It took 24 rounds until the Pirates drafted their first prep position player, and they broke that streak with third baseman Austin Bodrato. There’s a reason the prep selections have been down, which I’ve discussed since day one of this draft — it’s really difficult to sign prep players under the new rules, which limit draft spending. The Pirates happened to go with pitchers for their big prep draft picks, taking guys in the competitive balance round, along with the second, fourth, and 11th rounds. Those guys are going to require some over-slot money to sign, although with the early picks, they could just sign for their entire slot amount. As a result, the Pirates probably won’t have much money to spend on Bodrato, who has a commitment to Florida, and gets some good grades on his tools. He does seem like he would be a backup plan if someone like 11th rounder Max Kranick doesn’t sign.

Another interesting position player taken in this group was 23rd round center fielder Garrett Brown. He’s a very athletic player, spending more time playing football in college than he spent playing baseball. The 2016 season was his first year where he actually got playing time on the diamond, and he responded with some good numbers. He’s got plus-plus speed, but is very raw. He’s also more signable than Bodrato. He would make an interesting project due to his speed and athleticism, with the hopes that his hitting was legit and he can develop his raw game with more time on the field. – Tim Williams

21st Round, 645th Overall: Matt Eckelman, RHP, St. Louis U

Eckelman is a right-handed pitcher with a huge frame, a four-pitch mix and outstanding control. He was injured during his junior season and pitched just seven times, throwing a total of 14 innings. As a sophomore, he was the closer for St. Louis, posting a 1.63 ERA in 60.2 innings. He had a 1.64 ERA in 27 relief appearances during his freshman season. As a senior, he moved into the weekend rotation and threw 101 innings. He posted a 3.12 ERA, with 35 walks, 81 strikeouts and a .246 BAA. As a 22-year-old senior, he should sign quickly and could start for Morgantown, though his increase in innings this year could mean that he goes to the bullpen until 2017 to limit his work. – John Dreker

22nd Round, 675th Overall: Bryant Bingel, RHP, Bryant U

Bingel became a regular starter for Bryant as a junior after serving as a swing man in his sophomore year. As a junior he had a 3.77 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. He struck out 64 in 74 innings. At 5’ 10”, he was an uncharacteristic selection for the Pirates. Bingel also played in the infield regularly and showed some power, hitting 15 home runs over the last two seasons. – Wilbur Miller

23rd Round, 705th Overall: Garrett Brown, CF, Western Carolina

Brown has had an interesting career at Western Carolina. He played briefly in 2012, but only saw six at-bats. He then took two years off to play football. His athleticism allowed him to play running back, wide receiver, kick returner, and quarterback. He returned to baseball in 2015, but only got 34 at-bats. This year was his first full season playing baseball, and he put up some good numbers, with a .321/.370/.435 line in 262 at-bats, with four homers and 34 stolen bases in 42 attempts. He’s got plus-plus speed, but he’s obviously raw, due to his lack of time on the baseball field the last few years. He was rated 468th overall by Baseball America for his speed and athleticism, but his age raises questions about how much that will translate to pro ball with his raw abilities. He should be an interesting project if he signs. He’s got one year of eligibility remaining, so he could return to Western Carolina. If he does sign, he should get a pretty good look in the outfield with one of the short-season teams, possibly going to Bristol where his raw talent can be developed at an easier level. – Tim Williams

24th Round, 735th Overall: Austin Bodrato, 3B, St. Joseph Regional School (NJ)

Bodrato was the first high school player taken by the Pirates since the 11th round. His draft video has him as a pitcher who hit high-80s and he’s topped out at 94 MPH, but the Pirates announced him as a third baseman. He is old for his draft class, turning 19 back in February. He has a commitment to Florida, which means he will likely be a tough sign. Prep Baseball Report calls him a fantastic athlete with a strong build, who is a line drive hitter, possessing excellent speed and a strong outfield arm. – John Dreker

25th Round, 765th Overall: Stephen Owen, RF, Indiana State

Owen wasn’t a regular at Indiana State until his senior year, although he red-shirted his first year and has a year of eligibility left. He was easily the team’s best hitter, posting a .350/.430/.537 line. His BB:K ratio was just okay at 20:36 in 226 at-bats. His OBP was helped by 15 HBP. Owen hit well his junior season also, with a .344/.400/.542 line, but he started fewer than half the team’s games. He played very little as a sophomore. He’ll be 23 after the season, so if he wants a pro career he’ll need to get started on it. Owen appears to go by the name “Hunter.” – Wilbur Miller

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  1. Der Bingel may be the ultimate minor league player, who can play in the field AND pitch. With those limited rosters, he could be VERY valuable.


  2. They need bodies for their 3 short season teams, since they don’t allow “ghost” players in professional baseball. And some of these guy unexpectedly pan out, it happens all the time. Especially with pitchers, most of whom don’t get to the big leagues until their mid-20’s.

    On the cynical side, drafting these guys limits their bargaining positions.

  3. Why does the draft go past the 20th round? If teams are just taking roster fillers why not let the remaining players be free agents and sign with any team that will pay them? Baseball can limit the signing amount to $100,000.

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