Draft Prospect Watch: Two First Round Possibilities for the Pirates

On Friday, we took a look at a new mock draft from Jim Callis on MLB Pipeline. He had the Pittsburgh Pirates taking right-handed pitcher Alex Faedo from the University of Florida. In that draft, he has Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall slipping all the way to the Kansas City Royals at the 14th pick. That scenario would mean that the Pirates passed on one of the most talented players in the draft, a center fielder with plus-plus speed (17-for-21 in steals), who has hit 13 homers already this season. Keith Law’s mock draft from yesterday has Kendall slipping all the way to the 21st spot.

The big question with Kendall is his strikeouts. It’s become a major issue this year. He is hitting .303/.380/.567 in 231 plate appearances, but that comes with 58 strikeouts. That’s a very high strikeout rate for college, which makes it an alarming total for someone who is considered a first round pick. He had 62 strikeouts last year, but he also batted 54 more times to reach that total. It was an area where scouts hoped to see an improvement, but his strikeout rate has gone up as a junior. His season stats were also slightly better last year.

It’s a tough set of tools to pass up because you can assume the tools will at least get him to the majors, even if he doesn’t make enough contact to be a valuable offensive player. He could easily be a rich man’s Casey Hughston, which makes him a risky pick/investment in the first round. You might end up settling for a strong center fielder, who steals 20 bases and runs into the occasional homer, but hits near the bottom of the order because he doesn’t get on base enough. Definitely a risk vs reward situation, which is usually associated more with high school picks, not major college players.

Here’s a video of Kendall from 2080 Baseball

An interesting pick who seems like he would be appealing to the Pirates is North Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth. Callis has him going 23rd, but I could see the Pirates focusing in on him and “reaching” for him. It’s easy to say they don’t need a shortstop, but that ignores the fact that an athletic shortstop could move to another spot. It’s the athleticism and bat that I think they could find intriguing.

His overall profile seems to be similar to Kevin Newman, except with more power and Newman barely ever struck out in college, which has carried over to the pros. Warmoth doesn’t strike out much and won’t be hitting 20 homers in a season. His speed/defense/arm all get the same ratings as Newman, so you’re talking about similar values at the same position, even if they are slightly different players.

Here’s a Baseball America video of Warmoth in the field. He basically gets the same report Newman did in college, where some scouts think he can stick at shortstop and some think second base would be better.

News and Notes

** Houston kicked left-handed pitcher Seth Romero off of the team earlier this week. He’s a player with top ten talent in this draft, but he has numerous issues in his past. In fact, his dismissal from the team came shortly after he returned from a team suspension. Some team is likely going to get a talented player much cheaper than what they would pay for a similar talent, but they are obviously taking on a lot of risk with the pick.

** Jim Callis answered questions about players on the rise in the draft, including Alex Faedo, who he had for the Pirates in his mock draft. He also touched on the Romero topic.

** Here’s a link from MLB Pipeline with details on the draft coverage. It sounds like only the first 36 picks will be televised this year, then they will switch over to an MLB.com broadcast of the rest of the draft, including the final 39 picks on day one (picks 37-75). It’s now less than one month until the draft starts, so expect more mock drafts in the coming days.

**Perfect Game has their first mock draft up and they have the Pirates taking prep RHP Shane Baz. We covered him here twice last month. The first time when he went just a couple picks after the Pirates in a mock draft, then again when MLB Pipeline had him ranked 12th overall in their updated rankings. I think Baz would be an excellent pick at 12th overall, but Jim Callis recently noted that he might be dead set on going to TCU. That could be a risky selection if you’re making picks after him knowing that it might take extra money to sign him. That’s how you could end up with a weaker class, while not getting the played you wanted.

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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i just want a good player that can hit for power….lol


I think, all things considered, if I was going to stretch a little bit on this high of a pick, I would take Jake Burger.


I’d take a “rich man’s Casey Hughston” over the safe, high floor, low ceiling kind of pick that was Craig last year…still can’t believe the passed on Devin Perez for Craig last year….as for Warmoth, no thanks as a first round pick – sounds like another high floor, low ceiling pick – we should be aspiring for more with first round picks….


While I would love to totally be on board with this, the kid is striking out 25% of the time in college. That alone does not give me warm fuzzies about him.

