Draft Prospect Watch: Not Many College Bats Available Where the Pirates Pick

Today we take a look at some links and notes from this week. The draft isn’t that far away now, with the college season more than halfway over, we are starting to get a better sense of who will be available in the Pirates’ range. 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.

If you missed our last couple draft articles, Tuesday’s was on players that are making a move up draft boards, while Sunday we talked about two new mock drafts and the new rankings from Keith Law. In that link we mentioned Florida shortstop Richie Martin being ranked 41st overall and how his bat has picked up a little recently. Since his defense at shortstop and his base running were both tools that weren’t questioned, it was his bat that was holding him back and causing him to drop down draft boards.

On Tuesday, Martin took on Florida State, a team with another player mentioned often in the Pirates’ range, outfielder D.J. Stewart. The FSU pitcher was also one of note, Bryant Holtmann, a tall lefty that was taken in the 37th round by the Pirates last year. Martin didn’t have the best game, going 1-for-5 with two strikeouts, but he did show off that speed tool, stealing two bases, giving him 14 steals on the year. Stewart went 0-for-3, but he drew three walks, while Holtmann went 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk anyone and had two strikeouts. Overall, it wasn’t a bad showing against the #7 ranked team in college. Stewart has a 1.087 OPS in 38 games, with 44 walks and nine homers.

There doesn’t seem to be many college bats mentioned near where the Pirates pick now. Shortstops Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Kevin Newman have all moved up the draft boards, or in the case of Swanson, stayed there. Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ is also a likely top ten pick, while others have dropped down or stayed where they were early in the season, when the college hitting class looked weak. Boston College outfielder Chris Shaw was making a move, but he broke his hamate bone over the weekend and will now miss crucial time before the draft. The class is loaded with pitching, so there should be plenty to go to in the 19-32 range, from college and the high school ranks, or the Pirates could go the high school bat route, which is mostly outfielders in the mid-to-late first round range.

With the lack of college bats, one player returning to action could make a move. Outfielder Joe McCarthy from Virginia has been out of action due to off-season back surgery, but multiple sources had him ranked around #50 in the preseason rankings. He returned to action on Wednesday, playing right field against William & Mary. McCarthy went 2-for-3, with two singles and a walk. He is one we will follow closely until the season ends, as this is the first chance scouts are getting to see him and a strong showing, could push him up to the Pirates’ range with that 32nd pick.

**Perfect Game has ten player profiles for Insiders(subscription required). If you don’t have a subscription, you can still read about Kep Brown, an interesting prep outfielder in this draft. He tore his Achilles tendon last week, which will have him out of action for 6-9 months. He wasn’t considered a first round selection at the time, but he could be a sleeper pick a few rounds later for a team that wants to buy him out of his commitment to Miami. The link includes a video as well.

**Here’s an article and video for Phil Bickford, who is hoping to improve before the draft. Interesting note in here about his change-up, or lack there of in this case. He says he has only thrown one all season. That could make some teams think twice when considering a future starter with two years of college, who doesn’t have a change-up he feels comfortable throwing.

** Jeff Ellis from Scout.com has an article on Louisville starter Kyle Funkhouser, who he sees as a top ten pick in the 6-10 range. Funkhouser has pitched well this year and shown terrific velocity, sitting mid-90’s late into his starts. Most sources have him going off the board before the Pirates make their pick.

**While most of those same draft sources have UC Santa Barbara starter Dillon Tate going off the board even earlier than Funkhouser, John Manuel has something that should be watched. There were questions early on about Tate being able to handle a starting role, since he was used as a reliever prior to this year. So while the results have been great this year, his stamina is still something to watch and an injury could have him dropping. For now, it sounds minor.

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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