Dear (Insert MLB Team Here),
With the 2012 draft less than ten months away, I am contacting you in advance to announce my intentions to attend college. I do not intend to sign if I am drafted by the (Team Nickname). I am going to honor my commitment to attend school. I do not wish to be drafted, and it is my request that you honor those wishes and pass on me in the 2012 draft.
Granted, I have already been to college, and through that education I learned five things that are relevant to my life now:
1. How to set up a Limited Liability Company.
2. How to create a P&L sheet.
3. Beer before liquor, never sicker.
4. The dining hall dinner on parents weekend sucks.
5. The location of the sniper rifle in Halo.
I realize that the above knowledge probably isn’t worth the tens of thousands of dollars in debt that college runs. However, I wouldn’t turn this down even if you offered me $10 M dollars. I once again ask that you honor my wishes and pass on me in the 2012 draft.
After the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Gerrit Cole AND Josh Bell, you can’t fault me for getting that template ready. It worked so well for Josh Bell that he ended up getting $5 M, and that was seen as a reasonable amount for a second round pick, selected 62nd overall. The $5 M bonus is the biggest in draft history, outside of the first round. It’s the fourth biggest bonus in Pirates’ history. Yet there was surprise that Bell signed, even though he was getting $5 M out of high school.
In short, I think we’re going to see the “letter to 30 teams” approach again in the future.
I’m not going to sit here and say that I knew Josh Bell was going to sign. However, from day one, I never bought in to the idea that he was an impossible sign, or that he was true with his intentions to go to school no matter the price. I said it before he was drafted. I said it after he was drafted. I said it when he went to summer school. I said it when sources had him at 60% to sign. I said it when sources had him at 0-30% to sign. This wasn’t based off of any inside information. It was just looking at the situation and thinking logically, rather than taking the “Don’t draft me” at face value.
As we got close to the deadline, I moved from “just looking at the situation logically” to “hearing a lot of positive things about the Bell negotiations”. In my preview, I mentioned that I was cautiously optimistic. As I mentioned, that was based on the fact that things were quiet with the middle round picks. The Pirates hadn’t moved on, which was a good sign, as they were still at the table with Bell.
As the deadline drew closer, I heard from sources that the Pirates hadn’t been in contact with their middle round picks. 11th round pick Joel Bennett was going to school. 15th round pick Kody Watts, who was in Pittsburgh, and who took a physical, wasn’t signing. 16th round pick Eric Skoglund, who wanted 2nd round money and was about $250 K apart from the Pirates, wasn’t signing. All three wanted to sign at the right price, but all three were obviously backup plans to Bell. Some of the middle round picks were watching the clock tick by, waiting to see if the talks with Josh Bell broke down. With 30 minutes to go, the Pirates were still talking to Bell. Then, shortly after the deadline, it was announced that they reached a deal with him for $5 M.
All this talk about Bell ignores the fact that the Pirates also signed first overall pick Gerrit Cole. That’s not news worthy. We knew Cole would sign. The signing bonus was a surprise. Cole ended up receiving an $8 M minor league deal. It was expected that he would receive eight figures and a major league deal. The $8 M bonus is a new draft record, breaking the previous high set by Stephen Strasburg, who received a $7.5 M bonus as part of a major league deal. Cole’s amount could increase to more than $9 M if he reaches the majors by 2013, according to Jenifer Langosch.
Cole has the potential to be a star pitcher in the majors. He has a plus fastball, with the ability to hit 98 MPH in the 9th inning after 100 pitches. He’s got an upper 80s slider and an upper 80s changeup, both graded as plus pitches. He also throws a lower 90s two seam fastball. With three plus pitches, he potentially has one of the best arsenals in the game. He’s a guy who could move quickly to the majors, and will probably arrive by June 2013.
By signing Cole and Bell, plus 9th rounder Clay Holmes earlier today, the Pirates ended up spending over $17 M in the draft, setting a new MLB record. The $17 M is $5 M more than the previous record, set in 2010 by the Washington Nationals, and brings the four year spending by the Pirates to over $47 M.
Overall, the Pirates signed 24 players from the 2011 draft. Here is a quick rundown of the players they signed. Click the names to go to their player pages.
The 2011 Signings
Gerrit Cole, RHP, 1st Round - Cole has the same upside as Jameson Taillon: a major league ace. He’s also further along that Taillon, and could move through the system quickly, arriving as early as June 2013.
Josh Bell, RF, 2nd Round - Wondering why there was so much hype on Bell? He’s a switch hitter who projects to have plus power from each side of the plate. Defensively, he profiles better as a left fielder, due to the lack of an arm for right field, and a lack of range for center field. However, PNC Park’s left field, plus all of the speedy outfield prospects the Pirates have, could put him in right field.
Alex Dickerson, 1B, 3rd Round - His value is based on his offense, where he hits for plus power to all fields. Dickerson is arguably the top first base prospect in the system, and has a shot at making AA by the end of 2012 with a strong year.
Colten Brewer, RHP, 4th Round - Brewer signed for slot, but has been hurt and hasn’t made his debut. The 6′ 4″, 200 pound right hander throws in the 87-91 range, touching 93 with a sinking fastball.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, 5th Round - Glasnow is one of the most underrated prep pitchers the Pirates signed. He’s 6′ 7″, 200 pounds, and has touched 93 MPH. He shot up in height in high school, growing eight inches after his freshman year. He could add velocity as he fills out his tall frame. He signed for $600 K, which was more than $400 K over-slot.
