I meant to mention in yesterday’s Morning Report that Pirates 14th round draft pick Hagen Owenby put on a show during the college home run derby on Sunday night. He hit 23 homers in the first round and won the tournament. I was just going to mention it in passing, but now I can expand on him and the other unsigned draft picks for the Pirates.
I have heard that four of the remaining 14 draft picks aren’t signing. Two were Michael Danielak and Craig Dedelow, who decided after they agreed to sign to go back to college. Probably a smart decision by both, as they were headed to Bristol’s bullpen (Danielak) and outfield behind some better prospects. Also, 32nd round pick Ben Miller and 40th round pick Bret Boswell both said they were going back to school.
The Pirates have been busy signing non-drafted free agents in the last week, getting three infielders and two pitchers. That’s a sign that there probably aren’t many more draft picks who are going to sign. My thought on what is left is that the Pirates will have an offer on the table for 41st overall pick Nick Lodolo, who will either sign it before the July 15th deadline or go to college. They probably have a backup plan in mind who is willing to sign for what they will have left if Lodolo doesn’t sign, which will be about $200,000 total, with $100,000 of that not counting against their bonus pool. Any pick after the tenth round has a $100,000 slot, and then anything over that comes from the draft bonus pool.
So I think they will sign either one or two more players, with an outside chance for three more. One being Lodolo, the other being his backup plan, or both of them if they get Lodolo for his slot amount. If they get Lodolo for under slot, then you might be talking about a more expensive player as the backup plan. Who that player is possibly, I don’t know. Last year, they got Ryan Nagle for $160,000 and James Marvel for $150,000, and I didn’t see either of those signings coming. At least for Nagle, I didn’t expect him to require over $100,000.
So it’s even possible based on last year’s results that they get two more players for $150,000 each instead of one for $200,000 if Lodolo doesn’t sign. If anyone was going to sign for $100,000 or less, there is a great chance that it would have happened already. The non-drafted free agents being signed tells you that there won’t be many more signings. What they get from here on out will depend on what happens with Lodolo. Just ten more days and we will find out for sure.
**On Sunday, we posted that the Pirates signed outfielder Pedro Castillo to a $170,000 bonus, which is the highest bonus they have handed out so far. At least it’s the highest reported one, but they have signed three other players with no bonus details. One we haven’t even added to our signing tracker yet because all we have is a name, nothing else. The Pirates will likely spend their highest bonus on Jean Robert Eusebio, which isn’t eligible to sign until August 22nd, which is his 16th birthday.
I basically went non-stop yesterday with all the news and games that went on and yet in the middle of that, I was able to talk to Matthew Mercedes. He was one of the players the Pirates signed yesterday down in the Dominican who we didn’t have any information on other than he batted right-handed and his dad is a famous agent down there. Not really much of a scouting report.
I found out that Mercedes will turn 18 in August and the reason he didn’t sign until now is that his parents made him finish high school first. The Pirates have scouted him for awhile now, but the school part kept him from signing earlier. He’s a stocky third baseman with some pop in his bat and he makes good contact. I can tell from talking to him that he’s also a very smart kid.
Mercedes has already been to the Pirates Dominican academy and he’s headed back there soon. Players who are at least 17 years old can sign contracts for the current season. We saw that last year with Kyle Simmons, who played a few games after he signed on July 2nd. Mercedes is signed for next year though. I didn’t get the bonus amount, but with his dad being an agent, I assume he got his full value compared to his skills.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 4-2 over the Cardinals on Monday afternoon. They now send Steven Brault to the mound for his Major League debut. We will have an article on Brault later today in our new feature where we give “the book” on prospects getting called up the majors for the first time. The Cardinals will counter with Mike Leake, who has a 4.13 ERA in 98 innings, with 63 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP. He has faced the Pirates twice this year, giving up a total of six earned runs over 11.1 innings.
In the minors, Gerrit Cole goes for Indianapolis in a rehab start. He is on a limit of three innings or 45 pitches.
Tyler Eppler goes for Altoona, while Yeudy Garcia goes for Bradenton. Eppler is coming off six shutout innings in his last start. He ranks sixth in the Eastern League in innings pitched, though he could reached the leader with seven innings in this start. Garcia is fourth in the Florida State League in ERA and first in strikeouts. He has yet to allow more than three runs in a game this season.
Argenis Romano will start for the GCL Pirates, while Cam Vieaux will go for Morgantown in one game of a doubleheader, with no starter listed yet for the other game. It will likely be Danny Beddes, who was scheduled to start Monday before the rain out. Bristol will go with Ike Schlabach.
