The MLB Draft kicked off last night on MLB Network with the Pirates taking slugger Will Clark with their first pick at No. 22 overall. It’s still weird to me to see the Pirates drafting later in the first round as most of my life consisted of watching the Bucs pick in the top 5 and being so excited by a lot of guys taken early only to watch them become busts and have little to no MLB career. Anyone who says they can tell you where each of these players will project over 40+ rounds is full of it. There’s no greater crapshoot in sports than the MLB Draft. The long process through the minors can crush anyone’s confidence especially from a high school player that is probably 4-5 years away from the show. Injuries play a major part as well and can derail a career before it even gets started. Anyway, I’m no scout by any means, so most of my analysis in this post is from reading scouting reports from good ol’ Baseball America. Here’s a look at the two first round picks by the Bucs followed by a list of their first 10 rounds. The Pirates have taken seven pitchers through 10 rounds, which goes with my preferred strategy of pitching, pitching, pitching. The draft continues tonight and into Saturday.
Will Craig, 3B/RHP, Wake Forest (No. 22 overall)—The Pirates surprised everyone by jumping on Craig at the 22nd pick overall out of Wake Forest University. There was a bit of confusion from MLB Network on what position the Pirates drafted Craig as since they announced he’d be a pitcher, but it was apparently a mistake and his bat will play for the Bucs. Baseball America has Craig ranked as the 45th best draft prospect.
Craig is a power hitting third baseman who flirted with the triple crown while at Wake Forest as he hit a stupid .379/.520/.731 last season with the Demon Deacons. It’s hard not to be excited about his power, but there have been questions about Craig’s body and if he’ll last at third base in the Majors. You could see him end up sliding over to first base at some point of his career. His thick 6’3, 235-pound frame could be a problem down the road. Then again it’s becoming more common place to draft these kind of guys with Kyle Schwarber working out for the Cubs, Justin Bour with the Marlins and A.J. Reed having success in the Astros organization. Along with Craig’s power, he has a good feel of the strike zone that you’d normally see from a big guy like him and it helped him become one of the top college players from the past two seasons. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 2015.
The Johnson City, Tennessee native also pitched out of the bullpen for Wake Forest and succeeded at that leaving scouts thinking he could work out in the show as a pitcher as well. He features low-90’s velocity on his fastball. I had a stinging flashback to John Van Benschoten when I read about Craig being a two-way player, but I think Craig’s bat sticks. We don’t need another JVB. Anyway, here are some highlights on Craig:
Nick Lodolo, LHP, Damien HS in LaVerne, California (No. 41 overall)—The Pirates started their stockpiling of pitchers with prep southpaw Nick Lodolo with the last pick in the first round. Lodolo is a 6’6 18-year-old from California that features a fastball-slider that can be lethal at times. Baseball America ranked Lodolo as the 80th best draft prospect. The tall, lanky southpaw has a commitment to TCU, but it’s hard to see him not signing after being drafted this high.
Here are the rest of the Pirates draft picks so fa up to Round 10:
Round 2—68 overall: Trevor McGregor, RHP, East Lake HS
Round 3—105 overall: Stephen Alemais, SS, Tulane
Round 4—135 overall: Braeden Ogle, LHP, Jensen Beach HS
Round 5—165 overall: Blake Cederlind, RHP, Merced College
Round 6—195 overall: Cam Vieaux, LHP, Michigan State
Round 7—225 overall: Brent Gibbs, C, Central Arizona College
Round 8—255 overall: Dylan Prohoroff, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Round 9—285 overall: Clark Eagan, CF, Arkansas
Round 10—315 overall: Matthew Anderson, RHP, Morehead State