Morning Report: Pirates Took Some Late Round Draft Picks with Upside

Last year after the draft was done, I pointed out some possible late round sleepers. It’s tough to find any Major League talent after the 11th round now because many of the players taken after that round either weren’t considered good enough for the first ten rounds, or they are high school kids with high bonus demands who don’t end up signing. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, as not every player develops at the same rate. Some of the lesser players concentrated on other sports, or had injuries that held them back.

The Pirates only signed two of my picks last year, Nicholas Economos and Ike Schlabach. Economos was reportedly hitting 95 MPH in college, but we did not see that velocity last year in the GCL. Sometimes it only takes one scout seeing one 95, even if it went over everything to the backstop, and a player can be labeled as hitting 95 MPH. So it’s hard to believe everything you read. Schlabach on the other hand, could eventually be a legit prospect, but I wouldn’t expect to see him in the top 50 in our next Prospect Guide because it’s probably too soon for that. He is a lefty with a projectable frame, who at 19, already works in the low-90s and has a feel for a curve and a changeup. He’s 18 months younger than Economos, so there should be more room for him to add growth over the older pitcher.

I use the 11th round as a cutoff instead of tenth because teams start with the 11th round pick on day three and they know approximately what they can spend on a top player who slipped due to bonus demands. The break between the tenth and 11th rounds gives the team a chance to call players and get a good sense of what it will take to sign them. You’re going to make sure you get your top target and the 11th round gives you that chance.

Probably the current best looking pick after the 11th round last year is reliever Tate Scioneaux, who is putting up strong numbers in the Bradenton bullpen. His biggest obstacle will be success at the higher levels without decent velocity. He relies more on deception in his delivery and control, rather than overpowering hitters.

I don’t play favorites, but it’s fun watching southpaw Daniel Zamora pitch to lefties for West Virginia. The 40th round pick has a slider with huge break and it starts behind the back of lefty hitters and can end up off the plate outside. The strange part is with all of the weak swings and lefties bailing against him, they are actually doing better than right-handed hitters, who don’t seem to have trouble with his two-pitch mix. I expect those numbers to flip in the future.

Those are last year’s picks though, and it shows you how possible prospects can emerge. Tim Williams looked at a few players last night who could be interesting to watch, so I’ll give some quick thoughts on others. I tried to stay away from players who I think could be the most difficult to sign.

John Pomeroy was the 13th round pick and as far as stats at Oregon State, there is nothing really to like about him. What he does have is a big frame and a mid-90s fastball. At this time next year, this pick still may not stand out because he has some control issues. With limited innings, he has a fresh arm. He’s a project, but if they can harness that fastball, you could have something.

Two picks later, the Pirates took Danny Beddes, who is a lot like Pomeroy. They both have big frames, fastballs that touch mid-90s and some control issues. Beddes’ control isn’t as bad as Pomeroy though, and he hit 95 MPH as a starting pitcher. He’s a more experienced pitcher, who has a four-pitch mix, so you probably want to leave him in the starting role for now. His future could be in the bullpen and in shorter outings, that fastball that touches 95, could hit that number more consistently.

Geoff Hartlieb is one of those players who played a different sport, taking time away from baseball. He was also drafted before this year, so another team had interest in the 29th rounder. He’s 6’6″, 210 pounds, so despite being 23, there is probably room to add muscle. Also his lack of full-time experience, could mean he adds more velocity, which already sits 91-93, touching 95 MPH. It’s clear that the Pirates targeted big players with velocity, who likely fell due to either results or command issues, or both.

I wanted to include at least one position player, which was tough considering Tim took the best ones in his article linked above. One who could end up being a good pick if he signs is shortstop Chris Cook. He had labrum surgery in March, so it might be tough for him to improve his draft stock next year when he still could be limited to start the season. Cook is a very athletic player with a strong football background and strong bloodlines. His dad was a baseball/football star at the same school. He has a strong sophomore season and started off well before his injury, so you’re talking about a potential solid hitter who can move around the field if needed. He might be a tough sign, but if the Pirates make a decent offer, he may consider it the best option due to his injury.


Bradenton is 6-4 in their last ten games. They are in first place in their division, five games ahead. The first half of the FSL season ends on June 22nd. Their magic number is five.

West Virginia has been eliminated from the first half pennant race. The second half begins on June 23rd.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 5-1 to the Cardinals on Saturday night. Jon Niese will get the start today, his 13th of the season. He faced the Cardinals back on April 5th and allowed four earned runs over five innings. In his last start, he threw seven shutout innings against the Mets. The Cardinals will counter with Mike Leake, who has 4.22 ERA in 74.2 innings, with 47 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP. He faced the Pirates on April 6th and allowed four earned runs over 4.1 innings.

In the minors, Trevor Williams gets the start for Indianapolis. He hasn’t pitched well in either of his last two starts, giving up a total of nine runs on 15 hits and seven walks in 9.1 innings. JT Brubaker makes his debut with Bradenton today. He had a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts with West Virginia, and leads the South Atlantic League with 77 strikeouts.

