Draft Prospect Watch: Former Pirates Picks and Where They Could Go

Yesterday, we posted the Pirates Podcast interview with Jim Callis from Baseball America. He discussed some of the former Pittsburgh Pirates draft picks that didn’t sign and will be eligible to be drafted again this year. There are some pretty big names on that list that should all go in the top ten rounds. Among them are a handful of pitchers from 2010, Jason Hursh, Austin Kubitza, Dame Kime and Kent Emanuel. There is also Aaron Brown from the 2011 draft class, who was picked as an outfielder, but will now be draft eligible as a sophomore this year. He will be taken as a left-handed pitcher. Plus an update on 2012 fourth round pick, Brandon Thomas.

Austin Kubitza's name will be called in the 2013 draft on Friday

Austin Kubitza’s name will be called in the 2013 draft on Friday

Below, we will focus on all these players, as well as some other names from the 2010 class that didn’t sign and fall more in the “where are they now” category, since their name doesn’t come up. While they weren’t able to sign a lot of these kids out of High School, you’ll see that they did a pretty good job of scouting three years ago. It also shows that you can’t just throw a bunch of money at a talented player and he will automatically sign.

Starting with the player projected to go first among the unsigned 2010 players, Jason Hursh was picked first among this group, taken in the sixth round. He chose to go to Oklahoma State and ended up missing all of last year with Tommy John Surgery. This season, he is a redshirt sophomore, so he may be tough to sign if he drops in the draft, but he is predicted to go around the supplemental first round. Hursh went 6-5, 2.79 in 16 starts, throwing 106 innings. That seems like a high total off a year missed to TJ Surgery, plus he had some high single game pitch totals along the way. The decision to go to school will pay off for Hursh, as he will get much more than he would have signed for with the Pirates.

Austin Kubitza wanted seven figures to sign with the Pirates, didn’t get it and went to Rice. He has pitched well in his time there, but he has some question marks that will hold him back. His velocity is down and as Jim Callis pointed out in the podcast, he relies very heavily on his slider. He won’t get seven figures to sign this year, as he will probably go in the fifth round, where his slot will be in the $250-300k range. Kubitza is still playing, and being overused by his coach recently. So far, he is 8-4, 2.02 in 102.1 innings, with 126 strikeouts. While he has a .188 BAA, he has also walked 48 batters.

Dace Kime agreed to a contract with the Pirates for $400k, then MLB dragged their feet approving it and he decided to head to college. He has pitched fairly well this year, splitting his time between starter and relief. In 8 starts and 17 calls from the bullpen, he is 5-1, 3.14 in 66 innings, with 79 strikeouts. He looked to be a third round draft pick, which will get him slightly more money than he agreed for, but that was three years ago as well, so who knows if it will pay off long-term.

The 10th round pick in 2010 was Zach Weiss, who went to UCLA. Baseball America just ranked him 381st overall, so it looks like he will go right about where he was taken last time. That could mean a bonus between $100-150k for him. He didn’t pitched bad this year, but he was in the bullpen, where he threw just 38 innings over 40 appearances.

The Pirates took Kent Emanuel in the 19th round and couldn’t sign him away from North Carolina. As the Friday night starter, he has put up strong stats this season, which will land him in the first three rounds. His problem seems to be a lack of velocity and a delivery that isn’t smooth. Still, he knows how to get batters out, so some team will take him early. Just like Kubitza, Emanuel was overused this weekend and looked real bad Monday night in relief, allowing five runs in 1.2 innings. That probably won’t hurt his draft stock much, but obviously won’t help.

One name that really shot up the draft boards over the last three years was Harrison Cooney, who was taken in the 40th round three years ago. He will go this year somewhere around the 7th round, after going 6-6, 3.24 in five starts and 16 relief outings for Florida Gulf Coast University.

From the 2011 draft, Aaron Brown looked like a potential over-slot signing as an outfielder. He dropped to the 17th round in the draft, where the Pirates couldn’t sign him away from Pepperdine. Now he is coming out of college as a left-handed starter, who could go around the 4th/5th round. His stats weren’t great and he still looks better as a hitter on paper, but there is a lot of potential in that left arm and some team will try to get it out of him.

Finally, from 2012, the Pirates couldn’t sign Brandon Thomas as a fourth rounder. We all know about Mark Appel, but Thomas also got drafted fairly high and decided to go back to school at Georgia Tech. Some people thought he could work his way up until the first round with a good season, but Thomas got mono this year and hasn’t shown any power in his bat. He will likely go around the same area as last year, but as a college senior, he has no signing leverage so the bonus will no doubt be less.

Where Are They Now?

Not every unsigned pick from 2010 re-entering the draft now will go high. Some of those players won’t be drafted at all, going back for a senior year.

The highest unsigned pick not mentioned above, was Chris Kirsch, who didn’t go to a four-year college. He instead went the Community College route and got drafted in the 21st round in 2011, then 14th round last year. He is pitching in High-A ball for the Rays.

