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Draft Prospect Watch: Big Match-Up Highlights Friday Night


We take a look at a big pitching match-up from Friday night, a new ranking from Scout.com, and some high school action from Florida. The Pittsburgh Pirates own the 22nd and 41st picks this year. The draft begins on June 9th and lasts three days, with the first two rounds selected on day one. 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.

I wasn’t planning on doing any weekend recaps of college ball until Monday morning, but I then saw the pitching match-up between Dakota Hudson of Mississippi State and Jordan Sheffield of Vanderbilt. It’s a game that also includes outfielder Bryan Reynolds of Vanderbilt, who was recently ranked 17th overall in this draft class by Baseball America. Hudson was ranked 19th, while Sheffield was placed 38th, making him a strong option for the second pick of the Pirates.

On Friday night, Hudson and Sheffield matched each other for six innings, then Hudson went another three frames before he was done. Sheffield finished with one unearned run over his six innings, with five hits allowed, five walks and nine strikeouts. He threw 112 pitches, 66 for strikes. Hudson allowed just one unearned run over his nine innings, giving up four hits, two walks, and striking out eight batters. As far as the match-up between Hudson and Reynolds, the Vanderbilt outfielder grounded out to shortstop in the first, struck out swinging to end the third, got hit in the sixth and struck out looking in the eighth. Hudson threw 126 pitches, 77 for strikes.

Jeff Ellis from Scout.com had some interesting rankings in his new top 30 list this week and I wanted to compare them with recent reports from D1 Baseball on a few players they see different. We start with Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel, who Baseball America elevated all the way to #2 in their updated draft rankings last week. Jeff Ellis seems to agree with BA by ranking Senzel fourth overall on his top 30 list.

However, D1 Baseball posted their updated rankings by position and they have Senzel ranked third among college third basemen, which would put him well below the other two rankings. So his quick climb up the charts isn’t agreed upon by everyone covering the draft. That still puts him near the top of this draft class, which probably means(at this early point), he will be gone well before the Pirates make their first pick. As pointed out in our draft preview, Senzel fits the Pirates’ recent draft mold, making him an interesting player to watch.

Going the opposite way of Senzel is Oklahoma right-handed pitcher Alec Hansen. D1 Baseball has a strong report from his last start, while Ellis dropped him all the way down to 27th place on his list. Starting with the positive, which has Hansen near the top of the ranking for almost everyone else. He was sitting 96-98 mph in his last start, with a slider that is described as a “swing-and-miss” offering. The downside is that he had command issues in that game and that’s something that has been a consistent problem during his career. Ellis points out that he has shown very little progress during his college career and could end up as a bullpen arm. Hansen is a big arm, so he would be hard to pass up on if he dropped to the Pirates. However, if he does end up dropping, it’s likely because teams feel he is a bullpen arm and they don’t want to waste an early pick on a reliever.

Ellis has Robert Tyler ranked 22nd on his list. While it’s not a mock draft, it’s interesting to note that it’s the same place that Baseball America had him last week, which led to this brief scouting report of Tyler.

High School Action in Florida

Nathan Rode had reports(subscription required) earlier this week on some of the top prep players from Florida in this draft class. He saw pitcher Cole Ragans battle through a tough outing, but he showed glimpses of why he is highly rated. Ragans was sitting low-90’s with his fastball, while flashing a mid-70’s curve that has plus potential. The following day, Rode saw catcher Herbert Iser hit two home runs and show off a strong arm. The third player of note was shortstop Drew Mendoza, who had a quiet day at the plate and in the field, so there wasn’t much of note. Ragans is a possibility for the Pirates first pick, while Mendoza is in the range of their second pick(41st overall), and Iser ranks as a possible second round pick. His strong showing could help him move up the charts, as catcher is a position that lacks a top talent right now in this draft class.

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Baum from West Orange HS(FL) had a rough night on Thursday, allowing four runs over two innings. He’s an athletic pitcher with a projectable frame. Baum stands 6’1″, 170 pounds, with room to fill out. He topped out at 94 mph on Thursday, besting his max recorded velocity of 93 from earlier in the season. According to Prep Baseball Report(subscription required), his fastball has life down in the zone, while his mid-70’s curve is an average offering and he has feel for a low-80’s change-up. Early on, he projects as a second round pick, though he could interest the Pirates with their 41st overall pick. I’ve included a video of Baum from Brian Sakowski, who also has another one on his YouTube page.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
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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