First Pitch: Reactions to the Pirates Day One Picks

We were going to have a three-part reaction article to the day one picks, similar to what we did for last year’s draft. However, I gave a lot of personal opinions in the day one recap, and anything I write here would be just a copy from that article. So if you want my reactions and thoughts on the day one moves, as well as what I think needs to happen for the Pirates to have success with those moves, check out the recap.

John Dreker and Wilbur Miller were working on the player pages today, and you can find the links below. They’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow, rotating to provide analysis on each pick. Their reactions on day one are below.

John Dreker

The Pirates made some very strange selections with their first two picks, making the first day look like a bust. We heard they would take the best player available, but that wasn’t the case. They took two players that didn’t receive any first round mention and let some talented players slip through to other teams before they made their two later picks. I assume that they made the picks with the hope they can spread the savings around to later picks, but by doing that, they went very soft with two high draft spots that looked to have strong potential. Overall, day one was very disappointing, but it’s possible that day two and three could look better now.

Cole Tucker would have been a nice pick at the end of the night, but selecting him 24th overall makes him look bad. He is someone who could stick at shortstop in the pros and still has room to fill out. He is projected to hit for average, but not power and his speed can be a plus tool. If he reaches his projections, you have a solid shortstop that will get on base and use his speed as an asset. It’s not the upside the Pirates usually go for, and they passed up a few better prep shortstops to get to him.

The Connor Joe pick was just as strange as Tucker. He’s a college player that projects to be an average hitter in right field or first base, or an above average hitter behind the plate with decent defensive skills. He was announced as an outfielder, which makes him an uninspiring pick with the 39th spot. They could have went with some power-hitting first baseman, or grabbed a high upside prep pitcher that fell. Joe would have been a solid third round pick.

Mitch Keller was the best pick on day one. A right-hander with big upside due to his current three-pitch mix and room to fill out. Keller reaches 95 MPH with an easy delivery, which leads you to believe he could add velocity once he fills out and he will have the stamina to start in the pros. He throws on a downhill plane, has strong control, and he already has a change-up that is at least average. Those are three things that the Pirates have pitchers work on, so that gives him a leg up when he enters the system. Overall, a very solid pick at the #64 spot, with a chance to be a steal if he reaches his ceiling.

Trey Supak was the final pick and there are things to like about him, specifically his 6’5″, 210 frame, with room to add muscle. He’s going to need that, because the reports are that he doesn’t hold his velocity well. He projects to have three average pitches, so if they can get some good weight on him and build up his stamina, you’ll have a solid middle of the rotation starter. He does have a lower ceiling than Keller because his fastball tends to be straight, which won’t work well in the pros if he is sitting high 80’s in his starts. He has good control and throws on a downward plane already. The Pirates seem to like drafting pitchers in the 6’4″ range and teaching them to throw downhill, with fastball command and a good change-up, so both of these pitchers fit their mold.

Wilbur Miller

The first day of the Pirates’ draft breaks down very obviously into two parts. The first two picks were, to put it mildly, puzzling, with both players seemingly being severely overdrafted. The second two were about what I’d have expected.

Based on the scouting reports, Cole Tucker’s upside appears to be very limited for a first round pick. He projects to “stay at short,” but if anybody regards him as a potentially outstanding defender, they’re keeping quiet about it. His bat projects as average with little power. The one positive is that he’s very young for a high school draftee, so there’s more than the usual room for error in the reports. The Pirates naturally claim he was the best player available for their board – a caveat that seems to acknowledge that he wasn’t as highly regarded elsewhere. They made the same claim when they drafted Tony Sanchez, a pick that, while not a flop, hasn’t panned out as hoped. It’s very hard to avoid the conclusion that they drafted for need.

Taking Connor Joe with the 39th pick might actually have made sense if he was going to catch, but the Pirates announced him as an outfielder. As a catcher he has significant upside, because he projects to be an average or slightly above hitter and has the tools to catch, although he has only limited experience yet behind the plate. As an outfielder he doesn’t have the bat to project well, particularly due to the questionable power.

