Reactions to the Pirates’ Picks From Day One

Day two of the draft starts in a few hours, but the picks that obviously have the most interest attached to them are the players already selected. That’s not to say that today isn’t just as important, it’s just that people tend to remember the first round picks a lot easier than the rest of them. With that in mind, we take a look at a couple reactions from around the industry, where the opinion of the picks was better than the initial reactions of many fans.

Keith Law was a huge fan of Kevin Newman, which helped put him on our map back in mid-March. Unlike last year when the name Cole Tucker never came up as a first round possibility, Newman slowly became a consensus first round pick as others started to join Law on the bandwagon. With that in mind, you would expect a positive reaction from Law when talking about the picks afterwards.

In a post for Insiders, Law listed Newman first under “Picks I loved”. He believes Newman will be a solid shortstop that gets on base a lot and steals some bases. He calls him a “fringe star” if he could add just a little power to his game, otherwise you have a solid regular at a key position.

Law also liked the pick of Ke’Bryan Hayes and believes the team got two hitters that will turn into solid, yet unspectacular regulars in the majors. He believes that Hayes is a premium defender at third base and just like Newman, will hit for average and get on base, but doesn’t expect a power hitter.

Jim Callis weighed in on the two picks as well. He wasn’t quite as high on Newman as Law, saying that he is one of the better pure hitters in college, but doesn’t have another plus tool. He also believes he could end up at second base, but he should hit his way to the big leagues.

Callis had a better opinion of Hayes, saying he had a lot of late helium and that he really liked the pick. His defense has really improved and he has an advanced approach at the plate for a high school hitter.

In our tiered ranking, we had Kevin Newman in the “questionable for 19, but great for the 32nd pick” category. The reason was that he was never connected to the Pirates and most ranked him just below the previous tier of players. That means that while he wasn’t a stretch for the 19th pick, there were going to be a handful of “better” players and I still think that is true. The difference is that those better players were all about upside down the line like Mike Nikorak, who many feel could end up being the best pitcher in this class. As a prep pitcher, he is far from a guarantee, so do you take someone with potential huge upside 4-5 years down the line, or a player projected to be a solid regular, possibly at shortstop in 2-3 years with a much more likely shot at reaching his upside? While I didn’t like the pick, it was based more on who they didn’t take, rather than a knock at Newman.

Ke’Bryan Hayes was in our “good fit for the 32nd overall pick” group and I specifically pointed out that he was a great fallback option for those that wanted the Pirates to take Cornelius Randolph with the 19th pick. Randolph ended up not being an option, but following these two players for much of the season, I didn’t see a big drop-off from Randolph to Hayes. So, at the time with all the prep pitcher talk for the first pick, I figured the better option was passing on Randolph and taking Hayes with this pick. Between the two picks, the Pirates got two players that should be solid regulars in Pittsburgh, albeit on different timelines to the big leagues.

As for the second round pick, Kevin Kramer, he seems like a bit of a reach at that spot. He had a major injury(torn labrum) and will probably end up as second baseman with a solid glove, who gets on base and hits about ten homers. His upside is probably the same the Pirates got from 2013-14 Jordy Mercer, just at a more offense-oriented position. Baseball America had Kramer ranked #133, MLB.com had him at #165, while Keith Law had him at #71 and Kiley McDaniel had him at #125.

  • Harold Reynolds was especially high on Hayes. Though the Pirates ended up with a steal with him.

  • Darkstone42
    June 9, 2015 1:27 pm

    The KATOH method for projecting minor leaguers, as applied to college bats, really likes Kevin Newman, projecting him at 5.8 WAR through his age-28 season, good for fourth among draft eligible college bats, for whatever that’s worth.

  • Tim or John – do you guys update the top 30 after the draft or after the signing period is over?

    • Im thinking these picks were made to potentially draft and sign guys who want more $$$ than most teams can give them. Save here and there and spread it around more evenly. At least I hope because those picks were safe to being a stretch.

    • We’ll have an update on Monday.

  • There is one area that most people don’t take into consideration. The pirates are trying to take guys that they can sign. Some guys want more than the slot value. That means the pirates have to take someone who will agree to less than slot money to over pay another player who they might be high on more money. It isn’t always the best available, sometimes it’s who fits into the budget. The last few years the pirates have had great success in signing their top 10 picks.

