The big news this week happened right at the end, the Bryan Morris trade to the Miami Marlins. That deal gave the Pittsburgh Pirates an extra draft pick at the top of the draft. That also meant more money for their draft pool and a chance to add an impact player to an already deep system. The focus has been on the 24th overall pick for most of our draft coverage, but early on we talked about a lot of players that were getting some first round mentions. Those players now come back into player with the Pirates now selecting again at the 39th spot.
This is the first time since 1993, that the Pirates have had four draft picks within the top 73 spots. Most mock drafts only do the first round, so it’s tough to get a feel for the players that might go in the 39 range. The best thing to do is look at players that get mentioned by some in the first round at not others. In the upcoming week, leading up to draft day, we will take a better look at the players in this range to give a look at what kind of talent the Pirates could get with the second pick. You won’t be able to focus on a certain player that deep, but you’ll get a chance to see how much of an impact that pick could provide.
On to the draft coverage and this is the time for mock drafts and rankings. There was plenty to talk about this week, although not many names for the Pirates top spot. On Tuesday, Keith Law posted his second mock draft and had the Pirates taking prep pitcher Luis Ortiz. A few days later, we posted our fifth draft preview and included scouting reports and videos for four players, including Ortiz. One Friday, MLB.com updated their top 200 list and Ortiz was in the 24th spot, making him someone to follow closely on draft day.
It wasn’t just Ortiz this week though. Two other players have received multiple mentions for the Pirates picks recently. Baseball America had toolsy prep outfielder Monte Harrison for the Pirates in their fourth mock draft, while Jonathan Mayo had Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie in his second mock draft. Either one looks like a solid pick, though they obviously offer up drastically different short-term value for the major league team.
Early in the year, Scott Blewett went to the Pirates in a couple mock drafts. He suffered shoulder soreness after a start earlier this month and was able to come back for just one start at the end of the year. We talked to Blewett afterwards and he gave us an update on his health and what he plans to do before the draft. With the added pick, Blewett may once again be a strong option for the Pirates.
The NCAA regional tournaments began this weekend and a couple players mentioned with the Pirates had big days on Friday. This link also includes Baseball America’s top 500 list, which is a valuable resource on draft day.
Earlier in the week, we covered the Pirates thoughts on drafting local players, focusing on pitcher Brendan McKay from Beaver Falls, Pa., who has made some noise this year with an incredible shutout streak. Neal Huntington answered questions about how the Pirates have planned to attack this draft, one in which they aren’t picking at the top like usual. He talks about the importance of a strong scouting director and the “best player available” plan when drafting.
The Pirates pitching staff and minor league pitching depth went through some changes this week. Following the Morris trade, Casey Sadler was recalled to take his spot in the bullpen. That wasn’t the only move for Sunday though. The Pirates also claimed pitcher Wirfin Obispo from the Atlanta Braves. Earlier in the week, the Pirates recalled Brandon Cumpton and Vin Mazzaro was designated for assignment. The First Pitch article that night talked about the potential upside of Brandon Cumpton. The Pirates lost Phil Irwin on waivers to the Texas Rangers. The team also placed Wandy Rodriguez on unconditional release waivers, meaning his career with the Pirates is over. Finally, it was also announced that Stolmy Pimentel has begun his rehab assignment and could return shortly.
Also there were some minor league transactions of note.
The news of that last move came out at the same time that we announced the move to just one team in the Dominican for this season. The Pirates basically have the same amount of players, they have just decided to challenge some of the players at a higher level in the States. On Saturday night, Tim Williams discussed the importance of the Dominican rookie league to the Pirates . On Saturday afternoon, we posted the season preview for the DSL Pirates, along with an attempt at a top ten list from the team.
On Monday we posted the top ten hitters for the previous week and the top ten pitchers. Brandon Cumpton and Mel Rojas Jr. were the choice and both have moved up a level. On Sunday, the final ballots were in and the top hitter of the month was Keon Broxton, while Adrian Sampson took home the pitcher award for May.
Speaking of top prospects, Gregory Polanco is now rated as one of the top three prospects in the game. On Sunday, Ryan Palencer took a look at how Chris Dickerson has helped mentor Polanco. Dickerson went on the disabled list earlier this week and that opened up the door for Mel Rojas Jr to move to Indianapolis.
We had some injury updates this week on some of the bigger names. Andrew Lambo needed surgery on his thumb, which will keep him out for awhile. Austin Meadows has finally returned to the field and Barrett Barnes is still dealing with his hamstring issues.
Tim Williams talks about minor league promotions and when we can expect them, including the one everyone has been asking for. On Saturday, Max Fogle posted his first article about the comparison between the Pirates system and the rest of baseball.
Tim Williams offered up analysis on why Josh Harrison isn’t a shortstop option for the Pirates. He also talks about a possible extension for Neil Walker and the Pirates finally having a productive first base platoon.
Finally, the Thursday night first pitch article takes a look at the state of the Pirates rotation. Neal Huntington talks about the depth of the rotation and that has shown with the recent moves that took place, although the start this weekend from Brandon Cumpton obviously didn’t go well.
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.