The Pirates seem to have gotten back on message with Mitch Keller and Trey Supak. They’ve always liked projectable prep pitchers, and this draft was considered very deep in prep pitchers, making them logical picks after round one. Both pitchers were drafted more or less at about the place where they were rated by the draft watchers, although Supak’s rankings differed significantly between sources. Despite his relative inexperience, given the fact that he comes from a northerly school, Keller seems to be reasonably advanced and already has good fastball velocity, so he’s not just projection. As a North Carolina recruit, Keller could be difficult to sign. In interviews, though, he’s referred to the experience his older brother, also a pitcher, had of falling in the draft due to arm troubles. The lesson that the younger brother says he learned is that it’s a good idea to sign when you can because stuff happens, so he may prefer to turn pro now.

It’s possible the Pirates picked Tucker and Joe with the idea of conserving pool money so they could go over slot on later picks. Neither player should require anything close to slot money to sign. It’s hard to see, though, how spending a first round and supplemental first round pick on players projected to go in round two or three can ever be a good idea. We still have to see what happens on day two, but so far I like this draft by far the least of any since a historically inept GM drafted a left-handed reliever with the fourth overall pick.

Draft Links

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

**Draft Day One Recap: What Needs to Happen to Justify These Pirates Picks?

**Pirates Draft Shortstop Cole Tucker With the 24th Overall Pick

**Cole Tucker Player Page

**Pirates Draft Connor Joe With the 39th Overall Pick

**Connor Joe Player Page

**Pirates Draft RHP Mitch Keller in the Second Round

**Mitch Keller Player Page

**Pirates Draft Trey Supak With the 73rd Overall Pick

**Trey Supak Player Page

**2014 Draft Pick Signing Tracker

Other Links

**Prospect Watch: Five Hits For Josh Bell, Luis Heredia Makes Return

**Gregory Polanco Doesn’t Appear to be Coming Up on Friday

**Vin Mazzaro Outrighted to Triple-A

**Minor Moves: Yao-Hsun Yang added to Altoona Roster, Jeff Inman to Bradenton

**Duke Welker Appears to Be Having Tommy John Surgery

**Prospect Highlights: Triple From Alen Hanson, Tony Sanchez’s Second Homer

**Minor League Schedule: Nick Kingham Looks to Continue Solid Run

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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  • piraddict

    John’s and Wilbur’s disappointment with the first two picks shows their reliance on the accuracy of the various national pundits. Maybe that’s justified. I don’t really know. Has there ever been a study done to evaluate how successfully the pundits rankings predict MLB success? Clearly the draft is a crap shoot. Every year there are lots of 1st round busts when you look across the whole league. And there are often exceptions like Albert Pujols. The Pirates obviously were willing to take Tucker’s age into account as well as his relatively recent rise in abilities which the consensus oriented pundits may not have captured. Taking Tucker like drafting a high school junior instead of a senior. Most kids improve a lot between their junior and senior years. There is more risk involved in making the projection. But who knows, maybe if Tucker were drafted a year from now he’d look like a top ten pick.

    I just don’t see the Pirates deviation from the national pundits services rankings as necessarily cause for much alarm. Let’s see how they work out.

    • impliedi

      Agreed. The baseball draft is like telling you in elementary school that you have to pick out your high school prom date, right now. In seven years, perhaps you’re really happy, or perhaps not!! She may be the prom queen by then or completely intolerable (or even a dropout!).

      But, what’s funny is to hear anybody call the Pirates draft a bust on the same day as the draft. Even though everyone seems to agree that you can’t really judge a baseball draft until you see how the players develop.

      Personally, I have no idea who’s going to end up being right or wrong in the end.

    • WTM

      “Clearly the draft is a crap shoot.”

      No, it’s not. It’s high-risk and difficult, but numerous studies have shown that the chances of making a successful pick steadily drop not only from round to round, but within the first round. In fact, they drop quite a lot just from the top pick to the second pick. If it was a crap shoot, this wouldn’t be true.

      • Lee Young

        It is a crap shoot in the sense that, if 20% of Picks 20-34 (ie) make the majors as regulars, there is a question on which team gets in on that 20%.

