The Pittsburgh Pirates made a couple of surprise picks Thursday when they selected high school shortstop Cole Tucker with the 24th overall pick, and followed that up by taking catcher/outfielder Connor Joe from the University of San Diego with the 39th pick. Tucker was not rated higher than 60 in draft projections, while Joe was rated outside of the top 100.
With the 64th and 73rd picks, the Pirates then selected high school pitchers Mitch Keller and Trey Supak, both who come with projectable pitches and body frames, yet both leave a little to be desired.
For Tucker, an alumni of the gold-medal winning 18 and under U.S. National Team last summer, Tucker is an athletic shortstop who looks like he will be able to stick at the position in the big leagues. While he doesn't have much pop, or much muscle on his lanky body, he is a switch hitter who put up great high school numbers. The University of Arizona commit is a better hitter from the left side, and has room to add strength on his body. He has plus speed, range, hands and arm strength, all musts for a shortstop.
Joe made the move behind the dish during summer play in the Cape Cod League after spending his first two seasons at first base. He was named an All-Star in the Cape Code League, the top summer collegiate circuit. He should be able to hit for average and power at the professional level, and he looks as if he will be able to stick behind the dish.
Keller, the top pitching prospect in the state of Iowa, has a fastball that sits between 90-94 mph after he got into the best shape of his life. In addition, his curveball has improved and he has tested out a changeup.
The last LaGrange High School player drafted was CIncinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, who went seventh overall in 2004. Well, that was until the Pirates selected Supak with the 73rd pick. His fastball tops out at 92, but his 6-foot-5 frame has yet to be fully filled out. He is committed to the University of Houston, where his uncle Jody was an All-America pitcher.
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