First Pitch: More Thoughts On Draft Signings, Promotions and Jamestown

There was a lot of news on the site today. At certain points of the day we were posting an article and immediately starting on the next update. That didn’t leave for a lot of time to process any of the individual moves. Some of them might have even been lost in the mix. So I wanted to recap the day, with some overall thoughts on some of the moves.

Draft Signings

**Reese McGuire to Sign With the Pirates Tomorrow.

**Pirates Have Agreed to Over-Slot Deal With Neil Kozikowski.

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker.

The signing of McGuire isn’t unexpected. We reported a few weeks ago that he had already decided to turn pro. He just couldn’t until his graduation, which came this past weekend. McGuire will sign with just enough time to report to Bradenton for the start of the GCL Pirates season on Friday.

We didn’t get to experience the benefit of the new, earlier signing deadline last year, due to obvious Mark Appel related reasons. The new system and the earlier deadline will mean that McGuire, and eventually Austin Meadows (before you ask, no updates on that front, otherwise it would be linked above), will get at least a month in the GCL this year. In McGuire’s case, that will be a full season at the level. What that means for the future is unknown. We saw Adrian Sampson sign early last year and get an aggressive push to Bradenton this year (normally college starters go to West Virginia first). But we haven’t seen how prep players could be impacted by half a season in the GCL. Normally the Pirates aggressively push them to West Virginia anyway, so I’m not sure it will make much of a difference for the two first rounders this year.

The Pirates have also agreed to a deal with Neil Kozikowski. They signed the eighth rounder to an over-slot deal. Some of the reactions I got were interesting, if only because of how much weight the national rankings carry. Kozikowski wasn’t rated on any of Baseball America’s top prospect lists. He’s a prep pitcher who is 6′ 4″, 180 pounds, throws upper 80s and touches 92, has a projectable frame, and good off-speed stuff, with a commitment to VCU. It reminded me of another over-slot signing from a few years ago.

Player A has a projectable frame at 6′ 7″, 200 pounds.  Baseball America did not have him rated among the top 105 prospects in southern California.  He grew rapidly in high school, eight inches after his freshman year.  His velocity also increased rapidly, eventually to the upper 80s to low 90s, reaching as high as 93.  He also throws a slider, curve and change.

Player A was Tyler Glasnow. He had no hype surrounding him, no national rankings, and definitely wasn’t the mid-90s, touching 99 MPH with a plus curveball and striking out 85 batters in 57 innings pitcher he is this year. I’m not saying this to suggest Kozikowski will be the next Glasnow. I’m just saying that with prep pitchers, you never know.

One thing I found interesting is that you never hear questions if the Pirates go over-slot on a middle round pick. All throughout the draft, and even after the Blake Taylor under-slot deal, I heard comments about how the Pirates might be able to save money for a middle round guy. It’s almost like the new system has created this idea that guys in the top ten rounds are only worth up to their slot prices, but guys after round ten are worth whatever it takes to get them to sign. Sign a guy for under-slot in the top ten rounds, and you’re creating money for all of those valuable guys in the middle rounds. Sign a guy for over-slot in the top ten rounds and you’re wasting money that you could spend on all of those players who were so much better that they remained on the board for several rounds.

That’s just an interesting observation I’ve had over the last few days. I’m not arguing anything in favor of Kozikowski, since I’ve only heard reports and have never seen him pitch. But he’s got all of the attributes that you’d want from a projectable prep pitcher, and the thing about those guys is that the more projectable arms you get, the better chance you have of landing prospects like Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham.

Promotions

**Stetson Allie, Joely Rodriguez, and Orlando Castro to be Promoted to Bradenton.

**Luis Heredia is Leaving For West Virginia Tomorrow.

It seems like everyone is getting promoted. Luis Heredia is finally heading to West Virginia, which means I no longer have to answer the “Why are there no updates on Luis Heredia?” question by telling people to search the site for “Luis Heredia” and find all of my updates from the last month. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do at the level, while also keeping in mind that for the next two months he’s still an 18-year-old pitching in full season ball.

