Shortly after the draft ended today, the Pirates were on the phone with their new draft picks, talking prices and trying to get some deals done early.
“The process has started,” Pirates Amateur Scouting Director Joe DelliCarri said. “As we complete it, we’ll see where all of them go. We actually started the process last night a little bit, and start a lot more calls here tonight.”
We heard yesterday that a lot of the top ten round picks have already decided they are signing. That’s to be expected, as part of the new draft system means you need to be sure that a player will be signing, otherwise you lose the slot value for that pick, and may not get any compensation for losing the pick. So most players drafted will need to come with the assurance that they will be signing right away, and for a certain price range.
“We take guys that we like, that we believe we have a realistic chance to sign,” Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said. “There are times where the dollar figures will get away from where we feel are appropriate, and we may end up getting that same pick next year in the draft if it’s the first, second, or third round. If it’s a fourth, fifth, or sixth round pick, you obviously lose the pick. But those first three round picks, they’re protected picks. We’re working hard to make sure we gather information, so we’ve got a feel for what the expectations are.”
Most of the guys who have said they are going to sign are college guys. It makes sense that those guys would be the ones who are basically already a done deal, since that’s where you’ll save money for other picks. The big question mark is with the prep players, who come with commitments to major colleges and have a lot of leverage. It’s harder to get an exact figure before picking those guys. Some guys will immediately price themselves out of a team’s possible range, while others might be realistic.
“If we believe that we can meet those expectations, or we come up within striking distance of that dreaded common financial ground that I talk about so much, then we’ll take the player,” Huntington said on the decision to take a player who might be tough to sign. “If we can’t, then we’ll walk by the player if we think there’s no chance to sign him. It’s the nature of the beast. We used to be the ones in play on just about anybody, and now, given the small pool picking 29th … the system is what the system is, and we work to operate within that system.”
DelliCarri added a simple theory that some players are just going to sign because they’re ready to go pro.
“For me, it’s always been about if the young man is in a good spot, and this is what he really wants to do, you will see high school players sign for different amounts of money,” DelliCarri said. “I don’t think it hurts anyone when young men make decisions to sign. Everyone has their price at the start, but it’s more about they’re ready to go, and this is what they want to do. It’s always been that way from my perspective.”
The Pirates have a challenge with the four prep pitchers they took in the first 11 rounds. If they can sign all four of those guys, this draft class could be great, with several high upside arms, and a good chance that one or two of them break out to become top pitching prospects. They did the same thing in 2014, taking Mitch Keller, Trey Supak, and Gage Hinsz. Keller looks like the big breakout so far, and Hinsz isn’t far behind him.
In order to get all four arms, the Pirates might need to find a lot of bonus pool money with their other top ten round picks. That is especially true for 11th rounder Max Kranick, who will absolutely come in over-slot.
The interesting twist here is what we learned yesterday about Nick Lodolo, the competitive balance pick drafted 41st overall. He told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that he was surprised by the pick, and that he hadn’t heard from the Pirates, and neither had his advisor. That’s strange when you think about how the Pirates would need to know his signability situation before taking him. The article noted that Lodolo told teams he was going to school, and was asking for a lot of money to break that commitment. The Pirates are hoping that they’ll not only have the money he wants, but will be able to sell him on the system.
“We’ve heard his name above us. We’ve heard his name behind us,” Huntington said on whether they thought Lodolo would fall to them. “We liked the player. We felt like, based on the information that we had, it was a good selection. We’ll go work to inform him and educate him about us, and how we do things, and the success that we’ve had. The opportunity that we’ll have, as a small market team that is going to have to grow its starting pitching, for the most part, internally. And the quality of coaches we have, the quality of non-baseball instruction and development that we give these players, as with every other player that we’re commencing negotiations with. Our goal and expectation is that we’ll get him into a Pirates uniform, and get him started on his way to the Major Leagues as quickly as possible.”
Lodolo is a tall lefty who has seen his velocity increase in some reports, touching the mid-90s at times. He’s followed by Travis MacGregor, Braeden Ogle, and Kranick, with all four tall, projectable pitchers already hitting mid-90s velocity, with the chance to grow into that as they add muscle and their frames mature.
The Pirates got a good hitter in the first round, and the big question about Will Craig is whether he can carry his power and the full impact of his bat over to pro ball. But the biggest upside of this draft class probably comes from the collective group of prep pitchers. If the Pirates can get all of these guys in the system, then they’ll have a much better chance of one of them breaking out, which will make this draft look good, even if Craig doesn’t show the best power numbers in pro ball.
**Day Three Recap: Why the Pirates Went College Heavy in the 2016 Draft. Our day three recap, looking at why the Pirates went with so many college players this year.
Here are all of the picks from today, with reports on each player, and a summary of each group. You can find links to all of the player pages in those articles, or on our Draft Pick Signing Tracker.
- Rounds 11-15: Pirates Take a Highly Ranked Prep Pitcher to Start Day Three
- Rounds 16-20: Filling Out the Morgantown Roster
- Rounds 21-25: Pirates Draft a Pair of Interesting Position Players
- Rounds 26-30: The Role That Late Round College Players Can Play
- Rounds 31-35: Pirates Draft a Prep Pitcher From Canada
- Rounds 36-40: Pirates Complete Their Raid of East Tennessee State University
**Francisco Liriano Rebounds but Pirates Bats Go Silent in Loss to Cardinals. Ala Saunders has the live recap from PNC Park, where Francisco Liriano showed some improvements, but Carlos Martinez shut the Pirates down.
**Prospect Watch: Glasnow Deals With “Slightly Stiff Lower Back”, Meadows Homers Again. Brian Peloza with a live report from Indianapolis, talking to Tyler Glasnow who said he had a stiff lower back.
**Pirates Place Francisco Cervelli on the DL After Hamate Surgery, Acquire Erik Kratz. The Pirates lose Cervelli for 4-6 weeks, and acquire a familiar face to back up Chris Stewart.