Suddenly the draft looks great

I don’t think you can be mad over the decision to take Tony Sanchez in the first round after seeing what we saw in day two. I agree that I don’t think Sanchez is the fourth best player in the draft, but consider this:

1. There weren’t many hitters worthy of a top pick.
2. The only guys who were worthy of a top pick were pitchers, and most of them were asking for double or triple what we’ll give Sanchez.
3. In 1995-2005 there were 253 pitchers taken in the first round. 56.9% pitched in the majors. Only 30% pitched more than 100 innings in the majors (or are on pace to pitch more than 100 innings).

The argument against Sanchez is that we should have gone for a top pitcher like Tyler Matzek. We’ve seen first hand that taking a highly ranked high school pitcher is no guarantee (Bobby Bradley) and the same goes for a highly ranked college pitcher (Bryan Bullington). Sanchez seems like a safe pick, projecting as Yadier Molina (without the dicketry) at best, and Kelly Shoppach at worst. The problem is, what do you do about pitchers?

Obviously if you’re Neal Huntington, you take them in almost every single round of the draft after the first.

The Pirates selected 17 pitchers in their 27 day two selections. Nine of those pitchers were high school arms. Four of those pitchers (Zack Von Rosenberg, Trent Stevenson, Billy Cain, and Michael Heller) rank in the Baseball America top 200. There are also several other high school arms with some very impressive skills that I will detail below.

So this raises a question. Would you spend $7 M on a top arm like Tyler Matzek, knowing there’s a 56.9% success rate of reaching the majors, and only a 30% success rate of pitching over 100 innings? Or would you play it safe and go with Tony Sanchez, then load up on guys who fell in the draft due to signability issues? I’m going to take a guess that Von Rosenberg, Stevenson, Cain, and Heller combined will cost the same, or less, than guys like Jacob Turner, Matzek, and Matthew Purke.

So if this is the strategy Neal Huntington had in mind when he selected Tony Sanchez (and made some signability picks in the second and third rounds), then I’m all for it. When you think about it, this is no different than last year. We just made a big splash in the first round last year with Alvarez.

There was no Alvarez this year, which means we have more money to spend trying to break the commitments of those signability players in the later rounds (which might be needed, since Neal said that 21/31 picks are requesting at least six figures). If Neal does spend the savings from Sanchez in the later rounds, and keeps spending on par with last year, he will end up with more than we got last year with Grossman, Freeman, and Miller, and this draft will be a big success.

If we also end up signing Miguel Angel Sano in the process, I don’t think I’ll doubt Neal again. OK, maybe I’d need to see a winner in the majors first, but let’s just say I like the turnaround today (or the revelation of the plan).

Now, here are the day two picks, including some info on each player:

Round 4, Pick 115: Zackry Dodson, LHP, High School

Dodson played outfield and pitched in high school, but was taken as a pitcher. As a hitter he had a .465 average with 11 homers in 101 at-bats. As a pitcher he posted a 1.20 ERA and a 129:36 K/BB ratio in 64.1 IP. With that K/BB ratio I like him as a pitcher.

Round 5, Pick 145: Nathaniel Baker, LHP, Mississippi

Baker was a junior at Mississippi, posting a 3.63 ERA and a 69:16 K/BB ratio in 67 IP. That’s improvement over his 4.89 ERA and 41:19 K/BB ratio in 53.1 IP last year. Baker’s fastball can reportedly reach 94 MPH.

Round 6, Pick 175: Zachary Von Rosenberg, RHP, High School

Von Rosenburg was ranked 41st overall by Baseball America. He dominated high school this year with a 0.60 ERA, and a 141:18 K/BB ratio in 93 IP. ZVR (that’s what I’m calling him) has three solid pitches: 88-91 MPH fastball with good life, a curveball with depth, and a deceiving changeup. He is 6’5″, 205 pounds, and should increase his velocity, especially when he commits to being a pitcher (played SS on his days off). Has a scholarship to LSU and was expected to turn that down if he was taken in the first two rounds. My guess is he will cost second round money.

Round 7, Pick 205: Trent Stevenson, RHP, High School

Stevenson was ranked 197 by Baseball America. Last year he had a 3.91 ERA and a 59:13 K/BB ratio in 48 IP. He’s 6’6″ and 165 pounds with plenty of room to grow. Throws 88-91 MPH right now, touching 93. He has committed to Arizona.

