Baseball America released their second mock draft on Friday and they have an interesting take on who the Pittsburgh Pirates might take and where he may end up. With the 19th overall pick, they have the Pirates taking Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ, who is actually a native of Pittsburgh. They believe the Pirates “will stick him at second base and see him as Neil Walker’s successor”. That would be interesting if the Pirates replaced Walker with another local kid, but it obviously doesn’t make it a good reason to pick him.
Happ has a terrific bat and really put himself on the map with an outstanding Cape Cod League performance this past summer. That success carried over into his junior season, where he is now hitting .363/.489/.681 in 52 games.
Happ is playing outfield this year, and while he has played center field, most project him to be a corner outfielder. He was a second baseman in 2013, but that would not be his best position, so it’s interesting to see that BA thinks he will end up there in the Majors.
The other part that might not make sense with their prediction is the fact the Pirates have multiple options to use at second base if Walker departs. They could use Jung-Ho Kang there, or even go with Alen Hanson, who should be ready to step into the position by next season. While Hanson doesn’t have the power of Happ, he is a better second baseman and has speed, plus he is a lot closer to the big leagues already. With Kang, he is already in the big leagues and has show he can play there. Beyond Hanson, Max Moroff is at Altoona making a case to play second base in Pittsburgh in the future. He could still just be on an early season hot streak, or this might be a breakout season for him. It just shows the Pirates have a lot of options at the position near the top of their system.
I wouldn’t say that I can’t see the Pirates taking Happ. He is a switch-hitter that is going to hit in the pros. He has hit for average all three seasons of college and twice in the Cape Cod League. He added more power to his game this year and he takes his share of walks. It’s possible he is the best bat available when their pick comes up and as with Jordan Luplow and Connor Joe this year, they have shown that they will take a strong bat and stick it at a different position if they consider the player to be athletic enough to handle the spot.
BA goes down to 36 picks this time and has the Pirates taking prep pitcher Beau Burrows with the 32nd pick. He is a right-hander with one of the best fastballs among high school pitchers in this draft. Burrows has the makings of three strong pitches(curve, change) and he works well in the bottom of the strike zone already. I’ve included a video for him below courtesy of Big League Futures. The draft starts in 24 days.