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

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded Bryan Morris to the Miami Marlins for the 39th overall draft pick. The draft pick has a value of $1,457,600, which gives the Pirates a new bonus pool total of $7,063,700. With the Pirates picking 24th overall, we have covered a lot of players that were mentioned at times in their range, but have fallen in the ranks. Some are mentioned below in our NCAA regional tournament coverage.

The new pick is going to give the Pirates another player that has potential first round talent, adding another top prospect to a system that was already rated the best by some sources. This draft is deep enough at the top that you could still get a top college bat, or a high upside prep player. It also means they have more chances to save money in the early rounds to add overslot players after the 11th round when bonuses are capped at $100,000 and anything over counts against your bonus pool. In each of the last two years, the Pirates went overslot with three picks after the tenth round.

This draft now looks like it could add a lot of talent to the system with four picks in the top 73 spots. The last time the Pirates had four picks in the top 73 spots was 1993. The this year picks begin Thursday night and all of the first day picks will be broadcast live on the MLB Network and covered here as they are announced.

Saturday’s Coverage

In yesterday’s article, we covered the first day of the NCAA Regionals and gave some predictions of where the top players could end up in the draft. Today, we cover the action from the second day of the tournament for these same players.

Luke Weaver made his start of Saturday and lost to Alabama. He went five innings, giving up three runs(one earned) on five hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. He only went five because his pitch count was up to 90 at that point. Weaver might fall out of the first round, as he has been rated in the back-end of the round all year, though that still puts him in the Pirates range with the new pick.

Luke Weaver could now be an option for the Pirates with their new pick - Image Credit: Florida State University
Luke Weaver could now be an option for the Pirates with their new pick – Image Credit: Florida State University

Power-hitting A.J. Reed got his start on the mound and showed why he is the best two-way player in the nation and a probably first round pick. He threw a complete game over Kent State in a 4-2 win. Reed allowed nine hits, didn’t walk a batter and had three strikeouts. He went 1-for-4 at the plate, hitting his 18th double and driving in his 71st run.

Louisville closer Nick Burdi faced two batters in the ninth to pick up the save over Kansas. He walked one and retired the other. He was hitting 99 MPH according to scouts at the game. Burdi has hit triple digits numerous times this season and looks like a first round pick, though it’s doubtful the Pirates would use a top pick on a reliever.

The Indiana and Stanford game brought together three bats that we have mentioned here often. Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber and Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino have been linked to the Pirates numerous times recently. Indiana first baseman Sam Travis is a big power bat that could be around for the Pirates in the second round and he had the big game on Saturday. Travis went 3-for-5 with his 13th homer and drove in two runs in Indiana’s 4-2 victory. Blandino went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored, while Schwarber was 1-for-4 with a walk and RBI.

Virginia defeated Arkansas 3-0 on Saturday. First baseman Mike Papi was 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs, while left fielder Derek Fisher went 1-for-3 with a walk. Closer Nick Howard picked up the save with a scoreless ninth. All three are potential first round picks, though Papi will probably last a little longer and could be an option with the 39th pick.

Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost had a huge game in his team’s 13-5 win over Georgia Southern in 11 innings. He went 4-for-5 with two walks, hitting his 22nd double and driving in two runs. Pentecost has been mentioned in the Pirates range this year, but recently he has been higher and his hitting during the tournament could push him even further up the charts.

UC Irvine took on Oregon State and the game became a little more interesting with the new draft pick. UC Irvine Taylor Sparks has been mentioned often just outside of the first round. He went 2-for-4 with a homer and three runs scored. Oregon State’s big bat Michael Conforto, will be gone before the Pirates pick. His teammate, outfielder Dylan Davis, could be a second round option though. Conforto was 0-for-3 with a walk, while Davis was 1-for-3 with a walk.

South Carolina third baseman Joey Pankake went 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored and catcher Grayson Greiner was 0-for-2 with a walk and sacrifice bunt in their team’s 4-3 loss to Maryland. Both players are potential 2nd/3rd round picks.

Two more names to remember after the first round are third baseman Matt Chapman and 1B/OF/P J.D. Davis from Cal State Fullerton. Against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Chapman went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double and two RBIs. Davis was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Chapman has been rated by some sources as the best defensive player in college.

LSU’s Aaron Nola allowed one run over 7.1 innings against Houston. He will be a top ten pick this year. LSU third baseman Christian Ibarra went 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He was drafted by the Pirates last year, but returned for his senior season.

Pepperdine’s Aaron Brown went eight innings in a win over Cal Poly. He gave up just one unearned run, allowing three hits and four walks, with four strikeouts. The 2011 pick of the Pirates went 1-for-4 at the plate.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Pirates can’t afford to take relief in the first round I want high potential


Sorry John, but I am tired of trading for “picks” who “might” help in 3-5 years. This team is in a ton of trouble right now, and this is the best we can do? Virtually threw away Morris.


I’ve got news for you.
The Pirates are always going to be in trouble.
Because of the inequities of the system a team like the Pirates can only rely on one thing and that is the minor league system.
What is wrong with trading a player who was not contributing to the team and hopefully getting a very good player for the future ?
Do you think some team was going to trade a quality SS to the Bucs for Morris ?


I disagree with your thoughts. How do you know we are going to get a player who is better for the future? Morris was under performing, but he had a good upside. We don’t mind working with reclamation projects on the pitching staff I guess as long as they are making millions and are over 30. And yes, there are inequities in the MLB system, but it seems that it is “this” team that uses that excuse whenever possible to pass over glaring mistakes and moves. Perhaps there is also some inequity in our team management?


I said HOPEFULLY. I didn’t guarantee that the pick would make it.


Pirates think short term and long term. Both advance metrics people and casual observers agreed Morris was performing below expectations. He’s given up a lot of leads and his WAR is negative (though very small at -0.1). If anything, he wasn’t going to help the Pirates and the draft pick, depending on who is taken, will only make the organization stronger. Lastly, the idea a pick is 3-5 years away depends on who is taken. Someone like Beede or Newcomb isn’t that far away while a guy like Cease of Blewett would be.

This move clearly improves the Pirates by giving a struggling reliever a change of scenery and allowing the Pirates more funds to work with in the upcoming draft and add talent.


Struggling is a harsh word for Morris in 2014. It was more of a yo-yo not a struggle, and his play wasn’t so terrible that he couldn’t have been an asset to this team this year. This draft pick is not an asset to this year’s team. It kinda seems like a white flag from the FO, and it makes me wonder if NH is still living in a “rebuilding” mode. And I don’t care who they draft. That guy will be at least 3 years away with this GM, we’ve seen it time and again, NH will take his time with whoever he picks


Trading our worst reliever for a $1.5 million asset is certainly raising the old white flag.


In the minor league ball community draft held yesterday, the 39th pick was Marcus Wilson, the high school OF from California. I doubt the Bucs go this way, unless they draft a college senior at 1-24. Actually, I suspect this compensation round pick may well be earmarked for a college senior – offer him a half million and use the $900K plus to go overslot in the next couple of rounds.

R Edwards

Gillaspie and Burdi would be an awesome set of picks at #24 and #39 – and would represent two guys who could conceivably help this team within 2 years. I could see a guy like Burdi pitching in the majors later this season, since he’s a hard throwing reliever. Gillaspie could be a starting first baseman by 2016.


I would love if Burdi could be there at #39 . He represents a very high upside relief arm. However, there are already several teams who are rumored to be interested in more “immediate impact” relief prospects. I have a hard time seeing him fall past Boston.

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