Baseball America is posting their draft report cards for all 30 teams. On Wednesday morning they covered the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had four of the first 72 picks in the draft and signed a total of 38 players.
The draft report cards cover the top players in certain categories. I won’t spoil their entire article, so I’ll quickly go over the areas of interest and then you can click on the article for more details. I’ll also mention that you can find our end-of-season reports on many of the draft picks in our top ten prospects for Morgantown, Bristol and the GCL. A total of 13 draft picks from 2019 made one of those three lists.
On the hitting side, the best pure hitters are Sammy Siani and Jared Triolo. No surprise here, as they were two of the top three hitters picked by the Pirates. The other top hitter picked was second rounder Matt Gorski, who got praise for his raw power, but he has some swing-and-miss to his game, which kept him out of the pure hitter category. Sixth round pick Will Matthiessen also got praise for his raw power. As a part-time pitcher in college, who stands in at 6’7″, 220 pounds, the raw power is evident. For both of them it’s just potential power now, as neither gets to it enough in games. BA didn’t list Aaron Shackelford, who hit a total of 44 homers between college and Bristol, where he finished seventh in the league in slugging.
BA gave a lot of praise to outfielder Jasiah Dixon, who they said is likely the quickest runner in the draft class, giving him plus-plus speed. The also noted that he had the best pro debut and best late round pick (25th round). Outfielder Matt Fraizer (third round) got a mention in the speed category, though he’s not on the same level as Dixon. Morgantown reliever Cameron Junker (tenth round) got a mention in the best debut category for his 1.29 ERA and 14.5 SO/9IP rate.
Fourth round pick JC Flowers got named as the best athlete, while also getting a mention in the best fastball and quickest to the majors. I’d disagree on the last one right now, though that could change. He was being stretched out as a starter, so if they keep him in that role, then there are some relievers who would be on a quicker path, plus any college hitter who gets pushed to Bradenton. Flowers is relatively new to pitching, so if he’s starting, he won’t be pushed up the system.
First round pick Quinn Priester (pictured above) got the usual mentions you would expect from your top pick. He trails only reliever Austin Roberts (eighth round pick) for the best fastball according to BA. Priester is the only player named in the best secondary pitch article for his curve. He also gets a mention in the closest to majors, though it’s more about him being advanced for his draft class.
BA also has most intriguing backgrounds and the ones that got away. The Pirates signed 38 of 42 picks and spent all but $5,800 of their available bonus pool, though that was part of the 5% teams are allowed to go over, which only costs them a tax on the overage. With the bonuses after the tenth round added in, the Pirates actually spent $12,479,900, which includes the tax penalty. That is more than $2.5M over their bonus pool ($9,944,000). So the “ones that got away category” are players who they couldn’t have signed for more than $130,800 ($125,000 slot after tenth round + $5,800 left in bonus pool) because there was no more money available. None of those four players were willing to sign for that amount.