Pirates Go Heavy on College Hitters on Day Two of the 2017 MLB Draft

The Pirates completed day two of the 2017 MLB draft, going very college heavy, but taking one high school player — sixth round prep pitcher Cody Bolton. The Pirates have now taken pitchers and position players from both the prep and college ranks in this draft, giving some good balance for their first 12 picks.

We wrote about each player individually today, and have player pages for each pick below:

3 – Dylan Busby, 3B

4 – Jason Delay, C

5 – Deon Stafford, C

6 – Cody Bolton, RHP

7 – Jared Oliva, CF

8 – Blake Weiman, LHP

9 – Bligh Madris, OF

10 – Beau Sulser, RHP

At the end of day two, Pirates’ scouting director Joe DelliCarri talked with the media about the new picks, shedding some more light on what they liked about those players.

The Position Players

The Pirates started day three with a college third baseman, taking Dylan Busby out of Florida State. Busby had some strong numbers from a power standpoint, including good results in the wood bat Cape Cod League. Those results weren’t a major factor for the Pirates in taking him, but the did help his case.

“We really do stay on some of the traits in terms of strength, size, athleticism, and some of the things they do,” DelliCarri said on Busby. “Body movements, how they see the game, the quickness of how they see the game, how they swing against college pitchers. … In Dylan’s case, it doesn’t hurt, but it’s not a lone factor or a major factor in how we sort it out.”

They followed that up with two college catchers, drafting Jason Delay in the fourth round and Deon Stafford in the fifth round. Those two are almost the complete opposite. Delay is regarded as a strong defender with a weak bat, and Stafford is regarded as a strong hitter who might not be able to stick behind the plate.

DelliCarri said that they’ve been looking at Delay for years, and that he finally came on as a prospect this year. Part of the appeal for him was the work he’s done and the skills he’s shown handling a very talented Vanderbilt pitching staff.

“Certainly give credit to [Vanderbilt] Coach [Tim] Corbin and his staff for obviously talking the way he does about Jason on the front end, but the group they always bring in there, and the high quality on the mound,” DelliCarri said. “In some of the different venues, you get to see a little bit further into how he might handle some good stuff, some professional stuff.”

DelliCarri shared that Delay, a fifth year senior, talked about a special moment he had with his coach about being drafted.

“They’ve been talking with each other for five years wanting this day to happen, and the selection to happen, and it’s pretty neat,” DelliCarri said.

Delay will almost certainly get the bulk of the catching duties in Morgantown this year, but could be splitting some time with Stafford. The defensive reviews weren’t strong, but Stafford does have some good offensive skills. His numbers were down this year compared to what he did previously, and in the Cape Cod League. DelliCarri noted that the Pirates still saw the same skills from him, despite the numbers.

“Up front I’ll say that Deon did some really good things he’s shown in the past, he did them this year,” DelliCarri said. “We all know not everybody has the same statistics every year. We’re not dealing with statistics. He showed a lot of the qualities he showed in the past. So to tell you on the front end, he did a lot of good things this year.”

Another factor for Stafford could have been due to injuries he had this year, impacting the numbers.

“He had some downtime with some minor nagging injuries,” DelliCarri said. “You don’t always statistically show out when you have some nagging injuries. I think Deon played through it and did a lot of great things in front of our guys this year to show us he’s still going to be a great player going forward.”

The Pirates later took two outfielders out of college, after taking two prep outfielders on day one. The first one was Jared Oliva, who is a senior that didn’t become a draft prospect until last year after the draft, and really stepped up his game this year.

“Quality young man from a family with a track record of athleticism,” DelliCarri said. “Jared just took a little longer with his development. He’s really come into his own, starting in the World Series last year. A lot of great stories about him and quality of the young man he is. It’s just the baseball surfaced a bit later. A late bloomer. Thrilled to have the opportunity to select Jared today for all of those reasons. He has a lot of better days ahead of him, baseball-wise, and continuing the person who he is as well.”

They also took Bligh Madris, who was regarded as one of the best hitters in Division II, and could be a nice steal if his stats translate over to pro ball. DelliCarri discussed how the Pirates evaluate a guy in a lower division, compared to a standard Division I player.

“There’s a consistency of seeing these players at the Division I level,” DelliCarri said. “The speed of the game. At the same time, we continue to go at different days to see these players in different realms. See if we can see them against the top level, what they’re going to face, whether it’s summer league, or trying to see the best matchups that we can. Our guys do a great job of trying to get into the yard and doing matchups, seeing them against good competition, making calls to coaches.”

