On Monday, MLB Pipeline expanded their top draft prospects list from 100 spots to 200, while also doing some re-shuffling among the top 100 prospects.
Pipeline also posted their list of the best tools in the draft, which is a handy reference for after the draft. We mentioned two days ago that D1 Baseball had an article on the top college power bats in the draft. They had Jake Burger as the top power bat in college, and now Pipeline has him listed as the top power bat in the draft. Baseball America also had Burger listed as the top college power bat, so there seems to be a consensus among draft experts.
Burger is a name who has been connected to the Pirates a few times already as a player they have been scouting this year. In the new top 200 from Pipeline, they had him 16th overall. Most mock drafts have him either going to the Pirates, or being selected shortly after they make their first pick at 12th overall.
One other name connected to the Pirates often is UC Irvine 2B/OF Keston Hiura, who Pipeline picked as the best bat in the draft. He only ranks 22nd in the rankings for Pipeline, but that’s because most people believe he will need elbow surgery right after the draft and that will have him out of action until Spring Training next year. He has only been used as a DH this year, although he has been taking grounders at second base all season, just without making any throws.
One thing to point out about that is that Hiura is young for his draft class, turning 21 in August. For comparison, Kevin Newman turned 22 two months after he was drafted. If you’re going to draft someone who will miss some development time, being young for the draft class helps their case.
While the new top 200 isn’t a mock draft, it is interesting to note that Shane Baz is ranked 12th overall. He’s a name who has been mentioned often as a possibility for the Pirates, just like Burger and Hiura.
Baz is one of the top prep pitchers in this draft. He’s a 6’3″, right-hander out of Texas, who turns 18 just days after the draft end. He recently hit 100 MPH in a start, and he controls five pitches that are all at least average. Baz made the honorable mentions for both best slider and best fastball on Pipeline’s top tools list. Baseball America also had him listed in their top tools for the same two pitches.
The draft starts in just six more days. Expect more mock drafts in the days leading up to the draft, as the experts get some clues as to who could be going where in the draft. Our popular tiered ranking article is scheduled to go up Sunday.
Baseball America Top 500
On Monday afternoon, Baseball America unveiled their top 500 draft prospects list. This will be something we reference often on draft day, or at least you would hope because it means the Pirates are taking a lot of players who rate highly with scouts around the industry. There is a misconception among some people who think that BA puts these lists together based on their own scouting alone, but most of the work is done behind the scenes through phone calls, emails and texts, trying to make sure they aren’t too high or low on any players. That background work also helps them decide which players to cover in person.
Their list has an interesting update. Late last month, Kentucky first baseman Evan White went to the Pirates in a mock draft from Baseball America. That was despite the fact that they had him ranked 43rd until yesterday. BA now has him ranked as the 12th best player in the draft, which lines up with the Pirates, though I always point out, these are talent rankings and not mock drafts. You can read more on White here, along with a video of his career highlights.
For reference, Burger ranks 20th, Hiura is 14th and Baz is 11th on the updated list.
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.
Really like white seems a real solid athlete with great stro
Fangraphs Eric Longenhagen’s new Mock from June 5
and scout from June 5
Hiura gone at 10, Beck falls to 26th
don’t like scout’s draft or logic, pirates went with college picks last 2 yrs but are under performing in the minors. So the pick a low velo 6-6 240lbs pitcher who a #3 starter at best a pick twelve. Have to shoot the moon at pick 12 and go jo adel or sam carlsen.
I do not like Peterson at 12 either. However, they do have Austin Beck falling. He’s been compared to Mike Trout in some draft writeups – there’s a shoot for the moon pick.
Regarding Baz- once you reach a certain velocity threshold, say 95mph, isn’t it naive for scouts to care about 100mph? Taillon threw 100 in high school and is way, way better now throwing 94 with control, downward plane, and two-seam. I remember an interview where he admitted he was just throwing the hell out of the ball to get scout attention and it was super flat. In this case with Baz it is mentioned that his control is there as well along with a five pitch mix, so bad example in his case I guess.
Re Taillon. According to Baseball America, his fastball in HS was in the 93-95 MPH range and topped out at 96. Still very fast, but not 100.
To you first question, no. Especially not these days, when 95 is barely noteworthy. You wouldn’t trade in a 100mph Noah Syndergaard for a 95mph version, right?
That being said, there’s a bunch of factors that *should* play into how much a scout weighs the raw velo reading, namely delivery and effort. Baz, for instance, is a drop-and-driver with a ton of effort in the delivery to get to those higher velo bands. I saw a video of him at a PG showcase where he literally lost his hat his head whacked so much. When he does have control – and that’s not a constant by any means – he’s not anywhere near 101, but as a scout you at least still know the arm strength is there for that.
