I’m sure that we’ll one day get an idea of what happened with the Pirates and Gunnar Hoglund. They drafted him, felt they could sign him, and that was backed up by his public comments after the draft about how he had reached an agreement and was going to be signing.

Then nothing.

Then he didn’t sign and decided to go to Mississippi, where he will play for three years before being eligible for the draft again in 2021.

Here’s what we do know, without actually knowing the details of the conversations: This wasn’t about money, at least not on the Pirates’ side.

The MLB draft is set up now so that teams have limited wiggle room with how much they can spend on an individual player. They can offer a player over-slot, but that’s usually a decision that needs to be made on draft day, since it requires corresponding decisions in order to create bonus pool room.

The Pirates spent their entire bonus pool, and after the signing of 13th round shortstop Zack Kone, they had just $25 remaining to spend before they lost a draft pick. We don’t know if the money given to Kone would have otherwise gone to Hoglund, although it was only about $40,000 over-slot, and I highly doubt that this would have been the difference.

Even if the Pirates would have signed Kone, they would have had a little over $2 M available to give to Hoglund before losing a draft pick.

It’s possible that Hoglund wanted more, but that seems unlikely considering the news after the draft that he had an agreement in place.

I don’t think this decision has anything to do with the public perception of the team right now. As bad as things are for the Pirates at the MLB level, drafted players don’t make these types of decisions based on the current record of a team. The Pirates are still well regarded around baseball, and Hoglund wouldn’t be up for at least five years, so the current struggles are irrelevant to this decision.

What seems most likely is that Hoglund was just talked into playing college ball. He can go to college, and have a shot at improving his draft status three years from now. It’s a gamble, but it’s not an uncommon one. This draft saw four players, Hoglund included, in the top 36 picks who made that decision for one reason or another. The Pirates have seen it before with Nick Lodolo in 2016.

Here is what will happen now. The Pirates will get a compensation pick next year, the 37th pick in the draft. If they don’t sign that pick, they will get the number 38 pick in 2020, which is a pick they need to sign. However, I doubt they’ll miss on a guy two years in a row.

There will be comparisons between Hoglund and that 37th pick, but the draft is so complex that the comparison isn’t that simple. The Pirates will get their competitive balance pick, and probably a high first round pick, plus the compensation pick. That will give them one of the biggest draft bonus pools next year, which could allow them to go over-slot on a lot of different players.

After they watched Lodolo sign elsewhere, they used their big draft budget to sign a lot of prep players, including Calvin Mitchell and Cody Bolton, who are showing some good results so far this year. The 2017 draft had a lot of upside, and a big reason for that was the big budget, which allowed them to sign so many over-slot prep players.

Hoglund looked like a very intriguing prospect, but the reality here is that losing him will only be a temporary setback. The silver lining is that the Pirates will be able to use the comp pick next year in order to boost their draft budget, which should lead to another high upside draft like that 2017 group.

Maybe before that happens, we’ll find out what actually happened with Hoglund.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 17-5 to the Phillies on Friday night. Jameson Taillon will be on the mound today, coming off of three runs over 4.2 innings against the San Diego Padres in his last start. The scheduled Phillies starter is right-hander Jake Arrieta, who has a 3.54 ERA in 89 innings, with 61 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. He gave up two runs over five innings against the Washington Nationals in his last start.

The minor league schedule includes the fourth start of the season by Shane Baz. He had his start yesterday postponed to today due to rain. Baz allowed one run over 5.1 innings in his last start. After allowing a total of three runs in his first five starts combined, West Virginia starter Cody Bolton gave up six runs in just two innings in his last game. Altoona starter Cam Vieaux allowed two runs in his last start, after giving up one run in each of his first three Double-A outings. Indianapolis starter Alex McRae has allowed one run over his last 12.2 innings (UPDATE: It appears that McRae is getting called to the majors today after another bullpen game last night). Bradenton starter James Marvel has allowed two runs over his last 13 innings.