The theme for both days was a bit more focused on power than it had been in the past. Busby and Madris definitely are power driven in their games, while Oliva got a nice comp to Drew Stubbs for his power potential and defensive skills in the outfield, along with his speed. Most of these guys will go to Morgantown this year, giving a further look at how they can perform against some of the best out of the college ranks.

The Pitchers

The Pirates didn’t draft many pitchers today, and two of the college guys they took profile more as relievers. That doesn’t mean they will initially start them off in the bullpen. Take 8th rounder Blake Weiman, who had a lot of success this year after switching to the bullpen. DelliCarri said he will more than likely be a starter this year, with the main focus being on his innings and workload.

“We’re going to give him innings,” DelliCarri said. “He hasn’t pitched innings. We always see where the young men are, first and foremost, and trust Kyle Stark and Larry Broadway when they get them to see how many innings we want to build them out to, how many innings he’s thrown in the past. So I will defer. We hand them over to get a lot of innings this summer.”

Tenth round pick Beau Sulser seems like a pick aimed at saving some bonus money, since he’s a college senior who profiles more as a reliever. But he could also get some innings, just like last year’s tenth round pick Matt Anderson has done in a similar role.

“I think Beau has a quality fastball that plays,” DelliCarri said. “We believe it’s going to play. And he has a nice combination with his changeup. Our scouts liked that quality, and really those two pitches and his performance. Against some of the competition he’s faced, he’s done extremely well. We believe his pitches and who he is and how he goes about it is really going to play at the next level as well.”

The more promising pitcher taken on day two was Cody Bolton, a prep pitcher who was previously deemed unsignable. That didn’t end up being the case, as he has already reportedly agreed to a deal. DelliCarri said that they got a chance to talk with him about starting his career, but the Pirates wouldn’t confirm any deals yet.

“We’re optimistic to get him done, first and foremost,” DelliCarri said. “I share with you, we have great confidence in our group to finish the play. [Area scout] Mike Sansoe has done a lot of work with this young man, relationship-wise. … We hope to finish the play with Cody. He was excited to be selected today, and sharing that moment with our area supervisor Mike Sansoe. We’re excited to have the opportunity, and he seemed excited, so we’re hoping to get it done.”

Saving Money For Over-Slot Picks

The Pirates drafted three college seniors today, taking Jason Delay in the fourth round ($450,500 slot value), Jared Oliva in the seventh round ($200,000), and Beau Sulser in the tenth round ($134,200). Those picks are almost certainly signability picks, aimed at saving money for other players.

They took some guys who were perceived to be difficult signings on day one, and added another in Bolton today. They already have reached agreements with first rounder Shane Baz, and with Bolton. So it’s likely that they knew exactly how much they needed, and created the necessary bonus pool room to get the deals done.

We’ll get a good idea tomorrow if they have anything left for day three. Typically they have gone over-slot on their 11th round pick, signing Max Kranick last year, Gage Hinsz in 2014, and Erich Weiss in 2013. They didn’t go over-slot in 2011, although Christian Kelley received the maximum $100,000, and has been a pretty promising catching prospect since. That 11th round pick will be an interesting one to focus on tomorrow, as it should give an indication of how much extra money the Pirates expect to have outside of the top ten rounds.

  • Yes, it’s very exciting to hear that Baz will sign tomorrow. That’s a real coup!

  • Outstanding that they have got Shane Baz signed already!!! Hopefully he’ll be a strong prospect. If he’s anywhere near as good as Taillon or Cole, an excellent pick!

    • Bill Harvey
      June 14, 2017 2:57 am

      Taillon and Cole are probably high end comps. Remember both were legitimate candidates to go 1-1. Baz was never that, even in a “weaker” draft. Not that he isn’t a super high end prospect, just that there may be slower progression, or not quite the upside as the previously mentioned two.

      • Or he could exceed their level of performance? No reason to put an artificial ceiling on him before throwing his first professional pitch.

  • So far, this appears to have been a killer draft. Even the “signability” guys seem to me to have at least outside chances to get to the Show. Think Jacob Stallings!

    • I agree. I like the power the skills, even the seniors look solid with nice projectability left.
      Pitching and power and athletic ability are my draft ingredients for a solid draft.
      Really like the Busby pick, I think he’s a future stud.

      • The Pirates stepped up with Busby who had 14 HR in 2016 and 2017 in the ACC, and comes with the “wood bat” experience at Cape Cod last Summer. In the Cape he batted .322 with 10 doubles/4 HR in 90 AB, and was selected the 4th Best Prospect, right behind Pavin Smith who was drafted #7 overall.

        The Pirates took him about 40 picks higher than BA had him at #129 and about 100 picks higher than MLB had him at around #180. I think that tells us how highly they regard Busby.

        • If he ends up not being overdrafted and they save on the signing bonus that is a huge win.

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