Yeh makes sense. I guess my point was is it’s easy to over-weigh velocity in analyzing pitchers, and how they are achieving that velocity is just as important. Obviously, all things equal, 100 is better than 95, so I suppose it’s a good filter and starting point for a deeper evaluation of the pitcher.
Very much agreed.
“…he admitted he was just throwing the hell out of the ball to get scout attention..” Stetson Allie parlayed that into being a second round pick with a decent signing bonus and a top 40 prospect ranking. Sigh.
I guess that’s my point.
Not a big burger fan, but I like Mo. states short stop in next year draft. I would stay away from college bats at pick 12 , pick a prep bat or prep righthander sam carlsen out of minn.
Prefer hot dogs?
yes, and a little burnt.
Keston Hiura fits the newest Pirates profile, a super utility player, that has no defensive position. Perfect, or is it Brilliant. Thanks, but no thanks.
No team that selects Hiura in the first round would project him as a utility player. No pundit who ranks Hiura in the top 15 projects him to be a utility player. He was a second baseman out of HS and projects to be an OF’er or a second baseman in the Pros.
The hope is that he can improve enough at 2B to stay there. A move to the OF would be to speed his bat to the majors. He isn’t a CF, so is limited to a corner OF position, but doesn’t hit for enough power to justify playing one of those spots. So in essence, if he can not play defense good enough at 2B, then he is a utility player, which is the most likely outcome.
also need a super star upside talent and no college bats at pick twelve have that much upside.
“Hiura has continued mashing in 2017, hitting .402/.546/.668 with 46 walks and 33 strikeouts in 169 at-bats so far. Of particular note: he’s doing this despite an elbow injury serious enough to keep him from playing on the field this year.”
“…he shows a strong feel for hitting from the left side and has shown more power this season.”
“Hiura projects to hit for both average and power while drawing plenty of walks.”
“While he’s one of the better power bats in the college class…”
Why do you say he doesn’t hit for enough power? And how much is enough power?
What I read says he projects for at least moderate power. At 6′ 180, I would not expect much power. By power, I am talking about HR’s.
I don’t think he’ll hit 20+ HRs a season but I think he can hit 15+ HRs (Power was graded 50 according to Pipeline). Good gap power (more doubles and average HR) combined with hitting for high average, I think he can be a good enough corner outfielder.
Maybe I am just spoiled, but I want more out of a #12 pick. I would much prefer a 3-4 tool player, he is more or less a 2-3 tool player.
Yeah, I get what you mean. Who’d you like? I guess Kendall is toolsy – albeit risky strikeout issues – and Baz? Honestly I like White, and would prefer White over Hiura lol.
I was all in on Burger, because he his plus power, hits for average and I thought he could stay at third. Then I really started looking into him, I don’t think there is much chance he stays at third, so he will be limited to 1B/DH. I still love his bat, but I don’t want a 1Bman this high in the draft.
I don’t figure Kyle Wright is going to be there for the Pirates to pick, so now i’m not sure who I want them to pick.
That swing tho.
According to the scouts and presumably the team that drafts him, that is NOT the most likely outcome.
The hope would be that that is not the most likely outcome.
Wait, who doesn’t hit for enough power to project at an outfield corner? Surely you don’t mean Hiura.
I agree with Daniel D Hiura is my number 1 and White is my number 2. Burger
appears to be a little too bulky and Baz is going to college apparently.
There are worse things that could happen if Baz is drafted and goes to college. This is a fairly weak draft class, so the extra pick next year at 13 could produce a better player than this year’s #12 .
Better to cut a deal with a lower-ranked college player and use the extra money to lure later-round prep P’s. If you don’t sign the guy, his bonus pool money goes away as well as the 5% you are allowed to go over your allotment.
Hey Todd. Keston Hiura is my third choice. I think the Pirates should look at Adam Haseley, Austin Beck and Keston Hiura in that order. I don’t really like Burger or White.
I see both Haseley and Beck as top 10 pick. Don’t think we’ll have a chance.
Hey, same! I like Hiura and White. Don’t like Kendall and DL Hall. :/
Can’t draft a risky HS pitcher whose first name is actually “DL” 😉
I think the Pirates should look at Adam Haseley, Austin Beck and Keston Hiura in that order.
Please, no risky HS pitchers in the first round. They have had success in finding Keller, and Glasnow, and Kingham in later rounds. Lets keep it that way.
