Jonathan Mayo from MLB Pipeline posted a new mock draft last night. This one followed up a mock draft from Jim Callis on Pipeline that was released two weeks ago.
Mayo has the Pittsburgh Pirates taking LSU outfielder Dylan Crews with the top overall pick in the July 9th draft. Crews has been the pick for almost everyone in mock drafts and prospect rankings since before the season started.
Mayo goes on to note that there is a clear top five in this draft class. That is something that I covered here recently.
He kept that top five going in the top five picks in his mock because they have separated themselves from the pack.
He has the next four players in order from 2-5 as: LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes, prep outfielders Walker Jenkins and Max Clark, with Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford going fifth.
I’ll note one interesting thing here about Langford and Crews, two SEC players seeing plenty of the same pitchers. Mayo notes that Crew had a slightly better OPS, but that actually changed on Wednesday night when he dropped down some points due to a quiet game against McNeese. He dipped 14 points below Langford in OPS after that game. Mayo obviously had this article written up before that game was played.
That was followed on Thursday night, when Langford added to his OPS with two doubles and a single, while Crews saw his drop just slightly, despite hitting a homer. He went 2-for-7, with a single as his other hit. It could all change in one game, but Langford has the OPS lead at this point.
Skenes also pitched well again on Thursday against Georgia, allowing two runs over seven innings, while striking out 12 batters.
We still have seven full weeks until the draft, so it’s going to be interesting to see how these big games coming up for the college trio play out.
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.
Crews isn’t dominating as he once did. If that were to remain that way down the stretch, it’s Skenes for me. And maybe even Langford.
Skenes. Crews has “trouble wit the curve” that will doom him. If he can’t hit the college breaking ball the MLB will feast on him.
Crews may be benefitting in perception from a hotter start… him and Langford have had equally fantastic seasons, but Crews’ stats have looked better the whole way because his hottest stretch came at the beginning.
My take: do what we did with Henry Davis and pick whoever is willing to commit to the lowest signing bonus between Crews, Langford and Skenes. Then use the savings for another Solometo/Chandler influx of first round talent in rounds 2/3.
Crews has been #1 all year for a reason. There’s no doubt Skenes has looked impressive at least in the games I’ve seen him pitch but even great starting pitchers only impact one game every five days. Is that enough value to take a guy #1 if there’s a hitter like Crews available? That also doesn’t account for the injury risks for young pitchers.
The argument for a dominant SP is all about the playoffs. A top-tier SP won’t change your regular season much, but they can just flat-out cancel games for the other team in October. If you can shut down two out of five games in a five-game series by sending a stud to the mound, that’s yuge.
So the question you have to ask is: are you going to be a good enough team that dropping a top SP onto another team in a five-game series is even going to be a concern to you?
You need the bat to take over the regular season, but you need the arm to shut things down in October. Come October, any of the bats could get hot at the right time so you don’t care who it is. Let’s not forget that one of the greatest batting postseasons ever came from David Freese — a good but not great hitter. Also, let’s not forget the many postseason appearances Barry Bonds made on milk cartons.
Right now, I think the Pirates need good bats more. They’re not ready to control the division. Batting comes before pitching because making it through 162 games comes first.
Good take but disagree with your conclusion. We’ve got Shim who could go back-to-back with Skenes in those playoff series, not to mention get that 90 win season we need. You have to keep your eye on the prize……I actually think BC is going to do just that.
I’d be more open to Skenes if the Pirates were pitching-poor in the minors. Once you get into A-ball, they have lots of good arms in the pipeline. Chen, Massey, Solometo, Kellington, Jiminez, and many, many others.
Throw in Jones in AA and a little luck with some guys like Priester, Burrows, and Shortridge, and by 2025 or 2026, you’re stuffing potential starters into long relief roles just to put them somewhere productive above AAA.
But are any of those guys TOR pitchers, or just org guys? Maybe we’ll get a #4 or #5 out of Priester. Same with Burrows…….post injury? We need to draft and develop TOR potential and Shim and Skenes fit that bill. Well develop Shim, Skenes is already developed. He’s ready now.
Are they guaranteed? No. But every pitcher is one or two good adjustments away. That’s the beauty of pitching development.
Power hitters with good contact rates, OTOH, rarely get coached into being. You either have what Crews has or you don’t.
And batters may get 1 hit per game, and have no affect on the outcome, but a dominant pitcher controls the outcome. Skenes.
Going by fWAR, 16 of the top 50 or about 1/3 of players in 2022 were pitchers (I’m counting Ohtani as a pitcher for this since he earned enough pitching WAR to qualify for the top 50 but not enough batting WAR). Since only starters accumulate enough innings to earn enough WAR to rank that high, a 1/3 vs. 2/3 breakdown is about what you’d expect if their ability to impact overall team wins is the same (since there are roughly twice as many regular position players as starting pitchers on a roster).
Instead of thinking of games per week, think of PAs per five games. An everyday position player can expect to have roughly 20 PAs while potentially impacting his team in the field by making the occasional non-routine play while a TOR pitcher can expect to face about 25+ batters in that time. Their impact in terms of plate appearances is very comparable.
I still say Crews over Skenes (this team is dying for impact bats), although this is a year I wouldn’t mind being at #2 to have someone make that decision for me.
Something tells me when all is said and done though, Langford might be right there with Crews as a hitter.
Really good there’s not a second baseman that’s top 5 to tempt BC.
