The Pittsburgh Pirates selected pitcher Nick Lodolo with the 41st overall pick in the draft this year. He was considered a tough sign, but the team has been negotiating with him. Lodolo set a high bonus demand before the draft and said that he was planning on attending TCU, but he never took his name out of the draft, which left a door open for him possibly signing. According to Lodolo on Twitter this morning, he will be headed to school.
The Pirates will receive the 42nd overall pick next year, which also means a bigger bonus pool next year unless they fail to receive an extra competitive balance lottery pick, which happened in 2015. I wouldn’t say it’s 100% official he won’t sign since the deadline is Friday, but it certainly appears that way.
The Pirates lose his slot bonus amount, but they do have about $100,000 left to negotiate with a player after the tenth round, possibly someone they had as a backup plan in case Lodolo didn’t sign. That $100,000 or so they have left doesn’t include the $100,000 base bonus that every player after the tenth round can sign for without it counting against the team’s bonus pool. Teams are allowed to go up to 5% over their bonus pool without losing a draft pick, though they do pay a tax on the overage.
Here is our draft tracker with the remaining unsigned players. Of those players, the following have said they are returning to school already:
28. Michael Danielak
31. Ben Miller
34. Craig Dedelow
39. Harrison Wenson
40. Bret Boswell
— Tim Williams (@timwilliamsP2) July 12, 2016
Of the remaining picks, three are from East Tennessee State. That seems fairly odd to take three players from the same school and not sign any of them, but it is a possibility. Hagen Owenby was the 14th round pick and his draft stock likely shot up after the draft, as he won the college HR derby with a very impressive showing. He also said he was looking forward to ETSU next year, though that has not been made official.
The next highest unsigned pick is right-handed pitcher Pearson McMahan and there has been no news on him since the draft. He was even hard to find information on right after the draft. He has an advanced curveball, which led to a high strikeout total in JUCO ball this year, but he also had control issues. It’s tough to say if he would be someone they would go over slot for just because there isn’t enough info out there on him.
Austin Bodrato might be a target now. He has a commitment to Florida, but it’s only a partial scholarship. Bodrato has a strong arm, throwing 94 MPH, though he was announced as a third baseman. He has negotiated with the Pirates since the draft, so they might go back to him. Bodrato is very athletic with excellent speed. He’s old for a high school player though, turning 19 back in early February.
Shortstop Chris Cook from ETSU suffered a torn labrum, otherwise he would have gone higher in this draft. He’s an athletic player, who hit well as a sophomore, but only played nine games in 2016. If he returns to school next year, he will probably begin the year late due to the timing of his injury, and he also turns 22 this August, so his age isn’t on his side. It could be a case similar to James Marvel last year, who signed late for $150,000 and continued his Tommy John rehab with the Pirates.
Austin Shields is a huge 6’5″, 245 pound righty from Canada, who hits 94 with his fastball and has a slider with plus potential. I can’t see him being an option to sign for $200,000 because of his potential and he has a college commitment. He hasn’t ruled out signing as far as I can tell, but the upside suggests he would be better off returning to school. If the Pirates are able to sign him, then that’s a nice fallback plan.
Dustin Williams from Oklahoma is a power-hitting first baseman with solid defense. He has major strikeout issues though, so I can’t see him being someone who would require an over-slot deal. He only hit .219 this season. His team went to the College World Series and he said at the time that the Pirates would give him some time after the season ended before discussing him possibly signing.
Colin Brockhouse didn’t have great stats at Ball State, but he’s a draft-eligible sophomore, so he has more negotiating leverage. He’s a 6’3″, right-handed pitcher, who turns 21 next week. He has a three-pitch mix, including a fastball that gets into the 90’s, and judging from pictures, he has a frame that has a lot of room to fill out.
Aaron Maher is the third ETSU player and he’s also a draft-eligible sophomore, though he’s nine months older than Brockhouse. He’s a big lefty bat, who plays left field and put up solid numbers this year. He would likely require an over-slot deal.