Every year after the draft, I take a look back at the players chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates who didn’t sign during the previous year. Usually that list is a lot longer than the 2017 list. The Pirates drafted 42 players last year and 37 of them signed. That’s an almost unheard of percentage of players and I don’t think they will exceed the 30-32 range (out of 41 picks) this year.
I’ll stick with the same subject, even though it’s only five players total, just to keep the yearly article going. While you don’t want to see guys not sign and then go on to have success, it’s still good to see when it happens because it means your scouts identified the right players as targets.
The first unsigned pick was 12th rounder Hunter Wolfe, who went back to Walters State CC and was drafted in the 19th round by the Kansas City Royals. I read that he will likely go to TCU, which is where he plans to transfer to next year. That’s an interesting decision because he turns 22 years old in less than a month, so it’s going to be a late start in the pros.
The Pirates in 2017 signed every pick from the 13th round through the 28th round. Again, that’s something you rarely see happen. In the 29th round they took Brock Deatherage from North Carolina State. He went back for his senior year and was selected this year in the tenth round by the Detroit Tigers. It’s extremely likely that returning back to school cost him bonus money because a senior taken in the tenth round is probably going to get $5,000 to $10,000 to sign. That’s why they were taken in the tenth round, to save for over-slot deals. As a junior from a major college, even taken that late in 2017, his offer was probably somewhere in the mid-to-high five figure range (my guess is $50,000-$80,000). The trade-off would be that he finishes his education at a major school.
Ryan Hoerter was a prep pitcher taken in the 36th round, who had a commitment to Auburn. I’m sure the Pirates would have loved to sign him, but it was unlikely from the start due to the bonus pool system. It’s possible they could have if they were willing to pass on signing Mason Martin and Chris Sharpe, because then they would have been able to max out their offer to him at just over $725,000 to sign without going more than 5% over their pool. Hoerter wasn’t draft-eligible this year and he put in just 8.2 innings over seven appearances this season, with seven walks and six runs allowed.
Mike Gretler is the easy one to cover in this group. He’s similar to Deatherage for the bonus part, so I won’t go over that again. Gretler was also taken in the tenth round for a team to save money and if you followed the draft at all, you would know that team is the Pirates. It’s rare that the same team takes a player two years in a row, but it happens.
Finally, Tyler Osik was the 40th round pick, son of Keith Osik. He went undrafted out of Central Florida this year. He has a year of eligibility remaining in college after hitting .310/.391/.485 this season. He can sign somewhere as an non-drafted free agent, or choose to remain in college, where he could work himself into a senior sign in the 9th or 10th round if all goes right. The money involved won’t be a deciding factor because non-drafted free agents get small five figure bonuses in most cases where they forego remaining eligibility.
** One interesting note if it remains true. Robinson Ramos made his pro debut in the DSL as a pinch-hitter on Saturday, then boarded a plane for the U.S. and he’s now at Pirate City in Extended Spring Training. They had just three catchers healthy there, so Ramos might not be there to stay. The Pirates drafted three catchers and three more should return from injuries soon, so ten catchers for the three lower levels seems like a lot.
Someone was needed here though, and with eight catchers still in the Dominican, they had one to spare. Ramos signed as an international free agent on July 2nd last year, though he just turned 20 years old a few days ago. You’re not going to see a DSL player get to the U.S. with less experience than that, since they wouldn’t actually be a DSL player if they skipped the league.
Bradenton is in third place in their division, four games behind the leader with 10 games remaining in the first half.
West Virginia is in fourth place in their division, 5.5 games behind the leader with 11 games remaining in the first half.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 8-7 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday afternoon. The Pirates now take on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field this weekend, where they will send Chad Kuhl to the mound for his 13th start. He allowed two runs over six innings against the St Louis Cardinals in his last start. He gave up one run over six innings versus the Cubs in his previous outing. The Cubs will counter with left-hander Mike Montgomery, who has a 3.89 ERA in 37 innings, with 24 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He threw 5.2 shutout innings against the Pirates on May 28th.
