The current front office of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been together for seven drafts now. That first draft in 2008 has produced seven players that have reached the majors, so it was quite successful in that regard. For this article though, we are going to take a look at how they did after the first ten rounds and what is left in the system from each year. The closer to 2014 we get, the more we will focus on the group, rather than the individuals that are left and those that looked like possible sleepers.
Back when they still did 50 rounds, the Pirates signed some players in rounds that don’t exist anymore, but none after the 20th round amounted to anything. The biggest names that signed from this late round group were Quinton Miller, Jarek Cunningham and Wes Freeman. All were six-figure bonuses out of HS and both Miller and Cunningham are still in the system, though possibly not for long. Both reached minor league free agency this year, so it’s possible that no one will be left among signed players by the time next season rolls around. Matt Curry was drafted in 2008, but he did not sign until he was redrafted in 2010 by the Pirates. There is a good chance that the Pirates won’t get anything from these late round picks.
This year is good and bad. The Pirates picked three players after the tenth round that made the majors already, only one was signed by them though, and he isn’t around anymore. They signed Phil Irwin, who pitched one game each of the last two seasons for the Pirates before they lost him on waivers to the Texas Rangers. He has since been released. They didn’t sign Matt Den Dekker and Jake Lamb. Den Dekker is an outfielder for the Mets, while Lamb made his debut in August for the Diamondbacks. Three players are still left in the system. Pitchers Jeff Inman and Ryan Beckman were relievers in Altoona this year, while Walker Gourley played everywhere for Bradenton, including four pitching appearances. The biggest signing was Inman for $425,000 and his career has been derailed by injuries.
Now we get into a time with more players around and our first current player on the Pirates. Casey Sadler is with the Pirates right now and he was one of four players to sign for six-figure contracts. As of right now, it looks like the Pirates missed on the other three players and all of them got at least $400,000 to sign. Ryan Hafner had trouble in the Bradenton bullpen this year, while Jared Lakind moved from first base to pitcher last year and is slowly making progress. He is in the West Virginia bullpen and far from a prospect at this point. Andrew Maggi had a solid season in Altoona, but he is 25 years old already and will probably top out at AAA, possibly getting a cup of coffee in the bigs due to his speed and versatility in the field. Hafner probably has the best shot at being something because he has a very good arm and excellent stuff when his command is on.
Also in the system still from this draft are Matt Curry, Justin Howard, Kelson Brown and Bryton Trepagnier. The first three are position players that spent most of their time at Altoona and each has had some success at the level, but none of the three project to make the majors. Curry was once a mid-level prospect, tearing up the South Atlantic League in 2011, before making the jump to AA. He’s appeared briefly at AAA twice and has played just 93 games over the last two seasons, not doing well either year. Trepagnier had a solid year in the bullpen for Bradenton, but he has command issues and his stuff is just average. It looks like Sadler will be the only real contributor from this group of eight players left.
Now would be a little too soon to really judge this class, especially the high school picks…if they actually signed anyone of note. That being said, the Pirates drafted Aaron Brown, Trea Turner, Zach Lemond and Eric Skoglund and didn’t sign any of them. All were taken within the first three round this year, so there was a chance to really add talent. Unfortunately, Turner was offered $500,000 and turned it down, which looked like a strong number back then and a bargain number now. As it was, they signed Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow, so they did okay for themselves in the first ten rounds.
Of the 14 guys that did sign after the tenth round, only two are left in the system and neither looks like a prospect. Candon Myles was sent down to Bristol this year and in four seasons at the lower levels, he has no homers and a .631 OPS. Jonathan Schwind is already 24 years old and has played just 192 games. He was hitting decent this year at Bradenton until he got injured, but he is far from a prospect. Myles signed for $125,000 to forego college and 23rd round pick Jordan Cooper signed for $100,000 out of Kentucky. It was the second time the Pirates drafted him and he didn’t last long in the system, despite having a solid arm that made him look interesting. He lasted just two seasons before being cut. There isn’t much chance for this group to even get one MLB appearance, but they also didn’t spend much on them.
This is the year the new draft rules started and it made it a lot harder to find possible high school talent that slipped due to bonus demands. The Pirates signed 12 players this year, three for over-slot bonuses. Max Moroff, John Kuchno and Hayden Hurst signed for $825,000 combined, $525,000 of it was over-slot money. Hurst switched from pitching to hitting this year and had a tough time as a DH in the GCL, so unless he turns into Stetson Allie, they probably won’t see anything from him. Kuchno had a decent season, with some strong outings and he’s a ground ball machine. He also has some control issues and a poor strikeout rate, so he might have a tough time being an impact player down the road. Moroff played second base for Bradenton this year and had trouble at the plate, but he is young, so he has time.
Of the other nine players, five aren’t around anymore, though Tyler Gaffney is still technically Pirates property on the restricted list while he plays football. Thomas Harlan has an outside chance at the majors because he is a lefty and he looked good at Altoona in a few of his outings. Chris Diaz, Jordan Steranka and Josh Smith are still around. Walker Buehler was the one that got away, though they had no chance at him with a Vanderbilt commitment and reported $1,000,000 price tag. He will be drafted very high in 2015 unless something goes drastically wrong. Kuchno, Moroff and possibly Harlan all have a chance to make the majors. None look like potential impact players.
