First Pitch: Day Two Reactions – A Disappointing Draft, So Far

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.

Tim Williams

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.

 

John Dreker

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.

 

Wilbur Miller

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.

 

Draft Links

**SALEGet 24% Off the 2014 Prospect Guide and Other Pirates Prospects Gear

**Draft Day Two Recap: Pirates Go College Heavy on Day Two

**Prospect Highlights: Getting to Know the New Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Picks

**Third Round: Pirates Draft RF Jordan Luplow / Jordan Luplow Player Page

**Fourth Round: Pirates Draft Catcher Taylor Gushue / Taylor Gushue Player Page

**Fifth Round: Pirates Draft Right Fielder Michael Suchy / Michael Suchy Player Page

**Sixth Round: Pirates Draft RHP Tyler Eppler / Tyler Eppler Player Page

**Seventh Round: Pirates Draft Shortstop Nelson Jorge / Nelson Jorge Player Page

**Eighth Round: Pirates Draft RHP Austin Coley / Austin Coley Player Page

**Ninth Round: Pirates Draft Catcher Kevin Krause / Kevin Kraus Player Page

**Tenth Round: Pirates Draft RHP Alex McRae / Alex McRae Player Page

The Normal Links

**Prospect Watch: Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell Homer, Stolmy Pimentel Makes Rehab Start

**Pirates Promote A.J. Morris to Indianapolis

**Minor Moves: Chris Dickerson Activated From the DL, Jake Brigham to the DL

**Mazzaro Accepts Assignment to Indianapolis, Welker Has Tommy John Surgery

**Minor League Schedule: Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow on the Mound Tonight

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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  • capirate

    Your comments pretty well sum up my response. There is not much here to get excited about. If they don’t hit a home run on day three, this is going to be a pretty lousy draft.The only players that seem to have real potential are Mitch Keller and Trey Supak.

  • emjayinTN

    It has not been a “WOW” draft for the Pirates, but there are a few kids who could become more valuable as we see more from them after they sign. I like the size, switchhitter aspect, and projection for Cole Tucker. I was hoping for Burdi, Flaherty, Kopech, or Sheffield, but I guess we did not want a Closer, and the other 3 were gone by the time pick No. 39 rolled around. Unless I am mistaken, we squandered our pick at No. 39. I like Eppler, Keller, and Supak, and I think that both you and Wilbur are right on with Taylor Gushue. Not a household name going into the draft, he provides a lot of upside for the Pirates. First, good size at 6’2″ 200; second, a switchhitter for batting average and decent power; third, played a key position in the strongest conference in collegiate baseball; and fourth, he played 28 games at 1B in 2012 as a Freshman while waiting for Mike Zunino to finish his career and get drafted No. 3 overall. Another plus is that he batted about .320 overall this year, but that average increased to .389 in conference games, and his %age of throwing out base stealers went from 25% to 30% in conference games. A lot of college teams play a pedestrian schedule during the week, and many players use that to drive up their stats on lesser pitchers – not the case with this kid. And, lastly, I think he was an Academic All American while at Florida, which is a very strong academic school. So, excellent work habits and ability to rise to the occasion.

    • emjayinTN

      Forgot to mention that I hope the name of David Peterson, HS LHP shows up for the Pirates today. It will take some bucks to sign him. I think the Pirates had their eye on Sheffield for No. 39, who was projected in the late 40’s early 50’s going into the draft, but Cleveland jumped up at No. 31 to get him – smart move.

    • moose7195

      The projection for Tucker is my biggest issue with the pick. There are mixed theories out there, but most of it says average hitter, no power, and good defensive player. That doesn’t sound like 24th overall material.

  • 20Stoney

    Very disappointing.

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    Just uninspiring overall. Especially in what was considered a deep draft. I figured, extra picks + deep draft = high upside risks. I actually liked the Cole pick after a bit of thinking on it. But the rest? Meh.
    Where did some former picks end up?
    Did Goeddert get picked?
    Do we take a shot Jake B today?
    Where did the local kids end up?

  • Dom DiDominic

    Trying to figure out other reasons for this draft strategy. Could this be part of the plan in adding Bristol to the minor league system? Go college to avoid the State College disaster?
    Could it be they are looking to deal guys like Bell, Meadows maybe even a Marte or Polanco (Price? Wheeler?) to pump up their rotation?
    NH had the goal to rebuild their minor league system. That is now done. This could be phase II.
    Back to reality, I would still like to see some prep over slop value be drafted today.

