Today we take look at a prep outfielder making some noise at a point in the season when most high school teams have yet to start their schedule. I’ve also included some great notes and links from various sources covering the draft. If you missed it from Monday, we took a look at Sunday’s action, as well as an early season recap for some of the best relievers in college. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks.
A recap of note from Tuesday before we get into the other stuff. Florida shortstop Richie Martin is a popular player to follow this year because he will stick at shortstop and if he hits enough, he could be a future All-Star. He did hit a homer during his first week, but not much else after that until Tuesday against Florida Atlantic. He went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, a sacrifice bunt and his third stolen base. The offense was there, but he had a couple miscues on defense, committing his second and third errors of the season. Martin has a .296/.429/.407 line through eight games.
Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates took shortstop Cole Tucker with their first round pick. This year Florida outfielder Kyle Tucker is a player that has been mentioned often in their range often. The interesting thing about him is he is ranked right between their two early picks by a few sources. If he does well, he could be a possibility for the 19th overall pick. If his offense slips a little, or others surpass him and he falls in the draft, he could be a nice selection with the 32nd overall pick.
Tucker is one of the few high school players who has started his season already. Usually high school draft coverage picks up around mid-March. He is hitting well early, prompting Jonathan Mayo to do a feature on him this week. In the article, one scout said that his bat profiles well for a corner outfielder, while another said he thinks Tucker could go in the 11-20 range. He’s a solid bat from the left side, with plenty of room to fill out still, so he could have a nice power/average combo in the future.
Tucker is an outfielder, which wouldn’t be a popular choice considering that the Pirates look set in the outfield for many years at the Major League level and they have numerous prospects in the minors. He is a high school player though, and obviously far away from the Pirates. A lot could change between now and his arrival in the big leagues, so they could go the best player available route and select him without worrying about a logjam in the outfield down the line. For now, he is a player to keep an eye on.
You can read more about Kyle Tucker in the link above from Mayo, which also has a video. We also wrote about him in our prep hitter preview earlier this month and I’ve included a second video below, this one courtesy of Big League Futures.
Links and Notes
**Perfect Game has stats from the first two weeks of the college season. This link is interesting because it includes their rankings of the top draft-eligible players, as well as a recap and video from TCU lefty Alex Young.
**Baseball America has stats just from week two, along with notes on plenty of the top players in the draft including Walker Buehler, who was drafted by the Pirates in 2012 before deciding to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt. Buehler has dealt with elbow soreness the first two weeks and hasn’t made his 2015 debut. He could take the mound as early as this weekend, although it’s likely he will make his return as a reliever.
**Dan Kirby from Through The Fence Baseball has his list of ten college players on the rise. He mentions a lot of lesser known players, not just the top 50 guys. He has some great things to say about right-hander Dillon Tate, who has looked strong this season for UC Santa Barbara. Tate was also mentioned in the BA link above.
**Chris Crawford from ESPN Insider(subscription required) has notes on many of the top college players in the draft, with plenty of insight from scouts. One name coming back into the spotlight is Skye Bolt, who was rated high going into the 2012 draft, but fell due to bonus demands. He went to North Carolina and looked good as a freshman in 2013 before struggling last year. Bolt is looking better early on and he’s a toolsy player, so that could make him a possible steal after the first round.
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.