With just under two months until the 2023 draft class, there is still time for changes to be made at the top, but things have remained rather consistent throughout this whole process.
Recent mock drafts and prospect rankings have shown that there is a clear top five in this draft class. Depending on who you ask, there are either 1-2 tiers of players among those top five, and even the cutoff for that split isn’t agreed upon.
As a group, that top five is well ahead of the pack, so the Pittsburgh Pirates are likely making their section among LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes, prep outfielders Walker Jenkins and Max Clark, and Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford.
I’ve read multiple people saying that any of those five are talented enough to go first overall in most years. If the Pirates stay in that group, they will be getting an immediately top prospect, regardless of who they settle on.
The only reason they would think about going outside that group is to maximize their draft bonus pool, which is the highest in baseball for this draft. Due to the split in talent after this group, I don’t think that route is a legit option. They could be looking for the best deal among these players, which would allow them to go over-slot elsewhere.
My personal feelings when I hear something like those reports is that you have to eliminate some of the risk. If the overall upsides are all similar, then why not go for the players closer to those upsides? There’s a definite risk in going for high school players over major college players. There’s also a risk in going for pitchers over position players.
If I’m buying in to the similar upside for the group, as well as factoring in the risk, then it seems like we should be down to Crews vs Langford. We have seen from Crews recently that he is human, while Langford has turned into early season Crews, making him the OPS leader among the two going into the weekend. That just proves that things can still change, especially in the next few weeks.
We are currently in the final weekend of the regular season for LSU and Florida. We will have full results from the weekend on Monday morning. While these games have importance for the three college draft picks, there are much bigger games coming up.
This upcoming Tuesday marks the first of six days in the SEC tournament. Both teams are SEC teams, so scouts are going to be all over those games, especially once Skenes takes the mound. We don’t have the schedule yet for those games, but I’ll likely share it here once I see it.
Regardless of what happens in the tournament coming up, both LSU and Florida are locks for the NCAA tournament. How far their teams go could help their draft cases. It could also hurt their draft cases if they don’t show up well on the big stage.
Between June 2nd and June 26th, the NCAA tournament will start and then end with a College World Series champ. The first week (June 2-5) is the Regionals, followed by the Super Regionals (June 9-12), finishing with the College World Series (June 16-26) in Omaha.
That is the potential for a lot more games from these players, even though their regular seasons end today. Stay tuned.
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.
I am sure the Pirates will find a middle infielder to take with that first overall pick….
Seriously, it is nice to have the first overall pick, but I don’t have much confidence in the Pirates to make the best choice with that pick.
Could have had Nolan Gorman, instead Travis Swaggerty.
Could have had Jordan Walker, instead Nick Gonzalez.
SEC gets a lot of credit for their baseball
Still probably not as strong as the NL
In the 15 team NL, Cutch and Jack Suwinski are tied for 19th in HRs
In the 14 team SEC, Crews and Langford are not in the top 14 in HRs
Hard to see how either player would be a can’t miss 1-1 pick
Re the draft
It’s nice that the Pirates won the lottery
Hopefully they are using NFL type tools to identify the needed skills
Considering how bad the NFL is at identifying good QBs, I hope not.
Maybe but I think there is something there
Some bad news on the prospect front
It appears that the Rays will have the top farm system with the Fangraphs mid-season update
This is a time of woe.
Very well written John.
Crews was 1 for 5 today with 3 strikeouts.
The Pirates will be competitive in the next few years, so it would make sense that they draft accordingly: they’ll probably select a college player. In the past, the unwritten rule was to always pick the best player available. However, I’m not big on drafting a pitcher the first round given how chancy that pick is. Statistically speaking, it’s safer to draft a position player in the first round than a pitcher looking at the history of first round pitcher picks. Either way, Pirate fans are definitely interested in the process.
The area I would be focusing on for the pirates is the college bats.
