Thursday, June 15, 2017

Draft Board

The Pirates got their wish list - stocked up on some young arms, grabbed a couple of outfielders and catchers to shore up the system and then grabbed more arms.

It was all prepsters in the first round (not intentionally, per the Bucs, just the way their board fell) which often makes for some difficult signings. They took a couple of pitchers - Shane Baz is supposed to be all that - another young pitcher and two youngsters with bat skills and positional questions.

Shane Baz (photo via Baseball America)
  • First Round (#12) Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS, Texas: The last time the Pirates used their first pick on a high school pitcher was when they selected Jameson Taillon second overall in 2010, and that worked out OK. 17-year-old Shane offers a mid-nineties heater, cutter/slider & curve while working on a changeup and is considered a high-ceiling guy. High school kids come with a risk, but Shane seems like a popular choice by the scouts at this position. He's reported to have agreed to a deal. (slot - $4,032,000)

  • Non-Signing Comp Pick (#42) Steven Jennings, RHP, DeKalb HS, Tennessee: This slot was a compensatory selection the Pirates got after they couldn't sign LHP Nick Lodolo last year, and the Bucs spent it on another prep arm. Jennings, a 6'2" HS-QB, throws in the low-nineties with a slider and in-progress curve. He's recovered from an ACL tear suffered early during football season and is an Ole Miss commit. He's not a stretch, having rehabbed his way back into the BA Top 50 Prospects list by pitching this year with a knee brace. (slot - $1,635,500)

  • Second Round (#50) Calvin Mitchell, OF, Rancho Bernardo HS, California: He comes from a good pedigree - RBHS is the same school Trevor Williams, Rangers lefty Cole Hamels and former Texas OF'er Hank Blalock attended. The Californian is a strong lefty stick with just average defensive chops and speed, so he looks like a LF/1B kinda guy. Cal didn't have the best of senior seasons - he started to get pull-happy - and dropped from first-round status to #79 per MLB Pipeline. He's a San Diego commit. (slot - $1,357,300)

  • Competitive Comp Pick (#72) Conner Uselton, OF, Southmoore HS, Oklahoma: Uselton is a potential mid-lineup bat who dropped a little bit into the Pirates lap as MLB Pipeline had him as the draft's #46 prospect. He's in CF now but projects as a corner. Conner is 19 and committed to Oklahoma State. The age could make him a poser to sign; he'll be draft-eligible again when he's 21 as a sophomore. (slot - $804,000)
The Pirates dipped into the college well on Day Two of the MLB Draft, using seven of their eight picks on college players of which several have the look of budget babies. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise after the Pirates used all four of their Day One picks on high school players, and may need to free up some slot money to sign those guys.

Dylan Busby (photo Travis Register/247 Sports)

Third Round (#88) Dylan Busby, 3B, Florida State: The kid is a basher; his 14 home runs led the Seminoles this year. The debate is where he'll end up; some believe he can stick at the hot corner while others see a 1B/OF future. His bat is considered strong enough to play in any of those spots. In any case, he is versatile even if in non-premium positions and the Pirates like that trait (see David Freese). Busby also has some swing-and-miss issues (he averages a whiff per game), not uncommon for big boppers. He is ranked as Baseball America’s 129th draft prospect while MLB Pipeline has at 185th, so the Bucs may be looking to add a bat and maybe shave a couple of slot bucks off his deal to allocate elsewhere. (slot - $626,600)

Fourth Round (#118) Jason Delay, C, Vanderbilt: Delay is a senior known for strong defense. He did hit .309 with a .381 OBP with no notable power, but his glove work at a spot the Pirates where aren't very deep at and the ability to get on base makes him a good match for the organization. The senior was drafted in the 11th round by the San Francisco Giants in 2016 but passed and is Baseball America’s #256 prospect, so he won't have much contract leverage. (slot - $450,500)

