If you missed it yesterday, we did a Prospect Roundtable with our views of the 2022 Pittsburgh Pirates draft.
Today we’re looking at which player interests us the most. The catch is that you can’t choose Termarr Johnson.
I guess it’s easy to have different answers when you have 20 players to choose from, but in our blind submission process for this article, we came up with four different answers. Do you agree, or is there a player we left out? Leave your pick in the comments!
JOHN DREKER: Yoel Tejeda, RHP
Besides Termarr Johnson, I really don’t have a second pick in this draft who is the type of exciting player that we would do a roundtable article for when they make their first appearances at levels like we did with Anthony Solometo or Bubba Chandler. This draft class got really disappointing after the first round, but since we have to pick one, the most interesting is probably Yoel Tejeda, who hopefully signs, but isn’t a guarantee. Just being a 6’7″ high school pitcher is interesting, but there is some potential for a two-way player. The problem is that he’s already 19, so he’s older for a high school pick, and he’s a bit raw on both sides of the ball. At least for now, you can dream of a hard-throwing pitcher who can also contribute with the bat, but if he goes that route it will be a slow process, and the hitting side has a less likely chance of happening. Assuming he does sign, I would make sure I was tuning in for his first game on the mound, though from the scouting reports it seems like the fastest route gets him to Low-A in 2024.
WILBUR MILLER: Dominic Perachi, LHP
It’s not easy specifying a most-interesting pick out of such an uninteresting draft. All things being equal, I’d probably say Hunter Barco, but we’re not going to see him for over a year, so that’s no fun. Instead, I’ll go with Dominic Perachi, mainly because I’m hoping he’ll follow the so-far path of Tyler Samaniego. There’s some similarity – both are 6’4” lefties with good velocity and breaking stuff. Samaniego is a reliever and that’s likely Perachi’s path as well, and as such maybe he’ll move up through the system quickly. Samaniego currently has the better velocity, but if Perachi can add a click or so they’ll be pretty similar there, and Perachi does seem to have some projectability left. The advantage Perachi has is two breaking balls. There’s a difference of opinion on whether he throws a curve and slider or two curves thrown from different angles, not that it matters. I’ve liked the idea of a pitcher throwing two breaking balls since I realized the Pirates under the previous front office would usually make a pitcher scrap one if he threw two. Some guys just aren’t going to throw a useful change and this is one way to adapt. It’d be nice to see Perachi get on the mound quickly for Bradenton.
ANTHONY MURPHY: Miguel Fulgencio, LHP
I tried to dig a little deeper past the obvious names that followed up the first-round pick, like Thomas Harrington and Michael Kennedy. Those are players we are going to be keeping an eye on regardless, as there’s a good chance they push for top-30 prospect status out the gate.
Miguel Fulgencio not only has a cool name, but an incredible story. Went to Oklahoma State to play football, ended up transferring to community college to play baseball as an outfielder. During the pandemic shut down he switched to the mound and refined his game through YouTube. He’s 23, yes, but also has a Nick Garcia-ish vibe based off him converting to pitching at a smaller school and pitching incredibly well. Fulgencio went 7-0 this spring, recording five saves while posting a 1.75 ERA. He also struck out 60 while walking only eight in 46 1/3 innings while helping his team reaching the Junior College World Series.
He’s probably a reliever from the get-go but has reached up to 96-mph on his fastball and is left-handed. He also put-up good spin rates on his slider during his time in the Appalachian League, and struck out 28 in 19 1/3 innings.
TIM WILLIAMS: Hunter Barco, LHP
In 2019, Hunter Barco was a late-first round talent out of high school. Baseball America rated him 32nd that year. A strong commitment to the University of Florida pushed him down to the 24th round. In 2022, Barco had a 2.50 ERA in 50.1 innings. A mock draft by Baseball America on April 20th had Barco going to the Red Sox 24th overall. This is a guy who entered the draft as a first round talent, and remained a first round talent up until he underwent Tommy John surgery in May.
Barco was a first round talent this time around because we was seen as a safe option who could reach the majors as a back of the rotation lefty starter. At this point, the risk is in the Tommy John recovery. That’s not automatic to return from, but it is enough to risk taking a first rounder if he falls to you in the second. The Red Sox were projected in April to get Barco with the 24th pick. After Tommy John, the Pirates got him with the 44th pick.
Barco is going to miss most of the 2023 season, which puts a damper on this. We’re looking at a guy who won’t do much until 2024, at which point he will start answering questions of whether he has returned to his pre-TJ form, and whether he was worth the risk. What I like is that he’s going to be spending his recovery at Pirate City. It’s not like he won’t get development time. He should come out of there with his ideal pitching approach in pro ball. The hardest part here is the long wait, but I’m really interested in seeing Barco in 2024, and how quickly he moves at that point.
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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.