Some notes and links about the best draft-eligible players in the nation. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th, just under nine weeks away. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th pick in the first round this year. They also picked 65th overall in the second round and 74th, which is their competitive balance pick. For more information on the top players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.
First, we start off with some action from Monday in college ball. Indiana finished up their series with Iowa, winning 5-3 with five runs in the eighth inning. Catcher Kyle Schwarber went 1-for-5 with a run scored and two strikeouts. First baseman Sam Travis was 2-for-4, with an RBI and run scored. On the season, Schwarber is hitting .333/.437/.553 in 114 at-bats. Travis has a .383/.446/.522 line in 115 at-bats. He is hitting for a better average, but not showing the power than Schwarber is, and their OBP is nearly the same despite the high average. Travis will likely go in the second round, while Schwarber looks like a mid-first round pick, though most doubt he can stay at catcher.
Virginia’s Mike Papi is another first baseman that could be a second round option for the Pirates if he lasts that long. With outfielder Derek Fisher still out for at least three weeks, Papi has moved to the outfield and become the top player to watch on Virginia. This past weekend, UVA was in Pittsburgh for three games. Papi had a rough series, going 2-for-11 with a walk and run scored. In 32 games this season, he has a .336/.497/.553 line. He has five homers and has drawn 31 walks.
Shortstop Trea Turner from North Carolina State had a Monday game against Clemson. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and run scored in the contest. He didn’t last long in the game though. After a fourth inning strikeout, he was ejected for slamming his bat down following a strike called on a check swing. He is hitting .306 in 31 games, with an .832 OPS and ten stolen bases. Those numbers are a little disappointing, considering he hit .368 last year with a 1.008 OPS and stole 30 bases. He did all that last year after suffering an ankle injury that caused his to miss time in March.
Coming into the year, Turner was considered a possible top five pick and the first college hitter to go off the board. Some recent mock drafts have had him dropping to mid-first round. The Pirates drafted Turner in the 20th round in 2011, but couldn’t persuade him away from a strong college commitment.
Baseball America posted their weekly stat recap for the best players in college. They also mentioned Louisville closer Nick Burdi, who we covered here on Sunday and the start from North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon.
Dan Kirby from Through The Fences has his weekly ten high school players on the rise. Inside, he mentions Sean Reid-Foley, who threw a no-hitter on Friday. He was flashing a 94 MPH fastball and a plus curve.
Maxpreps has an article/video on Braxton Davidson, who is a player mentioned often in the Pirates first round range. He had two hits and two walks in the game covered by Jessica Quiroli. Later in the week, Davidson went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
Baseball Prospectus has a new video on prep lefty Mac Marshall. The article requires a subscription, but the video alone is worth checking out. The footage is from the National HS Invitational, where he impressed scouts. We covered Marshall here during the middle of last month.
John Manuel posted that prep lefty Justus Sheffield threw a no-hitter on Monday. He had 17 strikeouts over his seven innings and he was hitting 94 MPH. Sheffield isn’t a big kid, standing 5’11”, 190 pounds, but as a lefty with strong velocity, he will get some attention. Most think he is a second round pick. I’ve included a video below from Big League Futures.
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.
Seems like a Wandy Clone? I like him.
Sheffield is a huge competitor – heck, the kid dropped out of school to go to a showcase – but am not enthralled with his size. I’m a big fan of the tall, projectable arms that are 6’4-6’6 in the Kingham/Taillon-mold.
That’s why I think he may be an interesting option in the second round for the Pirates. Most think he will go a little sooner, but I could see him dropping because of his size. That would be a pretty good arm to pick up with the 65th pick. I still think the draft is lining up for the Pirates to get a top end arm in the first round and a corner infield bat in the second round. If you go by strength, you’ll want to take a big arm before they are all off the board(and there are a lot of them) and that should leave about 4-5 strong college bats in the second round to choose from. I think they have to go for an arm in the first round unless someone like Turner/Schwarber/Bradley Zimmer falls to them. Schwarber could go right to 1B and his bat would play well there.
Newcomb, Blewett, Johnson, Fedde, and Varga would all fit the bill for tall and projectable. Would love to see one of them and then grab someone like Deichmann, Benes, Wall, or Dylan Davis in the 2nd round. At the end of the day I am a BPA guy so I just hope it is someone with high upside, regardless of position
Newcomb would be huge if they could get him. He was moving up draft charts, but I’m sure his last outing slowed that progress. He’s always mentioned in the 15-20 range now, so it’s a possibility. I’m waiting for some news on Blewett. I believe his team starts play today.