We began our 2018 amateur draft coverage in mid-February with our preview article. Since then we have looked at a pair of potential draft pick for the Pirates each week. We continue with two more players today who could be intriguing early in the first round. They come from the latest rankings from Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft, which is now just 16 days away. That’s their highest pick since taking Austin Meadows with the ninth overall pick in 2013. They also have the 36th and 51st overall picks. Last month, MLB announced the draft slots and bonus pools for each team. The Pirates will have over $10M to spend on their draft picks, although the final number will be closer to $12M (assuming they sign all of their top ten round picks) once you add in the bonuses after the tenth round.
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.
Here is a list of the player featured in the previous articles:
Jackson Kowar and Jarred Kelenic
Ryan Rolison and Travis Swaggerty
Nolan Gorman and Nander De Sades
Logan Gilbert and Ryan Weathers
Mason Denaburg and Carter Stewart
Ethan Hankins and Tristan Beck
Matthew Liberatore and Shane McClanahan
Grayson Rodriguez and Cole Winn
We start this week with prep outfielder Connor Scott out of Plant HS in Florida. He has been mentioned as a possibility for the Pirates in recent mock drafts, though never as their actual pick, just a player who they could be interested in at that spot.
The 18-year-old Scott is listed at 6’4″, 180 pounds, so that tells you right away that he has a lot of room to fill out. His current weakness in his game is below average power, but he has the size and a lefty swing that could eventually produce average power. He’s a very consistent hitter, who gets high marks from scouts for his hands at the plate. Even if the power ends up being average, he should get on base often.
Scott’s best tool is his plus speed, which got a 70 grade from MLB Pipeline. He uses that speed well on the bases and in center field. Combined with his ability to get on base, that speed is going to help him get extra bases, either on hits to the gap or stealing bases. Without adding power, he has the makings of an excellent lead-off hitter. Scott also has an above average arm, so combined with his great range, that should make him a plus defender in the future. Right now he’s a little raw in center field and missing some time with minor injuries this year didn’t help.
This is a pick with huge upside potential and the fact that he has three above average tools right now, including the hit tool, gives him a better floor than most high school picks. There’s a chance he never hits for power, but he has other ways to win games that make him a solid first round pick.
Here’s a video of Scott from Perfect Game:
Sticking with prep outfielders, I had to include Jordyn Adams out of Green Hope HS in North Carolina. The Pirates might not consider him with the tenth overall pick, but scouts are becoming very high on him, comparing him to Byron Buxton according to Baseball America. Buxton may be somewhat disappointing at this point, but injuries have hurt his progress and his 2017 season showed that he could still end up being a valuable player. The comparison to Buxton speaks more to how rare those tools are when talking about a prospect.
Unlike Scott, this pick would come with a lot more risk, but potentially even more upside. The 6’2″, 175 pound Adams is extremely athletic, ranking high in football as a wide receiver as well. He has got a late push from scouts, which is good because it’s probably going to take a large bonus to keep him from going to college and playing two spots. The tenth overall pick comes with a bonus likely big enough to make that happen.
The reason why a team might be willing to take on the risk is that his speed is game changing on the bases and gives him outstanding range in center field. The fact that he is somewhat raw due to playing another sport means that he will likely require some patience. He has very quick hands at the plate and has improved his ability to make contact against the better pitchers he saw this year. He’s like Scott in that the power isn’t there yet, but it’s easier to see it develop with him.
This would be a risky pick for the Pirates, but there isn’t much more upside in this draft class. His speed is a plus-plus tool, so worst case is that you get a center fielder who steals bases, but doesn’t get on base enough to be a difference maker on offense. Adams has shown solid improvements this year already at the plate and at 18 years old with a lot of time spent playing another sport, there could be much more down the line once he concentrates on baseball.
Here’s video of Adams courtesy of Baseball America:
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.