The 2019 Major League draft begins on June 3rd and runs for three days. Day one is always the one that gets the most attention and the Pittsburgh Pirates have a chance that day to restock the farm system. They will make four picks on day one and they have five picks total among the top 100 spots in the draft.
We have covered the draft closely since the start of this site, expanding our coverage in 2013 to include regular previews of the draft in our Draft Prospect Watch. It took a lot of tinkering with our coverage, but I think that last year’s method worked the best, so we are sticking with it this year. Every Saturday leading up to the draft, we will take a look at two players who are possibilities for the Pirates when they make their first selection with the 18th overall pick.
Here’s an example of that from last year when we profiled Travis Swaggerty, who they ended up selecting with the tenth overall pick. By the end of the year, we profiled a total of 27 players. The Pirates have the 37th overall pick this year as compensation for not signing Gunnar Hoglund last year. So while there’s a great chance that we will profile the first round pick at some point, there’s also a chance that we will mention the player they end up selecting 37th overall as well. We will also have separate articles for any mock drafts and updated rankings from major sources, as well as the occasional notes article during the week.
This style of coverage has worked out well almost every year. We had extensive coverage of Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire in 2013. In 2015, we mentioned both Kevin Newman and Ke’Bryan Hayes often. We profiled Will Craig and had occasional notes on him in 2016 and Shane Baz got constant mentions throughout our 2017 coverage, while we also had a mention of second round pick Calvin Mitchell thrown in there. In fact, the only time it didn’t work was 2014, with Cole Tucker being a surprise pick. I didn’t even know who he was until two days before the draft when we did our annual tiered rankings article, which will be back again this year.
We will be using the rankings of MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and Fangraphs to get a better idea of who could be the first pick of the Pirates on June 3rd. Those sources get a lot of help from the scouts and executives that end up making those picks. By averaging out rankings, you’re not only getting multiple opinions, you end up with more of a consensus. If one source has a player ranked 18th overall and others don’t have him in the top 50, he’s probably not an option for the Pirates with their first pick, but he could be possible with that second selection.
In the end, it’s all just a guessing game, but we are trying to make them educated guesses and that has worked out well during five of the last six years.
As for some early previews of the draft class, I’m including the most recent rankings for the three sources mentioned above. We start with Fangraphs since it’s the most recent. They updated their list on Monday and also mentioned that this year seems to be a good year to pick up college bats, but it’s not so good right now for college pitching. Here’s their draft board, which has 155 names.
We posted an article when MLB Pipeline posted their top 50 on a quiet December day for baseball news. We also took quick looks at the players who they ranked 18th and 37th overall at the time. You might not get the players in that spot, but it gives you an idea of what kind of talent will be available with that pick.
Baseball America posted their top 200 draft prospects three weeks ago, with in depth reports on 100 players already. You can also check out their article for the top 50 college players for each class (freshman, soph., junior, senior).
The final draft order hasn’t been determined yet due to free agents who will affect some of those picks. Once that is set, then the draft bonus pool will also be set. As of right now, the Pirates have the 58th, 73rd and 96th picks. Those first two picks will take place on day one, which will likely be broadcast live in it’s entirety on MLB Network. The Pirates were recently ranked 15th and 18th for farm systems, so having four picks on day one could help them out in those rankings.
Our own coverage starts next Saturday when we profile our first two players. College baseball began for many teams on Friday night, while high school players begin at all different times between now and early April.