Rounds 31-35: Pirates Loading Up on Some of the Best College Seniors

The Pirates ended up with some interesting picks in rounds 31-35. They took a prep third baseman with power potential in 34th round pick Brenden Spillane. They also went the potential college over-slot route with Cole Irvin in the 32nd round. He returned from Tommy John surgery this year, but didn’t have the command or movement on his fastball that he did prior to the injury. He could return to Oregon for another year, which means it might be difficult to sign him. One of the most interesting picks here was 35th rounder Jordan George, who had a great season with Arkansas State, and showed a great ability to get on base, leading Division I baseball this year with a .548 OBP. Baseball America rated him as the 372nd best prospect. That’s the third college senior the Pirates have drafted on day three who ranked in BA’s top 500, with George joining 13th round pick shortstop Logan Ratledge and 24th round pick catcher John Bormann. – Tim Williams

31st Round, 937th Overall: Riley Smith, RHP, San Jacinto College North

Smith was a starter at San Jacinto, where he had a 2.70 ERA and a 33:96 BB/SO ratio in 86.2 innings this season. He had a better ERA(2.30) as a freshman in 2014, but he had just 54 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. As a junior in high school, he was hitting 89 MPH and has added a couple inches to his frame, but still has room to add muscle. If the Pirates are unable to sign him, he will transfer to LSU next season. Fourth round pick Jacob Taylor also committed to LSU for next year, so the Pirates could hurt their recruiting class. -John Dreker

32nd Round, 967th Overall: Cole Irvin, LHP, Oregon

Irvin would have looked good going in the top ten rounds, but fell to the 32nd round, possibly due to an inconsistent season. He struggled with a 4.10 ERA in 79 innings, along with a 44:24 K/BB ratio. Despite the sub-par year, he was rated as the 337th best prospect by Baseball America, and the 173rd best prospect by One big factor was that he was returning from Tommy John surgery this year, which hurt his command and movement. He threw 90-92 MPH before the injury, but was 87-91 this year, touching 92 at times. The Pirates could take a gamble here that Irvin just had a rough return from surgery, and that he could bounce back. They’ve also done a good job in the past of fixing mechanical problems that come up after a player has a major injury, so perhaps that could be an option here to get Irvin’s old command and movement back. He’s going to have some leverage, as he’s a red shirt sophomore. If the Pirates go over-slot on a few players in the later rounds, he seems like a good guy to go after. The Pirates drafted his teammate from Oregon, third baseman Mitchell Tolman, in the seventh round. -Tim Williams

33rd Round, 997th Overall: Sean Keselica, LHP, Virginia Tech

The Pirates stocked up on pitching in the late rounds and Keselica is one that is guaranteed to sign as a college senior with no eligibility left. Besides making 28 starts and 12 relief appearances over his four seasons at Virginia Tech, he has also had 599 at-bats and put up a .294/.369/.377 slash line. He was announced as a pitcher and concentrated on pitching his senior year, so his days at the plate are likely done. Keselica made 12 starts in 2015 and had a 3.47 ERA in 72.2 innings, with a .242 BAA and a 30:55 BB/SO ratio. Those numbers were improvements across the board over his previous two seasons. He gets his fastball up to 92 MPH and works in the 87-91 range. Baseball America ranked him 33rd in the state this year, during an average year for players in Virginia. –John Dreker

34th Round, 1027th Overall: Brenden Spillane, 3B, Wheeling HS

Spillane is a big kid for his age, and has a lot of power potential and a plus arm. That’s a good combination at third base, although it does raise questions about how much he will grow over the next few years, and whether he will be able to stick at third in the long-term. His arm is a great tool defensively, with his throws from third clocked at 91 MPH, and throws from the outfield clocked at 93. He’s got a lot of raw power, and can even hit for power with wood bats. He’s athletic, moving well on the field, and running the bases well, showing that size isn’t currently an issue. He’s got a commitment to Illinois. -Tim Williams

35th Round, 1057th Overall: Jordan George, 1B, Arkansas State

George is a senior first baseman from Arkansas State, where he put in five years at the school. In 2014, he played just ten games before a knee injury shut him down, so he was able to return for a fifth season. He also had a season-ending knee injury in 2013, which occurred almost exactly one year (missing by one day) before his second injury. In 2015, he had an explosive year on offense, hitting .399/.548/.562 in 55 games and showed no effect from the knee injuries by going 9-for-13 in stolen bases. George finished his career with a 74-game on-base streak and he led all of Division-I in OBP this season. Those numbers come with the caveat that he turns 23 next month, but he missed nearly two full years and returned to put up great numbers. He should sign quick and report to Morgantown. –John Dreker

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.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Chances are neither Kingham nor Kilichowski will sign


looking at some ages for some of these guys, they might have to sign and start their pro career. maybe 30 drafted players sign contracts.


This group of 5 players seems to have more potential than some of the other players drafted earlier who are probably there to fill out rosters. So why not draft these guys earlier to make sure you get them and fill the rosters later? I suppose one answer is that you want to keep your affiliates happy with somewhat competent players. And maybe players such as Irvin and Spillane are so unlikely to sign that there is no rush to draft them.


Love the George pick. Looks like he can flat hit.

Blaine Huff

Holding out for Kingham, Kilichowski…or both in final two rounds.

Blaine Huff

And the Cubs just snagged Kilichowski.

Blaine Huff

And the Brewers grabbed Kingham…oh well, it was nice to dream 🙂

Share article

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Pirates Prospects Weekly

MONDAY: First Pitch

TUESDAY: Article Drop


THURSDAY: Roundtable

FRIDAY: Discussion

SATURDAY: Pirates Draft Report

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

Latest comments