        It is a crapshoot when the Cards can blow it on their first round picks (like Brett Wallace) and then hit on Matt Adams, Rosenthal, Craig, in later rounds.

        The percentages ARE historically there…but they are not doled out evenly, so it is a crapshoot

    • Rick Casini

      While it’s true we don’t know how these guys will pan out I think the problem here is value at the pick. I think most would agree that they could have gotten both Cole and Joe a round later than they did. Gm’s know which players are highly regarded and in which round they will most likely go. So even if you had Cole high on your draft board it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t high on many others.

    • jemicarus

      Relatively younger NHL draftees contribute more, value-wise, which suggests that there is often a big difference between 17 and 18. There’s a great graph and summary here:

      “NHL drafts the wrong players due to birthday bias, study suggests”
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227183506.htm

  • emjayinTN

    I sat with my copy of BA and watched as player/pitcher one right after another disappeared in perfect harmony, but then came the Pirates. It is not bad to think outside the box, but taking #83 with the 24th pick? Then the second pick was completely outer-worldly. Obviously, the Pirates have some strong thoughts about the second day picks and are conserving their pool money, and the one good thing is that I think they have removed the doubts about signability of at least their first two picks. Cole Tucker was picked as #83 by BA – 6’3″ 180 switchhitter with a high motor and is a field rat – is Gatewood any better? Both HS Shortstops, both with excellent height, but the switchhitter status and the make-up of Tucker could have been what tipped the Pirates in that direction. As they were talking about him I was visualizing a clone of Reese McGuire. I can handle that, but Connor Joe at #39? What did everybody else miss? Keller and Supak are more in the realm of recent Pirate Drafts, and are kids who can have a lot of upside. Makes me wonder what we will see today.

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

      I’m actually kinda ok with the Tucker pick. I’ve convinced myself that he has a higher upside than most believe. He’s only 17, and for a while longer, so they have ‘a lot more clay to work with,’ so to speak. Not many prep SS to pick from.
      But the 2nd pick is what baffles me. Why not take a risk on M. Harrison? Waaaaay more upside than Say-it-ain’t-so Conner Joe.

      • jschwartz

        Yeah, they took both Harrison and Gatewood. That hurts.

        • leowalter

          Brewers ? See Rickie Weeks.

  • Bucco_Joe

    The friends of Neal and Nutting are in full retreat mode this morning. A team that supposedly can only build through the draft has a miserable performance. Nutting must have directed no over slot draftees this year so he can use the cost savings to pay off the Wandy contract. Look on the positive side, at least for now Neal gets to keep the keys to the executive washroom.

    • JoseGuillensArm

      The budget for the draft was set a long time before wandy was released and it has no bearing on who is selected. Any savings that can be had from these top two guys will certainly be reallocated to later picks. They will not waste draft pool money

    • leadoff

      Nutting had as much to do with this draft as you did.

    • Lee Young

      Bucco Joe….I see you haven’t run out of tinfoil.

  • R Edwards

    (1) Tucker – If the Pirates drafted Tucker on need, why did they pass on the 5-6 shortstops who were considered better than Tucker? Obviously, the Pirates see something in him that most other scouts and “experts” don’t see. Time will tell, as with all draft picks. He is only 17, and already 6’3″ – so maybe this kid fills out and his bat improves over the next 2-3 seasons.

    (2) Joe – This is the pick that upsets me the most, on multiple levels. First, because of who they passed up – Gatewood who could become another Ryan Zimmerman at 3B – and the Pirates lack for 3B prospects. To make matters worse, the Brewers took Gatewood 2-3 picks after the Pirates passed on him a second time. Secondly, Joe doesn’t seem to have a position. If drafted as a catcher, the Pirates seem to have plenty of young catching prospects. So many, they moved Mathesen to 3B. If he is an outfielder, why did they draft an outfielder with this pick – when they are LOADED with outfielders? This kid doesn’t seem to have the kind of bat, or other qualities, to justify this selection. Plus, he’s a college kid – so, not as much potential for significant improvement in size, power, etc. Finally, we essentially gave away a 27 year old reliever, with a lot of upside, to draft Connor Joe. Unbelievable. I think that trade is going to look really bad in 2-3 years, because I think Morris is going to figure it out and be an outstanding closer. He certainly has the stuff and velocity.

