Casey Gillaspie - Photo Credit: Wichita State

Week In Review: 2014 Draft, Impact of Bryan Morris Trade

The big news this week happened right at the end, the Bryan Morris trade to the Miami Marlins. That deal gave the Pittsburgh Pirates an extra draft pick at the top of the draft. That also meant more money for their draft pool and a chance to add an impact player to an already deep system. The focus has been on the 24th overall pick for most of our draft coverage, but early on we talked about a lot of players that were getting some first round mentions. Those players now come back into player with the Pirates now selecting again at the 39th spot.

This is the first time since 1993, that the Pirates have had four draft picks within the top 73 spots. Most mock drafts only do the first round, so it’s tough to get a feel for the players that might go in the 39 range. The best thing to do is look at players that get mentioned by some in the first round at not others. In the upcoming week, leading up to draft day, we will take a better look at the players in this range to give a look at what kind of talent the Pirates could get with the second pick. You won’t be able to focus on a certain player that deep, but you’ll get a chance to see how much of an impact that pick could provide.

On to the draft coverage and this is the time for mock drafts and rankings. There was plenty to talk about this week, although not many names for the Pirates top spot. On Tuesday, Keith Law posted his second mock draft and had the Pirates taking prep pitcher Luis Ortiz. A few days later, we posted our fifth draft preview and included scouting reports and videos for four players, including Ortiz. One Friday, updated their top 200 list and Ortiz was in the 24th spot, making him someone to follow closely on draft day.

It wasn’t just Ortiz this week though. Two other players have received multiple mentions for the Pirates picks recently. Baseball America had toolsy prep outfielder Monte Harrison for the Pirates in their fourth mock draft, while Jonathan Mayo had Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie in his second mock draft. Either one looks like a solid pick, though they obviously offer up drastically different short-term value for the major league team.

Early in the year, Scott Blewett went to the Pirates in a couple mock drafts. He suffered shoulder soreness after a start earlier this month and was able to come back for just one start at the end of the year. We talked to Blewett afterwards and he gave us an update on his health and what he plans to do before the draft. With the added pick, Blewett may once again be a strong option for the Pirates.

The NCAA regional tournaments began this weekend and a couple players mentioned with the Pirates had big days on Friday. This link also includes Baseball America’s top 500 list, which is a valuable resource on draft day.

Earlier in the week, we covered the Pirates thoughts on drafting local players, focusing on pitcher Brendan McKay from Beaver Falls, Pa., who has made some noise this year with an incredible shutout streak.  Neal Huntington answered questions about how the Pirates have planned to attack this draft, one in which they aren’t picking at the top like usual. He talks about the importance of a strong scouting director and the “best player available” plan when drafting.


The Pirates pitching staff and minor league pitching depth went through some changes this week. Following the Morris trade, Casey Sadler was recalled to take his spot in the bullpen. That wasn’t the only move for Sunday though. The Pirates also claimed pitcher Wirfin Obispo from the Atlanta Braves. Earlier in the week, the Pirates recalled Brandon Cumpton and Vin Mazzaro was designated for assignment. The First Pitch article that night talked about the potential upside of Brandon Cumpton. The Pirates lost Phil Irwin on waivers to the Texas Rangers. The team also placed Wandy Rodriguez on unconditional release waivers, meaning his career with the Pirates is over. Finally, it was also announced that Stolmy Pimentel has begun his rehab assignment and could return shortly.

Also there were some minor league transactions of note.

**Brandon Mann Released, Ryan Beckman Added to Altoona

**Brent Morel Placed on Disabled List

**Pirates Release Eight Players From DSL

The news of that last move came out at the same time that we announced the move to just one team in the Dominican for this season. The Pirates basically have the same amount of players, they have just decided to challenge some of the players at a higher level in the States. On Saturday night, Tim Williams discussed the importance of the Dominican rookie league to the Pirates . On Saturday afternoon, we posted the season preview for the DSL Pirates, along with an attempt at a top ten list from the team.

Top Prospects

On Monday we posted the top ten hitters for the previous week and the top ten pitchers. Brandon Cumpton and Mel Rojas Jr. were the choice and both have moved up a level. On Sunday, the final ballots were in and the top hitter of the month was Keon Broxton, while Adrian Sampson took home the pitcher award for May.

Speaking of top prospects, Gregory Polanco is now rated as one of the top three prospects in the game. On Sunday, Ryan Palencer took a look at how Chris Dickerson has helped mentor Polanco. Dickerson went on the disabled list earlier this week and that opened up the door for Mel Rojas Jr to move to Indianapolis.

We had some injury updates this week on some of the bigger names. Andrew Lambo needed surgery on his thumb, which will keep him out for awhile. Austin Meadows has finally returned to the field and Barrett Barnes is still dealing with his hamstring issues.

