When the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Cole Tucker with the 24th overall pick in the 2014 draft, it came as a surprise. Tucker wasn’t connected to the Pirates at all leading into the draft. He wasn’t ranked as a guy who could go in the first round. If there’s one person who wasn’t surprised, it was Tucker.
“I knew going into the day that I was going to go somewhere in the top 30-40 picks,” Tucker said. “I knew the Pirates were in the mix. They had pick 24 and pick 39. I was happy they popped me. They want me here, I want to be here, it’s a perfect fit.”
After the pick, Neal Huntington said that they didn’t think Tucker would fall to the number 39 pick. They were probably correct. In the days following the draft, we started to hear that other teams were interested and would have taken the young shortstop. Peter Gammons said that Oakland would have taken him with the next pick.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) June 9, 2014
Tucker heard from a lot of teams leading up to the draft, and on draft day. Oakland was indeed interested. They sent a lot of people to his games, and had an in-home visit. The Los Angeles Dodgers were interested at pick 22, but ended up taking right-handed pitcher Grant Holmes. It makes you wonder what would have happened if Holmes didn’t fall to them. Tucker also said that the Cleveland Indians at pick 31 and the Colorado Rockies at pick 35 were interested.
Ten minutes before the pick happened, Tucker learned that he would be selected by the Pirates. It wasn’t a surprise, since they had been following him closely. They had an in-home visit with him last fall. They went to his high school practices before the season began, then heavily scouted him during the season. One thing the Pirates liked about Tucker was the fact that he was a year younger than everyone else, giving him an extra year to develop and improve his stock in their system. Tucker thought that his young age would be a problem for teams.
“I figured going into this pro ball thing that it was going to be a disadvantage, but I ended up finding out it was an advantage to be younger,” Tucker said.
Tucker signed quickly and made his pro debut yesterday in the GCL. The results weren’t strong, as he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and two walks, along with three errors.
“It’s what you dream about. Obviously I would have liked to play a little better today,” Tucker said. “But getting out there, getting the jitters out, getting to play with these guys is awesome. Putting on a pro uniform, it’s what every player wants to do growing up, and I get to do it everyday. So 0-for-4, or 4-for-4, can’t complain. I’m happy to be here.”
Two of the three errors were throwing errors. He also had a third throw that went wild, although he was saved by first baseman Carlos Munoz. Tucker said he needs to get on top of the ball more, as it was getting away from him a bit.
The first game struggles could have been due to rust. He hasn’t played a game since early May when his high school season ended. It could be due to first game nerves. I wouldn’t form any opinions based on one game. It will be interesting to watch how Tucker does through the entire GCL season this year, especially after all of the interest that was shown in him prior to the draft. He’ll get a chance to show why so many teams were considering him with a late first round pick, and why the Pirates took him 24th overall.