The Pittsburgh Pirates have the seventh overall pick and whoever they select there will be the face of the draft class. However, who could they grab at number 31?
After the Pittsburgh Pirates first-round pick, their next selection comes at number 31 overall. This selection is part of the Competitive Balance Round A, and is considered a first-round pick. These picks are given to the teams that are in the bottom 10 in terms of market size and revenue. This round, along with the Competitive Balance B round (after the 2nd round), was put into place back in 2012. The Pittsburgh Pirates have had several of these picks, but number 31 is the highest by far for the club.
As of now, it looks like the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to draft a college hitter at number seven overall. In Kiley McDaniel’s (ESPN) most recent mock draft, he noted that he is hearing this exact thing. McDaniel is one of the best draft insiders around and wouldn’t put that out there unless it was legitimate. Things can change depending on what happens in front of them, but they should have a shot at infielder Nick Gonzales, power-hitting outfielder Heston Kjerstad, or catcher Patrick Bailey.
but the heavy buzz here is ‘” college’” and “‘hitter”‘. ~ Kiley McDaniel of ESPN
Notice that McDaniel separated college and hitter. This could mean that the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to focus on college players with their top picks. If the Bucs do indeed get a college bat with the seventh pick, then they very well could focus on college arms at number 31.
In McDaniel’s most recent mock he has the Bucs selecting Duke right-handed pitcher Bryce Jarvis. Jarvis is considered to be a fast-rising prospect due to showing significant improvement in the early going this season compared to last season. Plus he has a decent frame, standing at 6’2” and weighing around 200 pounds.
Right now he ranks anywhere from the mid 20s to the mid 40s depending on your preferred site. Although one thing is for sure, he is higher on those sites now than he was at the beginning of 2020. Through his first four starts of his season at Duke, Jarvis owned a 0.67 ERA with 40 strikeouts in just 27 innings of work. Here is a little scouting report from FanGraphs, where he ranks as the 24th best prospect available:
In 2019, he was 88-92 with an average breaker, above changeup, some feel. Velo climbed into 93-94 area without sacrificing plus command. Chance for plus changeup and breaking ball that plays above raw grade because of how well it’s located.
It sounds like Jarvis has the potential to be a middle of the rotation type arm, i.e. a Joe Musgrove type. While he doesn’t have the prototypical size the Pittsburgh Pirates look for in starters, he still is relatively projectable. Plus the fact that he added velocity is a positive sign that his arm is continuing to get stronger.
It makes sense for Ben Cherington to be looking for college players. With the owners concerned about money, small-market teams especially will focus on college players. They are much easier to sign due to the little leverage they have by being in college. Most of the top college players are juniors and would have a higher opportunity cost by not signing and risking getting far less as a senior in next year’s draft.
Furthermore, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a core wave of prospects coming through their minor league system. Last year they selected prep pitcher Quinn Priester with their first-round pick. They also picked up Brennan Malone, who was also a prep first-round pitcher in 2019 and 19-year-old shortstop Liover Peguero. Those three along with rising pitching prospect Tahnaj Thomas would all likely be in Low-A together right now.
Adding college players would likely put them and the aforementioned prospects on the same timeline to the big leagues. One thing that small-market teams need to do is to take advantage of windows when they are created. Ben Cherington would be smart to add to that already promising group of prospects.