So now I just went and watched the video on Kendell, no fricking way. There is just no way I would take him 12th. He was completely off balance on all 3 offspeed pitches they showed. Which brings up another question. Why on earth would any scouting site put video of a kid going into the draft when he looked so bad? If you are going to make a scouting video, make the kid look good. That was bad choices for video footage, I am not saying sugarcoat it and show only every one of his homeruns, but I watched the video and my first thought is, how does he get drafted in the top 10 rounds. This is a kid that is almost certainly going in the first round, and I am wondering why anyone would take him in the top 10.


I like what I’m​ hearing about Baz hopefully he could be signed. Looking at next year’s FA market (offering little Aledmys Diaz is arb eligible) and the savings from Kang and Marte hopefully they could go all out for Baz because he seems like the highest upside available at 12.


Savings from Kang and Marte??


Didn’t have to pay for them while restricted


Kendall sounds similar to Drew Stubbs’ writeup? Do we want a Drew Stubbs clone?


Where is the UVa OF trending in these new mocks?

Steve Zielinski

Re: Romero. The risk when drafting him is relative to his draft slot (round), his propensity to sign (measured in dollars) and the quality of the players the team could draft and sign had they not drafted Romero. The Pirates would not risk much if they drafted him late and signed him to a minimum contract. He would be no more risky than any other late round draft pick.


I don’t understand what you are trying to say. Are you saying if Romero was signed in round 10 and signed for $150K he is less risky than if he was drafted in round 1 and signed for $150K? Or are you saying that his risk is only associated to the dollar amount used to sign him, meaning if he is signed for $100K he is less risky than if he is signed for $2.5 mil?
The thing is, I am relatively sure he would not sign for $100K, and I am not sure any team would pay him $2.5 mil.
In reality, he will likely be picked in the top 2 rounds, because his talent is commensurate with that selection. In this scenario, I believe the round selection and the possibility of stealing him late are not possibilities, so should not be figured into the risk involved with drafting him.
As for the quality of player any team could select, well, the MLB draft is pretty much a crap shoot, and shouldn’t ever really be a consideration, just ask Mark Appel.
So that leaves only the money used to sign him and a determining factor into how much risk should be involved. Personally, if I drafted him, I would offer him a college senior contract, maybe a bit more, but no way do I give a kid with what appears to be many character issues (I don’t know him, so I can only guess), any significant money at all. At this point, he is looking at JUCO for his senior season, or playing in the Indy leagues as his only alternatives to signing a contract with MLB.
So there is my opinion, for whatever it is worth.

Steve Zielinski

If Romero signed in round 11 or greater and if he signed for $100K, the risk of signing him would be equal to the value of the players the team could have signed with that pick (that value might be considerable given the players who fall because of signability issues), the probability that he will fail to become a ML player and the dollar cost of his bonus, his post-sign training, etc.

So, the less you pay for Romero, the low quality of players you pass over when drafting Romero and the probability of his failing contribute in to determining the risk generated by drafting and signing Romero, and the risk of drafting and signing Romero could become miniscule if the circumstances were favorable.

I would not count on Romero going in the first or second or even the third through 10th rounds. The reason: Teams need to sign those draft picks in order to protect their overall draft allotment. Building a draft class around Romero, like the Pirates tried to do with Appel, would mean they confront a high amount of risk for a player that could become the next Josh Hamilton, Matt Bush, etc., talented misses who became found gold for different organizations, or the players who never made it because of character defects. The draft rules ought to make teams wary of drafting players like Romero, players who could ruin a draft class with their high dollar demands and character driven tendency to fail.

The risk generated by a Romero selection begins and ends with the overt and covert costs paid to acquire him. The actual amount determines the risk. The rest — the rounds, the bonus, the other players on the board — are variables.


OK, that makes it clearer. But, if he is a top 10 -15 talent and you can get him at 12, sign him for your $150K scenario(I don’t believe this is even a possibility), then the risk associated with the other players passed up is far outweighed by the fact that you saved $3 million plus to spend on the rest of your draft picks. The fact that you got a talent commensurate with your pick is what carries the value of the pick. The extra savings can be used to sway other high upside HS players in the later rounds, be it top 10 or 11-40. The excess value in those picks could far outweigh the risk associated with taking Romero at 12.
By this I mean, if you can get Romero, again, highly unlikely, to sign for $150K, in the first round, then you probably save enough money to get, I think it is Shane Baz, the kid with the “strong” commitment to college. If you take him in round 7 and sign him to a huge overslot deal, then the money saved on the “risky” pick of Romero is probably turned into a positive regardless of if Romero ever makes it to the major leagues.
The MLB draft is such a crap shoot though, it is nearly impossible to predict anything.

