Day two of the draft is over, and all of the slot picks for the 2014 bonus pool have been selected. Just like last night we will give our reactions to the picks. You can check out the recap of the day here. Wilbur Miller and John Dreker were both following the draft today, with the three of us working to find information on the new Pirates prospects. You can find all of our thoughts below.
After the day one picks, I expected a lot of high upside picks, and a few potential over-slot guys, much like we saw on day two last year. Instead, the Pirates went almost entirely with college guys, which isn’t a process that provides a lot of high ceilings. It’s not like they didn’t take the same approach last year, as their total college players on day two this year was just one more than their 2013 total. But last year had really interesting high upside guys like JaCoby Jones, Buddy Borden, and Cody Dickson.
The Pirates added a few more outfielders today, plus two catchers, and a few projectable right-handed pitchers, obviously. These picks don’t look exciting, and maybe that’s due to the fact that day one wasn’t extremely exciting. It had two reaches in the first two picks, leading to a hope for day two to make up for that. And since day two didn’t make up for that with a huge day, these picks are seen in a lower light. In isolation, I like the guys the Pirates took today. It’s not the greatest group, but it’s not the worst. That said, I think the Pirates need to focus on some high upside, over-slot guys on day three. This draft needs a lot of that. While the top ten round picks could work out as the Pirates planned, it also looks very possible that this group could end up challenging to be the worst draft class under Neal Huntington and company.
Favorite Pick - Tyler Eppler, RHP
Maybe there’s something about Sam Houston State pitchers that I like, because this is the second year in a row where I’ve picked a member of the Sam Houston State rotation in this spot (last year: Cody Dickson). Or maybe I just trust the Pirates and their process in developing pitchers. Either way, Eppler was my favorite pick on day one. There were mixed reports on his fastball, but it sounds like he’s got the potential to sit 89-93, touching 95. With his 6′ 6″, 220 pound frame, it’s possible he could add to that velocity. He’s going to need to develop some secondary stuff, which probably means the Pirates will have him choose between his slider and curve, while focusing heavily on developing the changeup. I like the size of the pitcher and the potential with the fastball. If the other stuff comes along, he could be an interesting prospect to follow.
Sleeper Pick - Taylor Gushue, C
In my opinion, all of these guys fit the “sleeper” category, since there wasn’t really a pick that stood out, or had a ton of upside. That’s what happens when you take a bunch of college guys. I would have picked Nelson Jorge here, simply because he’s a prep guy, but instead I went with Taylor Gushue. Maybe I’m jumping on the same bandwagon as Pat Lackey here with the focus on age, but I like that Gushue is much younger than most players coming out of college. When you consider that his first year was spent behind Mike Zunino, and that he’s only had two years as a starting catcher, it adds more promise. I don’t think he’s a finished product at all. It seems like a lot of players see a big boost around their junior year age, which would be next year for Gushue. The projections on him aren’t great, but I don’t think he can be projected the same way as other college guys, since he’s still got that key development year to come.
After the picks on the first day, which weren’t well received, I was willing to see what the Pirates did on day two before I judged it too harshly. I’m going to push that back to day three now, because I have no idea what they were thinking on day two either. The drafting pattern of this front office is to pick up projectable right-handed pitchers and hope to develop them into power arms and future major league starters. That’s what I was expecting on day two, especially since it looked like the Pirates could save some bonus pool money from the day one picks.
They totally went rogue and stockpiled uninspiring college players, doubling up on catchers and right fielders, which makes three of the latter when you count Connor Joe from the first day. They lost me on day two, but there are still some high upside/high bonus demand players left to select, so there is some hope for this draft class. Whether they do that or not on day three, we will see.
Favorite Pick - Nelson Jorge, SS
I could easily say no one here, because there was no one that I thought was a player that should have gone earlier than they did and I don’t see much upside in this group. I’m guessing I have to go with shortstop Nelson Jorge, taken in the seventh round. There wasn’t much available on him, so I watched a few videos before writing up his player page for the site. I like the athleticism he has and the potential to stay at shortstop. He has a strong arm, runs well and hits from both sides of the plate. It looks like he could have some pop in his bat from the right side and he makes good contact from the left. The fact that there wasn’t much available on him is sort of a turn-off, but the player in the video looked good.
Sleeper Pick - Tyler Eppler, RHP
Since I can’t go with Jorge here, I’ll say Tyler Eppler because he has room to grow and possibly add to the decent velocity he already displays from time to time. A big right-hander that has touched 95 MPH is nice if he can start and maintain that velocity, but right now he sits in the 88-93 range. That won’t work without developing his secondary stuff. He sounds like a college pitcher that still has some projection left, despite turning 21 back in January. He probably won’t move too quick through the system, but I’d say there isn’t much of a rush to get him to the majors.
The Pirates’ day two selections were another puzzle. In a draft that was supposedly deep in prep pitchers and little else, you’d think prep pitchers would have been the focus of day two, but they didn’t take a single one. Instead they loaded up on college right fielders and catchers. Of course, that’s fine if the players are the best available; it’s just hard to believe these players were the best available. More likely, the Pirates focused on players they think will sign below slot, to save pool money either for players they may take on day three, or for day one draftees Mitch Keller and Trey Supak, or both. Contrary to Bud Selig’s empty-headed comments about how the new draft system allows teams to select the best players, it does nothing of the kind. Teams have to select players with a view toward managing their pool money. All the new system has really accomplished is to cut teams’ expenses, which as always was Selig’s real intention.
As to the picks themselves, I don’t see a lot of upside. Jordan Luplow, Taylor Gushue and Kevin Krause are all solid college position players. Each has a reasonable chance — keeping in mind that the failure rate even in rounds 3-10 is very high — to become a major league role player. Michael Suchy probably has a little more upside due to his power potential, but I don’t have much faith in hitters with the sort of swing-and-miss that he brings with him. I don’t know what to make of Nelson Jorge, as there isn’t a lot of information available on him. I do know that he wasn’t the best shortstop in Puerto Rico; that was Alexis Pantoja, who went two rounds after Jorge. The three college pitchers — Tyler Eppler, Austin Coley and Alex McRae — look like potential long relievers at best. All that being said, without seeing the day three picks it’s hard to judge the day two picks, because they’re all interrelated thanks to the new system.
Favorite pick - Taylor Gushue, C
I don’t really have a favorite among these picks, but Gushue probably comes the closest. He’s improved steadily at the plate over his three college seasons and, because he’s so young for a college draftee, he may have more than the usual room for development. If he can become an average-ish hitter with average defense behind the plate, he’ll have value.
Sleeper - Austin Coley, RHP
This is even harder, because I don’t see any of these selections as having a great deal of upside. Suchy probably has the most, but I don’t like his contact issues. That leaves Coley, who has pretty good velocity and has shown the ability to miss bats. He may have underperformed this year due to mono, so there’s that.
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