Draft Signing News, Plus Praise from Jim Callis and Keith Law

Jim Callis at MLB Pipeline had high praise for the Pittsburgh Pirates after the draft was completed. He rated the Pirates as having the third best draft class, trailing only the Minnesota Twins and the Cincinnati Reds, the teams with the top two choices in the draft. Besides the top four picks for the Pirates, which were all high upside prep players, Callis also liked Dylan Busby (3rd round), Deon Stafford (fifth round) and sixth rounder Cody Bolton, who has already indicated he will sign.

Keith Law also loved the drafting done by the Pirates, although that was obvious if you saw his rankings. He had Shane Baz rated 11th, Conner Uselton 20th and Steven Jennings 22nd, while also saying that Cal Mitchell had a lot of potential.

Speaking of Jennings, he has indicated that he is signing, although no deal is in place yet.

As for other players, I’ll point out that Shea Murray, the 18th round pick who played outfield this year at Ohio State, has reportedly hit 99 MPH. That explains why the Pirates announced him as a right-handed pitcher. He will sign, as will all of the seniors taken in the draft.

Here are some other notes for non-senior players and their signing status:

15th round pick Gavin Wallace sounds like he is signing. He talked about being excited to join his brother Mike Wallace, who currently pitches for West Virginia in the bullpen.

16th rounder Hunter Stratton and 19th rounder Jake Webb will both sign. That was mentioned here last night.

21st rounder Robbie Glendinning is signing, as is 23rd rounder Ben Bengtson.

Despite a name that grades high on the scouting scale, Brock Deatherage has indicated it’s highly unlikely he will sign, but he will still talk to a scout from the Pirates before deciding.

36th round pick Ryan Hoerter, who is a prep pitcher with upside, has said he is attending Auburn and will notify the Pirates of his decision.

View our draft tracker here for more info on each player.

There are ten players who were drafted as seniors. You can see the list on our tracker. Those players will sign, though a couple will be delayed because they are still playing.

  • It dismays me that Brock Deatherage is unlikely to sign, considering what this means for the death metal depth in our farm system.

  • Brock Deathrage…..what an awesome baseball name!!!!

  • It’s funny how anxious I am for the Baz signing, even though I am not worried about him signing. I am anxious about the amount. I just think we drafted a lot of interesting players and I want to have money available to sign as many as possible.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    June 15, 2017 3:08 pm

    I’ve already made this comment 1-2 times on other articles since the draft was completed, but I will state it again….and I preface this with the obvious – no drafts can truly be assessed until several years after they have been completed….
    As opposed to the past 2-3 drafts, I am actually excited about the Pirates 2017 draft – they did what I was hoping they would do – go all in on high upside HS (and JUCO) players and try to get them signed….Although they took more pitchers, as opposed to position players, than I would have preferred, I like what they did. Now, they need to get them signed – and it seems they are well on their way to doing just that.
    Now, if they can change their strategy in the International market – and go more for quality instead of quantity – we may see progress made in the lower levels of the system….

  • meatygettingsaucy
    June 15, 2017 3:00 pm

    Jenning’s dad seems beyond ecstatic for his son to sign.

  • bucswsbound
    June 15, 2017 1:18 pm

    Definitely nice to hear the praise for the picks.

    Informal poll for P2 readers: How many people think the draft is a crap shoot?

    • Probably be better to ask who does not? Lots of talent, but lots of potholes along the way.

      • bucswsbound
        June 15, 2017 1:53 pm

        Other than draft position, would you agree that the risks/potholes that teams are exposed to are the same for every team? If not, what kind of risks/potholes do the Pirates – or any other franchise – face that other teams do not? In other words, are their draft-related risks inherent to some teams and not others?

        Would you agree that all teams have the same likelihood of running into those risks/potholes? If not, what can teams do to limit their exposure to those risks?

        • Low-revenue teams like the Pirates have much more risk simply because they have no other sustainable stream of quality talent. “Success” drafting for the Pirates is much different than for the Yankees, assuming the goal is to win baseball games and not academic arguments about how “good” NH has drafted.

