Some early week draft news and notes with just over seven weeks until the first day of the draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates pick 24th overall in the first round and there is a new list of rankings out that has a different name for the Pirates.
Starting with the new rankings from Chris Crawford on MLB Draft Insider. He has Kyle Freeland rated 24th overall. This is the first time we have seen Freeland in that spot and he has been impressive lately, grabbing the headline in our Draft Prospect Watch on Friday after his second straight 15 strikeout game. Crawford mentions that there are questions concerning Freeland’s arm slot and his ability to remain a starter, so I have included a video below so you can see for yourself.
Baseball America has their weekly recap of stats for the top 100 college players in this draft. Plus there is a video of North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon from his last start when he threw 134 pitches, which has caused some controversy with overuse.
Dan Kirby from Through The Fences has his weekly list of ten college players on the rise. It’s another chance to read up more on Kyle Freeland.
For subscribers of ESPN Insider, Chris Crawford and Keith Law each have an article concerning the draft and some of the top names available. Of note from Law is talks of moving shortstop Michael Chavis to catcher in the pros. He has been mentioned in the Pirates range this year and you would have to think if the Pirates were interested, they would have him remain on the left side of the infield and take advantage of his plus arm and strong bat.
On Sunday, we mentioned prep pitcher Jacob Bukauskas, including links to a scouting report and a game report/video. Dan Kirby tweeted an update on Bukauskas from Monday, when he struck out 18 batters. He didn’t walk anyone and now has three walks and 68 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. There was mentions that Bukauskas hit 100 MPH in his last start.
Scott Blewett, the highly projectable prep righty from Baldwinsville, NY had a strong game on Monday under some adverse conditions. His start was moved up a day on short notice and not only was Blewett feeling under the weather, the weather was rainy and windy. His day got worse when he was hit in the side during an early at-bat. Blewett fought through it all and ended up with one hit and one walk allowed over four innings, picking up seven strikeouts.
Big League Futures has a new scouting report/video on East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman. He was ranked as high as second by many people in the pre-season polls, but inconsistent performances have dropped his stock. It’s doubtful he would fall to the Pirates, as scouts are still very high on his potential.
Speaking of a player that has seen his stock drop. San Diego State’s Michael Cederoth was mentioned last year around this time as a possible top five pick in 2014. Since then, he has seen control issues that moved him to the bullpen. He has good size at 6’6″, 215 pounds and a terrific arm, but as a bullpen arm, he has seen his name drop out of first round talks. Cederoth has some strong numbers this year, with a 2.51 ERA, 12 saves, a .170 BAA and 32 strikeouts in 28.2 innings, but he has still walked 18 batters.
It will be interesting to see where some team finally takes a chance on him, hoping they can harness his potential. A team looking for a possible closer would more likely go for Louisville’s Nick Burdi, who hits triple digits consistently and has dominated all season. It’s more likely that some team would convert Cederoth back to a starter and try to fix his control issues, hoping to get a workhorse type starter with plus stuff.
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.