbase but turn out well.
Keoni Cavaco (VIDEO)
Cavaco is a ?pop-up ? prospect this year, meaning he wasn ?t on the scouts radar until recently. He ?s a super athletic 3B prospect that has power and tools to dream on. He ?s from San Diego and has a commitment to San Diego State, but it seems like he knows he ?ll get paid enough to ignore his commitment. He ?s also very young for his class. If you wanted to add a high end bat to the low minors and sign him for slot, this might be your guy. You wouldn ?t be sacrificing on upside yet as he doesn ?t turn 18 until draft day.
Blake Walston (VIDEO)
Upside upside upside. If you could imagine what Clayton Kershaw was like in high school, that ?s what Walston sounds like. The only difference is that Kershaw was a center on the football team (for NFL QB Matt Stafford) whereas Walston is the star QB. Walston is also considered a popup prospect as well, more due to not doing the summer circuit because of football. He ?s not considering a football scholarship, but his commitment to NC State for baseball might loom large. Walston has a great feel for a breaking ball, has an easy left-handed delivery and is young for his class. Definitely in the mix for the Pirates at 18 and probably won ?t last until 37.
Will Wilson (VIDEO)
Wilson sounds much like a RHH Adam Frazier: great bat control, hits to all fields, surprising power, etc. He does receive better defensive accolades than Frazier currently gets. Wilson is not fast but some think he can play SS in the majors, while others think he is a 2B only guy. Most agree that with his quick hands and bat he ?ll play in the majors. The high floor, high character guy with some kind of a ceiling is a possibility at 18.
Daniel Espino (VIDEO)
The Pirates have a past and current track record with Panamanians from Manny Sanguillien to Dario Agrazal. Daniel Espino was born in Panama, but came to the U.S. and is attending a prep school in the United States. Espino is a draftee that you can ?t help but love and hate. His 100 MPH fastball comes due to his great lower body, which allows him to reach the highest numbers. He also shows a good feel for a couple off speed pitches. The detractors say that his short stature (6 ?0 ?) destines him for trouble and his LSU commit is a hassle. Regardless, he might be the pitcher with the highest ceiling the Pirates could pick at 18.
Matt Lugo (VIDEO)
Wouldn ?t it be great if the Pirates would draft a Puerto Rican sometime? Maybe this year is the year. Matt Lugo is a super athletic SS prospect who is working with Carlos Beltran at his Puerto Rican Academy. Lugo did very well last year with the wood bat and shows a plus feel for someone so young (just turned 18). There are some that question his ability to stick at SS, but not many question his bat if he ?s able to stay there.
Seth Johnson (VIDEO)
Johnson isn ?t necessarily a pop-up, as his team Campbell College gets scouted hard, but he ?s an infielder who converted to a pitcher in the last two years. Johnson ?s already very good (plus delivery, easy mid 90 ?s, plus slider) but scouts dream on what he ?ll be once he gets more reps under his belt. He ?s also young for his college class, not turning 21 until September, making him younger than some of the JuCo draftees.
Players In Play At 37, 57, and 72
|Kyren Paris – VIDEO||SS||Freedom HS CA|
|Crazy young SS with plus athleticism.|
|Spencer Jones – VIDEO||LHP/1B||La Costa Canyon HS CA|
|A legit two way player that would have been in play in first if not for injury.|
|Noah Song – VIDEO||RHP||Navy|
|Great college senior but Navy obligation muddies the water.||BEAT ARMY!|
|Hunter Brown – VIDEO||RHP||Wayne State|
|Young college RHP with plus FB and slider. Small school questions.|
|Dilan Rosario – VIDEO||SS||Leadership Christian HS PR|
|The better glove of the Puerto Rican shortstops.|
|Chris Villaman||LHP||Ledford HS NC|
|Super projectable prep LHP with commit to NC State.|
|Won Cape Cod pitcher of year in 2018, dinged up until recently|
|Ricky DeVito – VIDEO||RHP||Seton Hall|
|20 year old college junior with a plus changeup and athleticism.|
|Tyler Nesbitt – VIDEO||RHP||Labelle HS FL|
|17 year old with lots of potential and a commit to U of FL|
|Hunter Gaddis – VIDEO||RHP||Georgia State|
|Small school 6 ?6 ? RHP|
|Korey Lee – VIDEO||C||Cal|
|Strong arm and big power draw Mike Napoli comps.|
|Carter Bins – VIDEO||C||Fresno State|
|Classic team leader behind plate.|
|Brady McConnell – VIDEO||SS||Florida|
|Highly regarded high school shortstop that ?s finally coming into own in college.|
|Michael Massey – VIDEO||2B||Illinois|
|Exceptional hand eye coordination.|
|Antoine Harris||RHP||Chalmette HS LA|
|Lots of potential but super raw.|
|Nathaniel LaRue – VIDEO||C||McGill-Toolen HS AL|
|Position player turned catcher seems like a natural.|
Some Guys I Like Towards The Tail End
|Beau Philip||SS||Oregon State|
|Christopher Mokma||RHP||Holland Christian HS MI|
|Cooper Johnson||C||Ole Miss|
|Jared Johnson||RHP||Smithville HS MS|
|Jordan Beck||LF||Hazel Green HS AL|
|Landy Pena||SS||Leadership Christian Academy HS PR|
|Michael Prosecky||LHP||Nazareth Academy HS IL|
|Randon Hostert||RHP||Bonneville HS IA|
|Ryan Sleeper||LHP||Lakeville North HS MN|