1. Look for holes in their swing that might not have been exposed.
2. Quality of contact in specific areas of the strike zone.
3. Pitch recognition with the ability to adjust (would be 1, but just by their batting averages shows they can hit)
4. If you have questions with the bats and start looking at Skenes, go over his medical info with multiple doctors.
5. Any medical problems with Skenes, start focusing on the high school bats, start with pitch recognition, then holes in swing, then quality of contact.
6. If they’re not happy with the top 5, look for best bang for your buck, not the next tier. Go for a border line first rounder you can sign for $4 mil and use the extra $5 mil for quantity over quality. (Example – Nolan Schanuel) I have no clue who just throwing out a name there. So my opinion is college bat unless you spot a major concern. Then college arm (Skenes is the only one to consider) if medically great. High School bat 3rd, unless you’re sure they’re the next Ken Griffey Jr., then they jump to number 1. If it’s not the top 5, they better get a huge discount to go quantity and pray a superstar arrives out of the extra $.
I know it’s impossible to even think about, but fun question: has anyone suggested that Crews’ bat is MLB-ready? (Hasn’t successfully happened with a batter since Olerud & Incavilia).
Labor Day Lineup (even w/o Crews 😆):
Cutch – DH
O. Cruz – SS
Reynolds – LF
Santana – 1B
Suwinsky – CF
Davis – RF
Endy – C
Hayes – 3B
Bae/Castro – 2B
I think the lineup will look a lot different next year. Personally I don’t think Castro will make it…Trioli in AAA is much more consistent hitter and he’s on par with Hayes as far as defense. Santana won’t be around, and I’m not sure about Cutch. Of the two, they should definitely consider bringing back Cutch. However, there are a lot of kids at AA and AAA that you’ll see, like Gonzalez at 2nd, for example, as well as a few others. And I’m rooting for Suwinski, but he’s still a work in progress with a high up ceiling. This year has definitely exciting for us Bucco fans, but the next two-to-three years will be even more exciting. The Bucs have a lot of talent in the minor league system and they finally seem to be developing that talent better than they have in the past. Go Bucs!
Your spot on with Castro. When Cruz went down, Shelty didn’t do the kid any favors, by saying “its different this year we have more depth Castro was new to the position last year but he’s worked his tail off and im confident he can fill the void”, “he’s the man”
When, where and how did he improve? He was sent to winter ball to play more SS However, only reports coming out explained that he was playng 3rd base because of contract agreements, meaning i guess someone else was promised the gig at SS before RC
If your a fan, the best thing for him is a fresh start somewhere else
And while talking 2nd base, probably won’t like my take on Gonzo even though I’m a huge fan and hoping he can fix this off speed issue
I’m not so sure, I predicted a batting title within 4 years
Take this fwiw, as an all around infielder, I’m not sure Gonzo can get to the level Marcano is. I’m not over reacting over Marcano’s slam or sick athletic plays in the field or hopping on the band wagon, there shouldn’t be a band wagon
If you have the watched the kid as much as i have then you know why Cherry targeted TM in the Musky deal, but he was untouchable
SD knew if wanting something from BC, it was see ya TM.
6 months later you know the rest. I heard the same chirping so i started following him, bought the $39 package. the kids an athelete through and through, I’m just glad the knuckleheads brought him back although he kind of forced their hand. beware this is not a streaky player, he has a higher ceiling then peeps think.
189 BB and 185 K-2
I posted a while back last of his qualities NOT to show up yet
186 AB last year 10 BB – 44 K
89 AB this year 6BB – 10 K
Lastly, JS is a core piece that will just keep getting better with age
If you feel you have to root for Jack for something?
Root for more AB’s against Lefties, last year he hit 5 HR’s off some of the best in the business.
