Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Draft: Keith Law Mocks Prep Pitcher

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Major League Baseball Draft is just one week away, beginning on Wednesday, June 10th.  Here is the latest on who the Pittsburgh Pirates could take with the seventh selection.

One week from today, the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft will commence.  This draft in particular is very important for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  This offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates brought in a new General Manager in Ben Cherington and a new Assistant General Manager in Steve Sanders.  Not only is this a big draft for them because it is their first one in Pittsburgh, but their reputations have been built upon finding a lot of talent in the draft.

On top of that, the Pittsburgh Pirates have three picks inside the top 45 selections next Wednesday.  Then they have their traditional third, fourth, and fifth round selections on Thursday.  The Pirates have a real opportunity to add significant talent and it start with their first-round pick, the seventh overall pick.

Keith Law of The Athletic put out his most recent mock draft today.  In it he has the Pittsburgh Pirates doing something different than what most experts have been predicting.  Law is projecting the Pittsburgh Pirates to select prep pitcher Mick Abel.  The reason this is different is that all reports have been pointing toward the Pittsburgh Pirates taking a college player.  Law wrote that,

"“The Pirates have supposedly spent “a lot of time” on Abel… they didn’t want to go too safe.”"

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN tied the club to college players and Baseball America called the team a “wild card” when it comes to who they will target in the draft.

Abel is out of Jesuit High School in Oregon and is everything one could want in a starting pitching prospect.  He is very projectable standing at 6’6” and weighing just around 190 pounds, giving him plenty of room to grow into as he matures.  However, what makes Abel even more fascinating is the fact that he already has a fastball that tops out at 97.  He could easily be throwing triple digits by the time he makes his big league debut.  The right hander also has a plus breaking pitch to go along with a changeup that could be an above average offering.

Why, after all this time, would Ben Cherington decide to go with a prep pitcher?  First and foremost, maybe the “college” report is to help throw teams off of their approach.  Furthermore, if Emerson Hancock and Nick Gonzalez are off the board, then there is not necessarily an elite college talent left for the Bucs to take a seven.

Abel also fits the mold of what Cherington looks for in his pitchers.  His first draft in Toronto, also led by Sanders, was in 2017 and over his three years there they selected five pitchers in the top five rounds, four of those pitchers were at least 6’4” or taller.  Also, Cherington always seemed to focus on finding prospects with pedigree.  Just look at the team’s current roster and one can see that the Blue Jays organization focused on finding prospects with ties to baseball.  Mick Abel’s older brother Kevin is also expected to be drafted next week, more likely on Day two.  He is a pitcher at Oregon State, where Mick is also committed.

Mick Abel has everything one could want in a top pitching prospect.  He already has a fastball that flashes in the upper 90s and has the build that Ben Cherington seems to prefer.  While taking a high school arm could be risky for signability issues, the team does have the insurance of picking up the eighth overall pick in next year’s draft if they fail to sign him.

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The team has the potential to go over slot with one of their draft picks, as they have the fifth high bonus pool available.  If the team does select Abel and goes over-slot, then they will likely stick to college players the rest of the draft.  Adding Abel would also slot him right behind top pitching prospects Tahnaj Thomas, Quinn Priester, and Brennan Malone, which would potentially set up a stellar rotation down the road.