Tim Williams talks about minor league promotions and when we can expect them, including the one everyone has been asking for. On Saturday, Max Fogle posted his first article about the comparison between the Pirates system and the rest of baseball.

Pirates Links

Tim Williams offered up analysis on why Josh Harrison isn’t a shortstop option for the Pirates. He also talks about a possible extension for Neil Walker and the Pirates finally having a productive first base platoon.

Finally, the Thursday night first pitch article takes a look at the state of the Pirates rotation. Neal Huntington talks about the depth of the rotation and that has shown with the recent moves that took place, although the start this weekend from Brandon Cumpton obviously didn’t go well.

Prospect Watch

**Josh Bell Homers During Jason Creasy’s Gem

**Nick Kingham Finishes Up Solid May With Another Good Outing

**Adrian Sampson Leads Great Night of Pitching; JaCoby Jones Grand Slam

**Reese McGuire Extends Hit Streak, Strong Outings From Kuhl and Neverauskas

**Glasnow Strikes Out 12, Vance Worley Strikes Out 10

**17 Game Hit Streak For Reese McGuire

** Alen Hanson Homers, Strong Start For Nick Kingham

Prospect Highlights

**Gregory Polanco Moves to Lead-Off Spot

**RBI Hits From Gregory Polanco, Tony Sanchez and Jaff Decker

**Homer From Jaff Decker, Fine Defense From Indianapolis

**Homer From JaCoby Jones, Strikeout By Vance Worley

**Double From Harold Ramirez, Homer From McGuiness

**Alen Hanson’s Sixth Homer, Sanchez Returns to Indianapolis

**Base Hits From Willy Garcia, Homers From Indianapolis

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

Draft Prospect Watch: What the New Draft Pick Could Mean For Pirates

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  • Daryl Restly

    Any chance now that Morris, the last piece from the Jason Bay trade, is gone that we get a Pirates Prospects review of the Bay trade? Or does it continue on with who we draft at #39?

    I know a few years back we traded a compensatory pick to the Marlins along with Gorkys Hernandez to acquire Gabby Sanchez. Anyone know who that compensatory pick that we gave the Marlins ending up being and how is he doing so far? Is Gorkys still with the Marlins system. He was a good defensive outfielder, I’ll give him that.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      The Marlins drafted LHP Matt Krook with the traded pick. He did not sign with the Marlins, He has since had Tommy John surgery after suffering an injury to his pitching arm in April.

      • emjayinTN

        And, #39 this year puts the Pirates in a spot where Baseball America has pitchers almost solid from #35 through #44. Scott Blewett is #48. A few to consider – #38,Jack Flaherty, 6’3″ 217, HS RHP, 9-0, 0.69 ERA, 115K/9W; #39, Michael Kopech, 6’2″ 188, HS RHP, 3-0, 0.44 ERA, 64 IP, 129K/18W. I wonder if Nick Burdi will still be around at #39.

        • stickyweb

          HS stats are, of course, ridiculous, but Flaherty’s 115/9 K/BB might be the most ridiculous.
          It’s very interesting where Burdi will go. How early can a team take a RP, no matter how good he is, especially in such a deep draft?

  • pilbobuggins

    Drafting pitching is never a bad thing and while I think it’s usually a good idea to take the best player available,it seems to me that this draft the pirates should get at least a couple of corner infield prospects. I understand that outfielders can be converted if needed all I’m saying is it would be nice to have a couple of natural corner infielders in the organization who can actually make the big club.

    • emjayinTN

      Casey Gillaspie, if available, is the type of guy you are describing. He is a 1B only, but at 6’4″ 235, he has great power from both sides of the plate, but still hits for average and last year as a Soph he was 4th in the NCAA with 62 Walks, and I think he reached that plateau again this year to go with his 15 doubles and 15 HR’s for Wichita State. He has a brother, Conor, who is playing 3B for the White Sox. He just turned 21 earlier this year which is young for a college Junior these days.

      • pilbobuggins

        Thanks, this is exactly the kind of guy I’m talking about, here’s to wishful thinking, we can always wish but you know what happens in the other hand.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    There are so many good pitchers in this draft and so few good hitters that it would be ridiculous to waste their first 4 picks on pitching. The Pirates on the whole do so poorly with drafting hitters though that I won’t be surprised if they once again miss out on all of the decent hitters in this draft.

    I would love to see them pick hitters like Gillaspie, Monte Harrison, Michael Chavis, A.J. Reed, Alex Blandino, Mike Papi, etc. but I have learned not to be optimistic.

    • pilbobuggins

      The pirates have drafted quite a few good hitters, only problem is most of them become good mlb hitters somewhere else.

  • pilbobuggins

    The pirates got rid of morris,got a high draft pick for him and got a clone of morris that can hopefully become something morris could not, a solid middle reliever, beat the dodgers in la and did it all in one day. I’d say that’s a day to remember would’nt you.

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