I guess you don’t like Taillon
Taillon wasn’t exactly a late round pick.
Please re-read original post from Daniel, he said he didn’t want a HS pitcher in 1st rd. That’s what I responded with Taillon. I would love to land Baz. To me any time you can land a potential No. 1 starter in small market you have to jump on it. The chances of getting a No. 1 any other way is near impossible
I do like Tailion. I didn’t like his TJ surgery and hernia surgery and the extended time frame in which it took him to reach the majors.
Tailioin is one of my favorite players, however, in hindsight Machado might’ve been a better choice.
Machado hasn’t reached his prime & will be leaving as FA
So far, Machado has a 25.9 career WAR and two gold gloves. Tailion has yet to produce anything significant.
The Pirates might have done some damage in the playoffs if they had selected Machado. Contrawise, they had three playoff years and nothing to show for the Tailion selection.
I’m not saying that I wouldn’t of wanted Machado, I just don’t think he would’ve been the difference in the playoffs.
We had nobody to go
toe-to-toe with Baumgartner or Lester. Outside of Pedro & Martin nobody hit. I think Taillon is that guy. I like Cole & I liked Liriano, but they’re not the best of the best. I truly believe JT is that Stud.
To date, Keller, Kingham and Glasnow have combined to produce -.7 WAR, that is not a glowing endorsement of success in later rounds.
Brilliant. Life is like a box of chocolates, Forrest.
If Evan White can actually play the OF, he would definitely be worthy of consideration. However, if he can project to be a ML OF’er, why isn’t he one of the top 3 OF’ers at Kentucky? Why is a guy with his athletic ability stuck at the least valuable defensive position on his college team.?
The two most least valuable defensive positions are RF and LF, in that order.
No. Originally introduced by Bill James and intuitive to most baseball fans is the defensive spectrum:
First baseman – Left fielder – Right fielder – Third baseman – Center fielder – Second baseman – Shortstop – Catcher
The level of difficulty increases L to R. The defenisive value of a player that can play the position increases from L to R.
This is well known and universally accepted among baseball fans and pundits.
catcher ,short stop, center field, bat plays at every other position.
Strong up the middle which is what James infers – CF, 2B, SS, C. The Pirates put up with mediocre Catchers until the rest of the team was ready and then after 2012 they spent to get Russell Martin who put them over the top. Cervelli and Diaz continue that trend.
The Pirates have failed to do the same thing at SS. Mercer is average – they either need to trade for better, or start to advance guys like Newman and Tucker more quickly.
This is what Sickels wrote: “As interesting as the bat is, White stands out for his defense: he is a terrific defender at first base, a possible gold glover if he hits enough to play regularly in the majors. Both his arm strength and running speed are impressive and he would be an above-average defender at either outfield corner.”
If the Pirates pick him, I sure hope that is true. Still gotta wonder why he’s stuck at 1B at Kentucky.
but bats right, hmm.
Yes, that is an oddity.
I just simply think it’s because his 1B defense is far superior than the others and cannot be replaced whereas his OF defense, whether it be above average or not, can be somewhat replaced. Don’t think there’s a serious reason behind why he plays 1B over OF.
Keston Hiura would be great. I hope they stay away from Burger. The descriptions of his defense and “stocky” build are reminiscent of Will Craig. Like Craig, the scouts will tell us Burger can stick at 3B. Soon after he is drafted it will be revealed that he needs to move to 1B to get to the big leagues. Also, the last time the Bucs selected the best power bat in the draft was Pedro. Boo.
So you think a slash line of .442/.567/.693/1.260 OPS is worth pursuing? I do also. Last year as a Soph he dogged it with a .358/.436/.539/.975 OPS. Last year 12 doubles, 7 HR, this year 24 doubles 8 HR, W/K of 50/38. The Big West Conference is a very strong pitching conference – very few hitters that have HR’s in double figures.
Draft, sign, cut, rehab, ST, start at Lo A in 2018. Listed as No. 17 in a list I pulled up from Fangraphs. I doubt Jo Adell gets to No. 12, so if a hitter is what we are looking for, this is probably the best available O & D. If not them, Sam Carlson, HS RHP (6’4″ 208, Mid 90’s FB, throws a Changeup)
So you would instead rather draft a guy who may never be able to throw a baseball 50 feet again? Your logic escapes me.
Is “that may never be able to throw a baseball 50 feet again” a figment of your imagination or can you provide a source that indicates that this is a reasonably expected outcome for his arm issues?
To Burger’s credit, he’s built like a brick house unlike Craig’s doughboy physique.
Still though, can’t see how Burger sticks at 3B.