Paul Skenes Goes to Pirates in Latest Mock Drafts from ESPN and Baseball America

With the draft just two days away, you should expect the rankings and mock drafts to continue to roll in. Yesterday was a busy day with three sources updating list of the top draft prospects, followed by an updated mock draft from MLB Pipeline. The first mock draft today came in early, as Kiley McDaniel from ESPN submits his next-to-last mock draft.

McDaniel goes with LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes with the first overall pick, which belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Skenes helped LSU to a College World Series title by going 12-2, 1.69 over 19 starts this year, with a 209:20 SO/BB ratio and an 0.75 WHIP over 122.2 innings.

McDaniel has an interesting note in his write-up for Skenes, saying that the Pirates have held private workouts with both Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford and high school outfielder Max Clark, two of the top five draft prospects this year, who are also both guys who have been ranked at #1 at least once this year. Draft experts have also noted that there are scouts who like both as the top player. More scouts obviously lean towards LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, as well as Skenes, but no one player is a unanimous top pick.

He also notes that Crews could price himself out of being the Pirates pick if the rumors of his bonus demands are true, but there is some room for doubt that the reported $10M bonus demand is true.

Crews likely comes into play if his bonus is reasonable. He’s going to be setting a record regardless, but these rumors make it sound like he want to hold that record for some time. He’s not getting that amount after the Pirates, so there’s no reason they should break the bank (even more) for him when he’s already set to get more than anyone else.

A different pick at a reasonable (yes, I’m saying $8M-$9M is “reasonable”) would allow you to add more talent in the draft overall. Crews isn’t that far ahead of everyone else that it makes sense. Plenty of scouts don’t even have him first.

As everyone has said, these are just rumors. Whoever the Pirates take, they will have a great idea of the number that gets them signed, which also goes for all of the top ten round picks.

McDaniel has the next four picks in this order:

2. Washington Nationals – Dylan Crews

3. Detroit Tigers – Wyatt Langford

4. Texas Rangers – Max Clark

5. Minnesota Twins – HS outfielder Walker Jenkins (the fifth player in the elite top five)

Don’t miss the final part of our draft roundtable series, which was posted this morning. The first three parts of the series are linked in that article if you missed any of the earlier ones.

The draft begins Sunday night, with coverage beginning at 7 PM on MLB Network. Besides the first overall pick, the Pirates will also be making the 42nd and 67th picks.

We will have full coverage here for all three days of the draft, including reports on all 21 picks made by the Pirates.


Baseball America has also posted a new mock draft on Friday morning. Nothing new here, but that just confirms what others are saying now. 

BA has the Pirates taking Paul Skenes with the first overall pick. They note here that they don’t have a lot of confidence in this choice, but they lean towards Dylan Crews not being an option. That could be based off of the reported bonus demands we talked about above.

Langford, Clark and Jenkins are all mentioned as possibilities for the Pirates. What’s really interesting is that they don’t have the elite five all going top five. They have the Twins and Oakland A’s reaching for cheaper picks in the 5/6 spots, then the Cincinnati Reds going for Clark with an over-slot deal at the seventh spot.

I don’t know how much attention draft picks pay to this kind of stuff, but if Clark sees a drop to #7 is possible (despite it likely coming with an over-slot deal), that might make him thinking more about a strong/better offer from the Pirates that would still allow them to save a lot on their pick for other over-slot deals. Of course he could also do the opposite and rely on the unknown number of scouts who believe he’s the best player in this class.

I’ve heard other people say that other teams have a lot to spend and they don’t think many over-slot players worth spending a lot for will drop to make it worthwhile for the Pirates to use this type of attack for the draft. Let me say that some teams have always had more to spend each year and it’s never been the case that players didn’t drop later. There’s zero reason to think this year is any different than every other year. That’s not a concern at all. There will be plenty of players left to spread extra money around to after the first round.

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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