As the 2020 MLB Draft nears, more and more analysis surfaces and more and more experts attempt to predict what the Pirates will do when they take the virtual stage Wednesday, June 10, with the No. 7 overall pick.
MLB.com mocked a left-handed pitched out of Louisville, Reid Detmers. ESPN pegged Heston Kjerstad, a left-handed, power-hitting outfield from Arkansas. And Baseball America went with right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock from Georgia.
Everywhere you look, these names get attention in that No. 4 - No. 10 range, right in line with the Pirates' first pick on draft night.
Now, though, two more mocks have entered the fold, and each agrees the Pirates will look a certain player's way.
And that certain player's already been mocked in one of our earlier looks, as well.
With the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates select:
HESTON KJERSTAD, OF, ARKANSAS
Fangraphs' Eric Longenhagen made the call in his latest mock draft, as did MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis. As we get closer to draft day, more and more analysts think the Pirates will look Kjerstad's way and give him a buzz when that No. 7 overall pick rolls around.
But, as Longenhagen notes, "Other teams have very little feel for what Pittsburgh is going to do here."
Yeah, that seems right, based on what we've seen so far. Besides the names already mentioned, second baseman Nick Gonzales and catcher Patrick Bailey have also been linked to the Pirates in preliminary talks, but the appeal with Kjerstad is obvious: The dude cracks.
In his two years and change at Arkansas, Kjerstad slashed .343/.421/.590 with 37 home runs and 129 RBIs. In 16 games throughout the shortened 2020 season, Kjerstad hit six home runs, five doubles and drove in 20 runs while slashing — wait for it — .448/.513/.791 with an OPS of 1.304.
You're right. Those numbers don't make sense. But they're real.
If the Pirates want a college bat, which many sources feel they do, they won't do much better than Kjerstad at No. 7.
The more I watch and read of Kjerstad, the more I'm coming around on the Pirates taking him with that No. 7 pick. I still feel Max Meyer is the guy if he's there, but taking Kjerstad over pitchers such as Hancock or Detmers wouldn't be some great injustice. These guys are all lumped together, all close in most rankings and most objective judgment.
Personally, I favor pitching, and I stand by the call I made in a previous analysis that I'd take either Hancock or Meyer over Kjerstad.
But that bat is wicked, and, especially after taking a look at this 2010 re-draft, I understand the appeal of adding a close-to-big-league-ready hitter to the lineup. Kjerstad wouldn't be a bad pick here at all, and it increasingly appears the Pirates will dial his number if he's still sitting there at No. 7.
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