Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MLB Draft Day 2 Preview

Day 1 is in the books.  Mark Appel and Barrett Barnes are the newest Pirates to be (assuming they sign).  It's not over though.  The Pirates have 39 more selections, including one in eight picks in the second round.  Here's a preview of players to watch.

Nolan Fontana

Position: SS/2B
School: Florida (Junior)
Throws: L; Bats: R
Measurables: 5'11, 190
DOB: 06/06/1991   

Fontana is similar to Arizona State shortstop and recent draftee Deven Marrero in that both are high floor, low ceiling college middle infielders.  Fontana doesn't have the defensive skills of Marrero - in fact some scouts think he may have to move to 2B which would hurt his value dramatically - but may have a better bat.  He's got a solid hit tool, great plate discipline, and actually hit 9 homeruns this year which was more than his freshman and sophomore years combined.  

With the #8 overall pick a player like Marrero and Fontana would have been a bad selection, especially in the face of the upside of Mark Appel, but now onto day 2 and the second round and with the solid upside of Barrett Barnes also in the fold, selecting Fontana, who has a decent chance of becoming an everyday shortstop in the major leagues, would not be a terrible direction.

Publication Rankings

Baseball America - 46
ESPN - 44
MLB.com - 61

Kenny Diekroger

Position: SS/2B
School: Stanford (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'2, 200
DOB: 11/05/1990

12 months ago as the 2011 draft was going on, Diekroger was in the conversation for the #1 overall pick in 2012.  He's fallen dramatically, but the Stanford shortstop still has impressive athleticism and tools.  He has filled out some and lost speed, which means he may have to play 2B at the next level.  Unfortunately, filling out has not helped Diekroger's bat and simply put, he has not developed at all as a hitter.  Still, the tools and athleticism remain untapped making Diekroger the rare college lottery ticket that could turn into the star without tons of luck. There's a good chance Diekroger could last well past the second round and may be available as a good pick to take a chance on in rounds 4-6.
Publication Rankings

Baseball America - 118
ESPN - 49
MLB.com - 90

Wyatt Mathisen 

Position: C
Calallen HS, (Tex.)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'2, 215
DOB: 12/30/1993

The Pirates selected Tony Sanchez with the #4 overall pick in 2009.  He's still a solid prospect and recently got promoted to AAA, but he hasn't developed exactly as the Pirates would have liked.  After him the Pirates do have some depth at catcher - mainly Ramon Cabrera - but it is a position that is fairly thin and furthermore, too much catching is never a bad thing. Wyatt Mathisen is the rare prep catching prospect that is a virtual lock to stay behind the plate.  He has a strong arm and plus athleticism.  In the batter's box, Mathisen has the potential to have an above-average hit tool and above-average power, meaning he could one day develop into the coveted 2 way shortstop.  Mathisen probably won't last long on day 2.

Publication Rankings

Baseball America - 47
ESPN - 40
MLB.com - 64

Hunter Virant

Position: P
Camarillo HS (Calif.)
Throws: L; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'3, 175
DOB: 05/22/1994

The Pirates are certainly deeper in pitching than hitting in the minor leagues, but it never hurts to add talented arms to the system.  Virant is arguably the best prep pitching prospect still available. He's also a lefty which would help balance the Pirates system out which is dominated by right handed pitching prospects.  As a southpaw, Virant can already touch 93 with his fastball, although he sits in the high 80's right now.  He compliments his heater with a changeup that flashes plus and a slider and curveball that both need work.  Keith Law compares Virant to a young Tyler Skaggs, noting he could blossom if he adds velocity.  Like Mathisen, Virant won't last long on day 2

Publication Rankings 

Baseball America - 53
ESPN - 26
MLB.com - 47

Adam Brett Walker 

Position: 1B/OF
Jacksonville (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'5, 222
DOB: 10/18/1991

If you want power, Adam Brett Walker has that power.  The college first baseman could have the most raw power in the entire draft.  Poor plate discipline comes with that power, although it's not out of control.  Walker is actually an above-average athlete and there is a small chance he could move to outfield if necessary.  Walker will never win a batting title, but his ability to hit the longball could make him a big time offensive player one day.  Some team will bite on Walker due to his massive power potential early in Day 2.

Publication Rankings

Baseball America - 58
ESPN - 79
MLB.com - 50


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