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MLB draft 2017: Are the Pirates focused on college bats?

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mock drafts keep rolling in and the latest ones mostly seem to see the Pirates going for college bats. Of course, nobody really has a clue what the Pirates will do with the 12th pick, as they’re notoriously discrete about their leanings, but this does make a certain amount of sense.

Among several new mocks, Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline has probably the most radical projection, with the Pirates taking Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall. Mayo’s idea is that, apart from Will Craig, the Pirates have typically gone for up-the-middle players with athleticism with their first round picks in recent drafts. I’m very skeptical. Kendall is a revved-up version of Keon Broxton, with great foot and bat speed, and a lot of raw power, but he has major swing-and-miss issues. Apart from later-round lottery tickets like Casey Hughston, the Pirates just don’t go for hitters with contact issues. Kendall doesn’t seem terribly similar to Austin Meadows, Cole Tucker and Kevin Newman.

Baseball America a few days ago had the Pirates taking Keston Hiura of UC Irvine. Hiura doesn’t actually have a position right now, as he’s been a DH since early last season due to elbow problems. He’s had a PRP injection that may or may not be helping, so a team selecting him would probably need to assume he’ll have surgery immediately after the draft. Hiura does have one of the best bats in the draft. He hits for average and power, and scouts seem to like everything about his swing. He could end up as a corner outfielder or possibly a second baseman. He seems a much more plausible pick for the Pirates than Kendall.

D1 Baseball (sub. req’d) has the Pirates taking Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger. Perhaps ominously, Baseball America compares (sub. req’d) Burger to Craig as a “bad-bodied but big-hitting third baseman.” Burger is putting up big numbers this year, along with showing good plate discipline. As far as I know his power isn’t heavily dependent on his home park, as Craig’s was. As with Craig, there seems to be some doubt whether he’ll stick at third. D1 Baseball adds that the Pirates would really like University of Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley, who might not last until the 12th pick.