Morning Report: Draft Notes and Upcoming Coverage

As you read this, the MLB amateur draft starts in just 18 days, running from Monday June 8th until Wednesday June 10th. From now until then, we will post and talk about every mock draft from a major source that comes out. I took a look yesterday at last year’s coverage and the busiest time by far was the last week leading up to the draft, where you will get a mock draft daily. That first day of the draft you will get them hourly as insiders get some information on who could be picked by certain teams.

As we saw with last year’s coverage, we can talk about every name that comes out and we still might not mention who the Pittsburgh Pirates will select with their first pick. I actually heard about three minutes before they made the pick that it was going to be Cole Tucker and I thought it was a joke. The reason had nothing to do with Tucker’s skills, rather he was never mentioned once as a possibility, was never even mentioned in the Pirates’ range, and because of that, I didn’t really do any reading up on him until the day before the draft when we made our tiered ranking article. When I heard Tucker’s name, I just thought the person pulled a random name out that was different from the 4-5 players everyone wanted them to take with their first pick. The year before, we heard that the Pirates were scouting Reese McGuire heavily, but they did a good job of hiding their fondness for Tucker.

An interesting thing happened while we were making that tiered article last year. The list went to 100 and was based off prospect rankings from major sources. There were a few names just after 100 that I thought should have been on the list as possible third round picks and two in particular I spent about 15 minutes comparing. They both ended up being picked by the Pirates, Connor Joe and Jordan Luplow. I actually decided I liked Luplow just a little more because he is 13 months younger than Joe and missed some time due to injury, so I figured there was more room for growth. Joe was old for a college junior and his age was more in line with a senior(he’s less than three months away from his 23rd birthday). All that basically meant to me at the time was that if those two were the best available when the Pirates picked in the third round, I would have thought Luplow was the better pick. It was strange how that worked out, but I knew the players well when the picks were made.

Speaking of Connor Joe, last year Dan Kirby was very high on him and talked about him often. Kirby writes for Through The Fence Baseball and he has covered the draft for at least the last three years when I took over draft coverage on this site. He posted his latest mock draft yesterday and had the Pirates taking prep shortstop(who should move to third base) Cornelius Randolph with the 19th overall pick. Kirby then has the Pirates taking huge right-handed pitcher Cody Ponce with the 32nd pick. Those are two players we have covered often because they have been mentioned often along with the Pirates.

His two picks got me thinking and I have come to the conclusion that for at least this year, there isn’t a big difference in talent between the 19th and 32nd player and the latter could easily end up being the better pick. The reason is fairly simple, though it only applies if no one falls to the Pirates, or they don’t reach for their pick to save money for over-slot signings. The players being mentioned for the 19th pick, have been mentioned for the 32nd pick as well, and it has happened often. Numerous players have been mentioned within 1-2 spots of both picks recently. The people that cover the draft and talk to executives and scouts and do their own scouting, think there are players that fit both picks, so it sounds like the players in that range are very similar. Most people will be more interested in the first pick, but I wouldn’t overlook the next one.

Fans will hope that the Pirates get players that fall to them in the draft and one possibility reminded me of the JaCoby Jones pick. North Carolina’s Skye Bolt was getting first round mention way too early for this draft. It was following his impressive freshman season in college. JaCoby Jones was also getting first round mention way too early and it happened twice, once in high school and then at LSU. Jones fell to the third round, though scouts were saying that he had first round talent and tools, he just never put it together. Bolt has that same problem and his stats were less than impressive this season, but the talent and tools are there. If he is available in the third round, then he would be a terrific gamble, though it is quite possible some other team likes to gamble more and takes him earlier. Here is a recent article on him from Baseball America.

As I mentioned above, the mock drafts will soon start showing up daily, along with updated top 100/200/500 lists. We will have our tiered ranking within a couple days of the start of the draft and then once the draft starts, we will cover every pick through the 40th round. The third day of the draft gets less attention that the first two days, but it ends up being quite a bit of work and gives you some interesting names to hope for when they start spreading around any leftover slot money. Last year the Pirates tried hard to sign second baseman Paul DeJong, who they took in the 38th round. Now it looks like he will go in the top five rounds this year. He may be a player they are interested in taking again, because they really liked him last year, but couldn’t fit him under the draft cap.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins in 13 innings on Wednesday. They have off today, before starting a three game series at home against the New York Mets on Friday night. Gerrit Cole will be on the hill for the Pirates.

