The Pittsburgh Pirates will have a top 5 pick in next summer’s MLB Draft. So, who are some possible players that will be available in the draft?
This past summer the Pittsburgh Pirates had one of the best drafts in recent memory. Not only were they able to secure a high-end hitting prospect in Henry Davis with the first overall selection, but they also got a two-way star who should have went top 15 in Bubba Chandler, a top 100 selection in the 14th round in Braylon Bishop, as well as many other noteworthy names such as Anthony Solometo, Lonnie White Jr., and Owen Kellington.
That was Ben Cherington’s second draft as the general manage of the Pittsburgh Pirates. His first one got him arguably the team’s best prospect in Nick Gonzales and talented right-handed pitchers Carmen Mldozinski and Jared Jones.
So far, his drafts have been pretty good. While it’s still a good ways away, I think it’s worth previewing the 2022 MLB draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates will end the season with either the 3rd or 4th overall pick. Currently, the Texas Rangers have the number three spot, but only by 1.5 games.
It’s also worth mentioning that a whole lot can change between now and next year’s draft. At this point last year, Kumar Rocker was arguably still one of the top three players. His stock not only plateaued but decreased as his velocity became erratic on a game-by-game basis throughout the 2022 season. He ended up going #11 to the New York Mets but did not sign because of injury concerns that led the Mets to back out of a deal.
Right now, Elijah Green is considered the best player available. The IMG Academy product is 18-years-old and has the potential to be a five-tool player. Green is considered to have an above-average projected hit and game power tool by FanGraphs. However, his raw power, speed, fielding, and arm all project at an elite-60. He’s a center fielder by trade and is athletic enough to stick there long-term.
One of the more popular names in the draft is Druw Jones. The son of Atlanta Braves’ all-time great Andruw Jones, the younger Jones is also an outfielder. Jones currently is projected to be a hit-over-power kind of player. He has a 60-projected hit tool and 50-projected game power. Though in terms of raw power, he is considered above average at a projected 55. He’s also a very fast base runner (60-grade speed) and plus fielder (60-projected fielding). While he may never be the 30-40 home run kind of hitter his dad was in his prime, there’s still the potential for an all-star caliber outfielder in Druw Jones.
The best college position player looks to be Peyton Graham. Currently attending the University of Oklahoma, Graham has played a bit of everywhere in his amateur career so far. He’s a third baseman by trade, but has seen time at shortstop, and played all three outfield positions at the Cape Cod League.
So far at Oklahoma, Graham has hit .305/.414/.528 with 14 home runs in 336 plate appearances. Plus he has swiped 15 bags. Graham’s currently only projects as a 50-grade item. However, both his raw power and game power are 55-projected. Though according to FanGraphs, he could become even more powerful as he ages. At the hot corner, he’s a plus defender given that he has the instincts and reflexes he learned playing shortstop in college. While not a speed demon, he can move well enough with a 50-speed grade.
The top spot for the best pitcher right now is between two college pitchers. The first is Connor Prielipp. Prielipp is pitching for the University of Alabama. He’s only pitched 28 innings but has been very effective. He’s only allowed 3 earned runs, a single home run, 7 walks while striking out 47 batters. The southpaw throws into the mid-90’s while showing a fantastic upper-80s to low-90s slider. His third offering is a change-up. Though there are a few downsides. Prielipp underwent Tommy John surgery back in late May and his command can be a bit spotty at times.
Finally, we have Bryce Osmond. He’s teammates with Graham at the University of Oklahoma. The right-hander has only pitched 73 innings but has struggled to a 6.90 ERA, 4.76 FIP, and 1.699 WHIP. He has a 13.4% walk rate and 1.2 HR/9 rate, but a solid 25% strikeout rate. Not great numbers, but when looking at draft prospects, overall stats aren’t a major factor that goes into analyzing them. More of icing on the cake kind of thing.
Osmond throws four pitches. He’s not a particularly hard thrower. His four-seamer only comes in at 90-93 MPH, but it still projects as a 55-grade pitch. His slider is his best offering, coming in with a 60-projected. His other breaking ball, a curve, is a projected-50 grade offering. Finally, there’s his change-up, which only projects as a 45-grade pitch, but if he can improve it just a little bit, that would make for 4 average or better pitches with average-projected command.
Cherington really hasn’t made an awful decision yet, especially when it comes to drafting. So right now, what player would likely be available to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the number four spot? Based on Cherington’s previous draft decisions, what player would he take? As the Pittsburgh Pirates general manager, Cherington has taken two college position players in the first round, followed by a high school pitcher with their second round pick (Mldozinski, a college right-hander, was a competitive balance pick in the first round).
If Green isn’t available, I could see him taking Graham. The college slugger would add another power bat to the system and a fairly versatile player who isn’t limited to just third base. He also fits the bill of good college bat. You can’t rule out the pitchers, especially conisdering his affinity for pitching. But so far, position players seem like his go-to with the team’s first round pick over pitching.
Again, the rankings can change at any time. A full season from any of these players can drastically change where they are projected to go. Green may be projected to go number one overall but may fall even below a slot where the Pittsburgh Pirates may pass on him. Still, this is a very early look and I think the Pirates will end up making the right decision.