Baseball America Releases 2015 Pirates Draft Report Card

Baseball America has released their 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates draft report card, which gives insight into the best tools among pitchers and position players. You can read more in the link above, but here is a quick summary of the best tools with some notes:

Best Pure Hitter: Both Kevin Newman and Ke’Bryan Hayes get mentioned here, with Newman being the polished college hitter and Hayes having above-average potential at the plate according to J.J. Cooper.

Best Power Hitter: Casey Hughston had the most power potential, but he hasn’t shown it yet. He swings and misses a lot, racking up 71 strikeouts for Morgantown this season, so he will need to improve in that area before the power will come through in his game.

Fastest Runner: Pirates didn’t get good marks in this area, with Newman being the best and his speed only rates at 55 on the 20-80 scout scale.

Best Defensive Player:  Newman, Hayes and Kevin Kramer all get mentions here, with Kramer getting above-average ratings at second base, while Hayes is already considered above-average at third.

Best Fastball: Here’s another area where nothing really stands out. Seth McGarry, J.T. Brubaker, Stephan Meyer, Bret Helton and Jacob Taylor all sit low-90’s. Taylor had Tommy John surgery after just one inning, otherwise he would be considered the best of this group.

Best Pro Debut: Hayes, Brubaker and Logan Hill all get mentions here. Hill had a great season for Morgantown, leading the team in many offensive categories, after being the 25th round pick.

Best Athlete: For position players, Hughston is considered the best and he showed off some strong defense in center field. For pitchers, McGarry gets the nod.

Closest to Majors: No surprise here, Newman and Kramer are both considered the closest. They were the two highest drafted college players and the Pirates tend to move position players quicker. Both could see Altoona in the second half of next year if all goes well.

Best Late Round Pick: Hill and Chris Plitt are the top late picks. Plitt doesn’t throw hard, but he’s a good pitcher, who throws a lot of strikes and he has room/potential to add velocity.

The One That Got Away: Austin Sodders and Cole Irvin are the top two here. Sodders is really the “one that got away” because he agreed to sign and was even assigned to the GCL team before deciding he wasn’t ready just yet for pro ball.

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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Well the Pirates were not picking 1st or 4th so of course the draft is not extremely impressive but I trust the Pirates decisions


Did BA assign a grade to the Pirates 2015 draft, in addition to the summaries above? My guess is if they did, it could not have been very high….


Way too early to hand out grades, give it a few years before you pour a half empty glass of whine.


I was asking if BA gave out grades, as magazines like that always are quick to give out their grades for drafts, etc. Heck, they were giving out grades the day after the draft was concluded. So, for anyone who actually had access to the entire article, did BA assign a grade?

Chris Hale

I love the Newman pick. Not much power but he won 2 Cape Cod league batting titles and he’s a above average fieldin SS. He is a smart base runner with a little bit better than average speed. Basically he’s Jody Mercer on D with more speed and will probably hit close to .300


He is not an above-average fielding short stop. Where the hell did you get that from?

Steve Zielinski

It’s partly luck to draft top prospects after the top of the draft. In any given year, there are few Überprospects in a draft class. And scouts tend to find them. So, they go at the top of the draft, everything being equal.

Criticizing the Pirates for failing to draft riskless prospects when the team picks late in the first round is a bit silly. The team can only pick from the pool available to them. And they have made good on the opportunities available to them with the resources they had in hand.

Taking Aiken had he fallen to them would have been a ‘no brainer’ just as taking Meadows and Appel were easy decisions for the FO. (I thought the Appel pick was a mistake.) If a top talent falls, then take him. Newman and Tucker were not consensus top talented players. But both acquitted themselves well during their pro careers. They were good picks.

It would be great if Newman became another Freddie Sanchez, who was a 12th round pick, if my memory is accurate. Who would complain about that.

Patrick Kelly

I liked and continue to like this draft honestly. Hayes looks like the gem from the draft. I think Newman will be a solid starter when he gets to the bigs. I wouldn’t put it out of the question that he is a September callup in 2017.

Logan Hill is the guy I was most intrigued by after the draft. His college numbers are really solid and he continued his success after the draft. I’m looking forward to seeing him play against higher level competition next year.


It’s difficult to evaluate drafts until years have passed. Huntingdon’s draft performance will start to be measured in the real world soon as his guys should start hitting the majors in the next couple of years. Outside of Cole and Alvarez, not many draftees have percolated up into the bigs.

Thomas H

Maybe but the 2009 draft didn’t look so hot then or now.


I think there’s a small chance Vic Black ends up in Bradenton next Feb. Something to ponder anyway.


I agree, but there is no ‘d’ in NH’s last name. 🙂 🙂


I liked Waddell, and I hope he’s flying under the radar here. Maybe he wont end up a starter, but guy seems he could have the poise to be a useful middle reliever if he makes it.

joe s

Sorry to say this but I was not impressed with this year’s draft. Possibly getting a couple of utility players out of it. Maybe Hayes can develop into a starter with little power at a power needed position. If this year’s draft was bad and we seemed to have gotten nothing with the international signings this year; what will next year be like when the Pirates draft next to last and refuse to sign top international talent?


