Draft Prospect Watch: Two Top College Players Who Might Interest the Pirates

It’s now been almost a full month since we began our 2018 amateur draft coverage with our preview article. That was followed by a look at two of the top names in this draft class during our first weekend of coverage and then two more names the next week. Last week we went with two interesting high school infielders, and mentioned in the notes section that we would soon look at Auburn right-hander Casey Mize and Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman. So those are my two choices for this week.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft, which is now 79 days away. That’s their highest pick since taking Austin Meadows with the ninth overall pick in 2013. Every Saturday leading up to the draft, we will have an article looking at the players who are possibilities for that tenth overall pick. We will also have separate articles as we get closer to the draft whenever some of the top draft sources have updated rankings or post mock drafts.

We start this week’s article with Casey Mize, who threw a no-hitter over Northeastern while I was typing up last week’s article. He had 13 strikeouts and was sitting 95-97 MPH early in the game and he hit 95 MPH in the ninth inning. Mize went 7.1 innings last night and added 13 more strikeouts. Coming into the season, Mize was ranked eighth overall in the draft class by MLB Pipeline and then Baseball America had him eight also in their updated rankings from two weeks ago.

Mize is an interesting player to follow this year because he’s not only showing off his arm for scouts on the mound, his draft audition includes him staying on the mound all season. He had two arm injuries last year that caused him to be shut down, though neither ended up being anything serious. If he remains healthy all season and maintains that velocity, then he likely won’t be around for the Pirates with the tenth pick. There could be enough teams that are unwilling to gamble on him due to the recent injuries, that you could see him get to the Pirates, but that would likely require other draft picks stepping up their stock.

Besides the fastball, Mize also has a low-80s slider that flashes plus at times and is regarded to be above average. His splitter received a 60 grade from MLB Pipeline, as did his control. That gives him a strong three-pitch arsenal and the ability to throw them all for strikes. He is listed at 6’3″, 208 pounds and has a clean mechanics with a little effort to his delivery, which you can see in the video below.

Jeremy Eierman was rated 13th overall by MLB Pipeline, while Baseball America now has him 27th overall, though he was originally rated ten spots higher. BA dropped him because he had a slow start to his season, then shortly after their updated list came out, he had a big weekend. It was actually much too early in the season to make that type of drop because his team has still only played 15 games at this point and that update came out on March 1st.

There is a split as to whether Eierman will stick at shortstop, but his secondary option if that doesn’t work out would be him ending up as an above average third baseman. You would assume that if the Pirates were to draft him tenth overall, they would think shortstop is a strong possibility.

The 21-year-old Missouri State shortstop went undrafted out of high school, but his overall game has really improved his draft stock in the last three years. He doesn’t have a single tool that rates less than average, and he possesses an impressive arm, plus a nice power/speed combo you don’t often find from shortstops. Eierman’s father and older brother was both drafted, with his brother going in the third round. He’s a very athletic player, with speed, strength and a quick bat, plus his work ethic gets high marks.

Eierman is hitting .305/.414/.542 through his first 70 plate appearances this season. He has eight steals in nine attempts and has committed two errors. Some scouting reports have mentioned strikeouts as a possible future issue, but he is at a 20% strikeout rate right now, which is average for his team. I’ve included a recent video from BA that has batting practice, fielding practice and in-game at-bats.


** Baseball America continued their list of the top five college players at each position, going with catchers. They believe the position has “solid depth”, though the top player (Georgia Tech’s Joey Bart) is only mentioned as having a chance to be a first round pick.

** Jim Callis from MLB Pipeline gives his top five picks in the draft right now, while noting a lot can change in the next 2 1/2 months. Check out the video at the top of the link. I’ll give a bit of a spoiler that Casey Mize is on the list. It’s noteworthy that Mize went undrafted out of high school just like Eierman, but is now he is one of the best pitchers in the entire draft.