Steve Zielinski

“….the risk associated with the other players passed up is far outweighed by the fact that you saved $3 million plus to spend on the rest of your draft picks.”

Three Names: Tony Sanchez, Zach Von Rosenberg and Mike Trout. Passing over superior players to save money makes sense in some cases. But not when the player a team passes on becomes a superstar and an immense bargain during their entry level and arbitration years. The opportunity cost the Pirates incurred when they drafted Sanchez was their miss of Mike Trout. The risk in the opportunity cost of a player is not always outweighed by the money saved. The Pirates, with the benefit of hindsight, would have paid tens of millions of dollars to draft Trout. Huntington and crew clearly did not pass over Trout to save money. They passed over Trout because they did not know Trout’s actual value. No one, I bet, knew how valuable Trout would become.


Romero has also been suspended twice by Houston which is extremely concerning character-wise.

Steve Zielinski

I would not draft him.

Steve Zielinski

You did not specify the round and money. Romero is not intrinsically risky. The risk generated by a Romero pick depends on his dollar cost, the opportunity cost incurred when picking him and the probability that he becomes a bust.

If Romero refuses to sign for lesser money…. Well, then the greater risk will fall on him. He won’t be the first young man who effed up and cost himself millions of dollars. He’s already walking that path.

Steve Zielinski

He’s not a risky pick later on. The fact that he has Top-10 talent does not mean any team with a Top-10 pick will select him. Nor does it mean Romero will become a Top-10 round pick. His troubles may mean that no team selects him.

Anyway, my point stands: The risk generated by a Romero pick will be determined by the dollar cost, the opportunity cost and the probability that he becomes a bust. Reduce the dollar and opportunity costs and the risk of drafting Romero decreases accordingly.

Steve Zielinski

Right, it is the same for every draftee. You wrote without precision when you stated:

“Some team is likely going to get a talented player much cheaper than what they would pay for a similar talent, but they are obviously taking on a lot of risk with the pick.”

If the team that drafts Romero does so in a later round and pays Romero a slot bonus, then they will not have incurred much risk by doing so. Your clam implies that signing Romero for $10k is very risky. It is not. The pick is highly risky when Romero is taken in a top round and receives a bonus that reflects his talent and his high draft position.

You could have written: Romero would be a very risky choice for any team that uses a top choice or that pays Romero a bonus equal to his talent.

Steve Zielinski

Your bad was to assume that what you wrote passed muster. It didn’t. Your statement amounts to bullshit, to put it bluntly. I called you on it — politely. But you cannot see that — but, that’s not my problem.


You are making a fool of yourself Steve. What John wrote was clear. A lot of what you wrote made little sense.

Steve Zielinski

Actually, I am not making a fool out of myself. A bit of research into the meaning and use of the term “risk” will confirm this. What John wrote was sloppy, indicated he did not know much about risk, revealed he made assumptions that may or may prove true in the future but which cannot be assumed true today. Had I treated him badly I would expect an intemperate response. But I didn’t.

There is far too much DK-tude around here, e.g.: “I write as a professional about baseball, therefore I am an expert and you must treat me accordingly.” As I told DK over a decade back, in paraphrase: Many who write about the Pirates bring cognitive skills from areas that can illuminate some features of baseball practice that are important and often are not taught in journalism school. You and many other journalists are not experts in those areas, and cannot expect to be received as authorities those instances.

Read through this material to determine what the word risks means in various contexts:


joe s

Logan Warmoth, is Newman all over again. Why would anyone in their right mind take a copy of what they already have. This would be a terrible pick for the Pirates.


What’s not to like about Newman. Yeah, he isn’t insanely flashy but look at the stats: great on-base skills, high contact rate, sound eye at the plate, above average defensively (though room to improve). He might not end up a HOF candidate but he seems to me like he’ll be a major league caliber player

Steve Zielinski

You double down on drafted players because not every prospect becomes an established Major Leaguer, some prospects suffer injuries and because players have value as components of trades.

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