MLB Pipeline posted their updated top 100 draft prospects on Thursday night. They not only added 50 names to their original top 50, they mixed up the order at the top, with some new names moving up the charts. You can check out the list, complete with scouting reports, in the link above. If you’ve been following our coverage, you’ll recognize many of the names at the top, although you’ll also see some names in the middle, indicating those players have seen their draft stock drop recently. I wanted to do something a little different with this and look at the players who match up to the picks the Pirates have in the top 100 draft spots.
This isn’t like a mock draft, so you really can’t say that Pipeline thinks the 12th best player will go to the Pirates with the 12th overall pick. What this can do is give you an idea of the talent the Pirates could get with each of their picks. The draft begins on June 12th and runs for three days. That first day, the Pirates will select 12th, 42nd, 50th and 72nd. On day two of the draft, their first pick will be the 88th overall selection. So here are the players that Pipeline has in those five spots.
12. Shane Baz, RHP – Baz is one of the players we covered last weekend and I think a lot of Pirates fans would like this as the first pick. He has a 6’3″, 190 pound frame, with room to fill out. He recently touched 98 MPH with his fastball and he has a four-pitch mix, with excellent control. Baz is an athletic player with a clean delivery. As a prep pitcher, he would take some time to get through the system, but he has the upside of a frontline starter. As I said, this isn’t a mock draft, but this is a pick I could see happening. My initial thought was that they take a college bat, then go for prep pitchers because there are a lot of young arms around the middle of the pack, but Baz would be tough to pass up if he’s still on the board.
42. Matt Sauer, RHP – Sauer is part of that group of prep pitchers who fall somewhere between the end of the first round and the third round, which the Pirates could decide to stock up on like last year. He’s 6’4″, 195 pounds, with a fastball that sits low-to-mid 90s, along with a slider that Pipeline describes as “nasty”. Sauer falls in the tweener category for scouts. Some see him as a power bullpen arm due to those two pitches, while others think he can make it as a starter due to his frame and two potential plus pitches, along with time to develop a changeup, or a better third offering. If you compare the talent to what you get with Baz, he doesn’t throw quite as hard and doesn’t have the four-pitch mix or solid control. It’s still a high ceiling pitcher, just with more risk and lesser stuff currently.
50. Kevin Merrell, 2B – A lefty college bat from South Florida, he has a similar profile to Adam Frazier, though Merrell is a plus-plus runner. He’s a solid hitter for average, who isn’t going to hit homers. He can steal bases and the speed would give him great range in the outfield if a team wanted to use him there. Merrell is a solid defensively at second base, so there are options for his future position. The bat should play up in the pros and the speed will be a weapon. He’s hitting .403/.494/.619 this season, with more walks than strikeouts and he’s 17-for-20 in steals. He definitely fits the profile of a pick the Pirates would make in this spot.
72. Luis Campusano, C – The Pirates could use a lower level catcher with upside and Campusano could be an option. His strength is defense, where he is polished for a high school catcher and his arm strength and accuracy are both above average. He’s a right-handed hitter with bat speed and a little pop, which could produce double digit homers in the future. Campusano has a connection to the Pirates as well. His father was signed as an international free agent by the Pirates in 1989 and spent four seasons in the lower levels of the system.
88. Adam Hall, SS – A high school shortstop from Canada, Hall has the feel of someone the Pirates would pick. He’s an athletic player, with above average speed, solid defense and the ability to get on base. As with most prep players from Canada, he’s considered raw. He’s also still 17, so that helps with the upside potential. If you’re going to get a raw player from a cold weather place, the younger the better. He’s not big at 5’11”, 165 pounds, so his current 40 power rating on the 20-80 scout scale, could go up as he fills outs.
** In that article above where we covered Shane Baz, we also mentioned college pitcher Clarke Schmidt. I noted at the end of the recap that he left his last start late due to some arm discomfort. He didn’t think it was serious after talking to the medical staff that night, but a more thorough examination revealed that he will need Tommy John surgery. Schmidt was a possible mid-first round pick and due to the timing, he won’t be able to pitch next year, so he’s going to have an interesting choice to make if he slips to the 2nd or 3rd round. The team that drafts him will be taking over early in his rehab process if he signs. MLB Pipeline did a Q&A on Thursday in which one of the questions dealt with the possible effect Tommy John surgery could have on Schmidt’s draft spot.
** Scout.com recently did their first mock draft in a combined effort between their two draft experts. They have the Pirates going with right-handed prep pitcher Hans Crouse. We covered Crouse here in an earlier article after I got to watch one of his starts. MLB Pipeline had him rated higher in the year, then dropped him to 29th in their latest update. He’s clearly a talented pitcher, who has a plus fastball and a curve that looked plus at times. He has a 6’5″ frame, with room to fill out. Crouse has a high-effort delivery and that leads to some control issues. He’s also high-energy on the mound and some scouts think that the control/effort/energy combined, could make him a reliever in the future. I don’t see him as a first round option for the Pirates, but he would definitely be an interesting player to cover.
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.
This draft doesn’t seem to be a strong one, am I right?
From what I’m hearing, it’s average. It’s strong for prep pitching, not strong for college hitting. I think that’s why they expect a run on college hitters early, followed by a run on prep pitchers a little later. If you want an impact college bat, you better select one early, but I don’t see any reason why the Pirates couldn’t get that bat, followed by a strong group of prep pitchers if that is their plan.
Any thoughts on Sam Carlson?
Carlson has the size and make-up that the Pirates like, and they have had good recent results from cold weather guys like Mitch Keller and Max Kranick. Velocity and a three pitch repertoire in HS is enough for him to be a solid #12 . I still like Jordan Adell who fell to #22 on the MLB list and Nick Pratto who is listed as the #10 draft prospect. It will be interesting if all 3 are still on the board when the Pirates pick.
Young talented SP’s are the current gold standard, but Pratto has an advanced bat and is a plus defender at 1B. Adell has the physical gifts to be all-world, is a plus defender in CF, but needs some help from Jobu with the breaking pitch. I laughed reading that he has tremendous foot speed and bat speed but swings and misses too much – Starling Marte?
A 6’4″ right-handed pitcher with control of three above average pitches? I’m sure they would love to get him. MLB Pipeline seems to love him, and the fact he’s hitting 97 and he has a frame to add muscle, plus he’s from a cold weather state, has to have some teams drooling
John, I love Baz as much as anyone but I still think they need an OF bat.
Never draft for need. Imho
Nor should they ever do that