Rounds 16-20: The Pirates Finally Draft a High School Player

With their second pick in the draft, the Pirates took prep third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Surprisingly, they went the next 12 picks drafting college or JuCo guys before taking another prep player. That came in the 19th round, when they took projectable left-hander Ike Schlabach. They’ve also been on a pitching run lately, with their last seven picks being pitchers. Outside of their top four picks, which were all hitters, they have drafted pitchers with 13 of 18 selections. – Tim Williams

16th Round, 487th Overall: Nick Hibbing, RHP, Iowa

Hibbing is a tall, right-handed relief pitcher from the University of Iowa. He had strong stats as a senior, posting a 1.57 ERA and a 5:47 BB/SO ratio in 51.2 innings. Last year, he had a 4.74 ERA in 43.2 innings and issued 15 walks, which isn’t bad, but nowhere near his 2015 control numbers. As a senior, he should sign very quick and get his pro career started. – John Dreker

17th Round, 517th Overall: Austin Sodders, LHP, Riverside CC

Sodders made 11 starts as a sophomore in 2015 for Riverside CC and posted a 2.03 ERA in 79.2 innings. He had a .256 BAA and an 11:58 BB/SO ratio. In high school, he dominated with a fastball that reached high-80’s and a mid-70’s curve. He was both a top pitcher and hitter, but went undrafted out of high school. He comes from a strong baseball family. His dad was drafted in 1981 in the 11th round and his older brother was drafted in the 31st round in 2010. At his size/age, he seems like a projectable arm with some possible upside. – John Dreker

18th Round, 547th Overall: Stephan Meyer, RHP, Bellevue University

Meyer had a good year with Bellevue this year, posting a 1.47 ERA in 92 innings, along with a 101:30 K/BB ratio. This came after he didn’t pitch much as a freshman last year, throwing just 17 innings, with a 4.76 ERA and a 14:9 K/BB ratio. He did throw in high school, pitching 54.2 innings in his senior year, but was a red shirt in 2013, and has had a low innings count overall in college. He’s got a typical projectable frame as a tall right-hander. He didn’t rate in Baseball America’s rankings of a poor class in Nebraska. – Tim Williams

19th Round, 577th Overall: Ike Schlabach, LHP, Timber Creek HS (TX)

Schlabach is a tall, lanky left-hander and the first high school player the Pirates took in the 2015 draft since Ke’Bryan Hayes, who was taken 32nd overall. He has a fastball that sits high 80’s and touches low-90’s, plus he has plenty of room to grow, so he could obviously see a spike in velocity. He gets high marks for his makeup, work ethic and competitiveness. Schlabach was not among the top 99 players in Texas according to Baseball America, in what they consider an average year for the state. He has a commitment to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, so that should be a school the Pirates could sign a player away from for the right offer. – John Dreker

20th Round, 607th Overall: Tanner Anderson, RHP, Harvard

Anderson split time between the rotation and the bullpen this year, putting up a 4.08 ERA in 46.1 innings, with a 22:14 K/BB ratio. This came after missing the entire 2014 season with an injury. The stats aren’t overly impressive, but he throws in the 88-92 MPH range, topping out at 94, with a curve and a slider. He’s going to be an easy guy to sign as a college senior, and will likely pitch out of the bullpen in pro ball, with the hope that his fastball velocity plays up in shorter outings. – Tim Williams

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Oh, by the way, Gerritt Cole was drafted as a college junior. Should we release him?


Thanks rburgh, I didn’t know that….but, he was a high first round pick – not exactly relevant to the topic.

Adam Y

It is very relevant. Read the article posted earlier today or yesterday evening, Tims interview with Huntington. HS players are tough to sign after the 10th round. There are exceptions, but there are always exceptions. High School players also carry much higher risk. The Pirates are making safe picks. Not flashy, but safe.


But Adam, you can dream about a rail-thin high school kid adding 30 lbs of muscle, developing a plus hit tool and plat discipline to match the power he naturally developed from the mass increase.