    • B Thomas

      I feel Bell is NH biggest trade chip heading into this trade deadline. And feel the Pirates will deal from their OF prospects in order to get a starting pitcher. Polanco, Glasnow, and Meadows should be your only untouchables heading into July 31st. Would Price be worth the price of Hanson, Bell and SP Prospect? I do not know. What I would like to see is the Pirates make a big splash and go after Chris Sale. I know he may not be available…but he would be the only one that could be available that I would give a good bit of my prospects for. A package of Bell, Hanson and Kingham might not even be enough for Sale. But I would try.

      • https://profiles.google.com/117072260031604417798 PikeBishop65

        My initial reaction is no on Hanson, as he is the only real possibility in the middle infield, as Jordy Mercer doesn’t seem to be the long term answer and Neil may be waving bye bye in two years.

      • moose7195

        If NH presented that offer for Chris Sale, we would probably be able to hear Chicago’s FO laughing from Pittsburgh. Sale is one of the best pitchers in the league, and nothing short of Polanco, Glasnow, and another top 5 Pirate prospect would get them thinking. Remember, we were hearing rumors about them wanting Polanco,and Hanson for Alex Ramirez and Adam Dunn.

    • CTBucco

      Building a farm system is never done. It has to constantly be stocked with a mix of high upside talent, aka potential future stars, and solid players. Otherwise, graduations and washouts will wipe it back out much faster than it was built.

      I think a strategy built around trying to stock a new farm club with what looks to be a lot of organizational filler is doomed to produce lousy results beyond the first year for that farm club. You need to draft the most talented guys available

  • Lee Young

    About Connor Joe: “He does a lot of things as a hitter that we like,” Pirates amateur scouting director Joe DelliCarri said. “He has power and he controls the strike zone. We feel he could develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter.”

    I hope they’re right!

    • emjayinTN

      With all due respect to the Paisan, but are the Pirates that advanced that we were the only team who saw this kid as a legit pick at No. 39? I guess that’s better than “We told them to draft Joe Gatto, but they got it mixed up with Connor Joe” or “We thought it was better to bring in a RH hitter who had 9 HR’s in college rather than a 6’4″ LH hitter like AJ Reed who hit 23 HR’s and played in the SEC and who also was a frontline LH pitcher in addition to being a 1B for Kentucky”. There is a limit to what the average fan will digest. We were spoiled after last year’s draft.

      • Lee Young

        Your last sentence says it all, imo.

        but, time will tell…..

  • Lee Young

    Just remember that a successful draft is any draft where we get 2 to 3 USABLE players. It remains to be seen how this one pans out. If we get, say, a starting SS, a closer, and another player (say, a JHay) type, we will have been VERY successful.

  • Lee Young

    Wilbur said: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.

    Ain’t that the truth!!

  • Lee Young

    I LOVE the MLB draft. WTM has spoken of the odds of a draftee making it. BRef has an excellent tool on the draft. I randomly took a look at the 3rd round of the 2005 draft.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=year_round&year_ID=2005&draft_round=3&draft_type=junreg&

    Only FOUR guys with WAR 2.0 or greater (so far). Jensen Lewis, Micah Owings, Brian Duensing and Brett Gardner. Btw, Bryan Morris (Rays) and Mazzaro (Jays) were both drafted on this round.

    That is close to the overall success percentage . 4 out of 30 or 13%. Some years worse, some better.

    I used to have a link to a couple of studies on exact odds, but I had to reformat and (despite my best efforts) lost all of my firefox links. But, I remember it getting to around 10% (at best) around Round 10. I forget the WAR cutoff, but it wasn’t great (I’m thinking 2.0 or 3.0, but I am old and foogetful).

    So, this kind of tempers my disappintment. Can’t wait for Tim’s eval in 5 years. :) :)

  • leadoff

    I think I will go with the Pirate management and their scouts over me, the fans and the media when it comes to this draft, true the Pirates did not take anyone I would have taken and apparently no one the media or the fans would have taken, but that does not mean that did not get some very good prospects. Like the 09 draft gets roundly and unjustly criticized, I think because their is no name player in this draft this draft will go the same route. Sign-ability and projections have so much to do with drafts and in-depth studies these teams do on these players far exceeds my imagination.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      Great, level headed assessment leadoff. Who knows what Joe, Tucker, Keller (who seems to have indicated he’s signing), or any of the other guys turn into. You are right about the 2009 draft. While nothing flashy came out of that draft, there were still a lot of talented players we selected who have helped this ball club. If anything, this seems like a class that, a few years down the road, people will be surprised what we got out of it (maybe a 4 starter, a couple relievers, and a decent bat) which is what you usually hope for.

  • spazaru

    I listened to the Baseball America draft podcast and those guys LOVED the Pirates’ draft. Hopefully they’re right and all the other folks who have been so negative about it are wrong.