    (3) Keller and Supak – Given their first two picks, the Pirates better sign these two. I like these picks – two more big, RH starting pitchers with a lot of potential to get bigger and better. We do have a lot of pitchers, but as we seen this year with all of the injuries to pitchers, you can never have enough or too many.

    Bottom line, I’d give these 4 picks a combined grade of B- or C+. – based on everything I’ve read and understand about these picks.

    • jschwartz

      I couldn’t agree more with the Joe pick. Watching Gatewood go to the Brewers physically hurt.

    • H_Smith4788

      I agree with everything you laid out here, except for one thing re (2)… that trade was for Joe and also the $$ savings by signing him to below slot value (Making the large assumption that he signs below slot). Those $$ savings SHOULD allow us to sign some higher upside guys that we might have gotten if we didnt make the trade

      • moose7195

        One problem with the logic: where are you more likely to find higher upside guys? Round 3 and 4 or rounds 1 and 2? I’m not saying that can’t be their plan, but it’s an assinine plan with backwards logic. If you want higher upside prospects, draft them when you see them the first time. Don’t select the guy you think you can get cheap with the idea that some other high upside guy MIGHT be there later. Maybe take the good prospect first, and then save the slot money in the 3rd and 4th rounds

        • gregenstein

          Except, the problem with your logic is the issue of signability. The reason you take a tough sign guy later is because you absolutely can not risk your first round bonus pool money on a questionable sign. If he doesn’t sign, you can not turn around and spend that savings on someone later in the draft. You lose the ability to spend any of that money without severe consequences.

          • moose7195

            If he’s that big of a signability risk, then don’t take him at 24. There are still talented options at that point. We don’t know what kind of talent will be available in the 4th and 5th rounds. It’s not worth the risk to reach in the 1st round just to hope some talent falls through the cracks so you can hope that he’ll sign what you can give him. What if he doesn’t sign? Now your draft class suffers all the more with nearly no compensation for it

      • R Edwards

        I get that, but at least draft a player at a position of need – like a first baseman, third baseman, second baseman. Wasn’t AJ Reed still available at this pick? Drafting an OF with limited power potential seems odd. Assuming Marte gets his act together, the OF is set for the next 2-4 years. Plus, we have Rojas, Bell, Garcia, Meadows, Barnes, Ramirez, etc, etc coming up….

        • gregenstein

          Your needs will be different even in 2 years, which is a relative fast track for a college player. Alvarez and Cole both spent about 2 years from draft day to MLB debut day. It is silly draft for need at the MLB level. You don’t really know who will work out anyway.

    • Erik Johnson

      Gatewood could also be Chad Hermansen, part 2. A guy with power, but a very long swing that just never hits ML pitching and never gets comfortable at a position.

      • R Edwards

        He could be…he did fall in this draft, from a top 10 pick to what #43? But, given our lack of 3B prospects, he seems to be a better fit for the Pirates needs.

        • Lee Young

          you NEVER draft for need. BPA at all times.

          • emjayinTN

            BPA? C-O-N-N-E-R J-O-E? BPA would have been any pitcher with any type of upside at all, IMHO. Was either Kopech or Flaherty still available? He supposedly has a bat, but . . . . ! Maybe we, like the other 29 teams in the Major Leagues, are missing some hidden talent that would make him into a BPA, and maybe the BPA about him is spelled C-H-E-A-P.

    • leowalter

      Morris ” a lot of upside “????? Irregardless of the draft pick,I have been hearing and seeing people say that about him for 5 years now,and I watched him for most of two seasons in MiLB and failed to see that at any time.

      • R Edwards

        Last year was his first in MLB, and he pitched reasonably well. He throws high 90s and is only 27 – with some MLB experience now. He is better than Hughes or Gomez. I would much rather have him than Connor Joe!!

        • leowalter

          Morris and command are diametrically opposed. I watched him in AA for parts of two seasons,and he has always been the same Brian Morris,whether starter or reliever.

