First Pitch: Thoughts on the 2020 Draft

Wilbur Miller gave his thoughts about the 2020 Draft yesterday, which can be read here. I thought I’d throw in my own two cents. Every draft is really a wait and see process, but not giving thoughts about it right after it happens wouldn’t be fun. So this is just really my impression of the draft and how I felt after each pick was made. I did our tiered draft rankings, which really did a lot of the thinking for me ahead of time. I already knew how I felt about each player in the first three rounds, so when they were taken with certain picks, I had already put thought into whether or not they would be good picks in that spot.

Nick Gonzales (7th overall) – Once he was left on the board for the Pirates, this seemed like a logical pick. We heard they wanted a college bat and he’s a polished college bat with upside and a high floor. It’s as safe as you could get without having the stigma of that safe tag, proving that “safe” isn’t always a bad word. This was a strong year for top talent and he was consistently rated in the 4-6 range. The Pirates really had a lot of choices here that would have been good picks so the cards were stacked in their favor this year.

Carmen Mlodzinski (31st overall) – This was another spot where the Pirates had a lot of good choices left because the class was so deep this year. I won’t say Mlodzinski was the best choice (my opinion), but he was a good choice. One of the things with this draft class was the final two picks looking like they should sign well under slot. That likely means that the Pirates were saving for an earlier bonus. If that was the case, then I would have went with Jared Kelley here. Kelley wouldn’t have been the best pick in the seventh spot, but I would have understood it because he’s been rated that high. So obviously, he would have been a steal 24 spots later. Still a good choice here with Mlodzinski and I thought things were going well through two picks.

Jared Jones (44th overall) – I mentioned in the tiered rankings that I wasn’t high on Jones with the 44th overall pick, but I put him in that spot because others disagreed with me. So I’m not surprised that he was taken with the pick and that now people are saying that it was a good pick. When the pick happened, I was okay with it. He wasn’t the best choice available (again, my opinion), but they definitely didn’t reach with the pick. I’m thinking now though that he was the reason that they needed to save money with those final two picks, which would lower my opinion of the choice.

Nick Garcia (79th overall) – I like this pick here as a solid upside for a third round pick. Some people were really high on him, though he ranked right in this area. If anyone could exceed expectations in this group, it would be him.

Through the first four picks, I thought that the Pirates were doing a good job. Could it have been better? Slightly, but not by much. Here’s where the issues come in. In my opinion, they were drafting guys ranked right where most people had them, which means that the draft slot bonuses should have been good amounts for all of them. I was assuming that the fourth and fifth round picks would then be guys ranked at 3rd-5th round types.

When Jack Hartman was mentioned as the fourth round pick and he was rated 286th by Baseball America, which seemed like a good area according to his scouting report, I immediately thought that the Pirates were saving money to go big with the fifth round pick. Hartman is a college senior rated around a 10th round pick and those players sign anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. That’s well off the $538,200 draft slot, even if they doubled that usual bonus. The 138th pick is worth $402,000, so you’re talking about $850,000 or so for the final pick in my mind. I was expecting a big finish.

Logan Hofmann – Rated 478th overall in this draft class, a college pitcher who shouldn’t need a large bonus. That was unexpected.

This is an odd year in that a fifth round pick shouldn’t change your thoughts about the draft class, but it did for me. I get that the first four picks were all good picks in those spots, even if I slightly disagreed on Jones, who I think would have been a great get with the third round pick. Reaching for the final two, presumably to pay for the total price of the first four, took away some of the shine.

The Pirates had the fifth highest bonus pool this year, so it’s no surprise that their draft is considered as one of the top five groups. I just think that they could have done a little better. I also hope that they actually spent their entire bonus pool, which would help explain the last two picks. I’m not saying that Hartman and Hofmann don’t have some prospect potential. They both have things to like, which is typical of players with their rankings, but there were also clearly better names left on the board. It would help to know that they were picked due to the bonus pool making them one of the better choices that fit the Pirates remaining pool.

Those are my initial thoughts on the draft. There are always players that I like more and less once I actually get to see them a few times. With only six picks, that might not happen here, but I could have a different opinion (better or worse) of these picks as a group after I see them.




Here’s a full outing from second round pick Jared Jones, courtesy of Prospect Pipeline

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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