First Pitch: Looking at the Remaining Pirates Over-Slot Draft Candidates

If there’s one thing the new CBA got right, it’s the process of signing draft picks. There are no more games, and no more delays. Teams can sign any player at any time for any amount of money, with no delays from MLB holding back over-slot deals, and no games by players and advisers waiting until the deadline.

The result is that the Pirates have 30 picks signed about two weeks after the MLB draft, including everyone in the top ten rounds, and all but one player in the top 22 rounds. The important thing here is that they have signed the guys in the top ten rounds, which puts their bonus pool in better focus.

The downside to the new CBA is that teams can’t just spend whatever they want. They’re limited to spending up to their bonus pool. They can exceed that by 5%, although they would pay a tax on the overage. Anything above 5% leads to the loss of a draft pick.

After signing everyone from their top ten rounds, the Pirates have $131,300 remaining in their bonus pool. If they went over the pool by 5%, they’d have $484,485 remaining.

Any player outside of the top ten rounds can sign for up to $100,000 without it counting toward the bonus pool. Anything over that $100,000 counts toward the pool. This means the Pirates could sign one individual player for $584,485. Or they could sign two players for about $342,242 each. Or you could keep dividing that $484,485 figure up, and adding an extra $100,000 for each player.

The Pirates have three key over-slot candidates remaining outside of the tenth round. Gage Hinsz, taken in the 11th round, is the top guy. He’s a projectable right-hander who wanted second round money, and was almost picked by the Pirates in the second round. According to this article, Hinsz turned down their bonus offer at pick number 64. They selected Mitch Keller, who signed for an above-slot bonus of $1 M.

Hinsz probably isn’t getting second round money at this point. The Pirates would have to give up a lot of future draft picks for that to happen. The most he could get would be third round money, receiving the full amount the Pirates have remaining without giving up a pick.

The other two players who could be signable are 23rd round pick Zach Warren and 24th round pick Denis Karas. Warren is a projectable left-hander. He’s currently dealing with issues involving his commitment to Tulane, which might end up helping the Pirates in their attempts to sign him. I haven’t heard much news on Karas, but he’s a promising third base prospect who has some power potential.

If the Pirates could get one of these guys, you’d want it to be Hinsz. If they could sign two, that would be a huge boost for this draft class, even if the two players are Warren and Karas. I wouldn’t be surprised if the final signings take a few weeks, as the Pirates wait for the remaining prep players to make their decisions.

Links and Notes

**2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

**Prospect Watch: Sampson Continues Breakout Season; Gushue Hits Two Homers

**Minor League Schedule: Nick Kingham Gets the Afternoon Start For Indianapolis

**Bonus Info For All Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Picks in the First Ten Rounds

**Pirates Announce Five Draft Signings, Including Kevin Krause

**Jordan Luplow Bonus Information and Where the Pirates Draft Stands Now

**Pirates Sign 30th Round Pick David Andriese

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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W Zimmerman

Just went back and compared stats for all the college pitchers the pirates took and it seems very odd Wellmon was picked so late. Might be something else going on because he looks so much better than the other picks… gets up to 93 according to the MLB vid. Is that fringey?


Re: 11+ round guys to go after, Colin Welmon should be mentioned. Inside BA’s top 200. College guy with a fringey fastball, but could easily become a Brandon Cumpton or Phil Irwin type and if he does add some velocity randomly, he could become the next Adrian

Sampson. Probably will require more than $100,000, but if Hinsz won’t sign, the Pirates could throw an extra $100,000 his way to prevent him from going back to college.

I now see W Zimmerman also mentioned him.

ken cozens

Hinsz is an unproven RHSP. Not very many RHP make it signing out of high school. It would not make sense to spend the remaining bonus money on a guy that has already turned down 2nd round money. Can’t get them all, getting 30 so far is remarkable.

W Zimmerman

Hinsz is not a college pitcher. Welmon may have been the best pitcher they drafted based on his record. He has an exceptional record in a competitive conference. He might cost a bit more than Warren and Karas but he looks like he is already a polished pitcher. Was a top 200 prospect. Might be a good option.


I would hate to see them lose Hinsz, but there is only so much money in the cookie jar. This is where the slotting system needs some refinement. You should not lose all your slot money if you don’t sign someone in that slot, possibly you could lose some of it, but not all of it. They could be much more flexible if they did not have to worry about losing that slot money for a non sign.