  • Leefoo Rug Bug

    I am with WTM….not putting Joe Connor Joe behind the plate is baffling. Otherwise, despite my initial reactions last night, I have no problems with these picks.

    Foo

    • jschwartz

      Yeah, I’m actually on board with the Tucker pick now. At 6’3, 17 years old, and projected to stay at short, its impossible to say that he won’t have power. Also, this may be the type of guy that raises his stock in college and becomes a top 15 pick. If the Pirates believe this last part, then he may not have signed if drafted late second/third round. They may have gotten a top 2016 draft prospect 2 years early.

  • ElGaupo77

    LOVE the Tucker pick. His DOB is 7/3/96. This will be he 17 year old season. Who knows how good he’ll be by 23.

    If any of the talking heads, including the ones on this board say he has a low ceiling they are incorrect. How do you know what a ceiling is for a 17 year old??

    • moose7195

      I’m pretty sure that age is just a number, and just because he’s younger doesn’t mean you cant project his future. He’s only a few months younger not a few years, so his ceiling is just as predictable as any other 18 yr old. I mean, he’s playing in the same games against the same competition, so what does being 17 have to do with anything?

  • Monsoon Harvard

    I think what stings the most is seeing nl central division teams like the Reds and Brewers come out with so many of the top rated talents, players the Pirates could have easily picked ahead of those teams but passed on. It’s not going to be fun getting beat by these players in the future knowing the Pirates could have had them.

    I thought the Cleveland Indians also had a very good draft, and again the Pirates could have had some of those players before the Indians got to them.

    It’s not so much that they took lower rated talent as it is that they passed on so much higher rated talent.

    The only team in their division that was as baffling as the Pirates were the St. Louis Cardinals picks, though their picks of Flaherty & Weaver may fix all that.

  • jalcorn427

    Hard to like this approach when we could have had Jacob Gatewood (best power in class) and Monte Harrison (best athlete in class). They better sign a bunch of prep arms with the extra cash and make it a loaded top ten of good talent rather than a top heavy draft class.

    • lonleylibertarian

      Did a lot of ranting last night – and don’t want to retract any of it – but I do think three things could somewhat redeem the FO…
      1. The Bucs get Tucker and Joe signed for significantly under slot and get them on the field this year.
      2. Gatewood and Harrison both flop
      3. The pirates get Keller signed and talked out of college

      • Lee Young

        #1…since they moved up the signing deadline almost everyone gets ‘on the field’ this year
        #2 see my post from Keith Law
        #3 he’s just another projectable pitcher…who knows how he’ll turn out. Doubt if signing him would ‘redeem’ the FO. Could be another ZVR for all we know.

        It just might be their scouts know more than BA or Mayo or Law? Otherwise, why have scouts? Just subscribe to the scouting reports.

        • lonleylibertarian

          1. how much under slot will be important
          2. I suspect the brewers (go by rankings) vs vs buc (trust in scouts) approach to this years draft is going to be tracked over the next few years
          3. You r right – one projectable signing won’t be enough – will need a few more in the the next few rounds to improve the odds of finding one glasnow or kingham.

    • Lee Young

      From Keith Law:

      “Then, at pick 41, they took Jacob Gatewood,
      the Clovis, California prep shortstop who has huge raw power but a
      well-below-average hit tool and who’ll likely move to third or right.
      That’s decent value, but another high-risk selection. I do think
      two-sport athlete Monte Harrison is good value at 50, as he had first-round buzz as a very crude hitter who can run and throw and should grow into power.”

      • leadoff

        IMO, both of these guys could be tough signs where they were drafted.

        • Lee Young

          hadn’t thought about that…they might go to college?

  • John Dreker

    One of the problems with quoting Tucker’s age at just 17 is that he is going to be 18 in less than a month and he isn’t playing a game any time soon. If you listen to what people say, they still think he could grow, which means he may outgrow shortstop. If he plays anywhere other than shortstop, this pick looks even worse. You want to go impact talent at the top of the draft class and there were at least five HS players left on the draft board that were ranked all year as first round talent. They even passed a few of them with the second pick. Then when they took Joe, they passed on some better college bats to get him and put him at the position where his bat would make him average at best. They got four nice players today, all of them would have been fine with the #64 or #73 picks, but just looking at the players they passed up to get them really makes you wonder what they were thinking. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tucker signs quick and well below slot, meaning they can spread his savings to Keller and maybe someone else. Same thing could happen with Joe.

