Today we take a look at the first couple weekends from some of the top college hitters in this class. The Pittsburgh Pirates currently own the 23rd and 41st picks this year. The draft begins on June 9th and lasts three days. You can view our draft preview here, which covers many of the names who fall in the Pirates’ range. It also focuses in on players who fit the recent draft strategy of the Pirates. On Saturday, we took a look at some of the top college pitchers in the draft.
While the Pirates’ first pick is still technically 23rd overall, news came down on Sunday that the Texas Rangers and Ian Desmond agreed to a one-year deal. Once it is official, the Rangers will surrender their first round pick(19th overall) and the Pirates will then have the 22nd pick. The 41st pick will remain the same, as the Washington Nationals will pick up a compensation pick after the first round. Assuming the deal goes through(he passed his physical on Sunday according to reports), the final draft order will be set for the 2016 draft.
**Update 11:30 AM: Edited to add that the Desmond deal has been finalized and announced by the Rangers, so Pirates pick 22nd and 41st this year. They had a $6,945,400 draft pool before they moved up two spots, so they will probably be just over $7M right now, as there was a $60,000 difference between the slot value for the 22nd and 24th picks in 2015.**
Now we take a look at the early results from the college bats we covered in the draft preview. Nick Senzel from Tennessee had a big game, as his team defeated Central Michigan by a 20-1 score on Sunday. He went 2-for-2 with five walks, reaching base in all seven plate appearances. Both of his hits were doubles, giving him four on the season. Senzel also stole his second base of the year. He is hitting .440/.563/.600 in his first six games, and he’s driven in 15 runs already.
Nebraska’s Ryan Boldt went 0-for-3 on Sunday, drawing three walks in an 11-5 win over Tulane. That followed a three hit game on Saturday and another three hits on Friday, including his first home run of the season. He is hitting .259/.375/.407 through his first six games of the season.
Shortstop Errol Robinson from Ole Miss went 1-for-4 with an RBI against Louisville on Sunday. He is 5-for-21, with a double, triple and five walks in his first seven games. Robinson faced Kyle Funkhouser on Friday, one of the best college pitchers, though he has started off slow. In three plate appearances versus Funkhouser, Robinson had two walks and a ground out. The second walk came with the bases loaded.
Jake Fraley from LSU is hitting .321/.441/.500 through his first seven games. He has a double, two triples, six walks and four stolen bases. He had three hits and a walk on Sunday against Sacramento State. People at the Friday night game mentioned that Fraley came close to hitting two homers, missing by a few feet each time. One went for a double, while the other went just foul, ending up as a walk.
Nick Banks from Texas A&M wasn’t mentioned in our draft preview because he was rated a little too high, but with the Pirates moving up two spots since then, he’s a little closer to their range. Banks rates average or better in every category across the board, getting above average rankings in hitting, speed and arm from MLB Pipeline. Even though he’s an outfielder and the Pirates are doing well in that regard, it would be tough to pass on such a toolsy player if he dropped to them. Banks missed the series this weekend against Pepperdine with back soreness. In the first four games of the season, he went 3-for-15 with a triple and a walk.
One leftover pitcher from this weekend to mention. Oregon’s Matt Krook is one of the top pitchers in this draft, but he is the Saturday night starter for his team. Krook had a decent outing this week, allowing one earned run over seven innings. He only gave up two hits and struck out eight batters, but he also issued five walks. He threw 111 pitches on the night. It was a big improvement from his first start this year. Krook went four innings last Saturday, allowing four runs(two earned) on four hits and three walks, with six strikeouts. I’ve included a highlight video of Krook’s performance from Mobil TV. Their Youtube channel also has a video of the performance by Cole Irvin, who we featured here Saturday.
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.
I know how you feel about “innings” so I will try to word this properly. Does wear and tear, pitches thrown, come into play when the Pirates select an arm high? Or maybe more so now. Brad Lincoln comes to mind, as a guy who threw a ton of pitches before they took him. I was just wondering how deep do they go in evaluation. If the kids redshirted? Junior over a senior?
I think they are less willing to take a chance with a college pitcher based on recent drafts. They don’t mind taking them in later rounds, but they haven’t drafted and signed one in the first three rounds since Gerrit Cole. They did select Mark Appel back in 2012, but he didn’t sign and his extra year at Stanford didn’t do him any good in the pros.
I’m covering college pitchers so people know who they are in case they are drafted early, but I don’t expect them to take one. I’m banking on a hitter who puts the ball in play, plays a premium position and is athletic. I think Senzel fits their mold perfect, but if he has a lot of games where he’s reaching base seven times, they won’t have a shot at him