Altoona’s Cody Dickson has been on a recent run of success despite some control issues. In his last six starts, he has allowed a total of five earned runs, giving up one run in five games and throwing five shutout innings in the other. The DSL Pirates have off today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (32-30) vs Cardinals (34-28) 5:05 PM
Probable starter: Jon Niese (3.93 ERA, 24:49 BB/SO, 71.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (32-30) vs Syracuse (30-30) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (6.32 ERA, 8:6 BB/SO, 15.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (33-28) @ Reading (43-19) 5:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (3.63 ERA,  39:32 BB/SO, 57.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (34-26) @ Clearwater (34-26) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (30-31) @ Columbia (32-30) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (3.93 ERA, 21:36 BB/SO, 52.2 IP)

DSL: Pirates (1-5) vs Mets1 (4-2) 10:30 AM 6/13 (season preview)


Here is a first inning double to extend Austin Meadows’ hit streak to 19 games. I’m just going to change this section to “Highlights featuring Austin Meadows”. He has 24 extra-base hits in his last 30 games.


6/11: Pirates acquire Erik Kratz from Angels for cash considerations. Trey Haley designated for assignment.

6/11: Clay Holmes added to Altoona roster. David Whitehead placed on disabled list.

6/11: Pirates place Francisco Cervelli on disabled list.

6/11: Pirates option Kyle Lobstein and Cole Figueroa to Indianapolis. recall Rob Scahill and Arquimedes Caminero.

6/10: Mitch Keller added to West Virginia roster. Logan Sendelbach assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/10: Alex McRae promoted to Altoona.

6/9: Pirates option Jameson Taillon to Indianapolis. Kyle Lobstein recalled from Indianapolis.

6/9: Frank Duncan promoted to Indianapolis.

6/8: Pirates recall Jameson Taillon. Curtis Partch optioned to Indianapolis.

6/8: JT Brubaker promoted to Bradenton. Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster.

6/6: Clay Holmes assigned to Extended Spring Training. David Whitehead added to Altoona roster.

6/4: Pirates released Nate Irving, Edgar Figueroa, Eric Thomas and Eliezer Ramirez.

6/4:  Pirates option Rob Scahill and Wilfredo Boscan to Indianapolis. Recall Curtis Partch and Cory Luebke.

6/4: Ryan Vogelsong transferred from 15-day disabled list to 60-day DL.

6/4: Guido Knudson added to Indianapolis roster.

6/2: Gage Hinsz assigned to West Virginia. Mitch Keller assigned to Extended Spring Training.

6/2: Justin Masterson assigned to Indianapolis. Frank Duncan assigned to Altoona.

6/2: Arquimedes Caminero assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

6/2: David Whitehead assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/1: Pirates release Michael Fransoso.

5/29: Justin Masterson assigned to Bradenton.

5/29: Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.


One former Pittsburgh Pirates player born on this date, plus one small trade of note and a special pitching performance from 45 years ago today. We start with the player, and that was second baseman Otto Knabe, who played for the Pirates in 1905 and then again in 1916. He was just a rookie when the Pirates brought him up late in the 1905 season for a brief tryout. By the time he came back, he was on the downside of his career. Knabe was without a job at the start of the 1916 season and the Pirates brought him in for a tryout. He was out of shape, so it was basically his Spring Training, but injuries forced him into the lineup ahead of schedule and he did not perform well. His total time with the Pirates was less than two months, but he was actually a really good player in between his brief stops. One interesting note about the start of his 1916 season and it seems like a misprint now. He wasn’t signed to a contract when he first got into games that season.

On this date in 1946, the Pirates and Braves exchanged struggling outfielders, with Chuck Workman headed towards Pittsburgh and Johnny Barrett going to Boston. Workman was batting .167 at the time of the deal, while Barrett’s average was just two points higher. The trade ended up being a draw, as Workman struggled in a platoon role and Barrett got injured. By the start of the next season, both players were in the minors and never returned to the big leagues.

On this date in 1970, Dock Ellis threw the sixth no-hitter in team history (two were shortened games). This is the famous game in which he supposedly pitched that day while on LSD. It’s a claim that is disputed by some, but makes a good story now. A recap can be found in a link above, while the boxscore for the game can be viewed here.

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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Richard C

I know you boys are extremely busy with the draft coverage (excellent work by the way) but with all of the moves the Pirates have been making I would like to see the 40-man roster updated. It has remained stagnant since early April. Thanks and keep up the great work.

Dale O

Just like to say, my yearly subscription here ran out on the 7th – figured I’d wait a few days to re-up…

Since then the draft has completed, the Buccos have gone to injury-riddled hell and we’re suddenly probably closer to the Brewers than a playoff spot. Great googly moogly.

Lots of reading to catch up on!


Dale O

“John Pomeroy… there is nothing really to like about him.”



Michael T

I haven’t been paying too much attention to him, but can anyone tell me how Masterson is doing? Is he someone that can be viewed as potential bullpen help sooner rather than later, or are we grooming him as potential rotation help?

Bobby L

The thing I liked about this draft was going after LH pitchers. Seemed to me that hadn’t been done much in the past.
Also liked drafting Cook, a SS who can hit more than most Pirate SS draftees.
ETSU was well represented with 3 players selected, all scouted by a new area scout. He must have some clout.
With post season chances looking a little forlorn is it time to call up Adam Frazier when the 5th bench player can be added back? He should be ahead of Hanson now.

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