The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted high school right-handed pitcher Shane Baz with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft. Baz was drafted out of Lutheran High School, which is the same school that 2015 first rounder Ke’Bryan Hayes went to.

Baz sits 92-96 MPH with his fastball, touching 98, along with the chance for two plus breaking pitches. He throws a mid-80s slider with slurvy break, and a sharp curveball with 12-to-6 action. He’s got the chance for three plus pitches overall, giving him top of the rotation potential. He’s also developing a changeup that could be a solid pitch.

There are obviously things to work on with any player, especially guys out of high school. For Baz, the fastball can be a bit flat, and he doesn’t work off it enough, sometimes working more off his slider, throwing the pitch harder to give it cutter action. The Pirates will almost certainly have him working off the fastball, and might have to take the same approach they used with Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole to develop some angle on the pitch.

Baz gets good reviews for his makeup and his build, along with his easy arm action. His stuff obviously gets good reviews, and he challenges second overall pick Hunter Greene as one of the best prep pitchers in this draft. He’s got a commitment to TCU, and is seen as a tough sign, although the Pirates have a little over $4 M to give him a slot offer, and it’s doubtful they would have taken him if they didn’t think they could get him to sign for close to that amount. If needed, they have a few extra early picks, and could create some more cap room if he demands more than slot value.

UPDATE: Here is our player profile for Baz.

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57 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve read the 4 seam, cutter, and curveball are all plus right now but the slider blends in with the cutter and plays well off it.

  2. I’d have preferred a high ceiling position player, but there really wasn’t one available who would not have been a reach. Baz is clearly not a reach, so a good selection for this spot. As stated in the article, I would assume the Pirates did their homework and have confidence that they can sign him. I like this pick a lot better than last year’s first round pick, which was an ill advised reach.

  3. Huntington is an idiot.

    Last three Pirates drafted in the first round with a “Z” in their name:

    Tony Sanchez
    Pedro Alvarez
    MIke Zimmerman

    Guaranteed flop.

  4. Like the pick. Just feels like development of a high school guy takes for-ev-er. But if it turns out we get another Taillon, I can wait. Go Bucs – keep bringing in the best talent available!

    • Adding Baz to MacGregor, Ogle, Kranick, and to a lesser extent Shields and Marvel last year could create some serious competition on the pitching side in the lower levels the next few years.

  5. Tim … While I do like the pick in terms of talent, the Pirates do have a bit of history drafting players without ensuring they will sign (Appel, Lodolo).

    So they may think they can sign him but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have not had conversations with him – just like they did not have conversations with the other two.

    I would think they go with an ultra cautious 42nd pick now – both for the money and the signability.

    • Appel was a different situation. He wasn’t expected to drop to 8th. They had to make a decision to go for him, or go with one of the guys who they had been talking with in preparation for that pick.

      Lodolo was a similar situation. They didn’t have a lot of prep time to work out a pre-draft deal, or get a good feel for the asking price.

      Baz isn’t the same. They would have had a lot of options here, and they would have known Baz was available ahead of time, and what his asking price would have been. I don’t think they take him if there’s a risk he doesn’t sign at this spot.

      I think the “tough to sign” part about him is only if he falls in the draft. I don’t think it’s a big concern at #12.

      • All good points! And I just watched the below video so I would agree that they jointly have a number in mind.

  6. Tim, there is a 30 second clip on Twitter of Baz’s reaction. Am I allowed to post it or is that against the rules here?

  7. This pick puts me in the mind of Jameson Taillon. Efficient, direct mechanics which should help him develop plus command of pretty good stuff. If he gets the plane and action he wants on the fastball, and develops any semblance of a change, he could be a special pitcher (and move surprisingly quickly for a HS arm, considering the polish he already seems to have).

      • None, necessarily, at least not permanently. They’ll have him focus on his fastball early on for sure, but if they like all his offerings, he’ll add each back in as he goes.

        • Not so much permanently. I meant in the GCL-Bradenton for example. I can’t see him working in 5 pitches this summer. The Pirates usually want pitchers to throw 95% fastballs and the other 5% I’m told is purely changes ups. And if you were well behaved earlier in the day the will allow you to throw 2 or 3 curves or sliders.

  8. I find it hard to believe deception is something that most high school pitchers have at that age (aside from the junk pitchers now working at the local Sheetz or Enterprise who throw the 37mph slurve) so I imagine this is something that with work can be fixed in the AA and AAA levels…Is that the normal developmental stage for pitchers to really learn the deception part of pitching?

  9. If they can find a way to get Heliot Ramos and Jeter Downs, my name infatuation would be satisfied.

  10. I’m glad we picked him over Bukauskas. But I was kind of hoping for Kendall after reading John’s choice this morning.

    • I think if they go well under slot with the 42nd I would think they agreed on a number. Considering he was listed around 12 and didn’t fall like Appel did unexpectedly I’m sure they knew what would get it done.

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