Updates on the Pirates’ Unsigned Draft Picks

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.

Tim Williams

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 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.

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  • John DiVito

    We HAVE to sign Bell to make this draft a success.  I wouldn’t mind having a few more position players drafted towards the top next year so we aren’t stuck signing 14th round picks as back up plans.

  • Anonymous

    I think if Bell doesn’t sign, its not necessarily a bust of a draft. Cole is a great talent, that needs some work, and the Pirates got a good amount of HS arms out of this draft. Also, we got a couple bats with Dickerson, etc….I would like to see them go after more position players next year especially if it is a hard cap system….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQC5HKTKJ52MK7PN2CBR4JIWYQ Kevin

    I have no inside information.  However, I think Bell is as likely as Cole to sign by Monday.

    My theory on Bell involves Texas and the number 9.  I’ll wait till Tuesday to say anything else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=47507100 Dehn Unterzuber

    I have to say that I think Bell is a must sign. I rarely think ANY draftee is a must sign but our farm is low on true quality hitting prospects. Sure, Bell may end up a bust but in good faith the front office needs to make this happen. I don’t think Bell is the second coming of Clemente or Pops but I do think there is a potential here to make a real impact. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PVAKXR37WWO6OKYOEJUCYA45M4 jonathan

    we get the pick back if we don’t sign bell… probably a better one considering how many comp picks there were this past draft, no biggie if we don’t sign him, if he becomes worth what he’s asking we can draft him in 3 years as a more polished player ( odds that he becomes a top 10 or 15 pick are stacked heavily against him ) can’t go into negotiations thinking you have to get it done or you’ll get boat raced

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3HY27SL7XSVMIOPHUVJTN6RKKQ King of Smoke

    I don’t see how Bell is a must sign. We already offered him 4.5 that’s more than the third pick. How high before it turns too risky. I think 5 million is as high as I would go. As previously stated we get the pick back. I got no problem paying over slot. But if he wants like 10 million I’m not sure the reward is worth the risk. There have been very few prospects to get that. I just don’t see him as that special can’t miss guy. He can miss,

  • Lee Young

    Outside of Cole/Bell, I am hoping we sign Watts, at the very least.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6EETLMCYZ754U2G7TFYJMCFPGU HankS

    Will Coles contract be a MLB contract like Pedros was??  Also if Bell signs for 6mill would anyone be mad? 

  • Tim Fort

    What’s the strategy behind drafting a guy and then not offering him a contract (Nunez)?  That’s unheard of in any other sport… what am I missing?

    As for Bell, it’s unlikely that he would even be in majors for at least 4 years which means I don’t see him as a “must sign” guy.  It’d be nice to have more position players in the system, but we have drafted pitchers heavily the last few years, maybe we can develop some of those arms and trade for position players as needed.  We’ll see…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3HY27SL7XSVMIOPHUVJTN6RKKQ King of Smoke

      He might have been a backup plan in case you can’t sign some guys you only have so many places you can play guys.

  • Tim Fort

    What’s the strategy behind drafting a guy and then not offering him a contract (Nunez)?  That’s unheard of in any other sport… what am I missing?

    As for Bell, it’s unlikely that he would even be in majors for at least 4 years which means I don’t see him as a “must sign” guy.  It’d be nice to have more position players in the system, but we have drafted pitchers heavily the last few years, maybe we can develop some of those arms and trade for position players as needed.  We’ll see…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZG2IYY4UIJEND5745XPPUOSHY steve-O K

    I see more upside with Bell and more of a bargain.  I’d rather put the money toward him and take the number 2 pick next year.  Then say hello to Nick Williams.  If this happens, our minor league power hitting would become an asset to the organization.

  • Anonymous

    As a Texas fan, we NEED a power hitter like Bell. Leave him alone!