MLB: Pittsburgh (40-47) vs Phillies (48-37) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (4.05 ERA, 87:28 SO/BB, 93.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (46-39) vs Columbus (45-41) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.61 ERA, 80:39 SO/BB, 84.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (43-39) vs Trenton (49-37) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (1.41 ERA, 26:3 SO/BB, 32.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (40-40) vs Fort Myers (36-47) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (4.09 ERA, 69:22 SO/BB, 94.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (46-35) vs Hagerstown (32-51) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Bolton (2.86 ERA, 29:5 SO/BB, 28.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (9-12) vs Auburn (13-8) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (7.52 ERA, 14:7 SO/BB, 21.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (8-8) vs Princeton (11-6) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Shane Baz (2.57 ERA, 11:6 SO/BB, 14.0 IP)

GCL: Pirates (5-10) vs Blue Jays 10:00 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (13-17) vs Indians 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (13-17) vs Colorado 10:30 AM (season preview)


From Morgantown on Thursday, the first Travis Swaggerty highlight


7/6: Jake Brentz placed on Bradenton disabled list.

7/6: John O’Reilly assigned to Bristol.

7/6: Rafelin Lorenzo assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab. Raul Hernandez assigned to West Virginia.

7/6: Jin-De Jhang activated from Altoona disabled list. John Bormann placed on disabled list.

7/6: Clay Holmes optioned to Indianapolis. Pirates recall Jordan Luplow.

7/6: Raul Siri assigned to Morgantown.

7/6: Pirates sign Zack Kone

7/5: Royals claim Enny Romero

7/5: Francisco Cervelli assigned to Altoona on rehab.

7/5: Dylan Busby assigned to GCL on rehab.

7/4: Pirates recall Josh Smoker.

7/4: Scooter Hightower promoted to Altoona. Ryan Haug assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/4: Jason Delay activated from Bradenton disabled list.

7/3: Pirates released Larry Alcime.

7/3: Pirates sign Michael Burrows.

7/3: Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas. Tanner Anderson optioned to Indianapolis.

7/3: Montana DuRapau promoted to Indianapolis. Erich Weiss placed on disabled list.

7/3: Travis MacGregor activated from West Virginia disabled list. Gavin Wallace promoted to Bradenton.

7/2: Pirates signed a lot of international players.

7/2: Pirates signed even more international players.

7/2: Pirates sign Grant Koch and Mike Gretler.

7/2: Nick Kingham recalled. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.

7/2: Enny Romero designated for assignment.

7/2: Sean Rodriguez assigned to Indianapolis on rehab

7/1: Calvin Mitchell activated from West Virginia disabled list.

6/30: Ryan Haug assigned to Bradenton.

6/30: Pirates sign Alec Rennard.

6/29: Chad Kuhl placed on disabled list. Max Moroff recalled from Indianapolis.

6/29: Brett Pope promoted to Bradenton. Matt Eckelman promoted to Altoona.

6/29: Evan Piechota activated from Bradenton disabled list.

6/28: Mitch Keller and Jason Martin promoted to Indianapolis. Alfredo Reyes promoted to Bradenton.

6/28: Eddie Muhl retired.

6/27: Sean Rodriguez placed on disabled list. Tanner Anderson called up to Pirates.

6/27: Jung Ho Kang and Christopher Bostick placed on disabled list. Eric Wood activated from Indianapolis DL.

6/27: Raul Siri promoted to West Virginia.

6/27: Pirates sign John O’Reilly.

6/26: Pirates sign Allen Montgomery.


Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and combined, they didn’t even play 30 games with the Pirates. Starting with the most recent player first, we have Jerry Dybzinski, shortstop for the 1985 Pirates. Before him was Chuck Goggin, who was dealt to the Pirates for Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning. Goggin was a utility fielder for the 1972-73 Pirates.

Next up are Red Nonnenkamp and Art Merewether, who share something in common besides a birthday and playing for the Pirates. Both of them played exactly one game for the Pirates and it came as a pinch-hitter. Nonnenkamp struck out in his only at-bat on September 6,1933 and Merewether grounded out to Hall of Fame shortstop Dave Bancroft in his only at-bat. Unlike Nonnenkamp, Merewether never played another Major League game.

Finally we have Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman, who was a player-manager during the 1947 season. He didn’t write his name into the lineup often, starting just 13 times. He led the Pirates to a 61-92 record before stepping down prior to the last game of the season. Herman went into the HOF in 1975, part of the same class with his teammate in 1947, Ralph Kiner.

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