There are about nine weeks left before the first day of the 2022 MLB draft, meaning that we still have plenty of time to look at top draft options for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who select fourth overall. A lot could change between now and then, so the plan is to look at all of the players who rank around where the Pirates select. We recently started our Draft Prospect Watch articles, where we look at a new player each Sunday. Our first choice was Druw Jones. The next Sunday we looked at Elijah Green. That was followed by Jackson Holliday, who moved up some draft charts recently. Last week we went with Termarr Johnson, who has been on the radar all season for the fourth overall pick. This week is a name that has been linked to the Pirates recently.
Cam Collier from Chipola JC, is a 17-year-old third baseman, whose father Lou Collier might be a familiar name to most Pirates fans. The older Collier was a member of the 1997-98 Pirates, and he played a total of eight years in the majors. Cam Collier was not on my list of players to profile here because he was usually ranked in the 15-20 area of the draft prospects lists. He was in my “keep an eye on” column, but things changed on Thursday when Kyle Glaser from Baseball America connected Collier to the Pirates in a draft buzz article. Collier appeared to be in that tweener area for the Pirates. Not good enough for their fourth overall pick, but too good to even hope he’s around when they pick 36th overall.
Since BA reported the connection, here’s what they have to say about Collier. I’ll note that the one thing I heard about him before he was connected to the Pirates was that people like that he was a 17-year-old doing well at a Junior College school known for its baseball program. He’s an athletic/strong, 6’1″, 219 pounds, with skills on both sides of the ball, though BA leaves a lot of room for his floor-to-ceiling, because it seems like not all scouts are sold on him. He has a line drive swing from the left side, using the entire field, with some nice raw power. He makes good contact already, but it’s not a consistent hard contact approach yet. He has a strong arm at third base and shows signs of being able to stick at the position. Some scouts believe he could end up at first base though. The best case is that you get a high OBP guy with some power at third base, while the worst case is average OBP guy because he doesn’t make enough hard contact, with mediocre power at first base. He’s the same age as some high school juniors for next year’s draft, so you expect some risk vs reward here. He’s got a college commitment to Louisville.
Switching gears to MLB Pipeline, they have Collier as a 60-grade for hitting and arm, with 50 grades for everything else. That’s basically how BA described him, but there is one difference in how they got to their numbers. Pipeline praises his ability to make contact and his strong bat speed, though they note that he has been doing a good job of squaring up balls this year, while doing well against premium velocity, so that’s a bit better sounding for Collier than the BA report. Pipeline also has the same potential move from third base in their scouting report, noting that he has the arm strength, but he may end up at a different corner spot. This report basically just sounds like he has a little less risk than BA, so I decided to look for a third report.
Kiley McDaniel from ESPN is slightly higher on Collier than the other two sources, but he didn’t have anything that could help with the differences in reports, only noting that he has done well against older players. Maybe the higher ranks does lean towards the Pipeline report, but no real details there. Keith Law pushed Collier all the way up to #2 on his draft board, with the same report about doing well against older players. However, he believes Collier is sticking at third base, so that could factor into his higher ranking. If there’s no chance of him moving to where his bat needs to play better, then you’re taking away some of the risk associated with the player. Fangraphs has him rated down at #25, though they said he could be a plus defender at third base, while also noting that he had some issues squaring up pitches, similar to the BA report.
As you might expect with all of these sources, there’s a lot of input from scouts, so it’s really a matter of which scouts they talk to and how much they actually see of the hundreds of potential top draft picks worth mentioning. My favorite way to look at it is to just average out what people are saying, which is hard here because the defense is really split BUT none of the sources question the ability to hit. The difference maker at the plate here is whether there will be game power. In this instance, you can expect that if the Pirates do select him, they see a third baseman with power. Otherwise he doesn’t really fit into the fourth spot in this draft class.
Here are some videos, starting with this great one from Kyler Peterson, getting plenty of game footage from multiple games earlier this year.
Prospects Live has game footage as well from a short time later
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.