On Friday, we posted three new mock drafts from three of the leading experts in the draft, Keith Law, Baseball America and Jim Callis. All three of those drafts had the same thing in common for the Pittsburgh Pirates, they all predicted that the Pirates would take a prep pitcher with their first pick. BA and Callis took it a step further by guessing that the Pirates will also go with a high school pitcher for their second pick.
After everything was up, Jim Callis posted an article describing the best tools for high school pitchers, which of course becomes very relevant to those following the draft. It obviously isn’t a foregone conclusion that the Pirates will take a pitcher with their first or second pick, but there seems to be pretty good word around the draft campfire that they are leaning heavily in that direction. There could be a hitter that surprisingly falls to them, which could make them change up their plans. We saw in 2012 that the Pirates were taking David Dahl until Mark Appel dropped to them, so something like that isn’t out of the ordinary.
Sticking with the rumors we are hearing though, the Callis article could be very helpful on Monday night. He breaks the rankings down into best fastball, curve, slider, change, control, highest ceiling and highest floor. The last category comes with the caveat that no high school pitcher is truly a great bet to make the big leagues.
The best fastball in the class comes from Justin Hooper, who is a 6’7″ lefty who hits 97 MPH. That is rare air for a lefty starter and he still has a lot of room to fill out and add strength. Callis also ranks righty Antonio Santillan with a similar 70 grade fastball on the scouting scale. He is a name to watch for the second round pick. Hooper has a huge match-up today, facing likely 2nd-3rd round pick RHP Joe Demers in a game this afternoon that will likely be heavily scouted and a good performance could give either of them a boost at the finish line.
Mike Nikorak has been mentioned more often for the Pirates’ first pick than anyone else this year. I’m not sure if they are just putting the pitching rumor together with the fact he is from Pennsylvania, but Callis rates him as a pitcher with future ace potential, so he should be high on your wantlist. He hits 97 with his fastball, his curve is rated as the best in the class(60) and he has the highest ceiling. His change-up is also rated a 55, which ties it for the highest, although Callis likes the one that Jackson Kowar throws better. A strong change is something you don’t find often in the prep ranks as most never need to throw one, so a 55 is a good rating.
The best control in the class goes to Kolby Allard, who has been out most of this year with a back injury. He sits low-90’s when healthy and has 60 control, which is a very good score for a high school kid. Callis also has him as a 60 curve, rated just below Nikorak. Allard has age on his side, as the Pirates noted that a kid young for his class could have extra room to grow, and they used that as a scouting tool when deciding between similar players. What Allard doesn’t have is the size that the Pirates like, as he is 6’0″, 170 pounds. Going by their past picks, there aren’t a lot of 6’0″ and under pitchers in the system, so you have to wonder if that will factor into their decision.
I sort of skipped over the Jackson Kowar mention, but that is because he is never really mentioned as a first round pick. Neither is the pitcher with the highest floor, Peter Lambert. Kowar doesn’t have strong control or the best curve, so despite an above average fastball/change combo, he is ranked further down for most people. He also has a commitment to Clemson, which could hurt him on draft day. If a player is considered a tough sign from a good school, it usually means he has to be picked early and in the past, that has left similar players among the best available players left when day three of the draft starts. Lambert will likely hear his name called on Monday during the second round and get a nice bonus because teams will see that he still has projection left, but already looks like a polished pitcher.
Pirates Game Graph
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Braves by a 10-8 score on Friday night. Jeff Locke takes the mound tonight against the team that drafted him. In his last start, Locke allowed six earned runs over four innings. The previous outing, he threw 5.2 shutout innings. Julio Teheran will be on the mound for the Braves, making his 12th start of the season. He has a 4.87 ERA in 61 innings this year.
In the minors, Luis Heredia will make his fifth start, still looking for his first outing that isn’t limited due to a high pitch count. He has yet to come out for the fifth inning, despite averaging 70 pitchers per outing over his last three games. In his debut, he didn’t make it out of the first inning. Colten Brewer will try to build off a career outing his last appearance, which saw him throw six shutout innings and strikeout a career-high 11 batters, nearly tripling his previous high of four. Zack Dodson is sixth in the Eastern League in ERA. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (30-24) @ Braves (26-28) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (5.34 ERA, 23:45 BB/SO, 55.2 IP)
DSL: Pirates (2-4) vs Rangers2 (3-3) 10:30 AM (season preview)
On Thursday night, Cole Tucker hit his second home run of the season. Here is a rare treat, as the Power rarely play in Rome, where they are one of two SAL teams that provides video highlights
6/5: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
6/5: Charlie Leesman placed on Indianapolis disabled list.
6/5: Francisco Diaz activated from WV Power disabled list.
6/5: Kawika Emsley-Pai promoted to Bradenton roster. Jin-De Jhang assigned to Extended Spring Training.
6/3: Pirates outright Radhames Liz to Indianapolis.
5/29: Andy Vasquez added to Altoona roster.
5/29: Keon Broxton promoted to Indianapolis. Adam Miller placed on disabled list.
5/29: Jeff Roy activated from West Virginia disabled list. Andy Otamendi assigned to Extended Spring Training.
5/28: Jose Osuna promoted to Altoona. Jordan Steranka added to Bradenton.
5/28: Andy Otamendi added to WV Power roster. Trace Tam Sing assigned to WV Black Bears.
5/27: Kelson Brown added to Indianapolis roster.
5/26: Harold Ramirez added to Bradenton roster. Jordan Steranka and Andy Otamendi assigned to Extended Spring Training.
5/26: Josh Wall placed on disabled list. Collin Balester added to Indianapolis roster.
5/26: Dovydas Neverauskas placed on disabled list. Julio Vivas sent from Bradenton to West Virginia.
5/26: Deibinson Romero sold to Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization.
5/25: Charlie Morton activated from disabled list. Radhames Liz designated for assignment.
5/25: Stephen Tarpley added to WV Power roster.
5/25: Jerrick Suiter activated from WV Power disabled list. Miguel Rosario and Montana DuRapau promoted to Bradenton
This Date in Pirates History
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note and a huge game from the Pirates’ offense. The players born on this date are outfielder Doug Frobel(1982-85), lefty pitcher Jake Hewitt(1895) and second baseman Fresco Thompson, who was a September addition to the 1925 Pirates team that went on to win the franchise’s second World Series title. He hit .243 in 14 games and drove in eight runs.
On this date in 1949, the Pirates traded pitcher Kirby Higbe to the Giants for infielder Bobby Rhawn and pitcher Ray Poat. Rhawn lasted all of nine days with the Pirates before he was put on waivers and claimed by the White Sox. Poat lasted until the end of the year, but after two starts, he was a seldom used bullpen arm and had no success in Pittsburgh. The Pirates must have known Higbe was nearly done, because the pitcher, who was once a star for the Brooklyn Dodgers, was done in the Majors by the end of the season.
On this date in 1894, the Pirates defeated the Boston Beaneaters(current day Braves) by a 27-11 score in the highest offensive output in team history. The Pirates put up 12 runs in the third inning and another nine in the fourth inning. They were actually outscored 8-3 in the last five innings, but Boston never came close to getting back in the game. Jake Stenzel became the first Pirates’ player to hit two home runs in the same inning.