In my day three preview I pointed out how the Pittsburgh Pirates have gotten some good value prospects on day three of the draft, taking people like Casey Sadler, Phil Irwin, and Adalberto Santos after the 20th round. The problem with that approach is that you don’t always know those guys will be prospects. Sure, you might like those guys due to their numbers, stuff, or whatever other reason. But it’s just as easy to predict Phil Irwin will be good as it is to totally miss on Jose Hernandez being good for the same statistical reasons.
Day three is much more hectic than days one and two. You have all the time in the world on day one, with four and a half minutes between first round picks. On day two you have a little less time, but the rounds don’t fly by. Day three is crazy. By the time you just start getting information on the previous round’s pick, a new pick is made. Fortunately John Dreker and I were both splitting the coverage duties today, taking every other round. The side effect of that is that we each only got to see half of the draft picks. I read all of John’s write ups for the articles on the main part of the site, but I didn’t do all of the research he did on each pick to get those write ups.
The end result is that we each know half of the day three picks. So we decided to pick five players each that stood out to us, out of the players we covered. Below you will find the links to all of the round-by-round coverage (or five round by five round coverage). We also look at our five picks, and why we like those ten players more than the 20 other players who were drafted today. Note that not all of these players will sign. In fact, a lot of the guys who have the highest upsides will probably opt to go to college, mostly because they went so low in the draft this time around.
Nick Buckner - Buckner is very raw, but seems to have a lot of upside. He’s got a lot of power potential, with a lot of raw power and a quick bat. He’s got some concerns about his swing, which can get long and raise questions about his ability to make contact. He also might be a tough sign since the Pirates can only give him up to $100,000 in the 14th round, and he has a commitment to the University of Houston. He would be a good gamble to take, since he’s a young left-handed pull hitter and has that raw power. He’d also be a bigger gamble than a lot of the day two picks, but would have more upside than any of the other picks if he worked out.
Justin Topa - Topa had Tommy John surgery in 2011, but returned to throw 91-93 MPH, touching 95 with a clean, effortless delivery. He’s got a projectable frame, which could allow him to improve his velocity going forward. Topa throws a good changeup, but the curveball hasn’t come back since the surgery. If he signs he should be a bullpen option in Jamestown, but the fastball velocity and the projectable frame make him a bit more interesting than the other relief options.
Carson Cross - I think Cross is going to be a difficult or impossible sign, since he’s a draft eligible sophomore and can go back to the draft next year. He’s got intriguing stuff, throwing from a very high arm slot and on a steep downward plane, throwing pitches at the knees. That makes him hard to square up on, and gets a lot of early ground ball outs. He throws a curve and a changeup, and has command of all of his pitches. All of these things are things the Pirates like, so it’s no surprise they took him. He throws 89-91 MPH right now, and could add to that. However, with two chances to be drafted again, he could go back and hope to improve on the 24th round.
Michael Fransoso - He’s got a hip problem that has required surgery twice since January 2011, so that’s a concern. But he hasn’t missed time the last two years, and has put up an OPS over .900 each year, also hitting for power in the form of doubles. Fransoso was drafted as a shortstop, but the hip issue might limit his defensive upside there, making him more of a strong hitting utility option. He’s a college senior, so he’s sure to sign, and will probably join Jamestown. The combination of the hitting, the extra base power, and the plate patience makes him a guy to watch, almost in the same way that Adalberto Santos was a guy to watch coming out of the draft due to his strong offensive numbers.
Max Rossiter - I don’t project Rossiter to be a big prospect in the system. However, the impact he could provide on others could be big. Last year the Pirates drafted Jacob Stallings, a strong defensive catcher who is great at working with pitching staffs, and sent him to the New York-Penn League. Within a week he learned how to catch the entire pitching staff, which included a rotation that had guys from three different countries. This year he’s doing most of the catching in Bradenton, and has been a huge help to the pitchers at the level. Rossiter seems like he would be the same type of player. He’s improved his skills behind the plate, and handles a pitching staff well. He would be a big help to the young pitchers in Jamestown. If he went on to become a defensive backup in the majors, that would only be a bonus.
Bryan Baker - Baker was my favorite pick of the day. He is a tall right-hander, who really hasn’t concentrated on baseball long enough to be an advanced pitcher. He still had pretty good stats, but part of his baseball season was spent finishing up his basketball season. If they could get a player into the system with that frame, who already throws low 90’s, the possibilities are limitless. He’s definitely a project of sorts, so he will take time to develop, but it could be a huge payoff. He’s very athletic too and has a delivery that needs refinement, so some of that extra velocity could come just from better mechanics.
Connor Goedert - He is the brother of Jared Goedert, who is already in the Pirates farm system, and could be an interesting option. Along with the fact he has family in the system already, plus the college coach that recruited him was just fired, he might be someone you can get to sign away from a major program. He seems to be very athletic (played basketball too), comes from a baseball family (his dad played college) and he put up some big time power stats this season. From what I’ve seen on him, he looks like he has potential. He is someone I knew a little about going into the draft due to the family connection, so it was interesting to see him picked.
Danny Collins - Collins could be interesting. His age is a bit of a minus at 22-years-old already, but he seems to have a big middle of the lineup bat. He has hit for power all three seasons in college and put up huge numbers during the Summer League season last year. A player like that, with a proven track record, is always intriguing. He also shouldn’t be hard to sign and as early as they took him, I think they intend on doing just that.
Will Kendall - Kendall seems like a very good “buy low” candidate. He could still go back to Auburn and improve his stock, which is a strong possibility, but he’s taking a chance. Coming off Tommy John surgery, it sounds like he wasn’t completely ready to pitch this season. If you get lucky, you get the pitcher who was just starting to establish himself as a sophomore before he got hurt. You get that player and there could be a huge payoff, plus the fact he is a lefty is always a bonus. Anytime you can get a lefty with success as a starter at a major college program and not pay huge bucks for it, you take that chance that he won’t bounce back and regain his form.
Grant Tyndall - Tyndall sounded like a nice player to me, with potential for more as he gets older and fills out. I read a story that called him a five tool player. He doesn’t have the power stats to back that up, but that is usually the last thing to develop. He’s just 17-years-old now and doesn’t have a major college commitment, so he shouldn’t cost much to sign. He is a smart, athletic kid, who was called a leader on the field, so he sounds like he has big potential. You want to get a smart, toolsy, hard-working player in the system, give him a chance to develop and see what you get from that total package.