Isn’t that more fun than taking a college guy who can actually play the game of baseball?


I like a lot of these picks. Taylor, Newman, Hughston, Kelley, Ratledge. And of course Kramer, who could be a huge value if his shoulder is OK.

Have faith. They have had a couple of dozen scouts and execs working long hours on this for months. We read a few of our favorite draft pundits in our spare time and watch some videos on YouTube. Just like Cole Tucker last year, and he seems to be growing appropriately.

Blaine Huff

People keep saying Ratledge…am I missing something? Serious question.

He had a great 2015…but that was his first good season, he’ll be 23 next month, and he’s playing a position where he’s going to have to really tear it up to not be blocked.


This draft reminds me of what the Cardinals have been doing for years. Draft a bunch of college hitters who make contact and bring them to the majors quickly. Draft a bunch of college pitchers, refine their stuff, and put them into the rotation. Seems like a viable plan, although a huge shift from the recent past.


Everett still out there….M’s take Hooper in 25th round – if they sign Hooper to a contract, I am going to be pretty annoyed with this front office. We may have trouble spending all of out allotted draft pool money this year – and I mean that seriously.


M’s take Everett too – in 29th round….I cannot imagine they are going to be able to sign both, or even one of these guys, but I credit them if they are actually going to really try to pull it off.


Just a very pedestrian and disappointing draft….I see teams like the Cardinals, Yankees, Twins, Orioles, etc. taking HS kids today – that used to be the Pirates. We will not be able to sustain this recent success by taking low profile, low upside college seniors with zero negotiating leverage. Our lower levels, below Bradenton are very thin for real high upside prospects – especially position players.

I thought last year’s draft was bad, this may overall be worse in terms of the numbers of guys drafted who actually have the potential to be more than filler for the short season rosters.


Not sure why this is a disappointing draft so far. Because they are not taking HS kids?? The Pirates have drafted plenty of HS kids under this management team and are loaded with “projectable” players at the lower levels. Adding a a draft class of mostly college age players does not concern me at this point. i trust this organization with what they have done so far and how they’ve built their farm system. Just because some are low profile does not mean they are low upside. Maybe they haven’t been coached well, maybe they weren’t used properly, etc. Who knows? I think we need to see how this class pans out before we say we won’t be able to “sustain this recent success”.


I agree, time will tell. But, I don’t know of any prospects in the Pirates top 20-30 prospects who were drafted as college seniors – maybe juniors as well. Am I overlooking anyone? There is a reason for that, although rare exceptions do occur from time to time.


This has to be trolling, no?

What part of the Pirates recent success has been attained by drfating high upside, high risk high schoolers?

Take a deep breath and relax.


Andrew McCutchen


He was picked out of high school.


With the 11th pick in the draft…


Let me see, who are among our top prospects right now – Kingham, Taillon, Bell, Meadows, McGuire, Tucker, Moroff, Allie, etc. Now, among our top 20-30 prospects, how many were drafted as college juniors or seniors?


Why would you only look at Pirates who were drafted from 4-year colleges? Makes no sense, since they haven’t taken many before this year – although Gerrit Cole worked out pretty well. A few other recent draftees from 4-year colleges include: Matt Harvey, Chris Sale, Drew Smyly, Steven Strasburg, AJ Pollock, Garrett Richards, Kyle Seagar, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Trevor Bauer, Kolten Wong, Anthony Rendon, Michael Wacha, and Kris Bryant. Yep, no talent in that group.


Better to look at all of MLB and see who was drafted as a junior or senior. Give it a rest.


You’ve failed to list a single player who has actually played in a Major League Baseball game. Congrats.


Genius, you caught that??

No kidding, I am referring to current Pirates top prospects, in case you could not follow along.


Jesus, THAT is what you’re so worried about? Prospect rankings?

My goodness…


you are a tool…go away please…is there an ignore feature on this site…if there is, you will be my first to use it on…

Blaine Huff

Off the top of my head…JaCoby Jones.


Yep, he was a junior – and one of my favorite recent draft picks and prospects of the Pirates.

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