As pointed out this morning, the Pittsburgh Pirates look like they will have some draft bonus pool money to spend outside of the tenth round. No one selected so far seems like they will require an over-slot bonus to sign, while some of these picks appear to be players who can be signed for less than their slot amount.
I’ll mention that every year there seems to be players who look like they were taken with some savings in mind, and at least one of those players signs for slot. Part of that is set up that way on purpose. A player will have a bonus asking price in mind and the team will have to match that price up to their closest slot amount. So while others might see it as an overdraft on their part, the team obviously liked the player and took them where they fit in the draft slotting system.
I don’t see anyone taken in the top ten rounds who should be difficult to sign. The Pirates have a total bonus pool of $9,944,000, which doesn’t include the 5% that teams are allowed to spend over that pool without losing a draft pick. It also doesn’t include the $125,000 slot amount after the tenth round. So if the Pirates were to spend their entire bonus pool on the first ten rounds, they would still be able to spend another $497,200 above the $125,000 slots in rounds 11-40.
I predict that there will be more than that amount available, which could lead to some interesting picks on day three today.
Yesterday we looked at the best available players for day two of the draft. Some of them went off the board quickly, but a few of them are still out there. A total of 40 players listed in MLB Pipeline’s top 200 are still on the board. You can bet that some of them will be 11th round picks today, as teams assess how much they can spend on picks outside of the top ten rounds.
The Pirates have gone for big players in the past with this pick since the slot system was put in place in 2012. Erich Weiss, Max Kranick, Gage Hinsz and Michael Burrows were all well over slot signings. They don’t always spend a lot though, choosing to go for Chris Diaz the first year, Christian Kelley one year and Alex Manasa another. Manasa was an over-slot signing, but only $50,000 more than the previous $100,000 slot limit. Diaz was taken during the Mark Appel draft, so the Pirates weren’t in a position to go over slot with that pick because of the potential cost of signing Appel. They saved potential over-slot picks for later in the day as fallback plans.
What you can learn from that list is that the Pirates either go for young right-handed pitchers or college players who were rated as late top ten round picks. Since it appears that they will have money to spread around, it seems the best guess for a possible 11th round pick would be a prep right-handed pitcher in the 100-200 rankings, possibly one that showed late improvements to move up charts.
You can see the full list of top available picks here, but I’ll highlight some of those right-handed pitchers who I think fit the mold of previous picks. Hinsz, Burrows and Kranick all came from cold weather states, while Manasa was new to pitching, so they all had more projection involved than your typical high school pitcher.
With the Pirates, and it’s a running joke more out of truth than to be funny, they are probably looking for a 6’3″ right-hander. If that very specific type isn’t the 11th round pick, you can be there will be some taken throughout today. It’s gives you an even better starting point for who they might take first today.
All of the players below are prep players and I put their MLB Pipeline ranking in parenthesis next to their name.
Alexander MacFarlane (#115) is a 6’3″ RHP, who turns 18 on Sunday. He can reach 95 MPH, has a decent slider and throws his changeup for strikes. MLB Pipeline gives him #3 starter upside. If he came from a cold weather state, you could basically pencil him in for the Pirates right now.
Carter Rustad (121) is 6’5″ RHP, 18 years old from Missouri. He made a lot of improvements last year, then was inconsistent with his velocity this year, though he has hit 97 MPH. He has a strong slider and solid control, with some command of his fastball. Another mid-rotation upside pitcher.
Sebastian Keane (140), 6’3″, RHP, 18 years old from cold cold Massachusetts. (That’s three check marks right there, four if you count his rankings). Keane was also a soccer player (two-way player check mark too) before concentrating on baseball this year. Athletic, projectable frame, hits 93 MPH, with a feel for a breaking ball and work needs to be done to his changeup, but he has made a lot of progress this year. I don’t even know why I mentioned anyone else…
Dalton Fowler (150) is a 6’5″, LHP, who has one year of JUCO, so he’s a 19-year-old. He doesn’t have a college commitment, so it appears he is looking to sign this draft if he gets the right offer. He gets his fastball up to 93 MPH, has the makings of a curveball and a changeup. There is a lot of projection here, with plenty of room to fill out still.
I’m going to stop the list there because the rest of the list includes some tough to break college commitments (Florida, Louisville, Texas, Miami, etc), one player with a forearm issue this year, and a few undersized pitchers. I wouldn’t rule any of those commitment players out, but it’s harder to see them signing. One thing is 99% certain though, whoever the Pirates take in the 11th round has already agreed to a deal since the draft ended yesterday. It’s not a pick that teams waste by taking a chance on a player dropping their commitment and bonus demands.
For the rest of the rounds after the 11th, you can expect your fill of college seniors, college relievers and catchers. The Pirates have nothing of note in the catching ranks below A-ball, so those short-season teams need help in that area. Carter Bins from Fresno State has plus defense and raw power, so he could interest them in the 12th round if he makes it that far (might even be an 11th round option if they want to go that route). We could also see some prep players taken later. Last year the Pirates gave a lot of people hope when they took seven high school players after the 20th round, but they only ended up signing one of them. Luckily, that one was Jack Herman, who seems to be a huge steal in the 30th round.
Draft begins again today at noon. We will have a running draft article up shortly, with updates after every pick. You’ll be able to find the names in the draft tracker as well, which is a page you should bookmark now.