Baseball America has released their 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates draft report card, which gives insight into the best tools among pitchers and position players. John Manuel did the report and said that the Pirates didn’t get a lot of players that currently have plus tools, but Cole Tucker, Mitch Keller, Trey Supak and Gage Hinsz offer future potential.

You can read more in the link above, but here is a quick summary of the best tools with some notes:

Best Pure Hitter: Tucker has a good command of the strike zone and a strong feel for hitting.

Best Power Hitter: Connor Joe and Jordan Luplow, with a shout out to ninth round pick Kevin Krause, who flashed above-average power in school and in Jamestown. No one really has stand out power.

Fastest Runner: Tucker and Carl Anderson rated as 60 runners on the 20-80 scale. Not sure if Eric Thomas Jr. was left off on purpose, but he is faster than both of those players, ranking as an 80 runner from some scouts.

Best Defensive Player: Erik Forgione(25th round) is an above average shortstop, so he gets the nod here. Tucker is mentioned as a player they believe can stick at shortstop despite being tall for the position. Trace Tam Sing went undrafted(though he has been drafted twice in previous years), but the Pirates quickly picked him up, leading you to believe he was on their draft board. His defense was rated ahead of Forgione’s, who played in the same conference in college.

Best Fastball: Mitch Keller has the best fastball, as it reaches 95 MPH and has more consistency than Trey Supak, who also got notice with a fastball that reaches 94 MPH. Keller also got a mention for the best secondary pitch for both his change-up and curve. That is quite some praise for a high school player, having three pitches that rank among the best in the draft class.

Best Pro Debut: Montana DuRapau and Jon Sever, two starting pitchers drafted out of Bethune-Cookman and both pitched great. Sever was a level lower, but as a 6’5″ lefty that can touch 93 MPH, he is the more interesting of the two players.

Best Athlete: Tucker. They think he will be able to grow into his tall, lanky frame and add muscle, while still being able to stick at shortstop. Good foot speed helps.

Closest to Majors: This is an interesting one, but might speak more to the lack of college talent they drafted. Connor Joe didn’t play at all due to back issues, but they believe he is the closest to the majors. He is already 22 years old, so if he can stay healthy, they may feel he can move quick through the system. Jordan Luplow might be another choice here, or Tyler Eppler, the sixth round pick, who is the best starting pitcher they selected and could move up to Bradenton next year. Also Sam Street, the 16th round pick, could move quick as a reliever with advanced feel for pitching.

Best Late Round Pick: Gage Hinsz, who was voted by Baseball America as the top overall pick that signed after the 11th round.

The One That Got Away: Paul DeJong, who hit 20 homers in college summer league this year, was taken in the 38th round. The Pirates apparently made a run at him, but couldn’t sign him due to MLB’s bonus pool constraints. They signed a lot of draft picks this year, included every pick in the top 22 rounds, so there wasn’t much that got away.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Although I am still not convinced we should have taken him when we did – time will tell – but I do like Tucker as a shortstop prospect. He appears to have the speed, range, and size to stick there and excel.

    Now, with that being said, the fact that he was rated the best pure hitter in the draft is a reason for concern. Does not speak well of the other position players taken – especially guys like Joe, Luplow, etc.

    • I’m pretty sure they are talking future projection because there is no way a HS hitter like Tucker is a better pure hitter right now than players like Joe, Krause and Luplow and most(if not all) of the college hitters. I saw some other lists and noticed it seemed more like projections, as opposed to current talent. I was wondering why they picked him too until I saw the other lists.

  2. How fast any of them get to the majors depends on the organization, the Pirates will not in any case promote someone to the majors unless they spend time at most if not all of the levels of the minors. The Cards do not have time constraints on anyone, nor do the Reds, Hinsz could probably make the majors in 1-2 years in one of those organizations.

    • I think I recall this very site putting out an article a couple years ago debunking the perception that the Pirates hold their players back, and showing that the Pirates generally promote their minor-leaguers at the same pace as every other organization in MLB.

  3. Joe as Closest to Majors makes sense considering he’s a college sign, plays multiple low impact positions (assuming one doesn’t believe he’s a full time catcher), and has a contact/OBP profile without big holes (or big tools) that should be able to move through A ball with little challenge.

    That isn’t to say he’ll actually make it, however.

    • He was scheduled to catch in the Instructional League, but the back injury may have ended those plans. There are definitely multiple options for the closest. None of the four I mentioned would surprise me as the first there and if none of them ever made it, that wouldn’t surprise me either.

  4. I don’t pretend to be an expert on draft eligible players. I only know what the “experts” say through the various channels I read and watch say. They are wrong as often as they’re right. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to this front office until they prove otherwise. They’ve done well up to this point.

    • The draft is as much luck as it is picking the “right players”. The 2009 draft looked good for the Pirates and has turned out awful so far with not much chance it even gets to decent. That’s why I always like the best player available approach. Positions are meaningless in the draft, just take the best player because you can’t predict your system 4-5 years down the line and everyone can be traded. Look at the pick of Joe as closest to the majors. They said right away they wanted him to catch in the Instructional League, but they were leaving him if the outfield until then. He didn’t play at all anywhere, so now do you have to worry about an injury that kept him out four months, or does that change their approach with his position. As far as this draft class, he was one of the safer picks to the make the majors, but he obviously had a big setback immediately.

      • Couldn’t agree more John. Just take the best player on your board and don’t try to out think the room or reinvent the wheel. Oh and draft as many hard throwing lefties as you can get your hands on!!

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