Bradenton will be getting a bunch of prospects. Joely Rodriguez has been a sleeper prospect of mine for a few years now, and Orlando Castro was putting up phenomenal numbers. The guy I’m looking forward to seeing is Stetson Allie. The Allie supporters might be surprised to hear this, since I’ve been made out to be this guy who doesn’t like Stetson Allie. The truth is that I discriminate against all college-aged (22+) hitters in the lower levels until they’ve had success in Double-A or higher. That’s especially true if they don’t bring any defensive value, like first basemen.

Stetson Allie has the best power in the system.

Stetson Allie has the best power in the system.

That’s not saying Allie doesn’t have skills. He’s got the best power in the system by far. I noticed the power two years ago when he was a pitcher, and won a pitcher’s home run derby by crushing a few to deep center field at Pirate City. I’ve also been extremely impressed by how far he’s come in such a short time. He went from hitting nothing at the start of Spring Training, to hitting but not hitting for power at the end of Spring Training, to hitting everything and hitting for power at the start of the season.

There are still concerns. The strikeouts are a huge red flag, and he’s also been streaky at times, which has been covered up by his amazing hot streaks. Basically my approach with Allie is to be extremely cautiously optimistic. I’m not going to project him as some future power hitter in the majors, and hope he realizes that potential. He might have that potential, but I’ll work my projections up to that as he continues to show improvements. High-A pitching, and hitting in a pitcher friendly league should be a good test for him. The strikeouts are going to be a big thing I’ll be watching.

Overall, Allie might be one of the best “bonus prospects” in the system. I say “bonus prospects” as in guys who, if they realize their potential, would be a huge boost to the team at the major league level, while not being a guy the Pirates are depending on any time soon. Similar players would be Stolmy Pimentel, Clay Holmes, Barrett Barnes, Wyatt Mathisen, and other guys who have a lot of talent and upside, but aren’t considered the top guys in the system. I think everyone wants Allie to work out and become that power hitting everyday first baseman that the Pirates always seem to lack. I just don’t think we’re to the point where we can project that.

Jamestown Jammers Begin Their Season

**2013 Jamestown Jammers Season Preview.

Jamestown doesn’t have any huge names like Luis Heredia, Josh Bell, Dilson Herrera, or even big draft picks like McGuire or Meadows. They do have a lot of talented guys with upside. It’s a lot of sleepers and more of the “bonus prospects” from above. The three that top my list are Elvis Escobar, Harold Ramirez, and Jin-De Jhang. I also think there are a lot of sleepers on the pitching staff. Isaac Sanchez got off to a great start tonight. Dovydas Neverauskas and Colten Brewer have both hit 95 consistently with their fastballs. Cody Dickson is one of my favorite middle round picks from the 2013 draft. A lot of the college players taken are also interesting, and the hope would be that at least one of them eventually emerges as a real prospect in the upper levels.

There’s something about the short-season levels that’s different than any other level. In the upper levels, you’re watching guys and envisioning how they could become future major leaguers. In the short-season leagues, you’re watching guys and envisioning how they could become the next prospects who could become future major leaguers. With Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco you look at when they could arrive in the majors and what type of players they could become. With Escobar and Ramirez, you’re looking at whether they could become the next Hanson/Polanco level prospects.

Basically this is where you’re taking the raw tools and abilities and turning them into prospects. They might not look like huge names now. However, neither did Hanson, Polanco, Herrera, Glasnow, or most of the other guys when they started out in the short-season leagues. By the end of the year we’ll get a better idea of who is breaking out and turning into the next big prospect.

Other Links and Notes

**Check out the latest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 9: What To Do With the Rotation When The Starters Return? It almost seems like the Pirates will never have all of their starters healthy.

 

**Top Performers: Bell and Allie Finish the First Half Strong at the Plate.

**Top Performers: Several Pitchers Stepping Up Before and After Promotions.

**Bradenton Marauders to Host the 2014 FSL All-Star Game. I’m kind of looking forward to this, and looking forward to the possibility of Tyler Glasnow, Luis Heredia, Josh Bell, Dilson Herrera, and/or Barrett Barnes appearing in the game (assuming all will be in Bradenton at that time next year).

**Prospect Watch: Pimentel Dominant in Triple-A Debut; Sanchez Hits 9th Homer. It’s good to see Pimentel off to a good start in Triple-A. While Sanchez continues to hit, keep in mind that he has some throwing problems (including an error on a pickoff tonight).

