Draft Day Three Preview: Saving This Pirates Draft

Normally for my day three preview, I write about how it is still possible to find talent on day three of the draft. I mention that Casey Sadler was a 25th round pick, or point out guys like Phil Irwin, or sleeper prospects like Ryan Hafner. I’ll point out missed opportunities like Trea Turner (21st round pick in 2011, 13th overall this year). The focus will be that the Pirates got a lot of talent in rounds 1-10, but that it’s still possible to find a player or two in the remaining rounds.

This year, it’s almost imperative that the Pirates find some talent on day three. It’s not a situation where any additional talent would be a nice bonus. It’s a situation where the first two days leave the Pirates at risk to have a very disappointing draft.

The first round pick, Cole Tucker, was a reach. He doesn’t look like a bad player. He’s got the potential to stick at shortstop, and the Pirates loved the improvements he made offensively. If they’re right about his improving offense, then the pick could turn out looking good. Right now it looks like they didn’t get first round talent in the first round. The Pirates said they took him here because they didn’t think he’d be there at number 39.

The Competitive Balance A pick went to Connor Joe. He’s a college bat who hits a lot of doubles, but doesn’t project to be a huge bat in the majors. Once again, the Pirates are higher on him than everyone else. If his offense fits their projections, then this isn’t a bad pick. If he fits the projections that everyone else has, which seems to be a strong fourth outfielder or possibly an average starter, then once again they didn’t get the appropriate talent level with this pick.

I liked the next two picks. Mitch Keller and Trey Supak are your typical Pirates picks. They’re right-handed prep pitchers with good fastballs, and the projectability to add velocity. The Pirates could have saved some money with their first two picks in order to help pay for these guys. I actually like Keller and Supak almost as much as I like the first two picks. I think I’d have Tucker the highest, with the two pitchers close behind him. That’s not to say that these pitchers don’t come with their own risks, like the first two picks. They were appropriate value for these picks, and I’m more comfortable with the Pirates track record with drafted pitchers over their track record with drafted hitters.

The theme for day two was college players. Seven of the eight drafted players came from the college ranks, which is an approach that doesn’t bring a lot of upside. That’s not to say there weren’t some nice picks, but it doesn’t look like there are any JaCoby Jones or Buddy Borden picks in this group. A quick summary of each player:

**Jordan Luplow seems like he could be a good hitter when healthy. He hasn’t been healthy much until this year, but the Pirates are fine with his medicals. He was appropriate value for his pick, and it just comes down to whether the Pirates are right about his future health.

**Taylor Gushue is an interesting catching prospect, and a year younger than other college players. Just like with Cole Tucker, the Pirates are gambling here that the younger age means Gushue isn’t done developing.

**Michael Suchy doesn’t have a typical baseball body, being built more like a football player. He is very athletic, despite the build, but has some issues with strikeouts, which is always a red flag for any prospect. He gets power from his strength, and not bat speed, which is an approach that leads to a three true outcomes guy at best, but in most cases, a guy who tops out at Double-A.

**Nelson Jorge is a shortstop from Puerto Rico, and this is a case where you’ve got a guy with a lot of projection, capable of sticking at short, and maybe providing value with his speed and bat. It’s not an exciting pick, but he has more room to grow since he’s the only prep guy from day two.

**Kevin Krause was drafted as a catcher, but hasn’t played the position full-time. He might be able to play catcher, despite the lack of experience. His bat doesn’t sound great, with below average hitting and the chance for some power.

**The three pitchers — Tyler Eppler, Austin Coley, and Alex McRae — are your typical Pirates picks. Good fastballs, room to grow, need improvements on the secondary stuff, and the potential to be a starter if all works out. Coley and McRae were off the radar, so you’re having to trust the Pirates scouting more than everyone else who has ranked prospects publicly. As I said before, I trust the Pirates more when it comes to pitching in the draft.

Overall, there are a lot of question marks, and that’s not an uncommon thing in any draft. The issue is that the Pirates reached with their first two picks, and didn’t appear to get good value with those high picks. The higher picks are the easiest ones to get value from, and usually provide the most value in the draft. The bigger issue is that the Pirates don’t have a good track record with hitters in the draft. It’s a different situation with guys like Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire, who everyone loved. But in most cases, they haven’t had success finding sleepers on the hitting side, at least not to the same extent as their success with pitching.