I agree…..I like Hayes a lot – but I don’t expect a lot from Newman or Kramer – neither seem to have very high ceilings. They may have been safe picks – but do not appear to be difference makers based on their first year in the pros. The kid out of Alabama – Hughston – is an athlete and has potential. Hill and Moore have possibilities as hitters. That is two drafts in a row that I am generally disappointed in. Imagine if we had taken AJ Reed, instead of Conner Joe in 2014? First base was a position of need, but we took a guy with a bad back and without a position.


Connor Joe was such an upsetting pick…I was angry then and still angry when someone brings him up now. What a terrible waste of a pick. And Reed has been dominant at 1B.


Yes, I wanted them to take Reed or that power hitting 3B HS prospect – I forget his name now. He may have gone to Milwaukee? But, we draft a guy who we initially said was a RFer, then a catcher, and now first base/third base. I assume he’s not very good at any of them, and he struggled hitting in Low A. Last year’s draft doesn’t look real strong either, although there are a few sleepers who did well at WV – such as Suchy.
Right now, the Astros may be the best drafting team in MLB.


Yeah dude, I’m sure that had nothing to do with the year and a half he missed with a back injury. What an idiot.


I don’t get the pervasive feeling that the Pirates had a bad draft this year. Newman was rated as high as the 5th best player available by some of the pundits. Hayes has the talent to be a better player than his dad was. Whether he gets there is imponderable at this point. They drafted a number of arms (Taylor, Waddell) that haven’t had much chance to show their stuff yet.

This isn’t the NFL or the NBA, guys just don’t step into the ML lineup and contribute as soon as they sign. Hughston has a ridiculous ceiling (LH power hitter with good defense in CF), but at this point he seems very unlikely to reach it. But “high ceiling” doesn’t always come with current production.

A few years ago, many people were disappointed with the first half-seasons of Max Moroff and Adam Frazier. At this point, it is beginning to look like they were both great picks.

Have patience, my friend!


Can you name those 5 pundits who had Newman that high, and with links to those ratings pre-draft? I know of only one who made such a claim, and it did not come out until AFTER the draft. Almost all mock drafts and “top 100” lists, etc, had Newman as a very low first rounder at best and many had him out of the first round. I wouldn’t say yet it was a bad draft, but it wasn’t one that inspires or excites.


No, they didn’t.


I wasn’t impressed by it either, but in all honesty, if you get a starter and some usable parts, it is a good draft. Barring injury, I see Hayes being a good 3bman and a starter (for years).

His dad spent many years in the majors with the same ‘little power’.

I am not impressed by either Newman or Kramer (Elaine impresses me, tho), but if either or both are utility players (or starters) it is a good draft (combined with Hayes).


foo: I guess I was similarly not impressed with the number of middle infielders and college players in the Top 5 Rounds after using the last few drafts and International signings to solidify the MI. BA did not give Newman any credit for what he did after the draft – just that he was a solid hitter in the Cape Cod League. And Kramer – a college aged 2B – why? The Tigers made an excellent pick of Stewart, the Tennessee OF who can hit for good power although he looks more like a speed guy. Hayes was a solid pick and impressed with his maturity at the plate.

Luckily we will not need Kramer and a few others – they will come in handy when somebody has to get bumped from the 40 man roster. We were getting very bunched up with pitching, Catchers, and OF.


So its OK to use your first draft pick on a potential utility player? I would hope for more then that, and outside of maybe Hayes, this draft has little to like IMO.

Douglas C

You may have missed what Leefoo wrote. He said either both utility or both starters or one of each he would be good with that. I think he covered it.


It’s WAY too early to judge – but everyone should remember that the majority of players drafted around the #20 spot never make any MLB contribution whatsoever.

Luke S

Seems like a semantic argument now. Is it okay to get a utility player in the first round? Pretty much. Is it good? Eh, you want a starter but about as many teams miss as hit in the 1st round so getting a guy who gives utility value isnt on the lesser end of the spectrum.

If we end up getting middle IFer able to play average defense and hit enough to be a utility guy, it aint bad. Even the vaunted Cardinals drafted Pete Kozma 1st round. If Hayes ends up being a starter but not elite option, and Newman is Kozma like value its a fine 1st round.

Daniel C

Kang? Polanco? Hanson? Marte? I think they sign some decent international talent. You don’t always have to pay top dollar to find talent.

David A

But honestly, getting a decent bullpen arm or two, a 5th or 6th starter, a utility guy and a potential 500 AB guy is an average MLB draft five years out.


My thoughts, too, David.


Weren’t Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco considered “gotten nothing” at one point… Never underestimate the power of Rene Gayo.


I think he was describing the draft, not International free agent signings….and neither Marte or Polanco were drafted, but were International signings.


joe s said “and we seemed to have gotten nothing with the international signings this year;”. That’s what I was responding to.


My mistake…


He was replying to Joe. Not to the article and Kozy is correct…


My bad – sorry!


Well said, Dejan.

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