MLB 2021 Draft: Plenty Options Available For Pittsburgh Pirates at Pick 37
|Photo Credit: MLB.com|
The Pittsburgh Pirates went after their guy with the first overall pick, opting to select Louisville catcher Henry Davis. With a blend of on the field, as well as off, Ben Cherington thought Davis was the perfect player to be the face of the rebuild.
It was a calculated move by the Pirates, on several fronts. First off it likely saves some money to spend elsewhere, something they were never shy on saying they were going to try and do.
Next, not only does Davis potentially slot into the middle of the order down the road, he will be working closely with the pitching staff as the starting catcher. If the Pirates can get him signed quickly, and get his pro career started sooner rather than later, there's a chance he can catch up to some of the top pitching prospects in order to start building a rapport with them.
But now that the first pick is locked in and in the past, Cherington and company will be looking hard at who they can select with the first pick of the second round, 37th overall. If they are truly going to be able to save money with their selection of Davis, then they can load up and go for broke with a prep player they want to lure out of a college commitment.
Even before Cherington, the Pirates haven't been shy about trying to draft and sign projectable, high upside pitchers with their next few picks after the first round. Gunnar Hoglund (who went 19th overall this year) and Nick Lodolo (7th overall, 2019) are two recent examples of this, but with the previous regime.
Last year, the Pirates signed Carmen Mlodzinski to an under slot deal at pick 31 so that they could go over slot in the second round on Jared Jones. It's worked out better than expected, as both have enjoyed great starts to the season.
So who could the Pirates target with he 37th overall pick? If this draft proved anything to us, is that projecting something like this is almost next to impossible. But I gave it my best shot, after going over some of the top players left on MLB.com, and what some of the word was on Twitter and other sites.
I won't pretend to be an expert, but I did spend some extra time watching video of each player too that I had narrowed in on. This is my top five of players still available that could fit the mold of what the Pirates are trying to do.
1. Ben Kudrna, RHP Blue Valley Southwest (Kansas)
In the same way that I quickly became a huge fan of Kahlil Watson as I was watching for players that may go at the top of the draft, it didn't take long for Kudrna to find himself at the top of my list.
He has a really easy delivery that's going to be easy to repeat, and looks so effortless it's amazing he dials up the velocity the way he does. If the Pirates are looking for a projectable prep pitcher to take, few match those credentials the way way Kudrna does.
Standing at 6'3, his delivery and frame screams a velocity jump at some point, and even if he doesn't see one, he's already sitting at 91-95. Even more evidence he would fit the mold, the second word used on MLB.com about the righty, projectability.
MLB.com has his fastball rated as a plus pitch, with his slider and change both graded out as above average. Fangraphs, as they are with most, is a little rougher on their projections. They see his fastball as a future average pitch, with only his slider grading out above average.
Prospects Live like his fastball even more than the other two outlets, seeing great arm action not the pitch, and with great movement.
2. Lonnie White Jr., OF Malvern Prep
I was a little bullish on White at first. The more I read on him, and then watching what I could find on Youtube I'm buying in on him. They are going to need to save every penny possible in wanting to sign him, as he's also a four star wide receiver recruit for Penn State, so it's going to take some serious enticing to get him.
Both Fangraphs and MLB.com have him slightly below average when it comes to his hit tool, but he's also been a three-sport athlete the majority of his life. If he focuses on just baseball, the rest of his tools will carry him if he can get to average for hitting.
Standing at 6'3, White Jr. has a plus run grade no matter where you look up his scouting report, and many believe he can remain in center field long term. His game power is rated at average, but you look at his size and hear the sound of the ball coming off his bat, you have to think he can at least match his raw above average power.
3. Chase Burns, RHP Beech (TN)
There might not be much 'projectability' about his frame, because at 6'4", 215 pounds (according to MLB.com) Burns already looks the part of a major league starting pitcher. Add in the fact he can hit triple digits with his fastball and has flashed a couple of potential above average secondary offerings, Burns could be an ideal target for the Pirates.
Fangraphs said Burns is a 'prototypical power frame who has touched 100 mph this spring. Burns is more frequently in the mid 90s with secondary offerings that remain on the raw side'. Having secondary offerings on the raw side is nothing new for a prep pitcher, but he has flashed them before.
The righty is committed to Tennessee and is ranked 46th overall according to MLB.com.
4. Peyton Stovall, 2B Haughton (LA)
The left-handed hitter is an interesting case. If 'offensive player' was a designation, especially in the NL, that's probably the position Stovall would take up. He's a player you get in the lineup because his bat, and worry about the fielding later.
He's currently playing shortstop, but his below average arm already has him in talks to play second base if he were to attend Arkansas and he could even end up in left field if blocked there (One would imagine Nick Gonzales would force that issue).
But he's one of the best pure hitters in the class, with his barrel control rated as above average by Fangraphs. His hitting is going to be at the very least above average, if not plus. Some feel he might be the best pure hitter in the entire prep class.
5. Anthony Solometo, LHP Bishop Eustace (NJ)
It took a while too narrow into who should be in the fifth spot. I liked the upside of Thatcher Hurd, but thought this pick is probably too high for him. Gage Jump is another option and he could easily be 5B on this list.
I thought Solometo fit the mold a little better than Jump did (size and velocity upside). The biggest question is going to be his delivery, but he's learned to use it to his advantage as it hides the ball a little bit longer.
His windup looks like half Mackenzie Gore and half Madison Bumgarner, which combined can be worrisome. In the videos I was able to watch he didn't throw inside to righties much and struggled with command when he did. Not sure if it's intentional, or if his windup has to do with it.
He has good stuff though, and was one of the fast risers during the draft process, so if the Pirates like the challenge of getting the best out of that kind of delivery, Solometo is the highest rated player on MLB.com heading into day two.
I considered some other players in this but in the end they didn't feel like they fit the mold of the what the Pirates might want to do. I could be wrong, but we will see. Jaden Hill is an intriguing name and his stuff is first round worthy. But he missed most of last year due to Tommy John, and missed time as a freshman due to more elbow issues. Most suggest he's heading towards a bullpen role long term.
Joshua Baez and Jud Fabian are intriguing prospects. Baez out of the prep ranks has one of the strongest arms in the draft and has plus power that profiles well in right field. Fabian was once looked at as a potential top 10 pick. Both have struggled with swing and miss, and it seems the Pirates are looking more towards 'hit' over 'power' type of guys.
James Wood seemed like an interesting prospect but was lacking the hit tool. He'd still be an interesting name to watch considering his size (6'7") and athletic ability (plus arm and above average power and run tools).
Who do you think the Pirates should take with the 37th overall? Who seems like the most ideal pick among the players listed here? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the page, and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.
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