The minor league schedule includes Clay Holmes trying to build off of his terrific start last time out in which he threw seven shutout innings without a walk. There’s also a doubleheader for West Virginia, with Cody Bolton starting one game and the second starter will be announced later today. Bolton had started twice this year and combined for 11 shutout innings with 12 strikeouts. Altoona starter Cam Vieaux is making his Double-A debut, while Bradenton will send Evan Piechota to the mound for his High-A debut.
MLB: Pittsburgh (31-30) @ Cubs (34-24) 2:20 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (3.86 ERA, 63:25 SO/BB, 67.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (30-27) @ Pawtucket (27-30) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (4.31 ERA, 51:26 SO/BB, 48.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (28-27) vs Hartford (28-31) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (30-25) @ Tampa (32-28) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Evan Piechota (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (29-26) @ Hickory (23-32) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Bolton (0.00 ERA, 12:2 SO/BB, 11.0 IP) and TBD
DSL: Pirates1 (2-3) vs Rays2 10:30 AM
DSL: Pirates2 (0-5) vs Mariners 10:30 AM
From Altoona on Wednesday night, Mitch Keller picking up a strikeout, followed by a nice double play
The double play
6/6: Samuel Reyes added to West Virginia roster. Evan Piechota promoted to Bradenton.
6/6: Eric Wood placed on disabled list. Jerrick Suiter added to Indianapolis roster.
6/6: Cam Vieaux promoted to Altoona. Jake Brentz assigned to Bradenton.
6/6: Oddy Nunez placed on disabled list.
6/5: Yoel Gonzalez released.
6/5: John Bormann added to West Virginia roster.
6/4: Pirates released Andrew Walker and Linse Carvajal.
6/3: Cam Vieaux promoted to Altoona. Garrett Brown added to Bradenton roster.
6/3: Austin Coley placed on disabled list.
6/2: Tyler Gaffney promoted to Altoona. Mitchell Tolman assigned to Bradenton.
6/2: Reymundo Pena released.
6/1: Jung Ho Kang assigned to Bradenton
6/1: Montana DuRapau assigned to Altoona. Elvis Escobar placed on disabled list.
5/30: Brandon Waddell promoted to Indianapolis. Jerrick Suiter assigned to Morgantown.
5/30: Eduardo Vera promoted to Altoona.
5/29: Dario Agrazal placed on DL. Bryan Reynolds added to Altoona roster.
5/29: Joel Cesar activated from West Virginia DL. Blake Weiman promoted to Bradenton.
5/29: Brett McKinney released.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note and a game from 1989 that went bad for the Pirates and one of their announcers. First the players, and there is one that spent ten seasons in Pittsburgh. Pitcher George Brunet (1970 Pirates) and pitcher Scott Ruskin (1990), share a birthday with pitcher Don Robinson, who played for the Pirates from 1978 until 1987. Robinson wasn’t just a good pitcher, he was also one of the better hitting pitchers. He won three Silver Slugger awards during his career. Robinson won 65 games for the Pirates, and in 1979 when the Pirates won the World Series, the team went 18-7 in his starts. He was traded to the Giants in 1987 for Mackey Sasser and cash.
On this date in 1928, the Pirates traded catcher Johnny Gooch and first baseman Joe Harris to Brooklyn for catcher Charlie Hargreaves. Gooch played eight years in Pittsburgh and was the catcher for two World Series teams in 1925 and 1927. Harris was a .317 career hitter at the time and hitting .391 in limited action in 1928, but the Pirates must have seen the writing on the wall, as he hit .236 the rest of the season and never played in the big leagues again. The Pirates ended up getting the better part of the deal, but not by much. Hargreaves was a starter in 1928 and 1929, then became a seldom-used bench player in 1930, his last season in the majors.
On this date in 1989, the Pirates took a ten run lead in the top of the first inning and announcer Jim Rooker promised to walk home from Philadelphia if the Pirates blew the lead. He may have wanted to wait a little bit because the Phillies had their offense going and they were only down by four before the fourth inning ended. They went on to defeat the Pirates by a 15-11 score and Rooker did the walk from Philly to Pittsburgh for charity in the off-season, which was the only good thing that came from the game for the Pirates. The boxscore can be found here.