Draft Prospect Watch: A Deeper Look at the New Draft Rankings

We don’t have a set date for the 2020 MLB amateur draft yet, but we now know that it will be held between June 10th and July 20th, with fewer rounds and a signing deadline that will be no later than August 1st. We are going to continue the Draft Prospect Watch series as normal, even if the date gets pushed back to July 20th. Worst case scenario is that you know a lot about more draft picks than normal.

The Pittsburgh Pirates own the seventh overall pick in this draft, as well as the 31st and 44th overall picks. Their draft bonus pool for five rounds was announced recently. Each Saturday, we will take an in depth look at one prospect who could be a good fit for that seventh overall pick, as well as another who rates a little lower and fits better with those two lower picks. In case you missed it, here’s our draft preview article.

We have posted 13 Draft Prospect Watch articles so far, which are all linked here:

Nick Gonzales and Jordan Westburg

Asa Lacy, JT Ginn and Emerson Hancock

Jordan Walker and Zac Veen

Garrett Mitchell and Freddy Zamora

Austin Wells and Patrick Bailey

Tyler Soderstrom and Drew Romo

Jared Kelley and Alex Santos

Max Meyer and CJ Van Eyk

Heston Kjerstad and Daniel Cabrera

Carson Tucker

Robert Hassell and Pete Crow-Armstrong

Cade Cavalli and Bryce Jarvis

Mick Abel and Reid Detmers

Today we look at something recent from Fangraphs, where they posted their updated draft prospect rankings. We took a closer look at the player they had in the seventh spot (Heston Kjerstad, who is also linked above). Today I wanted to look at the player they have in the 31st spot, since he hasn’t been mentioned here yet. Fangraphs has Carson Montgomery, a 17-year-old, right-handed pitcher from Florida, rated as the 31st best player.

We start with Montgomery, who stands 6’2″, 200 pounds. He turns 18 in mid-August and he has a commitment to Florida State. He’s been on the prospect map for quite some time. As MLB Pipeline points out in his scouting report, he committed to FSU during his sophomore year.

Montgomery gets his fastball into the mid-90s with life. He mixes it with an above average slider/slurve and an average changeup that has plus potential. The slider has two different speeds, as he sits high-70s, but will sometimes throw it harder. The changeup is a seldom-used third pitch that could get better as he’s forced to use the pitch more often. He’s very athletic, repeats his delivery well, and throws a lot of strikes.

There’s a chance that Montgomery ends up as a starter with control/command over three above average pitches. He’s got the stamina/frame/athleticism/pitches to be a workhorse starter. He has a lot of traits that the players rated higher in this draft class also possess, plus he’s fairly polished for a high school pitcher, yet he ranks low enough that he could end up being available at 31st overall.

Here’s video of Montgomery from Perfect Game Baseball

Here’s a second video from Baseball Factory

I try to include two players who are similar in the same article, such as two college hitters or two high school pitchers. Going off of the Fangraphs list, the next best high school pitcher after Montgomery is Tanner Witt, a 17-year-old, 6’6″, 200 pound, right-handed pitcher from Texas. They have Witt ranked 40th overall, which would put him in line with the third Pittsburgh pick (44th overall) if he drops, or close enough to 31st overall that he wouldn’t be a stretch.

Witt has a big frame that is still filling out. He comes from good bloodlines, with his father Kevin Witt playing parts of five seasons in the majors. Tanner has shown some of the power that helped get his father to the big leagues, but most scouts feel that his future is on the mound.

Witt is a rare player who may have been helped by the shortened season. He got to pitch this year and scouts had him with a spike in velocity in his last game, with about three MPH on average added to his fastball, which touched 95 MPH in the start. He also throws a curve and a slider, with both pitches being called above average. Witt gets good spin rates on all of his pitches according to MLB Pipeline. They believe that he’s just now showing his potential, and as you can imagine with a 6’6″, 17-year-old, there is a ton of projection still available.

While Montgomery is called a polished prep pitcher, Witt is more about huge upside for a patient team. He’s a bit raw on the mound, but you’re talking about potential for three above average pitches.

Here’s a video of Witt courtesy of YouTube user Baseball.

Here’s a second video from Donald Boyles

** If you missed it from Thursday night, we posted an article covering MLB Pipeline’s latest mock draft, as well as some (sort of) news from Ken Rosenthal about the draft negotiations between MLB and the players. I’m sure we will hear more on the draft very soon.

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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