Dan Gamache, 3B, 6th Round - Gamache is more of a defensive minded infielder. He’s played second base a bit for the Pirates, where he is a better fit due to his lack of a bat and strong defense.
Jake Burnette, RHP, 7th Round - Burnett is another highly projectable right hander, at 6′ 5″, 185 pounds. He was throwing in the 90-91 MPH range throughout the summer, touching 93. He ended up signing for $550 K, which was about $400 K over the recommended price for a 7th rounder.
Jason Creasy, RHP, 8th Round - Creasy is another projectable right hander, at 6′ 4″, 185 pounds. So far in his pro debut he has a 1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings, with one earned run on seven hits and three walks, along with three strikeouts in the GCL.
Clay Holmes, RHP, 9th Round - Holmes is arguably the best pitching prospect in the draft outside of Cole. He throws 90-93 MPH, and could add some velocity, although he doesn’t have much projectability with his 6′ 5″, 230 pound frame. He’s far from a completed project, with an erratic slider and a high effort delivery. Holmes received $1.2 M, which is the same amount the Pirates gave 2009 6th round pick Zack Von Rosenberg.
Taylor Lewis, CF, 10th Round - Lewis is a speedy center fielder who hasn’t had the best results in State College, with a .177 average in 147 at-bats. I clocked him at 3.9 seconds from home to first base, which is Andrew McCutchen fast.
Candon Myles, CF, 12th Round - Speaking of fast, Myles is a prospect built on speed. He stole 45 bases in high school last year, and has the motto that if he gets on first base, he already has third base.
Josh Poytress, LHP, 18th Round - Poytress has been hit around a bit after signing out of college, but the left hander has put up strong secondary ratios. The left hander can touch 92 MPH with his fastball.
Alex Fuselier, CF, 21st Round - Fuselier hasn’t seen the best numbers in his pro debut, with a .196 average in 143 at-bats. He’s a good athlete with a good arm, and had a strong junior year at the plate for Louisiana-Lafayette.
Michael Jefferson, LHP, 22nd Round - Jefferson has made some starts, but long term the left hander’s best chance to make it will probably be out of the bullpen. He has a 90-91 MPH fastball and a good curveball, but he will end up falling behind a lot of the other pitching prospects at the lower levels.
Jordan Cooper, RHP, 23rd Round - The Pirates originally drafted Cooper in 2009, only to see him sign with Kentucky. He signed this time around, and after some struggles, has put up a few strong outings in a row. He struggled with consistency in Kentucky, so I wouldn’t base anything off of a few outings in the pros. He’s one of my sleepers in the middle rounds.
Brian Sharp, SS, 24th Round - After a brief stint with State College, Sharp has retired.
Ryan Hornback, C, 27th Round - Hornback has been playing in the GCL, and seems more like an organizational catcher at the lower levels, although he’s received the most playing time on the team at the position.
Kirk Singer, SS, 29th Round - Singer has also struggled at the plate at State College. On the field he has the range to cover shortstop, but his throwing arm is probably better suited for second base.
Matt Benedict, RHP, 30th Round - Benedict has been pitching out of the State College rotation with some mixed results. Like Mike Jefferson, Benedict profiles more as a reliever and will fall behind some of the top pitchers next year. I’d expect to see him in a multi-innings role.
Derek Trent, C, 31st Round - Trent has received the second most playing time behind the plate in State College, although he profiles more as an organizational guy. He showed good hitting skills in college, but that hasn’t translated to the pros yet.
David Jagoditsh, RHP, 32nd Round - Jagoditsh is currently on the minor league disabled list, but was working in the 93-95 MPH range in short outings early in the season.
Chris Lashmet, 3B, 33rd Round - Lashmet started hitting well in State College, but has slumped recently. He’s also more of an organizational player.
Rodarrick Jones, LF, 37th Round - Jones is one of the few late round picks that doesn’t profile more as an organizational guy. He’s very athletic with good speed. He’s more of a project, with a lot of tools and some holes in his swing, but he’s an athlete with some upside.
Jonathan Schwind, C, 41st Round - The Pirates surprisingly switched Schwind to catcher, after he was a utility infielder in college. He’s only played 13 games behind the plate so far, but has been hitting well, with a .366 average in 93 GCL at-bats. Hitting well in the Gulf Coast League is expected for a guy out of college.
Top Pirates Draft Bonuses
A quick update on the top 5 Pittsburgh Pirates’ draft bonuses of all time:
1. Gerrit Cole, RHP, 1st Round, 2011: $8,000,000
2. Jameson Taillon, RHP, 1st Round, 2010: $6,500,000
3. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, 1st Round, 2008: $6,000,000
4. Josh Bell, RF, 2nd Round, 2011: $5,000,000
5. Bryan Bullington, RHP, 1st Round, 2002: $4,000,000
Other Draft Coverage
-The full roundup on the signings and the spending: The Draft Pick Signing Tracker
-Wondering how a minor league contract works? Through the magic of copying last year’s article and replacing Jameson Taillon’s name with Gerrit Cole, I give you the Minor League Contract FAQs.
-Tomorrow we will have our updated top 10 prospects. Check back for that.
-At Bucs Dugout, Charlie has his top 30 prospects with Cole and Bell included.
-At WHYGAVS, Pat points out that this is what the Pirates are supposed to be doing.
-At Raise the Jolly Roger, Brian calls the signings a huge win.
-At Rumbunter, Tom breaks down the deals, and points out at how the Pirates were aggressive with their picks.