As the off season progresses, my thoughts continue to drift to the 2013 draft. Perhaps I just enjoy acquiring new, young talent or whatever but the draft is always my favorite part of the season. This year, the Pirates will have two of the first 15 picks in a draft that has some exceptional talent. Now, I understand the draft is still almost 7 months away but that doesn't mean we can't at least familiar ourselves with some of the possible Pirates selections.
Below are five players for each of the two selections. In addition, links are provided for each player. In addition, I provide a brief synopsis of the players based on reports and my own observations when watching them in person.
* - denotes a player I have seen in person.
*RHP Bobby Wahl (Mississippi) - My Preferred Pick
Wahl is a 6'3 right handed pitcher from the University of Mississippi. Wahl has a hard fastball with arm-side run. The pitch has been clocked as high as 97 but usually sits comfortably in the mid 90's. His slider checks in around the mid 80's and has flashed signs as a plus pitch. in addition, he has a solid changeup that has shown late movement. Wahl has solid control, striking out 104 while only walking 34 in 99 innings of work. Opponents batted .211 against the Mississippi ace who maintained a 2.55 ERA. MLB Comparison: Matt Cain.
*3B Colin Moran (North Carolina)
Few batters hit the ball as hard and with as much consistency as Colin Moran. The UNC product is arguably the best college bat in the draft, and 3rd best behind Meadows and Frazier. Moran hits for average power and a high average. In 2012, he batted .365 while driving in 35 RBI's. He has shown a great approach at the plate, walking 68 times compared to 57 strikeouts in his college career. Moran is a mixed bag defensively with a strong arm and improving fielding. He projects to stay at thirdbase. Like Alvarez, Moran throws right but bats left. MLB Comparison: Evan Longoria.
*LHP/OF Trey Ball (HS TX)
Arguably the best two way prospect in the draft. The 6'6 lefty from Texas could either be put down the path of pitcher or OF. Ball sits in the low 90's with his fastball which is complimented by low 80's slider and a slow changeup. At the plate, Ball has shown a willingness to take the ball to the opposite field. His body screams future potential for high power. Ultimately, I believe he will be a LHP but it remains to be seen. As a junior, Ball had a .92 WHIP with a 75:16 SO/BB. Ball is an exciting player and could be a steal on draft day. MLB Comparison: Madison Bumgarner.
RHP Johnathan Crawford (Florida)
One of Florida's two aces, Crawford has shown to be more consistent than Karsten Whitson in 2012. Crawford has a low-mid 90's fastball with natural sinking action. His go to secondary is a hard slider that has plus potential. In addition, he is still working on the kinks in a steadily improving changeup and curveball. The two red flags with Crawford are his height and control issues. Standing at 6'1, some feel Crawford is undersized for a top-of-the-order pitcher. There are some mechanical issues as well that may lead to arm problems. MLB Comparison: Jake Peavy.
3B Kris Bryant (San Diego)
Bryant is the top college power hitter in the 2013 draft class. Standing at 6'5, Bryant launched 14 longballs in his 2012 campaign. Power isn't the only thing about him. Bryant has shown a consistent approach that adjusts to different counts. He has tremendous bat speed, quick wrists, and plate discipline. Defensively, Bryant can play a passable thirdbase but would probably best be suited for 1B or an OF spot. He has a strong arm, average speed, and a solid glove. MLB Comparison: Miguel Cabrera.
*RHP Karsten Whitson (Florida)
The other ace at the University of Florida, Whitson is a power pitcher. With clean arm action his fastball regulary hits the mid-90's. His delivery has some mechanical issues in it which lead to bits of control problems but these are viewed as easily fixable. Both of Whitson's secondary pitches may end up rated in the plus category before the college season ends. His 11-5 slider rocks up into the 87 MPH while his changeup shows late sink and sits in the low 80's. Whitson was injured for a majority of the 2012 season and, while the injuries were not serious, his numbers were high for someone of his pedigree. What immediately jumps out is 18 walks in 33 innings pitches. However, Whitson possess a solid arm and two excellent secondary pitches and could shoot up the draft boards if all goes right for him in 2013. MLB Comparison: Zack Greinke.
*SS Oscar Mercado (HS FL) - My Preferred Pick
The top SS prospect in the draft is, for a 4th year, a young high school player (the last three being: Manny Machado in 2010, Francisco Lindor in 2011 and Carlos Correa in 2012.). Of the 4 shortstops, Mercado is perhaps the most solid defensively with excellent range, a strong arm and soft hands to go along with excellent reflexes. At the plate, Mercado has shown gap power but his 6'2 frame suggests he could add power as he matures. He has a consistent approach at the plate and looks to drive the ball to all fields. He is a natural shortstop with excellent speed and a line drive swing. MLB Comparison: Asdrubal Cabrera.
OF Justin Williams (HS LA)
Probably the top power hitter out of high school (yes, even better than Frazier and Meadows), Williams has ridiculous power. A 6'3 lefty, Williams has a simple swing that lets him quickly turn on pitches, getting his full body behind the pitch. His great asset is his power and natural hitting ability. He has a strong enough arm to where he could play RF or 3B. Defensively, Williams currently plays SS for his HS and has decent enough speed and good glove. MLB Comparison: Jason Heyward.
C Jeremy Martinez (HS CA)
Arguably the best defensive catcher to come through the draft in years, Martinez is considered the top catching prospect in the draft. With a pop-time of 1.87, soft hands, incredible blocking abilities, a strong arm, and a catchers build, Martinez has all the tools to be an exceptional catcher at the next level. At the plate, Martinez can hit the ball hard with above average power and consistently puts the ball in play. MLB Comparison: Yadier Molina.
LHP Stephen Gonsalves (HS CA)
The most athletic pitcher in the draft class, Gonsalves is tall and lanky. He has a natural downward plane, easy arm action, and overall solid mechanics. His fastball sits in the high 80's, reaching as high as 92. His curveball can still be inconsistent at times but, when on, has an 11-5 break that is very sharp. His changeup is a work in progress and he does not use it very often in games. While this may not seem impressive, Gonsalves has a mass amount of raw ability that, with a few corrections, could make him a top tier pitcher. MLB Comparison: Barry Zito circa 2002.