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Morning Report: The 2012 Draft, What Could Have Been?


The 2012 draft class was the first one under the new rules limiting what teams can spend on their picks. The Pittsburgh Pirates took Mark Appel after he fell to them with the #8 pick and he didn’t sign. The Pirates also failed to sign fourth round pick Brandon Thomas, so a lot of top end talent was missing from this class from the start and now just three years later, only 11 players are left in the system. As of right now, it looks like Adrian Sampson (pictured above) will be the best prospect from the 2012 class.

The Appel pick led to the Austin Meadows pick the following year, so that has worked out well, especially with Appel posting a 5.20 ERA and .313 BAA in AA so far this year.

It is unlikely that the draft would have went down the same had the new rules not been in place, but let’s assume it did. Looking past Appel and Thomas, what could the Pirates have done differently with the players they picked had the draft bonus cap not been an issue?

The biggest signing would have been pitcher Walker Buehler, who will be taken somewhere in the middle of the first round on Monday night. His reported price tag was $1M, which looks like a bargain now compared to what it will cost to sign him.

After that, the Pirates were unable to sign 27th round pick Jake Johansen, who shot up 25 rounds in the 2013 draft. He is currently injured, but was pitching in relief in High-A for the Washington Nationals this year. The Nats also signed 30th round pick Chase McDowell, who went back to Rice for two more years before Washington took him in the 26th round last year. He’s 24 and hasn’t even reached Low-A yet, so he doesn’t look like a loss.

Jackson McClelland was the Friday night starter most of this year for a Pepperdine team that made it to the Regional tournament. He will go somewhere in the 3-10 round area this year, after going in the 35th round in 2012. He is a big strong kid, who throws mid-90’s and should be able to start in the pros. He’s had some mechanical issues in college, that probably would have been dealt with a long time ago in the Pirates’ system.

Michael Peterson, a 6’7″ RHP taken in the 19th round, has been drafted three times without signing. He went in the 31st round in 2013 to the Rangers and the 24th round last year to the Giants.

Jonathan Youngblood, who was taken in the 15th round, looked like a good JUCO pick at the time, but he was a bench player as a senior at Tennessee this year and his baseball days are probably over.

Catcher Carlos Leal was taken in the 33rd round and returned to college, where the Brewers took him one round later in 2014. He is hitting well in the Midwest League (Low-A), but he turns 24 next month.

Taylor Hearn, the 22nd round pick, ended up at Oklahoma Baptist after also not signing as a 25th round pick in 2014 (Twins). He is a 6’6″ lefty, who is still just 20 years old. He pitched well at times for an NAIA school, but isn’t ranked among Baseball America’s top 500.

The Pirates last seven picks were all prep kids (including McClelland) and all had commitments to major colleges. Two were redrafted in late rounds last year and didn’t sign, Jared West and Matthew Pope. None of them are among BA’s top 500 this year.

There is a possibility that some of these players could have performed better had they entered the Pirates’ system instead of college, but going by how they turned out, it looks like the only real losses at this point are Buehler, McClelland and Johansen. It would have been nice to get a big lefty like Hearn in the system to see what the Pirates could do with him.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 5-2 on Wednesday afternoon over the Giants. They now have an off-day on Thursday as they travel to Atlanta for a weekend series. Charlie Morton will be on the mound for the Pirates, going up against the Braves’ Williams Perez.

In the minors, Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault pitch on the same day for the second time in a row. The two lefties acquired in the Travis Snider deal looked impressive last time out. Brault has pitched well since the end of April and Tarpley has looked good in both of his outings since returning from shoulder soreness that shut him down at the end of Spring Training. Angel Sanchez is tied for tenth in the Eastern League in ERA, but he only ranks fourth on his own pitching staff. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (29-24) @ Braves (26-27) 7:35 PM 6/5
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (1.93 ERA, 1:5 BB/SO, 14.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (31-22) @ Lehigh Valley (20-34) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.89 ERA, 15:28 BB/SO, 39.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (30-20) vs New Britain (31-20) 7:00 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (2.81 ERA, 15:36 BB/SO, 57.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (24-29) @ Ft Myers (25-28) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (3.28 ERA, 14:35 BB/SO, 49.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (32-21) @Rome (25-28) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (0.90 ERA, 3:9 BB/SO, 10.0 IP)

DSL: Pirates (2-2) vs Red Sox2 (2-2) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Yesterday we featured some defense from Willy Garcia. Today it’s the offense, his two homers from Wednesday.

Recent Transactions

6/3: Pirates outright Radhames Liz to Indianapolis.

5/29: Andy Vasquez added to Altoona roster.

5/29: Keon Broxton promoted to Indianapolis. Adam Miller placed on disabled list.

5/29: Jeff Roy activated from West Virginia disabled list. Andy Otamendi assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/28: Jose Osuna promoted to Altoona. Jordan Steranka added to Bradenton.

5/28: Andy Otamendi added to WV Power roster. Trace Tam Sing assigned to WV Black Bears.

5/27: Kelson Brown added to Indianapolis roster.

5/26: Harold Ramirez added to Bradenton roster. Jordan Steranka and Andy Otamendi assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/26: Josh Wall placed on disabled list. Collin Balester added to Indianapolis roster.

5/26: Dovydas Neverauskas placed on disabled list. Julio Vivas sent from Bradenton to West Virginia.

5/26: Deibinson Romero sold to Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization.

5/25: Charlie Morton activated from disabled list. Radhames Liz designated for assignment.

5/25: Stephen Tarpley added to WV Power roster.

5/25: Jerrick Suiter activated from WV Power disabled list. Miguel Rosario and Montana DuRapau promoted to Bradenton

5/22: Jaff Decker activated from disabled list. Andy Vasquez assigned to WV Black Bears.


This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a major trade of note. We start with the trade and it involved a Hall of Famer in his prime. On this date in 1953, the Pirates traded All-Star outfielder Ralph Kiner to the Chicago Cubs as part of a ten-player deal. They also sent three other players to Chicago, receiving six players and $150,000 back, which back then was a much more significant total. The Pirates ended up getting almost nothing from the six players they got, but didn’t lose much when Kiner hurt his back and his stats fell off quickly before retiring in 1955. What they gained was some payroll relief from Kiner’s salary, plus the ability to spend money on some young players over the next few years. While the return looked bad, it could have been much worse if Kiner remained a star.

Two of the players born on this date were significant players with the Pirates. Tony Pena caught for the Pirates from 1980 until 1986, then was traded to the Cardinals for a return that helped the Pirates to three straight NL East pennants.  He was an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner for the Pirates, hitting .286 over 801 games with the team. Before the 1987 season, he was traded for Andy Van Slyke, Mike LaValliere and pitcher Mike Dunne, who had one strong season in Pittsburgh.

Bob Klinger pitched for the Pirates from 1938 until 1943, then served in the military for two years before returning to baseball. He won 62 games with Pittsburgh and had a 3.74 ERA, splitting him time between roles, with 129 starts and 80 relief appearances.

Others born on this date include 1974-77 pitcher Larry Demery, 1914-15 pitcher Herb Kelly, and 1901 catcher George Yeager, who played for the first pennant winner in franchise history.

John Dreker
John Dreker
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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