Talking About the PTBNL and the Draft with Rob Brender and John Dreker

An article by posted on May 29, 2014

jacoby jones

Could JaCoby Jones find himself on the Mets soon?

I had a chance to speak with the always insightful John Dreker who helps run the great site Pirates Prospects. He has scouted, analyzed and interviewed many of the prospects in the Pirates system over the last five years and has a great wealth of knowledge on who’s who and what their prospect status is.

Joe D – Regarding the PTBNL in the Ike Davis trade, if you had to rank your top three probables right now, who would you say they are and rank them in order of probability?

John – If I had to guess I’d say Neil Kozikowski, Blake Taylor, JaCoby Jones are the top three. Cody Dickson a maybe. Can’t imagine anyone else though. I guess Billy Roth could be another option, another Kozikowski-type, high upside, but far away. Should have went before 16th round.

Joe D – I consider you the expert on Pirates prospects, of those first four, where do they rate as far as A-Level or B-Level prospects?

John – All have big upside, Jones the most. I’d rank them all B. Had a scout tell me he didn’t see much in Taylor, but he was only 17. Dickson is really disappointing this year, control issues popping up and lots of hits allowed, but his last start was nice.

Joe D – Thanks again for sharing some of your insights.

John – No problem. Check out our recently posted draft profiles and videos. Put in Michael Conforto and Sean Newcomb before they shot up the charts.

If you’re wondering where the four probable PTBNL’s rank in the Pirates system, here is what I could find.

  • Neil Kozikowski, SS was unranked by John Sickels and Jonathon Mayo.
  • Blake Taylor, LHP was ranked 19 by John Sickels and unranked by Jonathon Mayo.
  • JaCoby Jones, SS/CF was ranked 14 by John Sickels and 20 by Jonathan Mayo.
  • Cody Dickson, LHP was ranked 18 by John Sickels and unranked by Jonathan Mayo.

Obviously, the player I hope we get is Jones who actually just fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle last night for Single-A West Virginia in the South Atlantic League.

The 2013 third-rounder hails from LSU and is slashing at .270/.353/.423 with nine doubles, six home runs and 23 RBI in 189 at-bats while playing mostly shortstop and some center field. He’s still very raw, strikes out too much, and needs to find a true defensive home, but he also comes with an excellent tools package that includes a nice blend of contact, hitting for power and speed.

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SNY’s Robert Brender was also kind enough to answer a few questions for me over the weekend and I asked him a question about the upcoming draft.

With the draft coming up in just over a week, is there one or two players you are hoping the Mets walk away with? And how do you view Paul DePodesta’s first three draft classes and his overall philosophy and draft strategy?

The cupboard was pretty bare when DePo started this process three years ago. There was very little depth from top to bottom, although there were certainly a few studs mixed in from the Omar regime. They’ve used the 1st round to draft what they feel is the “best available” player and not worried about high school vs. college.

Guys like Nimmo and Dom Smith take longer to develop, but the payoff could be huge in a few years. Sure, they’ve missed on a few players like Michael Wacha and Jose Fernandez but so did most teams, and that happens.

Overall, they’ve climbed from near the bottom of the league in overall Minor League talent to the top half of baseball and even top 10 in some people’s thinking. That’s a pretty good jump in a short period of time. They have a lot of pitching top to bottom in the system. There are lots of bats at the lower levels, with a few starting to creep into AA and high-A now. Kevin Plawecki could get to AAA this season and Nimmo AA.

The player I hope the Mets take is Jeff Hoffman, the East Carolina right-handed pitcher who is having TJ surgery (or recently had it). By all accounts, he would have been a top four pick before the injury and might slip because of it. With so many pitchers having TJ and the success rate for guys coming back from it, I would have no issue spending the pick on him. Rumor is, he still wants a big pay check, which could be a problem because I’m sure they would prefer to go under slot. #10 is a spot to take the best talent and this isn’t a deep draft, at least not on paper.

I’d like to thank John and Rob for taking some time to answer a few questions for me.

MMO

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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