Pirates Notebook: The draft dust has settled

Earlier today I posted some numbers on the draft, a day after the draft pick signing deadline. Now for some quick hit analysis on the draft, including some information that has come out today.

Total Spending

Jennifer Langosch reports that the Pirates spent $8.919 M in the draft. In my Draft Pick Signing Tracker I had the Pirates spending $8,606,900 on the announced bonuses. The only bonuses announced after the tenth round were 12th round pick Jeffrey Inman ($425 K) and 34th round pick Zac Fuesser ($125 K).

That means that about $312 K went to Aaron Baker, John Gourley, Ryan Beckman, Phillip Irwin, Jose Hernandez, Jason Erickson, Ty Summerlin, Pat Irvine, Marc Baca, and Edward Fallon.

Blocked by the Commissioner’s Office?

According to that same article by Langosch, and a Twitter report by Rocco DeMaro, the Pirates had one draft pick back out of a verbal agreement, and missed out on two other draft picks signing due to MLB restricting the above-slot deals.

Langosch reports that those other two were ready to sign, but the delay in the signing process by Major League Baseball caused them to change their minds. No word on who any of these players were, but this is very disappointing news.

It’s hard to find words to describe the idiocracy of MLB. The draft is broken. They could fix it, or they could let it stay broken. Instead, they somehow find a way to make the system worse by blocking teams from signing their picks above slot in a system where above slot deals are inevitable.

It’s ironic that baseball doesn’t make a fuss about the Yankees spending $200 M a year, but they’ll do all they can to prevent teams from spending a few thousand extra on a draft pick.

Low Amount of Players Signed

The biggest complaint I’ve seen has been towards the low amount of picks signed by the Pirates. The Pirates signed 23 players, the second fewest in the majors. The theory I’ve seen is that the draft is a crap shoot, and the more players that are signed, the better chance a team has of getting a major league player from the draft.

In a vacuum I would buy this argument. The problem is, when you apply this argument to the Pirates draft, it shows a total misunderstanding of the current situation.

First of all, the Pirates didn’t really add many organizational filler players. Most of the guys they drafted were considered tough signs. They only drafted five college seniors, and all five were signed. Of the unsigned players, 14 were prep players, six were JuCo players, and eight were college juniors. Considering these players would cost a lot to sign, and the Pirates spent a lot on over-slot deals with their top 12 picks, it’s hard to imagine the Pirates being able to sign enough guys to get up the ranks in total players signed.

They did have a few relievers and potential organizational catchers that they could have signed, but that brings up point number two: they aren’t in a big need for organizational fillers. The Pirates added a lot of depth in the lower levels with their trades, including six A-ball pitchers in the Eric Hinske, Adam LaRoche, and Jack Wilson deals. They also have a wave of players who should be coming from the VSL and DSL next season in to Bradenton.

True, there were probably a lot of teams who signed around 30 draft picks. How many of those teams made as many trades as the Pirates this season? The Pirates traded eight players from their major league roster, and four minor league players (I’m counting Snell and Gorzelanny as minor league players, since that’s where they were playing). They added seven major league players, and 13 minor league players. So the Pirates added eight extra players to their system through trades, will probably add around ten players from the VSL next year, and a few from the DSL. Finally, let’s remember that this isn’t a Dave Littlefield farm system with 30 year old players in A ball. Most of the guys we have are coming back next year.

I think it’s ridiculous to judge a draft like the Pirates had on quantity. The Pirates could have added eight relievers like Dexter Bobo, Parker Bangs, and Sam Spangler. How much would that improve the draft class? The success of this draft lies in the top 13 rounds. The Pirates were obviously going for quality over quantity here, signing 18 players in the first 25 rounds, and only five players in the last 25 rounds. I don’t see how adding players in rounds 40-50 would improve a draft that will heavily be graded on guys taken in rounds 4-10.

Stephen Strasburg Signs

I never really bought the idea that Stephen Strasburg would go unsigned. I can’t imagine any player, especially a pitcher, passing up eight figures and risking a serious injury in the process. I also never bought the $25-50 M talk.

Every year Boras comes out with ridiculous claims. Every year people buy in to it, talking about what it will cost to sign a player, rather than focusing on what the player will likely settle for. Every year the top Boras guys end up signing for much less than the original asking price, making a good bonus look like a big discount.

It was fun imagining a scenario where the Pirates could land Strasburg or Bryce Harper next year. Hopefully they can land Harper, but that won’t happen with performances like we saw tonight. Speaking of which…

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through the 8/17 win. Here are the top performers for tonight’s win:

1. Ross Ohlendorf: .264 WPA
2. Andy LaRoche: .126
3. Lastings Milledge: .081
4. Delwyn Young: .079
5. Jesse Chavez: .065

Other Stuff

-The Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch for 8/18 is up.

-In case you missed it, check out my interview with Pirates prospect Chase d’Arnaud.

-I got some videos of Justin Wilson’s start on Sunday in Lynchburg. I’ll be uploading them tomorrow.

-I’m currently working on a new site design (yes, another one). This one will stick around longer. The main reason is due to the video ad. I want to put that on the sidebar, and can’t do that with this current template. The change should be made by the end of the week.

-Jim at North Side Notch looks at the Pirates being blocked by the MLB commissioner’s office in signing those draft picks.

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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 AccuScore.com, 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.

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 8/18/09

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