The following are a few players who could be considered the best available at both #9 and #14. To give everyone an idea on this years draft class, it is very balanced in terms of high school and college pitchers and a slight edge to college hitters over high school hitters. As with every draft, the Pirates will not draft based on need. They did this once under Huntington and it hasn't worked out the greatest. To clear up speculation on certain players, I will post the first 8 who, I believe, will be off the board:
- Houston Astros: OF Clint Frazier (Prep GA)
- Chicago Cubs: RHP Mark Appel (Stanford)
- Colorado Rockies: OF Austin Meadows (Prep GA)
- Minnesota Twins: LHP Sean Manaea (Indiana State)
- Cleveland Indians: RHP Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma)
- Miami Marlins: RHP Chris Anderson (Jacksonville)
- Boston Red Sox: 3B Kris Bryant (San Diego)
- Kansas City Royals: RHP Ryne Stanek (Arkansas)
#9 Selection Possibilities
3B Colin Moran (UNC)
His defense remains a concern but Moran's approach at the plate and willingness to take the ball to all parts of the field make his bat very tempting. He hits the ball hard and has very quick hands. He has posted excellent BB:K rates at the plate. Ultimately, he may end up at 2B or RF. Regardless of where he ends up, Moran has a very advanced bat and a defense that is manageable. In the past month, after a slow start, he has really come. With Moran's selection, he would immediately become one of the top position prospects in the system and, arguably, the top infield prospect though there is uncertainty he will stay at his college position.
Current College Stats: .401/.519/.648, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 9/35 K/BB
C Jonathan Denney (Prep OK)
Denney's name has shot up the boards in recent months. At 6'2, 205 lbs, Denney has a strong build and is a superb athlete. He is an above average defensive catcher with the potential to be one of the best. He has a 1.82 pop time with a strong, accurate arm. At the plate, Denney shows an aggressive approach with plus power. While his bat speed isn't considered plus, it is above average and looks like it will play fine at the next level. With Denney as the selection, the Pirates would be shoring up their catching depth with Wyatt Mathisen already in the system.
2012 Stat Line: .327 BA, 12 HR
LHP Trey Ball (Prep IN)
The top two way athlete in the class. Trey Ball is a tall (6'6), lanky (175 lbs) LHP from New Castle, Indiana. Many think his future is on the mound though he does hold his own at the plate. Ball has a feel for a 4-seam that sits 90-93, mid 70's change, and hard, mid 80's slider. Ball has a smooth, easy delivery and has the makings of a workhorse if some meat can be put on his bones. If Ball is drafted, he will immediately become the top LHP in the system. Ultimately I see him settling as a strong No. 2 start with a ceiling slightly lower than that of Cole and Taillon. He would definitely be more of a project but not to the extent of someone like Stetson Allie.
2012 Stat Line: 6-2, 1.45 ERA, 5 CG, 0.92 WHIP, 75:16 K:BB
RHP Braden Shipley (Nevada)
http://www.rgj.com/article/20130407/SPORTS06/304070060/Late-bloomer-Shipley-brings-arsenal-pitches-mound-which-puts-him-edge-history this has a short video showing a few pitches from Shipley
Shipley has busted onto the scene this season with a strong showing thus far. Shipley has plus fastball (roughly 92-95), a plus changeup, and above-average curveball. Shipley relies heavily on his fastball-chageup combo and is developing a better curveball. I feel, if drafted, Shipley could quickly move through the system and be ready to go as soon as September (though the Pirates would never make such a move unless in desperate need). Shipley coud be an excellent 2-3 starter and wouldn't be a bad ace on some teams.
2013 Stat Line: 5-1, 2.60 ERA, 3.37 FIP, Opp Avg .217, 1.07 WHIP, 65:21 K:BB
#14 Selection Possibilities:
1B Dominic Smith (HS CA)
Considered the purest power hitter in the draft. He really makes hitting look easy with plus power and plus bat speed. He can recognize and square up every pitch thrown to him and hit it HARD. Defensively, Smith is one of the best defensive players in the draft and that is as a 1B. He has excellent footwork and very soft hands to go along with a strong arm. If drafted, Smith would become the best power hitter in the system and that would be jumping Polanco, Hanson, Bell and Allie. While some people are hesitant to draft 1B, Smith is the exception to the rule and would be an excellent pick at #14.
2012 Stat Line: .551 BA, .644 OBP, 43 H, 49 RBI, 36 R.
RHP Kohl Stewart (Prep TX)
Stewart is the No. 1 HS RHP in the class and 2nd only to Ball as a pitcher. Stewart is going to be considered a difficult sign as he has a football commitment to Texas A&M. Arsenal wise, he has a 3 pitch mix with a 93-95 MPH fastball, a sharp high 80's slider and developing changeup that has solid sinking action. Stewart is very smooth with a clean delivery on the mound and 3/4 arm slot. Many believe once Stewart starts to use his legs to their full potential, he could add 2-3 MPH on his fastball. If drafted, Stewart would become part of a slew of HS pitchers in the lower minors who all have a ton of potential, joining Heredia, Glasnow, Kingham and Holmes.
2012 Stat Line: N/A
C Reese McGuire (HS WA)
Very similar to Denney with plus power, excellent defensive skills, but not as refined of an approach at the plate. McGuire is an excellent student who throws mid-80's but will slow down his throws occasionally to make them more accurate. He has cat-like reflexes, shows excellent blocking skills and has been recorded with a pop-time of 1.83. Many see him as being able to get stronger and add even more power. His bat speed is exceptional with some labeling it as plus. If drafted, the situation would be similar to if we drafted Denney, he would become part of a catching tandem that includes Wyatt Mathisen at West Virginia. He won the USA Baseball's Dick Case Player of the Year Award in 2012.
2012 Stat Line: .388/.510/.675 4 HR, 31 H, 8 SB, 10/19 K/BB
SS J.P. Crawford (HS CA)
Crawford may have the highest ceiling of anyone not named Frazier and Meadows. Crawford is one of the hardest workers in the class who is going to give 100% to every game he is in. He is an outstanding defensive player with soft hands, good range and plus arm strength. At the plate, Crawford is a lefty who squares up pitches and shows gap power. He hits for a very average and OBP. Standing at 6'2, there is room to add muscle which, if he does while maintaining his athleticism, could make him the top SS around. If drafted, Crawford would immediately make it possible to move Alen Hanson to the less-defensively demanding 2B position.
2012 Stat Line: .459 BA, .554 OBP, 31 RBI, 37 R
In my honest opinion, any combo of the 8 mentioned above would be a great 1st round for the Bucs. Right now, I am favoring Colin Moran at #9 and SS J.P. Crawford at #14. But that's just my two cents. If you have any comments about other potential picks, ask below.