MLB: Pittsburgh (42-41) @ Cardinals (43-39) 8:00 PM
Probable starter: Steven Brault (MLB debut)
AAA: Indianapolis (44-40) vs Louisville (41-42) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (NR)
AA: Altoona (46-35) @ Akron (45-38) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (3.71 ERA, 19:61 BB/SO, 94.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (41-38) vs Charlotte (40-40) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Yeudy Garcia (2.17 ERA, 30:81 BB/SO, 70.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (42-39) @ Greensboro (47-35) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (3.87 ERA, 29:52 BB/SO, 76.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (9-8) @ Aberdeen (6-11) 6:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable Starter: Daniel Beddes (2.38 ERA, 3:10 SO/BB, 11.1 IP) and Cam Vieaux (2.53 ERA, 7:6 SO/BB, 10.2 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (6-6) @ Pulaski (7-5) 4:00 PM (season preview)
GCL: Pirates (3-5) vs Phillies (6-2) 12:00 PM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates (9-17) vs Mets1 (11-14) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here is an interesting video. In his last start, Trevor Williams struck out the side in the fifth, getting JaCoby Jones for the third strikeout. Jones, as many of you remember, was the prospect the Pirates traded away for Joakim Soria at last year’s trade deadline.
7/5: Gerrit Cole assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
7/4: Jameson Taillon placed on 15-day disabled list.
7/4: Jin-De Jhang promoted to Indianapolis. Tomas Morales assigned to Altoona.
7/4: Erik Lunde activated from disabled list. Assigned to Bradenton. Raul Hernandez assigned to GCL.
7/4: Elias Diaz assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
7/4: Chris Stewart placed on disabled list.
7/4: Pirates claim Eric Fryer off waivers. Rob Scahill placed on waivers.
7/3: Pirates sign Chris McDonald and Evan Piechota.
7/3: Pirates sign six international free agents.
7/3: Yunior Montero promoted to West Virginia.
7/3: Curtis Partch sent outright to Indianapolis.
7/2: Pablo Reyes activated from temporary inactive list. Trace Tam Sing placed on temporary inactive list.
7/1: Julio Vivas promoted to West Virginia.
7/1: Rinku Singh assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab
7/1: Pirates sign Andrew Walker.
6/30: Jorge Rondon sent outright to Indianapolis.
6/30: Erik Lunde assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
6/30: Raul Hernandez assigned to Bradenton.
6/30: Jose Regalado placed on disabled list. Tanner Anderson promoted to Bradenton.
6/30: Tomas Morales assigned to Indianapolis. Ed Easley released.
6/30: Jose Osuna promoted to Indianapolis. Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.
6/29: Pirates sign Nick King and Daniel Cucjen.
6/28: Trevor Williams activated from temporary inactive list.
6/28: Carl Anderson assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
6/28: Pirates sign Max Kranick. Assigned to GCL Pirates.
6/27: Pirates sign Buddy Borden. Assigned to Bradenton.
6/27: Jeff Roy assigned to Bristol.
6/27: Erik Lunde placed on the disabled list.
6/26: Pirates purchase the contract of Chad Kuhl. Kyle Lobstein optioned to Indianapolis.
6/26: Pirates designate Curtis Partch for assignment.
6/26: Pirates unconditionally release Cory Luebke.
6/26: Trevor Williams placed on bereavement list.
6/26: Tomas Morales sent to Bradenton.
6/25: Justin Maffei assigned to Altoona.
6/25: Luis Paula and David Whitehead assigned to Bristol on rehab.
6/24: Pirates purchase the contract of Adam Frazier. Designate Cole Figueroa for assignment.
6/24: Juan Nicasio activated from restricted list. Designate Jorge Rondon for assignment.
6/24: Jacob Stallings optioned to Indianapolis.
6/23: JT Brubaker added to Bradenton roster. Colten Brewer placed on temporary inactive list.
6/23: Tito Polo assigned to Bradenton.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a Hall of Famer who spent one season with the Pirates. Starting with the most recent first and it’s the Hall of Fame pitcher, Goose Gossage. He was acquired for Richie Zisk prior to the 1977 season and left after the season via free agency. Gossage was a reliever for Pittsburgh, but he threw 133 innings over 72 appearances and posted a 1.62 ERA, with 151 strikeouts. He won 11 games and picked up 26 saves for the Pirates.
Other players born on this date include 1909 outfielder Ward Miller, 1908 outfielder Beals Becker and 1902 pitcher Harvey Cushman. Becker won 25 games in the minors in 1906, but just two years later he was a Major League outfielder. Miller was a member of the team’s first World Series champs, but he was traded away early in the season, so he didn’t get to celebrate the win. Cushman played for the best team in franchise history, but he kept them from being better. The Pirates had a 102-36 record that season, yet Cushman made four starts for the team and lost all four, which were his only games in the majors.
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.