**Minor League Schedule: Second Rehab Start For Gomez.

 

**Reds Use Four Homers to Beat Pirates 4-1.

**Pirates Sign Jose Contreras to a Minor League Deal. A lot of people will ask “Why bring back Contreras?” Even if he doesn’t play in the majors, the Indianapolis pitching staff has been severely depleted due to all of the injuries at the major league level. If all he does is pitch for Indianapolis and give them some innings out of the bullpen, that would be huge.

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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  • https://profiles.google.com/104072131469493733312 Dom Tallarico

    All that and absolutely nothing about the biggest move of the day, the decision to finally start Jordy Mercer over Clint Barmes full-time? Weird.

    Is that because you were one of the few who defended the Barmes signing when it happened and continued to do so as recently as last week? And now that the change has finally been made, does that make the latter an “ideal” major league backup shortstop?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I’ll be writing about Barmes and Mercer. I’ve been saying since Mercer went down last month that he should be in the majors and getting more playing time.

      Right now I’m deferring to my Pirates writers on that one to see if they want to write about it first. We just had a really busy prospect day and saved that for tomorrow, since it’s not really news that Mercer has slowly been taking over the job.

      But you’re going to be disappointed in that:

      1. I agree with the Barmes signing.
      2. I still think Barmes has value.
      3. I never said Barmes was an “ideal” anything.

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

      Dom….the site is called “Pirates Prospects”.

      Also, why are you attacking Tim? This is THEE # 1 site to get Pirate news, esp about our ‘younguns’.

      Personally, I got enough Barmes/Mercer news from MLB sites. I come here for the Prospects ‘stuff’.

      Sheesh!

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        Lee, I was about to post about the same thing and ask Tim if it was me or has he had an awful lot more hostile commenters over the last year. Lol, I suppose that’s a good thing since it probably means the site is more popular. Also, who knows, criticism can keep a person honest.

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          Part of the job. Not everyone will agree with your opinions, and some people just can’t handle it when you think differently about baseball than they do.

      • buster09

        Maybe Dom got confused and thought he was commenting in Smizikstan Lee ?

  • https://profiles.google.com/107500598404660809214 Kerry Writtenhouse

    I think signing Barmes was absolutely the right move. Whether the money was right? Is it ever right on the free agent market? With this team needing offense, maybe it’s the right move, but I wouldn’t toss Barmes on the scrap heap just yet.

    For me, the best news is as the prospects get closer to the majors, the excess builds trade value. If this team is going to improve on offense, it’s going to come from 3rd base or rightfield. I think this could be the year to make a push for a bigger bat where the first concern isn’t, years of control. I don’t have my Pirates Prospects guide in front of me, but surely we will be running into a roster logjam this offseason.

    • BostonsCommon

      Uuh, the current Pirates 3rd baseman is leading the league in homeruns and RBI, hitting out of the 6/7 hole with a BABIP 50 points below his career average. His numbers will only improve. He is not the problem.

      Now RF on the other hand… Good grief!

      • BostonsCommon

        I should Say leading the league’s third baseman*

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

        Boston Commons

        “His numbers will only improve. He is not the problem.”

        Let’s HOPE his numbers will improve. I’m still seeing a LH Mark Reynolds. While he has value, his long stretches of K’s and weak groundouts are exasperating.

        • smurph

          Pedro is also tenth on the Pirates in OPS trailing sluggers like Presley .772, Sanchez .824, Martin .759, Tabata .744, and just ahead of Snider .667, whom everyone is complaining about how useless he is.

  • danrb10

    I’m still hoping that we move Allie to a position to utilize his cannon of an arm.

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

      They started him at 3b. He was horrible. Perhaps RF, but if he is an adventure out there, too, then 1b is his safest ‘haven’.

      :)

  • rburgh

    It would be ironic if, after State College basically ran the Bucs off because they never sent a “competitive” team there, Jamestown turned out to have a very good season. Just looking at their roster, they have 7 hitters who could turn out to be serious prospects – Escobar, Ramirez, Roy, Collins, deJhang, Fransoso, and Wallace. And everyone was very high on Cody Dickson, not to mention the three guys moving up from rookie ball – Sanchez, Brewer, and Neverauskas.