          • bucswsbound
            June 15, 2017 2:50 pm

            Sure, I agree with that – stakes are higher for small market teams with respect to producing talent via the draft. But, that’s a risk involving NOT drafting and developing successfully. That risk doesn’t jeopardize a team’s ability to draft and develop. That doesn’t prevent the Pirates from drafting and developing well. That risk isn’t a pothole toward development.

            Are there risks/potholes that some teams face that others done’t that do jeopardize their ability to draft/develop well?

            • Not sure I understand your question at this point.

              Are you asking if there’s anything inherently built into the *system* that makes drafting more difficult for some teams than others?

              • bucswsbound
                June 15, 2017 3:28 pm

                Yes – that’s the question. Not so much the system, but that could be part of it. Emjay talked about potholes that make the draft a crap shoot. Are all teams potentially equally impacted by risks/problems/potholes? I’d say yes.

                I would say with respect to drafting and developing success, there are two types of risk
                1. Things that are almost entirely out of the control of a team – injuries happening after the draft, car accidents, etc.
                2. Things that are controllable by a team – signability, bad attitude/willingness to learn/character, injury history, position choice, actual talent, etc.. In other words, a team can elect to not draft a player who they feel isn’t signable or they can elect to over-draft a kid because of the ease of signability (Bullington). A team can elect to put a player into a position they don’t want to play or maybe aren’t as capable of playing (JVB being made into a pitcher rather than a hitter for example). A team can misjudge talent and take a player too early or a team can misjudge talent and fail to take a player who winds up being great (Trout or Pujols, for example).

                I would say every team faces the same challenges, the same risks. No team is specifically disadvantaged – other than draft position – over another.

                Because of that, the nature of a single, individual draft is somewhat variable (somewhat of a crap shoot) because a catastrophic injury or two can wreck one draft. But, over time, the risks that are out of a team’s control even out (because no team is disadvantaged). Yet, some teams – over time – clearly do a better job in the draft than others. I believe that is because some teams do a better job of managing the controllable risk. So, I believe the draft – over time – isn’t a crap shoot at all. Some teams draft and develop better than others.

                That’s what I think. I’d like to hear other points of view – both those that agree with me and those that disagree with me.

                • I think there is an organizational personality risk. An organization walks a fine line between having:
                  1. a philosophy that sets a direction (e.g. Righthanders that are over 6’3″ with high velocity have a higher percentage chance of succeeding than righthanders under 6’3″ that don’t)
                  2. a rigid hierarchy that demands that individuals act and think like one (e.g. Don’t even try to recommend a 6’1″ pitcher with pinpoint accuracy and an awesome change and breaking pitch to your scouting supervisor because NH would never draft him)

                  Without diversity of opinions and discussion an organization may tend to shut down dissenting voices and miss an opportunity to draft say a non-athletic 3B that can hit everything thrown within two feet of the strike zone.

                  • By the way, I am not saying the Pirates have this issue just that I get a feeling that are certainly right on the border of the two lines of thinking…

                • I very much agree with that take.

                  “Crap shoot”, to me, is defined by pure randomness. Luck. Chance. Lack of skill. The MLB Draft most certainly is not that.

                  • bucswsbound
                    June 15, 2017 6:23 pm

                    That’s why when I read ‘we all know the draft is a crap shoot’ I scratch my head. The body of work over multiple years is not a crap shoot, IMHO The opinion that the draft is only a crap shoot seems like an cop out when things don’t go as well as expected several years down the line.

                  • Overall, the Pirates have not done that badly in drafting and preparing players for MLB – although it seems their fundamentals are lacking. The team got killed in international signings for years as MLB stacked the deck for large market teams to succeed there.

