Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rainblast Pre Game

The Bucs signed sixth round pick Robbie Grossman, a Texas high school OF'er. He's 18, 6-1, 190 pounds. He won the Josh Beckett Award for the Houston area's top player in 2008 as a senior at Cypress-Fairbanks HS after he hit 11 home runs.

Grossman was a member of USA Baseball's junior team in 2007, batting .450 at the Pan-Am Junior Championships and earning a spot on the all Pan-Am team.

Grossman's bonus is for $1 million, plus money for a college education. That makes the switch-hitter the most costly Pirate draftee so far and gives him signing money equal to a late first-round pick.

He lasted until the sixth round because he was considered next to impossible to sign, with a scholarship to Texas already in hand. The Pirate suits considered him the equivalent of a second rounder. He'll report to Bradenton in the GCL.

> Dejan Kovacevic wrote that 5th rounder LHP Justin Wilson signed exactly at slot value, for a bonus of $195,000.

> The much-anticipated Adam and Andy LaRoche debut is finally expected to take place tonight, weather permitting, when the Pirates wrap up a three-game series against the Reds at PNC Park. It'll be the first time they've ever played on the same team.

> State College Spikes' infielders Chase d'Arnaud and Jeremy Farrell were named to the New York-Penn League All-Stars. The game will be played Tuesday in Troy, N.Y.

d’Arnaud is hitting .302 for the Spikes in 23 games. The shortstop has collected six doubles, four triples and 10 RBI. 3B Farrell, who was voted in at 1B, is also hitting .302 with six doubles. In 31 games, Farrell has 16 RBI and two triples.

> Pittsburgh's suits really were working the phones at the trade deadline, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark:
Speaking of Pirates deals that almost happened, it's incredible how many teams thought they were on the verge of some kind of pre-deadline trade with Pittsburgh that fell through when the Jason Bay/Ramirez extravaganza came together.

Indications are that, with only minutes left until the deadline, the Rays still thought they were in line to trade for Bay, the Rockies apparently thought they had a shot to reel in Ian Snell, the Marlins believed they'd be the third team in the Manny/Bay deal, and the Phillies thought that the Grabow trade was very much alive.

Then the Pirates opted to focus all their last-minute energies on that Boston/L.A. blockbuster. So the only thing those other clubs got out of it was fewer rollover minutes on their cell phone bills in August.

In the hours after the trading deadline, we were critical of the Pirates for dealing three high-profile players without getting back a single can't-miss, centerpiece prospect back. But in the days since, we've been convinced by executives of several teams that the Pirates actually did better in their two big deals than we originally gave them credit for.

"There are no stars in there, but they need that depth of talent," an official of one club said. "They need numbers. And they accomplished that."

"I think they're on the right track," one NL scout said. "At least they decided they couldn't keep doing the same thing they've been doing and took some chances."

One NL executive even defended them on the widely hammered Xavier Nady-Damaso Marte deal, saying: "If they got three major league pitchers in that deal, and I think they did, then great for them. And all three guys (Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf and Daniel McCutchen) are either ready or close. So that's a good deal, not a bad deal."

Nevertheless, when asked to name the best player of the eight this team received in those trades, the baseball men we spoke with had a tough time finding a clear-cut Pirates acquisition they'd buy stock in. The name we heard most: 21-year-old right-hander Bryan Morris (3.15 ERA in low Class A). "If he stays healthy, he's definitely the best talent in that group," one GM said.

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