The Pittsburgh Pirates have the first overall pick in the draft. While Jack Leiter and Jordan Lawlar appear to be the most likely, there’s another prospect in Marcelo Mayer who could make sense.
Last month I looked at a potential draft day scenario where Leiter could command either the full bonus allotment or more for the first pick in the MLB Draft, pivoting Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates front office to a player who would come in a little below slot. The advantage of this would be that the club could move around bonus pool space to other prospects later, similar to the strategy employed by the Houston Astros in the early 2010s and the Baltimore Orioles last year.
One of those players is Marcelo Mayer, a high school shortstop from California. He currently ranks fourth on Baseball America’s top prospect draft list, with them writing that:
"“Mayer is arguably the top defensive shortstop in a class that is deep at the position… Mayer also has upside offensively. He has fringe-average power now, but evaluators believe he could tap into above-average power down the line”"
With the Pirates looking to deepen their system, Mayer would represent the best defender at the position while also being a left-handed hitter who projects to develop above-average power. Going back to 2016, this is what Baseball America had to say about shortstop Gavin Lux:
"“Lux impresses because he’s one of the few high school shortstops in the draft class with a solid chance to remain at the position… Lux has a pretty lefthanded stroke that has shown improved power as he’s matured and added weight and strength over the past year”"
Lux was a projected glove first shortstop that developed into a hitting prospect that is one of the best in baseball, ranking as Baseball America’s fourth best prospect heading into the 2020 season. Mayer is similar, but comes from California compared to the cold weathered Wisconsin. In Baseball America’s most recent mock draft, they had Mayer going third to the Detroit Tigers with MLB Pipeline having the same.
With Jack Leiter’s struggles over the past two starts, and Kumar Rocker still having question marks around his velocity, the Pittsburgh Pirates still don’t have that clear number one pick. Jordan Lawlar and Marcelo Mayer represent high school options with Mayer being an option that could command below slot value. Mayer’s stock is rising and he could be in play with the first overall pick.