Pirates Have Few Options Left as Draft Signing Deadline Approaches

The Pittsburgh Pirates have done a great job of signing their draft picks this year, getting 33 of the 41 picks into the organization already. Of the remaining eight, there aren’t many options that could be a possibility as the 5 PM deadline approaches today. You can view the draft signing tracker here.

I’ll note that the tracker indicates that the Pirates have up to $399,418 available for over-slot picks before they face a penalty that includes losing draft picks. Right now they are in the 0-5% range over because both Ike Schlabach and James Marvel required over-slot deals, though neither figure has been announced. That means they will just pay a 75% tax on whatever amount they went over their pool by. They aren’t going to give up future draft picks for anyone that is left unsigned, so that means the amount the can spend right now is fairly low. The first $100,000 won’t count against the pool, so any remaining player could still sign a deal with a six-figure bonus.

Here is what’s left from top to bottom.

It looked like the Pirates signed 17th round pick Austin Sodders, which would have meant that they signed their first 22 rounds. He was listed on the official website tracker as signed, it was added to the transaction page, he was assigned to a team and he had an MiLB page, which only happens once a signing is official. Sodders immediately had second thoughts about signing and within a week or so, he was listed as unsigned. Knowing all that, I’d say there is little chance he signs. I’d say 0%, but I don’t have all the details of what happened in the 48 hours after he signed.

The Pirates took Jacob McCarthy in the 23rd round and he didn’t wait long to announce that he would be attending Virginia. That’s where his brother Joe played for three seasons and the older McCarthy was covered here extensively during the draft, especially after a rumor came out that the Pirates had interest in him. Turns out the interest was in the younger McCarthy.

Chris Falwell was taken in the 29th round and he probably hurt his chances of signing by playing summer ball in the Northwoods League. I broke down his stats in an article last week, then noted the following day that he faced four batters in relief and all of them reached base. I haven’t heard anything about him not signing, but it’s possible that he did so poorly that he isn’t an option anymore. As of now though, he is still a possibility.

Riley Smith, taken in the 31st round, recently announced he would be attending LSU after turning down a $200,000 offer from the Pirates, so he is off the table.

Cole Irvin announced on Monday that he will be returning to Oregon in hopes of improving his draft stock. He was taken in the 32nd round, so that’s not a bad idea since he will be a junior next year and most expected him to go higher this year. The thing with the new draft rules though, you can be taken in the 11th round or 32nd and you still have a $100,000 bonus limit to work with, so he really has to improve to get a bigger bonus, especially if the Pirates were willing to go over-slot.

Brenden Spillane, who was picked in the 34th round, has been the quietest pick so far. I’ve heard nothing on him since being picked, so that leaves him as a possibility today.

Eli White announced shortly after the draft that he would return to Clemson. Not long after that, while playing in the Cape Cod league, White was hit by a line drive in the midsection and required surgery that ended his summer.

Conor Costello came out right away and said he would return to Oklahoma State for his final season, so he didn’t even give signing a first thought.

Going by those eight players, there is a strong chance that the Pirates are already done, but if they do sign anyone, your best bets are Chris Falwell and Brenden Spillane, since they are the only ones that haven’t publicly said they aren’t signing.

With Shane Kemp making his debut last night, 27 of the 33 players signed so far have played at least one game. The last five that have signed, along with Nathan Trevillian, who had forearm stiffness, have yet to see action. Ke’Bryan Hayes(pictured above) has been the best so far, as he tears up the GCL. Most of the others are at Morgantown on a roster filled with 18 draft picks from this year.

Update 5:45 PM: While the deadline has passed, there could still be something late. However, just got word that Brenden Spillane didn’t sign, so that only leaves Falwell as a possibility.

Update 6:15 PM: Just got word that the draft class is done at 33, so no Falwell either.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Do you believe a lot of the later round picks wait to see the top talent sign to open additional college scholarships for them.to take. I would imagine a lot of top college programs have back up plans when they suspect a kid will be drafted high.


John, would love to get your opinion on the Dodgers draft. I love what they did getting Buehler, Funkhouser, Sborz, and Pfeifer…although I do not think Funkhouser has signed. Seems to me they got a lot of high end college talent.

Robert W

I noticed that the Brewers drafted high rated 18 year old pitchers in late rounds. Did they sign any of them?


Kind of surprised about Sodders because this offer and opportunity seem to be right up his alley. Think this has been a ploy to wait until the last minute to see what type of money is remaining?


Overall, the Pirates did well in signing the vast majority of their picks. I still contend that they drafted too many low ceiling college players, including in the first 10 rounds, but time will tell how they turn out. Logan Hill and Ty Moore have gotten off to great starts at WV Morgantown.


But Tolman in the 5th round??


Still way too high – for a guy who has minimal upside.

Daryl Restly

I’m just glad, under the current CBA rules that there doesn’t seem to be the long, drawn out negotiations with amateur players like there was several years ago. If anything hurt Pedro Alvarez more, it was the whole debacle of whether he signed or didn’t sign a few years ago.To me it seems, much like the NFL Draft is now, everything is much more streamlined as far as negotiations. For some reason I will always remember prior to the most recent NFL CBA that there were always a few players who took longer than usual to sign their rookie NFL deals and for some reason those guys usually became prime candidates for bust potential. Not saying it happened every time. Just saying that there were a lot of guys who signed late, missed a good portion of camp and were always trying to play catch-up with the rest of the team.


I don’t think that Pedro holding out or whatever 7 years ago has any impact on his ability to hit or field. The holdot is more of an issue for fans.


Does anything happen to that $399k money if we don’t sign anyone?


I think Lee wanted a small percentage of this imaginary money. When is the new top 30 coming out?


A top 50 with tiers!


Good stuff. Within a few minutes someone will actually take it personal that Taillon is ahead of Meadows. Can’t wait.



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