    • Actually Rob, I did take that into consideration and it is why I don’t like the picks at all. While we may end up with serviceable players, we didn’t take the “best available”. I would rather pay more up front with higher supposed value then more for later round picks that are a reach.

      And thats my story and I’m sticking with it.

      • So who would you have taken? It’s not like the Pirates love to open their wallets and hand out chunks of cash.

        • Mike Nikorak.

          • They have a ton of young arms. It’s getting to the point that the young kids in extended can’t even get enough work in. They have so many pitchers in Bradenton right now, that the ones who should be getting 4-6 innings are only getting three. That’s why the pirates haven’t drafted any young arms. They don’t have any where to put them so they can develop. The slots are all taken.

            • Brian Finamore
              June 10, 2015 12:09 am

              This is a good point, but I think prep arms would start lower than Bradenton where there is less logjam. I agree completely for college pitchers though.

      • Brian Finamore
        June 10, 2015 12:20 am

        I have always wondered about the rationale of that explanation myself. I don’t quite see the logic in saving your money on the premium slots to have money later to sign less talented players. I guess it’s just a matter of diversifying your investments, but I much rather take a risk on the best talents and see what happens (says the fan whose job is not on the line).

  • I like the picks, especially if pitchers fall to the Bucs today. I suspect that out of the middle infielders currently on the farm, we will lose a couple this Winter to FA and a few will be traded and maybe 2-3 make it to Pittsburgh. Makes me forget Dave Littlefield a little more.

  • The pirates filled a couple of holes in the organization with guys who could or should make it, most notably at third which has been manned by filler throughout most of the minors.

  • i know it’s hard to predict on where guys will end up, but what should we expect from the picks so far? Big league comps?

    • John Dreker
      June 9, 2015 11:06 am

      Well the Kramer picked is comped up there and Mercer at second base sounds good to me. Hayes has been compared often to his dad, Charlie Hayes and that is what I thought when I first watched a couple of his videos and read the scouting report. Newman would be, in my opinion(since I haven’t seen others yet) like Freddy Sanchez with stolen bases. Just not 2006 upside. Eliminate that year and think his other seasons, then add 10-15 steals.

      Just remember, that is upside for all of them, not a prediction of what will happen because anything could happen between now and then, especially with a prep hitter and someone like Kramer with a major injury.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        June 9, 2015 11:17 am

        If we get another Freddy Sanchez and Charlie Hayes out of this draft, we should all be very happy….

        • Agreed. They picked #19 and #32 in a somewhat weak draft. I’m optimistic and over the years the Pirates scouting has gained some credibility in my eyes.

      • All of these gentlemen seem to offer very little in the way of tools and upside. I don’t understand these utility infielder picks by the Pirates. After all Kramer’s upside is “Jordy Mercer”, what a joke.

      • well freddy didnt really have 2006 upside either, didnt stop him from doing it

        • John Dreker
          June 9, 2015 12:42 pm

          The reason I said that is when you give a comp, people tend to think of the best, or worst if they are still around. I didn’t want people think Newman would hit 50 doubles a year and win batting crowns

          • oh i completely understand why you used Freddy, I think it’s a good comp. I think without those back problems, Freddy’s upside was a perenntial .300 hitter. Fom 2006 on, only his body stopped him. e was my favorite player and had amazing hands and coordination, never saw someone who could inside out a pitch that could be at his sternum or his shoes

      • scrappy2499
        June 9, 2015 2:32 pm

        I think NH said they relied on the scouting dept. with Kramer to verify that his injury wasn’t going to hold him back for SS. Fielding wise head to head isn’t a healthy Kramer the higher rated defensive player of the two with a solid bat and maybe even a little more power potential?

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    June 9, 2015 10:43 am

    The Kramer pick is as much as of a head scratcher as the Joe pick last year

    • thats true….

      • He will get a “take it or leave it” offer, as a 4th year college player, and if he wants to stay in baseball, he will take whatever is offered. Saving some bucks for some post-10th round picks.

  • Not that trilled with the picks but I am sure the Pirates are and that is all that matters. I hope they can all hit!

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