An Early Look at the 2018 Draft Class and What it Could Mean for the Pirates

MLB Pipeline posted a mock draft on Wednesday morning, going through the first ten picks of the 2018 amateur draft with both Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo making selections. The Pittsburgh Pirates own the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft. Before getting into their picks, I need to point out this tweet by Callis from yesterday.

The 2011 draft was when the Pirates took Gerrit Cole first overall, but they had about nine players who could have been first overall picks that year. Not every one of them worked out, though players like Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Jose Fernandez, Anthony Rendon and George Springer were strong options and Josh Bell dropped to the second round due to bonus demands. So while it might not be as good as that group, being named the best since then makes it a nice draft class. Basically, it’s a good year (at this early stage) to be picking tenth overall.

I mentioned that it’s an early look at a mock draft because a lot can change between now and then. So I wouldn’t focus in on these two particular players just yet, but you can use them as a guide for the possible type of talent the Pirates could be looking at with their pick this year.

Jim Callis has the Pirates taking Ryan Rolison, a left-handed pitcher out of Mississippi, who he says has one of the best fastball/curve combos in this class. Rolison sits low-90s with movement on the fastball and his curve has a sharp break, with both pitches being described as swing-and-miss offerings. He’s a draft-eligible sophomore, who stands 6’2″, 195 pounds. Baseball America ranks him as the seventh best college player in this draft and the second best left-handed pitcher. MLB Pipeline mentioned him as the ninth best college player in the draft back in August, so his stock has gone up for them at this point.

Jonathan Mayo has the Pirates taking Jarred Kelenic, a high school outfielder out of Wisconsin. Mayo describes him as the best pure hitter among high school players and perhaps the best in the class. BA has the 6’1″, 195 pound Kelenic rated as the fifth best high school player in the draft and the top prep outfielder overall. Here’s a recent video of him during international competition.

If you notice one thing from the mock drafts, it’s that multiple positions of need in the farm system for the Pirates are represented early in the draft. You have third baseman Nolan Gorman going seventh and ninth in the mock drafts. You have another left-handed pitcher going sixth and eighth. As Tim Williams recently pointed out, the Pirates could use more top-end talent in the outfield as well, so Kelenic and others fit there. They could also use catching, but this isn’t the year to fill that need. Just one of the top 20 HS players and none of the top 50 college players are catchers. While we always stress that you never draft for need in baseball, it could be the determining factor between two similar players.

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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Kelenic swing looks sweet. You can just tell a pure hitter.


I had forgotten that Josh Bell didn’t just slip out of the first round due to his demands, he also fell out of the 27-pick supplemental ‘round’ – all the way to number 61.

Considering there are/were 30 teams, that’s actually a round 3 pick!


looks like Nate Mclouth in the video

Scott K

For those of you who like pedigree, Parker Meadows, younger brother of Austin, is graduating HS this year. The CF Clemson commit, has a decent LH power bat and good speed. Taller and lankier than Austin.

One of the better players to come out of GA this year. A name to keep an eye on for us Buc fans.


How are his hamstrings?

Scott K

He kinda reminds me of a young Gregory Polanco, if that tells you anything. 🙂

joe s

And I guess it begins. We have been fed two names to ruminate on. I am sure as the college season starts and then the High school season commences different names will pop up. I just hope they don’t go for another what they consider to be safe picks, like Newman and Craig. They need bats not pitchers and should try to replenish the farm with hitters with the top two picks, so lets get ready for another two starting pitchers with those picks.


Depends on who the pitchers are. I was very pleased with the choice of Baz last year.


Really encouraging opposite field adeptness from Kelenic. Really nice bat path, should give him good plate coverage. Lower half incorporated well. If he’s got raw power, he’s already got a good start at tapping into it, and without, it appears, sacrificing contact.


Kelenic plays CF for his HS team, but will likely move to a corner in the future. There is a video of him running down a ball hit to the gap when he was playing RF for the U18 team. He has good range and a good enough arm from what I have read about him. I obviously would be happy if the Pirates were to draft him, but the odds of that happening are slim.


First view reminded me of young Brian Giles, before the steroids kept him from straitening his arms.


Go for the high risk, high reward/upside HS position players. That college pitcher from Mississippi doesn’t sound like a top of the rotation kind of guy, but a Steve Brault type. He’s rated the 7th or 9th best college player, but the mock has Pirates taking him 10th overall – sounds like a reach. Pirates need true difference makers at all positions throughout the system…the HS kid from Wisconsin sounds like the type the Pirates should pursue in early rounds.

Travis P

I long for the day when MLB and the MLBPA agree to allow GM’s to trade ALL draft picks. Dombrowski wouldn’t have a pick until the 10th round every year.

Daniel D

Any mediocre college hitters that can only play first base projected to be available when the Pirates pick?


And are non athletic and defensive liabilities – like a Will Craig type?? Lol


I really like the look of their picks in each mock draft, and would be happy with either knowing what I know (though I think I prefer Kelenic).

I also wouldn’t be disappointed with a Seth Beer selection, for myriad reasons. (Yes, the name is one of them; why did you even bother to ask?)


Seth Beer was one of the ones that I got correct in that prospect quiz. 🙂


Leefoo … I was thinking of an interesting future survey idea. After the PP prospect list is published on the site, you could see which draft choices the PP readers would trade for a lower player. (In essence, which players do the readers value higher than PP’s team.)

Like if the list was 1. Keller, 2. Meadows, 3. Baz and 4. Cole
1. Would you trade Keller for Meadows
2. Would you trade Meadows for Baz
3. Would you trade Baz for Cole


Same, and one of the few who I knew for sure. There were about 7 names on that list I actually recognized. I don’t know if you realized this, but finding fun baseball names is a bit of a hobby of mine.

Fingers crossed Lars Nootbaar is good enough to get drafted someday, on that note.

And I’m going to need the Pirates to keep drafting kids with good names, because that’s my contribution to this commentariate, obviously, making jokes with them that you all gut-bustingly laugh* at.



Dark…..You and I both love those fun baseball names.

And I STILL think that Tucker Alou is a real prospect!!!!!!

Of those prospects, my favorites were

2. Travis Swaggerty
5. Nander De Sedas
15. Steele Walker (I thought of Cutch)


Just imagine: if he’s especially clutch, his nickname can be The Cold One. It would be so beautiful.

Daniel D

Or if he’s in a slump…


If you want to be glass half-empty about it.

Daniel D

Ha! I see what you did there…


I thought about that one for a really long time.

Travis P

He could be an Iron City Brewing spokesperson the rest of his life with an appearance in a Bucco uniform.


I will get multiple looks at Kelenic this short Wisconsin baseball season.


He looks to have a smooth swing. Lefty version of (good) Cutch?


I really love what the Pirates did with last years draft and I think they should continue that trend and get the best HS players available to rebuild the system.


I really liked their Top 4 picks and I hope that they all pan out. Time will tell.

Pirates Prospects Daily



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