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.
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.