                • Bill Harvey
                  June 16, 2017 5:19 am

                  Personally, this is my opinion, feel free to disagree without bludgeoning me. I think the term “crap shoot” as it refers to the draft, has more to do with the fact that teams are selecting 40+ players hoping that they can sign 30 of them. Out of those 30, teams are hoping for 3 contributors at the major league level in 3-5 years. So, in essence, the term “crap shoot” has more to do with the low % probability of success and less to do with mitigating the controllable or measurable aspects of selecting the players themselves.

                  As for the outside factors, it is my personal belief that there are probably certain teams that don’t do themselves any favors with how they treat players. Baltimore and Houston would be a couple of examples. Baltimore has voided a couple of agreements with FA pitchers for “undisclosed” medical reasons when the player has showed up to take their physical. I am fine with them voiding the deal, but the revelation of it being a medical reason could be cause for concern. Houston, on the other hand, since winning cures a lot of what ails you, it is probably forgotten by now, but their take it or leave it stance with their top pick a couple years ago was, at the time, a huge black eye. Not that any of those things would ever stop a first or second round pick from signing, but if I’m a HS kid getting drafted in round 6 or 7, those are a couple things I might look at.

                  Sorry I ran that so far OT.

                  • bucswsbound
                    June 16, 2017 7:41 am

                    I think we are on the same page. I agree that the probability of success is low for every team, especially in one single draft. But, there are some teams that do a better job of controlling those mitigating circumstances and, in so doing, they have more success over the course of time. To me, calling something a crap shoot means its entirely out of the team’s control and I don’t believe that it is, even given that the probability for success is low.

          • High revenue teams have the resources to fill gaps in their system unlike low revenue teams, but no team can afford to miss on having success in the draft for long and have sustainable success. As such I would say every team has significant risk in drafting well.

          • NMR no doubt. The Bucs or most low-revenue teams could not afford to compete with the Dodgers/Yankees when it came to international free agents in recent years. That has been a big problem with MLB for years. Thankfully that is supposed to end under the new system – or so i’ve read.

        • The Pirates seem to be able to successfully deal with the uncontrollable (‘crap-shoot) nature of life and maintain a high-level of competitiveness. This franchise can simply successfully develop young prospects.

          Regarding this draft, the developmental angle comes to play when so-called experts in the field (Keith Law) state that the Pirates drafted three of the top 25 players in the country. Another expert (Jim Callis) called this a top three draft class. The scouting team apparently succeeded as far as selection of talent.

          A look to the minors shows a system rich with pitching prospects along with teams leading their divisions.

          Accolades have been showered upon this franchise for its ability to development players, especially the pitchers.

  • John, I used to hear about teams paying college tuition to signees. Does that still happen sometimes in the modern universe?

    Of course, college is a lot more expensive than it used to be.

    • All contracts provide tuition, room , and board for a certain number of semesters.

  • So I’ve always wondered….What happens if a HS Prospect breaks his committment? Does he owe something to the College that he committed too? Do they get a percentage of his contract?

    • No he owes them nothing

    • Just the opposite actually, HS players get a clause in their contract that pays for the school they committed to after their playing days are over. Most don’t go but two recent examples ended up going. Hayden Hurst went to South Carolina and Zack Von Rosenberg went to LSU

  • BallHeadWonder
    June 15, 2017 11:39 am

    Again…NH will not get his just due for this draft!! We all know the draft is an crap shoot, but based on ALL OF THE EXPERTS, this is a quality draft for us and as soon a 2 or 3 kids perform badly, we are asking for NH’s head!! I really look forward to Baz pitching!! This kid looks like he already has the SWAG on the mound and just to know he has 4 pitches controlled already…..it’s just a matter of time this kid breaks out!! Praying for all the injuries to stay away!!

    • My only comment is that it’s nice to hear positive initial impressions about the draft but its too early to judge. The quality of the draft will be determined on the number of impact players it produces for the Pirates on their big league club. Nothing else really matters.

      • SufferinBuccotash
        June 15, 2017 1:31 pm

        Exactly. We’ll know whether or not this was a quality draft in 4 years or so.

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