So that brings us to day three. The combination of reaching for the first two picks, plus a lot of easy to sign college guys, means the Pirates might have some pool money remaining for over-slot deals today. Last year they went over-slot with Erich Weiss, Nick Buckner, and Billy Roth. Weiss is looking like the best hitter in West Virginia right now. Roth was regarded as the steal of the draft, and will get started in a few weeks in short season ball, after throwing a bit in the GCL.

They’re going to need some picks like that on day three. Right now the top ten rounds look like they carry more risk than the typical draft would, and not the appropriate upside that you normally would get along with this risk. Making it worse is the fact that most of this risk comes on the hitting side, and not the pitching side. That goes against where the Pirates have had success in previous drafts, especially when you’re talking about guys who the Pirates had much higher than everyone else.

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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  • ElGaupo77

    The Pirates are trying to again be innovative and Tim is being super critical. Their 1st, 3rd and 4th round picks were players who are almost a full year younger then their respective colleagues.

    They are getting guys one year earlier. It’s risky but a great strategy since they are drafting lower. With one more year they undoubtedly would have been drafted as high as the Pirates did maybe much higher.

    • Zac

      Give me the best talent available, I don’t care how old they are. This strategy sucks until proven otherwise..

  • Jared

    The Twins are having a great draft. Gordon in the first round added to Sano and Buxton will allow the Twins to leapfrog the Bucs for best farm system…and they have continued drafting upside while the Pirates have been reaching and struggling to find prospects that even pique your interest.

  • Bryan Graham

    So many of you posters miss the whole point of the draft. It’s not about being innovative, it’s about getting appropriate value when you draft. That means you don’t take a guy at #24 when he is ranked 80+. Maybe these guys pan out into all-star type talent, that doesn’t mean they were good selections at the point they were drafted. Mike Piazza would be a perfect example, had be been selected in the first round it would have been a horrible selection considering he could have been had over 50 rounds later.

    • Jared

      Late round gems are players whose gold star goes to player development. I agree with that. The Pirates biggest issue is that so far they’ve reached but then not followed up the reaches with players who have fallen. Way too much risk thus far and not a ton of high-end upside. They were selecting #24, but acted more like they had lost the first round pick. They selected a player they liked, but over drafted him. Would’ve been better to use the 1st round pick on a free agent and then have still traded Morris for the #39 and still came away with Tucker.

      • roberto

        Both you and Tim are using “reach” incorrectly. It means that you draft a specific type of player (a shortstop or a college bat, for example) who is not the best player on your board. Obviously both of you think Tucker was not the best player available at 24, but the FO did. They might be right; they might be wrong. If you believe that Tucker will be better than any available player in five years, you take him, no matter how BA ranks him.

        • Jared

          Then by that logic there would rarely if ever be a “reach” because every team is going to believe they drafted the best player on their board. Doesn’t mean that the player they drafted wouldn’t have been likely to be available at a later pick…thus the “reach.”

  • Ecbucs

    the question for me is whether the Bucs took unnecessary risks, especially at round 2. I think you need to go for high ceiling players and to pass those type of players for someone who may be a solid player is bad long term strategy. It could be the Bucs took a couple players that with more experience they would have shot up draft boards

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

    I just read that there are 53 of the top 200 prospects still available today. I don’t know why this site indulges in so much panic when it comes to all things Pirates. Plenty of opportunity to still land a big one. And from all I can read, Gushue looks like the real deal – you get one multi-year starting catcher from this group and a reliever or two, and you haven’t done too bad at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

    I just read that there are 53 of the top 200 prospects still available today. I don’t know why this site indulges in so much panic when it comes to all things Pirates. Plenty of opportunity to still land a big one. And from all I can read, Gushue looks like the real deal – you get one multi-year starting catcher from this group and a reliever or two, and you haven’t done too bad at all.

  • pilbobuggins

    I’m in agreement with el gaupo here,getting talent a year earlier than anyone else is a steal,not to mention it fits the pirates mo of frugality. Besides that from what I’ve seen I really like this tucker kid, like I said it looks like the pirates have stolen a march on the other teams.

