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Draft Prospect Watch: A Look at a Power Hitting First Baseman and a Top High School Pitcher

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Every Sunday, we are going to take a look at two top draft prospects in this upcoming June amateur draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates make their first selection with the 18th overall pick. They also have the 37th overall pick. Our players featured each week will be those who are ranked on prospect lists in the general area of the 18th pick, while also showing some players who could be available when the Pirates make their second pick. The first day of the draft is June 3rd, just 29 days away. You can check out our draft preview here.

Here are links to the previous Draft Prospect Watch articles, covering a total of 23 players so far:

Matthew Allan and Zack Thompson

 Brett Baty and Will Holland

Daniel Espino and Jack Leiter

Will Wilson and Brandon Shewmake

Alek Manoah and George Kirby

Corbin Carroll and Maurice Hampton

Rece Hinds and Tyler Callihan

Hunter Barco

Cameron Misner and Brennan Malone

Logan Davidson

Jackson Rutledge and Shea Langeliers

Seth Johnson and JJ Goss

Josh Jung

This week we are going with two players who were rated near the 18th overall spot in Keith Law’s latest draft prospect rankings (see Josh Jung link above). These are the closest players to the 18th spot, who we haven’t covered yet. We start with Michael Busch, a first baseman from North Carolina. He’s a lefty hitter, right-handed thrower, who is 21 years old (turns 22 in November) and listed at 6’0″, 207 pounds.

Busch is a patient hitter with plus power. He gets his share of walks, has plus bat speed, makes consistent contact and his power has translated to game action over the years. He’s an athletic player for a first baseman, so he might not be limited to the position. Going into the 2016 draft, he was rated at the top shortstop in the state of Minnesota, though he went undrafted. He’s one of those players who you draft for the bat and figure out later the best place to put him.

This season at North Carolina, he’s hitting .299/.456/.591 in 45 games, with 12 doubles and 12 homers. He hit 13 homers as a sophomore, after collecting just three during his freshman season. During his college career, he has 125 walks and 92 strikeouts.

Here are some videos, starting with recent game action from Prospect Live

2080 Baseball has some swings from last year

Perfect Game Baseball has some very recent video of Title Text Here (you’ll know if you watch the video)

Our second player is 18-year-old right-handed prep pitcher Quinn Priester out of Cary-Grove HS in Illinois. Law has him 20th overall, while Baseball America had him 38th in their last update, though he made a big jump up the charts since their previous list. MLB Pipeline just pushed him to 21st overall in their latest update, and then this weekend they made him the pick of the Pirates in their new mock draft. He’s listed at 6’3″, 190 pounds and has a commitment to TCU.

Priester is a very interesting player because he has never had a pitching coach. Despite that fact, he has his fastball up to 96 MPH, sits in the low-90s and he has excellent control. His also has a two-seam fastball with plenty of sinking action and movement. His curveball sits in the high-70s and has a chance to be a plus pitch. He gets praise for his easy delivery and repeatable mechanics.

You’re talking about someone who has advanced this far mostly on his own, so you can imagine what teams hope for when they get him into the hands of experienced coaches. Add in the youth and projectable frame and you can see why he has plenty of upside.

Here are some videos, starting with Prospect Pipeline, which lists velocities along with the game pitches

2080 Baseball has some action from the summer. They go with the slow motion replay late in the video

Here’s another 2080 Baseball clip from the summer

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John Dreker
John Dreker
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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