Pittsburgh Pirates MLB Draft preview


The attention of the upper management of the Pittsburgh Pirates will be turned to the MLB Draft beginning on Monday night. The Major League Baseball Draft is scheduled to get underway on Monday, June 8th at 7 PM EST. It will be broadcast live on MLB Network and can be streamed live from MLB.com. The draft will be split into three days. The first round through the competitive balance B picks will be held on Monday, which includes the first round, compensation, competitive balance A , second round, and competitive balance B picks. Compensation picks are given to teams who gave qualifying offers to pending free agents and who saw those players subsequently sign with another team. Competitive Balance picks are awarded through the Competitive Balance Lottery; teams that belong to either one of the ten smallest markets or have one of the ten smallest revenue pools are eligible. For all of the details of the draft, make sure to check out this page at MLB.com.

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The second day of the draft can be streamed live from MLB.com and gets underway at 1 PM EST on Tuesday, June 9th. This is when the third through the tenth rounds will be held. The last day of the draft can also be streamed live from MLB.com and gets underway at 12 PM EST on Wednesday, June 10th. This is when the 11th through the 40th and final round will be held. The Pirates will have one pick in each of the third through the 40th rounds.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have the first overall pick in the draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have three picks on day one: the 19th overall selection in the first round, the 32nd overall pick as a compensation pick for not signing Russell Martin, and the 62nd overall pick in the second round. Unlike in 2014, the Pirates did not receive any competitive balance picks this year.

In terms of draft prospects, Baseball America ranks shortstop Brendan Rodgers as its number one overall prospect. For all of the Baseball America draft news and notes, make sure to check out this page. BA has done five mock drafts, and here’s who they have the Pirates taking in the first round of each one:

Mock Draft 1.0

In their first mock draft, the guys at BA have the Pirates taking shortstop Cornelius Randolph out of Griffin High School in Georgia with the 19th pick. Randolph is BA’s 20th ranked draft prospect. This is what they had to say about the selection:

"Pittsburgh went off the board regularly in 2014, starting with Arizona prep shortstop Cole Tucker, and there’s little consensus to hold to in 2015.  They aren’t afraid of high school talents, and if national scouting supervisor Jimmy Lester likes Cornelius Randolph’s bat, his overall tools will endear him to the rest of director Joe Delli Carri’s staff."

The Pirates took shortstop Cole Tucker last year with the 24th overall selection. Considering the lack of true shortstop talent in the system outside of Tucker, this wouldn’t be a bad pick.

Mock Draft 2.0

In their second mock draft, BA had the Pirates taking outfielder/second baseman Ian Happ from Cincinnati, Ohio with the 19th pick. Happ is BA’s 24th ranked prospect. Here’s what they had to say about Happ:

"Pittsburgh isn’t afraid of high schoolers with tools and have their pick among falling prep arms such as Russell and outfielders such as Whitley. The analytics, however, keep pointing at Happ, who hit in the Cape and has raked all season in the tough American Athletic Conference. Pittsburgh will stick him at second and see him as Neil Walker’s successor."

With the uncertainty of Neil Walker‘s future in Pittsburgh, and with a lack of many second base options behind Alen Hanson in the minors, this could be a great pick. Then again, Huntington and co. don’t necessarily draft for need.

Mock Draft 3.0

In their third mock draft, the BA guys had the Pirates selecting left-handed prep pitcher Kolby Allard from San Clemente High School in California. They say that Allard, BA’s 18th overall draft prospect, would fit in well pitching at PNC Park.

"It’s a high school pitching run. The Pirates aren’t afraid of risk, just undue risk. Allard is back training, running and now throwing off flat ground, progressing from 60 to 70 feet. It’s possible he could be ready for a pre-draft workout but it’s unclear how much a team would get out of such a workout. He’s a polished prep lefty without great size but with track record, and he’d be a good fit for PNC Park."

The Pirates love their high school pitching arms. The team drafted Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and Nick Kingham out of high school. With the rate at which pitching prospects don’t pan out, Pittsburgh can never have enough arms in their system. Then again, the number of arms that Pittsburgh has taken in recent years has led to a lack of infield prospects in the system, most notably at third base.

Mock Draft 4.0

In BA’s fourth mock draft, the team at BA had the Pirates drafting, yet again, left-handed high school pitcher Kolby Allard. Here’s what they had to say about Allard this time:

"Playing it close to the vest remains a Pittsburgh trademark, but they’re tied to the high school pitching class. Looking for value? Allard was the top-rated pitcher on the high school board coming into the year, and pre-back injury, Pittsburgh had no shot at him. He’s building up to throwing up to 100 feet and gaining strength but isn’t likely to throw a real bullpen before the draft. His high school year doesn’t end until June 20, so he’s not leaving California before then anyway."

The fact that Allard may be dropping due to injury could give the Pirates a steal with pick number 19. You can never have too much pitching in your system, and Allard is one of the most talented pitchers in the draft.

Mock Draft 5.0

In BA’s final and most recent mock draft, the BA team has the Pirates selecting, once again, prep pitcher Kolby Allard. They call him the best prep pitcher in the draft class when healthy.

"The buzz around the Pirates continues to be the prep class. The best of the prep class, when healthy, remains lefthander Kolby Allard, even with a back injury."

It’s clear that Kolby Allard is dropping due to a back injury, as he will miss between six and eight weeks with a stress reaction in his back. He’s six-foot-one, 175 pounds and is the number two high school prospect in the entire class, according to Baseball America (you can read the full scouting report on Allard here). By missing time, he is also missing starts in which scouts could see him, thus lowering his visibility. This could give the Pittsburgh Pirates a legitimate chance for a steal with their 19th pick.

The question becomes, with the early picks for the Pirates, do they draft for need or do they take the best available player? In the past, the Pirates have always drafted the best available player. This has led to the team’s farm system consistently being ranked among the best in all of baseball. But it has also led to a lack of prospects at third and first base (until Josh Bell moved from right field to first base within the last year). Personally, I would love the selection of Kolby Allard in the first round. You can never have enough pitching in your system, and with the Pirates’ set for the future in the outfield, I don’t see that as a spot that needs to be addressed. Plus, by drafting the best available player, the team can always trade away prospects to fill needs at the major league level. That’s the route I see the Pirates going, and it will be interesting to see what players drop to that number 19 spot.

Here’s looking forward to another great draft by Neal Huntington, and more incoming talent to follow throughout the minor league seasons.

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