Fifth Round (#148) Deon Stafford, C, St. Joseph’s: Deon has some muscle, but his junior campaign didn't match a sophomore year that put him on the map. Scouts are all over the board with him - Baseball America has him as the 131st rated prospect in the draft. while MLB Pipeline doesn't list him in its Top 200. Another issue is whether or not he not stays behind the plate; he's OK as a receiver but his arm is considered below par. But the Pirates need to restock the organization at backstop and his hit tool is worth a dice roll if he can hold onto that position. (slot - $336,500)

Sixth Round (#178) Cody Bolton, RHP, Tracy HS, California:  Right now he features a low-nineties heater and a slider, so he's nowhere near a finished product although he is projectionable. He's not highly rated now - Baseball America ranks him at #414, didn't make MLB Pipeline’s top 200 list and he has a commit to Michigan. But Bolton was projected in the mocks to go in rounds 4-6, so he isn’t an overdraft. The Pirates would like to sign him on the cheap, and it's been reported that he has signed a deal. (slot - $255,900)

Seventh Round (#208) Jared Oliva, CF, Arizona: Oliva is a 20-year-old redshirt junior who graduates this spring, so signing shouldn't be an issue. He's a center fielder who's speedy and athletic. At the dish, he's developed dependable gap power with scouts projecting that he'll mature into more of a power guy. His outfield play if up-and-down; he makes the right moves sometimes and looks like he's lost on other occasions, the Gregory Polanco complex. He profiles as a fourth OF type. (slot - $200,000)

Eighth Round (#238) Blake Weiman, LHP, Kansas: Long, tall Weiman (6'5") is a control guy with a 90-ish fastball. The junior was projected as a reliever (and will remain one per projections) but he's put on 40 pounds and may now have the heft to hang in a pro rotation. Baseball America ranks him #370 on their prospect list, so he's a cash cow at this round. (slot - $160,700)

Ninth Round (#268) Bligh Madris, OF, Colorado Mesa U: The 21-year-old lefty slashed .422/.513/.757 with 17 home runs, more walks than whiffs and 14 swipes in 18 attempts, a big fish but in a small pond. He's not BA’s top 500 list, so he's another econo-player chosen on day two. (slot - $142,700)

10th Round (#298) Beau Sulser, RHP, Dartmouth: Sulser, a California native, is a fifth-year senior who will likely get a lowball bonus. He put up some super numbers at Dartmouth after bouncing back from 2015 TJ surgery and was the top "Senior Statistical Sleeper" per Minor League Ball. (slot - $134,200)

On the third day, guys get a max bonus of $125,000; anything over that amount is charged against the club's pool money. There's usually a sprinkling of high-school overslot hopefuls and a whole lot of college kids that profile mainly as organizational filler with the occasional overachiever. Some notables:

Hunter Stratton (photo Bristol Herald)
  • Hunter Stratton, RHP, 16th round: The Walters State CC (Tennessee) pitcher misses bats and threw back-to-back no-hitters. The sophomore is a Western Carolina commit, but has reportedly signed a deal with the Bucs.
  • Jacob Webb, RHP, 19th round: The Pittsburg (Kansas) HS pitcher is a fastball (hi-nineties) and curve tosser with a commit to Kansas State. He reportedly has signed with the Bucs.
  • Nick Valaika, SS, 24th round: He got the bloodlines - his brothers Chris (Reds), Matt (Reds system), and Pat (Rockies) were all drafted into pro ball. The UCLA Bruin went to Hart HS, which produced Buccos Tyler Glasnow and Bob Walk. His season was cut short with a hand injury.
  • Mike Gretler, 3B, 39th round: Gretler slashed .304/.364/.459 for Oregon State as a junior, doesn't whiff much and has gap power.

Pool Money Notes: The Pirates’ bonus pool is $10,135,900 is the seventh-highest this year and represents how much they can spend without penalty on their Top Ten picks (guys that don't sign have their slot, or recommended signing amount, removed from the pool total). Teams can go 5% over their pool amount and just get slapped with a hefty fine (as the Pirates have done in the past) but if the club crosses the 5% limit, the league starts to take away future draft picks.
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