Draft Prospect Watch: Falling Stock for a Potential First Overall Pick?

Baseball America posted a link yesterday looking at players who have seen their draft stock rise early this season. I don’t think any of them are relevant to the Pittsburgh Pirates just yet, as they pick first overall and the highest current ranking for any player on their list is 17th best. There are some who are possibilities for the second/third picks for the Pirates, when they select first overall in the second round, or make their competitive balance round pick after the second round ends. The possibility of moving from mid-first round to the top could change, but it’s a tough task to rate that low, then make the jump to first overall in one season. However, there is a much more relevant note about a player ranked sixth overall who had a rough outing this week and the scouting reports are down on him.

Jaden Hill from LSU has been mentioned as a possible first overall pick. The 21-year-old is a 6’4″, 234 pound right-handed pitcher. He debuted this year with four shutout innings against Air Force, allowing three hits and a hit batter, with no walks and five strikeouts. On February 26th against Youngstown State in his second start, Hill allowed one hit over six shutout innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. He made his third start over the weekend and got lit up against Oral Roberts, recording just one out before being removed. Eight batters reached against him and all eight scored. He gave up five hits, two walks and hit a batter.

Baseball America notes from one scout that the start has definitely hurt Hill’s stock because it’s very rare for a top of the first round pick to have an outing that poor against a non-conference team at this point in the season. I think that a bad start can be overcome with three months left in the schedule, but the problem for Hill doesn’t stop there. The reason he rated so high coming into this year is that he slider got a future 70 grade, or as BA calls it, a possible plus-plus offering. It hasn’t even looked like an above average pitch this season in any of his games according to reports. In fact, they go as far as saying it’s been below average to fringe-average.

As you know from the few preview articles we posted here, top draft prospects Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter from Vanderbilt have pitched great early on this season, so Hill needs a quick turnaround to surpass either of those two on the draft list. Rocker allowed one run on two hits and a walk this weekend, with 11 strikeouts in six innings against the University of Illinois-Chicago. Leiter went five innings and allowed one earned run on one hit, three walks and 11 strikeouts in five innings.

On the position player side, BA has an article answering draft questions, including one about who will get picked first among Jordan Lawlar, Adrian Del Castillo and Marcelo Mayer, three names that will be part of our Draft Prospect Watch series once we start taking in depth looks at individual players. I won’t go into full detail just yet on them, just remember the names if you don’t already know them. Anyway, Lawlar is the top name for right now for BA, but the three of them rank 2-4 on BA’s top draft prospects list, right between Rocker (1) and Leiter (5).