Cutch is one of our best players and lives up the road from me
He will NEVER leave Pittsburgh again
No disrespect, hope some of that helps
I’m a big Marcano fan as well…also have the MILB package over the last three years, so have seen a lot of minor league games. With Cruz coming back later this year, and with Gonzalez probably being promoted mid year, I think it’s the writing on the wall for either Bae or Castro starting. Realistically, one of them will probably be traded. Unlike you, though, I’m not sold yet on Suwinski. He’s hitting the same as he did in the minors…no consistency. I was hoping that the work he put in over the winter would mark an improvement at the plate, but these past four weeks have been pretty brutal for him, unfortunately. I’m not ready to throw in the towel, yet, but Suwinski has a ways to go if he wants to cement a starting position for next year. Cheers!!!!
He may have secured an every day position already
You silently rooted for him even if not planned
He started against a south paw today!
Your hope was the difference and proved you need to hang on the towel
HITTING 2022- .202/.298/.411/.705
BB/K 2022- 11%/30%
RISP 2022- .159
ON ROAD 2022- .112/.211/.184/.395
.254 lifetime BABIP
Outside of building on the above numbers,
I’m unsure what more to ask of this kid especially after reading the below
He is the catalist in the OF plays all 3 positions
He’s having a GG type campaign in CF so far
He has the strongest and by far the most accurate arm on the active roster
Also 5 thefts already more than last year
Has had 15 chances to hit into a DP and has yet to do so
Suwinski and Marcano have more baseball knowledge in their pinky fingers than Bae and Castro combined.
God willing both will be here for a long time
I think Santana will be back again
I like Santana, but Choi is under contract for another year, and I think we will be seeing Cutch, assuming they bring him back, possibly getting some reps in at first base (at least he should be working on this over the winter break).
why do i have the feeling they’re going to bypass the college players and pick jenkins
I would think that this front office would want to add a player that can be in Pittsburgh by June 2025 vs one in June 2028.
who’s to say he wouldn’t be?
He very well could be but obviously that’s not the consensus on him because if it was then he would be the no doubt #1 pick.
Hes supposedly highest ceiling of them all, right?
that’s what some people say yeahhhh
Which one of the top five that is not a prep player and can make it to the bigs the quickest is it…
I was fully on board with it being one of the college guys, but Wehner’s comment about how quickly Corbin progressed through the minors had me questioning that stance. Much bigger risk, though, and until this FO proves they can identify talent in the draft, we need to reduce risk.
Crews has the longest track record and is a position player. That’s what I keep telling myself. Skenes is so tempting as is Langford LH bat
Crews has ‘trouble wit the curse’ and has not hit with a wooden bat. Skenes all the way.
Lankford bats righty.
Langford is a right handed hitter.
I’m not sure about longest track record as Langford had better stats going into this year. Plus, one of the appealing things about Skenes is that he doesn’t have a long track record–less wear-and-tear on his arm (though his coach is undermining that by regularly letting him go above 110 pitches).
In any case, they’re all so close that it should come down to our scouts and they just need to get it right. I think they missed on Gonzales while Davis looks promising and it’s way too soon to make a judgement on Johnson though I’m still optimistic.
I don’t see better stats by Langford, as a matter of fact Crews has many more ABs in college and as good or better results in virtually all categories. He also plays CF. Comparing performances over short spans has very little value. Skenes having less wear and tear is a concern as well. Less wear and tear also means a shorter record of success. I’d prefer someone with a long history of success. It has to be Crews unless they go bargain hunting.
I overstated it–I should have noted the similarity. For example, for their sophomore years:
Langford: .356/.447/.719/1.166 with 26 HRs
Crews: .349/.463/.691/1.153 with 22 HRs
Langford barely played his freshman year but has had two very good summer seasons (neither at the Cape, though). So Crews does have more games because he played his freshman year but whether you look at this season, last season, or their cumulative stats with or without summer ball, Langford looks slightly better statistically. The difference, though, is negligible and the pick should be based on scouting instead of performance. I’ll be happy with either (or with Skenes), I just don’t think that they should be criticized if they go with Langford.
John great coverage: I wonder if PP daily could flag upcoming LSU/Florida games on national TV for those of us who don’t follow closely?