Thursday has been a busy day for updated draft rankings, with three new lists coming out. Tomorrow will likely be filled with the latest mock drafts, which will differ slightly from these lists. These are meant to rank the talent, while the mock drafts we cover tomorrow we have some insight as to who could go where in the first round. I personally like to average out the top 100 lists to get a better idea of what type of talent is available when the Pirates pick, as opposed to trying to guess which player they end up selecting.
I’ve included all three rankings in one article because two are subscription sites and the one from Prep Baseball Report is just high school players, so you have to look at that a different way than just finding out who is ranked 22nd, 41st and even 68th overall (first three picks of the Pirates).
We start with Keith Law, who has Kansas prep pitcher Joey Wentz ranked 22nd. There are a couple interesting things about this ranking. One is that Wentz was #12 on his last list, then dropped ten spots due to his velocity slipping. Wentz shot up draft boards this year when he was dominating with a fastball that touched 96 MPH. He still dominated the rest of the season, putting up video games numbers, but he was doing it with a fastball that sat 89-90 MPH instead. That took some of the luster off his rankings.
The other interesting thing is that Wentz is ranked 11th by Prep Baseball Report. If you want to assume that the college and prep classes are evenly split near the top, then that would have Wentz as the 22nd best player in the draft. It might not be a safe assumption, but it’s probably close.
The third ranking is from Jeff Ellis, who puts in a lot of work for Scout.com (this is the free site of the three). For part two of his top 102, click here. Besides seeing players on his own, Ellis also takes into consideration what he is hearing from other people, so you could almost count it as an averaged out list that he adjusts for personal preferences. Ellis has Wentz ranked 18th overall and notes the he believes there is a drop-off in talent after him.
We briefly mentioned Wentz earlier in the year after he made some noise with his early season velocity and performances. He is a 6’5″ lefty, who is very athletic and has the hitting ability to possibly rank in the top 100 just as a position player. As mentioned, he hit 96 early, then was 89-90 later in the season. Wentz has a feel for a changeup and his curve has improved a lot since last year. His best asset is likely his command of all three pitches, which Prep Baseball Report said is the best for any high school player in the draft.
In his top 102, Ellis has Forrest Whitley ranked 22nd. He’s a huge righty out of high school, standing 6’7″, 235 pounds. He hits 97 with an easy delivery and has the makings of 3-4 plus pitches. His downside, as Ellis points out, is that he turns 19 in September, so that’s old for his draft class. He throws a fastball, cutter, slider and curve, so he would need to add a changeup in there and a team like the Pirates would likely have him throwing just one breaking ball. Law has him ranked 15th, while PBR has him tenth, which is almost the equivalent of the #22 pick.
Just so you can see the type of talent available with each spot, I’ll add in the #41 players on the lists from Law and Ellis, plus estimate the Prep Baseball Report player for that spot.
Law has Will Benson in the 41st spot. I’ve heard him much higher, but he dropped 17 spots for Law recently. Ellis also has him lower than what we have heard, ranking Benson 38th. For PBR, he is 14th overall, so that would be closer to what we have heard all season. Benson is a huge kid from Georgia, standing 6’6″, 220 pounds. He has a ton of raw power, but there are holes in his swing. His speed and arm in the outfield are both average or better tools. He’s a low floor/high ceiling player due to the bat, so whoever takes him will have to show patience for someone who could eventually be a huge payoff.
Ellis has Joe Rizzo ranked 41st, a third baseman out of Virginia, who is one of the best prep hitters in the class. Based on the hit tool, he gets ranked high, but that’s about all that he offers. Rizzo is small, and will likely only have gap power. His other drawbacks are a lack of both speed and athleticism. He’s basically a high on base guy who doesn’t do anything else average or better. Law ranks him 70th, while PBR has him 24th overall. I can’t see the Pirates taking him unless he does somehow fall to their third pick. That probably won’t happen, even with Law having him two spots lower.
PBR has a player ranked #21 who might be a real good fit for the Pirates if he’s around at the 41st spot. Cole Ragans is a prep lefty from Florida, who is 6’4″, 190 pounds, with a projectable frame. His fastball touches 93 now, with a good downhill action. He has a changeup with good separation from his fastball, and it’s at least an average pitch now. He also likes to throw inside. So you have a tall pitcher, good downhill action, makings of a strong changeup and he throws inside. He’s basically exactly what they focus on with draft picks.
Since these picks ended up being heavy with high school pitching, I’m including this article from Jonathan Mayo put out today, talking about high upside high school pitcher and how top picks turn out. It’s worth a read.
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.
Wonder why the Pirates don’t just draft by the Keith Law list? He may be a dick, but he’s decent at evaluating amateur talent.
Personally, I am a fan of KLaw. To each their own,
We need to draft left handed starters. Wentz?
I like the name Forrest Whitley!!!
He sounds like a REAL man!
What’s wrong with Lee Foo???? Sounds like a 6’14” 235 martial artist.