In the 18th round, the Pirates took college junior Chase Wentz, who went back to school. He went undrafted in 2011 and has never played pro ball.

The Pirates tried hard to sign Dale Carey away from Miami, but couldn’t get a deal done. The Hurricanes will likely end up getting him for four years, because he has been awful this year. Carey is hitting .192, with eight extra-base hits in 57 games.

The 26th rounder was Brandon Pierce, who went to Nebraska. He struggled as a starter this year and isn’t ranked at all. He had a 5.82 ERA and .331 BAA, with 23 walks and 23 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.

Zack Powers went to Florida and put up decent numbers as a starter this year, .268 average, nine steals, .747 OPS. The 28th rounder is not rated in the top 500 at BA, but will be drafted somewhere.

Garret Levsen put up strong numbers as a closer in college this year, with 10 saves, a 2.39 ERA, .188 BAA and a decent strikeout rate. He was taken in the 29th round.

Drew Muren was taken in the 35th round, a college player who decided to give it another try. The Astros took him in 22nd round the next year and he is struggling in AA, after tearing up High-A ball earlier this year. He’s 24 years old already.

Will Allen has caught regularly for Ole Miss this year. He hasn’t hit much, but starter Bobby Wahl has been heavily scouted, so someone could take Allen for his defense. He was taken in the 37th round.

Alex Cox was taken in the 38th round, but the Pirates couldn’t sign the big right-hander. He transferred to Kansas this year, but missed the whole season due to injury.

Stephen Lumpkins was a 6’8″ basketball player that tried his hand at pitching. The Royals drafted and signed him in 2011 and in two seasons, he had zero success before retiring.

Garret Hicks, taken in the 43rd round is a true where are they now. He seems to have played some ball up until 2011, but nothing more recent.

Cory McGinnis was drafted in the 44th round by Pirates and then 22nd round by White Sox last year. He did okay in the Pioneer League last year, but hasn’t pitched this year.

Connor Sadzeck is pitching for Texas this year in low-A, and doing well. The 45th round picked moved up 34 rounds in one year.

Ryan Wiggins was a platoon catcher for Washington University this year. He had a strong freshman year, but his hitting has got worse each year. 46th round

Nathan Sorenson transferred to Texas A&M, but never played this year. He was expected to be a bullpen arm. 47th round

In the 48th round, Pirates took Pittsburgh native Dillon Haviland who ended up at Duke. He didn’t pitch in 2013 after struggling for two seasons.

Finally, 50th rounder Dusty Isaacs went to Georgia Tech, where he started this season, going 4-8, 4.90 in 82.2 innings, with 63 strikeouts.

John Dreker

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • http://twitter.com/bWalor23 bWalor23

    Love for the Buccos to draft Hursh in the 2nd rd, that is if he allows them to draft him again

  • steve19981

    I suspect the Pirates will take at least one or two of their redrafts

    Kubitza sounds like Tommy John surgery in waiting, but I think in the 4th or 5th round he could be worth the risk. His problems sound like the kind the Pirates are good at fixing.

    Hursh would be great if he’s still there at 51. I don’t think he will be.

    No thanks on Dace Kime and his mother. I don’t see enough upside for him in the 3rd round.

    Emmanuel could be ok in the 3rd, but again not sure he’ll last that long.

    Levson would be interesting in the 15-20 range or as a guy who would sign way under slot in the 7th-10th round.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    I’d like us to take Brandon Thomas again.

    Tim/John…what is the procedure for a potential draftee to allow a team that already drafted them, to redraft them?
    Is there a certain form? Is there a deadline? Is it something that can be faxed/ emailed to the team/league office at ‘a moment’s notice?’

    Thx

    Foo

    • John Dreker

      I don’t know the exact rules, but I would assume it has to be in early enough for MLB to know, so they can get it in their system that the player signed a waiver letting a team redraft them. Most players will do that from what I’ve heard, just because you don’t want to cut off a team that already liked you enough to draft you.
      Brandon Thomas I could go either way on. I wouldn’t take him in the 4th round again. He is a good hitter, but he is also already 22 years old and doesn’t hit for any power. He’s limited to center field because of that, though he isn’t the best defensive center fielder out there, average at best.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

        well….why DON’T you know the exact rules? Huhn??

        :)

        Just messin…. :)

        Thanks for the info. I wonder if Callis, Law or any of those folks know.

        I agree now on Thomas….For some reason, I was thinking he was a sophomore with potential…not sure why…lol

        • John Dreker

          A player the Pirates picked last year out of HS signed the waiver right after the deadline passed, even though he was going to a 4 year school. So I’m saying they try to get it right away if they can. Just found that out from my sources…which was the player :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

            D**n, you’re GOOD!

            .

            • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

              And, I don’t care WHAT Tim sez about you.
              .
              .
              .
              ;)

              • John Dreker

                I hope it’s at least 50% good stuff. I know the First Pitch the other day had a must read article by me!