One way to avoid the sometimes ridiculous arm abuse of pitchers in the college ranks is to go with high school arms. Another approach would be to draft guys who haven’t been pitching that long. The Pirates did just that, and did it back to back in the 28th and 29th rounds.
Jerry Mulderig has spent most of his time at Rider University as an outfielder, and has the chance to develop a plus fastball due to his frame. Stinnett spent a lot of time early at third base, and only converted to a pitcher full time in 2012. He throws a 94 MPH fastball, and has the attitude for a reliever.
The Pirates took chances on two guys who dealt with injuries. 26th round pick Michael Fransoso has dealt with hip problems, while putting up good numbers at the plate. 30th round pick Will Kendall had great numbers in 2012, but his season was cut short by Tommy John surgery and he struggled in his time this year.
26th Round, 779th Overall: Grant Tyndall, CF, South Lenoir HS (NC)
Tyndall was drafted as an outfielder, though he has played some infield in the past. An article on him said that he was a five tool player, but going by his low total of extra base hits this year, that the power isn’t fully there yet. His stolen base totals over the past two seasons are impressive, a perfect 36-for-36 in steals. He just recently committed to Mount Olive College after initially accepting an offer to go to North Carolina State as a walk-on with a guaranteed spot. His HS coach called him a team leader, who makes things happen. He also played football in High School. – John Dreker
27th Round, 809th Overall: Michael Fransoso, SS, University of Maine
Fransoso has been a good hitter for the University of Maine over the last two years, putting up an OPS over .900 each year and a slugging percentage over .500 thanks to some doubles power. He also has good plate patience, with more walks than strikeouts over the last two years. The downside is that he’s had injury problems, mostly centered around his hip. Fransoso had hip surgery in January 2011 to repair damage from a congenital condition that caused his hip bone to rub and tear cartilage in the hip. That didn’t cost him any time, but he ended up having surgery again in August 2012 to repair some torn cartilage. Before the procedure, he would be so sore that he wouldn’t be able to bend his knees after a nine inning game. He’s a good hitter, and hasn’t missed much in-season time with the injury. If it doesn’t impact him over the long term, his bat could be interesting. He’s a college senior, and should join Jamestown as organizational depth. – Tim Williams
28th Round, 839th Overall: Jerry Mulderig, RHP, Rider University
He was announced as a pitcher, but he has seen very limited time on the mound in two years. As a Freshman, he didn’t pitch at all. Mulderig has spent most of his time as an outfielder, where he has batted .305 in 112 games, getting on base at a decent clip, with 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts. His pitching showed improvement this year over his ten relief appearances last season. As a Junior, he made four starts and seven relief appearances, though he still pitched just under 20 innings, so he is obviously raw. Scouts believe the 6’4″ righty will eventually develop a plus fastball once he concentrates on pitching, so he could be a sleeper option out of the bullpen. – John Dreker
29th Round, 869th Overall: Jake Stinnett, RHP, Maryland
Stinnett spent most of his time at third base in 2011, getting 144 at-bats, but only hitting for a .174/.274/.313 line and five homers. He made his debut on the mound in late April that year, split time in 2012, and moved to being exclusively a pitcher in 2013. He really took off after making the switch to being a pitcher full time, with a 94 MPH fastball. The Pirates announced him as a reliever, which is the role he should play in the minors. He’s got the mentality to have success out of the bullpen, and it’s a positive that he doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear on his arm. Baseball America rated him the 11th best prospect in the Mid-Atlantic ranks, in what was called a “Banner Year” for that group. – Tim Williams
30th Round, 899th Overall: Will Kendall, LHP, Auburn
Kendall had a strong Sophomore season, then really looked bad as a Junior. His ERA ballooned from 1.88 to 7.54 and along with it came higher walk totals and a .315 batting average against. The reason for that spike was Tommy John Surgery, which cut short a great season in 2012 and led to the poor stats once he came back. Shortly before the season started, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion he was going to pitch this year, due to the fact he wasn’t ready for Opening Day and NCAA rosters had to be submitted before the opener. At the time, he had yet to throw any breaking balls, but he still made his season debut in early March. He is a good pitcher to take a chance on late, a lefty who has had some major college success as a starter. – John Dreker