Baseball America posted their second mock draft this week. That followed their ranking of the top 100 prospects, which is similar to the mock draft, except in the second article they try to figure out who fits where based on team preferences and what they are hearing. You can see the top 100 rankings, along with a mock draft from D1 Baseball, in our article from Friday. The draft starts in less than five weeks, so we are getting into the time frame where the mock drafts will start popping up more often.
In their latest mock draft, Baseball America has the Pirates staying local to take Pitt right-handed starter T.J. Zeuch. He has really moved up the draft charts lately, after missing the beginning of the season with a groin injury. Zeuch is 6’7″, so he has the size the Pirates like to see from starting pitchers. He sits 92-94 with the fastball, touching higher at times. That fastball has good sink to it and some arm-side run, making him difficult to square up, while inducing a lot of grounders. BA doesn’t talk highly of his off-speed combo, consisting of a slider and a change-up. They say he commands both pitches well, but they are average offerings. The development of those two pitches will ultimately decide his upside. He has the size and the downhill fastball that the Pirates like to see, along with command of his pitches. Whether they are interested or not will likely depend on what they see with his off-speed pitches.
For subscribers of Baseball America, you can see scouting reports on their top 50 prospects here.
Of note from their top 100 list, is the draft placement of their 22nd ranked player. The Pirates make their first with the 22nd overall pick and BA has Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds ranked 22nd. However, he is not among the 34 picks listed in their latest mock draft. Zeuch ranked 26th on the top 100 list.
D1 Baseball noted in their mock draft linked above, that the Pirates were very interested in high school bats. They said in particular that they would love to pick Alex Kirilloff, a 1B/OF/P who goes to Plum High School in Pittsburgh. They didn’t believe that he would be available, so D1 had them going with shortstop Nolan Jones, who is also a Pennsylvania native (seems to be a theme with their first overall pick). Baseball America has Kirilloff going 19th overall to the Mets, and I could see that pick. Mets definitely like to go for high upside high school bats with their first pick, doing it three times recently.
According to the BA mock, Nolan Jones is being picked 24-25 by the Padres, who own back-to-back picks. So not only is there an interest in a player like Jones, BA believes that he will still be available when the Pirates make their selection. You can read more about Jones in Friday’s article linked above, or in the top 50 scouting reports if you have a BA subscription. It seems that for now, he is a name to keep an eye on.
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 think Kiriloff has moved up to #14 by BA. The first pick will be interesting with Eric Lauer moving up to #25 , and Zeuch behind him at #26 .
There are some excellent possibilities around the #41 pick with Brandon Marsh, BA #40 and he has all the tools for a HS OF who is 6’3 210 – BA describes him as a plus runner and arm, gap power right now. Is he strong enough to be a possibility for #21 ? Another would be a calculated risk on HS LHP Jesus Luzardo, BA #45 , who was showing 97 on his FB, and good command of his off-speed pitches, but went down with TJ in March. With that description for a HS pitcher, it is easy to believe he could have been in the Top 10 or 15 of this draft if not for the injury. If he is still there at #41 , I hope the Pirates give it a chance to steal a possible future Top of the Rotation SP