The time it takes for a drafted player to reach Major League Baseball is unlike the path to the majors in any other sport.
In other leagues, a player gets drafted, and their path to the majors is quick and certain. You know that an NFL first rounder will be in NFL games the following season. Whether that player remains in the NFL remains to be seen. The path to that league, after the draft, is almost automatic.
This isn’t the case with baseball. The Pirates will choose between a group of five prospects who all stand out as first overall talent in an average year. What that means is that those players still have about a 1-in-4 chance of being a bust, based on traditional success rates. That doesn’t seem to be such a guarantee with this draft class.
The top of the class features LSU outfielder Dylan Crews and right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes. Both are being described as generational talents, with Skenes being described as the best college pitcher since Stephen Strasburg. Both of these guys seem like they have more of an NFL path to the majors, rather than a years-long, MLB-style ascension.
Today, we’re starting a series of Roundtable articles, breaking down the first pick in the draft. Our first look is at Crews, and tomorrow’s look is on Skenes. By the end of this series, we will each make our picks for what we think the Pirates should do on Sunday.
I don’t want to spoil my pick. I don’t even have a solid pick at this point. That said, it seems like the biggest issue facing the Pirates this year is too much talent. When they took Henry Davis in 2021 as a signability pick, it wasn’t that Davis wasn’t a first overall talent. He was in the top five of a group that was equally close in talent. The talent level of that group, collectively, is lower than this year.
I wrote yesterday about how the approach to take Davis and go over-slot on prep players in the later rounds made sense. The thing I liked was that the Pirates mitigated the risk in the first round. Marcello Mayer and Jordan Lawlar can both have MLB careers, and I wouldn’t write either one off. Davis just had a safer bat as a college guy, which allowed the Pirates to land a productive MLB player in a sea of uncertainty — while spreading their chips around on the riskier prep side of the draft.
This year’s draft class presents another chance for signability, but I think it’s a mirage. There are some prep players inside the consensus top five, but the two generational talents at the top come with seemingly less risk than even Davis had. While the Pirates can get a typical year’s first overall talent with any one of five players in this draft, I think they would be mistaken if they looked at this draft as anything other than their chance to select between two talents who only come around once every 10-15 years.
We’ll have our look at Crews in today’s Roundtable.
The Pirates lost the first game of their road trip against the Dodgers.
Yesterday’s Prospect Watch profiled Jared Jones, while also recapping big days from Alessandro Ercolani and Termarr Johnson.
Anthony Solometo and Liover Peguero were the players of the month in the system in June. Check out the recap for all of the top monthly performers at each level.
Missed yesterday? I looked at the early results from the 2021 draft strategy.
PIRATES PROSPECTS ARCHIVES
Catch up on all of the latest updates around the organization.
7/2: Derek Shelton’s Difficult Job
6/30: Williams: Tathata and the Present Day Grades of the Pirates Position Players
6/29: Jared Triolo Has Positive Recovery From Negative Start to the Year
6/29: This May Be Exactly What This Team Needed
6/28: The Key To Success For Nick Gonzales
PROSPECT WATCH ARCHIVES
7/3: Jared Jones, Derek Diamond, Josiah Sightler
7/2: Endy Rodriguez, Ryan Harbin, Jonathan Rivero
6/30: Owen Kellington, Alika Williams, Jackson Grounds
6/28: Lonnie White Jr., Kelvin Diaz, Yojeiry Osoria
6/25: Quinn Priester, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Jhonson Pena
6/24: Nick Gonzales, Jared Triolo, Adolfo Oviedo
6/23: Michael Kennedy, Po-Yu Chen, Wyatt Hendrie
6/16: Is This The Year For A Solomon Maguire Breakout?
6/12: Pirates 2023 Minor League Preview: FCL Pirates
6/11: Pitching Depth Continues To Grow With Jun-Seok Shim Debut
6/8: Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Dominican Summer League Pirates
Song of the Day
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.