We have three different draft rankings today, so plenty of new information to go through here. We start with the new mock draft from Baseball America and it has a name for the Pirates we have only heard just recently. They have Kolby Allard, a prep lefty, going to the Pirates with their first pick. Allard has a huge upside, and was rated much higher in the preseason, with all four sources we used for our draft preview, placing him in the top ten. He hurt his back this spring and hasn’t returned yet, so no one has seen him pitch recently.
This is the same pick they had for the Pirates in their third mock draft, which is the only other time I’ve seen him mentioned for the Pirates. Allard has missed time this year, but he is also very young for the draft class, turning 18 this upcoming August, so the missed time shouldn’t be considered a huge setback.
BA has the Pirates going with Triston McKenzie with their #32 pick. He is a tall, lanky righty out of HS in Florida. You can see video of him here, along with a write-up from an earlier article. There is a lot of projection left with McKenzie, especially if he can fill out. He pitched recently and sat 89-92 MPH, while giving up three runs during state playoffs.
MLB.com expanded their draft prospect list to 200 players last night. In the 19th spot, they have prep SS/3B Cornelius Randolph, who has been linked to the Pirates numerous times, almost to the point that if he is available, you should expect the Pirates to take him. That is just a guess though at this point and Randolph is among a handful of possibilities at the spot. In the 32nd spot they have Cody Ponce, who has been linked often to the Pirates as well(see below). The MLB.com list isn’t a mock draft, but with the players that fall in the two spots where the Pirates pick, it might as well be a mock draft.
Also from MLB.com, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo break down the new top 200, showing players on the move, where the players are from and the strengths and weaknesses of the draft. It’s heavy with right-handed pitching and light on both catchers and corner infielders, who make up just 10% of the top 200 list combined. Second base is also light(six total), but that is something that happens every year in the draft at the top.
Kiley McDaniel posted his second mock draft yesterday on Fangraphs and he had the Pirates taking UCLA right-hander James Kaprielian, which is a name we have heard before. He also links them to other possibilities, which include Mike Nikorak, a prep pitcher out of Pennsylvania and Garrett Whitley, who I’ve never seen linked to the Pirates yet, but McDaniel says he has been.
Whitley is a well-rounded center fielder that does everything well, with his best asset being his plus speed, which gives him excellent range. He comes from New York, which always helps when the player already shows an advanced approach before the draft. Players from cold weather states tend to be behind others in development due to lack of playing time. That potentially gives them a higher upside than a similar player from a warm weather state. Whitley is average age for his draft class, turning 18 back in March.
Yesterday, we took a look at Keith Law’s second mock draft, which had the Pirates taking prep outfielder Daz Cameron with the 19th overall pick. He also said Cornelius Randolph is another possibility and that the Pirates really like Cal Poly Pomona righty Cody Ponce and Virginia outfielder Joe McCarthy. The latter two seem like better fits for the second pick(#32 overall) of the Pirates. McDaniel mentions Ponce as a player linked to the Pirates as well.
The draft begins in ten days and college regionals begin today, as the field of 64 starts down the road to Omaha.
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.