    • Jared

      The Pirates haven’t been frugal at all in the draft in recent history. That’s first. Second…the age is only marginally relevant. So what if Tucker is 6mo younger than Gatewood? If Gatewood turns out to be the better player (as the rankings indicate that he is the superior talent) then who cares about 6mo in age? I don’t know where all this talk of “year before anyone else” is coming from. Every team has access to the same players in the draft and the difference is a matter of months of age…not years. The pick only works if Tucker turns out to be a superior talent…the 6mo is basically irrelevant.

  • Jared

    Even today the emphasis is on less than impressive college players. What, one high school pitcher so far today?

  • Lee Young

    I remember back in 2009 every pundit applauded our method of taking all these high ceiling pitchers. How did THAT work out?

    Time will tell…as I’ve said before…all they need is 2 or 3 of these to work out, no matter where they take them. Who knows who will rise to the top?

  • Andrew Smalley

    You have never seen these guys play; no one on your site has. You have no idea if these guys are good; you’re simply going off of Baseball America. That isn’t analysis; it’s looking at someone’s list and copyin them. Enough….

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

      You have no clue what we’re basing our opinions on. You’re guessing that we’re just going off BA.

      We do research, watch videos, get messages from scouts, and get input from the team on their picks. Plus we check BA, Law, Perfect Game, MLB.com, Scout.com, and every other place. Then we use all of the info to provide our thoughts, which is the definition of analysis.

      I’m sorry we don’t have a positive outlook on this draft.

      • Andrew Smalley

        That’s kind of the point, no? I wouldn’t care if you guys did like the draft, as you have no basis for saying so one way or the other. So far, you’ve liked all the Drafts except the Tony Sanchez draft – mainly because he wasn’t rated as high for the Pirates selection. Once you guys differ *once* from BA, I’ll start believing that maybe you guys aren’t just copying what others are saying. Until then, I’m not sure you provide any value that someone couldn’t get from simply reading your sources.

        But, hey, if my post was the motivation you needed to get your balls back between your legs and snap out of the pity party, then I’ll do it more often. Glad to see you fighting back against me than fighting back tears….

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

          You seem very interested in my balls. Feel free to suck them anytime.

          • NSA

            Best. Comment. Ever!

          • Matt

            Hi Tim. You do not know me, but I frequent this site a lot. I really think you guys do a great job covering the Pirates and their minor league affiliates. I also think it is great that you are developing a lot of credibility on the local sports scene in Pittsburgh and enjoy your appearances on 93.7 the fan. Your site, your rules…but my advice is not to stoop to the level of these guys. I think you have a great future ahead of you in baseball – either on this site (or beyond). Don’t lose opportunities due to a perceived lack of professionalism.

        • Jared

          Then why even come here…let alone spend the time to post. How do we know MLB didn’t copy BA or BA copy Law or vice-versa? The speculation is ridiculous and the allegations beyond that. There are people with a lot less knowledge of the minor leagues or prospects that put opinions out there. Tim’s site gets cited by other notable baseball writers and commentators (including the guys in the booth on gamedays).

          If that does not give you credibity than you’re an even bigger fool for ever coming to the site.

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

            Did anyone notice what Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo were doing on day two? Those are two of the most knowledgable guys on prep players, and they were doing the exact same thing I’m doing with a lot of the later picks. Hit up Google, all of the familiar sites, check the stats, and try to get as much info as possible.

        • Zac

          You act as if the guys at BA are just a bunch of random guys that just throw a list together without a care in the world. Alot of those guys are former scouts and worked for ML teams. Its their job to evaluate players to help give their readers an opinion of the prospects.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

    This is probably the worst draft class Huntington has ever had on paper. Doesn’t mean it will be the worst draft in the end but right now I’m kind of speechless on a lot of these selections. BA and MLB.com are wrong all the time just like they are right a lot of the time. but when there are players ranked 200-300 spots higher than they ones you are drafting then you wonder what is going on in the mind of the decision makers? I’m baffled

    • Jared

      And they aren’t making up for it on other days…it’s not like day 2 is/was any better than day 1 or day 3 better than either. I, honestly, have a hard time believing that the Pirates could reach the pool ceiling if they signed every single player.

  • NSA

    My 2 cents: worst draft imaginable but 1 player making a big jump makes all the difference. Sanchez could well make 2009 palitable. CoTuck could do same. Only reason I can see is to sign 35 draftees to fill Bristol roster. I’m not mad, just disappointed.