You shouldn’t lose any- they give you a pot, you spend it how you want. If you want to get 6 players instead of 40, that’s your perrogative

Spa City

We know exactly how much money the Bucs can offer Hinsz, and it seems like a stretch to think he would sign a minor league contract for that much less than he wanted. I wonder if the Bucs could offer him the same $ but on a major league contract. Can teams still do that (a la Pedro Alvarez)? If so, the Bucs would stay under their limit, but the contract would (in effect) be worth more to Hinsz due to the (much higher) annual salary, the requirement to be added to the 40 man roster earlier, the requirement to be on the 25 man roster earlier, and fewer options. If the Bucs offered Hinsz a major league contract for their remaining bonus pool money, I would think Hinsz would need to seriously consider it. The Bucs need to be creative and take some chances in order to compete against the big money teams. If this is permissible, I would highly recommend considering it. Hinsz is a college pitcher and might be major league ready within 2 to 3 years… if so, other than a higher annual salary (still not much money in the grand scheme) I see no downside other than using an extra spot on the 40 man roster. So what? It might cost the team its 40th best player and replace him with Hinsz.


The new CBA prevents teams from offering major league deals to draft picks. So this is no longer an option. But I have a feeling Hinz will end up signing. If they could sign Warren or Karas as well that would be a real coup


There is no contract negotiations here- He either wants the money available, or he goes to college. Its just up to him to make a decision before we go and sign the other two players


Hinsz isn’t a college pitcher. The chances he could make the major league team before running out of options are pretty slim. Would be great to sign him but if wants more than the remaining money in the pool the team is going to have to move on. Not worth losing a draft pick over him.


So, Hinsz has already turned down 2nd Round money of about $900K and we now have a little bit shy of $600K to offer? Seems like we will shift our attention to Zach Warren and Denis Karas, but I doubt we can get both. As a projectable LHSP who will receive offers from 3 D-1 college teams if released from Tulane, I wonder why Warren was not our first priority anyway. Losing a young LHSP as the PTBNL in the trade for Ike Davis makes this a good fit for the Pirates.


So are we even thinking that Hinsz is as good as a first round player? Come now emjay, you know better. We can get a more polished better upside lefty pitcher with that 15-20 pick next year


Y2: I do not want to throw away a first round pick, but I would like to know just how far we can push the envelope before we take a hit – and does it necessarily have to be the First Pick? The Pirates have painted this picture and have drafted and negotiated themselves to a point where anybody with half a brain knows what is on the table. For his part, he has done an excellent job of raising his worth by acting like someone who would just as soon go off to Oregon State for 3 years. Do we want him or did we just draft him in the 11th round because it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time? Nope, we want this 6’5″ 210 RHSP, and when NH wants something, he is a very dogged pursuer.

John Dreker

Warren sits mid-80’s and walked exactly one batter per inning this year 39 IP/39 BB. He definitely is projectable, but it’s based on him having room to fill out. Hinsz is already twice the pitcher Warren is and he didn’t have a high school team. As far as current talent and projections, they aren’t even close. Warren just has being lefty and having a pitcher’s body going for him


John: Thanks for the info – I do not doubt that Gage Hinsz is the guy we would like to get, but I think he knows that and is milking it. HS Baseball has been replaced by traveling teams the same as Basketball, but how much do we lose in the 2015 draft if we give this kid $1 mil? The Pirates are looking to be another 18-25 pick next year, so is it really worth it to us to wait until next year to get a kid that could possibly be a Top 25 guy, or risk losing one or more draft picks to get this kid today? We pay $1 mil – what do we lose?

John Dreker

If they paid $1 mil to get Hinsz, it would also cost them over $600,000 in penalty taxes, plus losing the draft pick. That is a huge price for a player like him. The cost of Joe really surprised me because I knew Hinsz’s asking price and assumed they would save enough with Joe to be able to meet Hinsz’s price. Doesn’t look like that will happen now. He could come down though because $500k+ is a lot to give up and we have no idea of what he is really thinking


Its never worth any player to throw away a 1st round pick

Kevin Anstrom

I don’t think the draft picks should be a major issue. Especially if the Pirates are considering hitting the FA market this winter.


What on Earth would give you even the slightest indication we would ever do that?

Kevin Anstrom

Good point 🙂

Andrew McCutchen is under contract thru 2018. If it happens I’m guessing it will be this year or next.

With all of the FAs leaving there should be plenty of cash to make some moves. Clearly, they could use a starter or 2 and perhaps a SS and C.

Assuming they signed 2 Type A free agents then we’d really be talking about giving up a 3rd and 4th round pick to sign some quality arms.

To me the most interesting draft / international signing story is the following …

In particular look at the Yankees strategy

“They [Yankees] could spend in the neighborhood of $15 million in bonuses during the coming signing period, which would also come with a 100 percent tax on their pool overage, meaning they would spend another $15 million or so just in taxes. ”

Perhaps the Pirates will do a small scale version of that next year.

BTW did anyone notice that Nelson Jorge (7th rounder) is listed as a pitcher rather than an infielder?

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