In the minors, Luis Heredia makes his second start of the season, hoping to avoid the disaster that was his first start. He recorded two outs, while giving up five earned runs and reaching his single inning pitch count limit. Zack Dodson gets the start for Altoona. He has been the best pitcher in the system so far this year and his last outing was his best performance. He threw seven shutout innings and struck out eight batters. Indianapolis has off today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (18-22) vs Mets (23-18) 7:05 PM 5/22
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (2.40 ERA, 13:53 BB/SO, 48.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (23-18) @ Syracuse (16-24) 7:05 PM 5/22 (season preview)
Probable starter:  TBD

AA: Altoona (23-14) @ Portland (16-23) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Zack Dodson (1.75 ERA, 5:16 BB/SO, 36.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (20-20) @ Lakeland (19-20) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Heredia (67.50 ERA, 2:0 BB/SO, 0.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (21-17) vs Delmarva (21-18) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colten Brewer (4.50 ERA, 2:5 BB/SO 10.0 IP)


From Wednesday, highlights from Indianapolis, where they won 2-1 in 12 innings on a walk-off hit by Steve Lombardozzi that scored Alen Hanson.

Recent Transactions

5/20: Tyler Glasnow placed on disabled list.

5/19:  Julio Eusebio, Cesilio Pimentel and Ryan Hafner assigned to Extended Spring Training. Bradenton adds Henry Hirsch, Felipe Gonzalez and Brett McKinney to roster.

5/19: Jose Tabata added to 40-man roster and recalled. Wilfredo Boscan optioned to Indianapolis.

5/19: Justin Seller transferred to 60-day disabled list.

5/19: Matt Benedict assigned to Altoona.

5/17: Jeff Roy placed on disabled list. Trace Tam Sing added to WV Power roster

5/17: Bradenton adds Julio Eusebio, Cesilio Pimentel and Ryan Hafner to roster. Henry Hirsch, Felipe Gonzalez and Brett McKinney assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/16: Luis Heredia added to Bradenton roster. Matt Benedict promoted to Indianapolis.

5/16: Wilfredo Boscan added to 40-man roster and promoted to Majors. Steve Lombardozzi sent to Indianapolis.

5/16: Brandon Cumpton transferred to 60-day disabled list.

5/15: Charlie Leesman placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

5/15: Antonio Bastardo activated from Paternity List. Bobby LaFromboise optioned to Indianapolis.

5/14: Charlie Morton assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

5/14: Pirates sign catcher Paul Brands.

5/13: Hayden Hurst placed on Voluntarily Retired List.

5/12: Indianapolis placed John Holdzkom on disabled list.

5/11: Felipe Gonzalez added to Bradenton roster. Ryan Hafner assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/11: Charlie Leesman added to Indianapolis roster.

5/11: Antonio Bastardo placed on Paternity List. Bobby LaFromboise recalled from Indianapolis.

5/11: Connor Joe added to WV Power roster. Trace Tam Sing transferred to WV Black Bears.

5/10: Pirates acquire Jayson Aquino from Toronto Blue Jays for cash. Aquino assigned to Bradenton.

5/9: Pirates released Justin Howard.

5/8: Charlie Morton assigned to Altoona on rehab.

5/8: Nick Kingham placed on disabled list. Adam Miller added to Indianapolis roster.

5/7: Clayton Richard assigned to Bradenton. Felipe Gonzalez assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/7: Colten Brewer added to WV Power roster. Eric Dorsch assigned to WV Black Bears

5/7: Jeff Inman added to Altoona roster. Tyler Sample sent to WV Black Bears.

This Date in Pirates History

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one of the best relievers in team history. Mace Brown played for the Pirates from 1935 until 1941. During that time, he was used as a long man out of the pen, occasionally started and also closed out games before closers came in for three outs at a time. He pitched 778.2 innings from 1936 until 1940 and posted a 3.67 ERA during his time with the Pirates. Brown was an All-Star in 1938 and he finished ninth in the MVP voting that year.

Others born on this date include:

Fred Dunlap, second baseman from 1888-90. He was a star player before he was acquired by Pittsburgh. He had his career cut short by two broken legs(at different times), but he played long enough to put together a solid 12-year career. During the only year of the Union Association(1884), Dunlap was the best player by far, hitting .412/.448/.621, leading the league in all three categories, as well as runs scored, hits and homers.

Steve Pegues, outfielder for the 1994-95 Pirates.

Catcher Ed Fitz Gerald, who played for the Pirates from 1948 until 1953, turns 91 today. He is the tenth oldest living former Pirates player.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 21, 2015 11:54 am

    I would be okay with Randolph at 19, but would prefer a HS position player with upside as a potential power hitter – as an OF, 3B, or 1B. I don’t like Ponce at 32 – he has not been very good this year. Again, I would prefer another HS poistion player with upside. System is looking thin for bats at WV level and below.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 21, 2015 11:51 am

    Did Dan Kirby, or anyone else for that matter, have Connor Joe being taken in the first round of their 2014 mock drafts? I suspect the answer is no….

    • John Dreker
      May 21, 2015 1:09 pm

      For the record, I talked to Dan right after the pick and he really liked it. No one else(except the Pirates) were as high on him

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        May 21, 2015 7:05 pm

        Well, I hope the Pirates an Dan Kirby were right, and everyone else wrong…..but the back injury, the missed season last year, and the slow start this year has me concerned.

    • Really having fun beating this horse to death, eh? 😉