First Pitch: Now That All of the Draft Picks are Signed…

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed their final draft picks on Thursday, wrapping up their entire six-player draft class a month before the actual signing deadline. Now that all of them are signed, we can now look back at those fourth and fifth round picks.

Before I get into this, let me say that this is by no means a slight to Logan Hofmann or Jack Hartman. They both clearly have Major League upside. That being said, their picks were headscratchers when they happened and that didn’t clear up once we found out all of the bonuses.

Hartman and Hofmann both rated low by draft experts, at least well below the spot where the Pirates selected them. The immediate thought afterwards was that their bonuses would be lower so the Pirates could go over-slot on the other bonuses. That sort of came true, though not to the full extent that we expected.

The Pirates signed first round pick Nick Gonzales for slot. The 31st overall pick, Carmen Mlodzinski, signed a bit below slot, saving the Pirates $262,000. So for the first two picks, they didn’t need any over-slot money. It was the next two picks that cost them money and they likely knew exactly what they needed to pay when they selected them. Going into the second day, teams usually spend the night/morning trying to figure out what it will take to sign certain picks, then working that into their remaining bonus pool.

Jared Jones and Nick Garcia cost the team a combined $3.4 M. Their slot amounts were $2,469,900 total. So combined they received nearly $1,000,000 over slot. Along with the savings from Mlodzinski, the team needed to find about $700,000 in savings.

Here’s where recent history has quickly changed. The Pirates had no problem in the past going over their bonus pool by up to 5%, while paying the tax on the overage. They did it almost every year of the bonus pool era, including last year when they pushed that 5% to the limit. If things stayed the same this year, then they would have had most of that savings already in the 5% over pool. That 5% doesn’t sound like much, but with a bonus pool over $11 M this year, you’re talking $557,725 extra to spend.

Our draft tracker shows that the Pirates could have spent another $664,825 on bonuses without a severe (losing draft picks) penalty. They still had $87,100 left in their original bonus pool. They spent a total of $185,000 on Hartman and Hofmann, giving them $849,825 left for your final two picks. Let’s assume that they still took Hartman and he signed for the same amount. We will also assume they wanted to leave some wiggle room, so the fifth round pick could have still signed for a $750,000 bonus. If you want to split it, you have two picks who can sign for $400,000+ each.

That’s a lot of money to leave on the table when you only have six picks to maximize your potential talent this year. It would have been fine if they were both highly rated college seniors and their lack of leverage was the reason you saved money, but they were typical 8th to 10th round picks according to their rankings. Guys with obvious MLB potential, but limited upside that has them rated lower. Hofmann placed 478th for Baseball America this year and didn’t rank for MLB Pipeline, who only went to 200 spots, but had added reports for some of the just missed players. Hartman was taken 108th overall and rated 286th in this class as a senior.

It appears that the Pirates were only willing to spend within their pool this year. It’s tough to knock a team when they spend over $11 M in one year, plus they have the ability to add NDFA picks from now until next year’s draft (that money doesn’t come from the bonus pool), but it looks like they decided from the start not to go into their available overage. That decision may have cost them 1-2 high upside picks still left on the draft board.

It shouldn’t put pressure directly on Hofmann or Hartman, but it should on the scouts and front office to show that they went in the right direction with a team that needs to add as much talent as possible on the amateur side each year.

**We will have at least four articles today, including the one you’re currently reading. If any news comes up, we will have more. The other scheduled articles for today are as follows:

This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History – Birthdays today including Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage, who had one fairly impressive season in Pittsburgh.

Card of the Day – A look at one of Jack Wilson’s best cards while with the Pirates, along with a second card from the same year/set that had a major change.

1979 Season Recap – The final card in the Cardinals series didn’t go quite as planned.

Happy July 4th weekend everyone!




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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