Pittsburgh Pirates: Early Look at the 2018 Draft Prospects

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

With the turn of the year quickly approaching, spring baseball is near, which mean teams will start to prep for their drafts.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have two picks inside of the top 31, who are some names to watch?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have seen their farm system go from one of the top in baseball to outside the top ten.  This is by no means their fault.  They had a run of four competitive years where they saw themselves picking in the bottom half of rounds, and not making trades to bring in prospects.  However, in next year’s draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have an opportunity to add a few quality prospects.  They will do so by picking at number 10 and number 31 overall.  Furthermore, the number 31 overall pick will likely move up as there are 9 free agents who received qualifying offers.  The system has changed somewhat, but the big market teams who sign these free agents to huge contracts will still forfeit their top overall picks.

So who are some names to watch this upcoming Spring?  Taking a look at MLB Pipeline’s top 50 2018 draft prospects list, the player ranked at number 10 is Jared Kowar.  Kowar is a starting pitcher from the University of Florida. The righty has the size that the Pittsburgh Pirates look for in pitchers standing at 6’5”.  His fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched 98, with his changeup being his second best pitch.  In MLB Pipeline’s mock draft they have Kowar going eighth overall.

When looking at the mock draft, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo each project who they think would go to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Callis has the Pittsburgh Pirates selecting left-handed starter Ryan Rolison.  Rolison is ranked as the number nine overall prospect in the draft by MLB Pipeline.  They note that he has one of the best fastball/curveball combinations in the draft.  His fastball sits in the low 90s.  He has a four pitch mix with all projecting to be at least average, if not above average, at the big league level, giving him a high percentage chance to start at the next level.

Mayo, however, has the Pittsburgh Pirates going in the complete opposite direction. He has the Bucs drafting a prep outfielder by the name of Jarred Kelenic.  Kelenic ranks as the 12th best prospect in the draft.  Jonathan Mayo believes that Kelenic is the best outfield prep bat in the draft and overall the best pure hitting high school bat.  He projects to be a corner outfielder.  His lefty bat projects to be an all-around type hitter.  He is 6’1” and 195 pounds, so he does not have a lot of projectable power.  Still, he is committed to Louisville and many believe he will forgo his commitment.

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Although the draft is months away, it is relatively exciting to see who the Pittsburgh Pirates could add to . their farm.  With the 10th overall pick they will likely be drafting a player who they hope to be a future all-star.  The names above are three to pay attention to this upcoming year to see how they perform.