It’s definitely too early to judge this class. They signed three players over-slot, Erich Weiss, Nick Buckner and Billy Roth. Weiss did okay in Low-A ball this year, but he turned 23 last week, so it’s hard to see him being anything more than a role player if all goes well. Buckner showed improvements over last year, while Roth really struggled. Both played at Bristol and were young for the league. Of the 14 other players signed, three are gone already, Beau Wallace, Cameron Griffin and Max Rossiter. No one really stands out among the rest.
Obviously it’s way too early to judge this class, but there were some strong debuts. John Sever is a big lefty that made the Appalachian League postseason all-star team. He was a college player in the APPY Lg, which is a tough level to get a read on, since most of the competition is younger. He really looked great with a very impressive strikeout rate. Luis Paula has a great arm and he looked good in his debut. Montana DuRapau had a strong debut in the Jamestown rotation, while Sam Street was called a potential middle innings reliever prior to the draft.
The only over-slot player might be the best late round pick that they have signed in the last seven years. There was word that Gage Hinsz turned down an offer to be picked in the second round, before going in the 11th round and signing for a $580,000 bonus. That was the highest total the Pirates could give him without paying a huge penalty. As it was, they still had to pay a tax on him. Hinsz has excellent stuff and a big frame with room to fill out. He went to a school that didn’t have a high school team, so he is considered raw despite how well he looks already. Basically, he has a huge upside and a chance to be the best pick from the Pirates entire 2014 signing class, not just the late round players.
So What’s the Conclusion?
Looking over the last seven years and even prior to that for the Pirates, we see that it was already tough to find late round gems. With the new rules put in place in 2012, it now makes it even harder. It’s very possible that from the 2008-2011 drafts, the Pirates will get a total of two games from Phil Irwin and whatever Casey Sadler amounts to and that’s it. Sadler has a chance to be a fifth starter, but more likely he will be a middle innings reliever, serving as the long man out of the pen and as an emergency starter.
From 2012 on, you still have 41 players in the system and one of them(Hinsz) has huge upside, but there are also a lot of players considered to be roster fillers at this point. With a very limited budget after the tenth round now, it’s going to be hard to find a talented player willing to sign. Some high school players used to get picked late, with hopes that their demands would drop, or the team could sign them if other players failed to sign. Now some of those same type of players are going undrafted because teams know they won’t have cap room to sign them. As an organization, you keep plugging away and hope your scouts dig up that one hidden gem that makes it all worth it.
Pirates Game Graph
Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 3.5 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead. They are four games ahead of Atlanta and 1.5 ahead of Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. The Pirates are three games behind San Francisco for the first Wild Card spot.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates beat the Cubs by a 7-3 score on Sunday. They take off today before playing the last 13 days in a row to finish out the season. On Tuesday night against the Red Sox, Charlie Morton will return from the disabled list to make his first start since August 15th. You can read the DSL season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here. We will post other season recaps soon.
MLB: Pittsburgh (79-70) vs Red Sox (66-84) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (3.84 ERA, 120:55 K/BB, 152.1 IP) 9/16
AAA: Indianapolis (73-71)
AA: Altoona (61-81)
High-A: Bradenton (78-61)
Low-A: West Virginia (54-81)
Short-Season A: Jamestown (35-40)
RK: Bristol (22-46)
GCL: Pirates (20-40)
DSL: Pirates (34-36)
With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look back at some recent video from the GCL, which we will continue to do over the next few days. All videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page. Below is a video of relief pitcher Yunior Montero, who had a 4.68 ERA in 25 innings, with 18 strikeouts and a .253 BAA. Montero has an interesting background story, which was covered here. The basics are that he was forced to sign three times due to the MLB age verification process and this year was the first time he pitched since 2011. In his only appearance back then, he threw five shutout innings. Shortly thereafter, his first contract was voided. The rest of the details are in the link.
9/8: Pirates release Ernesto Frieri.
9/7: Michael Martinez and Chris McGuiness clear waivers and were outrighted to Indianapolis.
9/2: Pirates recall Gregory Polanco, Jeff Locke, John Holdzkom, Casey Sadler and Bobby LaFromboise.
9/2: Chase d’Arnaud added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Michael Martinez designated for assignment.
9/1: Pirates recall Gerrit Cole and Tony Sanchez. Stolmy Pimentel activated from the disabled list
9/1: Pirates designate Chris McGuiness for assignment. John Holdzkom added to 40-man roster.
This Date in Pirates History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including two pitchers from the 1993 team, a reliever that made one appearances for the Pirates and the cousin of a United States President. Rich Robertson and Dennis Moeller were both lefty relievers for the 1993 Pirates, born one year apart. Robertson was a draft pick of the Pirates, while Moeller came over from the Royals in the Jose Lind deal. Dave Pagan pitched for the Pirates on September 27, 1977, throwing three scoreless innings. He struck out the first four batters he faced. Third baseman Elmer Cleveland played for the 1888 Alleghenys, coming over from the Giants in exchange for holdout third baseman Art Whitney. He was the cousin of Grover Cleveland, who was serving his first term as US President at the time.
You can find info on these four players here, as well as pitcher Fritz Ostermueller, who pitched with the team from 1944 until 1948. Also included in the link is a game recap from the 1978 season, with a big hit from Phil Garner.
On this date in 1914(exactly 100 years ago), the Pirates traveled home for one game against Cincinnati and won 9-0. They played two games in Chicago prior to that game and they stopped home for the Reds game on the way to Philadelphia. The Pirates lost both games to the Cubs, then after the drubbing of the Reds, they lost their next 12 games. Pittsburgh played a total of 16 road games in a row and 25 road games during the month of September that year.