Draft Prospect Watch: A New Name to Watch is Getting First Round Mentions

Today we take a look at some news and notes from the weekend. You can find the draft slot values for each pick here, covering all 11 picks the Pirates have in the first ten rounds. After the tenth round, teams have $100,000 to spend on each player and anything over that counts against their bonus pool. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. The Pirates will have the 11th highest draft bonus pool.

UC Santa Barbara pitcher Dillon Tate was originally pushed back to Sunday when he pulled a muscle in the weight room days prior to his Friday night start. He ended up getting scratched from the entire weekend. Tate has been mentioned at a possible top 2-3 pick, but an injury/missed time could see him drop. It will be interesting to see how he performs once he does return because there have been questions regarding his ability to start in the pros after working in relief his first two years. At this point, it’s highly unlikely he drops to the Pirates. If you missed it from Saturday, Virginia starter Nathan Kirby went down with the same injury as Tate.

D.J. Stewart and Florida State played three against Pittsburgh this weekend. On Friday, he went 3-for-3 with a walk and his tenth homer. Stewart drove in five runs. During Saturday’s doubleheader, he had a tough opener, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. The nightcap saw him walk twice in three plate appearances. Stewart has been mentioned often recently in the Pirates’ first round range, usually falling between their two picks. He has a .303/.508/.591 slash line in 41 games, with 47 walks. He’s a corner outfielder now, but could be a possible first baseman in the future because his foot speed is well below average.

Pitcher Cody Ponce has been linked to the Pirates numerous times throughout the season, going to them in multiple mock drafts and getting ranked in the 18-22 range many times. He pitched a seven inning complete game  against Cal State L.A. on Saturday. Ponce threw 99 pitches and allowed one unearned run on five hits, one walk and he struck out seven batters.

There was an interesting match-up in Virginia on Saturday, as Miami starter Andrew Suarez, took on Virginia outfielder Joe McCarthy. Both of them look to be potential second round picks at this point. Suarez missed some time early in the season, while McCarthy had back surgery in January that kept him out up until last week. On Saturday, Suarez went 5.2 innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. McCarthy was 0-for-3 with two walks. On Sunday, McCarthy went 0-for-4 with a walk.

**Jeff Ellis from Scout.com has his article of players that have made moves recently, either up or down the draft boards. One name he mentions that hasn’t been mentioned here is Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who Ellis believes could get drafted in the first round. Benintendi currently leads all NCAA players with 14 homers. He is a 21-year-old draft-eligible sophomore. One thing that could keep him down is his size at 5’10, 180 pounds, he is not big, so there may be concerns that the power can carry over to the pros. Benintendi has 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts this year, so he is looking like a possible strong speed/power combo player.

Also mentioned it that article as a player going down,Pacific outfielder Gio Brusa, who had a strong summer, which led people to put him as a possible first round pick. Brusa has a ton of potential, but his college stats have never backed that up. It will be interesting to see just how high he gets drafted, which will depend on whether teams look at college results only, or dream on the potential that dates back to high school and which was shown during the summer. We were following him early in the year, but a very rough start got him knocked out of the weekly watch.

On final note on an unsigned 2012 Pirates draft pick that has moved up to the top 3-5 rounds this year. Jackson McClelland from Pepperdine has been putting up a strong season, with his only downfall being occasional bouts of wildness. On Saturday night against St Mary’s, it was a typical outing from his this year, five shutout innings, but he was already up to 91 pitches before he was taken out. On the season, he has a 1.70 ERA in 69 innings, with 49 strikeouts and a .217 BAA.

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.

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Lots of names, which ones will be called pirates? Thanks for the food for thought john.

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