With the 39th pick in the 2014 draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Connor Joe. This was the pick the Pirates acquired for Bryan Morris. Just like with their first pick, the Pirates are going against the consensus rankings. Joe is ranked pretty low, being ranked 102nd by Baseball America, 110th by MLB.com, and unranked by Keith Law in his top 100. Scout.com had him the highest, at number 92.
One thing to point out is that, while guys like Jacob Gatewood or Monte Harrison look like much better picks now, they’re still on the board. However, it’s unlikely that either will be there when the Pirates pick at 64 in the second round.
Joe has a line drive stroke, hitting to all fields, and hitting a lot of doubles. Baseball America says he projects as a “solid-average to above-average hitter”, and has a chance for average right-handed power. He’s 6′ 0″, 205 pounds, and is listed as a catcher, first baseman, and outfielder. His best value would be if he sticks behind the plate, although he’d be a project there. He does have an average or better arm and a quick release, but needs work with his other skills.
Joe hit .367 (80-for-218) with 21 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs in 53 games during his junior year at the University of San Diego this past season.
It will be interesting to see where the Pirates view him in the long-term. They have Reese McGuire ahead of him if he becomes a catcher. If he goes the first base route, he’d have an easier path. However, he doesn’t project to hit for the power you’d want to see from a first baseman.
Neal Huntington will be holding another conference call with the media after the second round picks, and I’ll have more on Joe in tonight’s recap.
UPDATE 11:15 PM: Connor Joe’s player page.