The NFL season is over, and if you’re like me your NBA team is already out of contention, so it’s time to turn to the future. There are very few things that I like more than mock drafts and trying to figure out who my favorite team will end up picking. Unfortunately, the MLB draft is not nearly as illustrious as the NFL’s or NBA’s. This can be attributed to the fact that the MLB draft is ungodly long, and the average fan doesn’t know most of the players. The other major reason is that many of the players won’t be a factor for the big league club for years.
However, for small market teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, the draft is the best way to add talent to the roster. Players such as Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, and Victor Black, are all former first-round picks of the Pirates and currently on the 40-man roster. Top prospects such as Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Barrett Barnes were also former first-round picks of the Buccos. Without a big budget like the Dodgers or Yankees, the MLB draft is pretty much the only way the Pirates can hope to find the next Matt Kemp or Justin Verlander.
Finding information on MLB draft prospects is a bit limited, and mock drafts this early in the year are even more scarce. Since so much can change between now and June 6th (the starting date of the First-Year Player Draft), this is not a mock draft but rather an early season wish list. The Pirates have two first-round picks in the upcoming Draft; the 9th and the 14th. The Pirates received compensation for being unable to sign Mark Appel: a name more hated than Sid Bream for Pirate fans these days.
The First-Round Wish List:
9.) Kris Bryant:
Height, Weight: 6’5”, 215 lbs
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
“With the 9th Pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates select Kris Bryant out of the University of San Diego” These would be the first words spoken by Bud Selig that I actually agree with! Kris Bryant is considered by many scouts to be the best bat in college, and he’s proving them right. Bryant is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball this season. Right now he is posting a .386 BA, 12 HRs, 24 RBIs, and a .986 SLG%. In only 20 games, Bryant has already had his coming-out party this season: a 3-homerun, 6-RBI game, punctuated with a walk-off 3-run shot against BYU.
Bryant is advanced and impressive in almost every aspect of his offensive game. He has terrific bat speed, hits for average, has plus power to all fields, and is patient at the plate. Throughout his college career, Bryant has improved in taking walks and striking out less. He currently possesses a great 16 to 28 K/BB ratio. Bryant is also solidly built, but could add some muscle without much trouble. Extra bulk will only improve upon his exciting power. The only downside to his game is his defense. Bryant has a strong arm, but there are questions about whether or not he can stick at third. If Bryant is forced to move to first this will hurt his draft value.
I believe that Bryant can be a serviceable third baseman and a force in the middle of the lineup. Kris Bryant would become the top third base prospect in the organization with no one blocking him throughout his minor league career. Already being an advanced college hitter, Bryant should be ready when Alvarez’s contract expires with the Pirates in 2015. With Boras as his agent, Alvarez will almost certainly be too expensive for the Pirates to retain and his departure would leave a vacancy at third, and in the middle of the batting order. Bryant could fit the bill perfectly. It’s always nice when need meets best player available, isn’t it? The only problem is if Bryant keeps ripping the ball the way he has he may not be there at 9. Keep checking in for my Kris Bryant Tracker.
14.) Trey Ball:
Height, Weight: 6’6”, 175 lbs
Hometown: New Castle, Indiana
This one was tough, as I really wanted the Pirates to draft two college players who would be ready to contribute in the Bigs soon after being drafted. This pick came down between two pitchers: Ball and Ole Miss’s Bobby Wahl (expect a Wahl post in the near future). However, after reading the scouting report I decided to go with the Neil Huntington School of Drafting, and chose the tall lengthy prep-pitcher. Ball is a two-way player but I project him to have more value as a LHP, especially in the Pirates organization. Right now Pittsburgh doesn’t have a big time prospect in the lefty pitching department, Trey Ball could change all that.
Ball is very athletic for a pitcher, and while he is lanky now, there is a lot of room to fill out. His fastball currently sits in the low 90s with some movement but speed will likely increase as he continues to mature. Ball complements his fastball with a very nice change-up in the lower 80’s, and a curveball that can be very impressive when accurate. He does have some problems with command and delivery, which might lower his stock, but these problems aren’t a surprise for a prep pitcher.
Trey is currently committed to Texas but when has that ever stopped good old Neal Huntington? This is NH’s dream prospect: a hard throwing, athletic, tall, prep-pitcher. Huntington will likely be frothing at the mouth if Trey Ball is still there at 14. I too would be on board with taking on this project as he could be a big time asset to the organization. Luis Heredia and Trey Ball coming through the minors together would certainly be exciting.