The 2011 MLB Draft Pick Signing deadline is Monday night at midnight, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates and every other team about three and a half days to get their remaining picks signed. We probably won’t hear anything definite on first round pick Gerrit Cole and second round pick Josh Bell until close to the midnight deadline. I think it’s almost a guarantee that Cole signs. The question is, how much will he sign for? As for Bell, that’s not a guarantee at all, although I’ve never really bought in to the idea that it’s a guarantee he won’t sign. There has been a report that the Pirates have offered him north of $4 M, and regardless of your feelings about that report, it’s going to at least take something in that ballpark to get him signed.
As for the unsigned picks in the top 20 rounds, I’ve been on the phones the last few days getting updates on each pick. I reported earlier today that 12th round pick Candon Myles has reached an agreement. Here are updates on the other nine unsigned picks from the top 20 rounds.
Clay Holmes, RHP, 9th Round - The Pirates have been busy pursuing Holmes, and were scheduled to meet with him and his family yesterday to discuss signing. From the reports I’ve received, it sounds like this is close, but nothing is official yet, and no guarantees.
Joel Bennett, CF, 11th Round - From the sound of things, negotiations have stalled a bit, although Joel is still open to signing. He has to report to Troy University on August 15th, and will be waiting until the last minute to make a decision. I’ve been told that he would like to turn pro and just focus on baseball for now, but that things have to make sense on the business side.
Brandon Platts, RHP, 13th Round - I haven’t heard much on Platts lately. We heard in July that he had an MRI on his right elbow, but that it didn’t reveal any tears.
Jordan Dunatov, OF, 14th Round - From what I’ve heard, the two sides talked earlier in the draft process, although nothing has come of that. The Pirates could shift their attention back to Dunatov if the Josh Bell negotiations don’t go as well as they hope.
Kody Watts, RHP, 15th Round - The Pirates increased their focus on Watts last weekend, although nothing is close yet from what I’ve heard. Watts is one of the higher ranked arms in the draft, ranking 139th overall by Baseball America. He throws 89-93 MPH, and can touch 95. He has a strong commitment to Portland, but if they can get him signed, they would be adding an impressive talent.
Eric Skoglund, LHP, 16th Round - It’s more likely that Skoglund will go to college. He is coming off a thumb injury, and his velocity is down during his recovery, hitting 88 MPH, which is down from when he sat at 91 MPH earlier this year. He’s more likely to go to school to improve his value, although the Pirates could get him by increasing their offer as the deadline approaches.
Aaron Brown, RF, 17th Round - We heard a few weeks ago that the Pirates had increased their pursuit of Brown. I haven’t heard any updates on how the negotiations are going.
Taylor Nunez, RHP, 19th Round - I’ve heard that the Pirates haven’t contacted Nunez with an offer.
Trea Turner, SS, 20th Round - Turner was planning on leaving today for NC State.
Overall it sounds like the biggest targets have been 9th round pick Clay Holmes, 15th round pick Kody Watts, and 17th round pick Aaron Brown. I think the Pirates could get 11th round pick Joel Bennett, 14th round pick Jordan Dunatov, and 16th round pick Eric Skoglund if they raise their offer, although I’m not sure what their offers are at this point. From what I’ve heard, those three players are open to signing, with the only roadblock being the price. I would say that if the Pirates don’t sign Bell, we could see them throw some more money at these guys, just like they did last year with later round picks like Ryan Hafner, Jared Lakind, and Drew Maggi.