Shane Baz Selected No. 12 by Pirates in 2017 MLB Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 16: The baseball is seen on the mound before the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Colorado Rockies on May 16, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rockies defeated the Twins 7-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Right-handed pitcher Shane Baz was the No. 12 selection in the first round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.

There are questions about whether Baz will choose to go pro or stick with his commitment to TCU. Given that Baz is a first-round talent, however, it is a risk worth taking for the Pirates.

MLB.com put together the following scouting report and highlights package:

Baz's upside is undeniable. Jim Callis of MLB.com noted, "Baz has been consistently excellent all spring, easing the usual worries that come with a high school right-hander."

Jeff Ellis of Scout.com called him a "plus athlete," meanwhile, and John Manuel of Baseball America added that Baz "has improved his stock as much as any pitcher in the class other than [MacKenzie] Gore."

Baz's bread and butter is his fastball—a staple for Texas power pitchers—but he has a full arsenal of offerings, as Taylor Blake Ward of Scout.com noted:

"Baz's fastball tends to sit in the low 90's with tailing action, touching 95. He attacks while commanding to the corners with it, and elevates to change the eye level. He does possess a mid 70's curve and changeup with fade, both that he shows some feel for and will be average offerings with development. The pitch that leaves scouts drooling is his cutter/slider. With the ability to add some and take some off, it's a mid to high 80's offering that has changed over time. There's sense that he's focused more on turning it into a slider with vertical movement, but when it's really on, it has premium velocity with tilt and is upwards of 89 MPH with serious spin."

A power pitcher with a versatile cadre of pitches is a frightening prospect for opposing hitters.

Baz, who attended Concordia Lutheran, joins a strong stable of pitchers from the Houston region, as Angel Verdejo Jr. of the Houston Chronicle wrote:

"Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands) went second overall to the Pirates in 2010, Kohl Stewart (St. Pius X) went fourth to the Twins in 2013, and Tyler Kolek (Shepherd) went second to the Marlins in 2014. The Astros' first-rounder last year, Alamo Heights' Forrest Whitley, was pitching in the Class 5A semifinals when his name was called."

As for living up to his lofty roots, Baz has kept his mentality simple.

"It's just your approach," Baz told Verdejo. "Keeping those blinders on, staying grounded and staying focused on what's next and not focusing on the future."

What's next is what Pittsburgh is interested in, however, with the hope that Baz will develop into a top prospect in the Pirates' farm system and eventually a pitcher who someday appears in the team's rotation.

The Pirates are no strangers to taking signing risks in the first round. Josh Bell sent a letter to all 30 teams in 2011 asking them not to draft him so he could play baseball at the University of Texas.

Pittsburgh scooped Bell up with the first pick of the second round and signed him with a stunning $5 million bonus. If any franchise has the aggressiveness to talk Baz out of his college commitment, it's the Pirates.

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