Round 8, Pick 235: Billy Cain, LHP, High School

Cain was ranked 109 by Baseball America. He is 6’3″, 225 pounds, throws in the low 90s, and touches 94. He posted a 2.17 ERA and a 118:18 K/BB ratio in 58 IP this year. He reportedly wants a seven figure bonus. He has committed to Texas as a two way player. He is also a power hitting first baseman.

Round 9, Pick 265: Brock Holt, 2B, Rice

Holt broke a string of five pitchers in a row. He is 5’10”, 165 pounds, and had a solid season with Rice. He hit for a .348/.425/.560 line with 12 homers in 250 ABs. He had eight errors in 315 chances for a .975 fielding percentage. Holt is a junior at Rice this year.

Round 10, Pick 295: Joseph Schoenfeld, C, High School

It took me awhile to find info on Schoenfeld, and the stats I have aren’t complete, but here goes. He’s 6’2″, 187 pounds, and was the offensive MVP of his high school team this year. He had a .385/.495/.641 line with three homers in 78 at-bats in the games I found.

Round 11, Pick 325: Aaron Baker, 1B, Oklahoma

Baker hit for a .284/.417/.564 line with 15 homers in 225 at bats this season. He had a 50/40 K/BB ratio. He’s 6’2″, 220 pounds. This is the second year in a row the Pirates have taken a 1B in the 11th round (Calvin Anderson last year). It seems Neal doesn’t like taking first basemen earlier.

Round 12, Pick 355: Jeffrey Inman, RHP, Stanford

Inman was regarded as one of the top juniors in college ball coming in to the year, coming off a year where he posted a 4.27 ERA and a 45:29 K/BB ratio in 71.2 IP. This year he put up a 6.11 ERA and a 33:19 K/BB ratio in 53 IP. He is 6’3″, 205 pounds who normally throws 94-96 MPH. He suffered from shoulder tendonitis, which probably kept him from day one.

Round 13, Pick 385: Walker Gourley, SS, High School

Gourley is 6’0″, 180 pounds and has a commitment to East Carolina. He hit .289 as a rookie in high school. As a sophomore he led his team in runs (27) and steals (15), with a .314 average and a .465 OBP. He repeated that success as a junior, leading in runs (39) and steals (20) with eight homers and a .407 average, plus a .562 OBP. He has a short swing and plus arm strength. Lacks speed to be a middle infielder in the pros, and could end up elsewhere, maybe 3B.

Round 14, Pick 415: Marcos Reyna, RHP, Bakersfield College

Reyna is a 6’2″, 185 pound right hander. He posted a 4.12 ERA and an 83:50 K/BB ratio in 78.2 innings this year. Older scouting reports have him throwing in the high 80s with his fastball, and a mid 60s curveball.

Round 15, Pick 445: Peter Bako, C, Connors St. College

Bako hit .382 with three homers in 131 at-bats this year. In a Q&A for the Oshawa Dodgers, he said that if he could be granted two wishes, it would be to be a pro baseball player, and that his family would be taken care of.

Round 16, Pick 475: Matthew Den Dekker, CF, Florida

This was one of my favorite picks of the day. Den Dekker is a center fielder for the University of Florida, ranked 94 by Baseball America. His 2009 stats are .296/.409/.412 with five homers 17 steals, and a 49:34 K/BB ratio in 226 ABs. He also pitches, which gives him a strong arm for center field. He has raw power and is 6’1″, 205 pounds. He also has the bat speed and strength to drive the ball consistently. A plus runner and excellent base stealer. He was supposed to be a possible sandwich round pick. Could be this year’s Robbie Grossman, only 10 rounds later.

Round 17, Pick 505: Jordan Cooper, RHP, High School

Cooper is 6’2″, 195 pounds, and has committed to Kentucky. According to Rivals he was the 39th best high school recruit. Inconsistent with his speed. Sometimes it was 92-93 MPH, hitting 94, and other times it was 86-88. Throws an inconsistent slurve that is a good, hard breaker when on. Was expected to go 6th to 8th round based on talent.

Round 18, Pick 535: Ryan Beckman, RHP, Grayson County College

Beckman is a relief pitcher, standing at 6’4″, 185 pounds. He had a 6.07 ERA and a 28:16 K/BB ratio in 29.2 innings this year.

Round 19, Pick 565: Joshua Urban, RHP, High School

Urban has a nice size at 6’4″, 215 pounds. He is committed to Texas, where he could become a premium player after three years. He had an 0.91 ERA and a 65:2 K/BB ratio in 46 IP this year. He also hit .487/.533/.671 in 76 at-bats. He threw 91-93 MPH early in the year, but was throwing 86-89 most of the year. His size could allow him to throw for more velocity.

