The 2017 MLB Draft is underway. The Pittsburgh Pirates number12 overall pick in the first round has come and gone. The Pittsburgh Pirates have selected Shane Baz with their first round selection.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Neal Huntington have added a new top prospect to their system tonight. Of course, barring that he signs. The Bucs had the number 12 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. This was one of their two first-round picks, the other being at number 42. With the number 12 pick, the Bucs have selected Shane Baz. Baz becomes the third prep arm selected in the first round in Neal Huntington’s tenure. The first being Jameson Taillon in 2010 and Nick Lodolo in the competitive balance first round in 2016. Baz is a power right-handed starter from Concordia Lutheran High School in Texas. This is the same high school that 2015 first round pick Ke’Bryan Hayes attended. According to Baseball America, he ranks as the 11th best prospect available. MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the 12th best prospect. Here is a scouting report from MLB Pipeline:
"“Baz may have the deepest arsenal in the 2017 high school class. His fastball has kicked up a notch to 92-96 mph with a peak of 98 this spring, and he has shown the ability to run and sink it while maintaining its velocity throughout a game. His 84-88 mph cutter generates a lot of swings and misses, and he also can turn the cutter into more of a true slider, spin a curveball that’s a distinctly different pitch and unveil a changeup that could develop into a solid offering.”“Baz’s athleticism and clean delivery should yield consistent strikes, though he sometimes has control issues when he falls in love with his secondary pitches and doesn’t work off his fastball enough.”"
Looks like the MLB Pipeline’s Jonothan Mayo was correct, as he mocked Baz to the Bucs in his last mock draft. Baz makes a lot of sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has a very high ceiling, with MLB Network giving him a player comp to Corey Kluber. He is big at 6’3” and he currently weighs 190 pounds, and obviously has room to fill out. He has a power arm and his fastball has sink on it, something the Pittsburgh Pirates prefer all their pitchers to have. He likely will become the Pittsburgh Pirates number two pitching prospect in the system just behind Mitch Keller.
As much as I like the makeup of Baz, the pick itself was a little surprising. The Bucs have really targeted college players the last few years. Meanwhile, they deferred their prep arm picks until after the first round. Mainly because prep arms are typically 5-6 years away from the bigs, and there normally is a higher risk for Tommy-John in prep arms. However, his clean delivery could be a key reason the Bucs felt comfortable taking Baz. Also, Baz apparently has a very strong commitment to Texas Christian University. Although, there is always the possibility that Baz and the Bucs had predraft talks about a potential of them drafting him. The Bucs may feel a deal could be reached based on those talks, all hypothetical of course.
Still, some viewed him as the number two right-handed pitching prospect in the prep ranks. If the Bucs can sign him, they will be getting a big time pitching prospect in a system that has graduated a lot of pitching the last few years. Overall grade A-.