    • duckwoes

      Sounds about right John. I really am puzzled by the Connor Joe Choice even more than Tucker. And as many have stated, really hurts seeing Gatewood go to the Brewers at #41!!!

      • leadoff

        The Brewers are always seem to be a step ahead of the Pirates, more so than most teams.

        • Lee Young

          not according to Keith Law, one of the so called experts. He didn’t like their draft.

  • Ecbucs

    Tucker’s scouting report, is he better than this guy from last year?
    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/06/gcl-notes-first-impressions-of-shortstop-trae-arbet.html

    • Lee Young

      does any of us really know?

    • John Dreker

      I hope he is, because those were early impressions from Tim and obviously a small sample size. Things got ugly in a hurry for Arbet and one thing most people didn’t mention with him is that he was old for the HS draft class. Arbet is going to be 20 soon and his GCL stats were horrible last year in every aspect

      • Lee Young

        Sure hope HE is the PTBNL :) :)

  • Lee Young

    Keith Law, today on INsider, pans 3 NL Central Teams’ draft….and not ONE of them is the Pirates.

    He thinks that the Cards, Cubs and Brewers had “headscratching’ drafts.

    I guess the bottom line is: What do any of us really know?

    • John Dreker

      I didn’t like Medeiros at #12, but I’d trade the four players the Pirates took for the three the Brewers took in a heartbeat. I think he’s just saying they could have done much better with the first pick and they took chances on raw, high upside players with the next picks. The Cubs definitely reached for Schwarber and the Cardinals were pretty bad. In that sense, at least the rest of the division made bad decisions too. I thought the Reds made a bad pick….Brewers definitely got the best overall talent and a possible huge payoff if all goes right

      • Lee Young

        ” if all goes right”

        I’ll see you in 3-5 years, then. :)

        But, after calming down, what do we really know about any of these guys? Personally, I trust NH’s scouts over ALL of these draft blogs. Heck, even more than YOU and Tim….. :) :) :) :)

        • John Dreker

          I don’t think it’s a matter of trusting the scouts. I think the Pirates really wanted Tucker and had a feeling he wouldn’t last until #39. They basically fell in love with the kid and had to use their top pick on him to be 100% sure they got him. I can’t explain the Joe pick and I liked the last two, Keller a lot and Supak was good where they got him.

          • Lee Young

            Agree…Joe (esp not being used at C) really makes me scratch my head. Or, it could be that I’ve been out too long in the sun again and it got sunburned?

            • John Dreker

              Here is one other thing with the draft experts. When we did our tier preview, we looked for guys that had big disparity one way or the other, which means there was a split and we should probably rate him higher than someone that was across the board about the same. Tucker falls into the across the board category, which means, it’s not just BA said this about him, it’s everyone who thought he was late second or a third round talent. When you say everyone, it’s not only the name like Keith Law, it’s the people behind the name too that don’t get the credit. Perfect Game did a mock draft with seven draft experts, so you can’t look at them as one source. When you involve all of the draft experts, that means no one saw first round talent and honestly, I don’t think the Pirates did either. I think they saw a player they really liked. I’m sure they really liked Blake Taylor last year, enough to draft him in the 30’s if they had a pick there.

  • leadoff

    Actually if you look at Tuckers stats, he looks pretty good and the body will fill out some, plus the fact that the game of baseball is in his blood, him being described as a baseball rat. More and more I can see why they took this guy. Huntington claims that they were afraid he would not be around at 39, so one gets the idea that the Pirates knew someone else also had their eyes on Tucker.

    • Lee Young

      I was frantically searching the ‘net last night trying to find ANYTHING positive about him. I read somewhere (and I wish I could remember where) that 5 or 6 teams had their eye on him from the comp picks on….

      If that is true………….

      • leadoff

        Prospects tracker has the stats on him, just click on his name.