Every Thursday from now until the amateur draft on June 5th, we will preview four players that could be options for the Pittsburgh Pirates with their first round pick. The Pirates select 24th overall, so we will concentrate on players in that range. Last week we previewed Sean Newcomb, Braxton Davidson, Spencer Adams and Casey Gillaspie. You can read the preview of them here and also check videos of them here. The players chosen here are mentioned often in the Pirates range lately and for now, we will go with one prep pitcher and hitter and one college pitcher and hitter, for each preview. There are many more pitching options in the first round this year so the later previews will likely be pitching heavy.
Earlier today, Baseball America released their first mock draft and they had Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber going to the Pirates. He will probably be featured next week, but they also mentioned a player below as a possibility.
Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State – Conforto is having a strong season, getting on base at a .552 clip, plus he is showing good power, leading to a .627 slugging percentage. He has more walks than strikeouts and leads his team with 14 doubles and five homers. Conforto is projected to hit 20+ homers per year and hitting from the left side at PNC, he could easily reach those numbers. His value comes from his power, as the rest of his tools are considered average at best. Conforto had been in the Pirates range all season until a recent surge placed him in the top half of the first round. If he continues to hit, then they have no shot at him, but we have seen college bats bounce all around the rankings, so I wouldn’t rule him out just yet. Video from Bullpen Banter.
Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State – Weaver left his last start after getting hit on the ankle with a line drive, so his next start will be watched closely. He sits low-90’s and has a plus change-up with good command of both pitches, plus he doesn’t mind throwing inside. Those are three qualities the Pirates like in pitchers. He doesn’t have great size at 6’2″, 170 pounds and his third pitch(slider) is average at best, so while Weaver has two plus pitches and knows how to command the strike zone, some question his future as a major league starter. At worst that means he is a reliever that can touch high 90’s in short stints. Like a lot of college pitchers in this range, you’ll find prep pitchers with higher upsides, but a much lower floor. Video from Baseball America.
Michael Chavis, INF, Marietta, GA. – Chavis is a power bat that will find a home in the infield somewhere. He hits from the right side and has average size at 6’0″, 185 pounds, but he should fill out more as he gets older. Chavis finished his season strong, hitting four homers in two games. He plays shortstop, but will likely either end up at second base or third base. With a strong arm, he might be better suited for third base. All of his tools are at least average, so he profiles as a solid major league player. In the Baseball America mock draft released on Thursday morning, Chavis was mentioned as a possibility for the Pirates. Video from Baseball Instincts.
Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Hawaii – For a prep pitcher, Medeiros has very little projection. That isn’t a huge problem because he’s a lefty that can already touch mid-90’s with his fastball. Medeiros has a plus slider and he’s a durable pitcher that has already filled out, so he could move quicker than your normal high school starter drafted in this range. What the Pirates would like about Medeiros is that he already has a good change-up, something you don’t see often from prep pitchers, who normally don’t need a change-up to get outs. His control is average, but he also has a lot of movement on all of his pitches, so he will get batters to chase pitches out of the zone. Medeiros has been projected as a late first round pick all year. Video from Baseball Instincts.
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.