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Draft class short on shortstops, full of Vandy commits

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

The NFL Draft begins tonight with the first round, which could include a former professional baseball player.

The Pirates signed Hayden Hurst, a 6-foot-5 Florida high school right-hander with a low-90s fastball, for a well-over-slot $400,000 in the 17th round of the 2012 Draft. Part of a 2009 U.S. national team that also included Albert Almora Jr. and Francisco Lindor and won a gold medal at the World Youth Championships, he suddenly lost the ability to control his pitches and never recovered it.

The NFL Draft begins tonight with the first round, which could include a former professional baseball player.

The Pirates signed Hayden Hurst, a 6-foot-5 Florida high school right-hander with a low-90s fastball, for a well-over-slot $400,000 in the 17th round of the 2012 Draft. Part of a 2009 U.S. national team that also included Albert Almora Jr. and Francisco Lindor and won a gold medal at the World Youth Championships, he suddenly lost the ability to control his pitches and never recovered it.

Hurst only worked in one official Minor League game, walking all five batters he faced and throwing two wild pitches in 2013. After returning to Rookie ball the next summer as a DH/first baseman, he batted .245/.333/.245 in 15 games before giving up baseball to walk on at South Carolina as a wide receiver.

Moved to tight end in 2016, Hurst has become one of the best prospects at his position. His combination of size, speed and hands may land him in the back of the first round and almost certainly in the second.

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Tweet from @MontanaBadboy: How does the short stop crop of this class stack up to others in the recent past. Is Brice Turang on the rise with his strong hitting? Is Nander de Sadas really a threat to fall into the second round?

The 2015 Draft began with shortstops as the first three picks (Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Brendan Rodgers), while the Twins took one (Royce Lewis) with the top overall choice last year. By comparison, the 2018 Draft has a lackluster group of shortstops. For more details, check out the video at the top of this column.

Tweet from @grapebaseball: Is Alex Bohm's stock rising enough for him to be the number 2 pick to the Giants?

Yes, that's fair to say. Bohm (it's Alec, by the way) put himself in position to go in the first round with a solid sophomore season at Wichita State and an even better summer on the Cape, and now he has a very good chance to go in the first five selections.

Bohm appeals to statistics-minded teams because he's hitting .336/.444/.564 with plenty more walks (29) than strikeouts (19). He appeals to scouts, too, because his proponents believe he has well-above-average raw power, plus hitting ability and strike-zone management to match. Some worry that Bohm does it more with strength than bat speed and that he's going to wind up moving from third base to first base, but he still won't have to wait very long to hear his name called on June 4.

Tweet from @ijustshukya: How impressive is the Delmarva Shorebirds rotation?

Quite impressive. All six pitchers in Delmarva's rotation are legitimate prospects, and thus far they've combined to go 9-4 with a 2.31 ERA and a 115/34 K/BB ratio in 101 2/3 innings. The best prospect is left-hander D.L. Hall, a 2017 first-rounder with a low-90s fastball and a wipeout curveball.

The best performer so far is another lefty drafted last year, supplemental second-rounder Zac Lowther, whose fastball plays well above its 87-93 mph velocity thanks to extension, life and command. He has given up just seven baserunners and one run while striking out 31 in 16 innings.

The Shorebirds also have two more 2017 draftees in third-round right-hander Michael Baumann, who can hit 97 mph with his fastball and flash a plus slider, and 26th-round left-hander Cameron Bishop (signed for a well-over-slot $605,000), who can reach 95 mph. The other two members of the rotation are 2016 picks: second-round righty Matthias Dietz, who throws the hardest of all of them with a mid-90s fastball that peaks at 98, and fourth-round righty Brenan Hanifee, whose heavy sinker generates a lot of ground balls.

Tweet from @clayphillips27: How many future #VandyBoys will sign @MLB contracts instead of coming to school 👀🤷���������������������

At this point, before the Draft and before anyone turns pro, Vanderbilt has the best recruiting class in college baseball. MLB Pipeline will release its updated and expanded Draft Top 100 Prospects list in the very near future, and it's loaded with potential Commodores.

We've rated right-handers Kumar Rocker, Ethan Hankins, left-hander Ryan Weathers and catcher Will Banfield as first-round talents; shortstop Xavier Edwards as a supplemental first-rounder; lefty Brett Hansen and righty Austin Becker as second-rounders; and third baseman Nick Northcut and outfielder Ryder Green as third-rounders. While it's too early to pinpoint asking prices, most of them won't make it to Nashville. But Vanderbilt does a great job of holding onto recruits, so a couple of these guys will probably become Commodores.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.