I bet Crews played MIF in high school. Probably SS but I am sure he played 2nd a few times. Just don’t take Skenes and make him a 1b.
watched that air movie last night and thought about out draft strategy
Crews also had 3 K’s last night which, remarkably, is about 1/9 of his total for the season–he remains in a bit of a funk. Langford seems to be on a roll and Skenes just keeps humming along. Any of those three would have me excited, though I’m back to leaning slightly towards Skenes, probably influenced by the old adage that good pitching can beat good hitting.
Crews’ funk comes as they are in the heart of the SEC schedule. And he’s also had a couple of meh mid-week games against small conference teams. Meanwhile, Langford is on a tear at the same time. Things that make you go, “Hmmm.”
My biggest – really only – worry at this point is how much inertia has taken hold.
Is there anything Crews or the others could do in six weeks to change anyone’s mind?
Is that a good or bad thing?
I’ve watched lsu the last 3 times Skenes pitched, he looked like the best player on the field. Crews didn’t look bad but they weren’t his best. I still want Crews but other than an inning and a half Skenes was completely dominant.
Last night against Georgia in the 5th and to start the 6th Skenes gave up 3 consecutive hits hr, 2b, and a single for 2 runs in the 5th. Got a k to start the 6th but the batter made it to first on a wild pitch. Then a hard hit single, after that he was back to dominant form.
If he wouldn’t have had that glimpse of being human, I might be leaning Skenes.
I don’t want to rule out Langford or Jenkins but it probably comes down to Crews or Skenes.
Appreciate that take. I just got to the 5th in the highlight clip posted below, you described it well.
I’ve waivered across all four of those dudes in the last week alone, so a typical draft season for me. 😉
Jenkins is the most intriguing for me but with the highest risk, really haven’t watched Langford other than highlights.
You need both to win regularly and that adage applies mostly to short series or one game rather than entire seasons. Good position players are more valuable than good pitchers largely because they provide more day to day impact.
The umpire wasn’t very consistent last night, probably aided in a strike out or 2 for him. Might have helped Skenes get a couple as well. With that, the pitches from Skenes looked close while one of Crews strike 3 calls looked chin high.
Keith Law in today’s Athletic on Sammy Siani.
‘ Outfielder Sammy Siani was batting ninth for Greensboro, as the Pirates’ second pick in 2019 (37th overall). He seems to have fallen down the team’s prospect depth chart to where he’s something of an afterthought. The 22-year-old is repeating High A after an awful showing there last year, and he’s off to a much better start this year but still has the same bad swing with its excessive focus on launch angle that costs him so much contact. He’s a speedy center fielder who has a decent enough eye at the plate, but doesn’t project to more than average power, and trying to hit the ball out of the park is driving down his contact rate — even this month, where he’s already hit four homers, he’s striking out over a third of the time. Siani still has the potential to be more than just an extra outfielder, if he’s even that, but he needs to change his swing to focus on contact, not hit for power he doesn’t have.
For a while, it seemed like the Bucs’ scouts had a thing for smaller OFers who projected as contact hitters. Then, they were after guys like Siani, Head, etc who aren’t particularly big, but swing for the fences. Not surprisingly, Siani isn’t going to make it as a power hitter. And, if you’re an OFer that’s not going to produce SLG > .425 and only hit 10-15 HR, you better be a CFer with great D.
I always think back to Kevin Kramer starting that weird trend of fringe-power, hit-first bats going all in on launch angle while their hardest hitters put most contact on the ground.
I hope that he changes his swing to a contact swing.
Everyone should watch the lsu vs GA highlights from last night
Got a link?
Personally I would stay away from a pitcher in the first round…it’s really dicey and history has shown it’s a real gamble as to what you’ll get long term. I would prefer the Pirates draft the overall best position player and go for pitching in later rounds.
Long-term? I only want Skenes for 5.5 years of service time. He’s going to be that good, and he’ll be out of Bob’s league to extend.
And with all of that 1-1 bonus money, he’ll be less motivated to sign a deal to buy out arb years and extend. Plus, factor in a year plus lost for his TJ.
Exactly…which is why I would stay away from pitching in the first round in most cases.
I’m in the camp of taking whoever the Bucs private board says is the best prospect but I also acknowledge sometimes the difference between two players can be just a hair. With that said, when do we start to get a sense of bonus demands? I don’t want that to drive their decision as the Bucs have the biggest pool, but they also need to spend wisely and if their board has two players extremely close then the bonus amount should be a part of that decision matrix.
I think as we get closer to draft day some info like this will come out along with solidified draft boards
That is kind of how I remember it and I guess we are all wondering if there will be much difference between the three college players at the top as that is where it seems the decision will unfold.
Skenes!! Skenes!! Skenese!! Skenes!!
Is Crews a 60 FV?
And I hate to ask this but trying to get general sense: does anyone know bust rates of recent fv60’s ? (I guess bust rate loosely meaning someone has hasn’t become a productive major leaguer) ? There are Really smart people on this message board so i thought I’d ask
FG has him as the only 55 in the draft but they simultaneously have the best coverage but also the least coverage these days so they never update anything.
Hes been 60-65 FV on most major outlets
They were pretty loose giving out 60s even as recent as 5 years ago. Not much of a track record.
I found this. Seems like the real magic # on comfort level is 70!!:
That’s so wild. So Dylan Freaking Crews busts at best 1 out of 3 times.
I’m interested in what Tanner Witt looks like tomorrow vs WVU. I think he’s on a pretty strict pitch limit, but he might be there at pick 42 probably not though.
Besides the 5th inning, Skenes was dominant. After one out he gave up a homerun double then a single accounting for the two runs. I still like Crews but Skenes is clearly one of the best college pitchers I’ve ever seen.
As Capt Picard would say, “Make it so”.