    • buster09

      As someone a little familiar with the personalities involved in the SC/Pirates situation,I think it had a lot more to do with the personalities involved than any thing that had to do with competitive teams. Thats just my observation.

    • buccotime57

      I was thinking the same thing last night…they also played some really good defense including picking off a guy at first from deJhang, a nice 1-3-2 dp, and really nice 9-2 dp.

  • Kozy21

    Alen Hanson, Nick Kingham, and Harold Ramirez for Jurickson Profar. Make it happen. Is that too much to give up for him, Tim?

    • buster09

      Do you really think the Rangers would ever agree to a deal like that ???

    • meatygettingsaucy

      Please don’t. It isn’t going to happen. No team is going to trade an MLB-ready top prospect for 3 prospects, two of whom aren’t well-known outside the organization, who are not near the majors.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Not going to happen. Texas won’t even take Oscar Tavares for Profar. No way they’re going quantity for Profar. If they wanted to trade Profar, they could get a ton for him.

      • Kozy21

        I guess Profar in a Bucs uniform is a pipe dream and I wouldn’t give up Taillon or Polanco for him and it sounds like it would take both to get him. I’m thinking if guys like Dilson Herrera, Alen Hanson, and Josh Bell all end up fullfilling their promise and stay in the Bucs organization then there’s a good chance both Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez won’t be Pirates post arb years. If Cutch, Marte, and Polanco are manning the outfield by 2015, I wonder if Josh Bell will be converted to 1st base. It’s pretty obvious the Bucs are ahead of schedule at this point but looking at this system by 2016 they will be a juggernaut.
        1. Hanson SS
        2. Marte LF
        3. Cutch CF
        4. Bell 1B
        5. Polanco RF
        6. Alvarez 3B
        7. Herrera 2B
        8. Sanchez C

        Pitchers
        1. Cole
        2. Taillon
        3. Glasnow
        4. Kingham
        5. Locke

        Thats a sick young team right there.

  • jg941

    Tim, per your comment about the articles coming fast-and-furious……I personally wanted to take a moment as a Pirates fan to say how phenomenal your body of work has been over the past few weeks (not that it isn’t the rest of the time : -)

    Not just the sheer quantity of reporting from pre-draft to now but, more importantly, the quality of the work. Knowledgeable, insightful, witty, enthusiastic-where-appropriate, critical when necessary – as a fan, I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed the entire flurry of work from you and the others at P2.

    As an aside – I’ve checked out countless other team/prospect sites (stuff like SoxProspects and the like) and the depth and quality of work you guys do here is without peer in all of Major League Baseball.

    Keep up the good work, and try to keep up the pace, as I’ve grown accustomed now (hooked?) to opening up P2 to 7 or 8 new articles each morning(!), and I’m afraid of what will happen if I have to go cold turkey on one of those mornings :-)

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Thanks for the comments. I guess what you’re saying is that I should cancel that day off I have planned a few weeks from now, or just make sure I’ve got at least 7-8 articles ready to go up on the site before I play golf and go to the beach that day. :)

      • jg941

        Just let me know which day and I’ll try to work something out on my end. :-)

    • Kozy21

      Yes, I concur. I’ve actually been reading your site daily for years and only recently decided to get in on the commenting. I live out near Philly so I don’t have a lot of Bucs fans to chat with let alone fans that know anything about the minor league system and the minor leagues is one of the reasons I love baseball. At the end of the day we’re all Pirates fans but it sure is exciting reading about how potential future Pirates are doing each day. I remember back in the day reading the PBC Blog that Dejan Kovacevic did at the Post Gazette (I liked him more as a writer back then) and getting minor league updates from that. That was when we had Cutch and that was about it. I anticipated the days when I’d read about Zack Duke’s starts. Nowadays, Zack Duke wouldn’t be sniffing the top 10. NH deserves way more credit than he gets. He’s had a plan and stuck to it regardless of what any fan thinks or says and it’s paying off and he seems to get better each year and when he does make a mistake, it’s on the cheap.

  • buc em all

    I hope we don’t get all the cry baby old men from the pirates message board here

    • hoffmanpaul

      Tim, thanks for another great article on our Bucs. You have created the most greatest Pirate website there is! Thanks for all your hard work!