Draft Day Three Recap: Prep Players, Pittsburgh Kids, and Tommy John

The 2012 Major League Baseball Draft concluded today with rounds 16-40. Day one is the best chance to see a potential star being drafted, with a lot of top talent going in the first and compensation rounds. You see some interesting players taken on day two, and some of those guys could go on to be impact players, or just starters in the majors. Things are different on day three, especially now that spending has been restricted.

Day three is all about sleepers. The only problem is, it can be hard to identify sleepers. As an example, LSU outfielder Raph Rhymes hit for a .459 average this year, leading the nation and winning the SEC Player of the Year award. But Rhymes didn’t get drafted until the 30th round. Meanwhile, Stanford left fielder Tyler Gaffney went to the Pirates in the 24th round, despite coming off a .246/.394/.345 line in his junior year.

That’s not picking on the Pirates. They drafted Rhymes last year, taking him in the 40th round. He opted to return to college for his senior year, which was a wise decision. But it’s interesting. A guy is good enough to be the best hitter in the SEC, and every team passes on him for 30 rounds, taking guys who put up poor numbers ahead of him.

Looking at it from the other side, those poor numbers can be explained away by a better scouting report. The Pirates took Jake Johansen in the 27th round. When I saw the scouting reports, the pick looked like a steal. Johansen throws 93-95 MPH, touching 97. He also has a sharp slider which can be a plus offering at times. Those two, combined with his big 6′ 6″, 235 pound frame make him a potential late inning reliever. Then I looked at the stats and saw he had horrible control. But that’s a gamble you take. Iron that control out, and you’ve got a late inning reliever with two plus pitches in the 27th round. That’s a steal.

It’s hard to pin down the thinking on day three. Sometimes the numbers look good, but the player doesn’t have the tools. Sometimes the tools look good, but the players don’t have the numbers. And if you’re taking a guy where both are good…well, then you probably forgot to take that guy off the draft board when he went on day two.

Here is a look at some of the notable players from day three of the Pirates’ draft.


Potentially Signable Prep Players

Being a shortstop in high school doesn’t guarantee being a shortstop throughout a pro career. However, 16th round pick Max Moroff has the arm strength to handle the position, and is athletic, giving him a shot. He also has some power, driving the ball hard thanks to some good bat speed. He’s a switch hitter, with better bat speed from the right side. Moroff has a commitment to Central Florida.

Jack Moffit throws 88-92 MPH with a decent curveball and a splitter that acts like a slider. He put up a 0.72 ERA in 39 innings this year, with a 48:11 K/BB ratio. The 31st round right hander has a commitment to Navarro Junior College.

The Pirates took several Pittsburgh natives, including their final pick of the day, 40th round selection Zarley Zalewski. Zalewski is from New Kensington, PA, and is a switch hitting third baseman. He has a loose swing and good bat speed. He was drafted at third base, but doesn’t run well, and doesn’t have the strongest arm. He’s committed to Kent State.


The Pittsburgh Connection

Along with Zalewski, the Pirates drafted several players on day two who are from the area. 21st round pick Jordan Steranka was a senior at Penn State, and is from Pittsburgh. He had a good bat at Penn State, and should sign as a senior, going to State College to play first and third.

26th round pick Jimmy Rider, drafted out of Kent State, is also from the Pittsburgh area. Rider is Kent State’s all-time leader in hits. He’s got some gap power, and played shortstop previously, but was drafted as ¬†second baseman. He’s also a college senior, and like Steranka, is likely to sign and go to State College.


Post-Tommy John Surgery

The Pirates had an interesting trend this year, taking several guys who have previously had Tommy John surgery. On day two they took Adrian Sampson, who had the injury his senior year of high school. On day three they took right hander Hayden Hurst in the 17th round. Hurst throws 88-92 MPH, touching 95, so he seems to be doing fine after the injury.

30th round pick Chase McDowell also had Tommy John surgery, having the procedure in 2011. McDowell throws in the low 90s, also throwing a curve and a change.

Tommy John surgery is a procedure that has a very successful recovery rate. Usually it takes a pitcher a year to get back to where they were prior to the injury. In some cases, pitchers throw harder after the injury. Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington talked about this phenomenon yesterday when talking about the selection of Sampson.

“A lot of people think that Tommy John surgery, these guys come out throwing harder, it must be something magical with the ligament,” Huntington said. “The reality is that they come out hungrier because the game has been taken away from them. They come out in better shape because they’ve had to work so hard in their rehab, harder than they’ve ever had to work in the past. And they come out ready to go. And they recognize the second chance is a blessing to them, and more often than not they get after it in a different way than they might have before the injury.”

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Matt Beam

Not that I’d expect Boras to go quietly, but picks #1 , #5 , and #1 2 signed for $4.8MM, $3.0MM, and $2.2MM (all below slot) – I wouldn’t pay Appel over $3.0MM ($2.9MM slot) based on how things are shaking out


I’ve been told before in the later draft rounds there’s no such thing as a risky pick. However, we’ve drafted a lot of young HS guys, especially pitchers, in the latter rounds with committments for certain colleges. In most cases it is expected that those players will honour their committments, hence are virtually unsignable, especially as we can no longer throw money at them. If that is the case, why not draft players with a more realistic chance that they will actually sign ? For me those picks still look very much wasted…

Patrick Kelly

Jackson McClellan’s father poked his head in on BD. Says he and his son are lifelong Bucs fans. They were apparently the only team scouting him due to his commitment to Pepperdine. The dad mentioned that he think he will sign. Seems like a pretty decent arm to add to the system if it pans out.

Patrick Kelly

Also, McClelland

Lee Young

I’d forgotten about Rhymes. I wonder why we didn’t try to redraft him?

Lee Young

Tim…is Rhymes a junior or senior? From this report, it sounds like he has one more year.

“New York selected LSU left fielder Ralph Rhymes in the 30th round. Rhymes,
a junior from Neville High in Monroe, leads the nation in hitting with a
.452 batting average and was named the Southeastern Conference player
of the year last month. The first team All-American was a 40th round
selection by Pittsburgh last year. Rhymes, though, has told reporters that he plans on staying for his senior season at LSU.”

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