Pittsburgh Pirates 2018 Draft Preview: Trevor Larnach
The draft is about two weeks away and the Pittsburgh Pirates will be picking in the top 10 for the first time since 2013, when they selected Austin Meadows with the compensation pick they received after failing to sign Mark Appel the year prior. It’s a chance for the Pirates to add a future impact player.
At the start of the year, RumBunter previewed potential picks in Nick Madrigal and Casey Mize, both who have seen their names rise to the top and will be selected in the top five, with Mize the likely first overall pick by the Detroit Tigers.
With the MLB draft coming up in a few weeks, it’s time to preview another player that could in play at pick number 10. In Fangraphs first mock draft, Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel mentioned that,
"“The Pirates tend to emphasize size, velocity and mechanical markers on pitchers along with exit velocity for hitters. We’re told they would take Bart if he got to this pick while Oregon State RF Trevor Larnach and Kelenic also fit their type on the hitter side at this pick.”"
Then, in their second mock draft, the two prospect writers at Fangraphs once again mentioned Larnach as a possibility,
"“Larnach, Liberatore, and Winn all fit Pittsburgh’s type here and have been scouted late”"
So who is Trevor Larnach?
Trevor Larnach has been the Oregon State Beavers starting right fielder the last two seasons, and he has grown into his power this year. The 21-year-old stands at 6’4″ and 205 pounds according to MLB Pipeline. The left-handed bat and right-handed thrower ranks 24th on MLB Pipeline, 27th on Baseball America, and 13th on Fangraphs.
What makes Larnach a potential fit is, one, that he’s got power potential given his ability to drive the ball this year and the amount of hard contact he produces. Fangraphs writes that,
"“Larnach has hit a bunch of balls in excess of 100 mph this spring and is getting to his power without taking high-effort swings. He’s not a great corner outfielder but he’s performing, has corner-worthy pop, and has the potential to access additional power with a more athletic, lofted cut.”"
The ability to hit the balls 100+ mph is a skill the Pirates will have interest in. Longenhagen has previously mentioned that the Pirates love trackman data before, and that fits Larnach here, both mentioned in 2017 and in the first mock draft for 2018.
For the Beavers, Larnach has hit in the middle of the order, providing these results in his Sophomore and Junior campaigns:
The biggest thing is Larnach’s ability to hit for more power while keeping a similar walk rate, something MLB Pipeline notes, saying
"“Larnach has been known for his advanced approach from the left side of the plate since stepping into the Beavers’ starting lineup as a sophomore.”"
But the ability to get into power this season is a positive sign, especially as it has not come at a cost to his ability to make contact, as his strikeout rate has decreased by 2.5 percentage points. Tapping into that power with the ability to get on-base without sacrificing swing and miss makes him more of an interesting prospect.
Larnach has a simple approach in the box. He starts open with his hands up his shoulder and bat on the shoulder. A calm starting point which allows him to leverage his ability to hit the ball hard and drive it to the gaps and over the fence for extra base hits. The calmness is part of the changes Colin Moran made to get into more of his power, and Baseball America notes that Larnach made these mechanical adjustments to “quiet his load and utilize the lower half.”
Perhaps the better view is from the pitchers perspective, where Larnach gets in a good position, loads with a regular sized leg kick, and drives the ball for a home run. Against a left-handed starter against Southern Cal, Larnach drives the pitch for a single to right.
That approach has allowed him to hit left-handed pitchers well, though the bat to ball ability was more evident last season:
There is concern with the strikeout rate (32.6 percent) against left-handed pitching and how that will progress going forward. His power has increased (.250 ISO compared to a .194 ISO), but the ability to make contact and walk has decreased, trading the power for swing and miss against southpaws. Perhaps it’s a one year blip, but it’s something to note.
The sound approach and ability to get into his power is something that is intriguing, and hitting the ball 100+ mph this season should interest the Pirates given their history. But that’s only one of the two reasons he could interest the Pirates with the 10th overall pick.
While selecting a player ranked in the mid 20s on two of the sites (top 15 on Fangraphs) might seem like a reach, the Pirates would likely be able to save on the $4,560,200 slot value to use with pick 36 (slot value $1,967,900). Perhaps high school pitcher Adam Kloffenstein, ranks 46th on MLB Pipeline and 35th on Baseball America. The Texas Christian commit could be in play at that pick, and having extra money to spend could be intriguing as a draft strategy.
Next: Nick Kingham Needs a Permanent Rotation Spot
Trevor Larnach is a power hitting left-handed bat in a corner outfield spot. He hits the ball hard and has an approach that leads to him getting on base at a high clip. Shoring up and becoming more calm pre pitch has led to this increase in power, and he should be able to continue in professional baseball. While the pick may seem like a stretch given his rankings on some prospect sites, Larnach would likely allow the Pirates to use part of their bonus pool elsewhere to add an impact prospect.
*Numbers from the Illinois Analytics Project