Some quick notes regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 2018 amateur draft and the July 2nd signing period.
The finals of the College World Series began last night with two draft picks of note in the game. Fifth round pick Grant Koch is the catcher for Arkansas and tenth round pick Michael Gretler is on the other side, playing third base for Oregon State. Game one went to Arkansas 4-1, with Koch going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Gretler drove in the only run for Oregon State. Game two is tonight, followed by game three if necessary tomorrow.
The interest here is more than just getting a look at some draft picks of the Pirates. Once the World Series ends, then these players can sign. The deadline to sign is July 6th (next Friday) and it usually takes about a week after the CWS ends before players sign, although players from the losing team tend to get in a little sooner. That’s cutting it close to the deadline, especially if they play on Thursday, but it doesn’t take long to get everything done with other picks waiting to hear back about any final offers.
If you remember when Nick Lodolo wouldn’t take the final offer from the Pirates in 2016, which was basically the maximum they could offer, then Austin Shields had his over-slot deal done that same morning. So there are no worries about timing being the issue.
The bigger issue might be Gunnar Hoglund, although this particular bit of news from Kiley McDaniel doesn’t prove anything other than he wasn’t in Pittsburgh yesterday getting ready to sign.
Source: Pirates comp round pick (36th overall) Florida prep RHP Gunnar Hoglund attended orientation for summer school at Ole Miss yesterday. One among the many currently unsigned prep picks that may not sign.
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) June 26, 2018
Hoglund agreed to a deal even before he was selected. That’s what he told his local paper back on June 5th. From that point on, we don’t know what happened and any guesses would be just that. Attending orientation is part of going to a school obviously, but doesn’t mean he has decided to not sign. Draft picks in the past have used it as a negotiating tactic. He hasn’t come out and said he isn’t signing, so that’s good news for now.
Once Gretler and Koch sign, then we will know how much the Pirates have remaining for over-slot deals. That includes Hoglund, who could still possibly sign before either of them. Whatever happens with the draft, we only have nine more days until everything is resolved.
Last week we posted an article about the international amateur players on the radar of the Pittsburgh Pirates for July 2nd. That was based off of an article by Ben Badler from Baseball America. Badler put together a top 50 list of amateur international prospects and had the top target of the Pirates, Sergio Campana, ranked 35th.
I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past that there is no such thing as a top prospects list for the July 2nd class. People can try to put it together, but numerous problems exist with trying to do it. First and foremost, we are talking about 15-16 year old kids. In the MLB draft, we see how much can change in just the spring, meaning April and May, for kids who are at least two years older. When you’re talking about kids who are equal to high school sophomores, think of how much progress can be made at that age alone.
The other problems are that you’re talking about kids from numerous countries, which means no one person is seeing even half of them. Finally, players who agree to deals early with teams, sometimes as early as age 14, aren’t competing in these showcases because they don’t have to anymore. They’re practicing and training away from cameras. That obviously doesn’t happen in the U.S. because of the draft.
So while I admire the time someone takes to try to compile the list of the best prospects, use it more for the scouting report available on Campana, rather than thinking he is the 35th best prospect. Our article linked above includes a few videos for Campana that aren’t available in the BA link.