Rounds 21-25: Improving the State College Relationship?

With the 21st round pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates took Penn State third baseman Jordan Steranka. He’s a senior, so he’s a lock to sign. Considering the recent issues with the State College Spikes, it’s hard to avoid the thought that this could be a move to improve the relationship.

One of the big complaints the last few years in State College was that the offense was bad — a result of the Pirates going heavy with pitchers in the previous drafts. Steranka is a local guy, putting up strong hitting numbers in State College at Penn State. That will definitely be a good marketing chip for the Spikes, and it will help fill out the roster. I’d imagine Steranka would have a similar role as Chris Lashmet last year, playing some first base and some third base.

Most of the picks in rounds 21-25 were guys who profile more as organizational guys. Three were college seniors, and should sign quickly. Information on each player is below, with a link to their player pages on their name.

21st Round, 646th Overall: Jordan Steranka, 3B, Penn State

Steranka has been one of the top hitters at Penn State the last few years, and put up some improved power numbers his senior year. He was drafted as a third baseman, but is probably better suited for first base. Steranka turned down the Astros last year in the 30th round, opting to return to Penn State. He’ll sign this year, and should go to State College, where he will give the local fans someone to follow at a time when the relationship with State College appears to be strained. He profiles more as an organizational guy in the lower levels.

22nd Round, 676th Overall: Taylor Hearn, LHP, Prep

Hearn is a 6′ 5″, 190 pound left hander.  He’s got a loose arm with an 85-87 MPH fastball, and a very slow curve at 66-68 MPH. He has a commitment to the University of Oklahoma, but is also listed in some places with a commitment to San Jacinto CC. Unless he only wanted $100,000 or less, he’d probably be tough to sign under the new rules.

23rd Round, 706th Overall, Lance Breedlove, RHP, Purdue

Breedlove started his career in the JuCo ranks at Long Beach City College, then transferred to Purdue for his final two seasons. The college senior had a good season in Purdue’s rotation his senior year. He’s got good fastball command, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball. He also throws a slider. Breedlove will likely sign quickly and should serve as organizational depth in the lower levels, filling out the pitching staff in State College this year.

24th Round, 736th Overall, Tyler Gaffney, LF, Stanford

A running back with Stanford’s football team, Gaffney has a muscular build but is more of a gap-to-gap hitter than a power hitter.  Since he profiles as a corner outfielder, that probably limits his projection to fourth outfielder.  He’s shown good patience at the plate. He had a bad junior year, hitting for a .246/.394/.345 line, so he could decide to go back to school rather than turn pro. Gaffney was teammates with first round pick Mark Appel at Stanford.

25th Round, 766th Overall, Josh Smith, LHP, Wichita State

Smith pitched all four years with Wichita State, and had good numbers his final two years in the rotation. He throws in the upper 80s, touching 90-91 MPH with a two-seam fastball that has good movement. Smith also throws an excellent changeup and a sharp slider. He has above-average command over all of his pitches. He should sign quickly, and will serve as organizational depth in the lower levels.

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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Steranka is also from Mt. Lebanon!!!

F Lang

The Bucs promoted all their dominant latin hitters past ss-a and straight to low a or State College would have a dominant offense and Heredia and Clay Holmes this year. I am guessing it is just cyclical but part of it is how we push our kids through the minors.

Reed Miller

It seems like the Pirates scout the BigTen especially well, or maybe that’s an illusion.

Ian Rothermund

Isn’t that like farming in Antarctica for the most part though?


Tim, the write up you gave Josh Smith is not an organizational player write up, what makes him an organizational player if he has the pitching tools that you described?

Ian Rothermund

Yeah I was thinking that myself. It seems like there a thin line between a lot of these guys. Is it just a matter of comparing the talent level they’ve played at and the numbers that they’ve had?

Lee Young

I dunno….upper 80s FB is usually the mark of an org player.

Ian Rothermund

Usually, my point is really that there are a lot of those guys pitching in the pros today, and there’s so much more to it than that

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