Pirates Sign Neil Kozikowski to Over-Slot Deal

UPDATE FRIDAY 6:31 PM: The Pirates have officially announced the deal, as expected. They also made the signing of 22nd round pick Henry Hirsch official, which we reported earlier today.

MONDAY: The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to an over-slot deal with eighth round pick Neil Kozikowski, Pirates Prospects has learned from a source with knowledge of the discussions. The deal is for $425,000, which is over the $155,400 slot price for the eighth round.

After signing second rounder Blake Taylor to an under-slot deal, the Pirates have $266,000 for over-slot deals without any penalties. Kozikowski’s deal will put them about $5,000 over-budget, although they could still create room with any number of their top ten round picks. They can also spend up to $701,345 in over-slot deals without forfeiting a draft pick. Kozikowski will take his physical later in the week, and should officially sign by the end of the week.

The right-hander wasn’t on the radar in any top draft prospects rankings, but seems like the type of projectable arm the Pirates love. He’s 6′ 4″, 180 pounds, and throws 86-88 MPH but has touched 92. He throws from a 3/4 arm slot, and has a projectable frame, which could give him added velocity in the future. He also has a good changeup, a solid slider, and a cutter. Originally I questioned whether he might be an under-slot candidate, but after considering his commitment to VCU — which has a good baseball program — I thought he might be a little bit more difficult to sign.

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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This is a weird one. The Pirates must think A LOT of this kid.
Then again, no other team seems to think so highly as he had to wait till the eighth round to get picked. So no other team picked him, but when we did the 155K slot amount apparently wasn’t enough to sign the guy.

Which makes me think: Did the Pirates offer this kind of amount out of sheer goodness or did Kozikowski tell them he wouldn’t sign otherwise ?
That’d be quite a big and confident statement from a guy drafted in the eight round, even though he had a committment for VCU.
Nearly 300K over slot for an eighth rounder ? Sounds utterly crazy.

If he turns out to be a stud and becomes a MLB starting pitcher the 300K will pale into insignificance obviously, but until then I hope we can still sign some of the other prospects. The way this signing has been done I’m sure all eyes now will be on Kozikowski’s every step and pitch in the organization.


Anyone have a guess as to why Meadows hasn’t signed yet? Whether he signs now or 12 days into July really doesn’t matter but with a lot of the first rounders signing for slot or slightly under I’m not sure what Meadows is waiting for. Maybe his agent said wait until July 12th, you have nothing to gain in signing before then. Even though I know he’ll sign it leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth.


Yeah. You’re probably right. The Pirates can’t risk not signing their 1st rounder two years in a row and Meadows can probably get a couple extra bucks out of the deal if he prolongs it. As long as he signs I guess I shouldn’t care.


Holy #&*%. I literally watched Jones ground out. Responded to Tim’s comment and when I checked the game Cole was out of the 1st. Thank God for DVR so I can find out what happened. If you get a chance Tim – when Gomez and Wandy come back do you think Cole definitely goes down to work on an offspeed out pitch? Slider, curve, slurve, change up? Whatever? I love his approach but when it’s 2nd, 3rd and one out he needs a strikeout and that was kind of lacking against the Dodgers.


I know their pick is protected. I was more of the you can’t afford not to have a first rounder not in the system for 2 years (Appel, Meadows). I guess Neal could use that as a little leverage but in the end I’d imagine they’ll meet in the middle and probably over the slot without penalties. Alright. I’m going to try and stay up til the 5th inning. Wish me luck.

joe g.

The Pirates will Not lose a draft pick if they don’t sign him.

Fred Langford

Sounds like from the reports that he has fairly advanced secondary stuff for his age. Although these things are still sketchy until more people see him live. He is a young 18 also, with his birthday being less than a month ago. He fits the blueprint for sure and at 180…if you think he could fill out to 225 someday you hope for a kid that is 90-93 with a 3 pitch mix someday. Or like they do with so many guys…put him in the pen where he works at 92-94.


Fred: Nice stuff about his young age and the fact he has four pitches with which to work and develop. Brandon Cumpton was our No. 9 draft pick in 2010 after a career at Georgia Tech, and he has similar stuff that he keeps down in the zone. Not every pitcher needs to be 96,97 to be successful, if the offspeed stuff is above average or plus. I wonder how many times Mike Leake threw over 91 last night?


Seems kind of excessive for a guy no one had heard of before he got drafted.


I’m okay with it. It seems like it’s almost a volume game with the protectable prep pitchers. If you’re going to use this philosophy you need to keep drafting and signing them, because for every Glasnow, there might be 3 or 4 ZVR types that don’t work.

But when they hit on a guy like Glasnow, the return is a possible windfall.


I’m not sure if that’s considered way over slot for a 8th rounder, it seems it though.


All you need to know about draft rankings of preps is Mike Piazza.

Lee Young

Lotta money to spend on someone not that highly regarded?


Right on Tim. The rating services tend to favor kids they see a lot on reputable traveling teams, at MLB Skills type tryouts, and word of mouth from Scouts. And, once a kid gets marked like that by a scout, every other scout will watch him and talk about him to others. There are a lot of kids who get overlooked in the process, and it is still that 6″ between the ears that will tell you whether you have something or not. He has the projectable build and number of pitches, and he must have a strong work ethic.


Well said Emjayin; and I’m glad the Bucs are looking beyond what the talking heads all say about a prospect/non prospect, because that’s where the better teams get an advantage in drafting.

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