Round 20, Pick 595: Sam Spangler, LHP, Hawaii

Spangler is another reliever at 6’2″, 195 pounds. He had a 4.17 ERA and a 48:14 K/BB ratio in 45.1 IP this year, with four saves.

Round 21, Pick 625: Phillip Irwin, RHP, Mississippi

I really like the pick of Irwin, which gives us two of Mississippi’s top three starters this year (maybe we can get the top guy next year, Drew Pomeranz, who is a 6’5″, 231 pound lefty that posted a 124:37 K/BB ratio in 95.1 IP this year). Irwin is 6’3″, 215 pounds, has three average pitches and keeps the ball in the park, which is what the Pirates seem to favor. He’s not dominant, but looked effective, with a 3.84 ERA and a 73:20 K/BB ratio in 86.2 IP. I don’t think he’d be hard to sign, especially if we also signed Baker.

Round 22, Pick 655: Carmine Giardina, LHP, University of Tampa

Giardina made eight starts, but also pitched nine games in relief. He had a 6.15 ERA and a 54:33 K/BB ratio in 45.1 IP. He’s 6’3″, 218 pounds.

Round 23, Pick 685: Jose Hernandez, LF, University Texas San Antonio

Another Jose Hernandez. This one seems much better, and looks like a steal for this round. He posted a .360/.473/.739 line with 17 homers in 211 at bats. That’s great power, but the big question is whether it can translate to the pros with wooden bats. He has a decent K/BB ratio at 40:37, which shows good control at the plate. He’s a junior, so he could return for his senior year at Texas-SA.

Round 24, Pick 715: Jason Erickson, RHP, Washington

Erickson is 6’1″, 195 pounds. He posted a 4.34 ERA with a 55:18 K/BB ratio in 74.2 IP. He made 11 starts, pitching out of the bullpen in three other games. He was a 45th round pick out of high school. Doesn’t have the best stuff, but throws strikes.

Round 25, Pick 745: Aaron LaFountaine, OF, High School

LaFountaine hit for a .388/.480/.494 line with one homer and 25 steals in 85 ABs. He’s 6’0″, and 165 pounds, and could add muscle to his frame, making him a solid player. This year’s Wes Freeman?

Round 26, Pick 775: Matthew Dermody, LHP, High School

I couldn’t find stats for Dermody this year but he was excellent in 2008 with a 0.78 ERA and a 135:15 K/BB ratio in 63 IP. He’s a hard throwing pitcher and 6’5″ in height. I can only imagine his senior year was just as good. He has committed to Iowa.

Round 27, Pick 805: Wes Luquette, C, High School

Luquette is a two sport star. He’s a good quarterback, but has committed to LSU for baseball, although he might still play football. I could only find football stats for him, although BA had him as the 12th best prospect out of Louisiana.

Round 28, Pick 835: Kyle Hooper, RHP, High School

Hooper is 6’4″ and 195 pounds. He posted a 3.48 ERA and a 62:25 K/BB ratio in 66.1 IP with nine homers allowed. He was ranked the 86th best prospect in California by BA.

Round 29, Pick 865: Michael Heller, RHP, High School

Heller was a great risk to take here. He was ranked 129 by Baseball America, and fell mostly due to a commitment to Florida. He would be a two way player in college, as he plays shortstop and obviously pitches. He projects more as a pitcher in the pros. Some reports had him hitting 94-95 MPH, touching 97 early in games. He had a 2.46 ERA and a 77:35 K/BB ratio in 54 IP this year, plus a .384/.470/.686 line at the plate with six homers in 86 AB. I saw one site where he threw a 126 pitch complete game, which is cause for a little concern. It might take top three round money to get him signed. He seems like a project, with work needed on his secondary pitches. Maybe this year’s Quinton Miller?

Round 30, Pick 895: Ty Summerlin, SS, SE Louisiana University

Summerlin is 5’10”, 170 pounds. He hit for a .327/.384/.476 line this year with 4 homers and 12 steals in 254 at-bats.

Check out these other draft reviews:

-John Perrotto at Pirates Report
-North Side Notch
-Bucco Ball has links to each player’s profile and stats
-Bucs Dugout
-Raise the Jolly Roger

More to come…I’ll update the rest of the site tomorrow.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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