Thursday, June 5, 2014

Next...Connor Joe

With their #39 sandwich pick from the Marlins for Bryan Morris, the Bucs pulled another surprise and selected C/1B Connor Joe.

Like Cole Tucker, Baseball America had the six foot, 205 pound 21 year old simmering on the back burner, ranked as #102 on their draft board. He was considered a high second-rounder in a couple of publications, so he's seemingly not so far a reach in this round, although Jacob Greenwood, an infielder that could have helped solidify the Pirate depth chart, was bypassed and taken two picks later by the Brewers.

Joe was San Diego's first baseman as a sophomore in 2013, but this year he made the transition to catcher. The changeover began last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he made All-Star. He wasn't quite a star behind the dish for the Toreros, throwing out just 3-of-23 base stealers.

But he was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year; his glove may be suspect at this point, but his bat plays. Joe batted .367 with 21 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and led the WCC in RBI with 51. He was also in the running for both the Golden Spike and Johnny Bench Awards.

He's more of a gapper than a long ball threat, and the righty shows great discipline at the plate. Joe drew more walks (18) than whiffs (11) last season. The Pirates will try to keep him behind the dish until he proves himself one way or another, and he can always return to first if that doesn't work out.

This pick was based solely on Joe's stick, which is pretty strong for a catcher. But he has to prove he can stick at the position. Physically and power-wise, he's much better suited to play behind the plate than at first base. Of course, the Pirates list him as an OF/1B, so we'll see where they intend to use him. The 39th selection is worth $1,457,600, and again, the Pirates may be looking for some loose change to spread out in later rounds.

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